Photo of the Week | Bull Moose Encounter

Every Friday I will be posting a Photo of the Week. Here I’ll be sharing the details on how I got the shot, where I was, and the backstory that went into it. I hope you find this enjoyable, and helpful in your own photography.

Camera: Nikon 1 J4
Lens: 1 NIKKOR VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6
ISO:400 66.4mm f/4.5 1/320s

If you asked me a year ago, I’d tell you, “Its not every day you see a moose up close and personal like this.”

But now I’ve seen more than I can count from afar, and too many for my comfort up close. Unfortunately, only a handful of those instances did I have a camera on me capable of capturing these animals true size, and beauty. Fortunately for me, I had my small, Nikon mirrorless camera in my pack and was able to capture this shot.

This photo of a bull moose was taken on a Friday afternoon in late September. I had just finished mountain biking with a buddy and was headed home on the rail trail that goes right from main street to my neighborhood. Thinking the most dangerous part of my ride was now over, seeing that the rail trail is a paved trail, I was pretty relaxed. Cruising downhill, I turned off the trail, passed two walkers that were standing around, and onto the path that lead into the neighborhood. Someone had yelled something, but I couldn’t make out the words, nor did I think they were speaking to me. What possibly could someone be yelling to me about. And that when I realize what they were saying.

“Hey! Watch-out, there’s 3 moose ahead!”

The words all made sense to me when I gripped both breaks, bringing my bike to a screeching halt. Right there in the front of me, in the middle of the path, stood a gigantic momma moose with her equally as large calf behind her. They had just come up from drinking down in the stream below the path. I quickly back-stepped my way up to the rail trail so that I could observe the family from a distance. That’s when someone mentioned there was a bull moose in the area, trying to court the female moose, who apparently wanted nothing to do with him.

The bull appeared from the stream, following closely behind the cow. He was massive, a unit some would say. His rack stood an additional 2ft higher than his head, and spread nearly 3-4ft from side to side. It was truly a wild site. There, in front of me, no more than 30 feet, stood a young bull moose on a busy trail full of foot traffic. Thankfully, he was preoccupied by this cow and not trying to show his dominance and charge an of us onlookers.

Even though my camera wasn’t the best option to have, but they always say, “The best camera is the one you have with you.” So I brought the screen up to my eyes and started to frame the moose in the shot. The light was perfect, setting in the west, casting his rack’s shadow over his side. The sunlight illuminated the faint tan in his dark brown coat. Snapping away, I finally timed it right as he was leg was picked up, flexing his muscles in the process. It just excentuated how massive this moose was. His shoulders stood over 6ft tall. And having his dark body contrast with the light brush and trees in the background made for a perfect shot, in my opinion.

For this shot, because of the potential danger-close, I shot on full-auto so that I could get as many shots as possible before he either ran away, or charged us. This was one of the main reasons I now always ride/run/hike with a camera on me at all times. You just never know what you might see!

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