What do you mean too close?

_T6C5507

I’m not sure exactly why, but it has been challenging for me to get a good photo of a pronghorn antelope. But I like this one.

For a wildlife photographer, getting closer is a big deal. I learned that after taking a lot of photos where big animals turned into tiny, fuzzy blotches. It was kind of embarrassing to explain that my prize photo really had a bear in it and that the dark spot was most definitely not a mound of dirt!

Addressing that sticky problem has meant spending way too much money on longer lenses and continually trying to figure out how I can get closer. Repeat after me – close is good.

I had been trying to get a good shot of a pronghorn antelope for some time in Yellowstone National Park but for different reasons I was never satisfied with the results. One evening I finally I got an opportunity with a beautiful animal in golden light. And wouldn’t you know it, I ended up too close. How did that happen?

Since I had a prime lens, there’s no zooming option other than the one that involves me walking. In the process of trying to get all the body parts into the photo, I ended up scrambling to back away from the very creature I had moved in on. The irony was complete when the animal wandered in my direction, forcing me to back up even further.

You know something has gone completely wrong when you find yourself in full retreat in the middle of a chase. At least the polite pronghorn pretended not to notice!

At some point the difficult terrain slowed the retreat and simultaneously twigged my memory that I could do a portrait. With that light finally turned on, I enjoyed taking some shots. The effect seemed to work well for a larger animal.

At least I don’t have to explain the fuzzy blotches in this photo.

Advertisements

Latest Comments

  1. Cornel A. says:

    This photos is very beautiful.
    I like colours and the sight of the antelope.

    Like

  2. Otto von Münchow says:

    This is an excellent photo – I am sure worthwhile the scare. And the story makes for a good one to be told around a camp fire – or on a blog. Well done, Lyle.

    Like

  3. melodylowes says:

    You need to seriously consider having a sidekick along videoing YOU in the process of getting the perfect shot. Seriously. You’d be the next Youtube sensation. Great shot – pronghorns are such quick critters, I’ve never been able to get more than a blur of feet and a bit of fuzz looking suspiciously like a mound of dirt…

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Hmm. I’m thinking the video might be quite amusing – at my expense! I really like pronghorns and it turns out they are pretty fast. Glad you liked the shot.

      Like

  4. dda53 says:

    Great light! I can see you carrying two camera set ups.

    Like

  5. Honie Briggs says:

    I think this guy is saying under his breath, “Take the shot already, Lyle!” How he knows your name is a mystery.

    Like

  6. westerner54 says:

    A polite pronghorn for sure – I like the way he’s pursed his lips together so that he doesn’t blurt out what he’s thinking about this crazy photographer who can’t decide where he wants to be!

    Like

  7. Phil Lanoue says:

    I feel your pain on those rare instances when I too have been choked with too much glass as I shoot with a prime as well. I often wish the wildlife would be more considerate in maintaining a nice close, but not too close, distance.

    Like

  8. Garden Walk Garden Talk says:

    One less problem with macro photography anyway. 😀 Close is better no matter the wildlife. Funny story Lyle. Better those tiny horns than the big teeth and claws of a bear though.

    Like

  9. Alison says:

    We are always trying to get closer, too, so I had to laugh at this amusing story–talk about “nature photographer problems”! Regardless, you ended up with a wonderful portrait of a beautiful animal. Kudos!

    Like

  10. Steve Gingold says:

    I rarely shoot wildlife or birds. When I do my only choice is a 300. Sometimes the Moosies do come a little too close for that and it’s head shot time. It is good for filling a frame with a frog though. 🙂 When all else fails, the ambulatory zoom is always a good choice.

    Like

  11. whichwaynow101 says:

    Lovely photo! I’ll bet you are glad it wasn’t a bear creeping up on you!

    Like

  12. ehkstream says:

    There’s something so endearing about an animal that wears it’s horns backwards.
    Good post, been there and am likely to do it again.

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      It is fun to note the odd things about the creatures around us. No use wearing the horns like everyone else.

      Like

      • ehkstream says:

        It’s a handy adaptation too. Hooking to behind they don’t catch in the barbed wire fences they blast through at full speed. I was once given a few hides to tan that came from Wyoming, they all had heavy scar tissue running down the spines.

        Like

        • Lyle Krahn says:

          Hmm. I think I would be a little more reluctant to charge into the fences!!

          Like

          • ehkstream says:

            For their own reasons antelope seem to be reluctant to leap over fences if they are on the run. Even at a walking pace I’ve seen them pause a step before hopping over.
            Some years ago in the West crews worked along the highways removing the bottom strand of 3-wire fences, giving the ‘lopes a little more headroom to pass through. Equal consideration for high speed antelope and higher speed traffic.

            Like

            • Lyle Krahn says:

              That’s interesting. It would be fascinating to know where that reluctance comes from.

              Like

              • ehkstream says:

                Speculating on this… perhaps in their millenia of evolution on the plains, there were few natural barriers that ever needed leaping over. Trees and bushes were better used to dodge around while fleeing predators. They have little problem with gullies and washes, down, flat and up the other side.
                Modern inconveniences like wire fences haven’t had enough time to settle in the gene pool?

                Like

  13. Mandy says:

    Laughing at this post!

    Like

  14. My Heartsong says:

    I have had to back up even with a zoom (especially with chickadees who land on the lens)You got a good shot and happy that you didn’t trip.

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Those chickadees can be quite amusing. I have discovered that it’s quite hard to take a photo of them when they are perched on top of the lens looking at you!

      Like

  15. Lavinia Ross says:

    Nice clear, sharp photo of that pronghorn! Even the chin hairs are crystal clear. No fuzziness there!

    Like

  16. Gunta says:

    Oddly enough my very first wild animal shot (many, many years ago) was an antelope. He came up relatively close to me on the other side of the fence at a state park. I had a wonderful full body shot of him (taken with a 50mm lens on 35mm film) right next to a sign that said no shooting allowed on his side of the fence. I think he must have read it. I wish I could find that old image from roughly 4 decades ago.

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Sounds like a great memory and good way to start wildlife photography. There’s nothing quite like 50 mm to get wildlife:) It was a good thing he could read.

      Like

  17. Mike Powell says:

    What an awesome portrait of the pronghorn.How did you get it to pose so well? I enjoyed your description of your retreat–it’s one of the “joys” of using a prime lens that you have to move, though, as you suggest, it’s most often in the forward direction.

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      That pose is part of the few seconds he checked for predators before assuming the eating-salad position where he spent most of the time. It’s funny how a prime lens seems so limiting at the beginning but then it becomes more comfortable with use. The funny part is that on occasions with a zoom lens I have forgotten about the zoom option! Glad you enjoyed the post.

      Like

I'd love to hear what you are thinking ...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s