Joe and Mary Ann McDonald's

Wildlife Photography

TRIP REPORT: Predators in the
Red Rock country of Southern Utah

April 9-14, 2005

This is at least the third time that we've filmed captive predators in the red rock country of southern Utah, and, as usual, we thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Our animals were supplied by the Triple D game ranch in Kalispel, MT, and we filmed cougar (puma), black bear and black bear cub, red fox, red fox (cross fox phase), gray fox, bobcat, gray wolf, striped skunk, badger, and various birds of prey.

The highlight of the shoot is, as always, an icon image -- the puma as it leaps from one set of rocks to another. Although the jump is always spectacular and fun to watch, the 'real' shot is the moment of take-off when the cat's hind legs are still anchored and flexed, with the body arched and forelegs outstretched. This year our puma seemed tireless and we had over a dozen opportunities to film the cat as it leapt back and forth.


State regulations prohibited importing a coyote this year, which was a disappointment, but the wolves and foxes more than made up for this shortfall. Additionally, we had several great opportunities to film puma in the rocks, and bobcat, and, with a snow-capped mountain background that was somewhat unique this year, we obtained some very unique images.

On our bonus day we filmed birds-of-prey and, stupidly, I chose my 120-300mm Sigma lens for this. Although I love this lens when I'm shooting virtually everything -- I bought it and use it as my prime lens when photographing mountain gorillas -- it doesn't focus especially quickly and I missed all of the shots of flying Harris hawks -- and there were some great opportunities. Congrats to Walt Anderson - the Visual Echoes tele-flash manufacturer, who was on the tripand with his longer Canon lens (a 500mm I believe) obtained some stunning images that I certainly missed!

Triple D will not be doing this shoot in 2006 but will probably return in 2007 and, we suspect, we'll be doing it as well. If you're interested, please contact our office and get on our 'first notification list' so that when we have times and dates we can notify you before posting this information on the website.


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