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Photographing elk and big horn sheep in the mountains

Shooting photographs in the mountains is there a difference? In my opinion, yes there is a difference. There is a simple explanation. The air is thinner and the sun if brighter. You need to make adjustments based on how you shoot and what you want to images to project.

You can use filters but remember that if you are using a high dollar pro camera, a pro lens and put a $10 piece of glass in front of them you have just reduced your work to a much lower level. There are some very good filters out on the market. Hoya makes a nice filter. Nikon has some filters that are good quality also. I do use them on occasions. I use the neutral clear to help with ghosting and protection of the glass. Most of the time I do that around the beaches because of the winds and sand which can cause a lot of damage to an unprotected lens. I have used IR filters to shoot the IR shots using a Nikon
D50 and they worked well. That type of shooting takes some special steps because you have to focus prior to using the filter. Use the lens on manual is a pretty good idea also. Some filters will require adjusting your camera settings to compensate for the color of the filter. Polarizing filters require much more adjustments than most of the others. You should use a circular polarizing filter with digital DSLRs. They also allow you to choose how the image looks as you spin the filter. If you do not want to buy one and they can be expensive for filters try to borrow one from one of your fellow photographers and try it out. I do have one of those in the bag.

I am currently heading to Estes Park, Colorado for a shoot of the elk that come into town to breed. Animals have never been shy about doing that in public. Many people go there to the elk and some get hurt. Cell phone cameras are not really that good and you must get close. That is not a good idea when the big males are in rut. Rut is the breeding season. They have large antlers, short tempers and are very protective of the area they have females located. Those are all factors to give them a wide berth. That does not mean you photograph them very well. They are huge animals. They are really not aggressive most of the time if you give them their space. I have photographed elk in the wild at just a few feet but I was very much on the alert to their movements.

If you get a chance to photograph large animals I the wild it will change your life if you get close. It requires patience, knowledge of the animal species you are going to photograph. I am going into a valley very well known for big horn sheep. I have been around some before a few years back. I did not get a chance to photograph them as they retreated too fast to get a decent shot. This valley has a large herd that may see people on a semi regular basis as there is a hiking and bike trail next to their range. It is said that they do no run away as often as they do in other areas. I have hoping to get there this weekend sometime. These animals are much large then you might think. They are sheep but more the size of the full size large goats. Their backs can easily be as tall as your waste. That puts their head much higher than you might be ready for if they do come after you. Yes they have been known to attack people especially during the rut. Notice a pattern? Be careful of the rutting season on animals as they can get a bit cranky during that time.

Be careful and give the animals the space they think they need not what you want to give them. It might save your dignity and your health. Use telephoto lenses even if they are letting you get closer. They can change their minds in a millisecond. Have fun, find places you can see them in their nature state and not where they are domesticated. The photos may not be much different buy you will be much different from the experience.

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