Al Swanson  

Majestic Bull by Al Swanson

September 2021 - Majestic Bull

September 2021 - Al Swanson


About the Image(s)

Several autumns ago I took a trip to Rocky Mount National Park during the fall rutt. I had been there several times before in this season and was usually successful in finding mature elk bulls roaming around looking for romance. In this particular trip I was successful in running across this monster who was lying around in a black timber area. He looked rather tired but you never want to get too close to these anxious beasts during the romance season. He was lying down when I first approached so when he got up I understood that I was encroaching and backed off. In postprocessing the image I did very little but crop and alter contrast and saturation in Photoshop. Then added a little sharpening to clarify some of his features. His rack is enormous as you can see. Unfortunately, his position in the black timber obscured some of the real details in his antlers. He had a few cows with him. He is one of the largest bulls I have come across in terms of the size of his antlers.

4 comments posted

Mike Patterson   Mike Patterson
Congratulations on finding the large elk. They are magnificent creatures! Unfortunately, you didn't have a lot of choice in positioning him. The tree limbs and background are distracting. For example, his left horns are so co-mingled with the branches that they are lost. I also noticed that the areas behind his mouth look blown-out, compared with your original. He isn't quite sharp in focus and there are strange wavy lines in the background in both your original and modified versions. In the future, you might dial back the saturation and post-processing a bit. I think the original made him more appealing than your edited version.   Posted: 09/01/2021 11:12:12

Joseph J Zaia   Joseph J Zaia
Much of what Mike says I can go along with, but this is a nature picture and at times these mergers are acceptable. As for the wavy lines in the background, they are also in the original and perhaps they are out of focus foliage. The blown out area helps to show the outline of the elk. The biggest problem is the heavy branch at the top right corner. I suppose it could be cloned out, but it would mean a lot of work, which in the long run it probably would not pay, because I do not think that the result would produce a competition pictorial image. However, as part of a story it is an acceptable image. I do notice that the tree trunk on the left is taking some of the attention and it could help to tone it down and soften the sharpness.   Posted: 09/02/2021 15:27:26

Jerry Biddlecom   Jerry Biddlecom
I think Mike and Joe are pretty much spot on in their comments. One of the things that I have learned over the years is that there are just times, however tempting, that it's probably not worth even attempting the shot, because you have a sense that the background is going to be just too distracting. Unless, unless, you have an idea to work on the subject in editing with the hope that you are going to isolate it through selection and then place it in a different background.   Posted: 09/10/2021 08:57:32

Marti Buckely   Marti Buckely
While the background might be distracting, I feel the image conveys the wildness of the animal. Love the tongue sticking out. The cropping is good too. Personally, I think you are making your images a little too painting-like or over-sharpened. In some cases it has worked very well but in this case I think a little burning in of the background might work and leaving the elk as he was would be better?   Posted: 09/10/2021 10:46:41


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