A Day Off and Random Musings

Checked Accuweather when I awoke this morning… -11f with a real feel of -35f was the report. A quick trip outdoors for Big Dog’s morning duties also revealed another inch or so of fresh powder. Off in the distance I could hear the sound of snowplows out cleaning up the mess. Forgot to bring in the trash can from yesterday, finally found it a block away in a snowbank, I thought I could hear the wind howling last night through the fog of sleep.

Considering all that and also how dang tired I am from all the physical activity these days, the decision was made… a day off. Well almost off, Big Dog still needed his morning walk down the street to the open space to finish all his morning duties. My instinct was to grab the camera but I didn’t feel like it and off we went. Well the Sangre de Cristo Range was on fire from the sunrise on the new storm clouds heading this way and I was just sick… I knew by the time I got home and back with the camera the show would all be over. Oh well, I captured some the other day that were probably about the same and just as good.

Herd of Deer on a Winter MorningFortunately I did get out yesterday for some snowshoeing and shooting. Thought our hike was going to come up dry, but as we started our descent I saw three bucks headed the other way in a hurry, so fast in fact that I almost missed them! I didn’t have my camera on the right focus selection and I couldn’t bet my snowshoes turned around fast enough to catch them all, but I finally did get composed for one shot of the last buck making his way through the deep snow :) I wasn’t satisfied with the pictures from on our hike so we headed up Highway 67 to see if the bighorns might be out. Unfortunately they weren’t so I headed for home to start adding up the books so I can do my taxes. But as I neared my home I thought, “I wonder if I should drive up Teller 1 to look for the elk?”. Naa… probably won’t see any, it will be a wasted trip.

Used to be my only criteria for hopping in the truck and going somewhere was whether

Storm Clouds on Pikes Peak

or not I wanted to go. Now there is always this voice in the back of my mind haunting me… asking, will it be profitable? Back in the day in school they made us study the Great Depression and one thing about it has always stuck in my mind… the people that went through that terrible time were changed forever, their whole way of thinking about the future permanently scarred. I didn’t really understand that then, but now after the Great Recession I get it. I was a software engineer in the aerospace industry at the time and we had seen many ups and downs. I had somehow managed to survive all the down times but I had plenty of friends who didn’t, but they all found other jobs some in completely different fields. And with contracts constantly won and lost we all knew that one day the axe would fall for the final time and we would all have to find something else to do.

Herd of Deer on a Winter Morning

There were plenty of jobs that I thought I would like, the camera stores for example,Β  we had a brand new Circuit City and they had techies there…Β  I loved book stores, maybe that would be a fun place to be. Our mobile disc jockey service had always done well and I was still picking up some wedding photography, perhaps more if I put my mind to it. Well that was until the Great Recession. Suddenly it was all gone… our brand new Circuit City went out of business, the book stores that I loved closed their doors, the computer stores were all boarded up, and 50 percent of Denver’s camera stores bit the dust. Every backup plan gone in an instant it seemed like. I still remember my wife asking me, “So what’s Plan B?”, my reply, “there is no Plan B.”. I still don’t know how we survived it, one day at a time, one miracle at a time I guess.

But like the survivors of the Great Depression, my thinking is changed, my confidence in the future diminished. So I guess that is why the usage of each dollar is prefaced with the question, “Is this going to be profitable, or is there a more thrifty option?”. So I almost didn’t go yesterday, the voice in the back of my mind was saying, “There aren’t going to be any elk.”.Β  But I decided there was enough of a chance that it would be worth such a small effort. Maybe 30 miles of driving for a good payoff?

Herd of Deer on a Winter Morning

Well as it turns out I didn’t see any elk, but I did see these deer out of the corner of my eye. Had to turn around and drive back to get the shots and I thought the freezing wind was going to blow me into the next county! But it was well worth the effort, the picture of the doe with the two bucks is one of my favorite of all time so I’m glad I made the trip πŸ™‚ And maybe that is a lesson to be learned about taking chances. Those terrible years are behind us now, maybe it is time for a new mindset. Maybe I don’t want to be like the survivors of the Great Depression, maybe it’s time to leave fear and despair behind and take on a mindset of optimism and hope and winning again!

As always these images and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, canvas, traditional framing and matting and tons of cool household, tech, and gift items!

Advertisements

Alpenglow and Storm Clouds

We have had a beautiful springlike couple of days but this morning’s clouds portend a change… Snow and cold are on the way for later this week, temperatures will be dropping back to near zero for a couple of days. Big Dog and I were up early today so just

Alpenglow and Storm Clouds

before sunrise we grabbed the camera and the snowshoes and headed for the mountains. I could see that it was going to be a beautiful sunrise and indeed it was. But the real show was not to the east, but to the southwest where the alpenglow effect was illuminating the Sangre de Cristo and Collegiate Peaks ranges in a beautiful pink glow. I found a good spot and pulled over for a few shots before going on to the trailhead where I hoped for another photo op with the elk herd. For some reason however, they were not there today, no sign of them at all. It’s like they have vanished off the face of the earth! Oh well… maybe this week’s cold weather will bring them back down to lower elevations. Lol… and by lower elevations, I mean 10,000 feet πŸ™‚

Alpenglow and Storm Clouds

Our snowshoe hike yielded nothing in the way of wildlife. Did get a few shots of the storm clouds gathering on the Sangre though, some of the nicest that I have seen in a long time!

As always these pictures are available on my website as wall art and cool gift items! Please give us a visit if you like what you see!

The Privilege of Wildlife

On a morning like this I feel so privileged. There are very few places where a person can regularly go out a few minutes from home and suddenly find himself in the midst of a wilderness scene like the one I experienced this today πŸ™‚

Elk Herd on a Winter Morning

I was at the trailhead early, just before sunrise and just in time to see the elk herd again. I think there were even more animals in the herd today and I could here them calling, talking to each other I guess. Anyway it was amazing to be in the presences of complete silence other than the breeze in the pine trees and the sound of pure wilderness. Well, there was no time to waste, all the talk I was hearing could be an elk discussion about heading up the mountainside! So I raised the big 400mm to my eye and steadied it on a fence post for a few shots. I always make sure I set up and start shooting as quickly as possible. Nothing worse than fiddling around and ending up with no record at all of your encounter!

Once I was sure I had something to show for the day I began slowly moving up the trail for a better view of the action. There is a fence at the trailhead to keep in the free range cattle so the

Elk Herd on a Winter Morning

elk had to negotiate that before moving higher. There is a gate which is kind of like a mini maze which does a good job of keeping in the cows. But the elk have figured it out just fine and most of the animals were just walking right through it, but some decided to jump the fence instead. Elk and deer have no trouble at all in jumping a five foot fence. They don’t even have to take a run at it. From a standing start they just hop right over.

Elk Herd on a Winter MorningSoon all the magnificent beasts were on the other side and they began the journey to the dense pine forest on the other side of the mountain top. I followed on my snowshoes for a while hoping they would stop. They did gather in the meadow at the top where I was able to capture a few more images, but they soon noticed me and vanished into the wilderness. Pretty much all the imagery I captured there was elk butt heading in the other direction!

I hiked another mile or so around the mountain in hopes of another encounter to no

Elk Herd on a Winter Morning

avail. However there was a good view of the sun rising on the southern mountains which made the extra miles worth the effort. Hopefully I’ll have time to process those in the next couple of days.

As a side note to myself, I may have accidentally learned a new trick. In all the excitement I accidentally bumped the exposure compensation wheel and shifted it from +2/3 of a stop to 0 compensation. I thought for sure I had blown the entire shoot, but as it turns out a quick check of the histogram showed a decent exposure to the left and the unintended benefit of that was a faster shutter speed. The images were well within tolerance of Camera Raw to be able to drag the exposure over and the faster shutter speed resulted in those images being sharper than the more accurately exposed ones! Don’t think I would make such an extreme adjustment on purpose, but I might consider a third of a stop shutter speed increase to be a good choice some morning!

As always these images and more are available as wall art on my website on glossy acrylic and metal sheets, canvas and traditional framing and matting. Cool household, tech, and gift items are also available! Just click the “elk” gallery to view only images of elk and then click an image you like to view all the product options and pricing!

Morning Delight

As I pulled the old Dodge into the trailhead parking this morning I thought I could see movement in the predawn light so I parked a little sideways to get a better look. Sure enough, there was an elk herd grazing and moseying up the mountainside from where

Morning Elk Herd

ever they were bedded down last night. Rather than charging up the hill with Big Dog like I usually do I got the camera ready and lingered a bit, hoping for the sun to crest the ridge to the east so I could have better light for a shot of the magnificent beasts.

Patience paid off as the sun finally did poke through bathing the mountain top in a beautiful warm morning glow. By then the animals had noticed me and were moving up the mountain into the light and I was able to capture this nice image of the mini migration. Lol, except for this young fellow below who had apparently found something else to do rather than pay attention to what the adults were doing. By this time he had noticed and was scrambling to catch up πŸ™‚

Young Elk on the Run

I was hoping that as we rounded the hillside on the trail that we would get a chance to see them again in the high meadow, but by the time we arrived up there the elk were all gone. Vanished like ghosts into the dense wilderness to the south. Got a few more images of this herd that I will probably try to work on later… unless of course I just decide to go shooting again!

Maiden Voyage

Well this is it… my first outing with the Canon 100-400 L Mark I. I have been wanting that 400mm lens for over ten years! I had a Sigma 100-500 back before the Great Recession that I had to sell and I always regretted that. At the time I didn’t have the money to do

Deer on the Mountainside Title

any traveling and didn’t need it to photograph the deer in my little game reserve near home, my f4L 70-200 was perfect for the trails in those woods. But like always, as soon as I sold it everything changed and I needed it again! Well anyway, my photo buddy found an entire camera and lens collection for sale on Craigslist, including a Sigma 150-500 that I was going to buy from him if he bought the set. But alas, the guy didn’t get back to him and sold the set to someone else.Β  I was pretty bummed because I thought I was going to at least have my Sigma back!

Well, bummed enough to make some calls anyway, and as it turned out my favorite camera store, Englewood Camera just happened to have the Canon 100-400 Mark I. This was late in the day on Wednesday so I wasn’t able to get up there but they were nice enough to hold it for me until yesterday. The lens is in perfect shape, looks like it has never been used so of course I had to have it!Β  It was a long drive, but I always enjoy a nice visit to the store and I am tickled to have the lens!

Canon 100-400Normally I wouldn’t take such a big lens on a long hike, but I had to test it out! So I loaded it up, along with the snowshoes and Big Dog and off we went to the trail πŸ™‚ I can tell you, lugging a heavy camera through the snow with Big Dog making his own decisions about which direction we should be going was a struggle! And we didn’t see a thing to photograph 😦 Until the end of course when I was exhausted, my heart pounding and my arms quivering from fatigue. But in the distance on the barren face of the hillside I thought I spotted something… Could be a few rocks or dirt spots, or maybe some deer or elk. So I brought up the big 400mm to my eye for a look and indeed it was a small herd of mule deer foraging for food.

I have to say I am amazed that I got this shot. As I said, my arms were shaking and I was tired. Lugging along the Manfrotto was out of the question so the shot is handheld, zoomed in all the way at 400mm, ISO 400, f8 at a 500th of a second. I could barely even see these deer at this distance and this lens has given me a salable picture! All I had to do is crop a little bit of pine beetle ugliness out of the pines on the right and this picture was ready to go. And this is without using my 1.4x lens extender, which would have pushed me out to 560mm, but I doubt I would have been able to hand hold that anyway.

So all in all I am so far delighted in the quality of this lens. I can’t wait to get out with a tripod where there is an abundance of wildlife such as in Rocky Mountain National Park, or maybe Waterton Canyon or the mountain goat viewing area in Cottonwood Pass and really give this thing a workout! But for strenuous hikes in deep snow where the weight I am carrying makes a difference, I’ll be going back to my old faithful, the f4L 70-200 with the 1.4x extender. I’ll have to concede the long distance shots in lieu of a more enjoyable hike.

As always, this image and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on metal, acrylic, canvas and traditional framing and matting. Cool gift, household andΒ  tech items are also available with a beautiful #swkrullimaging picture on them, including battery chargers, blankets and pillows, gift cards and much more. Just click on an image you like and you will see the full preview plus all the product options and pricing!