A Walking Frigidaire or ???

Against my best wishes, January continues to fly by.  It is already the middle of the month and I am behind on a number of tasks I set out for myself for 2012.  Part of that is due to finally initiating Project Aunnauld – this one is going to take awhile so don’t look for posts on that for a few months (at least).  In my spare cycles I’m still trying to make it through the Yellowstone shots so guess what?  Yep, another post.  Unlike some of the previous ones, this set is what I consider sub-par.  There are times when it is fulfilling to just be able to slap the mirror and say you captured the moment whether it is tack sharp or not… which is usually photography speak for “I blew it”.  This set is more of the former based on being closer to a miracle than a failure.  If you have spent time on this blog at all you should be aware we invested in a rather large glass we affectionately call The Beast thanks to it’s beefy structure.  It is hard to actually demonstrate the reach this zoom glass has without first experiencing it through the viewfinder.  This set might just help out in this area… let’s begin shall we?

So here is a shot of the mountainside at 80mm which is the low end of the zoom on our workhorse glass.

Are you seeing anything of interest in that shot.. maybe some large animal(s) out for a stroll?  Hint #1 – remember on the previous post where I mentioned that we spent the week scanning for butts in the horizon (link here)? well, that pretty much came into play here.

Still not seeing anything of interest?  Hint #2, I chose not to go with the Rule of Thirds to make it a little easier on you.

If you give up, hit the jump for a huge clue.


There, as you can plainly tell this is a shot of a mountain goat err of a Frigidaire with legs or hell, a white boulder.  Essentially this is what you are left with at the 80mm range and it’s is going to be hard to convince family and friends you even saw such a creature.  Now you can crop in nice and tight and you can add some deductive reasoning – it’s white, on a mountain and appears to have at least two legs, obviously it is mountain goat or better yet proof the Yeti is alive and well (and not a rubber costume frozen in a freezer — freezer, Frigidaire with legs … and you think these posts are thrown out without any planning).

Now let’s push that view up to around 155mm.  They are still a ways out there, but the field is narrowed significantly and the objects are a little easier to find – again centering for your convenience.

Time to break out the big glass an hit the 400mm mark.

Now we are talking.  Clearly it is a family of mountain goats navigating the steep slopes.  The definition of a photographer is “One whose glass never has enough reach”  Because of that, I am always looking at longer glass .. always.  It is a difficult to go much further without moving to the primes (non-telephoto) due to the bulk that comes with them – the Beast was aptly named.  For me, it is hard to give up the composition options of having zoom capability to instead go with the primes.  However, there is an option of extending the reach with the use of Teleconverters (for those not in this hobby, think of it as a magnifier which increases both ends of the zoom by a specified factor).  Thanks to my lovely wife, guess who now owns a 1.4x Teleconverter … time to book that trip back to Yellowstone!

Until then, we’ll have to enjoy the shots we were able to get.  Quite honestly, I am very pleased we were able to get shots at all based on the distance we were spanning.  I should point out that the large zooms are susceptible to distortion from the heat vapors rising from the ground.  I think this is what caused some of the washout on the overall picture.  I tried to recover it in post processing, but it was difficult going.  Here is another shot which shows the two adults and the juvi.

.. and this shot finally puts to rest that they do indeed have four legs (well, at least one of them) which puts an end the Yeti theory and our millionaire dreams.  Guess we’ll drop the walking refrigerator idea as well but the whole super long extension cord requirements was kind of putting a wrench in that anyway.

Thought I would also throw in this shot to give you a feel for the hardware we’re carrying around these days.  It also provides a good visual of how the haze was impacting the backdrop of the mountains.

The following space is devoted to the inevitable discussion from professional photographers starting with “Hey that picture of you shows that you were out in the harsh sun trying to take photographs. Obviously you are a worthless amateur and you should be at the lodge eating waffles, not out trying to photograph anything of any value….. ”
[valuable discussion], [entertaining rebuttal], [name calling], [unkind gestures], [tears and laughter]

There, now that mess is over with, I need to correct a serious situation. I managed to make a whole wildlife post without a single bit of insights into this wonderful creature. Intriguing to me, according to Wikipedia, mountain goats are only found in North America and in case this comes up at trivia night, they are actually not goats as the name suggests although clearly a close relative. I fear stating this thanks to certain people equating this to trigger opportunities, but they are listed in the least concerned conservation category. Looks like they live wild in the 10-12 year range.. when not in cross-hairs. For a parting quiz, you probably know their offspring are called kids and can deduce their males are called billies, but any idea what the name is given to a female mountain goat?

A) that would be nannies

That’s all folks hope you enjoyed!

6 thoughts on “A Walking Frigidaire or ???”

  1. I tried checking your reference in Wikipedia yesterday, but, unfortunately, they were “off” for SOPA protesting. So, I can’t dispute it. 🙂

    One alternative to having more lens is just to go to around 10,000 feet yourself and they hang out on the side of the road… LOL (I think we gave you the pics from when we went on the Beartooth Pass and wandered up to a herd there…). If you guys make it out when the pass is open (closes in the fall due to snow, opens usually around Memorial day in spring, but was much later this year), we’ll head up and see if we can find some for you.



  2. If you fire a few rounds at them they might fall off the mountain and you could get some good close shots. (By shots I mean photographs—what kind of person do you think I am??).



  3. Damn the SOPA for preventing validation of my reference!!!! … on the other hand did you see where I was recently named Father of the Cub Scouts .. don’t believe me? check it out on Wikipedia (ha)

    Hmmm 10,000 ft carrying and 8 pound glass – not sure that would be good for my longevity .. any chance you can go up there and herd them down for me? pretty please?


  4. Apparently a blood thirsty maniac willing to kill in the name of Al Gore to resolve global warming, that’s who You should be ashamed of yourself! to think my brother would support Al Gore – the horror, the horror.


  5. Actually, when we saw the sheep up there on the Beartooth Pass, they were literally about 30 feet off of the side of then road (the Beartooth Pass is a road from Red Lodge, MT to Cooke City, MT / NE entrance of Yellowstone), so no major hiking required. Just had to pull off in the little parking area and walk across the street. Heck, with your lens, you probably wouldn’t even have to get out of the car. 🙂

    It was kind of surreal to see about 20 goats just hanging out and eating the vegetation as I’ve never seen them in the wild that close. We were above the tree line, and the ground wasn’t really covered with grass, but kind of what I’d expect to see on tundra in Alaska. One of the goats thought people were getting too close and started coming towards the crowd (Giselle has a sequence of pictures where it appears closer in each one… kind of funny) but no shots were fired other than from cameras. 🙂



  6. Sigh. Skids, as an owner of a new Nikon, you need to learn a key principle of photography. Never ever ever use phrases like “no major” or “wouldn’t have to get out of the car” Let’s take another crack at that. We [Skids and Giselle) were forced to abandon the vehicle when the falling snow crested over the bumper forcing the all the drive wheels off the ground. We had to duck tape on our snow shows to keep from losing them on the rough terrain. Once we made out way out the back window we were forced to hold our Nikon above our heads to prevent it from getting wet if we fell through the layer of ice on the frozen lake. We lost our bearings and was forced to navigate by Ursa Major just hoping that was the right direction to the rare Mountain Sheep never before filmed so deep in the highlands. With fingers bleeding and toes numbed from the horrid wind we narrowly missed falling into a crevasse that would have surely been our coffin. As we fell out of the treeline there they were. Immediately we began to sprint to capture the last glint of sunlight falling on our subjects leaving only a brief moment for a single shot. Diving over a rock, the exposure was dialed in and the shutter flung open capturing the majestic sight. Alas, here is the final product to cherish forever!

    now doesn’t that sound a LOT better!!!


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