Another day, another magical morning in this valley I call home…
I truly believe that successful nature photography requires a little bit of skill and a whole lot of luck; and this morning the stars were aligned in my favor. That being said, you can help create your own luck by being out early in the day to utilize the low angle sun and combine the various elements of a scene to visualize a composition, thus being prepared when those elements merge to form a beautiful image.
I’d just set out to catch the sunrise, this time from a new location just over a mile away, when I had to circumvent a portion of the trail that was being blocked by a cow moose and her yearling calf. After arriving at my destination and taking a few exposures of the early sunlight illuminating the mountaintops, I was searching for a new composition when a pair of trumpeter swans seemingly appeared out of nowhere, swimming very close by. Since I was primarily after sunrise images I only had two lenses with me, and I quickly swapped the wide angle for my medium telephoto (80-200mm) and began to study the swans. My focal range was limited, thus allowing me to use form, texture and splashes of golden sunlight reflecting off the water as part of the composition rather than shooting close-ups.
When it comes to wildlife photography, gaining the best perspective usually requires being eye level with your subject. To achieve this, I crawled around on the rocks and frozen mud for nearly an hour with my lens just above the surface of the water. Suddenly I heard a loud noise and pushed myself up with one arm to witness a pair of young moose crashing onto the scene. I snapped a few photos before they continued on their way and then went back to photographing the swans, now startled by the moose and swimming very close to me. With my memory card nearly full and feeling I had used up the best angles and opportunities with the swans, I slowly got back onto my feet and began walking back to grab the rest of my gear when a pair of pine grosbeaks landed right in front of me, providing yet another unique encounter. After capturing a few frames of the bright red male, I finally packed up and headed home, reluctant as I was to leave and confident that a unicorn could show up at any moment.
Some days I’m in the flow and the magic is all around, I can feel it. This certainly was one of those days, and I am grateful to be able to share this magic with the world.