Finally Eagle Catches Fish

Red-winged Blackbirds

I’ve been trying for years to capture an image of a bald eagle actually catching a fish and yesterday it finally happened 🙂 A morning at Manitou Lake worked out and an early arrival time was scheduled. Unfortunately the gate wasn’t open yet so entering the park required a bit of a hike from a nearby unofficial parking lot but the morning was still young when we arrived at a likely vantage point for some good photography. Picture taking was off to a good start with some awesome captures of a female red-winged black bird, busily gathering cattail fuzz for her nest followed by the arrival of a few great blue herons.

Bald Eagle at Manitou Lake

Soon it was time for the arrival of the osprey that have been coming to the lake at the same time every day on their morning fishing trip. Unfortunately the osprey seem to have changed their schedule and have decided not to oblige us. It was beginning to look like another photo bust at the lake when suddenly a bald eagle flew in and circled the lake. Soon our National Bird was making a dive at the water, a bit far for a good capture but I readied my camera anyway. A 1600th of a second shutter time, f/8 and auto ISO seemed like good settings for an eagle gliding in for a catch.

Suddenly there was a splash and the mighty raptor was on it’s way with a good sized trout. I kept my lens trained on the approaching predator with my thumb on the back button focus, and kept shooting away. The bird was so small in the frame that it wasn’t really possible at the time to discern whether I was successful, but I was elated that I had actually witnessed the event!

Garden of the Gods

Then it was on to Woodland Park and Colorado Springs for supplies and to shoot the remaining frames of black and white film with my Canon A-1 film camera. I turned off at Manitou Springs to take the back way through Garden of the Gods in hopes of a worthy subject for my six frames of Ilford B&W film. Plus they are building a round about at the west entrance and I wanted to see if it was possible yet to get past the mess on 30th Street. Well, it is not, you can go across to the visitor center but it still isn’t possible to go north. Fontenaro Street to the south is the best route to Colorado Springs proper from the Garden. Before leaving however, I stopped for a few captures of the new leaves of springtime at the visitor center with my A-1 film camera and also a few with my 24-105 wide angle on the 90D using a polarizer.

Here are a few more images from the lake which can be counted on to provide a variety of bird species and color, hope you enjoy them!

 

And don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon!

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!

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Quite a Day and a Roll of Film

Bitter cold greeted me two days from the official arrival of the Vernal Equinox, otherwise known as spring. One thing is for sure though, spring cannot be counted on in Colorado. So a day of photography that began with an ice scraper and frozen fingers could only get better from there, and a green chili breakfast burrito at the Mountain Burger in Florissant Colorado didn’t hurt 🙂

Frozen South Platte River Valley

Eleven Mile Canyon was also frozen, something I was anticipating and had planned for by bringing my old Canon AE-1 film camera with it’s six remaining frames of black and white film. Bald eagle photography hasn’t been great there lately due to the imminent spring hatch of new eaglets but I figured I could at least get a few shots of the frozen river valley following our spring snowstorm. The frost covered trees and frozen chokecherry bushes along the banks of the South Platte were as beautiful as they were frigid.

Mule Deer in the Brush

As Kevin and I cruised up the river there were no raptors to be seen. It’s about time for the osprey to return so we carefully watched the treetops on the ridge for their appearance, but it seems we will have to wait a bit longer. The literature says they can arrive anytime after the middle of the month and last year I didn’t see them until the end of March and the beginning of April. There were no eagles, but at the bend we spotted a small herd of mule deer so we pulled a little ahead and out of sight so we could sneak back and get a shot of them feeding down by the river. I only captured one clear image of one of the does before they wandered into the dense reeds along the river bank but it felt good to get out and do a bit of shooting, something I haven’t had much luck with lately!

Winter Elk

A few more miles down the road revealed another herd of animals, this time some rarely seen elk making their way down to the river bed. We thought they might be trying to get to the water but it soon became apparent that the reeds along the banks were their target, probably for their breakfast. From the distance we were at it was difficult to get a clear shot of them but I snapped a few anyway just to have a record of the unusual scene. I’m amazed at the awareness of elk, we were probably a hundred yards away on the other side of the river and yet these amazing animals were immediately aware of the vehicle stopping and windows opening.

Horned Lark at Eleven Mile

It didn’t appear that there would be any eagles visiting the canyon this day so we decided to move on to the big reservoir in Eleven Mile State Park where we had good prospects of photographing the herd of pronghorn antelope. A curious flock of small birds followed the truck as we proceeded along the road through the park. I wanted to get a bit ahead of these interesting little feathered visitors but they wouldn’t allow it. Each time the truck got close to catching up with them they moved further ahead. Finally I stopped to see if maybe they would come back within camera range. Sure enough, when the truck stopped they stopped and I was able to shoot out the window. I wasn’t confident that I’d get a usable image of the tiny birds but I hoped I would at least get a good enough picture for Merlin to identify.

Winter PronghornAnd as it turns out, my Merlin app identified the flock as horned lark, a lifetime first sighting for me! This particular specimen appears to be the less brightly colored female of the species.

Soon we spotted the main subject of this visit, a small herd of pronghorn antelope making their way through the snow. Unfortunately there was nowhere to hide and the furtive creatures spotted us right away and began to move further away. It’s difficult to get a compelling image of an animal that is moving away and showing you it’s hindquarters, but luckily they stopped few times to look back to see if we were following them. Our long lenses and 1.4x teleconverters came in handy to get good shots of the swift little ungulates.

American Bison in the Snow

By this time the sun was high in the sky and the lighting situation on the bright snow was nearly impossible. But a lone bison walking through the snow with the mountains of the Pike National Forest in the background was too tempting to avoid. I dialed in a stop and a half of exposure compensation to account for the dark animal on the bright white snow and did the best I could. With a bit of Photoshop help I was able to bring out some detail in the animal, probably creating my favorite image of the day mostly just because it was a buffalo. They are such amazing majestic creatures it would be hard not to like a picture of them!

To top off an amazing day, I was successful in shooting the remaining frames of my black and white film so I hope to make a trip down to the city to submit the roll for processing. Mike’s Camera still develops film on site, a rare thing these days so I plan to take it there. Since I use Ilford HP5 black and white film, it will be possible to develop it there with their C41 processing system. Apparently some black and white films need to be sent to the main lab in Boulder, still a reasonable turnaround time compared to some places that take weeks to get your film done these days!

I will be placing many more images from today on my website and my Instagram account so please feel free to follow my progress on both of these platforms!

Frozen South Platte River

 

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! And don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon!

Gathering Storm and A Pano

I checked my weather app while drinking my morning coffee and it said snow was on the way. In the pre-dawn darkness I couldn’t tell if anything of interest was going on down the valley but it didn’t matter, I was going hiking anyway. I fired up the truck just as the sun was clearing the ridge to the east and a short time later I saw the massive fog bank completely filling the Arkansas Valley. A few of the taller peaks in the valley protruded above the sea of white, creating an enticing scene that I expected to be photographing at the overlook.

But it was still too dark when I arrived at the overlook. I’ve been down that road before, the camera is completely confused by the fog before the sun turns it into it’s customary bright white color. I shoot raw but even with that tremendous amount of latitude the fog always seems to come out with an ugly greenish tint. So I decided to keep going on to the trailhead. I figured by the time I made it to the top of the ridge the sun would be shining a bit and the fog would be easier to photograph.

Gathering Storm on the Sangre de Cristo

My timing was perfect too, by the time I arrived the light was starting to color the western sky and the Sangre de Cristo range to the west was beautifully lit. I snapped a few images of parts of the mountains before ultimately deciding uon a panorama. After a couple of meter readings I settled on manual mode with a 320th of a second, ISO 160 and f/8 for an aperture. Of course I fiddled with the settings a bit as I examined the rear LCD, but that was the starting point.

I was also hoping for some pictures of the mines but by then the interesting light was gone and the sky and fog were just an uninteresting white. But it’s Ok, I’m really happy with the pano!

 

 

Gathering Storm on the Sangre de Cristo

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.

Beautiful Eleven Mile Canyon

Whitewater in the Platte

Please enjoy this short film of the whitewater in Eleven Mile Canyon! I was hoping to spot the eagles and the osprey but I had to settle for the beauty and power of the roaring whitewater on the South Platte River. I did enjoy setting up the tripod for some long exposures of the water which due to my early arrival I was able to accomplish without an ND filter.

I was fortunate to spot a small herd of bighorn sheep along Highway 67 on my way home and was able to get a few nice captures and a nice video of the big animals interacting along the mountainside!

Bighorn Sheep Herd

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.

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 2020

Summer didn’t give up without a fight… some of the hottest weather I’ve seen in the mountains persisted right through the entire labor day weekend.  Almost 80 doesn’t sound very hot to ya’ll flat landers but we aren’t used to that up here! it was much worse in Denver, Sunday I believe hitting 101 degrees. It was so hot and bright just after sunrise that I didn’t even bother leaving the house.

First Colorado Snow

But that all ended on Monday night as a cold front went through and dropped the temperature to 20f and the skies broke with eight inches of snow, wind and fog. The fog and low visibility lasted all day yesterday so I dejectedly continued my four day losing streak by not going out of the house at all, not even to exercise 😦 Today however was better, the sun was kind of out and I could see the fog was breaking up, ideal conditions for pictures! As I looked out the window my spirits were lifted by the spectacular conditions and my mind once again turned to the mountains and photography.

Mines on a Winter Day

So I laced up my winter hiking boots and hit the trail. I was hoping for that magnificent view from the top of the ridge with fog at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Range but unfortunately all I could see was fog flowing into the valley from the southwest.  As I strode through the snow and fog on the summit the historic gold mine came into faint view through the fog, so I stopped for a bit to take in the view and capture the scene. The view of the valley below on the northeast side of the mountain was also well worth a couple black and white captures on the return trail.

Red-tailed Hawk

A pair of red-tailed hawks greeted me at the trailhead, each calling to the other through the mist from their own power pole. I was fortunate after a while that one of the great raptors left his pole and flew right at me 🙂 Nothing better than a good hawk in flight picture!

Mines on a Winter Day

After my hike I decided to drive through Victor and check on mine country in Goldfield, hoping for some photogenic fog and a view of the Sangres. Part of my wish came true, there was a nice foggy backdrop behind the mines which made for a nice landscape image despite the Sangre de Cristo being completely fogged over 🙂

I knew I had to make one more stop… Pikes Peak was bound to be amazing with new snow and fog so I drove to the top of Victor Pass for a look. And the great mountain did not disappoint 🙂 The cantankerous old lady always looks better in snow 🙂

Fresh Snow on Pikes Peak

By this time it was becoming obvious that our short bout with winter was about over. Heat rising from my sweatshirt was fogging over my sunglasses and I was getting really thirsty so I decided to call it a day. The fog never really did subside… I thought I was going to get a break on the way home but as I prepared for pictures  a new layer of fog streamed in from the valley below, totally obscuring my view of the distant mountain range.

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!

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!

Another Stellar Mountain Morning

Not much to say other than stunning… I feel so blessed to live in view of the jaw dropping

Stunning Sangre de Cristo Rangesplendor of the  Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range. One time I drove all the way down to Westcliffe to try to get a better view but it turns out that in this case, closer is not better! Of course many days the view is obscured by smoke and haze but most of the time the rugged range is putting on a pretty good show. For this image I used my my Canon 100-400L glass with circular polarizer on full effect to achieve this crystal clear scene. I love the clouds hanging over the range like a halo and almost a mirror image of the snow on the foothills below!

Now the view is gone as our next winter storm moves in, I can’t see the mountains at all. But there is a silver lining, there will be another amazing show after the snow is done falling 🙂

Anyway, this is my favorite one of the day, hope you enjoy it! Feel free to follow my #swkrull instagram page to see the rest of the ones I got processed today, along with a few more of the bighorn sheep from Christmas Day 🙂

As always, this image is available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing, just click the link to explore!

Exploring Skagway Reservoir

Another day with no definite plan… Not that that is anything unusual, I rarely have a plan other than to wake up and have coffee. One of the ideas that has been rattling around in the background of my mind for a while has been to make the jaunt from Victor over to Skagway Reservoir.  As the coffee soaked in and consciousness slowly began to percolate it occurred to me that today could be that day!

Foggy Mount Pisgah

First of all though, a stop at Grouse Mountain for my first climb to the overlook with Big Dog since my clutch bit the dust last January. I knew it was way too foggy to see the Sangre but I took the camera along in hopes that we might see some elk or deer. No luck with that, but the fog turned the nearby mountains into mystical ghostly shapes that created a completely different scene than usual. After a nice walk through the woods we climbed back into Old Faithful and headed for Victor. I was hoping that the fog had extended to the old mines there for some more cool photo ops but the sky was clear and bright and the mines were the same as always. I didn’t make any effort to get more of the same old photographs there.

Off to Phantom Canyon Road to the Skagway turnoff. Can’t say I was too impressed with the long washboard gravel road… Very annoying. No wildlife and no good views to photograph anywhere along the road either. Perhaps had we gotten an earlier start there would have been some mist and wildlife but 9:00 a.m. must be nap time for the local critters. The drive was so long and rough that I was about to give up when I saw what appeared to be a few cars parked in the distance. Must be it I thought, so I persevered, finally… success! Placid water and a dam came into view along with a few fishermen who had also braved the dirt road.

Skagway Reservoir

As we pulled in I could barely see the water through the glare of the morning sun… I noticed that I could see much better with sunglasses on so I figured this might be a good time for my B&W circular polarizer. It didn’t take long to discover the best vantage point for a shot… water like glass with the south Face of 14,115 foot Pikes Peak in the background. Big Dog was of course way more interested in the plethora of prairie dogs that were scurrying about the place foraging for food 🙂

Wild Turkeys

I still held out hope that I would spot some wildlife on the return trip and it wasn’t long before I spotted a rafter of turkeys… Why a “rafter”? Well apparently according to this entertaining website, in the days of old the word raft used to mean collection 🙂 Well anyway a few shots of the large birds and we were on our way home to review the day’s photographic bounty. Unfortunately on this day the images looked better on the camera than they do on the computer, but it was still a nice day and now I have seen the reservoir which by the way has quite an interesting history!

The reservoir itself was constructed in 1899 followed in 1901 by an electrical power station a few miles down Beaver Creek. At one time there was a tramway to the power station but after a major flood the station and apparently the tram were destroyed. According to the Mountain Jackpot there was a massive rainfall on Woodland Park and Cripple Creek that overwhelmed the Skagway dam burying the reservoir in 15 feet of debris and destroying the power pipeline which was never repaired. The power station survived but is now on accessible by hiking down the rugged terrain through Beaver Creek.

These images and more are now available on my website for purchase as wall art and commercial stock! Stay tuned, my next adventure is still in the planning stage but I hope to get out to Cottonwood Pass where I will explore the trail to the mountain goat viewing area 🙂

 

Best Sunrise Ever

Almost missed it all too. I wasn’t planning on anything except some rest for these old tired legs but Big Dog was having an emergency so out the door we went, DSLR still in the house in the bag 😦

Luckily my phone was still in my coat pocket so I was at least able to get these to remember the day! As we walked down the trail and the Sangre de Cristo came into view I was just sick that I didn’t have my 70-200… A small herd of deer was grazing in the meadow and the colors in the clouds and on the mountains were beyond description. Did the best I could to capture the scene with my phone, but I don’t think you can even see the deer or the mountains because the field of view is so wide 😦

Sangre de Cristo Sunrise

But… I am still thankful that I am alive on this perfect spring morning in the mountains and that I am able to get outside and witness such magnificence!