Fall in the Ozarks I

October 30, 2012

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If you follow me on Twittter (@jshaddphoto) I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that we were headed on a marathon, all in one-day, “Fall in the Ozarks” tour. I love living in such a beautiful part of our state, and fall, at the peak of color, is a great reason to be out shooting and shooting all day. I plan to break this journal entry into 3 parts as each of my subjects were distinctly different. Today, I’ll talk about the first leg of my trip.

We left our house about 5:15 am to make the 65 mile trek to Boxley, Arkansas to take pictures of the Elk herds that are in the Lost Valley. The animals are in their rutting season and that and with the leaves starting to turn, it makes this the peak time of the year. I have made several trips to the area this over the last few months, but this time the conditions were better than any so far. A overnight cold snap had put temperatures just above freezing and the Elk were in view until mid morning. I used Michael Dougherty’s (www.arkansaswildlifephotography.com) web site, to get a heads up on the location of the herds. This is an important time saver. With a short window of time for elk viewing, you need a good starting point as to where the elk are congregating to maximize your opportunities.

The elk were in the north part of the valley near the Ponca access. A large herd of about 40 cows, calves and bulls were grazing in a field just south of the access. Although you’d like to have gotten a closer shot, the elk were active as a few of the bulls were sparing but really no antler fighting during the day. If you stop and watch the herd you can tell which way the elk are migrating to. I try to sense that and then get a little ahead of them and let them come to me to increase my shooting time and stay ahead of the crowds. By mid morning, the sun had peaked over the mountains and it’s beams gave me a chance to get some backlighting shots of the elk. I think you’ll see the steam coming off these creatures and their breath in some of the photos because of this unique light. It was a fun day, I’ll pick up a little later on the second part of our day, when we visited some great places to see the beautiful colors of the area at Maplewood Cemetery in Harrison, Arkansas and other points around the Buffalo River.

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