Some Christmas Sheep

According to the weather forecast today looked like an excellent day for a photo excursion to beautiful

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

Waterton Canyon for some bighorn sheep pictures. Snow last night and cold this morning threatened to put a damper on those plans but I managed to force myself out the door anyway, thinking the exercise would be a good idea before Christmas dinner!

Eventually photo buddy Kevin and I reached the parking lot and got out to prepare our bikes and gear for the ride up the dirt road along the pristine waters of the beautiful South Platte River on it’s journey out of the Rocky Mountains. It was here that we realized that the blue sky and sunshine were a little deceptive this day. There was a stiff wind blowing and any ideas of shelter in the canyon were soon dispelled by reality 😦 The canyon had become more of a wind tunnel than a shelter and it was a hard fight pedaling uphill against the stiff breeze.

No sheep at the primary sheep viewing location so we headed further into the canyon.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

No sheep at the second location either and conversation turned to what a great workout we were  getting in lieu of the awesome wildlife imagery that we had envisioned 😦 Past the yellow house we pedaled, and on past the big reservoir too… Finally along the last vestiges of cliff wall we spotted a lone ewe walking along the road, and then another. The pair were making their way up the road and soon hopped onto the cliffs in deep shade where the lighting was less than stellar. We took a few shots there, looking often towards the cliffs where they had come down from in the first place.

Finally, a few sheep appeared in the lovely morning light spilling onto the rugged cliffs along the north side

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

of the canyon, so we picked up our bikes and gear and meandered down towards the new action. Eventually some rams appeared high on the cliffs, out of range of our cameras… and unfortunately did not descend before we were out of time… being Christmas day and all 😦 But we got some pictures and it was indeed an awesome workout. Clearly I need to spend more  time on my bike and less time at the computer screen! On the upside, my new Tamrac Anvil 23 pack was a great success, holding all my gear with space to spare and so comfortable that I hardly noticed that I was wearing it on my back! Soon I will be using to pack my new video friendly tripod so that I can add some motion to my imagery and contribute to my YouTube site!

Ultimately I did manage to get a few images that I like so I hope you like them! A couple are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy acrylic or metal sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing!

Sangre Mountain Sunset

After a pretty gloomy day in the high country I was thinking it looked like conditions were right for a spectacular sunset. As the sun descended towards the high peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range, an hour before sunset there was already some beautiful golden color showing in the clouds just above the mountains. So I readied my camera gear and made my way to a suitable vantage point to await the show.

Herd of Mule Deer in the Colorado Wintertime

And it was a pretty nice sunset, not that great but not really good enough to miss the golden hour for wildlife photography so I pressed on hoping for some sunset deer pictures. Soon I spotted a buck mule deer with some does so I stopped for a bit to see if I could capture an image of them. The buck was off minding his own business but much to my delight three cute curious looking does were gathered together to peer out from the golden mountain grass at me to see what I was up to. I got a couple closeups of them and as I moved around to the east I could see that I was  getting the Sangre de Cristos and some remnants of the sunset in the background as well 🙂

Winter Sunset on the Sangre de Cristo Mountains

The deer finally wandered off and I moved on to a better spot for the sunset finale that was shaping up to the west. And what a show it was, there was just enough space between the mountains and the clouds to allow the beautiful evening sunlight to pour through and light the clouds from below.

These are my favorite images of this spectacular evening, I hope you like them! And 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 gift items are also available including coffee mugs, apparel, bedding, stationary and much more, all with a beautiful Colorado Rocky Mountain scene!

Herd of Mule Deer in the Colorado Wintertime

Herd of Mule Deer in the Colorado Wintertime

 

Low Key Photography and Cyber Monday

Snow on the Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Two subjects today… The first is low key photography. I’ve liked this look when I have seen it but have never tried it myself. When I prepare my images I have always worked hard to retain every speck of detail in the highlights and shadows that I am able, but that look doesn’t always really represent what I was feeling or wanting from the image when I shot it. So lately I’ve been looking into this idea a little bit and decided to try it on this image that lent itself to low key techniques. It has some good highlights on the snowy peaks as the sun was coming up in the east, some dark brooding clouds and some dark less important features in the foreground. Using curves and the apply image option in Photoshop I added some mood to the clouds and foreground. Some additional painting was required to retain some mid tones that I wanted in the image, and here it is! My first attempt at low key landscape photography. I may try some more of this with early morning wildlife photography if I get an image that lends itself to that.

Cyber Monday tomorrow… the day when many people make their online Christmas purchases.

Colorado Black Bear Family

There have been a number of improvements to my website this year and today is as good a day as any to explain them and make the pitch for online purchases of wall art! My site is divided into galleries, or collections as they are referred to on the main page which also shows an example of my latest imagery in a frame so you can visualize what it might look like on your wall! From there you can go above and view the site organized by the type of product you are interested in. For example you might interested in wall art. Hover the mouse over the wall art title and many types of wall art will appear. Click on the one you want and you will see the collections or galleries of images to choose from. From there you can pick your favorite subject and choose the size and framing materials.

Or from the main page you can go directly into the collections and then choose the print medium, whether it be wall art on acrylic, glossy metal, traditional framing and matting or gift and hand household items or tech items such as t-shirts, coffee mugs, shower curtains, yoga mats, battery chargers, phone cases and much much more!

And of course there is a search function if you have a specific subject in mind. For example you might be wanting a picture of elk, or deer or bears or Pikes Peak. Just go to the top of the page and type in your subject and only images including that word will appear. Then just choose your image and select the type of product you would like to purchase!

Well that’s it for today! Hoping for a happy and healthy holiday season for all!

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Happy Thanksgiving 2019

Snow on the Sangre de Cristo Mountains

According to Isaiah Chapter 61, He will give us beauty for ashes and joy for mourning. I am thankful this year for a return to peace and prosperity in my house after all those catastrophic years when my wife was dying of cancer. For a long time it didn’t seem like there was much to give thanks for but somehow I always found something to be thankful for, if nothing else that I had a meal to eat on the day and hope for the future.

I’m not one for a huge feast, for gorging myself until I’m sick on this day. In fact I like to

Fiisky Herd of Mule Deer in the Snow

start the day out in the quiet of the woods, burning  a few calories and getting close to my Creator before celebrating His Great Mercy as weremember that first year that the founders of our nation celebrated their survival in the new land.

When I glanced out the window as the sunlight began to stream over the ridge I could see it was going to be a beautiful morning to be outside. So I loaded up my snowshoes and my camera and headed for one of my favorite trails. The clouds and mist on the high peaks of the

Young mule deer buck in the snow

Sangre de Cristo Range and Pikes Peak were stunning this morning so of course I had to photograph them! Unfortunately there was so much mist from the recent snows that detail on the great mountains is somewhat obscured, but still amazing to behold!

Thanks to all the new snow, the steep sections of the trail isn’t really safe without some kind of traction, snowshoes were my choice today. Not that it takes much convincing, there isn’t much I enjoy more than the sound of the snow crunching beneath my big shoes 🙂

About a mile in I spotted a small herd of mule deer frolicking in the snow so I got my

Winter on Pikes Peak

camera ready and approached slowly and not directly at the animals so as not to spook them too much. They were already aware of my presence but were unconcerned. For some reason they were running around in the snow under the little aspen stand and I quickly figured out why. It is still the deer rut season and the buck was chasing the uninterested does around. Eventually one of the does made her way down the other side of the ridge for lower elevation and the buck followed her, out of sight. The other does went the other direction towards a big hill that they like to spend their days on enjoying the bright Colorado sunshine.

I hiked on to the top of the ridge where I usually turn around and decided that was going to be enough for the day. I wanted to get home in time to create a Youtube video and to get a few of these images published to stock in time for publishers rush to get their advertising campaigns done for the Christmas season.

Now I feel I have accomplished enough to sit down and enjoy a glass of wine and some Thanksgiving turkey. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

If you like my photography please visit my image website to purchase prints, wall art and tons of cool gift items and tech gadgets with my pictures on them!

 

Autumn Adventure with the Bighorns

Bighorn Sheep In Waterton Canyon

Probably our most successful outing with the bighorn sheep of the season. It was a great start to the day… a short ride of only a couple miles and we were already seeing sheep, right where they have  been congregating at the mouth of beautiful Waterton Canyon. At the time of our arrival though there were just a small group of ewes, youngsters and one big ram hanging around on the not very picturesque mountainside so we decided to press ahead past the diversion dam to see if we might see the bear or maybe the bigger herd of battling rams.

We saw no more wildlife at all on the four mile ride to the crossover so we decided to

Bighorn Rut Season in Waterton Canyon

just turn around and head back to where we saw the small herd. unfortunately the turnaround greeted Kevin with a flat front tire and there was nothing to do but walk the three miles back down 😦

But the good news was, when we got back down to the sheep, that a couple more rams had joined the action and were jostling each other around a bit while also chasing around the ewes. Pictured in the video, one of the rams took quite a fancy to one of the girls and was chasing her all over the place. However, she wanted nothing to do with him and every time he got close she ran off. finally her patience was gone and she turned around to give him an unexpected blow between the eyes with her own horns… obviously she didn’t have the horns or the mass of a male, lol… but he did look pretty surprised for a little bit! After quite a few minutes of the chase she finally just laid down and put an end to it.

Eventually the entire herd decided to take a break and laid down in the shade of the big trees lining the bank of the South Platte River. We decided to do the same and I found a nice spot to sit on the other side of the jeep road. I wondered if we were done for the day but it was no more than a half hour before a few of the little ones were back up and meandering down the embankment for a drink at the river.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

The underbrush there was pretty thick and there did not appear to be a pathway to the river, but I knew if we didn’t get down to the riverbank we were going to have no opportunity at all for photography. I grabbed my trekking pole and picked my way down the steep riverbank to the thick vines at the bottom. As it turns out there was a faint trail at the base of a big cottonwood so I fought my way through.  And there they were, a little group of the youngsters and one ewe on the shoreline of the pristine river getting a drink. I picked a spot nearby, noticing that they were casting a wary look in my direction. I thought maybe if I just sat down a little distance away they might not perceive me as a threat and go back to their normal routine. It turned out to be a successful strategy and I was able to get some wonderful pictures with the beautiful blue water in the background. In the meantime a couple of ewes and little ones crossed over to try out the vegetation on the other side.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

There was a commotion on the other side of the river as a ram began chasing one of the girls around over there. Her evasion tactic was going to be a river crossing but the ram was not going to be deterred by a little water. He just chased her right into the river where we were waiting with our cameras at the ready 🙂 At first I wasn’t sure I liked my shot of this, but the drama of the event is growing on me and this image has become one of my favorites of the day.

Eventually the big ram became interested in the girls on the other side and he too

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

decided to cross, the moment I had been waiting for! As soon as I perceived that he was going to cross I quickly made my way down the embankment and through the thick brush. Much to my surprise the massive beast had come down another way at the same time and I found myself in an unnerving face to face encounter with a huge bighorn sheep ram! I had no desire for a head butting challenge with the great beast so I quickly backed away and told him I’d be going the other way! He kind of looked at me and then thankfully turned towards the water in another direction.

Here I got some nice video footage of a few more of the young ones standing with the grandfather of the herd along the water, and eventually some shots of him in the water as well. It was one of those moments, at the completion of it, when you just know. I got the shots I came for. We packed up our gear and headed for the truck. My guess is that with such low key tussling among the rams on this day that the rut season is winding down. Will probably take a break from the canyon next week and do something else… some snow shoeing maybe!

As always, these pictures and more are available for purchase on my image website as wall art, Christmas cards, t-shirts, blankets, pillows, tech gadgets and more! Also feel free to watch the youTube video!

 

My First YouTube Movie

This is something I’ve been giving a lot of thought to for a long time… getting some software to piece my video clips together into a more polished video. One of the most amazing features of my Canon 70D DSLR that I purchased back in 2015 was the capability for it to do video clips, a DSLR that could shoot video, who could have imagined! Well I wasn’t that interested in shooting video, the camera had all that I could ask for in just it’s still shooting capabilities. Consequently, until this year I never even bothered to learn how to shoot video, didn’t even know how to switch it on!

Earlier this year I was photographing the beautiful South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon when it came to me that the still photographs I was shooting simply were not enough to capture the essence of the scene. Without the sound of the thundering whitewater there was simply no way to convey the grandeur of the moment. I thought of taking a phone video but the microphone is on the wrong side and the resolution is just not that impressive…. so I turned my camera around and studied the buttons. Hmmm… a switch, lets see what happens! What happened is there was a click and the OVF went blank! So I flipped out the LCD screen and shazzaammm there was a live moving picture! So…  I pushed the other button and recorded thirty seconds of the violently churning water 🙂

I had created a YouTube channel some time ago for some reason, so I uploaded the clip to see what it would be like. Well it was a video clip with no intro, no reference to my website, no music, no transitions, nothing but a video clip. But I thought, maybe that is enough to start my channel with. In these days of social media, it is just not enough to take still pictures and send them to a stock site anymore. People like video and not having it is a serious deficiency in a photographers audience reach.

Same situation in Rocky Mountain National Park, without the bugling of the elk there was just no way to convey the full sensation of what I was witnessing. So I took a few clips in the park. And then a few more clips of the battling bighorns in Waterton Canyon and now I’m thinking I should get some software and put it together into some sort of cohesive theme.

Well I did it, I finally got some software and after a couple days of frustrating fiddling,  I finally have my first video to show 🙂 Clearly I have some rough edges to iron out and I have a long steep learning curve to a more complete understanding of the software, but this video of the elk bugling in Rocky Mountain National Park is my start 🙂

Quite a Day with the Bighorns

Fog Bank Sangre de Cristo

I have to say, yesterday was quite a day… the plan was to arise early and drive to Waterton in hopes of catching the bighorn sheep in full rut. The day got off to a bit of a rough start though, a heavy blanket of freezing fog had enveloped the entire region the night before and it took me about 20 minutes to chip my way into the truck before I could even depart!

On the way up the pass I looked back and noticed that the fog bank had created a beautiful blanket in the Arkansas River Valley at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Range, so I had to stop and snap a few pictures of that! There was a pretty good haze in the air to go with the fog so the images aren’t as clear as they could be, but it was still an amazing sight to behold 🙂

We began our mountain bike ride up the canyon fully expecting a good long ride before

Bighorn Rut Season in Waterton Canyon

seeing any sheep but after just a few short minutes of pedaling a group of the critters came into view. I assumed it was the usual herd of ewes and youngsters that so often inhabit the entrance to the park, but much to our surprise the little herd was also occupied by four good sized rams causing trouble among each other, one in particular who was kicking the others in hopes of starting a fight.

Bighorn Rut Season in Waterton Canyon

I have long desired to witness the rams butting heads, and it looked like this day was going to give me that chance! I wanted to capture a still of the moment of impact, but I also wanted to get some video so my readers could also experience the excitement of the moment. As a group of three rams circled each other, jostling and kicking… I switched my camera to video to record the action. There was not the classic charge and clash impact in this scene, but I did manage to record the nudging and little head knocking on this video now available to watch on my Youtube Channel 🙂

We watched transfixed by the action for at least two hours as the rams hassled each

Bighorn Rut Season in Waterton Canyon

other. They would graze for a couple of minutes while it looked like they might finally give it a rest and relax for a while, but soon the tension would again arise and the tussle would begin anew.  Just when we would think that nothing was really going to happen, all of a sudden without warning they would square off, take a couple of steps on two feet and smash heads. It was very difficult to photograph, zoom lenses were required to get the best view of the action, but too close to capture both animals when they were setting up for the action. It was also difficult to be focused in on the area where the impact would occur since it all happened so quickly without warning.

Bighorn Rut Season in Waterton Canyon

But I do believe I managed to capture the exact moment of impact on this image, the huge beasts with their heads together and eyes closed for the crash. I think maybe it would have been better if my camera had fired a millisecond earlier, but again… maybe the smashed heads is what I was after!

Rumors of a bear further up the canyon finally tore us away from the sheep herd and off we went. We rode to approximately the 4 mile point without seeing any other wildlife so we turned back around to return to the herd for a few more images. The river was magnificent in the winter light and the ride an excellent aerobic workout. I’m looking forward to really getting in shape for some more serious riding in the spring!

As I crested the final ridge on the journey home I was greeted by this magnificent sunset,

Sunset on the Sangre de Cristo

beautiful golden colors and the remnants of fog from the storm the night before. A perfect ending to a perfect day 🙂

As always, these images and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy acrylic or metal sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting! Click the link to explore!