Fun Day With the Eagles

bald eagle in flight

It was a perfect morning to spend with the eagles. There was a bit of cloud cover to help with that bright winter sun and it wasn’t too cold! We found Speckles near the end of the canyon where he obliged us with a few photos before heading back downstream where we found him a couple other times.

There was also a handsome red-tailed hawk perched on a treetop at near the dam. Red-tails in treetops can have an awful lot of patience though, so we decided not to wait for him to fly. He was still there on the return trip So the decision appeared to have been a sound one.

_MG_3272As we passed all the likely spots for an eagle on our final trip back down the canyon it appeared our day might be over… but just as we were about to give up we spotted one of the majestic birds in a tree near the cliffs north of the picnic area. We parked and carefully exited the car with cameras at the ready. I dialed in a 1600th of a second at f/8 and -2/3 exposure compensation to account for the bright white head. The ISO value came in at a very usable value of 800. We moved toward the resting eagle when suddenly he took flight and headed back upstream.

He flew right past the beautiful cliffs on the west side of the canyon while I tracked him and fired off bursts of three or four shots so as not to fill the buffer up too quickly. The result.. one of my best eagle shots in a long time!

 

 

Red-Tailed Hawk

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.

Checking on the Eagles

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

I had a free day so I decided to check in on the eagles in Eleven Mile Canyon. My last few visits there have been less than stellar so I wasn’t too optimistic, but cold and snow the night before had me thinking this day might be different. I was in the canyon just after sunrise plowing through three inches of new snow, feeling thankful for new snow tires on the back of my truck! Lol, this visit was a first though, I got so tired and sleepy between the tunnels that I had to find a pullout and take a nap 😦 On the other hand it was very quiet that early and the canyon is a great place to take a nap! I’ll have to keep that in mind 🙂

I made it all the way to the end without seeing a thing and made the turnaround. I would make the turnaround one more time without success and then finally spotted the eagle called Speckles in a tree high on the ridge to the west. He was too far for a good picture but of course I had to at least give it a try. It was so cold in the canyon at that time I decided to just move on and hope for a better sighting of a different eagle.

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

I usually give up after two passes through the canyon but decided this day to take a chance and make three. Finally after 10:00 a.m. Speckles was finally getting busy and I found him in a tree down by the water. I couldn’t get a good angle on him from the truck so I grabbed the monopod and hiked down the river a bit in hopes of better light and a better view. I captured a couple of nice shots of him on the branch before blowing my best chance of the day for in-flight pictures. He flew right at me and almost right over my head but I couldn’t wrangle the monopod into position in time and missed the whole event 😦

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

Later on I got a couple more opportunities for in-flight pictures and finally around noon managed to get a picture that made the day feel worth while. I’ll have to get back there soon if there is going to be that kind of action! It won’t be long and our nesting pair will be laying eggs and spending a lot of time at the nest. Remember though, this year the area down by the river in front of the nest is off limits for the reproduction period from January through June.

Keep my book, called “Seasons of the Raptor” about the Eleven Mile Canyon and other Colorado raptors in mind if you are looking for a gift for an outdoorsman or for some light reading in your spare time! The book is also available as an ebook and can be read for free from your Kindle Unlimited account!

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.

Better Day With Eagles

Bald Eagle Looking For Fish

Definitely a better day with the eagles today. The weather has been a little colder and we’ve even had a little snow. I arrived at Eleven Mile Canyon a little later than usual, the sun had been up for about an hour by the time I arrived so I didn’t know what to expect. Lately the eagles have been all done in the canyon an hour or two after sunrise.

Just as I got to the bend I spotted a beautiful bald eagle on a branch right across the river in perfect light! I stopped and adjusted the camera for a portrait in early light. Since I had the door frame to steady the lens on I decided to try a 400th of a second with F8 and a -2/3 exposure compensation (EC) which in that light brought my ISO down to a usable 1250. The wind was blowing hard though and I could see that his feathers were fluttering so I figured I’d better get a few shots with a faster shutter speed, I thought a 1250th of a second should do the trick. Then I prepared for flight. Shutter priority with a 1600th of a second and F8, my widest aperture with this lens and teleconverter combination. 

Bald Eagle Looking For Fish

Eventually he took flight but I only had a few feet of space to get in a shot before he went behind the choke cherry bushes. But I got a couple of nice captures 🙂 I continued driving upstream and spotted a second baldie. This one was in a terrible position for a shot though, backlit and high in a tree with the bright blue sky behind him. I changed my EC to +1 and snapped a few before he took flight. Much to my surprise though the great raptor turned around and headed straight back at me! My settings were perfect for a bird in flight with the blue sky as a backdrop so I know I nailed some of them!

Eventually my day was over and I was on my way back downstream when I spotted yet another one high in the trees on top of the ridge. I didn’t think anything would come of this situation but by then this eagle was a bit jumpy. He took flight a few times with the early morning sun shining upon him and a couple times he flew right at me. I didn’t nail them all but I nailed a bunch of good frames!

I found today encouraging, more eagles, better compositions and more cold weather on the way. I think by next month the eagles will have settled into the canyon for a good winter of raptor photography! Don’t forget to check out my new Kindle book about last year’s raptor photography! Tons of great picture and the story of some of our favorite local birds!

 

 

Bald Eagle Looking For Fish

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! Also be sure to check out my short stories on Kindle in my new series called Photo Adventures!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

The Victor on Ice Show

Victor on Ice

Well I got to try my hand at photographing an ice skating show in the tiny mountain town of Victor last night! My friend Olivia had been put in charge of choreographing the show so I had extra incentive to go see the first annual Victor on Ice! I had heard that there was a chain link fence around the rink so I made the mistake of not going prepared, as usual. Turns out there was a gap in the fence and I could have used my good microphone but it was left at home 😦 Also left at home were my new cold weather gloves and parka so I about froze. I don’t know what I was thinking, I guess it was fairly comfortable in the daytime and I apparently have forgotten how fast and how cold it gets up here at 10,000 feet when the sun goes down!

Anyway, the show was a blast and I seem to have done alright given my limited video skills 🙂 For the stills I put my camera on manual with a 320th of a second, F4 aperture and ISO 4000, which seems to have worked well and I have some nice images to share with whoever is interested 🙂

The First Eagle

Deer in the CanyonSaw my first eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon since last spring I think. The rumor around the mountains is that the yearly migration of the baldies has begun so I was hoping I would see a few around the canyon. I slowly drove up the canyon scanning the dead trees along the banks of the beautiful South Platte River, hoping to spot the intense white heads shining through the trees when I spotted a pair of mule deer walking along the east bank. I stopped behind a big bush hoping to get a shot of the pair crossing the river but unfortunately they were already on the side they wanted to be on and soon began the treacherous ascent of the steep and rocky canyon wall. Fortunately for me they passed through a clearing high on the rocks where I could get a shot of them, one at a time though…

Bald Eagle Looking For Fish

Soon they disappeared over the ridge and I turned my focus back to searching for the bald eagles. Then just as I was nearing “the bend” I spotted the familiar sight. One lone baldy on a branch looking down fiercely at the river below. I stopped the truck a ways back from his location and aimed my long lens out the window, using the window frame for support. At this time there wasn’t a lot of light and at a 1600th of a second I noted that my ISO was coming in at a questionable 6400 value. I wanted to be sure to get a clear image of the great raptor on the branch so I dialed back my shutter speed to a 320th of a second for a few shots before switching back to watching for a take off with a higher shutter speed.

Bald Eagle Looking For Fish

Much to my surprise the eagle was content to remain on the  branch so I fired up the truck and moved ahead another 20 yards or so for a closer view. By now it was  getting a bit lighter but I still went back and forth between high and low shutter speeds as I captured a few more stills while waiting for the inevitable flight. Eventually the great bird evacuated his load and began fiddling with his feathers, a sure sign that a takeoff was imminent! By now the sun had cleared the ridge and light streamed up the valley right onto the bright white head. I snapped a shot to make sure that my exposure compensation was in range and discovered that the -1 value was now completely blowing out the white head.  After a bit of experimentation I settled on -2 for the big event.

Bald Eagle Looking For Fish

This time I was lucky, baldy gave me some warning before taking off… he rustled his wing and stood up a bit higher on the branch, telling me that flight was imminent. I was already prepared with zone focus mode activated, giving me nine focus points in the center of the frame with which to track the flight trajectory. As he took flight I snapped off a few frames before clamping down on the back focus button, and after having lived this scenario a few hundred times my thumb seemed to know the exact moment to activate the focus tracking system, giving me one of the most sharply focused series of flight images I have ever managed to capture!

Unfortunately on this day the eagle had decided to perch on what is probably the ugliest tree in the entire canyon so this series isn’t even close to my favorite ones from last winter, but it was still good to see my old friends again. I was able to use the new Photoshop selection and masking tools to somewhat subdue the ugly background. The new masking tools in Camera Raw made a surprisingly accurate selection which after inverting enabled me to desaturate and darken the tangled branches.

I hope you enjoy the images, please be sure to check out out Eleven Mile Canyon Facebook Group where we keep track of all the amazing activity in this amazing canyon!

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.

Beautiful Weather

Storm on the Sangre

It was cold this morning and the wind was blowing hard, the news on TV said to anchor your trash cans unless you wanted you yard decorated with egg shells and tin cans. For a moment it was tempting to just get another cup of coffee and settle in for a morning in front of the news. However, any trouble I was having with motivation this morning vanished when I looked down the valley towards the Sangre de Cristo. What I thought was a boring clear morning turned out to be a beautiful weather day down on the Sangre de Cristo Range.

Knowing that I was going to either be photographing the mountains or a herd of deer, I knew that I wasn’t going to need the 1.4x teleconverter. But for once I kept in mind that this was also going to increase the aperture in shutter priority auto mode to F5.6. With the tele on the minimum aperture is F8, which isn’t too bad for both wildlife and landscape shooting and I have the tele on so much that I don’t really think about it much. But today when I got to the overpass I put the camera on manual with an aperture of F11 to shoot for sharp focus throughout the image. The ISO I

Storm on the Sangre

just let float because it was early and the lighting wasn’t going to support the desired ISO 100. As it turns out it was an ISO 400 morning which is perfectly acceptable and ultimately I was quite happy with the sharpness of the images.

However the color at that time of day wasn’t that interesting and a quick conversion to black and white using the channel mixer in Photoshop made for much more dramatic pictures. Once done shooting the Sangre I took a quick trip over to Victor Pass to take a look at Pikes Peak. The peak wasn’t putting on much of a show and I could hear some biscuits and gravy calling my name from the Gold Camp Bakery 🙂

I briefly entertained the idea of climbing the mountain but I haven’t been seeing any wildlife up there and I figured the wind and cold wasn’t beckoning the animals any more than it was me.

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.

The Gathering Storm

Fog in the Valley

One sure sign of approaching weather is a massive fog bank filling the Arkansas River Valley at the base of the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range of Colorado. I never miss a chance to photograph this beautiful weather phenomenon and this day was no different. Each morning over coffee I peer out my front window down the valley towards the Sangre range to see what kind of day is going to develop. I knew from the forecast that weather was coming in and from my limited view I could see that I had better grab my camera and hit the road!

Fog in the Valley

This particular morning was so fantastic that I had to make two passes just to take it all in. There was a great view of the action from my usual vista point along Highway 67 but I knew that I was also going to have to drive on up to Victor where at the mine entrance there would be a view from higher up. Some days I call it good at that point and go on in to the Gold Camp Bakery for coffee, but on this day another pass was going to be necessary in order to catch the panorama available from the overlook on the Cripple Creek side. Eventually I was confident that I had adequately captured the magnificent scene and that breakfast was well deserved!

The impending snowstorm never really developed though, a few flakes lazily drifting out of the alpine air was all we got for this round but I’m sure that it won’t be long and we will be experiencing a lot more winter white!

 

Fog in the Valley

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.

Coming to Life

Raptors at Eleven Mile CanyonEleven Mile Canyon is coming back to life! I had an awesome visit to the canyon this morning… almost no campers and fishermen, a hint of the familiar bone chilling cold and and a return of the bald eagles to the banks of the South Platte River. I wasn’t able to get a good shot of the baldie but I had a couple of good opportunities with the red-tail and the osprey. It seems that a big red-tailed hawk has claimed the territory between the foot bridge and the bend, but I’m sure he will relent once the eagles return when the lakes are frozen over.

I was able to spot both the osprey and the red-tail in good position for a shot and they both cooperated by flying down from the high branches right towards me 🙂 The only problem was that the branches in the background have made for quite the ugly background, which I have done my best with Photoshop to mitigate.

Hope you enjoy today’s pictures, and looking forward to many more as the ice takes over my world!

 

Raptors at Eleven Mile Canyon

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.

First Snow on the Sangre de Cristo

First Snow on the Sangres

The weather report showed a completely average morning today… sun shining, a little chilly… but generally a nice autumn mountain morning. It was a struggle to psyche myself up to take my camera out in such an average morning… but I did it. As usual on the ride to the trailhead I took a glance  toward the Sangre de Cristo range expecting to see the same smoke obscured view that we’ve been seeing all summer. Much to my surprise the magnificent range has received a blanket of new snow and the air was as crisp and clear over the Arkansas Valley as it ever has been!

First Snow on the Sangres

I drove a little faster knowing I was going to be treated to a stunning mountain vista at the top of the ridge. And indeed it was, I stopped for a good half hour to make sure the camera had gathered it all in 🙂 I also took a quick jaunt through the woods hoping for an elk herd on the other side, but I guess all the great beasts were all hiding from the wind in the tranquil valley below.

First Snow on the Sangres and Mine Country

Quick trip up Victor Pass to view Pikes Peak wasn’t as interesting… there was little snow on the massive peak and no clouds to create an interesting picture. However the view from there in the other direction was something to behold… the old historic mines against the fresh snow of the Sangre de Cristo was incredible. And I have to say I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen anyone capture this particular view of the  area!

Confident that I had enough imagery to make a good story for today, I decided upon the Phantom Canyon Coffee Shop for a nice cup of coffee and an apple fritter. This may well be my favorite coffee shop, and a place I’ll be spending some time out of the cold this winter! The atmosphere is great, the coffee even better and the barista friendly and helpful. If you can get to Victor Colorado, I recommend you stop in!

First Snow on the SangresAs 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.

Hanging with the Bucks

I was up well before sunrise hoping to see the deer pass through the beautiful meadows of the high country before going off to rest in the shade of the dense pine forest. As I made my way up the mountain I could see their ghostly figures moving toward the summit in the predawn light, small herds of bucks and does making their way separately. I knew if I could quietly get into position without causing them to run I would get a chance to photograph them just as the sun was clearing the ridge to the east.

Mule Deer Bucks in the Rockies

And I was not disappointed… It wasn’t long before the first regal buck made his way into the clearing, a majestic figure against the morning sky. It wasn’t long before the handsome beasts were aware of me sitting on my rock, staring at me for a few seconds as they sized me up… threat or not? I was glad to see they were going to tolerate my presence as they went back to grazing on the high mountain grass. As the sun began to rise in the sky the crisp mountain morning began to become uncomfortably warm and the deer retreated to a pine shaded oasis on the summit to lie down for an early morning nap. I have no idea how long their night was or how long of a journey it was for them to reach the mountaintop but they were definitely ready for a break. I have to say I was a bit surprised that they were comfortable enough with me that they could just lay down and rest a few feet from me!

Autumn Colors in Colorado

I decided to leave them in peace so I arose and walked directly away from the group. It cost me an extra half mile around the mountainside to avoid startling them but I was hoping that I would be able to return in a couple of hours to find them once again grazing and doing deer stuff.

I traveled on over to the gold mines of Goldfield hoping to capture some beautiful autumn color around the mines and on Pikes Peak, and perhaps some early morning wildlife in the open prairie there. Didn’t see any wildlife but the leaves were beautiful this morning although I can see they are past the prime now. It won’t be long before this mountainside is covered by a mantle of white, in fact I am already hearing rumors of snow rolling in next week. That’s ok with me… I think these mountains are happier with a fresh blanket of snow.

Mule Deer Bucks in the Rockies

Eventually I was ready to return to Victor for some coffee but unfortunately my usual hangout wasn’t quite prepared with the morning nourishment so I decided to try out a new place, the Phantom Canyon Coffee shop. This place has just recently opened and they don’t have a full blown website yet, but I can see it is going to be a great addition to the new Victor. The help is friendly and the atmosphere hip and inviting… and the coffee tasty and hot 🙂 I say new Victor because the old Victor nearly became a ghost town a few years ago. Now there is new blood moving to town and the town is reconstituting itself as a quaint mountain art and eats mecca, drawing people from cities up and down the front range wanting to check out the new places and historic attachment to the 1800’s gold mining boom.

Mule Deer Bucks in the Rockies

After becoming sufficiently caffeinated I returned to the mountain to check on the little band of bucks. Sure enough they were done with their morning respite and were back to feeding on the dry mountain grass. I slowly maneuvered back into position as we once again went through the ritual of suspicion followed by grudging acceptance. This time I found a good seat on top of some mine tailings where I sat and watched for at least an hour before they meandered over the ridge and out of sight. I had acquired enough images for one day and decided not to disturb them any further.

I finished out the day with a visit to the Victor Gold Camp Artist’s Coop where I have some of my work displayed… Turned out to be a fortuitous visit… One of the customers was interested in my framed elk picture from our visit to Rocky Mountain National Park earlier this fall, and as I was there to tell the story of the image I made the sale 🙂 Now I’m going to have to find another awesome frame so I can get another one done!

Now, home in front of the computer I can see it was a very successful morning. I will be uploading quite a few from today, starting with just a few that I was able to produce today. I hope you enjoy the pictures!

 

Mule Deer Bucks in the Rockies

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.