Snowy Morning in May

Snowy Mine Country

Woke up early this morning. As soon as I could pry my eyes open I took a quick look at my weather app, 27 degrees with snow… perfect! Not going to go out the door with no coffee and frozen waffles though, not going to happen. In the meantime, a look down the valley towards the Sangre de Cristo looked promising. Couldn’t really tell if I was looking at a cloud or a fog bank, but it was nice and I knew I was going to be taking out the camera into the weather!

As the big dog and I wound our way along the mountain road to the trailhead it started

Mule Deer Herd on a Snowy Morning

to snow a little… beautiful dry wispy snowflakes falling down from the sky, kind of like a snow globe πŸ™‚ I was hoping for a good mountain view of the Sangre de Cristo from the summit, but there were too many clouds. Nice clouds though, with a few bursts of snow going on in different places, well worth a couple minutes break in the hikingΒ  for some weather photos!

But that was nothing compared to the treat I encountered in the woods on the way back down! A small herd of mule deer had gathered in the mountain grass at the edge of the aspen forest for their breakfast πŸ™‚ They cast a few curious looks in our direction but mainly just kept eating. Thanks to my big Canon 400mm lens I didn’t have to get too close to get some decent shots. I’m sure with my old 200mm I would have tried to get closer and scared them off. So we shot, they ate and the snow kept falling. I chose ISO 400 in hopes of freezing the snowflakes. I’ve learned that too slow a shutter speed makes for snow streaks instead of snowflakes and that’s no good.

Mule Deer Herd on a Snowy Morning

I really couldn’t see on the display whether or not the snowflakes were visible, but I just kept shooting. I wasn’t going to be able to get a faster shutter speed in that light anyway. However now at home in front of the computer I was in for some pleasant surprises πŸ™‚ One of these shots I thought had two deer in it actually had three with one kind pf peeking around another one and the snowflakes turned out to be just right. Some are just small dots, some of the closer ones turned into surreal looking globes but that’s ok.

I was thinking about boosting the contrast and color in Photoshop but I eventually decided that any special effects betrayed the dreary mood of the scene, and it is that dreary snowy mood that I love and live to get out in and experience! I guess that’s a good thing since life in the Rocky Mountains at 10,000 feet serves up a lot of mornings like that!

As always these images and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting. Tons of cool household, tech and gift items are also available by simply clicking an image you like and scrolling down to the options menu! Sometimes I come across a situation and some captures that are so special to me that I really don’t want to sell them as stock where they sometimes go for peanuts. Such as it is with these, they are only available in print form on my website and not as RF stock on the stock sites. Stay tuned, there are many more of these to come, plus a couple of weather landscapes of the nearby peaks.

 

 

 

 

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Is Winter Really Over?

Elk in Fresh Rocky Mountain May Snow

Three days of snow in May and the storm clouds have finally dispersed. A beautiful hike through the fresh snow in the back country and I’m wondering if we will finally be able to say goodbye to Old Man Winter for the season! I guess the elk were probably hoping for the same… when we cleared the ridge I saw them basking in the morning sun that we haven’t seen for days πŸ™‚

Storm Clouds on Pikes Peak Colorado

 

 

Winter Storm in May

Was looking forward to a couple of days of photography in the pleasant Rocky Mountain springtime weather… until I looked at the forecast. Snow starting today and continuing all day tomorrow! Figured whatever hiking I was to get in was going to have to be early today and then that is going to be it until next week 😦 So the plan was set… off to Woodland Park for supplies and the rain forest trails on the north side of the high walls of Ute Pass.

Storm Clouds on Pikes Peak Colorado

As we crested Victor Pass I could see that the weather was already in full swing on Pikes Peak with fresh snow on the summit and storm clouds and fog rolling in. It was a beautiful scene though, made all the better with a circular polarizer on my 100-400 Canon Zoom.

When I neared my intended trailhead in Woodland I could see that as hoped,Β  there were mule deer running around all over the place πŸ™‚ Me and the big dog dismounted my blue Dodge and headed into the pungent atmosphere of the beautiful springtime wilderness. It wasn’t long before I spotted a herd of deer, unfortunately they also spotted us. They quickly moved away from the trail, but stopped a few yards into the woods to see if we were actually going to pursue them. When they discovered we weren’t they just stopped andΒ  and kept a wary eye upon us. One of them I see is a buck just starting to grow antlers for his battles in the autumn rut!

Wilderness Mule Deer

I snapped a bunch of those guys… due to the dark gray clouds above I was forced to use ISO 400 which I would rather not have to do at a distance. I’m really happier with the detail I capture at ISO 200, but I figured I was going to need at least a 200th of a second for a clear picture!

It wasn’t long before I started to see snow flakes beginning to fly so I had to cut the hike short and finish the supply run. Now the snow is falling steadily but we are back home safe and sound ready to just watch the snow action from in front of my computer screen!

Wilderness Mule Deer

The Heavens Were Shining Upon Me

Dogs woke me up early this morning… so at o’dark:30 I thought I might as well take advantage of the early start and get some sunrise pictures.Β  After a quick glance out the window and a check of the weather site on my phone, I decided otherwise. Freezing fog, light snow and 25 degrees were enough to send me back to the coffee pot. Even Big Dog wanted back inside to catch some more zzzz’s. So I just relaxed with some waffles and steaming black coffee with puppy dogs for a blanket. Three hours later I awoke again feeling considerably more rested, and it looked like the sun was going to shine a bit as well!

Herd of mule deer in the morning sun

Dense fog still filled the Arkansas River Valley so the Sangre de Cristo were totally obscured, but as we cleared the ridge I could see some unusual objects on the hillside, must be deer or elk I thought. Closer inspection with my big Canon glass revealed a small herd of deer grazing on a beautiful hillside, bathed in the warm Colorado springtime morning sun. I snapped a couple from a distance assuming that the deer were going to run as soon as they noticed us, before stealthily meandering closer. As luck would have it the trail approached them at an angle… proceeding directly at wild animals is usually a recipe for photographic disaster. They looked up with a small amount of interest but fortunately they didn’t run.

Ever so quietly, I found a place to sit in the lovely sunshine and just shoot for a while while the deer were

Herd of Mule Deer in the Sun

occupied with their morning feeding. Finally they began to wander around the hillside in search of better grass I suppose, but by then I had accumulated 150 amazing images and was ready to finish hiking with the big dog anyway.

This afternoon the clouds cold and fog are back along with a few flurries now and then, perfect weather for processing pictures on the computer! I thought the day was going to be a bust but the Heavens were definitely shining upon me and for that brief period the Almighty split the skies and gave me a shot at a better day than usual πŸ™‚

As always these images and more are available on my website as wall art and cool gift, tech and household items. Just click a gallery that you are interested in, click an image and wait for all the products and pricing to become available! You can also browse by product category if you already know what you are interested in!Β 

Herd of Mule Deer in the Sun

 

May Snow

Fresh Spring Snow on the Sangre de Cristo

I thought I might be done walking through snow for the season, but it doesn’t seem so! Heavy late April snows have once again blanketed the high country with a mantle of bright white. It looks good on the Sangre de Cristo though! Just as we cleared the top of the ridge today’s storm clouds parted just long enough for me to grab this shot of the rugged range to the south.

Elk were resting in the soft snow at the edge of the wilderness we call the Pike National

Elk in the Snow

Forest. They seemed to be so enjoying the early morning sun that I didn’t have the heart to finish my hike right past them so we just cut our trek short. A couple of the majestic beasts stood up for a better look but as we headed back down the mountainside I took one last look back and they were settling back down.

I would not have gotten any closer for a better capture anyway, all I would have accomplished would be to have caused them to run. My goal besides getting nice pictures of course, is to never cause the animals to run. There are a ton of prairie dog holes and loose rocks that can cause serious injury to these animals if they have to run. That’s why I get so furious when people let there dogs chase them, I don’t know what people have against a little forethought these days 😦

Well anyway, as usual, these pictures and more are available for purchase as wall art and royalty free stock imagery on my website. If you like, please check it out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the Bomb Cyclone

What an incredible storm… a 24 hour whiteout with two feet of snow and 80 mph winds. Finally it is over and the beautiful blue Colorado sky has returned, albeit with 3 degrees above zero this morning! But I wanted to get out, I thought I might find the elk and I also thought the snow would be awesome for snowshoeing πŸ™‚

Elk in Fresh Snow

Well it turned out to be a pretty rough morning, first of all I awoke at 3 a.m. for no reason and could not get back to sleep, probably anticipating the beautiful day I was going to have! Finally the sun came up and it actually warmed up to six degrees so me and Big Dog were out the door only to discover a snowdrift in the back seat of my truck, which remains a bit of a mystery. All the windows were closed except for a slight space in the back window which now appears closed. Well anyway my hat and gloves were wet, not a welcome development. Then I surmise because of the snowdrift in my backseat, the inside of the windows are just as frosted over as the outside so I got to scrape both while we waited for the defroster to take effect. Besides all of that, my tires were frozen to the mud which seemed risky to just drive out of, but I did it anyway and managed to survive which is better than you can say for the trash can that I ran over on my way out of the driveway, which did not 😦

Elk in Fresh Snow

The road to the trailhead was snow packed which is fine except that it was over a deep layer of solid ice which on a curvy and hilly mountain road was not fine. But there was nowhere to turn around so I just white knuckled it on to the trailhead. Once there I got out the snowshoes and began the trek. I immediately encountered a deep snowdrift so we stopped and strapped on the snowshoes. Then I had to take them off again, and put them on and take them off and put them on. The tremendous winds had blown all the snow off in some places and piled it up in others, very annoying. Finally the snow got deep for good right about at the cattle gate… which was frozen. Try as I might I could not unlock the gate. Finally I just unscrewed the big eye hook from the post and screwed it back in once on the other side. We were on the trail πŸ™‚

Elk in Fresh Snow

Getting onto the trail was not such a blessing on this day… in the trees near the top of the ridge, the wind had piled up several feet of fresh powder on top of a semi hard crust which was quite a challenge for me and the big dog. I managed to post hole about three times, plunging the lens of my camera into the snow. So three times I had to stop and remove the lens hood to wipe off the front filter while gasping for air from the elevation gain and deep snow. Finally we punched through to the top of the ridge where I spotted the elk herd. They had found one of the spots where the wind had blown the snow away and were enjoying the morning sunshine. I decided to take a few shots from afar with my 400mm lens, opting to not cause them to have to run into the deep snow.

Finally we had struggled back to the bottom and to the truck where I put my snowshoes down and opened the door for Big Dog before going around to get in myself. Unfortunately the windows had refrosted so I let the truck run awhile and scraped the inside again. There was another car abandoned in the parking lot so I took some care backing around when I heard a crunch, which turned out to be my snowshoes that I had put down to let the dog in 😦 I leapt out to recover and examine them, assuming that they were ruined… but fortunately my trusty MSR’s had survived with only a slight bend in one of the side rails which I should easily be able to repair. What a relief, these are some tough snowshoes!

Once leaving the parking lot we were able to return home without incident, so I’m hoping the rest of the day goes better than the start!

Of course as usual, these images are available for purchase on my website in the elk gallery as wall art on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, traditional framing and matting and stretched canvas. Also available are tons of cool gift, household and tech items with a beautiful #swkrullimaging picture on them!

 

A Day Off and Random Musings

Checked Accuweather when I awoke this morning… -11f with a real feel of -35f was the report. A quick trip outdoors for Big Dog’s morning duties also revealed another inch or so of fresh powder. Off in the distance I could hear the sound of snowplows out cleaning up the mess. Forgot to bring in the trash can from yesterday, finally found it a block away in a snowbank, I thought I could hear the wind howling last night through the fog of sleep.

Considering all that and also how dang tired I am from all the physical activity these days, the decision was made… a day off. Well almost off, Big Dog still needed his morning walk down the street to the open space to finish all his morning duties. My instinct was to grab the camera but I didn’t feel like it and off we went. Well the Sangre de Cristo Range was on fire from the sunrise on the new storm clouds heading this way and I was just sick… I knew by the time I got home and back with the camera the show would all be over. Oh well, I captured some the other day that were probably about the same and just as good.

Herd of Deer on a Winter MorningFortunately I did get out yesterday for some snowshoeing and shooting. Thought our hike was going to come up dry, but as we started our descent I saw three bucks headed the other way in a hurry, so fast in fact that I almost missed them! I didn’t have my camera on the right focus selection and I couldn’t bet my snowshoes turned around fast enough to catch them all, but I finally did get composed for one shot of the last buck making his way through the deep snow :) I wasn’t satisfied with the pictures from on our hike so we headed up Highway 67 to see if the bighorns might be out. Unfortunately they weren’t so I headed for home to start adding up the books so I can do my taxes. But as I neared my home I thought, “I wonder if I should drive up Teller 1 to look for the elk?”. Naa… probably won’t see any, it will be a wasted trip.

Used to be my only criteria for hopping in the truck and going somewhere was whether

Storm Clouds on Pikes Peak

or not I wanted to go. Now there is always this voice in the back of my mind haunting me… asking, will it be profitable? Back in the day in school they made us study the Great Depression and one thing about it has always stuck in my mind… the people that went through that terrible time were changed forever, their whole way of thinking about the future permanently scarred. I didn’t really understand that then, but now after the Great Recession I get it. I was a software engineer in the aerospace industry at the time and we had seen many ups and downs. I had somehow managed to survive all the down times but I had plenty of friends who didn’t, but they all found other jobs some in completely different fields. And with contracts constantly won and lost we all knew that one day the axe would fall for the final time and we would all have to find something else to do.

Herd of Deer on a Winter Morning

There were plenty of jobs that I thought I would like, the camera stores for example,Β  we had a brand new Circuit City and they had techies there…Β  I loved book stores, maybe that would be a fun place to be. Our mobile disc jockey service had always done well and I was still picking up some wedding photography, perhaps more if I put my mind to it. Well that was until the Great Recession. Suddenly it was all gone… our brand new Circuit City went out of business, the book stores that I loved closed their doors, the computer stores were all boarded up, and 50 percent of Denver’s camera stores bit the dust. Every backup plan gone in an instant it seemed like. I still remember my wife asking me, “So what’s Plan B?”, my reply, “there is no Plan B.”. I still don’t know how we survived it, one day at a time, one miracle at a time I guess.

But like the survivors of the Great Depression, my thinking is changed, my confidence in the future diminished. So I guess that is why the usage of each dollar is prefaced with the question, “Is this going to be profitable, or is there a more thrifty option?”. So I almost didn’t go yesterday, the voice in the back of my mind was saying, “There aren’t going to be any elk.”.Β  But I decided there was enough of a chance that it would be worth such a small effort. Maybe 30 miles of driving for a good payoff?

Herd of Deer on a Winter Morning

Well as it turns out I didn’t see any elk, but I did see these deer out of the corner of my eye. Had to turn around and drive back to get the shots and I thought the freezing wind was going to blow me into the next county! But it was well worth the effort, the picture of the doe with the two bucks is one of my favorite of all time so I’m glad I made the trip πŸ™‚ And maybe that is a lesson to be learned about taking chances. Those terrible years are behind us now, maybe it is time for a new mindset. Maybe I don’t want to be like the survivors of the Great Depression, maybe it’s time to leave fear and despair behind and take on a mindset of optimism and hope and winning again!

As always these images and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, canvas, traditional framing and matting and tons of cool household, tech, and gift items!