Originally featured in Points West magazine in Fall/Winter 2016
Yellowstone Migrations – Elk, camera trap photograph by Joe Riis
Joe Riis, a National Geographic magazine contributing photographer, offers viewers unprecedented insights into the lives of migrating animals. For the special exhibition Invisible Boundaries: Exploring Yellowstone’s Great Animal Migrations [on view at the Center in 2016], he installed remote camera traps and trekked far into the Yellowstone backcountry to capture astonishing images of elk on the move.
Purchased by the Center, this photograph pictures three-week-old calves following their mothers up a steep mountainside on their first migration in southeastern Yellowstone. This, what Riis calls “the photograph of his dreams,” took him two years to achieve. He set up a trail camera to capture activity along a newly-discovered migration route. The first year, a curious grizzly bear tossed the camera from its mount even before the elk’s migration. The second year, when Riis checked his footage, he realized he’d captured the perfect shot, an intimate portrait that reveals the fragility and strength of elk, their vulnerability, and resilience.
Joe Riis. Yellowstone Migrations – Elk, 2015. Camera trap photograph. William E. Weiss Memorial Fund Purchase. Photograph © Joe Riis, 2015. 10.16
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