Grandeur

Rough legged hawk Soaring Above the Rockies

Sometimes in the morning I stop to just thank God for the grandeur of the surroundings that He has blessed me with. These majestic mountains, the beautiful wildlife and the peacefulness of this incredible wilderness. And this morning I was doing exactly that when I noticed this rough legged hawk soaring high above me.

It is a good omen I think, a sign that the almighty was listening to my grateful prayer 🙂 It is also my prayer that through my pictures others will see His handiwork and appreciate the wonderful gift that He has given us in this amazing planet with all it’s wonders.

Majestic Snowcapped Sangre de Cristo

Majestic Snowcapped Sangre de Cristo

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Spring Returns

Couldn’t think of a catchy title so I just went with the obvious. Last weekend began with a hike in -13 degree weather so this morning felt like spring again. Today wasn’t exactly balmy at 16 but it felt a heck of a lot better than last week! I was hoping for a much earlier start, well at least a darker start this morning with the time change, but I didn’t set an alarm and consequently I slept way past the golden hour for interesting photography. I should probably never set my hopes too high on the first day off following a week of arising at 4:45 😦

Rough Legged HawkWell anyway, the sun was well up, all the nice color gone from the sky and way too much haze already formed by the time I was able to get moving this morning. On the upside, I did manage to get dressed and get out the door Not too far into my hike with the big dog I noticed the Rough Legged Hawk eyeing us from atop one of our new light posts that now grace the streets on my end of town. I prepared my camera settings for a majestic flight that I knew would ensue as soon as we approached the big bird… but it didn’t happen. After a bit he did fly, but only to the next light post so this was going to require a new tactic… I hooked dog to one of the nearby fence posts and approached the hawk slowly and quietly hoping for a closeup of him on the light post.

The big bird of prey payed almost no attention to me at all and I was able to just walk right up and shoot away, with him sort of eyeing me sideways just in case. I’m not too impressed with my shots, not a fan of birds just sitting on a perch. But it is what it is and soon we were on our way to my favorite nearby mountain view. The haze was way too heavy for a decent shot of the Sangre, but of course I had to shoot a couple anyway… if for no other reason than to be able to claim that I was there!

Hazy Sangre de Cristo

Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range of Colorado in heavy haze on a beautiful spring morning

After the Storm

The latest cold front has passed through along with the tremendous winds that accompanied it. The Sangre de Cristo Range was beautiful this morning and the bitter cold was not quite as biting as yesterday. Windchill of -7 instead of -13 for some reason felt much better! Big Dog was ready to go for a jaunt so I decided today would be a good day to try out the polarizer.

Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range

Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range

I haven’t really used it much for a long time since previous efforts have resulted in disappointment. Somewhere I read that professional travel photographers always use these things and that there is no Photoshop substitute for replicating it’s effect. Previous attempts have resulted in unacceptable and irreparable digital noise so I just quit using it, but advancements in newer sensors have done a lot to reduce the noise that plagued early digital imaging technology. So the hope is that with my much newer camera the polarizer is a piece of equipment I can now put to good use. My polarizer is a top of the line B&W brand circular polarizer so there should be no worry of glass quality adversely affecting the image.

Armed with the necessary equipment and enough winter gear to fend off the cold, off we went. A couple of miles into the woods we were confronted with an excellent view of the magnificent snow capped mountains so I stopped to get the shots. White balance on daylight instead of auto so as not to negate the effects of the dark blue polarizer and +1/3 exposure compensation to make up for the slight loss of light from the dark glass. While looking through the viewfinder I turned the glass until I could see the most effect and I have to say it looked amazing!

But now in front of the computer the results are once again disappointing. There is an unacceptable softness in the images due to what appears to be loss of contrast, perhaps from light dispersion. I should have paid more attention to the aperture when I was shooting, but I don’t think a wide lens opening can be blamed for this much softness. Hoping for a quick answer, I went outside to photograph the gas company sign across the street using f11 as an f stop. In looking at those images with and without the polarizer, it does appear that there is some softness that I find unacceptable for my main purpose, which is the marketing of images as stock.

I do appreciate the beautiful saturated effect of the filter so I don’t think I’ll give up on it just yet, but next time I’ll definitely have to conduct a much more controlled series of pictures. Tripod, f11 and side by side images of the same scene with and without the filter. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the picture, the mountains are beautiful and the effect on a small version of the picture create a wonderful scene 🙂

Fly Like an EagleThis mystery raptor is as of yet unidentified. I have looked though every hawk, falcon, eagle and osprey picture on the internet that I can find and I can’t find a match. So, please, if anyone knows what this magnificent fellow is I’d be happy to hear from you!

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