2014 Photo Accomplishments

Today I would like to share two images with you that were published in 2014. Both were somewhat unusual images.  The first is of "Limpy" the great Pennsylvania bull elk that thrilled numerous wildlife watchers and photographers for years before being killed in this year's elk season.  He was most likely the most photographed bull in the state in recent years and his images graced  several publications. This year I submitted a photograph of him to Pennsylvania Magazine for consideration in their 2014 Photo Contest.

Limpy-2013: Canon 70D-Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS II @ 200mm-ISO 400-1/800 sec. f 5.0
The photo was taken in The Saddle at 6:47 on Wednesday September 25, 2013 as the sun was about to set.  Many will recall this evening as a lot of elk enthusiasts were there to witness the dramatic events and stunning scenery.  At the time I recalled how the  crew from Wild Horizons, who filmed in The Saddle a few years ago, preferred to film in dramatic light and I worked to exploit the situation to the best of my ability as this was definitely dramatic light.  I have never been sure that I made the best choices in the situation.  Perhaps I should have exposed for more detail on the elk, but the way it is shown above is the outcome I had in mind when I pressed the shutter.

Whatever the case, it captured second place  in the Wildlife Diorama category, while Ronald Kauffman of York won first place with a dramatic photo of an eagle flying from a nest and Donald Biresch of Ottsville captured third place with a dramatic photo of wolves photographed at The Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania in Lancaster County.    Winning photos and those earning an honorable mention in the Wildlife Diorama category were published in the September/October issue of Pennsylvania Magazine.

I was also pleased when Bugle Magazine chose the Overlook Bull photograph that was feature in the September 29, 2014 post, "Elk Activity Is Now Spotty" to accompany a short article about the co-operative effort between The Pennsylvania Game Commission and The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to acquire the Woodring Property.

Overlook Bull:  Canon 70D- Canon 17-40@ 39mm ISO 100-1/60 sec. f 5.0
This is an unusual image and I have mixed feelings about it, but as one photographer pointed out it is a different type image than what one usually sees from Pennsylvania Elk County.  When I saw the situation I had no chance to change anything, I had to go with the camera and lens that was on my chest ready to go.  I have seen a lot of elk around this overlook, but never on it with the mountains visible behind.  The light was very contrasty and it would have been impossible to get acceptable quality with film or with a straight-out -of- camera jpeg image with a digital camera.  As it was, the original RAW file is washed out over the mountains and the side of the elk and tree trunks are deeply shadowed. Even though the mountains and sky were too bright the detail was not washed out and it was easy to bring it to the correct exposure in Adobe CC Camera Raw.  The shadows slider was used to bring out detail in the dark areas, and other tweaks were used as well such as dodging and burning, etc. The end result has somewhat of an HDR look to it. At any rate it is a photo that will always stand out in my mind because of the unusual circumstances under which it was taken and because it was published by Bugle Magazine.

I wish to thank the faithful readers of this blog  that have supported me on the issues through the years and to the many who have purchased "The Truth About Pennsylvania's Elk Herd" and "Running Wild In Pennsylvania Elk Country".  Also a special thanks to those who helped me in the making of the films.  Your assistance is deeply appreciated.  A Happy and Prosperous New Year to all.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.


Crazy Legs-A Non-typical Monster

"Crazy Legs, Jr " 2010: Canon 7D-500mm F4.0
Most serious elk watchers and photographer were familiar with the bull known as "Crazy Legs, Jr" that was an impressive rack bull  from 2008 until 2010 when he was killed in elk season that year.  Most have also heard of the original "Crazy Legs", bull  that was killed by poachers in mid-October of 2000, in Grove Township along Route 120 on the Clinton/Cameron county line, but this was before the time of many that visit the elk range today so photographs and video of this bull are much less common than that of  "Crazy Legs, Jr.".

On December 18th I received an e-mail notification that someone had posted a comment on the Support PA Elk Blog asking if I knew of anyone that has photos of the original bull.  When I visited the page; however, I found that the comment was posted back in September so I am not quite sure what went on with the comment notification system.  At any rate I could not find any still photographs of this bull and his time on Winslow Hill corresponded with a period that I was taking very few still photographs, so it is likely that I have none. As a result I searched through my video files from 1996 and 1997, which were years I was sure I had filmed the bull, and made video still captures of some of the better poses.

1995 was the first year I filmed the Pennsylvania elk rut and one foggy morning,  I was filming a bull along Dewey road when Claude Nye, better know to many as Dr. Perk, came along and told me about the bull.  He said, "we used to call him Steve, but now we call him Crazy Legs because he likes to travel". 

"Crazy Legs": 1995:Panasonic AG-455
This film and that from 1996 was taken with a Panasonic AG-455 MUP. This was a popular S/VHS camcorder with wedding and wildlife videographers and featured much better image quality than the 8mm and VHS camcorders that were more commonly used by video enthusiasts at the time.

The bull was larger in 1996 and the non-typical configuration for which he became famous was much more noticeable.

"Crazy Legs": 1996: Panasonic AG-455

"Crazy Legs"-1996: Panasonic AG-455
The following year I switched to a Canon L2 interchangeable lens Hi-8 camcorder, which excelled for long range work. Stills captured from its' footage are also sadly lacking in quality compared to today's equipment, but they do serve the purpose of showing what the bull looked like.

The first frame was captured from  footage of a fight that he lost to anther monster bull on the hillside to the south of Dr. Perk's house in the rut of 1997.  His rack configuration made it difficult to successfully fight, as it was so wide and flat by comparison to a more typical  bull, that the other animal could come right between his antlers and inflict damage.  As a result, it was no surprise that  the Crazy Legs bull was somewhat timid. Most who saw the fight or heard of it were not surprised that he lost, but rather were amazed that he had  fought at all.

"Crazy Legs" 1997: Canon L2
The shot below was captured when he paused from drinking in a water puddle, lifted his head, and lip-curled.  This was taken near the intersection of the road that comes from the Dewey Road parking lot and the road that goes in The Saddle.

"Crazy Legs" 1997": Canon L2
He would survive through three more elk ruts, but as best as I can tell I never filmed him again after 1997.  I was only spending about five days each autumn in the elk range at that time and it was common for this to happen.  There was even a year or so that I didn't film Bull 36 a.ka. "Fred" or "Dogrope" during the rut.  This was usually because the bull was not in the area that I was filming during the time I was there.

It seems that this strain is strong in the Pennsylvania elk herd as currently there are several bulls out that that show signs of this influence.  It is likely in the years to come that  from time to time another non-typical bull with this configuration will appear and be seen for awhile before he meets with misfortune.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.