POTD: Bull Elk, Rocky Mountain National Park

Elk, Horseshoe Park, Rocky Mountain National Park

Cars stopped in both directions as the big bull elk crossed the two lane paved road at the west end of Horseshoe Park. Their cars still sitting on the road, motors running, everyone was out of their cars and snapping photos with phones, small point and shoot cameras, and serious camera gear. It would have been hard not to get a great photo, even with a smart phone.

Bull Elk, Rocky Mountain National Park

He chewed on some grass as he strolled along parallel to the road and about 40 feet from the photographers lined up along the road. Shutters were clicking like mad. This uncropped photo was taken at a focal length of 360mm.

Click to see a 100% magnification “actual pixels” crop of the photo immediately above this one.

I would fire off a few shots and then zoom in on a photo to make sure the focus was sharp. 90 plus percent of the time the focus should be on an animal’s eye. If the eye isn’t sharp the photo is almost always a reject. At home on my computer I zoom in to 100% (actual pixels) magnification to check on the sharpness of the eye as I sort out the keepers. Note the small group of tiny downward pointing hairs on the upper eyelid. Click to see a bigger version.

Eventually the elk wandered a little farther from the road. I zoomed back to 182mm to get in most of his body for the image at the top of this article.

I knew this opportunity wouldn’t last long. I heard a person who didn’t want to get out of his car call the rangers and report the blocked road. A few minutes later a ranger arrived to clear the road and we all got back in our cars and drove off. It was great while it lasted.

Photo data, top photo: Canon 7D Mark II. Canon EF 100-400mm Mark II lens, at 182mm. f/11, 1/640 sec, ISO 800.

Photo data, middle/bottom photo: Canon 7D Mark II. Canon EF 100-400mm Mark II lens, at 360mm. f/11, 1/100 sec, ISO 800.