Well this past weekend I took my own advice and finally got out to Yellowstone for a day. Truly one of the joys of living in Bozeman is being so close to the park that i can go down there when i want to. Now it the last time i was there was this past February which is entirely a different scenario. In Winter you’re in a snowcoach, in Fall you drive yourself. Fall is one of my favorite times of the year in the park, it just has a feel about in the air
When i go out i usually go looking for the critters, i don’t plan on shooting landscapes but it does happen. Thankfully Saturday weilded a great day of critter viewing. It always seems to start with the Elk in Mammoth Hot Springs which have changed dramatically over the years with the Wolves changing territories and more recently good ol #6 passing away last year. It’s just not the same without that big bull around.
Now it has been some time since i was out shooting from the truck working with the critters, and i got to admit i felt a little bit rusty. There are some basics that you have to know in order to truly work with in order to succeed when using a vehicle as a blind. It starts with actually having a lens out in your lap ready to shoot. Fumbling around in a bag getting gear doesn’t work for two reasons, one it makes a lot of movement which critters don’t like and two odds are the moment passes and you miss that shot. Next up you got to be well aware of where that animal is going, for instance this herd of Bison were on clear mission going from the east across the road to the west and since it was morning they were back lit. The best place in this sitaution was being in front watching them cross and then shooting when the were on the other side.
Light is very tricky when working from the car, it takes a lot of planning ahead before you see the critter. That being said if you see something at the last minute how do you not pass it by? Well car sounds are critical. They alert the whatever you’re working with long before you do. Stealth is your friend. Often, depending on where you are and traffic, turning off the engine and rolling is better. Now you might be wondering why I would got through all of this work when i could use a tripod in a pullout. Well it’s quite simple. Pulling out a 600f4, on a tripod, in Yellowstone is basically setting off a firework to everyone. There won’t be any car that doesn’t stop. Sometimes it’s what you got to do, often it just creates a mess. Always keep in mind what the best situation is for the animal and the people around you. Some photographs aren’t worth it. I can guarantee you this, if a pack of wolves show up in a place I can pull over, the 600 comes out, no hesitation.
Images Captured with Nikon D3, AF-S 200-400 VR, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film