Sunday, May 16, 2010
Photographing Alaska's Dall Sheep
Slowly making your way up the cliff face, you carefully test each foot and hand grip, one slip and it's most certainly the last mistake you make, one loose rock sent tumbling and your cover is blown. You stick to the rocks to conceal your advance and hide your silhouette. High in the mountains and above the treeline, the wind stings your face like bees. You mimic a snow leopard, staying low in the rocks, moving slow, and silently stalking your prey from above. For now you have the element of surprise.
You move into position, slowly peeking over the crest to eye the location of your subject. The ram is huge, eating away at the dwarf willows, unaware he is being watched and confident no predators could possible make it that far up the challenging terrain, goes about his lunch. You pull forward your camera and telephoto lens, pull off the lens cap, flip on the power, make sure the dials are set to the right setting, focus the image, and then wait for the perfect shot. You may only get one.
The ram's thick white coat is still thick from the winter, his massive full curl a dream to any trophy hunter. The ram stops eating for a second to look up and perform a mandatory search for any threats. As he moves his head towards you, you move you finger to the shutter, steady your hand, hold your breath, and time your heartbeat. You wait for the catch lights in his eyes and then you take your money shot.......Click!
This time the ram gets to live another day. You're not here to waste this old male's life, you are just capturing it's beauty for everyone to enjoy. He will provide more strong offspring for the future.
Alaska to me is the Africa of North America, wildlife is still abundant up here. Alaska has huge herds of caribou that compares to the wildebeest of the Serengeti, our predators the biggest on the planet, and terrain that rivals the Himalayas.
While I love photographing all types of Alaskan animals, I find photographing dall sheep to be one of the most challenging and most rewarding. To find them you have to make your way to the tallest and most rugged mountain peaks in Alaska. Dall sheep survive by staying high up in these rocky faces, out of the reach of most predators. They have amazing eye sight and are always on guard. Any alien sounds or movement and they are sent running. To photograph dall sheep you have to earn it. And if you miss your shot don't worry,just sit back and enjoy the amazing views, you deserve it.
See more photos of Rams and Alaskan Animals by visiting