Misty Foggy Autumn Morning

As I sipped my coffee this morning I was wondering why it was taking so long to get light. At the first sign of sunrise I peeked outside to see what kind of a day would greet me. Wet sidewalks and a dense layer of fog so thick it almost blotted out the street lights revealed the reason behind the stubborn darkness. There would be a short delay on this day as I knew I would have to wait for a bit more light before attempting any photographs.

Beautiful Buck in Dense Fog

My first thought was to go see if there was any interesting foggy effects and maybe even some  new snow on the south face of Pikes Peak, so I headed toward Victor while carefully watching the aspen stands for deer. As I climbed higher the fog got even more dense until I could barely see to drive. A huge buck mule deer crossed the road in front of me so I leaped out of the truck to capture an image. You can barely make out the handsome beast, but the ghostly figure in the fog made a pretty cool picture I think!

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon

Pikes Peak wasn’t visible at all so I decided to try something else. I was thinking Eleven Mile Canyon might not be quite as foggy and the drive would give the sun a bit more time to burn off the mist. I didn’t get very far up the canyon before encountering my favorite inhabitant, one of the osprey nesting pair high in the branches of a dead tree.

He carefully watched me for a while before taking flight and landing a few yards away on the cliff wall, where he watched the water intently for a fish. I snapped a few images of him watching the water and then he took flight. Fortunately I was prepared and got some nice ones of him flying away. He circled the water a couple of times looking for a fish before finally giving up and flying downstream to a new spot.

I spotted him one more time before the road grader scared him off, and I believe he circled back around and headed back upstream to quieter fishing grounds. I whiled away some time shooting the beautiful autumn colors lining the banks of the headwaters of the South Platte before calling it a day.

 

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

Autumn in Eleven Mile Canyon

Finally Some Snow

Snow and Fall Colors on Pikes Peak

Didn’t know what to expect when I rounded the corner and climbed up over Victor Pass, 10,200 feet this morning. I was hoping for some lingering fog or storm clouds from yesterday’s precipitation but I was delighted to be greeted by the season’s first significant snow on the south face of Pikes Peak 🙂 The colors are nearing their peak intensity and the white of the snow really set the scene off!

I knew I wasn’t going to be able to take it all in with the 400mm lens on so I switched to my trusty 24-105L with the polarizer attached. Once I took off my sunglasses I knew the polarizer was the right choice, it’s immediately apparent in the clouds the dramatic effect that polarization has in just the right light. I dialed the ISO down to 100 and selected a 320th of a second for the shutter speed. The camera chose F5.6

Snow and Fall Colors on Pikes Peak

which seemed good enough for the mountain which was miles in the distance. However in retrospect I should have probably gone with F8 and ISO 200. Now I know some photographers will think I should have used a slower shutter speed but in my experience up here on these high passes, the wind is always blowing. I don’t like blurry clouds and the leaves fluttering in the wind also just look blurry if your shutter speed is too low. Regardless of the aperture I chose, I’m happy with the pictures anyway!

I had to hike around a bit to get all the good angles while avoiding power lines and other obstructions but by the time storm clouds had completely obliterated the scene I was sure I had what I wanted. And I see more blue on the radar for this afternoon so tomorrow morning I should get another good opportunity to photograph another layer of our signature Colorado snow 🙂

Snow and Fall Colors on Pikes Peak

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

How to Set Exposure Compensation in Manual Mode Photography

Finally found the answer to a problem that has vexed me for some time now with my Canon camera bodies. Manual mode is my favorite choice for shooting bird photography, but the problem of quickly setting exposure compensation (EC) has always forced me to use Shutter Priority (Tv) mode instead. The reason for that is when you are in manual mode the front wheel adjusts the shutter speed and the back wheel adjusts the aperture. In Tv mode the front wheel adjusts the shutter, the back wheel adjusts EC and the camera selects the best aperture for that shutter speed, which is fine except you have no control over the aperture. In my case most of the time with my long lens the camera is going to select F8 or F9, both of which are going to be acceptable. However with a very fast lens where I might have more choices it would be nice to control both shutter speed and aperture in manual mode.

Red-tailed Hawk in Flight

Now of course you can go to the menu to adjust the EC and if your camera has it, the Q button on the back will bring up all your settings, one of which is the EC that you can set with your touch screen or change with the back wheel on older bodies. I have never found this to be an acceptable solution for bird photography, especially in the case when the bird is flying past mountains where part of the time the sky is the background and part of the time trees are the background. When the bird is flying in and out of bright backgrounds you have to be able to quickly adjust your EC without losing focus on the bird.

Thanks to Janine Krayer of Pangolin Wildlife Photography pointing this out in her Canon Camera Hacks video, I have been able to program my 90D to overcome this problem. In the Custom Functions Other #3 menu you will find the button assignments menu, one of which of course is the set button. The set button comes set to off in the default camera settings which does you no good at all. Setting the button to adjust EC creates the ability to quickly adjust the EC using the front wheel. Flash exposure compensation (FEC) is also one of the options for this button which would also come in very handy when using your Speed Light.  I went ahead and set it to regular EC, but would probably change it to FEC during a flash photo shoot.

The * button is also performs a function just asking to be reprogrammed. Normally the * button locks in an exposure value, which if bumped accidentally when using it’s next door neighbor for back button focus, will completely jack up your next exposure. Janine suggests setting it to off, but on the 90D it can also be set to manage EC, which is what I set it to. Now I have two buttons for EC, but in the case of flash photography I would have one for EC and one for FEC if I choose to program the camera that way.

Of course this is only the exact solution for Canon cameras, but I imagine other vendors have the same issue and have also devised a way around the problem as well. Check your manuals for instructions on how to do this!

Ospreys Staying Extra Long

Made a visit to Eleven Mile Canyon with no particular goal in mind other than to see what the upper reaches are like in autumn. I’ve spent time at the entry to the park watching the osprey nest but it has been a very long time since I have actually been all the way through in autumn.

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon

I was a bit early in the season for peak color along the banks of the South Platte but it was nice and cool along the river and still picturesque. As I passed the first tunnel and entered into the prime territory for hawks and eagles I spotted a huge bird in a tree right beside the road. Being a bit out of practice I pulled up way too close and by the time I got my camera ready for bird photography the handsome raptor was already on his way to the next tree.

I did catch a couple images of him as he watched me and then flew away again, but they were in shadow where as if I had gotten the first image he would have been brightly lit in the glorious light of the early morning sunshine 😦 As it was the shots I got required massive noise reduction as they required ISO 12,800 to freeze motion on the great bird as he took flight.

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon

As I drove upstream I soon spotted another large raptor in a dead tree along the water. Much to my surprise it was one of our osprey pair, still in the area a full month after their expected departure in late August. This fellow was very active on this morning and he entertained me for about an hour as I followed his exploits up and down the stream. Later I also saw his mate watching from high above on a tree near the top of the ridge.

Eventually the osprey and other raptors caught the warm air currents of this beautiful autumn morning and drifted ever higher and finally out of the range of my camera.

My First Roll of Film

Fortune Club in Victor Colorado

Well, not my first roll of film… but my first with my Canon AE-1 that I picked up a few weeks ago… and my first in probably two decades. Just got the pictures and CD back today which was pretty fun. For some reason Walgreen’s lab doesn’t return you the negatives which I failed to notice when I submitted the film there. If I decide to do any more film I’ll find a place with better service.

The CD contained images of 3072 x 2048, so basically 6 mega pixels. The color balance on the scans was quite far off, though the glossy prints seem to look fine. There was a small battle with the 50mm lens after it fell off my desk onto the carpeted floor. At first glance the lens looked fine but I managed to bend the aperture lever on the back so I for a few frames the aperture wasn’t working. Nothing a channel lock pliers in my truck couldn’t fix. All working fine again 🙂

Eleven Mile Reservoir

Nailing an exposure is a trick though after all these years of being spoiled by the LCD screen on the back of the digital camera! Perhaps if I am going to do more film shooting I’ll have to put my old light meter back in my pack! Shooting in manual with a meter should nail every exposure every time!

Well anyway, it was a blast loading and shooting film on an old antique camera. Don’t think I would want to do it very often, but it could be a fun change of pace once in a while. Plus I love that old camera… it was a marvel of engineering in it’s time, every control functions so smoothly, it’s a dream to use! Like I said in another post… if I was shooting film for what I do now I estimate I would be burning through $1500 a month in film and processing! That’s not even feasible!

 

 

 

Rocky Mountains on a Summer Day

Hunting the Hawks

Red-tailed Hawk in FlightOr hawks hunting… Could go either way! I was out early this morning hoping to photograph some red-tailed hawks but this was beyond expectations! As I rounded the curve outside of Victor I spotted a red-tail hunting in a grassy wetland area so I quietly pulled closer hoping to get a shot… Much to my surprise though, it wasn’t one hawk, there were at least four of them circling and diving down to the grass, for some kind of rodent I assume! I wasn’t quick enough to catch any of them on the ground but it wasn’t long and a couple of them were perched in the nearby trees where I could get close.

I set my camera to shutter priority mode (Tv) on a 2000th of a second. As usual I left the ISO on auto to ensure enough light for the capture and then dialed in +2 on the exposure compensation to account for the bright Colorado sky.

The intrepid raptors eyeballed me for a few minutes and then took flight for a better view. There was a breeze on this morning so the great birds were having no trouble staying afloat right above me. One managed to remain almost stationary right above me as he looked down assessing my presence. I was able to snap off about a hundred images before they drifted ever higher into the blue Colorado sky.

Red-tailed Hawk in FlightAs always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

A Week in the Park

Finally getting recovered from a long but memorable week in Rocky Mountain National Park. We were on the road by 5:00 a.m. intending to enter the west side of the park by 9:00, as per our timed entry ticket.

Trail Ridge Road

It was a beautiful drive over Trail Ridge until we neared the summit where the view was completely obscured by dense fog. No pictures until over the top and on the way down. We didn’t spend a lot of time looking at the towering peaks, the elk rut was the holy grail of the trip.

A line greeted us at the park entry so we pulled in ready for a wait. But soon a ranger greeted us and we showed him our ticket and my America the Beautiful pass, which was good for a wave past all the lines straight to the front and around the kiosks 🙂 I love my season pass !!!

Trail Ridge Road

We were the filled with anticipation as we neared the meadows of the east side, especially Moraine Park where we expected the usual massive herds to be awaiting us. But what’s this, a kiosk at the entry to the meadows. The kiosk was expected at Bear Lake Road where an extra access ticket would be required to enter the heavily trafficked popular area of the east side, but not before our favorite meadow 😦

Apparently only one ticket per day is allowed so I was unable to add the Bear Lake Access and unable to cancel the current reservation. I felt like Chevy Chase at the gate to Walley World in the first Vacation movie 😦 We learned though that we could enter the Bear Lake Corridor before 5:00 a.m. and after 6:00 p.m. Well, although difficult it appeared that we would be able to see the elk after all.

Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park

We ultimately decided to head over to Estes Lake to secure a camp site at the KOA. Nice place with luxurious restrooms, never seen anything like it! Private climate controlled rooms as nice as your bathroom at home, each complete with your own shower… amazing!!!

4:00 a.m. was the wake-up time to make it to Moraine Park by 5:00 where we would wait in the cold until sunrise at 6:30, a scene to be repeated four straight days.

Unfortunately the huge herds of elk never materialized. I don’t know if many never returned after last year’s devastating fires or if the conflagration had altered their routine. In any case we saw a few elk each morning and evening while searching in vain for the Sprague Lake moose before leaving the Corridor.

_MG_7377We whiled the afternoons away by traversing Trail Ridge and crossing over to Poudre Lake to search for the elusive moose. There was an old broken down cow convalescing there but she was in no mood for accommodating the hoard of photographers eager to capture her likeness. She was content to relax in the tall grass, out of the view of our prying lenses.

One afternoon we lucked out and spotted a cow feeding in some unmarked beaver ponds near a picnic area. She watched us watch her for about an hour before wandering off. Others told us there was also a calf so we returned a couple of hours later after lunch but both animals had disappeared by then.

Each day began the same, at 0400 as we became more and more weary from the short cold nights as we slowly added to our collection of wildlife images. The third morning was our most successful as we found ourselves in the midst of a frenzied herd of cows and four bulls.

I was able to capture some awesome video of the crazy scene, the likes of which I’d never seen. Normally a bull will fight to the death to keep intruders out, but this herd had four bulls apparently working together to manage one herd. Once again I wonder, did the terrible fire result in some kind of unknown survival technique we were previously unaware of? There is also a complete video of my adventure in the park including the exciting drive up Fall River Road, a couple of waterfalls and of course all the wildlife!

Our week in the park is regrettably over with, I always feel a twinge of sadness when I have to leave this photographer’s paradise. Now that I’m retired though I really should make the effort to get there more often. A winter trip has long been on my to do list, perhaps this will be the year!

Red-tailed Hawk in Flight

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

Rocky Mountain National Park 2021

Limited success on our first day in the park… We decided to go in the west side this year and finally reached the entrance at about 9:30 a.m. It was a bit discouraging to see all the fire damage but signs of recovery are already visible!

Not too far in we came across the tail end of a huge herd of elk on their way into the high country and got a couple of nice pictures before they vanished. At Poudre Lake we saw a lone cow moose resting in the tall grass, too far away for pictures. As we rose high onto Trail Ridge the fog thickened to the point where we could barely see. However not too far past the visitor center it cleared up and I got some beautiful mountain pictures

High hopes for a great day in Moraine Park were dashed when we discovered that it is impossible to upgrade your entry pass to include the Bear Lake section which is where all the good stuff is. So all we could do was wait until 6:00 p.m. for general entry to open. We drove around to the locations we could and saw a couple of lone bull elk and one sleeping bull moose.

Layton we discovered that the elk in Moraine Park were waion the inaccessible side, too far away for pictures. Luckily there was one straggler near the road on the way to the campground and he posed for some pictures.

We are hoping for a better day today, we found that if we get in before 5:00 a.m. we can go right to Moraine Park without a pass. We might also try Sprague Lake if we don’t have any luck at the Meadows.

Where Were You on 9/11

I don’t know where you were on that fateful day but I remember it like it was yesterday. I was at work as a software engineer writing satellite communications code for the aerospace industry. The day had started like any other day, a cup of coffee at my desk, yesterday’s emails to review, a few notes to guide the day’s programming efforts in a makeshift stack on my table.

At about 9:00 a.m. the first email came in, a passenger jet had struck the Twin Towers. I didn’t think too much of it, I assumed there had been some sort of catastrophic malfunction onboard resulting in a terrible accident. I could hear the keystrokes of my co-workers as they continued their work, no one said anything. Twenty minutes later another email arrived, a second airliner had struck the second tower. I was instantly aware that New York was the victim of a terrorist attack but I assumed that would be the end of it and that the military would be on the case quickly sorting out the culprits and the response. I kept working and so did my co-workers, but I could hear the indistinct conversations starting up in our four man cubicles. I picked up my land line and called my wife, I said “turn on the TV”. She said, “What, why?”… I said, “I can’t…”, I couldn’t think of any words, “Just turn it on”.

Soon more emails began to arrive, air traffic was being grounded and more planes in the air were not responding to air traffic control communications. It slowly settled in on our group that something huge could be in progress… I logged into the direct channel to see if anything was being said on the daily briefings but there was nothing. A half hour later reports arrived that the Pentagon had been hit and everyone knew we were at war. By this time it had become impossible to work and my co-workers and I began to make our way to the break room where where we could see out the only windows in the building and also where we knew that CNN would be broadcasting on the monitors, back when CNN actually reported news.

By the time the first tower fell the entire facility was in the break room watching in horror, as the events of the day unfolded. As F-16s began to scramble from Buckley AFB we became aware that the base and perhaps even our own facility could be a target, soon the announcement came over the loudspeaker that any employee who wished to go home was welcome to leave but no one did. For hours we all remained glued to the news monitors while F16’s screamed overhead. No one spoke and many tears were being dried as initial estimates of up to 30,000 dead began to be discussed. Fortunately for some reason there weren’t as many people in the towers as there are sometimes and the estimates were rapidly revised down to under 10,000. Eventually employees began to trickle back out of the break room and back to our workstations where we began to fight the war in the only way we knew how, with our minds and our computers.

Today as I watch the 20 year anniversary of those attacks on the news our nation is divided like it never has been before. Our leaders have subjected our nation to an ignominious defeat at the hands of the very enemy who attacked us then. Hundreds of Americans are trapped behind enemy lines, subject to the barbarous impulses of the savages that we have held at bay for two decades. Our foolish leaders have lost sight of who our real enemies are, once again erecting razor wire around the capital to defend against a non-existent enemy that they have conjured up in their fearful cowardly deluded depraved minds.

I can’t think of any better quote to sum up the lesson we need to learn on this day, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”. Don’t let our leaders accomplish in our minds what our enemies could not achieve on the battlefield.