200-500 Spots Royal Couple

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Bill Ferris
Bill Ferris Veteran Member • Posts: 5,618
200-500 Spots Royal Couple
12

I've been photographing northern Arizona elk in the area around Lower Lake Mary for several years. This morning was special. I'm on vacation this week and have been doing a "stay-cation"...getting out for sunrise shoots every day but one. A fella's gotta sleep sometime

This morning, I parked in my usual spot along Lake Mary Road, walked in the moonlit darkness and chill across the lakebed, sat at the base of a tree along the forest's edge, and waited. It was 5:00 AM when I was settled in place beneath my photographer's hide with the Nikon D500 on its gimbal mount. Already, I could scan in the distance through my 200-500mm zoom lens to the north and see a large herd of elk - dark silhouettes - grazing near what little water remains in the lake.

At about 5:30 AM, I saw this elk couple break from the herd and begin the slow trek through the meadow. I know from past experience that, when the sky was bright enough, the entire herd would exit the open grassland, leaving the lakebed for the relative safety of the Coconino National Forest. The question was, where would they choose to enter the forest?

They chose a spot no more than 50 feet from where I was set up. To my great pleasure, they took their sweet time making the 1/4-mile trek through the meadow to where I was waiting. The bull in this photo, a truly impressive and handsome creature, arrived first and observed as the herd arrived, grazed a bit, and leaped over the fence into the trees. If he had known I was there, he wouldn't have come within a hundred meters of me. But the bull, cow, and the other 100 or so elk in the herd were calm and relaxed the entire time. They had no idea I was there and photographing them.

Nikon D500 w/ Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E at 500mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO 800

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Bill Ferris Photography
Flagstaff, AZ
http://www.billferris.photoshelter.com

 Bill Ferris's gear list:Bill Ferris's gear list
Nikon D610 Fujifilm X-T20 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm F4G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR Tamron SP 24-70mm F2.8 Di VC USD +3 more
Nikon 200-500mm F5.6E ED VR Nikon D500
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