Happy Autumnal Equinox

Misty Mine Country

The sun has officially crossed the equator on it’s annual journey to the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere. The first day of autumn in the Colorado high country has greeted us with fog, rain and a morning of stunning beauty. The fog rolled in last night so I made sure to be up early before the sun would have a chance to burn off the fog in the Arkansas Valley, one of my favorite subjects to photograph! I caught glimpses of what I was about to see as I drove through town and around the first bend in the highway on my way to Victor, a sea of fog completely filling the low spots.

Small Herd of Mule Deer

As I proceeded toward my intended overlook I spotted a small herd of mule deer making their way through the deep mountain grass on their way to cover in the pine forest above, and as luck would have it I was also near a spot to pull the truck off the road. The deer weren’t too worried about my presence but they were also not about to take a break from their journey into the woods either! I quickly snapped off a few shots with my 100-400mm lens and then they were gone… out of sight.

I made several stops along the way wherever I could see the amazing weather phenomenon unfolding in the valley below and ended up with quite a few nice ones… if I do say so myself! I wasn’t sure how far up the pass the fog would reach so I decided to check on the mines and the south face of Pikes Peak at the summit of Victor Pass. The mines weren’t much to see today, the sky is dark and there really wasn’t any interesting fog there and I already have much better shots of the mines than anything I would have gotten today.

The Peak is showing signs of fall though, a good patch of aspen are already turning to gold! A few more days and they will be at peak gold. Hopefully I’ll get some really nice ones before my annual trip to Rocky Mountain National Park for the elk rut!

Anyway, have a happy Autumnal Equinox!

 

 

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
 
 

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.

Deer in the Gold

Mule Deer in the Rocky Mountian Autumn

It was a beautiful morning for a hike… a crisp, clear mountain autumn morning. The leaves are in peak color on the south face of Pikes Peak, the wildlife are starting to come out from their refuge from the summer heat deep in the shade of the dense pine forest and the air is finally clearing of the terrible smoke from the summer’s fires.

Saw a couple of doe mule deer grazing and enjoying the pleasant morning and a lot of golden leaves to

Autumn on Pikes Peak and Mine Country

photograph. On my return down the mountainside I looked back and spotted a lone deer shining in the sun in the golden canopy. I captured a number of images of the deer, including some zooms with my 400mm lens, but the one of the deer in the distance with just 100mm of magnification is my favorite!

I’ve  been eyeing one of the gold mines for a picture but the leaves on that side of the mountain have yet to change color. It was also a great morning to stop and have some biscuits and gravy at my favorite place, the Gold Camp Bakery. I was tempted to add a cinnamon roll to that but I decided to save the calories for another day 😦

Some days I get pictures that are nice to look at, but not really up to snuff to put on my website for sale as prints… but today a got a few that I’m putting up! I hope you enjoy them 🙂

Mule Deer in the Rocky Mountian Autumn

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.

Hawks, Hunting and Gold

I fully expected to go out to another flat tire this morning so I was pretty happy to discover that the tire had held air overnight. Ran back in the house, grabbed my camera and headed for the Victor / Cripple Creek gold mining district where the leaves are changing around the old historic gold mines of a past era.

Gold Mine in Autumn

The leaves up on Victor and Tenderfoot Passes are in peak color, but a few  feet lower down in Victor there is still quite a bit of green so I was not expecting any photography there until later in the season. However there was a view of one of the mines with some gold in the background so I stopped to capture an image. I had to shoot with the long lens and crop pretty tight to get the leaves in the image, hopefully on another day I’ll have a wider field to work with. I also need to get back out in the morning and find the names of these mines for the metadata!

Red-tailed Hawk Hunting

I worked my way north up Victor Pass hoping for some more cool images when I spotted a red-tailed hawk hunting in the prairie dog town. I followed him around a bit until I finally saw him take a dive and snatch up a rodent, I assume a prairie dog. I would think the little creatures would be more mindful of the “death from the sky”, but maybe the young ones aren’t too smart yet. The great bird must have killed the rodent instantly because I never saw it so much as wiggle once he was in the grasp of the razor sharp talons of the powerful raptor.

Red-tailed Hawk Hunting

The hawk carried his prey high into the sky and then headed out across the open field, perhaps to bring to a young one or to a more private place to enjoy his breakfast. I was ready for some breakfast myself by this time so I headed back down the hill when I spotted a good view of this mine (below), the Vindicator I believe… with some golden leaves in the background. I stopped and readjusted my camera for a still shot of the mine and snapped a few pictures.

Unfortunately there was a large crowd at the Gold Camp Bakery so I decided to just go home for breakfast. Not a fan of the large crowds of leaf lookers up here in the mountains at this time of year.

 

Gold Mine in Autumn

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.

Autumn, My Favorite Time of Year

Gold in Mine Country

I absolutely love this time of year… the clear fresh mountain air, the brisk mornings, the active wildlife and the beautiful colors as aspen trees turn to gold. Sort of a utopia for nature photographers! As soon as it was light this morning I headed out into prime leaf country. Victor, Colorado is one of the finest places for aspen leaf looking in the state. There is an awesome view of the south face of Pikes Peak from Victor Pass covered with aspen trees and I wanted to capture it before we lost the moisture in the air leftover from yesterday’s rains.

Gold in Mine Country

And today it was magnificent probably within a couple of days of peak color. I set the camera to manual with a 320th of a second and an aperture of F8 for good depth of field, and checked a couple of exposures before making my way around to all the best vantage points. It was early morning with the sun nearly at my back so I knew there would be no need for a polarizer. Eventually I knew I had captured the scene so it was off to the Gold Camp Bakery for some biscuits and gravy 🙂 There were quite a few leaf seeking customers there today so my order took a bit longer, but I never get tired of looking out the window at historic Victor while I contemplate my the rest of the day.

Mule Deer in the Rockies

I decided to take a short jaunt down the hill to see if the deer might be stirring on such a beautiful morning, and I was not disappointed! I found a herd of four beautiful bucks, which I assume is probably the Three Amigos + One. Don’t know why but each fall the three inseparable friends pick up a fourth prior to the rut season, which is soon to come. Once they get interested in the ladies you won’t see them together until later in the winter.

Mule Deer in the Rockies

Eventually the two herds meandered into the trees and I headed back up the mountain to see what the brighter light may have done for my autumn scene. Indeed it was a bit different so I retraced my earlier steps to recapture all the best angles in the more intense light.

Satisfied that I had sufficiently captured the scene I was ready to call it a day. There was still hope that I might see a few more deer or perhaps even some elk but it was not to be. They don’t like to stay out in the bright sunshine and retreat to the dark depths of the pine forest to while away the days hidden in the shadows.

My one last stop was to check on my pieces at the Victor Gold Camp Artist’s Coop and hopefully chat with a few of the potential customers trickling through. If you get up to Victor this season be sure to stop in and check on the mountain art! It’s well worth the effort 🙂 I have a few pieces scattered around the place and a notebook of prints on a table right in front of the cash register. Be sure to pick up one of my picture business cards!

 

 

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.

Finally Some Snow

Snow and Fall Colors on Pikes Peak

Didn’t know what to expect when I rounded the corner and climbed up over Victor Pass, 10,200 feet this morning. I was hoping for some lingering fog or storm clouds from yesterday’s precipitation but I was delighted to be greeted by the season’s first significant snow on the south face of Pikes Peak 🙂 The colors are nearing their peak intensity and the white of the snow really set the scene off!

I knew I wasn’t going to be able to take it all in with the 400mm lens on so I switched to my trusty 24-105L with the polarizer attached. Once I took off my sunglasses I knew the polarizer was the right choice, it’s immediately apparent in the clouds the dramatic effect that polarization has in just the right light. I dialed the ISO down to 100 and selected a 320th of a second for the shutter speed. The camera chose F5.6

Snow and Fall Colors on Pikes Peak

which seemed good enough for the mountain which was miles in the distance. However in retrospect I should have probably gone with F8 and ISO 200. Now I know some photographers will think I should have used a slower shutter speed but in my experience up here on these high passes, the wind is always blowing. I don’t like blurry clouds and the leaves fluttering in the wind also just look blurry if your shutter speed is too low. Regardless of the aperture I chose, I’m happy with the pictures anyway!

I had to hike around a bit to get all the good angles while avoiding power lines and other obstructions but by the time storm clouds had completely obliterated the scene I was sure I had what I wanted. And I see more blue on the radar for this afternoon so tomorrow morning I should get another good opportunity to photograph another layer of our signature Colorado snow 🙂

Snow and Fall Colors on Pikes Peak

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.

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!

Smokey Autumn

A quick check of the weather forecast this morning dictated what I might be able to accomplish. Smoke from all the fires is everywhere but today the report particularly called out the valleys for air quality concerns. I was

Fall Colors in the Rockies

thinking of making my first outing since my return from Rocky a trip to Eleven Mile but with all the smoke I decided I’d be better off visiting a peak rather than a valley.

So I decided upon my usual trailhead in hopes of spotting a few deer and maybe even some elk. In the absence of those I figured I’d see some nice aspen trees changing color and maybe even the hawk or some other birds. Unfortunately a guy with a Vesper Sparrow in the Morningdog beat me to the trailhead so there were no big animals to be found and the hawks were in hiding as well.

But the trees were pretty and I was visited by a couple of cute little vesper sparrows at trail’s end. I took a drive up to Victor Pass to see if the colors have changed on Pikes Peak, but there was too much smoke in the sky to see the state of colors on the peak.

These were my  favorite pictures of the half dozen or so that I’m going to publish later this morning. Please feel free to visit and follow my Instagram page for the rest of this morning’s plus hundreds more!

For your enjoyment I have also created a library of 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 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!

Fall Colors in the Rockies