Grazing Deer, Ragged Peak
Posted on 14 August 2013
Grazing Deer, Ragged Peak. Yosemite National Park, California. August 7, 2013. © Copyright 2013 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
A group of deer graze in Tuolumne Meadows near sunset beneath the summit of distant Ragged Peak
Perhaps I’ve simply missed this in the past, but on this early August trip to the Tuolumne Meadows area I saw a herd of deer grazing in the meadow in the evening that was larger than any I have encountered before. I’ve often seen small groups of perhaps a half-dozen or so there, but this group had at least two dozen individuals on the two evenings I was there. Many were bucks with antlers, but there were also some very young and very frisky critters among them, including one who seemed to be the ringleader of periodic high-speed races back and forth across the meadow. While waiting for interesting light for photographing other subjects (and that light is just beginning to appear on the dome behind the meadow) I spent some time with the long lens photographing them.
There are, of course, quite a few ways to photograph wildlife, ranging from what amount to intimate and close-up portraits to photographs that show the animals in their landscape – with the latter verging on “landscape with animals,” a different thing than much wildlife photography. I like doing both, but here I was thinking a lot more about photographing the animals in their world. This affected my approach in a couple of perhaps obvious ways. First, while I could have gotten quite a bit closer with the long lens I was using, I hung back so that I could include more than one deer in the frame, include more of the surrounding landscape, and not intrude to closely on the deer. Second, as soon as I had clicked of a first “insurance shot” of the animals, I stopped and looked at the landscape in order to find things that I could align with the deer. In this case, I was able to move some distance to one side and get a group to line up with the low dome (which, lucky for me, got hit with a bit of soft evening sunlight at the right moment!) and the distant ridge holding Ragged Peak, an area that I know quite well from many pack trips into nearby areas.
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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