Jim Bodkin, APSA, PPSA  

Bugling His Dominance by Jim Bodkin, APSA, PPSA

April 2021 - Bugling His Dominance

April 2021 - Jim Bodkin, APSA, PPSA


About the Image(s)

One of our favorite photography locations in the fall is Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado when the rut is on for the elk. The males try to accumulate the largest haram and assert their domination by bugling to ward off the younger males and attract the females. The woods and hills resonate with the mating calls of the bugling elk, which is great for us photographers. The difficulty is obtaining a clean shot that fills the frame, taken from a safe distance, as you do not want to upset these guys.

Captured with a Canon 7D (1.6x crop factor) body and a Canon 100-400mm lens at 220mm handheld at 1/500 sec,f/5.0 and ISO 1250. I was limited by the amount of light available and my requirement for speed due to the elk’s constant movement. I first processed the image in Light Room to increase the contrast and sharpened the image. I wanted to separate the face from the background as I was concerned that they would blend together when converted to B&W. I also increased the saturation and brushed in some dodge and burn effects to aid the separation. After converting to B&W in Light Room, I imported it into Photoshop and removed noise and increased sharpness with Denoise AI and Sharpen AI to compensate for the limitations of older technology at higher ISOs. I also performed additional dodging to make the antlers stand out and burning the background to lower the details.

As I wanted to concentrate the viewer’s attention of the face and antlers, I wasn’t too concerned with cropping off the elk’s legs to get the largest possible image and still capture the sense of the scene. Should I have cropped off more of the body?

How can I improve this image?

3 comments posted

Jim Hagan   Jim Hagan
I think your image is outstanding. The elk is very sharp as is the blurred background. Some photographers would object to your image since the image of the elk is cut off between the knees and the hoofs. I have attached an alternative crop.   Posted: 04/07/2021 08:30:29
Comment Image

Henry Heerschap   Henry Heerschap
Great image and excellent processing. As to the crop, I don't mind the legs, but I think you should have left more room in front of the elk. Give him something to bugle at.
My image shows an different crop without trying to match your fine processing.   Posted: 04/07/2021 13:07:10
Comment Image

Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
(Groups 36 & 67)
While there is a general rule about not cropping feet as you have done I'm going to argue that in this instance I don't mind. The question is what are you trying to show the viewer? Speaking as someone who had photographed many an elk while in Rocky (my favorite NP) I feel you are trying to show the excellent rack. The rack is so huge that if you show the entire length of the legs the rack in the image becomes smaller. Your post work is excellent and shows the rack to advantage. Thus I would opt for Jim's crop. I feel the rack is the subject not the elk, and thus the rack does not need room to move in the image. For me, neither the legs nor room to move into in front of the elk is not necessary. Just my opinion.   Posted: 04/10/2021 16:21:31


Please log in to post a comment