Photographing Moose in Spring
Photographing moose in the spring time has its unique challenges. Yes, it is wonderful - the sun is warm, flowers are blooming, and there are all sorts of baby critters around. Keep in mind though, that the black flies and mosquitoes are hatching out and the mud is knee deep! Bug nets and waterproof boots are a must!
I especially enjoy photographing newborn moose calves. During the first few weeks after birth, the calves' coats are cinnamon in color and their long legs just don't seem to fit their bodies. This image shows a two week old calf struggling to bed down on a rock. I previously watched this calf swim circles around its mother while the mother grazed on grasses on the bottom of the pond.
To get this photograph (the calf was very far away) I had to stack converters together on my 400MM Nikon lens, using a tripod for support. In a pinch, this practice can be done without losing too much quality. Besides, it would have taken too long to get closer - I would have missed the photo. I would have had to get to the other side of the pond and the light would have been backlit, and I didn't want that. Also, getting real close to the calf would have created another major problem - the mother moose! Moms are very protective of their offspring, and I didn't want that kind of trouble. Wildlife photography demands a deep respect for the subject. I do not want to unnaturally influence the behavior or the interaction of the animals. Ethically, I'm only a non-interfering observer recording a moment in nature. I try to avoid being a negative influence on the animals, even if it means missing the photo opportunity.
For this image I was hunkered down behind a pile of blow downs near the edge of a pond, dressed in full camo clothing while feeding the relentless black flies. The cow and her newborn calf meandered out of the woods and started to walk along the edge of the pond. I wanted to photograph the two looking over their shoulders, so I gave out a very soft moose call. They both stopped momentarily and I managed to click off a couple of frames before they lost interest and wandered off.
This one year old bull had just been kicked out by his mother who was probably pregnant and ready to give birth to a new calf. He wandered around aimlessly like he was lost and not really sure what to do with himself. In the photo, his antlers are just beginning to grow and have a velvet like covering of fur. Also, his coat is changing from the longer and hollow winter fur to a tighter, shorter, and much cooler summer fur.
Written exclusively for Mooseworld by Mark Picard. Copyright © 2007 by Mark Picard. Used with permission.
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