Road Trip and Wildlife Mount Evans

Just a quick blog to show off my newest video of our road trip to Mount Evans Colorado! See mountain goats at the summit including a tussle between a couple of rivals, some great scenery and even a few bighorn sheep!

Waterton Collection and New Photoshop Techniques

Working on some new stuff these days… I finally have enough images of beautiful Waterton Canyon to make a separate collection on my website for them.  Included in this amazing category are tons of bighorn sheep, beaver, deer and the lovely pristine waters of the South Platte River as it streams out of the Rockies on it’s way through eastern Colorado and Nebraska, all the way to it’s destination as it joins the Mighty Missouri River near Omaha.

Bighorn Sheep Waterton

Fortunately I was able to add a few more to the new Waterton Collection today from our latest mountain bike adventure yesterday. The sheep weren’t too active on such a lazy beautiful early winter day but we were lucky to see Scruff all by himself making his way past the cliffs and up to higher ground where he would enjoy his day from the lofty heights of the canyon walls.

Bighorn sheep herd in Waterton Canyon Colorado

As we rode up the rugged road we did spot the entire herd  resting up on a grassy mountainside, not a very photogenic scene but a welcome sighting anyway. As we waited and hoped for them to come down for a drink in the river a rumor emerged that a beaver was busy building a new lodge near the diversion dam at the 2.5 mile marker near the picnic grounds.

Beaver in Waterton Canyon

We decided to take a quick ride up there to see if we could get a shot of the little guy hard at work. Indeed, we did catch a few glimpses of the hard working wilderness construction worker as he brought a few sticks from upstream to add to his new home which will hopefully house up to six of the photogenic aquatic rodents in the near future!

After a small lunch at the nearby picnic grounds we headed back down for another look at the sheep herd which had barely moved in the hour or so that we were upstream. We watched for about 45 minutes for any sign of action before giving up and heading back to the truck.

I’ve been messing around with a couple of features that I’ve never felt the need for in the past, the radial and graduated filters now available in Adobe Camera Raw. Others have been using these features to create much more dramatic images so I guess I’m going to have to keep up!

Bighorn Sheep Waterton

Anyway, I have been using the radial filter on certain wildlife images, mainly the portrait style captures of bighorn sheep. I just click on the animal’s head, adjust the ellipse to cover a pleasing area of the face and horns, select invert selection to adjust only the background and less important parts of the subject and make adjustments to darken or brighten the background as needed to make the face stand out more. You can also adjust the percent of feathering to make the transition in the mask less noticeable. In this particular image I left the face alone and darkened the back part of his body and the cliff walls to create a more dramatic effect.

South Platte River in Waterton Canyon

The use of the graduated filter is more obvious, darken or lighten certain parts of the image to correct uneven lighting. To use this I just select the filter and drag up or down to set the direction of the effect. You an also change the angle of the horizon to match the needs of the image as well.  In this image the contrast between the dark and light parts of the river was too great to create a useful image so I used a dark filter on the top half to calm down the intense brightness of the sunshine on the water.

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile CanyonAs the action in the bighorn sheep rut season winds down I am looking forward to the next great mating season in Colorado. The time of the eagle migration and mating season is nearly upon us and rumor has it that a few of the  great raptors have already been gathering in Eleven Mile Canyon. I am also looking forward to up to 50 bald eagles making their winter visit to Barr Lake State Park next month to fish and look for a mate! Be sure to hit the follow button so you don’t miss any upcoming action in the Colorado wilderness!

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!

Bighorns in the Water

Another magnificent morning in beautiful Waterton Canyon… That seems like such an understatement! When photo associate Kevin and I arrived, a small part of the herd was already on it’s way down the embankment and into the river for a

Waterton Bighorn

crossing to the rugged cliffs on the south side. I would have never dreamed that such an inhospitable place would be their choice location for the day! But there they were, standing precariously often pushing and shoving, on the towering cliffs along the South Platte River. We remained at that location for quite some time, watching and photographing the nerve wracking action!

Waterton Bighorn in the Platte

A crowd began to gather upstream where another part of the herd was coming down from the mountains to the north, and we decided to move on, choosing to photograph in the brighter light of sunshine on that side. While we worked the north side rumors began to spread of a bigger herd a few miles up the canyon and eventually we decided to ride up past the dam and check it out. The river is more beautiful there, and more accessible to sheep and photographers alike!

Pair of Waterton Bighorn

As we neared the location a couple of rams were walking down the dirt path towards us. We readied our cameras and got a few shots of the regal creatures striding towards us. It wasn’t long before they too entered the river for a crossing to the prize grass on the other side, affording us a great opportunity for some awesome images if the sheep wading through the beautiful pristine waters of the South Platte River.

Bighorn River Crossing

Soon a very large herd of the massive beasts began to make it’s way down the mountains and onto the dirt road and we had an amazing good time watching them interact and cross back and forth across the river in search of the lush grasses along the riverbank.

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!

Rams at the River

A beautiful autumn day in Colorado lured me to Waterton Canyon where I hoped that I would have the opportunity to photograph the bighorn sheep rams coming down to the river too cool off and maybe even practice their fighting skills in preparation for the upcoming rut season.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon Autumn

As always in Waterton Canyon, my trusty mountain bike would carry me upstream along the South Platte River to the best sheep viewing locations. As I rode along my eyes scanned the canyon walls for signs of action among the wildlife. I have only seen the bears one time, but I always hope for another sighting! On the way in I did encounter a hawk, but by the time I was ready to shoot he was long gone.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon Autumn

Eventually I reached the upper dam where I have had good luck photographing them coming down the opposite bank. Sure enough, I spotted a big ram making his way out from the shady oasis on the cliff side where they seem to be residing lately. As I watched and waited more and more of their band began to emerge from the darkness of the shade under the pine trees growing right out of the rock. Then suddenly as if  the boss had put the word out, they all rushed down to the side of the river for a drink 🙂

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon Autumn

As they crowded into the lush grass on the embankment, they occasionally would clunk their heads together as they jockeyed for position along the beautiful south bank of the river. I was fortunate to be able to film a couple of the encounters, the collision of horns ringing out like a gunshot through the valley.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon Autumn

The rams remained at water’s edge for about an hour and a half before heading back up the embankment towards their shady spot. I slowly rode back downstream, looking carefully for more sheep and other wildlife that I might encounter. Eventually I spotted a small herd of females and lambs peeking over the cliff on the north side of the canyon so I stopped for a few shots of that action. They eventually came down and joined a larger group that were just lying in the shade on this hot lazy autumn day.

Autumn Colors on the South Platte River

Finally the lighting was just too terrible for photography so headed for home where later in the day I got some nice fall foliage along another part of the South Platte.

For your enjoyment I have also created a nice five minute multimedia video for my YouTube channel, of the rams coming down to the river and occasionally banging heads as they prepare for the upcoming rut season ! Feel free to watch and be sure to subscribe to my channel  if you would like to see more of my adventures! Also feel free to follow my Instagram page where tons more of my images are displayed!

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 Wild Weekend

A wild weekend indeed, starting with the Waterton Canyon bighorn sheep herd! Camera buddy Kevin and I arrived at the trailhead not too long after sunrise hoping to see the big rams somewhere along the riverside trail.

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A stiff chilly breeze was blowing down the canyon on the way up, enough for cold fingers and ears! Knowing that the window for seeing the animals is wide and unpredictable, we took our time on the ride up. Without seeing any sign of the beasties, we arrived at the picnic area just beyond the crossover bridge and decided to take a long break to rest up and wait for the rams to come down from the high peaks towering above the canyon.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Autumn

Eventually we decided to ride back down and wait by the old dam where the rams often come down for a drink of water from the river.  I imagine we whiled away another hour talking and visiting with hikers and other mountain bike riders. Finally when we were just about ready to give up we heard a holler from from another guy that was resting with us… he was pointing in the direction of the cliffs so we hopped on our bikes and headed over to see what was up!

And there they were, at least eight rams hanging around on the cliff side, snacking on the dry mountain grass and occasionally butting heads to practice up for the upcoming rut season. Eventually they meandered down to the river where we tried to reach the shoreline without bothering them too much and got a few shots of them getting a drink.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Autumn

Figuring the show was over for a few hours anyway, we decided to call it a day. however on the way down we ran into the ewe and youngster herd, and they also were on their way down for a drink. A nice bonus to round out an already great day 🙂 In addition to some fun still pictures, I managed to remember to shoot some video as well… I didn’t have my fluid head tripod along so my footage isn’t that great but I did put together a nice montage set to music for my YouTube channel. If you like, be sure to subscribe to my channel! I am still a few subscribers short of being able to get a custom URL for my channel!

Red-tailed Hawk

Another bonus for the wild weekend was a red-tailed hawk sighting this morning. I wasn’t prepared for a bird in flight picture when he took off, but with a 500th of a second shutter speed I managed to get a couple nice ones 🙂

Today will of course be spent processing and backing up hundreds of images. Perhaps if I get done soon enough maybe I’ll start getting my gear ready for our annual pilgrimage to Rocky Mountain National Park! I’m definitely going to have a list this year… Last year I forgot my sleeping bag and only had my winter parka to use as a blanket… Froze my butt off… almost literally!

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 channel  if you would like to see more of our adventures! Also feel free to follow my Instagram page where tons of my images are displayed!

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

A Better Morning

Deer in the Pike National Forest

I awoke yesterday to a scratchy throat and burning eyes, a southwest wind had blown a ton of smoke from the Durango wildfire into the valley. Since I could barely breath a hike seemed like a poor idea 😦 Fortunately for us here in Cripple Creek, sometime in the night a cold front blew through and changed the wind around to the north. The smoke has cleared and this is a much better morning, I could actually see the mountains! I hope the cooler weather helps the firefighters battle the blaze, it has been way to windy and dry lately.

I started my morning out with a little jaunt up to Gillette Flats on a tip that the bighorn sheep were paying highway 67 a visit, but by the time I got there only a solitary scraggly looking ewe remained, the ram and the rest of the herd had already vanished into the dense pine forest above. The sheep are blowing their winter coats this time of year so they are kind of a mess and not very photogenic, she almost looks like an alien! I can never pass up an opportunity to photograph a bighorn though, so I stopped for a couple of portraits of her.

Bighorn Sheep Ewe in the Rockies

She didn’t pay me a lot of attention but on the couple occasions she looked at me I got the shots 🙂

After that little session I decided to go back to my usual hiking trail just to keep in shape and get in a couple miles of hiking at altitude. Luck was in my favor as I spotted the Three Amigos feeding on the hillside. As always, they kept a curious eye on me as they changed positions on their way up the hillside to the cool shade of the dense pine forest.

Deer in the Pike National Forest

Nothing to jump up and down about as far as pictures go, but I always enjoy the spiritual refreshing that only solitude on a mountaintop can provide.

As always, the best of these images 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!

Magical Day in the Canyon

One of my most favorite places in the entire world reopened after being closed for months due to the accursed Covid-19 pandemic. I started the day with high hopes, pictures of the bighorn and a bear filled the Waterton Canyon Group and I was so hoping to get my chance today.

Hummingbird on a Perch

The mountain bike ride along this beautiful stretch of the South Platte River as it flows down out of the Rockies on it’s way through Nebraska where it connects with the Mighty Missouri is about six miles one way, unless of course you have the skills to continue on the single track portion of the Colorado Trail! It is not always easy to catch the animals at the river, you have to be at the right place at the right time so I just took a leisurely pedal all the way to the top of the canyon.Strontia Springs Dam is the high point of my ride and I stopped there at the picnic tables to take a break, having seen nothing to photograph for the entire six miles. While sitting there I spotted a cute little hummingbird resting on the very top of a small tree… I wondered if I could get a shot, got out the camera and gave it a try. Fortunately the little fellow sat there for a while and then returned a couple of times giving me time to catch him in a few poses 🙂

Eventually I mounted my bike and began coasting back down, intently watching the canyon walls and the river for the sheep and the bear. I stopped a few times to take breaks and waste time hoping the beasties would come down, all the while asking others on their way up and down if they had seen any animals.

Couple of Bighorn Lambs Playing

Finally near the bottom I refused to give up and decided to ride back up a ways to the the lower dam where I planned to stop for a  while and hope for the best. As I neared the dam I spotted a few bighorn ewes down by the water on the opposite side of the river from where I usually see them. I snapped a couple of boring pictures of the scraggly looking ewes by the water and then I noticed a couple of lambs further up the cliff side playing on a plateau. Fortunately I captured them playfully butting heads which made for a great picture which I have already uploaded to my website , one of the most magical scenes I have ever photographed 🙂 I didn’t think so while I was there because the sun was so

Herd of Bighorn Sheep Ewes and Lambs

bright I could hardly see anything, much less the LCD on the back of the camera! But now that I am home looking at the images on the computer I am pretty happy 🙂

I wanted to catch some video but the whole show was over within about 15 minutes and about the time I thought about it they were already bedding down. Nothing interesting about animals sleeping 😦

Eventually the mama ewe noticed that the little ones were not with the main group anymore and the little band of females began the climb up the canyon walls to search for the wayward youngsters. She must have had a pretty good idea of their whereabouts as they went right to them. Soon the entire herd found a shady spot to escape the intense front range heat and lay down for their afternoon nap.

Female Common Merganser

I packed up my equipment and began the ride to the bottom while continuing to hope for a bear sighting. I didn’t see a bear but I did run across these cool looking Common Merganser female ducks which were worth getting the equipment back out for a few captures! After that I was already past all the good animal viewing locations so I pedaled hard back to the parking lot. All in all a pretty good day… a 12 or 14 mile bike ride in spectacular mountain scenery can never be a bad thing!

As always, the best of these images 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!