Snowshoeing the Back Country

Storm Clouds on the Sangre

It was only seven degrees Fahrenheit at first light this morning and like so many days lately, I resolved to just stay inside and drink my morning coffee… But also like every day, I looked down the valley at the Sangre de Cristo Range to see what kind of show might be playing out in the mountains. It looked amazing today so I packed up and headed out to get a front row seat.

I was glad to see that I was the first one at the trailhead, and maybe the only one… The snow is so deep now that the fair weather hikers have stopped coming, but with snowshoes the hike is easy. There has been so much melting and freezing lately that there is a hard crust on the surface and with snowshoes you can just walk right over the top of it 🙂

Storm Clouds on the Sangre

The view at the summit was amazing so I decided to try for a pano. However the clouds were so thick today that I could only get a three image panorama, not such a bad thing though. With less images I could zoom in further and give the view of the rugged mountains that much more detail!

On the way back down I enjoyed the rippling and glittering of the the fresh snow and tried for a closeup. Don’t know if I actually got what I had in mind but I still like the image 🙂

Storm Clouds on the Sangre

Storm Clouds on the Sangre

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! And don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon!

Between Storms

Fresh powder is the best but it’s also great to go snowshoeing after a few days of melting and freezing. It’s a blast to effortlessly walk along the surface of the deep snow like it isn’t even there. Of course when you do fall through it’s not so much fun to get out but today was a great day on the snow just the same. We had a couple really nice days after the last cold snap and tonight another winter storm is already rolling in over the Sangre de Cristo Range which makes for a stunning photo op!

Between Storms on the Sangre

I was awake at sunrise and I could tell by my first glance through the front window that the Sangre were going to be putting on a real show this morning. It was tough to turn off the coffee pot and head out into the cold but it was well worth it! The individual peaks were stunning enough but the beauty of all of them together in a panorama are hard to even find words to describe!

Between Storms on the Sangre

It was cold and windy on the summit so I was glad that I had my camera settings for a panorama already programmed into the C1 custom button. It takes a minute to get all the settings ready from auto ISO to complete manual. To do a pano requires manual exposure mode and a static ISO to make sure that each frame matches the previous one. So now all I have to do is dial in C1 and adjust the shutter speed to get the exposure correct and then I’m ready for the entire series. One other trick I use is a blank frame before and after the series so that I know exactly which ones to include once I get into Photoshop.

There is a good chance it will be snowing hard in the morning so I’ll probably just stay inside.  When I lived near the wildlife refuge up in Parker, snowstorms were the best time to get out. The deer would let me just wander right into their herd but now the range is so big I never see any animals in the storms.

Between Storms on the Sangre

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! And don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon!

Signs of Spring

My day started out with the unpleasant task of having to drive down to the city to renew my drivers license for the umpteenth time. I can’t believe how fast the last five years have gone by. I had just gotten a new license prior to moving to Cripple Creek so I had only had my license for a few months before the address was incorrect. All these years I have meant to get back down there to get the address change completed and now suddenly five years is gone and I never got it done. Fortunately the process went smoothly and my new license with the correct address will soon be in the mail.

Storm on the Peak

I used to go to Colorado Springs all the time with my wife shopping and looking for antiques so I sat in my truck and wondered what nostalgic thing I might be able to do while I was there. But as I sat and wondered I realized that all those years I was going there just for her. None of the places we used to go had any interest at all for me. There was a pet store nearby so I grabbed some pet food and just headed back up the mountain.

On my way up the pass I could see weather moving in on the great peak so I hoped I might have an opportunity to shoot my millionth picture of the mountain enshrouded in fog and snow. As I passed through Woodland Park I realized there was one thing that I might like to do, I used to love to go to the Donut Mill first thing in the morning and sit at the end table where I could drink coffee and stare out at the peak while trying to get my brain going. It was at that very table a decade ago that my idea for a wildlife and nature themed blog and website was hatched. That’s something, ten years of blogging, launched from that very chair. So once again I sat and pondered life with a cup of coffee and a massive maple frosted doughnut.

Springtime in Eleven Mile Canyon

After that I needed to go pick up some puppy meds near the Eleven Mile Canyon and decided upon at least one trip to the southern dam and back. Afternoon isn’t the best time for photographing wildlife in the canyon but anytime I get within a few miles it seems a shame to pass up the chance to get some pictures. So as it turns out I didn’t see any eagles or hawks but I did see welcome signs of spring. As I passed the lake and the calm section of the river I noticed the tell tale sign of ice melt by the darker blue ice in the middle of the channel. The lake is still frozen solid but in a month that ice too will be getting thin and the ice fishermen will be pulling their fishing huts off the ice and  back to their summer homes.

Pair of American Dippers

The lower rapids that were totally frozen over a couple of weeks ago now have an open channel through the middle and most of the rest of the river is now mostly open water. A few very happy American dippers were singing and playing along the river bank. I hoped to see them fishing but they were just singing and playing while making their way downstream. They were successfully evading all my attempts to photograph them until this moment when I was fortunate to catch them together in an image before they vanished.

The osprey should already be well along in their perilous 4,000 mile journey back to the canyon from their winter home in South America and I’m very much looking forward to that. I have to say, photographing osprey might just be my favorite photographic activity. They seem to have a lot of personality and are fairly tolerant of photographers… and other people too. In my home town they built an osprey platform right in the middle of the baseball fields and a pair of osprey were willing to put up with all the activity and build a nest in the midst of the humans. Last year our osprey arrived on the last day of March.

 

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! And don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon!

Springtime in Eleven Mile Canyon

New 2022 Colorado Mountain Calendar

I’m proud to publish my new 2022 Colorado Rocky Mountains calendar. Twelve months of Rocky Mountain splendor to grace your 2022. Get yours today, just click the link above to view and purchase the calendar. View all my publications by clicking the Lulu Press link.

Storm clouds following a big Colorado winter snowstorm.

Snow Storm and Mule Deer

Bucks on a Winter Morning

That slow moving snowstorm we’ve been watching finally arrived and I had the good fortune to be out in it when it hit! The day started out like any other day, dry with temperatures hovering around 30 degrees at sunrise. At the trailhead I debated what headgear to wear and the increasing wind made the decision for me… I was  going to need both a hat and a hood for protection from the wind. My hike was completed in driving snow so I ended up being happy with my choice!

Bucks on a Winter Morning

I soon encountered a couple of mule deer bucks that I didn’t recognize and apparently they didn’t recognize me either. I usually don’t have any trouble getting the deer to pose for me but these strangers weren’t about to stick around for long. Fortunately archery season is over with so maybe the deer will soon begin gathering in the parks again. Anyway, these two fellows kept moving further away into the deep grass so it was difficult but I eventually managed to get a couple of nice shots. Unfortunately it was still very early so I was dealing with high ISO values but Topaz DeNoise did a pretty good job with any resulting noise.

Snow on the Sangre

I wasn’t expecting to see the Sangre de Cristo range at all due to the approaching storm but as I cleared the ridge I was happy to see a bit of morning light shining on those mountains under the cloud cover. So I stopped for some still shots and decided that it was also high time I shoot some video footage! I don’t think I have shot a video since the Rocky Mountain National Park trip last fall! The unusually warm weather has been great for general living but the drought conditions have not been conducive to wildlife photography at all 😦

Snow on the Sangre

Well anyway I shot the video and snapped some stills and by the time I was wrapping that up at the summit I noticed snowflakes beginning to fly. For some reason I failed to bring along my Ruggard Rain Shield for the camera so I figured I’d better get started on my return trip. By the time I was half way back down the mountain, to my delight the snow began flying in earnest 🙂 Fortunately it was so cold that the frozen flakes were mostly just bouncing off the camera so I wasn’t too worried about getting the camera wet.

Free Range Cattle in a Snowstorm

I stopped to shoot a few pictures of the snowflakes filling the valley below and the poor free range cattle were caught out in the clearing so I snapped a few of them as well. When I got back to the trailhead there were still a few across the road eating the long grass in the ditch but the boss cow soon began calling them back to the main herd and I was glad to see they safely hustled back across the road and behind the fence with the rest. The speed limit is only 35 on the winding mountain road but people mostly ignore it and reach speeds of 50 and 60 miles an hour, even though there are always animals on the road.

Unfortunately the snow didn’t last for long but the inevitable extreme cold wasted no time moving in. As of this morning the temperature has dropped to seven degrees and I’m debating on whether I even want to go back out. Of course by 9:00 it’s already supposed to be back in the 20’s so I should probably just cowboy up and get dressed!

 

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.

Cold Morning and a Panorama

Red-tailed Hawk in Flight

Cold, gloomy and windy… kind of like every morning these days. I was the first to reach the trailhead so I had high hopes of spotting some wildlife. I had seen a few herds of deer on my way but they were all grazing in the dark shadows of the trees, far too little light and scenery for a nice picture so I didn’t want to delay my arrival at the trailhead. As I neared the summit I heard the signature screech of the red-tailed hawk. I was in the trees so I couldn’t see him but I readied my camera for a bird in flight image just in case. A 1600th of a second shutter speed, F5.6 and the ISO on auto. Amazingly he did float into view and I was able to snap a couple of sharp images. Unfortunately I had forgotten to adjust the exposure compensation and underexposed the image about a stop. With Photoshop and Topaz DeNoise and GigaPixel however, I was able to make a good enough image for Instagram!

Snow covered Collegiate Peaks Colorado

As I cleared the forest I noticed a bit of morning light falling on the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Range and hoped that it would still be so when I reached the overlook. It was not to be, but by that time the band of light shining through the dense clouds to the east was shining on the Collegiate Peaks, far in the distance to the west. As a single image from that distance it wasn’t a real exciting view so I decided to try a panorama. I had left my tripod in the truck so all I had was my monopod to steady the camera, not the ideal situation for a panorama… but I tried it anyway.

I have Custom Function C2 set up for panorama shooting so I dialed in the settings and fired off a test shot. A little underexposed so I increased my ISO from 100 to 200 which turned out to be just about right, my histogram showed data all the way across the spectrum. So I was ready, a 320th of a second at F7.1 for this shot. I might ordinarily shoot with F11 for better depth of field but these mountains were so far away that most everything was going to be beyond infinity anyway so F7.1 was about right for the light and ISO 200.

Snow covered Collegiate Peaks Colorado

Seven horizontal images were required to span the scene so my original is something like 111 inches across! I cut that down to 60 inches for the upload to my website in order to comply with the size constraint of the server!

Well anyway, it was a pretty good morning, got some good exercise, some valuable time of solitude in nature and the screech of the red-tail is always a treat! I’m hoping for a more extensive week though, a trip up to Waterton to see the bighorn sheep may be in the cards if all goes right 🙂

 

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.

 

Beautiful Weather

Storm on the Sangre

It was cold this morning and the wind was blowing hard, the news on TV said to anchor your trash cans unless you wanted you yard decorated with egg shells and tin cans. For a moment it was tempting to just get another cup of coffee and settle in for a morning in front of the news. However, any trouble I was having with motivation this morning vanished when I looked down the valley towards the Sangre de Cristo. What I thought was a boring clear morning turned out to be a beautiful weather day down on the Sangre de Cristo Range.

Knowing that I was going to either be photographing the mountains or a herd of deer, I knew that I wasn’t going to need the 1.4x teleconverter. But for once I kept in mind that this was also going to increase the aperture in shutter priority auto mode to F5.6. With the tele on the minimum aperture is F8, which isn’t too bad for both wildlife and landscape shooting and I have the tele on so much that I don’t really think about it much. But today when I got to the overpass I put the camera on manual with an aperture of F11 to shoot for sharp focus throughout the image. The ISO I

Storm on the Sangre

just let float because it was early and the lighting wasn’t going to support the desired ISO 100. As it turns out it was an ISO 400 morning which is perfectly acceptable and ultimately I was quite happy with the sharpness of the images.

However the color at that time of day wasn’t that interesting and a quick conversion to black and white using the channel mixer in Photoshop made for much more dramatic pictures. Once done shooting the Sangre I took a quick trip over to Victor Pass to take a look at Pikes Peak. The peak wasn’t putting on much of a show and I could hear some biscuits and gravy calling my name from the Gold Camp Bakery 🙂

I briefly entertained the idea of climbing the mountain but I haven’t been seeing any wildlife up there and I figured the wind and cold wasn’t beckoning the animals any more than it was me.

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.

Layers Upon Layers

layers of Fog on the Sangre

Another awesome weather day in the high country. I was totally not expecting this… it appeared that I was just in for a cloudy dreary early winter morning in the mountains, not that a cloudy day in the mountains isn’t a thing to look forward to! But as I rounded the first turn on the way to my trailhead I quickly became aware that the day was going to be much more than I thought! Some of the fog from yesterday lingered in the valleys between the layers of mountains building up the the magnificent Sangre de Cristo Range in the distance, a perfect recipe for awesome landscape pictures!

I caught myself driving a bit faster along the winding road to the overlook where I knew I would stop for the photo session. Finally I arrived at my destination and the awesome layered effect was still in effect. I set my camera for landscape images in low light and took a couple of test shots. The exposures looked good so I continued until I was satisfied that the scene was captured. Then I continued on to the second overlook at a higher elevation a bit further to the south and repeated the process.

layers of Fog on the Sangre

Finally I was ready for my hike to the top of the ridge where I captured yet another angle of the beautiful mountains. I was hoping to see a few deer today, but they were nowhere to be found. Oh well… there is much to be said for a quiet hike in the high country of the Pike National Forest! A red-tail hawk soared high above me, well out of camera range, but a hawk is always a good omen 🙂

The biggest news of the day is that my favorite place for coffee, the Gold Camp Bakery is once again open following a closure of several weeks for upgrades and remodeling. Nothing like an order of biscuits and gravy to reward one’s self for a good day of photography 🙂

 

layers of Fog on the Sangre

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.

The Gathering Storm

Fog in the Valley

One sure sign of approaching weather is a massive fog bank filling the Arkansas River Valley at the base of the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range of Colorado. I never miss a chance to photograph this beautiful weather phenomenon and this day was no different. Each morning over coffee I peer out my front window down the valley towards the Sangre range to see what kind of day is going to develop. I knew from the forecast that weather was coming in and from my limited view I could see that I had better grab my camera and hit the road!

Fog in the Valley

This particular morning was so fantastic that I had to make two passes just to take it all in. There was a great view of the action from my usual vista point along Highway 67 but I knew that I was also going to have to drive on up to Victor where at the mine entrance there would be a view from higher up. Some days I call it good at that point and go on in to the Gold Camp Bakery for coffee, but on this day another pass was going to be necessary in order to catch the panorama available from the overlook on the Cripple Creek side. Eventually I was confident that I had adequately captured the magnificent scene and that breakfast was well deserved!

The impending snowstorm never really developed though, a few flakes lazily drifting out of the alpine air was all we got for this round but I’m sure that it won’t be long and we will be experiencing a lot more winter white!

 

Fog in the Valley

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.

Bird & Wildflower Alpine Hike

A local hike through the alpine woods of Grouse Mountain seemed like the right medicine for a beautiful Colorado Sunday morning so I loaded up my camera and headed for the hills. Much to my satisfaction, when I arrived there was no one at the trailhead. I would have the mountain to myself.  Unfortunately as I hiked the steep access trail a carload of tourists roared up the hated road to the summit. When I arrived they were already out of their huge SUV tearing around with their loose dogs, scaring away any chance I might have had with the local wildlife 😦

Mountain Bluebird

No matter, a quick hike through the woods to the second summit, Big Grouse Mountain, would do the trick. No one ever makes that hike, and up there I would have the chance of spotting the elusive dusky grouse that I so enjoy photographing! Soon I popped through the forest into the solitude that often accompanies 11,000 feet of elevation 😉 There I stopped for rest and some nourishment before continuing on. I opened my energy bar and took a bite. Something didn’t taste right so I took a closer look and it appeared that perhaps some mold had formed on the surface… a closer look revealed what appeared to be a couple of worms 😦 They weren’t moving and could have possibly been some kind of grain or herb, but in my mind they were worms, so much for nourishment.

I decided at that point to shoot a video so I got my microphone out of my bag and explained my intentions for the day. The wildflowers are magnificent today so I shot a bit of footage of the color spreading out before me in the high clearing. Eventually I was back on my way along the faint trail at the top of the ridge. Soon I noticed that my new microphone was no longer in the hot shoe where it belonged so I was forced to retrace my steps in search of it 😦 Thankfully I was able to recover it near the location where I shot the video. This time I returned it safely to it’s home in my backpack.

I never did see the dusky grouse but I got some nice wildflower pictures, a couple with huge bumblebees and a few nice shots of an accommodating mountain bluebird 🙂 Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video and if you enjoy the content I hope you will subscribe to my channel!