Miracle in the Morning

Foggy Eleven Mile

There’s only one word I can think of to describe yesterday’s photo trip… and that is “Stunning!”. The journey was underway before the first rays of sun began to warm the mountainsides so my first goal was to just not hit an elk or deer with my truck before sunrise. As I pulled into the meeting place at Eleven Mile Canyon a few golden rays of sunshine revealed a layer of fog that had settled in over the cool early autumn morning. I was prepared for wildlife photography, but the beauty of the canyon in the morning forced me to dig into my camera bag for my 18-150mm landscape lens for a few shots of the scene unfolding before me!

Soon Kevin arrived and our trip was underway. The plan was to drive straight to Jefferson Lake about an hour’s ride to the north, to look for moose. Many times we have made the trip in vain, only once have we ever seen a moose. On a dreary rainy afternoon a couple years ago we saw one cow moose with her two calves under the darkness of the pine canopy, but we had never seen the great beasts feeding in the beauty of the shimmering beaver ponds in the soft golden glow of early morning light.

Foggy Elk Herd

The trip was barely underway however when I spotted movement in the dense fog. A closer look revealed a herd of elk in an open meadow. It looked to be three big bulls with around 20 cows. We were careful not to scare them into jumping the fence, something our Rocky Mountain elk don’t seem to be very adept at doing. The bulls knew better than to let the herd run out onto the highway, quickly rounding up the group and moving them east toward the safety of the forest and away from the threat of humans. Eventually the majestic animals settled down and we had the opportunity to shoot away for a while, until the scene was adequately captured

Bald Eagle

A few more miles down the road and a giant bird was spotted in a tree along Highway 77, otherwise known as Tarryall Road. The majestic bird didn’t quite look like the usual red-tailed hawks that usually line the roadway and closer inspection revealed an amazing bald eagle. We carefully exited the car, hoping to capture a few images before the great bird took flight. However as it turns out, the eagle had no interest in vacating his perch, especially not for a couple of photographers consigned to the other side of the barbed wire fence. So we photographed and waited, moved around and waited… until it became apparent that the big raptor was not going to fly. With the hope of moose still before us, the decision was made to abandon the position and head for the beaver ponds.

Pair of Moose

Soon we were rumbling down the rough dirt road leading to the beaver ponds just hoping for a miracle. As we drew near I spotted a huge black figure moving in the mist and the foliage… A moose, and a big bull at that! We found a  good place to pull over and prepared for a few fleeting moments with a bull moose, an amazing event indeed! Much to our surprise the great beast wasn’t too impressed with us and continued his morning feeding only a few yards in front of us. Eventually I was confident that I had some good captures but soon another huge bull came into view… Would it be possible to capture two bulls in the same image, the answer soon came as both animals stepped into the shimmering waters of the beaver ponds with beautiful autumn foliage behind them. The huge beasts slowly made their way across the pond, allowing every possible angle and lighting opportunity. Before it was over I had over 1,000 captures of the powerful and elusive animals logged onto my memory card! It was only 9:30 in the morning and we already achieved  more than we could have possibly dreamed for!

Red-tail Hawk

The only question then was, do we just call it a day or keep pressing for more? The light was still good enough for some hawk pictures so we went back a couple of miles down Tarryall Road again where we knew the red-tailed hawks would be lining the road from their vantage points high on power poles. I was hoping for a capture of a hawk with the beautiful peaks of the Mosquito Range behind them and it wasn’t long before I had accomplished that goal as well! Although it wasn’t until I had brought them up on the desktop computer at home that I was able to see the extent of that success! I didn’t know it out in the field but I had captured exactly the image I was hoping for!

From there it was onward to Antero and Eleven Mile Reservoirs where we were able to capture additional images of more red-tails, white-faced ibis, killdeer, horned larks, and even a herd of American Bison!

I hope you all enjoy a few more images from this fantastic day!!

 

 

Also don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon including my latest, “Wildlife Photography in the Colorado Rockies” and this year’s wildlife calendar “Colorado Wildlife 2023“!

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

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!

Coyote on the Hunt

Amazing Alpine Hike with the Elk Herd

Funny how things work out… As I sat sipping my coffee this morning I decided I didn’t want to do any driving today. For one thing gas prices are insane, and for another… I really don’t like spending time on the road. So the plan I worked out included a short drive to my favorite trailhead and a good hard hike.

When I reached the first summit it was so pretty and quiet out that I decided to stop and capture a few seconds of video and post it as a greeting on Facebook. I sat and enjoyed the ambiance for a few minutes while the video clip uploaded and then I headed back down the trail. But then I began to hear the birds singing over in the woods, some song that I didn’t recognize. So I decided to take the hike to the next summit and hoped I might catch a glimpse of the new birds.

Herd of elk in the Pike National Forest of Colorado

As I neared that summit I could see over to the next high peak, and on it was a beautiful herd of elk. I knew if I cleared the summit they would see me and take off, so I quietly got my camera ready and began to film and photograph. As I watched through my long lens I wondered what the cows were looking at so I moved up a bit further and saw that  they were watching over their crop of new calves! It was then that I knew for sure I was going to have to make a real video 🙂

I filmed for awhile and then decided not to disturb them by walking toward them so I just went back down through the forest the way I came. As I neared forest edge a grouse startled me by jumping out of the grass right at my feet and flying into a nearby tree. I got a few seconds of footage of that guy and took a few stills before he grew annoyed with me and flew away for good. But I was glad to see the little fellows have returned to my mountain. They normally like to run along the ground on the high ridges so perhaps I’ll get some better pictures of him another time.

Dusky Grouse in the Morning Light

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video and if you wouldn’t mind and you like the content, please like and subscribe!

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! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

Cool Pictures from RMNP

Slowly making my way through the almost 900 images from this year’s trip to Rocky

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Misty Rocky Mountain Morning

Mountain National Park. For some reason I overlooked these in the editing process, the morning after the camp out. It was cold on that Wednesday morning, around freezing when I awoke just before sunrise. As I was walking around trying to get warm I noticed that it seemed kind of foggy or hazy or something… Was hoping my camera  buddy… and driver for this trip would soon awaken so we didn’t miss the morning show in the meadow! As luck would have it, another party awakening nearby just happened to set off their car alarm, abruptly awakening everyone in the entire campground 🙂

The elk were already active in the meadow, wandering around, eating and talking

Longs Peak at First Light

among themselves, the bull bugling out his commands… The meadow was filled with elk and an amazing mist, creating this mystical scene that I will never forget! The breeze was moving the mist around creating endless photo ops with the elk moving in and out of the foggy scene. The morning glow was lighting Longs Peak towering high above the fog in the valley. I had accidentally left my gloves  behind and my hands were frozen from the cold metal of the tripod but I kept shooting, I knew the scene would only last until the sun cleared the mountains to the east.

But I got these and a few more before the warmth of the day burned off all the mist and the harshness of the morning sun overcame the beautiful predawn glow. As always these pictures are available for purchase as wall art on my website on glossy acrylic or metal sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting!

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Misty Rocky Mountain Morning

Working on the Hard Part

For me the photography is easy, clear crisp mountain air, birds chirping, the sound of massive bull elk bugling out their commands to their domain… If it was up to me I would never leave the photo shoot, never spend a single minute in front of the computer screen.

Majestic bull elk guarding his herd

Unfortunately the pictures don’t process themselves and they don’t upload themselves and they certainly don’t sell themselves. Were it not for the computer no one else besides me would ever even see them. It has been over a week since we returned from Rocky Mountain National Park but I’m still filled with longing to return. It’s such an amazing place,  the scenery, the wildlife… I’m sure there are equally magnificent places, I would love to spend some winter days listening to the howl of the wolf in Yellowstone, maybe photograph a brown bear fishing salmon in Alaska, but for Colorado photographers, Rocky is hard to beat!

But today finds me in front of the computer screen working on the hard part of

Herd of Elk on a Foggy Morning

photography, the drudgery of decoding raw files, adjusting exposures, fine tuning white balance and curves 😦 But I have to say I do enjoy looking at the pictures once they are done, planning which ones I might decide to print and display on my wall.

I shot almost 900 pictures in Rocky those couple of days and I’m not even through the ones I selected as my favorites! I love this one of the big bull in Moraine Park, the memory of him managing his herd, bugling out his commands and chasing off rivals still vivid in my mind. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

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. Many cool gifts, tech items and household goods are also available, including coffee mugs, t-shirts, battery chargers and much more! Click the link to explore!

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