Yellowstone Adv – Wolves!
This was one of those magical days in a career you know will come if you put your time in. So you drag your butt out day after day long before sunrise is even a hint on the horizon just waiting for it. We made the bend in the road at Seven Mile Bridge when Steve says, “Is that a Wolf?” There, beside us is a Gray Wolf pulling on an elk carcass. Could have grabbed its tail by reaching out the door! It’s just after 7AM, the sun won’t rise for another 30min but it won’t help, it’s snowing. No matter, even with the worst possible light we stop and get out cautiously.
It was a no win situation from the get go. A moving subject in no light on white snow. There was no way to make the great image or even making any real image so with nothing to loose, I advised cranking up the ISO so that this rare opportunity could be captured at least for their memories to reflect on later in time. I grabbed the D3s, attached the 200-400VR and slipped out. I made the handheld shot at 1/30 at f/4. It will never make it on the wall or in a magazine but it is forever embedded in my heart!
Shooting in no light with the subject under a tree making things worse with an high ISO that you knew would produce noise because of the light, I made the decision for myself to ditch stills and go to video. A reason for having video in our DSLR. This plan had long sunk into my shooting as a possible option before this moment so it only required a push of the LV button to put into action. I am so glad I did, see why.
This video was shot at ISO6400 and while it will never win an Academy Award for technical excellence, it was more than acceptable to the wolf biologist Jesse who came by after our encounter. He had been tracking the Canyon Pack with telemetry and with the video playback, could confirm it was that pack and with that, an exchange on information occurred. I like Jesse, smart kid and I’m sure he’ll have a long career in wildlife management. We talked biology, he provided great insight into the pack which help be decide to spend the whole day on the kill and even cameback to tell us of a Bobcat up ahead (stuck with the carcass, blew off bob). I just love biologists!
What an amazingly spectacular day, one that is one of the great rewards of this profession. To see such a wonder as wild wolves, being able to share it with photographers wanting to improve their wildlife photography and coming back with a couple of snaps too, what a gift!
Photos captured by D3s, 200-400VR / 50f1.4AFS on Lexar UDMA digital film