Misty Mountain Afternoon

I was so planning to just rest today… but apparently I’m not good at just resting 😦 My legs are tired, my knees hurt, my back hurts, everything hurts and I really think some rest might have been a good idea. But there is a mountain snowstorm going on and there is something in me that just compels me to venture out into every storm. Don’t know what it is, but I have to do it. It could be hereditary… I remember back in 1975 in the worst snowstorm anyone can remember to hit northwest Iowa, 6 foot snow drifts, 75 mph winds, -90 wind chill, my dad and I had to venture out into it… Don’t remember the reason, probably wasn’t one, just the need to see what it was like.

Misty Mountain Afternoon

Fresh snow and fog in the Colorado Rockies

Well today was no different, except now I have somewhat of a reason to go out into the storms. Somebody has to get the pictures! I could see there was a cool cloud / fog system blowing up from the Arkansas Valley into Cripple Creek and I wondered if it might look awesome from my overlook. So me and Big Dog geared up and headed out into the fresh snow and mud and wind to see what we might find. Turns out it was kind of cool looking over the gold mine, so I snapped a few of the huge mound of mine tailings with some of the old historic strucDrtures visible. Then on we went, up the trail to the overlook. I was surprised to be able to see anything with all the fog, but there was a small window of time when some of the nearby foothills were visible through the blowing moisture. I stood in the cold for a while getting the best moments of the day before even denser fog rolled in and I could not seqe anything.

Then there was just the long hike back home. Big Dog is a big muddy mess and so are my boots but I’m glad we went, always love the experience of a storm πŸ™‚ The pictures are kind of interesting… Thinking the clouds and fog would be more dramatic, I used a circular polarizer today and I like the effect. Be sure to visit my website where I have added a few from today’s adventure!

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Spring

Today is the spring equinox and as it turns out, my fourth anniversary with WordPress who’s software greeted me with a nice electronic congratulations πŸ™‚ Can’t say I even remember signing up, but four years ago today was exactly nine days before Tricia went into surgery to try to save her spine from the tentacles of the cancer she was so bravely battling. Unfortunately although they called the surgery a success, she never walked again. I don’t even remember blogging the first year of my membership here. Every day consisted of pushing her wheel chair about a mile down to the coffee shop and back. The coffee shop had the only chair on the planet, as far as I know, that she could be comfortable sitting in. The sun would stream into the windows there and that warmth and comfort was about all there was to look forward to. By the next spring she was gone and I was starting life anew… Thinking back that first year alone in the campground was crazy! I’m sure I had plenty to blog about then, perhaps I should go back and read some of my entries πŸ™‚ I remember every weekend through the spring and summer I spent hauling the remnants of our lives together off to an auction house in Denver.

Sangre de Cristo Spring

Sangre de Cristo range on the first day of spring

Today didn’t feel much like spring though, yesterday the windchill was -1 and today the real feel was 10 accompanied by a couple of inches of blowing and stinging snow. That didn’t stop me and Big Dog from making the trek down to the mountain, it was cold but with a couple of inches of fresh snow and some beautiful sunshine it was a splendid day πŸ™‚ The alpenglow was some of the most pronounced that I’ve seen yet, but I shot that yesterday and felt like sleeping in a little today. By the time we got there the view to the west was obscured a bit from blowing snow and haze in the air from the spring snowstorm, but the view of the Sangre de Cristo range was stunning anyway. Although not award winners, the pictures from today are pretty and a good record of the first day of spring for 2018!

Snow on Pikes Peak

Fresh snow on the foothills of Pikes Peak

Was hoping to see some deer out early this morning but no luck with that. I wasn’t paying much attention on the return trail and missed the turnoff which produced a view of the Pikes Peak foothills and some blowing snow off to the east that I haven’t noticed before. Some wispy clouds in the morning sun added to the scene which kind of made the day πŸ™‚ However, plans to get out on my mountain bike were definitely dampened by the wind and snow, maybe next week!

I hope that this spring brings hope and joy to everyone, especially my readers and that all your plans for the warmer weather come to fruition! I know many are struggling with all kinds of issues and it is my fervent prayer that with the onset of the warm sunshine peace and prosperity will seek out and find each and every one of you πŸ™‚

The Wall

 

No not the border wall… a different wall. I expected worse this morning after a night of snow and the sound of the wind thundering across the high plains of the southern Rockies. Nevertheless, the alarm was set for 05:30 and it was going to stay that way. The coffee pot was ready to brew, the camera ready to go and the hike set.

Sangre de Cristo Alpenglow

Sangre de Cristo Alpenglow

Sipping my morning coffee and getting the weather stats I discovered that the wind was still strong enough to bring the windchill down to -1 and it looked like all I was going to be able to see was fog. However a few minutes later when it began to lighten a bit I noticed that I could just barely make out the snow capped peaks of the Sangre de Cristo. Big Dog was ready to go so I bundled up and headed out the door.Β  As we headed down the trail I noticed that the alpenglow sunrise was already taking effect in the sky and I was dismayed to realize that I hadn’t accounted for the sun rising about 15 minutes earlier than the last time I tried this! So we had to run a couple of miles to make up for the miscalculation and still nearly missed the show. On the way I snapped a couple of sub par compositions just in case I managed to miss the entire thing from the top of the ridge 😦

Deer on the Mountain

Pair of mule deer on the mountain

Fortunately we arrived on the mountainside in time to witness a pretty cool sunrise. The Sangre were a beautiful red wine color, the color that Spanish explorer Antonio Valverde y Cosio must have seen when he named this range the “Blood of Christ” mountains. After making sure I captured the scene to the west I noticed that the rising sun in the east and pink glow on the morning clouds made a beautiful backdrop for some aspen trees and a rustic country fence. I was really cold and wanting to get back home, but we had to stop and explore that subject for a while. After we froze our butts long enough the show was over and we turned around to head home. As we strode through the frozen landscape I noticed a couple of spots on the mountainside across the valley that looked new. Upon closer inspection I determined that they were actually a small herd of deer and although I could not get very close they did turn the usually boring mountainside into a worthy composition πŸ™‚

As we made the return trip I was still reveling in the magnificence of the Sangre de Cristo sunrise. The Sangre de Cristo range is called a fault block mountain range, a rugged wall of mountains rising directly up from the plains much like the Tetons in Wyoming and the Sierra Nevada in California. As a result of their formation by risingΒ  or falling cracks in the earth’s crust there are no foothills, just an imposing massive impenetrable wall of mountains.

When standing in the presence of such beauty it is impossible for a spiritual minded person to neglect the Creator of such majesty. While considering the towering wall formed by the “Blood of Christ” mountains I began to ponder another wall created by the Blood of Christ, the wall between the carnal and the spiritual.

Lately many in the media and social media feel themselves to be eminently qualified to comment on and gleefully insult concepts they know nothing about. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” That they know nothing about what they are saying is not their fault. They cannot comprehend the other side of the “wall” because they have never seen the other side and knowledge of it has been closed to them. Fortunately there has been provided one and only one door for mankind to pass through and obtain access to the other side of that wall.

Β β€œEnter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” The Sangre de Cristo is the narrow gate that few will discover. Only those who have accepted that truth will experience the other side of the great divide separating the spiritual from the carnal. Until then those who have not passed through remain unqualified to comment on Christianity, the scriptures and the faith of the believers that they so despise. In fact they are not even qualified to read the scriptures… they can try but they will read in vain, without understanding. My hope is that the blind leaders of the blind will honestly seek answers to the questions they so glibly and hatefully attempt to answer, and open the door to the Savior who stands ready to open the narrow gate to all who truly want to enter,Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

 

Futility

I have to admit, today’s project seems like an exercise in futility. Without a running vehicle I see the same scenery and the same photo subjects day after day with little hope of shooting anything original or new. And even if I did the odds in this saturated marketplace that anyone will even see my work is becoming more and more remote. Last week I wrote of alpenglow, the cool celestial effect from which the Sangre de Cristo mountain range got it’s name. I don’t know, maybe everyone but me already knew about alpenglow or maybe I’m just more easily entertained than others, but the fact is virtually no one saw the article. Or maybe I am the victim of the new Facebook algorithm that picks out for people what Mark Zuckerburg thinks they should be looking at. I have noticed recently that I am only seeing the posts of a couple of people, over and over and over. Funny, I eliminated 90% of my most annoying liberal friends and now all I see are the annoying posts of my few remaining liberal friends. Not sure what that means, maybe liberals make the most posts or maybe FB thinks I am in need of reindoctrination, lol. The fact remains however, virtually no one is seeing my posts and Facebook has become a nearly irrelevant tool for marketing my work. On every post I make, I am reminded that others are “boosting” their posts by purchasing ad space. And true enough, my side space is filled with ads by other photographers that I have no interest whatsoever in making a purchase from and am quite sure that they have no interest in my work either, a waste of money for all involved.

Springtime Aspen and Fence

Barren springtime Colorado aspen trees

Fortunately for me, the business models of my stock agencies are more business oriented in their search methodologies, favoring those who work hard and consistently produce new material without making judgements on the political correctness of the producer. Shooting for stock is quite a bit different than shooting for art, in fact too much artistic manipulation will only get your work rejected by the stock editors. Subjects of great beauty are of course helpful in stock photography but not necessary. Advertisers are often not looking for magnificent scenery for their ad campaigns, but are looking for a concept that matches their vision. A suitable backdrop for their vision often includes a copious amount of open space for text or imagery of the product they are marketing.

So today, the mountains looked pretty much the same as they do every morning at sunrise, amazingly beautiful and worthy of a few shots even though I don’t see any difference since the last time I photographed them. But today with the despair of the failure of my more artistic work to sell I turned my sights back to stock. I have been eyeing these aspen trees for some time and today I noticed that the sun was casting an interesting light upon them and the parched mountain grass. Knowing that sharp focus is important to stock editors, I set my camera to Av and f8 in hopes of a razor sharp image and tried to capture a vision of solitude or loneliness in the simplicity of barren late winter aspen trees. These I uploaded to my stock agencies along with some of the morning Sangre de Cristo, however only this one have I added to my own website where it will be sold as royalty free stock.

Facebook posts of my work require a lot of extra time, and my return on investment of this effort does not appear to be worthwhile so I won’t be putting in any extra effort making my images available for viewing there. Until I see some effort in fairness by Facebook I consider it to be an irrelevant tool as far as business marketing is concerned. On the upside, I have recently noticed that I have made “All Star” at LinkedIn as interest in my portfolio is growing there πŸ™‚ Any of my readers who want to continue to see daily updates are welcome to add me as a LinkedIn contact! You are also welcome of course to subscribe to my blogΒ  by clicking the follow button and you will receive an email each time I publish a new article!

Alpenglow

β€œIn 1719 the Spanish explorer Antonio Valverde y Cosio named the Sangre de Cristo (“Blood of Christ”) mountains after being impressed by the reddish hue of the snowy peaks at sunrise.β€œ, according to Wikipedia.

Sangre de Cristo Mountain Alpenglow

The beautiful red glow in the morning on these mountains is from an optical effect called Alpenglow that appears as a reddish glow on the horizon just before sunrise. The glow emanating from the solar disk appears as a band of colored light across the sky or mountains reflected by ice crystals or precipitation at these high elevations. I’ve seen the red glow countless times since having moved to Cripple Creek but have never quite found the right time to get out and photograph them. Yesterday I noticed that the effect was most pronounced at exactly 7:20 a.m., so today I awoke at 5:00 to prepare.

Sangre de Cristo Alpenglow

I figured it would take us about a half hour to get down the trail to a point where I have an unobstructed view of the entire range. It was clear and cold this morning as we strode through the darkness, a perfect morning to photograph the Alpenglow effect. As we neared the overlook I was able to barely make out the snow capped peaks through the darkness, with no sign of the anticipated red glow in sight. A few minutes later however, I noticed that there was a band of color forming across the predawn sky, which I surmised was the expected glow from the sun’s curvature still hiding below the horizon.

We arrived at the overlook at about 7:00 as the glowing red band was moving down towards the mountain peaks. Then at 7:15 just as I had planned, the red glow from the rising sun descended upon the rugged range. It was still quite dark however and I was concerned that I was not going to have sufficient light to create usable photographs, but I proceeded with my shooting plan anyway. I chose ISO 200 so as not to get too much digital noise in the images and some I shot on auto for a higher shutter speed while others were shot in Av mode with aperture f8 in hopes of getting some depth of field. Now that I am looking at the images, it appears I was successful and have a good collection of usable captures.

By 7:30 a.m. it was all over, the pink was gone and the beautiful mountains shown in the bright morning sunlight. I hadn’t noticed while shooting, but by this time I was pretty darn cold! My fingers were tingling even with glove liners on and my shoulders and back were aching from the bone chilling cold. So me and the big dog decided to pack it in and make the trek homeward, hoping to see a few of the deer or elk that had left so much evidence in the sand the night before. No luck there, but now back in the warmth of my home I feel privileged to have stood in the presence of the mountains named for the blood of my Savior.

If you enjoy this article and others that I produce, please consider subscribing and you will receive an email each time I publish a new one, ensuring that you will never miss out! Also please feel free to share my work often, for without your assistance many will never know of my work. As always, these images and more are for sale on my website as wall art and royalty free stock

A Better Start


Didn’t set the alarm this morning but was still hoping for an early enough morning to be able to get in on the nice lighting. Didn’t quite hit the perfect moment, but definitely better than yesterday! I awoke at 7:20 a.m. and took Big Dog out for his morning business just in time to notice that 7:20 was the perfect moment to have been down the trail a couple of miles to catch the early morning pinkness still available over the Arkansas Valley and on the distant Sangre de Cristo Range.

Hazy Sangre de Cristo Mountains

By the time I got going it was still the perfect time for some wildlife photography, so I was hoping to see some deer or elk, maybe a coyote or fox still out hunting or maybe even my favorite resident, the Rough Legged Hawk. Other than a few encouraging tracks in the sand, no luck at all in that department. But the mountains were still pretty, minus the pink morning light that I was hoping for. There was however still a hint of early morning color over the valley and on the snow capped peaks and I could not resist snapping a few.

Despite being another major disappointment, the day was not entirely lost… I obtained some good information that I can put to use tomorrow. I know when to set the alarm, 6:30 a.m. should be the perfect time to wake up, giving me plenty of time to be out the door by 7:00 and down the trail a couple of miles to my favorite vista. I need to get this done before the sun starts coming up even earlier later in the spring and summer. Also need to get those shots before the fires start and I can’t see the Sangre at all. It has been a very dry year and the specter of a summer of mountain wildfires is looming large 😦

Today’s picture is of course a very hazy view of the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Range over the Arkansas Valley with the layers of foothills leading up to the rugged range and the continental divide separating east from west. Always hoping my readers will take the time to view my website where pictures are for sale as wall art and royalty free stock.

Spring Returns

Couldn’t think of a catchy title so I just went with the obvious. Last weekend began with a hike in -13 degree weather so this morning felt like spring again. Today wasn’t exactly balmy at 16 but it felt a heck of a lot better than last week! I was hoping for a much earlier start, well at least a darker start this morning with the time change, but I didn’t set an alarm and consequently I slept way past the golden hour for interesting photography. I should probably never set my hopes too high on the first day off following a week of arising at 4:45 😦

Rough Legged HawkWell anyway, the sun was well up, all the nice color gone from the sky and way too much haze already formed by the time I was able to get moving this morning. On the upside, I did manage to get dressed and get out the door Not too far into my hike with the big dog I noticed the Rough Legged Hawk eyeing us from atop one of our new light posts that now grace the streets on my end of town. I prepared my camera settings for a majestic flight that I knew would ensue as soon as we approached the big bird… but it didn’t happen. After a bit he did fly, but only to the next light post so this was going to require a new tactic… I hooked dog to one of the nearby fence posts and approached the hawk slowly and quietly hoping for a closeup of him on the light post.

The big bird of prey payed almost no attention to me at all and I was able to just walk right up and shoot away, with him sort of eyeing me sideways just in case. I’m not too impressed with my shots, not a fan of birds just sitting on a perch. But it is what it is and soon we were on our way to my favorite nearby mountain view. The haze was way too heavy for a decent shot of the Sangre, but of course I had to shoot a couple anyway… if for no other reason than to be able to claim that I was there!

Hazy Sangre de Cristo

Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range of Colorado in heavy haze on a beautiful spring morning