Mountain Storm and a Coyote

Once again I started a day with low expectations and a main goal of getting some fresh air and some exercise. But like many mornings the mountains have a way ofย  surprising me. First the view of the Sangre de Cristo Range which I assumed would be completely obscured turned out to be magnificent. Our next cold front and ensuing snowstorm is nearly upon us and the storm clouds are already covering the spectacular mountain range. But right at sunrise good fortune greeted me with a break in the clouds and a stunning view of the highest peaks on the range.

Storm on the Sangre

As I was trying to video the beauty of the range, the camera lost focus as it has frequently been doing for a while now. I decided then and there that I was going to figure that problem out and put an end to it! Many cameras these days conceal menu items that aren’t available with the settings you are using at the time so I made sure I was in video mode and began to examine the focus settings. As it turns out somehow this winter I had changed the awesome smart tracking system on the Canon 90D to use single point auto focus which could probably be named dumb tracking. A quick turn of the wheel and click of the button, and the problem is resolved. And I had no idea the timeliness of that bit of good fortune…

Coyote on the Hunt

My next surprise came in the form of an absolutely gorgeous coyote hunting for rodents in the tall mountain grass. He quickly became aware of my presence but decided the hunting was too good for him to worry about me. I watched him for about an hour, witnessing several successful dives into the snow and grass after his prey. He wasted no time gobbling down his catch before continuing the hunt. I was already prepared for the action with my 400mm lens and 1.4x tele extension so I just concentrated on getting the best shots that I could. When I was confident that I had captured the still shots I needed I switched to video and captured some footage of the handsome creature in action. As I watched I wondered how such a beautiful shy creature minding it’s own business while ridding the countryside of those pesky rodents could be the subject of such hatred from his human enemies. The coyote has to be one of the most misunderstood animals in all of God’s creation. People just don’t understand the importance of these predators in keeping balance in the ecosystem of the mountains and surrounding countryside. I hope each and every one of you will call your representative and lobby against fur products and the wanton destruction of these animals.

Coyote on the Hunt

I guess the moral of this story is don’t let your low expectations stop you from going out. So many times I have seen the most amazing things on the days my expectations are the lowest. When it comes to photography, there is no substitute for being there when the action develops!

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.

Coyote on the Hunt

Epic Battle in the Sky

Every day I go out I think is more amazing than the day before and today didn’t disappoint! Yesterday I wanted to get some motionย  blur images ofย  the river flowing through the snow in Eleven Mile Canyon but by the time we were done

Icy South Platte River

with photographing the eagles the sun was too high in the sky, and that much contrast is not conducive to that kind of imagery.

So today my plan was to get back to the canyon early and photograph the river before the sun cleared the ridge on the east side, with the hope that I would spot some more bald eagles fishing along the banks of the South Platte. As I neared the entrance to the canyon I cast a quick glance over at the nest to check on the action there. It appeared that the great birds had already left the area so I quickly purchased my pass and entered the recreation area.

Bald Eagles in Eleven Mile Canyon

Along the way I stopped a few times to shoot some particularly scenic spots along the river with my 24-105 and nine stop ND filter. I began to watch the treetops more carefully as I neared the bend, which is the eagle’s favorite place for fishing. Bang… sure enough there was a beautiful bald eagle perched high on their favorite dead tree. I pulled over and readied the camera for eagle photography, had to completely reset shutter speeds, apertures, the shutter drive mode and attach the 100-400mm lens and 1.4x converter. I carefully exited the truck, being careful not to startle the huge raptor too much.

I took a few shots of him on the perch even though he was in an inopportune spot with a branch right in the way, just so I could make sure I had my exposure compensation dialed in. There wasn’t much light yet so I was stuck with ISO values that I wasn’t too happy about, but sometimes in wildlife photography early in the morning you just have to deal with it.

Bald and Golden Eagles

After a minute or two the majestic raptor took flight and fortunately I was well prepared for the event. I probably got about half a dozen really nice ones before he soared high into the sky. I was busy tracking his movement hoping to discover where he might be going next, when much to my surprise he circled back towards me! I quickly reset the exposure compensation to +0 and checked my histogram. He soared away and then circled back once again… but this time with a few friends! It was difficult to tell what all kinds of birds had joined in but I’m pretty sure I spotted three bald eagles in the sky along with what I thought was a bald eagle juvi that continues to reside with his family.

However it appeared that the eagles were actually trying to drive away the golden colored one and as I zoomed in with the display I discovered that the odd one was actually the golden eagle that I see occasionally. I knew that guy was big, but until I saw him next to the baldies I had no idea how big! That bird is mammoth! And the group circled several times giving me a chance to include more than one of the great hunters in a single frame! Eventually the epic battle in the sky came to an end and the all the eagles soared away out of range of my camera. Unfortunately the light was on the opposite side so my captures are a bit silhouetted, but I still consider myself fortunate to have seen such a spectacle!

Colorado Red-tailed Hawk

It’s difficult to put into words what it was like to see and hear this stunning encounter. This was one of those times when it is all over that I find myself just standing there thanking God for blessing me so. And believe it or not, my day wasn’t over… I had one more excellent sighting of a red-tailed hawk and some great weather photography as our next winter storm rolled in over the spectacular Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range. All I can say is wow… what an epic morning!

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!

Sangre de Cristo Winter Storm

A Good Omen

Whenever I see a fox in the wild I think of it as a good omen ๐Ÿ™‚ Not sure why but it just seems like life is a little better when I have an awesome wildlife encounter like this! We had a pretty good snowstorm yesterday so I was ready to jump in the truck at sunrise in the hope that I would experience a great opportunity for one of those magnificent “after the storm” panoramas on the Sangre de Cristo Range to my southwest.ย  As I rounded a couple of sharp curves on highway 67 it was becoming apparent that my trip out into the cold early morning sunlight was going to be richly rewarded!

Snowstorm on the Sangre

I was going to have to hustle though, already another storm was moving in and the scene was changing rapidly. I leapt out of the truck at the overlook, switched my camera to custom mode 2 which I had set up for rapid access to my favorite motion blur and panorama settings. C2 takes me directly to full manual, shutter speed at 160th of a second, aperture f8, and the ISO set to 100 in order to get a uniformly exposed series of images with good depth of field and low noise to work with in the automate function of Adobe Photoshop. I snapped off about 15 images to cover the entire range followed by a blank frame to mark the end of the series. Then I turned my attention to a few more intimate images of the individual peaks as I watched the storm clouds roll in over the picturesque range of towering mountains.

Red Fox HuntingThen off to a hike on my favorite trail to hopefully capture some elk or deer in the beautiful fresh fallen snow. As I cleared the top of the ridge much to my surprise I came almost face to face with this beautiful red fox happily chowing down on a freshly caught rodent of some sort, probably a mouse I imagine. Even more to my surprise the little fellow didn’t immediately run off! He just looked at me like he recognized me and kept on with his business. Eventually he strode toward me and walked right past me not four feet away! Too close to even get a shot, with my long lens and 1.4x teleconverter attached for long distance wildlife photography! He just slowly made his way over the ridge, back to his den with a full belly I suppose ๐Ÿ™‚ I just stood there in disbelief at what I had just experienced. Most fox encounters I’ve had have been long range sightings, barely close enough to get an image large enough to display in my blog… much less a print quality closeup!

Red Fox Hunting

Eventually I resumed my trek through the winter wonderland on the summit of the mountain. I have to say I love the snowstorms, the times when I have the mountain completely to myself ๐Ÿ™‚ Not much was stirring on the mountaintop this morning. Perhaps the wild creatures are all aware of the oncoming weather on the heels of the first storm, snug and warm in their nests and dens.

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!

Snowstorm on the Sangre

Disclaimer – This post is not sponsored and I have not received compensation from any of the products or equipment used in the creation of this post.

Fools Errand

Snowstorm on the Sangre

One glance out my front window this morning was all it took to convince me that today was a day that was not to be experienced from indoors! The storm clouds on the Sangre de Cristo Range were stunning and and the cold crisp mountain air needed to be experienced from the heights of alpine glory!

Coyote on the MountainI had just gotten started when I spotted a coyote hunting on the mountainside, too distant for a really good picture… So I determined that I should pursue him in an effort to get a better shot! He already knew of my presence so a direct approach was not going to work. It looked like the best idea was the long way around the mountain, out of the sight of the wary canine with a stealthy approach back down from the summit. A stiff icy wind was blowing in my face so I had high hopes that he would neither hear nor smell my approach.

Coyote on the Mountain

Sounded good on paper… until I went into oxygen debt trying to scale the steep mountain in overdrive ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Finally at the top I stood gasping for air looking around for the stealthy beast. For a brief moment it appeared my plan was successful, there he was no more than 30 yards away, staring out at me from the safety of the tall grass. I had cleared the summit ready to snap a picture… or so I thought ๐Ÿ˜ฆ The wily coyote had spotted me the instant I spotted him and as soon as I raised the camera he disappeared into the mountain grass like a ghost ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I knew in my heart he was gone, but I wandered over to the hillside anyway to see if I might catch a glimpse of him on his way back to the thick brush he calls home. Of course I was fully aware I was on a fools errand at that point, once a coyote decides to vanish there is little hope of seeing him again.

Snowstorm on the Sangre de Cristo

So I continued my trek over the summit to the edge of the west side where there would be a spectacular view of the majestic Sangre de Cristo Range with it’s brand new mantle of white. I can only imagine the horrendous winds that were propelling these amazing clouds and blowing snow.

I didn’t get the hero shot of the coyote but I am happy to have at least a small prize to commemorate the sighting. Also got some great exercise, fresh air and some great shots of the mountains after our latest winter storm ๐Ÿ™‚

Snowstorm 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!

Coyote on the Mountain

Bucket List Tincup

Admittedly, Tincupย  is a fairly minor tick on my bucket list, along with a number of other Colorado ghost towns that I would like to visit ๐Ÿ™‚ It wasn’t even the main reason for visiting that part of the state this week… but what the heck, we were there and why not?

Ghost town of Tin Cup Colorado

The main reason for the journey to the other side of the big mountains was the quest for a picture of moose in the wild. Kevin and I were told that moose hang out at Taylor Reservoir all the time. All we had to do was show up and moose would be flocking to us for the sheer joy of having their picture taken ๐Ÿ™‚

So I awoke at 3:30 a.m. so as to be able to reach the other side of Cottonwood Pass by sunrise, when we knew we would have the best lighting conditions with which to photograph the numerous herds of moose that we would surely encounter. Alas, it was not to be so.ย  Just as with our previous fervent attempt at a moose picture on a difficult trek to Hartenstein Lake on the other side of the pass when the moose showed up a day late, we saw nothing ๐Ÿ˜ฆ With all the smoke from the fires, the rugged Collegiate Peaks mountains weren’t even an image worthy target.

Ghost town of Tin Cup Colorado

With nothing better to do we proceeded down the eight mile dirt road to the ghost town of Tincup. According to undercovercolorado.com, the town got it’s start as a mining town in 1880 as the mining town of Virginia City, however confusion over three towns in three different states with the same name resulted in reincorporating the town as Tincup in the year 1882. Eventually the mines were exhausted and the town had pretty much died by 1918, when the final official election was conducted.

The rough dirt road led to the tiny picturesque town of few inhabitants where we found the best location to grab a few frames with the magnificent San Juan mountains to the west. That took all of about five minutes and then we were off to the Taylor Park Trading Post for a look around followed by one last effort to spot a moose in the marshy area adjacent to the water.

Fog and Frost at Cottonwood Lake Colorado

Seeing none, we headed back over Cottonwood Pass in hopes of spotting a mountain goat or a bighorn sheep in the thin air of the 12,600 foot byway over the Continental Divide. Again no luck on the pass, leaving Cottonwood Lake as our last chance to acquire the coveted large mammal images. As we descended down to lower elevations fog began to thicken and even though there were no critters in sight, fog on Cottonwood Lake looked incredible was pretty cool ๐Ÿ™‚ Finally, a few images for the blog post!

Here we decided to call it a day and head for home. Little did we know that our luck was about to change on a detour to Eleven Mile Reservoir. But that is a subject for another blog post ๐Ÿ™‚

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!

First Snow 2020

Summer didn’t give up without a fight… some of the hottest weather I’ve seen in the mountains persisted right through the entire labor day weekend.ย  Almost 80 doesn’t sound very hot to ya’ll flat landers but we aren’t used to that up here! it was much worse in Denver, Sunday I believe hitting 101 degrees. It was so hot and bright just after sunrise that I didn’t even bother leaving the house.

First Colorado Snow

But that all ended on Monday night as a cold front went through and dropped the temperature to 20f and the skies broke with eight inches of snow, wind and fog. The fog and low visibility lasted all day yesterday so I dejectedly continued my four day losing streak by not going out of the house at all, not even to exercise ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Today however was better, the sun was kind of out and I could see the fog was breaking up, ideal conditions for pictures! As I looked out the window my spirits were lifted by the spectacular conditions and my mind once again turned to the mountains and photography.

Mines on a Winter Day

So I laced up my winter hiking boots and hit the trail. I was hoping for that magnificent view from the top of the ridge with fog at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Range but unfortunately all I could see was fog flowing into the valley from the southwest.ย  As I strode through the snow and fog on the summit the historic gold mine came into faint view through the fog, so I stopped for a bit to take in the view and capture the scene. The view of the valley below on the northeast side of the mountain was also well worth a couple black and white captures on the return trail.

Red-tailed Hawk

A pair of red-tailed hawks greeted me at the trailhead, each calling to the other through the mist from their own power pole. I was fortunate after a while that one of the great raptors left his pole and flew right at me ๐Ÿ™‚ Nothing better than a good hawk in flight picture!

Mines on a Winter Day

After my hike I decided to drive through Victor and check on mine country in Goldfield, hoping for some photogenic fog and a view of the Sangres. Part of my wish came true, there was a nice foggy backdrop behind the mines which made for a nice landscape image despite the Sangre de Cristo being completely fogged over ๐Ÿ™‚

I knew I had to make one more stop… Pikes Peak was bound to be amazing with new snow and fog so I drove to the top of Victor Pass for a look. And the great mountain did not disappoint ๐Ÿ™‚ The cantankerous old lady always looks better in snow ๐Ÿ™‚

Fresh Snow on Pikes Peak

By this time it was becoming obvious that our short bout with winter was about over. Heat rising from my sweatshirt was fogging over my sunglasses and I was getting really thirsty so I decided to call it a day. The fog never really did subside… I thought I was going to get a break on the way home but as I prepared for picturesย  a new layer of fog streamed in from the valley below, totally obscuring my view of the distant mountain range.

For your enjoyment I have created many short multimedia videos for my YouTube channel! Feel free to watch and be sure to subscribe to my channelย  if you would like to see more of our adventures!

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!

A Perfect Morning

Morning Mule Deer

I know we like our sunshine here in Colorado but sometimes some clouds and humidity are a welcome sight, especially for a photographer! It was a perfect morning, a slight breeze, cool and quiet, and rain clouds overhead providing just enough cover to soften the morning light for photography ๐Ÿ™‚

Finch on a Perch

It wasn’t long before I spotted a pair of mule deer, buck and doe enjoying a break from the usual intense sunlight. Usually by this time of morning they would have retreated to shady areas under the tall pines of the Pike National Forest. Today however, the wary couple gave me a few minutes to photograph them before vanishing into the dense wilderness.

I continued my hike along the high meadow at the top of the mountain enjoying the sound of birds happily chirping out their approval of such a pleasant morning. I stopped and sat for a while on a flat rock hoping for an opportunity to capture a couple images of the furtive little creatures and fortunately they obliged ๐Ÿ™‚ Not the best pictures, but I did manage to get a couple shots of what appear to be a couple of the finch variety.

Clouds on the Sangre de Cristo

Winter in May

Clouds on the Sangre de Cristo Range of Colorado

It was definitely winter when I was loading my camera equipment into the truck for my hike on the mountain today! Yesterday afternoon a cold front came through and we got snow, hail, thunder, lightning and wind! This morning the ice was all still present and it took me about 15 minutes just to scrape out a place to see through the windshield!

It was also winter when I started my hike through the fresh snow at 11,000 feet. The

Baby Prairie Dog

wind was blowing and I was glad I had a hood on my jacket, which I quickly pulled over my frozen and aching ears. Eventually I cleared the ridge and thankfully the wind subsided. The Sangre de Cristo range soon came into view in all it’s glory, still sporting storm clouds from yesterdays weather. I stopped there for a while to take in the sound of the wind blowing in the tall pines and the chirping of happy song birds, and of course to capture a few images of the magnificent snow capped peaks.

By now the it was warming up quickly and spring had returned to the Rocky Mountains. The prairie dogs were chirping out their happiness to see the sunshine and luckily for me this one little fellow stuck around long enough for me to get his picture. I moved around to the sunny side while he warily kept a little black eye on my movement. I was able to get two captures before the diminutive creature retreated back into his den.

 

Wild Morning

Pair of cute mule deer

One of those mornings… I was up and ready to go by 6:00. After a couple of cups of coffee and some breakfast I tried to go back to sleep in my easy chair, my eyes certainly felt tired enough but it was not meant to be. I glanced out the window and I could see it was already getting light and that was it. Grabbed my camera bag and was off to the trailhead.

It was a cold foggy morning with ice freezing on the foliage and the sky spitting snow as I made my way up the steep mountainside to the summit. My mind wandered in the solitude of the cold and dense fog and I found myself thinking how cool it would be to see the deer or elk herd in this fog! Well as luck would have it I glanced back and there they were, my favorite little herd of deer grazing on the mountainside behind me as I was descending from the summit. And now after visiting them a few times over the last couple of weeks they just looked at me with some curiosity and went on with their eating. As they moved around I watched for them to from little groups so I couldย  get some nice portraits.

Herd of Mule Deer

Soon I was back to the trailhead and getting ready for the trip home when it came to me to go check the mines at Goldfield. Sometimes they can look quite mystical in a dense fog. It wasn’t quite as dramatic as I had hoped but I still got some nice pictures.

As always, these pictures and more are available on my website as wall art on glossy metalย  or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool gift items are also available including t-shirts, coffee mugs, blankets and pillows and much much more! Also be sure to visit and subscribe to my YouTube Channel!

Foggy Mines