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!

Mule Deer in the Fog


Fog in the Mining District

Finally a big change in the weather, had to transition to my early winter weather gear! I knew it was going to be a great day as I drove to the trailhead and saw heavy fog rolling into the low valleys 🙂 On the hike to the top of the ridge the fog was drifting past the barren aspen trees, well worth a stop for some landscape pictures! By the time I got to the top of the ridge the valley was completely obscured by fog so I just kept going, over the summit and down the other side of the mountain.

Part way down the mountain I could see a four footed figure trotting through the fog but at first I thought it was just one of the free range cows. It seemed to be going a bit fast for one of the cows though, they never get to running very fast. A quick look through my long lens revealed a lone doe mule deer. The does are almost never alone so I attached my camera to the monopod and started looking around for more. Sure enough, I spotted the rest of the herd feeding at the base of a big pine tree. I figured they wouldn’t stay long, especially since they had already spotted me, even though I was a good 75 yards away.

Misty Mountain Deer Herd

They slowly moved down the valley to the south, eventually getting into position with the beautiful foggy valley behind them. I stood there in the cold for about 15 minutes as they made their way over the top of the ridge. I was fortunate to capture at least a couple really nice images 🙂

I always go over to Goldfield when it’s foggy, hoping to get that perfect image of the ghostly historic mines in a heavy layer of fog. today was a good day as I got a couple of the better ones I have ever captured! All this success was cause for celebration so I made sure I stopped at the Gold Camp Bakery for some biscuits and gravy 🙂

 

Fog in the Mining District

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.

Winter Has Arrived

Storm on Pikes Peak

After a long sunny autumn a major change is afoot. Cooler temperatures and moisture have enveloped the Pikes Peak Region and even the animals seem to know that it’s time to get ready. The change was first evident on massive 14,150 foot Pikes Peak in the form of blowing mist and fog, a phenomenon I have enjoyed photographing since I moved to the southern mountains of Colorado. Now heavy clouds have moved in and snow is on the way later today. Hopefully that will make for a beautiful morning filled with wildlife out gathering food after the foul weather.

Mule Deer Bucks in the Rockies

As I arrived at the trailhead I spotted the Three Amigos trotting over the ridge, well out of camera range but still a welcome sight. The does at the summit weren’t in the rush that the boys were and remained for a few pictures. The fourth buck who sometimes joins the Three Amigos was lingering in the forest as I approached the summit, standing in perfect light. I stretched out the legs of my monopod and attached the camera… By then he had spotted me and took a few steps toward me which I welcomed until he stopped in the shade to stare at me. Now I was faced with a very bright background and a dark subject. I waited a few minutes for him to move back into the sun but was eventually compelled to settle for a silhouette. I left my exposure with the settings for a sunny image and shot the silhouette.

Mule Deer Bucks in the Rockies

After a few captures I adjusted my exposure compensation to +2/3 of a stop to see if I could brighten up his face a bit and shot a few more. The does were much more cooperative, content in the warm sunshine feeding on the nutritious foliage being served to them by one of the local bush species.

It wasn’t a huge day but I got a great workout in the mountains, got to check on my four footed friends and even got a few nice images in the process. But I am ready for the snow to spread down from the peak into the valleys later and hope for a much bigger day of photography tomorrow!

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.

Every Day a Surprise

I decided to take a different route around the mountain today… I normally just go straight up what Kevin has appropriately dubbed Hell Hill to the summit where I hope to find whatever wildlife I’m going to see for the day. However lately the winter wind has been relentlessly howling and even the animals are avoiding the summit.

Rocky Mountain Deer Herd

There is another route around the east side of the mountain that doesn’t include such a wicked hill so I decided I would avoid the wicked cold wind and just take the lower trail past the free range cattle. As usual they were curious and walked over to greet me, particularly this cute little young fellow 🙂 I glanced up toward the high meadow on my way past and didn’t see anything so I was glad I had taken the sheltered route.  As I was nearing the high point of the lower trail I spotted a pretty good sized herd of mule deer heading down the mountain toward the shelter of the pine trees in the valley below.

I wasn’t near enough to get any closeups but the herd did spot me where they stopped for a second to check me out. Then I captured some pretty nice images of the entire herd disappearing over the ridge.

I guess the moral of the story today is just take the hike. There are surprises to be found on even the easy trails 🙂

Rocky Mountain Deer Herd

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!

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 motion  blur images of  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

On the Wings of Eagles

What an awesome day with the bald eagles in Eleven Mile Canyon! I drove in expecting to see them at the bend and just when I was getting worried that they weren’t going to be there I spotted one on the very top of a dead branch intently watching the placid water below. This particular stretch of river is a favorite for the raptors for it’s wide valley and slow moving water. I quietly parked and took up a position just on the other side of a bush so as not to bother the intrepid hunter too much.

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

But man it was cold! I was only out for a few seconds and already my fingers and toes were burning. Soon I began to shiver and then there was no holding the camera still. I went back to the truck for my portable seat so that I could steady my elbows on my knees, and hopefully then the camera. And I waited… hoping to see the inevitable dive into the river for a fish. I watched for probably about a half an hour and then it happened. The eagle leapt off his perch and swooped downward. I fired off as many shots as I could hoping for a sharp image of the impact point. But he never got there… apparently he lost sight of his prey and just swooped back toward the sky.

I tried to watch where he went, packed up my gear and drove upstream… relishing the heat inside my vehicle! Eventually I spotted him again, this time on my side of the river… Luckily there was a large parking area so I situated the truck so that I could just aim out the window and shoot, without getting out into the cold. Soon I heard the call of an eagle on the other side… I spotted his mate high in the treetops watching the action from the other side of the river. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

train the camera on her from inside so I got out and braced my elbows on the hood of the truck. It wasn’t long before my fingers were once again frozen and burning… and I began to shiver uncontrollably. I tried to shoot some video and even the Image Stabilization feature of my lens was not able to overcome the onslaught of hypothermia. I just could not believe how cold it was!

The eagles took one more flight upstream where I was able to shoot a few more images before they flew on, apparently to their home out of sight. I hope somewhere along the line one of them was able to catch a fish so they have a good meal!

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

In addition to the usual pictures I include in my posts, this time there is a YouTube video to go along with my submission. I was able to capture a few minutes of footage of these amazing birds which you can view on my channel here!

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!

Christmas in the Wilderness

Well I have to say it was a pretty darn good Christmas… Not the traditional kind of course, but a good one out in the woods with the furry and feathered critters. It was really tempting to just stay home and watch Christmas movies, but I guess that’s not how I roll. So I scraped the frost off my windshield and headed over to

Mule Deer in the Pike National Forest

my usual trailhead. Along the way, just as the sun was just barely coming up over the mountains to the east, shining right on a pair of cute doe mule deer peering out at me from the forest over a fence. Thinking these might be the only deer I was going to see all day long, I stopped and snapped a couple of portraits of them as they looked at me with great curiosity.

The hike itself yielded nothing but some good exercise so I decided to move on to Eleven Mile Canyon. On that drive I had the opportunity to jump out and snap a few images of two red-tailed hawks perched on power poles along the highway. The second one took a leisurely flight over my head, allowing for a couple of in flight shots 🙂 By this time I was feeling pretty lucky… Images of red-tails in the bank already and I wasn’t even at my intended destination yet 🙂

Red-tailed hawk in the beautiful blue Colorado sky.

Finally at the canyon, I’m getting a pretty good idea where in the six mile stretch of river it is that the eagles like to do their fishing.  Below the dam is completely frozen over now, so my old standby location for eagle watching is no longer available. About five miles in the river widens out and rounds a bend. So I just drove in slowly with that destination in mind while scanning both sides of the river for deer, American Dippers and raptors perched on branches above open water.

Bald eagle looking for fish in the Platte River below in Eleven Mile Canyon Colorado

Seeing nothing along the way my search grew more intense as I neared the bend, and then… there he was! Perched majestically on a dead branch above the river he watched the ducks and slowly moving water below. I got out and aimed my long lens at the great bird and watched. He cocked his head left and right and stared intently at the water. Using the hood of my truck to steady the camera I snapped a few of him on the branch before moving in closer along the river bank for a better angle. Eventually the majestic bird looked right at me, signaling that I was getting too close… So I grabbed one more capture and then retreated  back to my truck.

Eventually he took flight, perhaps to find a more successful fishing hole. I drove the rest of  the way to the dam and turned around for the return trip. Just before reaching the bend again I spotted another red-tailed hawk on a tree top. I knew I wasn’t going to have long for this capture so I readied the camera before getting out. And I was right, I got off one maybe two shots and then the handsome hawk was airborne, rising rapidly out of camera range and over the mountains to the east.

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

And then I spotted the bald eagle again, perched on another dead tree just a few yards down from where he was before. This time there was no need to leave the truck and I used it for a hide as I steadied the camera on the hood once again. Again he flew after a bit, this time right toward me! And I was ready with camera settings for a bird in flight. I followed him with the view finder, snapping in high speed until my buffer was full.  The pictures looked good on the back screen but it wasn’t going to be until I was home at the computer before I would know for sure!

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

I decided not to try to follow him again, I already had almost 300 images to sort through! Christmas day was rapidly winding down and I wanted to get home before dark,  so satisfied with my digital Christmas presents I decided it was time to pack it in 🙂

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!

Red-tailed hawk in the beautiful blue Colorado sky.

Colorado Red-tailed Hawk

Colorado Red-tailed Hawk

My Happy Place

Decided to take the long route on my trail today… the one that takes me up to “my happy place”, the high ridge where there are no vestiges of civilization, no other people, no sound, just nature in all her glory 🙂 It’s not an easy climb… first there is the straight up the mountain trail from the parking lot to the top of the first

Pike National Forest Scenery

ridge, then a steep trek through the snow and dense forest to the top of what I call the Mount of Broken Dreams and finally another steep ascent to the top of Grouse Mountain. There are abandoned gold mines at the top which make nice wind breaks so I like to take a break there and just enjoy the spectacular scenery.

I had hoped to see some wildlife to photograph along the way, but today there was nothing. A couple of sparrows hiding from me to avoid having their pictures taken, but that was it! I haven’t seen the dusky grouse in a long time, I wonder if they migrate or hibernate? Maybe they have moved to a more friendly elevation. I have high hopes of someday finding an owl in the forest but so far I have no sign that there might actually be one there… just the hope. With no wildlife to photograph, I decided on these two landscapes to at least show the  beauty and ruggedness of the Pike National Forest. Visible is the rugged terrain in this part of the Pike National Forest with the stunning beauty of the Sangre de Cristo Range in the background.

Pike National Forest Scenery

Even though I didn’t see any wildlife I always enjoy the time of solitude and connection with my Maker, and a bit of exercise can never be a bad thing!

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!