Picture Mining

Took Big Dog out hiking this morning, cold and windy… too cold and windy apparently for any wildlife to be out and about where I could photograph them. Well that’s not completely true, I did see a herd of deer butts going the other way about 200 yards up on the mountainside but I was not in any mood to chase them 😦

Pikes Peak in Fog and Snow

So I decided today would be the day to take a look back and see what I may have missed in as I blew through autumn and early winter shooting like a madman and taking little time for editing. I don’t even know how far back I need to go, but one folder did catch my eye called “Sea of Fog”. I remember that day well and was pretty confident that I would be able to mine some more images from that shoot. I know that I only processed a couple of them before moving on to the next project. In fact I have been shooting pretty much every day this entire year and I know for a fact I haven’t even looked at all my captures!

Snowy North Face of Pikes Peak

Off to a very slow start though, Photoshop and Bridge haven’t been cooperating with each other since I downloaded the updates for the new 2019 version. Upon closer inspection I noticed that the latest install had not updated the Photoshop shortcut on my desktop and I was running the 2018 version with the 2019 version of Bridge. So… after downloading a couple more updates I tried again with the correct version and am having quite a bit more luck, both in performance and functionality. Someday I need to learn about this new content aware stuff. I took a look at it and saw that it was going to be a lot more reading than I want to do today!

Snow and Fog on the Sangre de CristoSure enough, the “Sea of Fog” folder has quite a few good images inside. It was an amazing day for sure. Heading out of town on Highway 67 north with my family I noticed that Cripple Creek was filled with fog, well worth a stop at the overlook. From there I could see that the entire Arkansas Valley was also filled with fog, making a side tour over to Victor necessary. Don’t know what the family thought of all the interruptions but sometimes a photographer has to just get the pictures!

Well anyway, I have a lot of work ahead of me, there are hundreds of images from an entire year that need processing. Perhaps the the wicked wind and cold of a Rocky Mountain January will give me the opportunity to do that.

Manitou Incline in Winter

Manitou Incline in Winter

These pictures and more are now available on my website including a couple of the snow covered Manitou Incline that I have added to the Manitou Springs gallery. The snowy Pikes Peak ones that I just did will be in the Pikes Peak gallery. I hope that this Christmas you will consider giving the gift of art! My site sells wall art including metal and acrylic glossies, Canvas, and a whole bunch of cool household items including pillows and blankets, yoga mats, phone cases, battery chargers, coffee mugs and much more!

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A Dusting of Snow

Don’t know what it is… can’t resist going out in new snow, even if it is only a dusting! A new layer of white can completely change the photography landscape, turning an ordinary brown mountainside into a magical winter wonderland. So when I looked out my window this morning and saw the snow and the storm clouds enveloping the Sangre de Cristo mountain range,Β  there was no doubt where I would be today!

Storm Brewing on the Sangre de Cristo

 

How Could I Not Take the Picture

Storm Brewing on the Sangre de Cristo

I was looking over my portfolio this morning and was thinking, “I have too many pictures of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, better stop shooting them for a while.” But then I came over the ridge and saw this view! All thoughts about not photographing the Sangre vanished in an instant and I just started shooting. How could I not photograph something this magnificent! It seems another storm is moving in and the first place I get to see the evidence is over the Sangre range.Β  The slight hint of color from the early morning sun only added to the stunning beauty of these mountains this morning.

Also saw a trio of doe deer foraging for food on the mountainside which needed some photography! These were some of the cutest faces I’ve seen in a while. They appear to be pretty young. Fortunately they didn’t just run, stopping to pose for a few minutes before disappearing over the ridge πŸ™‚

Trio of Deer in the Wilderness

These pictures and more are now available as wall art and cool gift items on my website so if you are inclined to give the gift of art for Christmas, please take a look!

 

The Clearing

My favorite part of the day comes after I have made the long steep climb to the summit and break through the trees into the high clearing where there is the anticipation… I never know what I am going to get to see. There might be a herd of elk, some mule deer bucks, a coyote hunting for his meal or even a hawk or eagle. One thing I can be sure of is that I will get to see the Continental Divide marked by the magnificent Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range. They may be obscured by a fog bank or blowing snow but they will be there, towering above all else with imposing jagged peaks of such beauty I never get tired of looking at them.

Snowy Clearing

On this day dark gray clouds, tremendous wind and blowing snow greeted me as I crested the ridge. The trail was completely obscured byΒ  the drifting snow that had covered a layer of ice on the mountaintop making for some arduous progress. Softball sized rocks were also hidden under the snow making for some painful ankle twists as I searched the drifting snow for the trail with each step through the fresh powder. Blowing snow swirled like a tornado in places and the steady wind made the barren clearing on top of the mountain look like waves on a lake. I imagined what it must have been like 100 years ago for the miners searching for their fortunes in gold in this rugged terrain and fierce weather without the benefits of all the high tech winter gear available to us now.

I was hoping that the fresh snow would attract the elk herd but the wind probably caused them to remain in hiding under cover of the dense pine forest to the south. There were no deer willing to brave the blowing snow either but the amazing view of the Sangre de Cristo Range was even more magnificent than usual! Although there was a dark cloud above me the light from the early morning sun was able to break through and illuminate the beautiful snow capped peaks, creating a perfect Colorado winter scene worthy of a postcard πŸ™‚ Big Dog was eager to continue with his exploration but I had to stop and make sure that scene was adequetely captured!

Winter Sangre Range

Eventually we made our way over the top of the mountain and around the other side where the snow and wind subsided and the trail was easier to negotiate. I was hoping the lower forest would yield some wildlife but no such luck. There was no view of the mountains through the fog and snow to the south so we just enjoyed the walk back to the car as I continued to scan the woods for animals to photograph.

These pictures and more are now available for purchase on my website as wall art and a lot of cool gift and household items. This of course is a great time for an annual plug for my Christmas Card products. I have reduced the price this year and a box of ten cards can be ordered for only $25! Also available are coffee mugs, apparel, towels, blankets, pillows, phone chargers and much more! For those needing some new wall art, my pictures can be ordered on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, canvas, traditional framing and matting and much more! Just click an image on the website and the products and pricing will become available for selection!

Go With Your Gut

Finally over the hump… The blazing sun of summer is beginning to fade and Labor Day Weekend is finally here. Two of my biggest photography obstacles are nearing an end for the year as the tourists pack up Monday and head en masse to whence they came and the color killing direct sunlight continues it’s steady retreat to the winter solstice in the south.

Sunset on the Sangre

As evening approached yesterday I was thinking the clouds looked like they were setting up for a nice sunset. The smoke from the summer fires is slowly dissipating and the Sangre de Cristo are becoming visible again so I decided to go with my gut and head over to the overlook with Big Dog and the camera. On the way out the door I could see that my instincts were correct… a huge storm cloud was already glowing in the beautiful orange early evening light. By the time I got to the overlook the scene was even better, layers of misty mountains to the south back lit by the soft glow of the evening sun setting in the west. As an extra bonus, there was a small herd of mule deer grazing in a meadow that were willing to hang around for a few minutes as I prepared for the sunset, that is at least until Big Dog noticed them and voiced his hello 😦

Magestic Buck Deer

Normally I would have just stayed in the one spot to catch the last vestiges of the day, but I had another gut feeling… that the valley visible from the bridge was going to provide an even more magnificent vantage point for the light show that was unfolding. Not sure it was actually better, but it was at least equally amazing and also gave me a view of the storm cloud that I had seen earlier. A few shots there and I decided to try to capture the storm cloud with the Sangre in the background… off to the Grouse Mountain parking lot. There are so many power lines in the parking area that there was no choice but to grab the leash and head up the mountainside with Big Dog in hopes that I would arrive at the top of the first ridge before the sun became too low to provide any picturesque light.

Sunset on the Sangre

The sun was retreating fast, so Big Dog and I had to make a run for it. And I can tell you, I am not used to running up mountains right at this point in my life! But we did make it in time and I was able to use the gate post to steady the camera for a few last shots before the sun disappeared altogether. All that remained now was a walk in the dark back to the parking lot. It was a great evening of photography and I’m glad I went with my gut… Had I listened to my mind, I would have just thought, “naaaa, we haven’t had a decent sunset all summer.” and just sat it out on the couch!

These pictures and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art and royalty free stock images for commercial use. Pictures are available on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, wrapped canvas, traditional frames, and many cool gift and household items such as blankets, pillows, shower curtains, battery chargers, t-shirts, coffee mugs and much more!

 

Exploring Skagway Reservoir

Another day with no definite plan… Not that that is anything unusual, I rarely have a plan other than to wake up and have coffee. One of the ideas that has been rattling around in the background of my mind for a while has been to make the jaunt from Victor over to Skagway Reservoir.Β  As the coffee soaked in andΒ consciousness slowly began to percolate it occurred to me that today could be that day!

Foggy Mount Pisgah

First of all though, a stop at Grouse Mountain for my first climb to the overlook with Big Dog since my clutch bit the dust last January. I knew it was way too foggy to see the Sangre but I took the camera along in hopes that we might see some elk or deer. No luck with that, but the fog turned the nearby mountains into mystical ghostly shapes that created a completely different scene than usual. After a nice walk through the woods we climbed back into Old Faithful and headed for Victor. I was hoping that the fog had extended to the old mines there for some more cool photo ops but the sky was clear and bright and the mines were the same as always. I didn’t make any effort to get more of the same old photographs there.

Off to Phantom Canyon Road to the Skagway turnoff. Can’t say I was too impressed with the long washboard gravel road… Very annoying. No wildlife and no good views to photograph anywhere along the road either. Perhaps had we gotten an earlier start there would have been some mist and wildlife but 9:00 a.m. must be nap time for the local critters. The drive was so long and rough that I was about to give up when I saw what appeared to be a few cars parked in the distance. Must be it I thought, so I persevered, finally… success! Placid water and a dam came into view along with a few fishermen who had also braved the dirt road.

Skagway Reservoir

As we pulled in I could barely see the water through the glare of the morning sun… I noticed that I could see much better with sunglasses on so I figured this might be a good time for my B&W circular polarizer. It didn’t take long to discover the best vantage point for a shot… water like glass with the south Face of 14,115 foot Pikes Peak in the background. Big Dog was of course way more interested in the plethora of prairie dogs that were scurrying about the place foraging for food πŸ™‚

Wild Turkeys

I still held out hope that I would spot some wildlife on the return trip and it wasn’t long before I spotted a rafter of turkeys… Why a “rafter”? Well apparently according to this entertaining website, in the days of old the word raft used to mean collection πŸ™‚ Well anyway a few shots of the large birds and we were on our way home to review the day’s photographic bounty. Unfortunately on this day the images looked better on the camera than they do on the computer, but it was still a nice day and now I have seen the reservoir which by the way has quite an interesting history!

The reservoir itself was constructed in 1899 followed in 1901 by an electrical power station a few miles down Beaver Creek. At one time there was a tramway to the power station but after a major flood the station and apparently the tram were destroyed. According to the Mountain Jackpot there was a massive rainfall on Woodland Park and Cripple Creek that overwhelmed the Skagway dam burying the reservoir in 15 feet of debris and destroying the power pipeline which was never repaired. The power station survived but is now on accessible by hiking down the rugged terrain through Beaver Creek.

These images and more are now available on my website for purchase as wall art and commercial stock! Stay tuned, my next adventure is still in the planning stage but I hope to get out to Cottonwood Pass where I will explore the trail to the mountain goat viewing area πŸ™‚

 

The Blizzard

The weather has been miserable for photography these days, haven’t had my camera out in over a week. Summer is pretty rough for taking pictures in the mountains. Between the intense sun, haze and later on smoke unless we are very fortunate the mountains are barely visible. The wildlife spends the warm lazy days lying in the shade in the highest elevations, coming out only in darkness to forage for food.

Three does in snow

Which got me to thinking about winter and my favorite activity, snow shoeing πŸ™‚ I was recalling this photo shoot… the snow was just coming down so hard for several days without a break, we were just buried under several feet of snow. So much snow in fact that the wildlife was having difficulty moving around to get food. That year there was a herd of deer trapped in the mountains that was surely going to starve to death without assistance. The Wildlife Service was going to abide by it’s strict no interference policy and just let the animals die until there was a massive outcry from the public and they were forced to relent. Bales of hay were finally airlifted by helicopter to rescue the stranded animals, but the public was strictly forbidden to take matters into their own hands in other affected areas. Fortunately Coloradans are generally rebels and no one listened to the authorities, saving many animals that would have perished.

I lived a short distance from a game reserve where someone had delivered a couple of bales of hay to our beloved herd of deer, but unfortunately the snow was so deep that they could not get to it. Since I walked that forest every morning looking for pictures for my stock photo business I knew the area like the back of my hand, including each and every game path throughout the entire area. So I got the idea to put on my snowshoes and pack down their paths so they could move around. The snowplows had been by once so the snow on the street was only about a foot deep and getting to the woods was pretty easy. However, once I hit the deep snow it was an entirely different story! But I persevered, diving into the waist deep snow with short steps so that there would be a good solid path for the animals. I remember the snow getting deeper and deeper until I was struggling through chest deep powder gasping for air and having to stop and rest after only a few steps. My snowshoes would plunge almost all the way to the ground and then become covered with all the snow on top of my feet. It was all I could do to lift each foot out of the deep trench for another step. For a while there I thought I was going to spit out my lungs!

Winter Deer.jpg

I could see the deer in the mist, looking on curiously. They were quite used to me walking through there with my camera so there was no alarm and they didn’t try to run. Mostly they were hanging out under the thickest trees to avoid getting buried while they slept. I of course had brought my camera, well protected by my Aquatech rain cover, in case I could get close enough to the deer to get some pictures. Multitasking I guess it was πŸ™‚

And indeed, I did get some of the greatest deer in snow pictures that I have ever managed to obtain! At one point I was struggling to get through some snow and brush when I burst into a clearing and found these three beautiful ladies staring at me like, “Hey, what’s going on?” I also found a few more cuties just hanging out, eating the bark and leftover leaves on the ubiquitous scrub oak trees prevalent in that area.

Doe-Pair

Most gratifying of all though was the sight of the deer beginning almost immediately to use the pathways that I had created for them πŸ™‚ They seemed very grateful for the assistance and I was grateful for the opportunity to have done my part in the great effort made by fellow Coloradans to spare the animals from great suffering. In fact it worked so well that I made it a habit from then on to don my snowshoes and keep their paths clear for the rest of my remaining time in the Parker area. It is now one of my fondest memories from my time life there πŸ™‚