Tuesday, May 26, 2009


One of the misconceptions about big telephoto lenses is they can "zoom in" on dot-sized elk a half mile away and make them big as life. The reality is even with a 500mm lens you have to get fairly close to get a decent image.

Perhaps I could be satisfied with images of semi-tame elk at Simmons Wildlife Safari in Omaha, or perhaps there is something to the thrill of the hunt. I've finally pinned down a location in Wind Cave National Park where I can usually see the dot-sized elk running wild. Unlike the pronghorn which pay no mind to cars passing within a few feet, the elk carefully avoid people.

Since they are so difficult to approach, I tried setting up a trail camera in several locations in the park, and finally found the right area with the most recent deployment. From May 13-21, it snapped about 25 elk images of varying quality at all hours of the day and night. Unfortunately all of the night images taken with the infrared flash were overexposed, and I wasn't real pleased with the daytime images either.

I raised the camera up higher and switched the flash from infrared to white. I hope these changes will result in something a bit better, but an underlying problem is the camera image quality is not very good. I equate the quality to the Kodak digital I had back around the turn of the millenium. Memo to Bushnell: Image sensors have improved greatly in the past seven years. Toss that lifetime supply you bought on closeout back in 2002 and invest in some new ones.

Click on the images for larger versions.

Trail camera elk, click for larger version.
Elk taken with trail camera
Elk from a distance, click for larger version.
Elk taken with long lens

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