Happy Autumnal Equinox

Misty Mine Country

The sun has officially crossed the equator on it’s annual journey to the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere. The first day of autumn in the Colorado high country has greeted us with fog, rain and a morning of stunning beauty. The fog rolled in last night so I made sure to be up early before the sun would have a chance to burn off the fog in the Arkansas Valley, one of my favorite subjects to photograph! I caught glimpses of what I was about to see as I drove through town and around the first bend in the highway on my way to Victor, a sea of fog completely filling the low spots.

Small Herd of Mule Deer

As I proceeded toward my intended overlook I spotted a small herd of mule deer making their way through the deep mountain grass on their way to cover in the pine forest above, and as luck would have it I was also near a spot to pull the truck off the road. The deer weren’t too worried about my presence but they were also not about to take a break from their journey into the woods either! I quickly snapped off a few shots with my 100-400mm lens and then they were gone… out of sight.

I made several stops along the way wherever I could see the amazing weather phenomenon unfolding in the valley below and ended up with quite a few nice ones… if I do say so myself! I wasn’t sure how far up the pass the fog would reach so I decided to check on the mines and the south face of Pikes Peak at the summit of Victor Pass. The mines weren’t much to see today, the sky is dark and there really wasn’t any interesting fog there and I already have much better shots of the mines than anything I would have gotten today.

The Peak is showing signs of fall though, a good patch of aspen are already turning to gold! A few more days and they will be at peak gold. Hopefully I’ll get some really nice ones before my annual trip to Rocky Mountain National Park for the elk rut!

Anyway, have a happy Autumnal Equinox!

 

 

Also don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon including my latest, “Wildlife Photography in the Colorado Rockies” and this year’s wildlife calendar “Colorado Wildlife 2023“!

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

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!

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Coyote on the Hunt
 
 

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!

The Snow is Getting Deep

Deep snow on the Sangre de Cristo Range of Colorado

I was surprised when I arrived at the trailhead this morning to find nothing but pristine unbroken snow for me to plow through with my snowshoes. It didn’t take long to discover why I was the first in a while to attempt the steep climb. Most people hiking in the area don’t use snowshoes or cross country skis and today the snow was far too deep for hiking boots. It looked like a few deer had been walking around on the mountain but for the most part it appears that any sensible creatures have abandoned the local peaks for more hospitable territory.

Deep snow on the Sangre de Cristo Range of Colorado

All signs indicate the elk herd has returned to the mountain as there were a lot of elk sized hoof prints leading from the grassy south side of the mountain where all the snow has blow away, around the mountain and into the forest. Hopefully I’ll get there early enough one day to see them and get pictures. I’ve seen them from a distance but haven’t been able to get any pictures since last fall when they departed the high ground for their winter shelter below.

The trip up the mountainside was tough but the trip back down the other side was even tougher! The snow was a good foot and a half deep on the backside of the mountain and at one point I managed to slip off the packed trail beneath the new snow, landing me face down in a deep drift… camera first. Eventually I struggled back to my feet where I was able to brush the snow off the camera and lens before any moisture was able to make it’s way past the weather seals to the inner workings. Now that I’m back home the camera is drying out with the batteries out and doors open just to make sure that there won’t be any moisture damage.

I was captivated by the ripples in the wind blown drifts so I tried a couple of shots to see if I could capture the texture. I think a wide angle from a very low perspective would have done a better job of capturing the scene, but unfortunately I didn’t have one along with me. Perhaps next time I’ll take my 24-105mm lens along instead of the long lens. Of course that will be the time I  see the elk herd! I don’t think I want to carry my whole pack, it was hard enough to keep my balance in the deep snow and to extricate myself from the depths after the fall!

Well anyway, I eventually made it to the bottom of the mountain and around to the south side where the snow isn’t as deep and other hikers have packed a trail. I have plans of snowshoeing the trail to the higher peaks this season, but for now my legs were really happy to be back at the truck! Next week we are due to add significantly to the snow pack, perhaps I’ll try that then!

 

Deep snow on the Sangre de Cristo Range of Colorado

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!

Storm clouds following a big Colorado winter snowstorm.

Eagles and Snow

Snow and storm clouds in the Pike National Forest of Colorado

This is the first time in years that we have had enough snow for snowshoeing, except of course the usual sloppy wet storms of March and April. Snowshoeing in the warm weather of spring is OK, but there’s nothing like the fluffy powder we experience in the high country during the coldest winter weather. I saw a nice herd of mule deer but they were on the run from something in dark light so I didn’t get a shot of them.

Speckles the bald eagle was putting on a good show though, from one of the most picturesque old trees in the canyon in good light so I think I  got a couple of nice ones! Anyway, not much to say about that right now, I need to get ready for another day of eagle photography and maybe even a shot of some wolves, if we are lucky!

 

Bald Eagle 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!

Gathering Storm and A Pano

I checked my weather app while drinking my morning coffee and it said snow was on the way. In the pre-dawn darkness I couldn’t tell if anything of interest was going on down the valley but it didn’t matter, I was going hiking anyway. I fired up the truck just as the sun was clearing the ridge to the east and a short time later I saw the massive fog bank completely filling the Arkansas Valley. A few of the taller peaks in the valley protruded above the sea of white, creating an enticing scene that I expected to be photographing at the overlook.

But it was still too dark when I arrived at the overlook. I’ve been down that road before, the camera is completely confused by the fog before the sun turns it into it’s customary bright white color. I shoot raw but even with that tremendous amount of latitude the fog always seems to come out with an ugly greenish tint. So I decided to keep going on to the trailhead. I figured by the time I made it to the top of the ridge the sun would be shining a bit and the fog would be easier to photograph.

Gathering Storm on the Sangre de Cristo

My timing was perfect too, by the time I arrived the light was starting to color the western sky and the Sangre de Cristo range to the west was beautifully lit. I snapped a few images of parts of the mountains before ultimately deciding uon a panorama. After a couple of meter readings I settled on manual mode with a 320th of a second, ISO 160 and f/8 for an aperture. Of course I fiddled with the settings a bit as I examined the rear LCD, but that was the starting point.

I was also hoping for some pictures of the mines but by then the interesting light was gone and the sky and fog were just an uninteresting white. But it’s Ok, I’m really happy with the pano!

 

 

Gathering Storm on the Sangre de Cristo

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.

Trying the New Lightroom Masking

As always, as I poured my morning coffee I glanced down the valley toward the Sangre de Cristo Range to see what kind of a day I would encounter. The range was cloud capped and amazing looking in the alpenglow as the sun rose in the east. The cold front is taking forever to arrive but I could see the clouds on the mountains might be of interest on this day, along with my two other goals which were a sensor cleaning and a bit of time in front of the desktop trying to figure out the new ACR and Lightroom masking tools.

Storms on the Sangre

After yesterday’s photo session over the Sangre it became apparent that my sensor was very dirty. Dozens of dust spots became painfully obvious as I dragged the dehaze slider to the right in my attempt to create some detail in the early morning layer of haze. The auto dust shaking feature of my 90D failed to dislodge the dust so I went for my cleaning kit. I have learned to start with the least invasive treatment first so I got out the jet blower and set the camera to manual clean which locks up the mirror to provide access to the sensor. I turned the camera upside down and squeezed the tool a few times hoping the puffs of air would be sufficient to unseat the offending dust particles. Fortunately this time the blower was enough, I would not need the cleaning solution and pads… something that always makes me nervous!

Storms on the Sangre

I was tired today so there would be no hiking on Hell Hill, but I did stop at the overlook to snap a few shots of the clouds building on the magnificent mountain range. As long as I was this close to Victor it also seemed like a fine day for a visit at the Gold Camp Bakery for some biscuits and gravy 🙂 By the time I was making my return trip clouds had completely enveloped the peaks so I just headed for home to get on the computer.

I have been struggling with the new masking tools for a while, even after watching several videos on their usage. I usually don’t make much mention in my blog posts of Photoshop techniques, there are plenty of people with far more expertise than I have in making detailed videos on how to use all the features of this astounding software package. However this is one of those times when a simple sentence can be more valuable than a hundred twenty minute videos.

The issue I was having was with making more than one mask on an image. No matter what I tried, including the new intersect feature, adding a second mask appeared to override the original mask. Finally yesterday the light bulb turned on and I understood what was going on, I was thinking in two dimensions instead of three. So here’s how it works… think of each new mask as a new layer. On the above images the sky and mountains were too light and the foreground was too dark. So step one, click the new masking icon in Camera Raw which shows up as a wheel just under the spot removal tool. This opens the new tool palette that includes all the old tools plus the amazing new sky and subject selection tools.

I wanted to use the linear gradient tool to gradually darken down the sky and mountains so I clicked the linear gradient button and pulled the tool down from the top until I was satisfied with the mask coverage. From there you can make any number of adjustments to the masked area and I decided upon a little highlight reduction, an increase in blacks and a slight increase in the color  temperature.

Then I wanted to work on the dark forest in the lower left of the image so I clicked “new mask” and then luminance range. I then just clicked on the dark area and luckily the forest was successfully masked. I was then able to adjust the exposure up a bit and increase that color temperature separately from the sky adjustment in the other mask. The adjustments I had made to the sky and mountains in the lower layer remained just as I had previously set them. If you need to make minor adjustments to the masks you can just click the mask and do an add or subtract at which time you can select brush or any number of other options to brush in more masking or brush out a spot that may have overshot your intentions in places.

Now all you have to do is hit the open button and the completely adjusted image becomes available in full Photoshop. I used the new masking tools in Camera Raw, but the interface in Lightroom is almost identical. Weeks of struggle are at an end with that simple understanding of multiple layers of masking. One of these days now I will dig into the intersect concept and report on that in another blog. Anyway, I hope you find this helpful and I’ll get back to you when this cold front finally arrives and the snow begins to fly!

 

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.

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.

The Three Amigos and a Lot of Fog

As of last night I wasn’t holding out much hope for a day outside today… We are supposed to have cold and rain every day for the entire next week, including a very high chance of rain today. And indeed it was raining before sunrise as the raindrops hitting the window awakened me well before I wanted to be awake. The plan was obviously to use the awesome sleeping weather to sleep! However, by the time I had drank my coffee and chowed down my waffles the rain had stopped. A quick check of the radar forecast indicated that at least for my little section of the mountains, the rain had subsided until afternoon.

Herd of Bucks

So I grabbed my camera and Gortex jacket and headed for the hills. A slight sprinkle at the trailhead convinced me to pack along the rain cover for my camera and off I went. I wasn’t expecting much more than a bit of exercise to help pass the day but as I strode along past the pine forest I could hear a lot of chatter. The birds it seems are not at all deterred by a little sprinkle! As I was getting the settings on my camera prepared for bird photography, a red-tail hawk flew right over me not 20 feet over my head! Darn… but even if I had been ready I don’t think I could have aimed and focused that quick, the whole show was over in about 3 seconds. But I watched where he flew and made a mental note to watch carefully for him on top of the tree branches on the return trip.

Soon I cleared the tree line and walked around to the other side of the mountain. There I could see the expected storm clouds rolling in so I quickened my pace. At one point I stopped to take a look back and much to my surprise I spotted the familiar face of a mule deer buck. I quietly and carefully readjusted my camera settings for the conditions and snapped off a couple of shots before attaching the camera to my monopod for some more stable captures. It was then that I noticed another buck… and then another! It was the Three Amigos as I call them 🙂

Herd of Bucks

They are quite used to me so they allowed me to quietly shoot for a while before wandering off into the dense forest at the bottom of the gulch. But I have to say, I was quite delighted to find them still alive and healthy! I also had the foresight to shoot some video footage, it was quite a scene to find them in the fog! The rest of my walk went as expected and I got back to my truck just as the rain began to increase a bit.

I wasn’t quite done though, there is a spot on Victor Pass where you can see the south face of Pikes Peak and also the historic mines of Goldfield, preserved from back in the gold boom days of the late 1800’s. This can be quite an amazing scene in dense fog so I always try to get up there with my camera when the weather turns nasty! As I arrived  the storm clouds were rapidly filling the valley, so I captured what I could of the mines and then with just seconds to spare I got a nice shot of the peak. Soon it was completely obscured and bigger raindrops were striking my windshield. I took that as a hint that my outdoors time today was over and I headed  back down the pass. Soon it was pouring and I began to look forward to see my bounty on the big display at the computer.

Historic Mines in Fog

I hope you enjoy the video of the Three Amigos and the fog rolling in on my Youtube Channel! Please like and subscribe if you enjoy the content, it really helps me in the rankings to have lots of interaction from the viewers!

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! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

Pikes Peak in Fog

Watch “Colorado Wildlife Photography Eagles, Heron and Deer in the Fog” on YouTube

Come with me on a foggy video journey in Eleven Mile Canyon Colorado and enjoy a herd of deer crossing the river, a beautiful great blue heron, and a family of bald eagles in HD video!

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