I don’t think that humans or even dogs are the only animals that can express themselves. We’ve seen virtually every animal we’ve visited on our trips into the wild do exactly that. Some are looks that mimic human behavior and are therefore very popular and often published. Probably less recognized but just as valid are looks and behaviors that capture the true “nature of the beast”. I took this photo of an African Buffalo in Uganda last year – you can see why they are affectionately known at “mud boys” as they go about their business and “express themselves.”
I really enjoyed Ming Thein’s article – it was a great intro on what to look for and a good checklist of things to think about. I especially agree with the idea that it is best to spend some time in whatever environment you are shooting to understand the subjects, their behavior, and how they interact with the environment. As someone who spends a lot of time trying to make good captures of wildlife, this approach and the patience that goes with it (not normally one of my strong points), is critical. Interestingly enough, I read an article yesterday from a noted street photographer who said exactly the same thing. The other thing that I liked was Ming’s thought about eliciting an emotional attachment. The photo that I chose for this weeks challenge (I think) demonstrates at least those two aspects of my photography. This is a pretty simple photo of a Momma Bison and her calf but there were THOUSANDS of opportunities to take this kind of photo (and I admit I took numerous shots that didn’t do what I wanted them to) but this is the one that I was looking for. I wanted to capture the quiet and comforting relationship between mother and calf because 1) it is probably the only way to make these imposing animals actually look “cute” and 2) it immediately invokes a happy emotional reaction in humans that we feel for most youngsters and their families – independent of species. From a technical view it may not be a great photo – but it made me happy when I saw it and it still makes me smile when I revisit the scene. I hope you enjoy it also…..
There are always many signs of change all around us so it is a little hard to pick out THE example of change to post. I chose this photo from Yellowstone park last May because I think it shows a few examples of change – of greatly different magnitudes.
First and foremost, this buffalo is dealing with the huge changes that come with his new parenthood. While the responsibilities differ according to species, all fathers have to deal with the fact that their lives will never be the same. On a much smaller, but still important level, you can see by “Dad’s” coat that the seasons are also changing – meaning a shift in diets, dangers, and an exposure to many more humans in the coming months!
A frequent happening in Yellowstone was that if you pulled to the side in one of the turnouts on the road, other folks would also stop and ask what you were taking pictures of. Thats what happened here. I was taking photos of these bison, the mountains behind and their reflections in the lake. This very nice gentleman from Germany asked me what I was taking and I showed him one of my bison reflection photos. He liked the idea so he went down closer to the lake to take a similar photo. Just as he was getting ready, the bison formed a very nice line and started to walk away in formation. I took another picture of the bison and their reflection but I also took this one including my German friend – I think I actually like this one better than just the bison…..
Not sure that any narrative is necessary….
Another reason to go to Yellowstone in the spring is the chance to see the new generation of Buffalo (Bison) exploring their new world and enjoying the care (and sometimes discipline) of their parents as they frolic around. Here, father and child have a quiet moment…
I liked this shot of three youngsters – it just looked to me like they were plotting some mischief – as youngsters of all species do….
One of the highlights of Yellowstone is not only seeing the Buffalo but being able to get pretty close. The park rules say that you should stay 25 yards away from them but even if you start at that distance, they sometimes will wander closer. It is very easy to forget that these peaceful looking creatures are wild and can, at times, be unpredictable. It is also hard to imagine that they can actually run at up to 35 miles an hour! If you are not careful, you can find yourself totally engulfed within the herd. It is really interesting to watch them interact with each other and also listen to their various verbal grunts and groans. This fine looking specimen was one of the lead animals in a large herd which just kept coming towards me and some other photographers until we were finally forced back onto the road and into our cars…..
…and the sky is not cloudy all day…
Well, not exactly. In my four days at Yellowstone I saw a few sunny times as shown in today’s photo but I saw much more time in the rain, snow, and hail – all pretty much to be expected this time of year. In any case, this is a pretty typical sight that you see around the park – Bison (aka Buffalo) grazing in the fields. You can see large herds, just a few together (as in this shot), or lone bulls by themselves. It certainly is a reminder of days gone by as these huge creatures used to roam the west in great numbers.
You also have to stay alert as you drive around the park as the Buffalo seem to understand that they have the “right of way”. This is another frequent sight – traffic jams caused by casual Buffalo crossings.
where these guys roam….
I was surprised by the number and size of the free buffalo herds around Jackson Hole. We saw numerous herds in numbers ranging from a few to a few hundred. We had a few opportunities to take some pictures of them up close but this is the image that “does it” for me. These two beasts were all by themselves and were wandering through the low sagebrush near one of the creeks that run through the area. Some of the creeks are thermally fed so they generate steam and cover the surrounding trees with frost. The morning light coming through the frosted grass and trees provided a great environment to capture this image of the old west…