In The Field

Photograph of a Bull Moose in Colorado by Gary Gray Bull Moose On The March

I’ve been enjoying the Holiday with family in Red Feathers and have finally found a few moments for a blog entry.

My first good photography outing in several weeks has been about, what else? Moose. This past Friday morning was my kickoff to actually hitting the dusty trails in search of moose, fult-tilt boogie wise that is.

I laugh at my own habits some times, particularly, the little mind games I play on myself when moving around. I always think I’m going to find very little, and then, BOOM! I land on a great scene with nice, photographable moose.

Early this past Friday, I stumbled upon 7 bull moose and a cow with a calf. All within a 1 mile radius. Many were too far away for any really exceptional photos, but I knew that all I needed to do was position myself and be patient. Moose would eventually come to me and I’m pre-configured to get the shots I want to get.

Well, blaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrp. The moose do what they want to do and not what I want them to do. I’m watching a scattered group from 100 meters away waiting for them to move closer and two huge mature bulls come walking towards me directly to my right. They were on the move and not at all concerned with me, though they had me in their eyes the whole time. Using my SUV for cover, they actually walked past me from about 10 feet away. I just kept moving around the Explorer to keep it between me and them.

Thus the subject of today’s image. The Bull Moose Woods Profile thing. I have a preconceived image in my head that I constantly look for in the field. This was one of those situations. The moose walking parallel to me with a profile through the woods.

The idea is to track the moose with the camera as it moves across my visual horizon and catch revealing profiles as he’s on the march. When it looks interesting through the view finder, I fire off a burst of shots.

For this composition I made a decision to not get the entire moose in the shot. I wanted the antlers but I sacrificed its hooves, except for the one off the ground. Same with his flanks. I wanted part of him obscured.  I call this cramping the frame. Photography critics will tell you to never amputate a limb, particularly at a joint. That’s good advice if you want your photos to look the same all the time, which I don’t.

The argument is basically “you cut his feet off, it’s too distracting, disturbing, doesn’t follow the rules” or something in that vein. That’s camera club advice.

Many professional portrait photographers use this technique all the time. They’ll chop off a portion of the persons face for the effect. Why? Because it gets the attention of the viewer and creates photographic tension, which is a highly ambiguous but accurate phrase.

The idea is to tell a story and one way to push that along is to create tension in the image.

As for the moose, you know he has hooves, you can see one in the air. It’s doesn’t require a lot of thinking, but I does make you think for a second. “Well, he is moving right along isn’t he?”, which in turn spurs other questions. You end up with a story, all thought out in just a few seconds.

Throwing in a little more self-critique.

The photo is a little busy from a camera club critique point of view, but most people blow past that because the busy background is consistent and in context. The moose stands out even though it fits right in to the environment.

I’m fairly happy with this one.