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Troy photographer releases elk book

| September 15, 2004 12:00 AM

By Roger Morris, Western News Publisher

Troy wildlife photographer Don Jones is always looking for something different.

When he saw that everybody was shooting elk photographs in Yellowstone, he went north of the border in search of something different.

Unfortunately, his success as a wildlife photographer and the popularity of photography has him working harder to stand out in the crowd, again.

Places Jones once enjoyed in solitude with big bull elks are now packed with photographers standing side by side, he said.

³I was shooting one time and I was afraid to move my tripod and lose my space,² he said. ³So I left the tripod and camera and walked a short distance to the left to see if the angle was better. When I came back here¹s this photographer leaning on top of my camera shooting photos.²

Jones takes it as another challenge.

A collection of his work, 120 pages with 153 elk images, was recently released by Far Country Press as a tabletop, hardbound book. ³Rocky Mountain Elk Portfolio² features many of Jones¹ favorite photos, often works that he couldn¹t sell. It represents 20 years of work.

³My wife reminds me that I once said I wasn¹t going to shoot elk because everybody does it,² Jones said. ³It¹s one of my biggest sellers.²

His elk images have been on countless magazine covers, in books, calendars, post cards, shirts, magnets and dining room table place mats.

It¹s only appropriate. Jones¹ first published photograph was in Bugle magazine, publication for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

³I just got into it and pretty soon I became known for it,² Jones said of his elk photos.

³As many elk photos as I sell each year, my file keeps growing,² he said. ³The trouble is my files keep growing faster than sales.²

That made the decision to do an elk book quite simple, he said.

The book includes images of cows sparring, fawns playing and, of course, bugling bulls. Many of them are photos he couldn¹t sell to the hunting industry ³because antlers sell,² Jones said. And this book has plenty of antlers, as well.

³I¹m hoping it will appeal to folks who like elk,² he said.

Elk photography has become so much a part of Jones that when he considered skipping the rut for a year, he felt uneasy. He couldn¹t do it.

³This is the first year I didn¹t shoot bears. It¹s the first year I didn¹t shoot turkey,² he said. ³I think I¹d go into withdrawal if I didn¹t shoot elk.²

Jones began shooting photographs when he was a boy in Chicago. While working for the Forest Service in Troy, he would take time off to shoot wildlife and in 1994 he quit his job to pursue photography as a career.

³I like it when I¹m with a subject and I can think about what it¹s going to do and what kind of shot I can take,² he said. ³Now it¹s: do I have to worry about what the boys next to me are going to do.²

Jones shoots his wildlife photos where he can easily access the animals and have great background scenery.

³There are only so many of these places and more and more somebody else is present,² he said.

He said he will keep looking for such places because he wants the unique photos of elk, like the collection he published in his new book.