Exhausted

Today finds me completely and utterly exhausted, like gravity has somehow tripled or something. It was a struggle just to get out of bed, much less wrangle the big dog outside ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Maybe too much hiking, too many hours at work, too little sleep. Maybe all of the above.

Fog on the Sangre

Thinking of taking a break from shooting for awhile. I have all these one star images to process and upload to stock in Photoshop… not going to do any fancy editing, just exposure and contrast in Camera Raw and away they go.

Storm on the #sangredecristomountains by #swkrullimaging
This was my favorite one of the day, and one from yesterday.

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Another Stunner

The clouds at the base of the majestic Sangre de Cristo were an incredible scene this morning and I was looking forward to the vista I was going to behold from the summit of the highest mountain on our morning hike. But as it is many times… what actually greeted me as I cleared the ridge was even better that I had hoped ๐Ÿ™‚ This awesome herd of deer happened to be standing in perfect position for me to include them in the image with the mountains and the foggy clouds! These mountains never cease to amaze me ๐Ÿ™‚ If you look carefully you can see another deer in the shadows of the pine trees and yet another peeking out from the branches to the right. Those might actually be the Collegiate Peaks in the background of this image. From here you can see both mountain ranges and it isn’t that easy to determine where one ends and the other starts!

Mountain Mule Deer

Beautiful Mule Deer Herd

Beautiful Snow Capped Sangre de Cristo Range

The Sangre de Cristo are always amazing… but sometimes they are more amazing and today was one of those days! Tons of new snow now graces these majestic peaks and there was almost no haze today to block the view. The pristine white snow against the stunning intense blue Colorado sky was just amazing this morning.

When the mountain landscape photography was done we began our descent and I

Beautiful Herd of Mule Deer

noticed a small herd of mule deer basking in the morning sunlight on the hillside. There are very few trees on the summit so I knew there was no way we were going to get close, but a deer herd in the mountains is going to make a great picture no matter what! My first shots were directly into the rising sun so I knew silhouettes were going to be the result of that situation,ย  but I snapped a few anyway for a record of the day in case they decided to bolt.

Beautiful Herd of Mule Deer

Once I was sure I had some captures the big dog and I began to circle around the hillside hoping that my non direct approach wouldn’t startle them into a run. They kept a wary eye on us as we descended and curved back but they didn’t run! I snapped a few more along the way as the lighting got better and then finally when we were completely on the other side they began walking to the summit. I was about to head for the truck when I noticed they were going to traverse the top ridge with the blue sky as a backdrop so we just waited a few minutes for them to reach the top. Nothing wrong with hanging out in the warm Colorado mountain sun for a while! Eventually they did reach the top of the ridge and I rounded out the days shooting with a line of them heading for cover in the dense wilderness to the south.

As always these images and more are available on my website as wall art on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colorado Wildlife

Elk Herd with the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range

For a wildlife photographer it’s been a very good few days. Deer all around, bighorn sheep at Cottonwood Lake and and the Cripple Creek elk herd early this morning. The elk were not too far from the trailhead when we arrived so we had to be stealthy exiting the truck. Got off a couple of shots before they noticed me and headed over the top of the mountain. The plan then was to sneak around the north side below the summit and come across from behind the trees.

This time the plan came together. When I crossed over the summit the elk were spread out in the big meadow at the top with a row of pine trees between me and them. Even with Big Dog along we were able to approach the trees and get a bit closer before causing too much alarm. Eventually we did attract their attention again and they began slowly meandering towards the safety of the dense forest. I took that as a cue that we were as close as we were going to get so I just stopped there and snapped a few images in some nice aspen trees as they continued their daily migration. As we made our way down from the summitย  I looked back and was glad to see that my photography had not unnecessarily disturbed the majestic beasts. They were lingering on the edge of the trees, still enjoying their morning meal ๐Ÿ™‚

Also thought I would include in this post a couple of images from the road trip to Cottonwood Lake near Buena

Elk Herd with the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range

Vista, the lake was beautiful in the frozen alpine winter. It will be a while before spring reaches that elevation! The final image in this post is the Platte River near Denver as it flows out of the mountains on it’s journey to the Missouri River in Nebraska.

As always, these images and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. These can be found in the wildlife collection. I put the lake in the Rocky Mountain Winter collection as well as the Bodies of Water collection. Don’t forget that my pictures canย  be ordered on a variety of cool gift items, handy tech gadgets, apparel and stationary! Just click on a image to see the product pricing and options!

Bighorn Sheep in the Mountains

Cottonwood Lake and Cottonwood Creek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Platte River in Waterton Canyon

Adventure at the Royal Gorge

This was supposed to be a mountain bike adventure along the River Walk Trail in Canon City… and it was for a while, at least until the trail soon became Ditch Walk Trail. I was intending to ride up the river until I found something interesting, but the ride only lasted about a mile before it turned away from the river and up a drainage ditch before dead ending at the college. So I just turned around and rode back to the truck. Tried to think of other things I could do, but already too much time had been wasted so I just headed for home.

Royal Gorge Colorado

As I climbed the hill out of Canon I saw the sign for the Royal Gorge… What the heck, might as well drive back in there and see what I could see was my thought. So I turned left and took the windey paved road back to the gorge. Noticed a small parking lot at a trailhead for some mountain bike trails but pressed on. I wanted to see the gorge, have been in Colorado over 30 years and have never been. Also noticed an interesting dirt road to the left, something about a picnic area and overlook. But again I pressed on to the visitor center figuring that’s where the best experience might be.

Finally there… parked and walked to the visitor center hoping there would be some kind of observation deck, but no… just a bunch of souvenirs that I can’t afford. Looked all around there for a view but there wasn’t much. All I could see was the other side of the canyon wall, no way to look down without paying for the gondola ride or a trip across the bridge.

Well there was still the overlook and picnic area so I got back in the truck and headed for

Royal Gorge Colorado and Sangre de Cristo Mountains

the dirt road. The road wasn’t bad, a few bumps and twists and turns but nothing that couldn’t be handled by any passenger car. Some of the picnic areas were full so I didn’t find a parking place until almost the end, which as luck would have it is where the overlook actually is located. Not only was there an overlook, but a whole trail system surrounded the area. Some visitors were getting out mountain bikes to ride on a trail that would at times come uncomfortably close to the 1000 foot or more drop off the edge into the river. Not for me! In fact after a short distance I went back for my trekking pole! The area is filled with cactus and I had no desire to face plant one one of those devils, plus I was feeling extra clumsy today ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I was expecting to see only canyon and river on this outing, but I was pleasantly surprised to see some excellent views of the snow capped Sangre de Cristo across the canyon in the distance ๐Ÿ™‚ Storm clouds were already forming over the majestic peaks and it was an amazing scene to be sure ๐Ÿ™‚ Finally, satisfied that I had seen all there was to see I loaded up the camera and headed for home. Thought of going back into town for a micro brew at a new place called the Worlds End Brewing Company but already too much time had been spent. I was tired and ready for the drive home.

Probably won’t go back there, although maybe sometime the train ride might be fun… but not on one of my usual solo adventures. That doesn’t seem like a solo activity. Well as always these images and more are available for purchase as wall art on my website on glossy metal or acrylic sheets plus tons of cool gift, household and tech items! My site has been redesigned and might bear some explaining. There is a row of buttons near the top of the landing screen where you can choose the type of product you are interested in. This then brings up a page with all of my collections, or galleries. These two images can be found by clicking “more collections” and then the “Colorado Rocky Mountains”. Or you can just look below the collections on the landing page where my most recent images are displayed.

Alpenglow on the Sangre de Cristo Range

Alpenglow, the amazing solar effect that causes a pink glow in the atmosphere opposite the rising sun is how the Sangre de Cristo Range of Colorado acquired it’s name.ย  The Spanish explorer Antonio Valverde y Cosio was impressed by the reddish snow capped peaks at sunrise and named the range after “the Blood of Christ”.

Alpenglow on the Sangre de Cristo

I too am impressed by the beautiful effect on that magnificent mountain range and had planned to arise early enough on one of my days off to make it to the overlook for a photo session. This is the best time of year to see the effect, the sunrise in the east is at a perfect angle for the effect to fall from the sky on the rugged range.ย  I think it apropos that my opening would fall on Easter weekend, when the Blood of the Jewish carpenter was poured out to save souls in eternity for all who would believe and call upon His Name.

I have been watching the sky every morning for a few weeks, judging the sunrise and looking for the time of morning with the greatest effect. That time turns out to be between 6 and 6:30 at this time of year, so it was coffee andย  blueberry muffins at 4:30 this morning to give me enough time to come out of my morning coma before hitting the trail. Big Dog and I pulled into the overlook right at 6:00, just as itt was just starting to get light and the band of red spread across the sky high above the mountains. It would be another 15 minutes or so before the light would settle down upon the beautiful snow capped range.

Alpenglow on the Sangre de Cristo

When it finally did I was ready, ISO 100, camera set to Av mode and aperture at f5.6. I wasn’t too concerned about having a lot of depth of field, pretty much everything in my photograph was going to be at infinity. I was parked at a perfect angle so I just steadied the camera on the door of my truck rather than get out and mess with a tripod. In retrospect, after looking at some of my resulting shutter speeds, I probably should have. I have a lot of 1/30 and 1/15 of a second captures and with a long lens it would have been wise to have had extra steady support. Oh well, the pictures look nice anyway ๐Ÿ™‚ The first one I think is the best example of this wonderful solar effect that I have ever achieved!

These pictures, the spectacular snow capped mountain picture with the polarizer that I was testing with yesterday and some of my recent bighorn sheep pictures are available on my website as wall art printed on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting! Tons of cool gift, household and tech items are also available with a picture, including t-shirts, battery chargers, gift cards, yoga mats, shower curtains, beach towels and much much more!

 

Gear Test: B+W XS-PRO Circular Polarizer

In my quest for the perfect circular polarizer for my Canon 100-400 lens I finally settled on the B+W 77mm XS-Pro Kaesemann High Transmission Circular Polarizer MRC-Nano Filter. Dang, that’s a mouthful but what does it all mean? For starters, Kaesemann is a precision glass company purchased by Schneider Optics of Germany in 1989. The high transmission designation refers to the ability of the glass to transmit light. This filter is advertised at 99.5% with a filter factor of 1 to 1.5 stops of light loss due to the darkened blue glass. The MRC feature is Multi-Resistant-Coating, which is a series of layers designed to prevent reflections and ghosting while the NANO designation refers to a hardened eighth layer that assists in keeping the filter clean. The B+W filter is constructed using a brass outer ring that provides an exceptionally smooth threading capability when affixing the filter to the lens. The rotating mechanism for turning the filter is stiff but very smooth. The construction of this filter is superb.

That’s all well and good of course, but does it work, that is the real question! Today looked like a perfect day to find that out as the sky is perfectly clear and the sun was beating down on the snow capped Sangre de Cristo at almost a perfect 90 degree angle this morning. Just looking at the mountains they appeared washed out and faded to the naked eye, perfect conditions for a polarizer.

So, I pulled into the overlook parking lot and shot one picture with no filter followed by another picture with the circular polarizer with the glass turned to maximum effect. I shot in raw as always, but applied no processing to these two images, as I didn’t want to pollute the results of the test with a bunch of Photoshop adjustments. Here they are, first the mountains with no filter and then with the filter:

Springtime Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Sangre de Cristo Range

As you can plainly see, the second image has significantly increased saturation and detail in the white highlights of the snow capped peaks with a much deeper blue in sky. The snow and trees just below the peaks are also much more visible in the polarized image.

I will also be trying the filter out over water when I find some! Not much water around here in this mountain desert, but sooner or later there will be a river or a lake in the sun where I will find the filter useful! All in all I would say I’m extremely happy with this purchase from B&H Photo Online and would highly recommend the filter to anyone using a DSLR camera.