THE AMERICAN IDOL
This powerful image of a large bull bison was captured this week in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. It is as good as I can do and probably my most impactful animal portrait for some time. The bison is an emblematic North American animal that roamed the continent millions of years before man. When fully grown, it is a massive beast that deserves our respect and recognition.
When I was researching bison last week, I quickly understood two things – firstly that some rogue bulls carry a serious threat if their space is invaded and secondly that the adult face is both prehistoric and enormous. The bison is all about the face and I sensed that any picture that didn’t recognise this, would miss my goals. My instincts were that the image also needed a sense of “Yellowstone in the winter” and this, combined with the need for proximity, all pointed to a ground level, remote control approach.
To work with ground level radio controlled cameras and a prime wide angle is very much my signature style, but it is easier with elephants in Amboseli, than bison in Yellowstone. This is partly because this oldest of American National Parks is heavily regulated by young and overly keen wardens and partly because the snow is very deep in places. This is not an easy location – 95% of Yellowstone is out of bounds in February. It is the most geothermally active park in the world, throw avalanches, wolves and bears into the mix and we have a primordial soup of creation.
I failed about 15 times with my camera positioning and I tweaked my lens/camera combination constantly. It was most frustrating and I was generally grumpy. But yesterday afternoon about 2 pm, it all came together. The trees and the sky are most helpful additives – but what a face and what a back structure. I haven’t seen this sort of image before of a big bison.
I would like to thank Tom Murphy, one of America’s most acclaimed nature photographers, for assisting me on this assignment. We are both excited to see a life size print of “The American Idol”.
- Large: 56" x 55"
- Standard: 37.5" x 37"
- Large: Edition of 12
- Standard: Edition of 12