Borrowed a 10 stop ND filter from a buddy for the weekend to shoot the whitewater of the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon again. Set out early in hopes of finding a bounty of wildlife in the canyon before all the people arrived, but came up empty with that effort 😦 The plan was to drive all the way to the end of the canyon in search of wildlife and then try out the ND on the way back down.
On the way up the canyon I scouted out a few good spots where I thought an ND would work well and hit each one along the return trip. I will say this, using a 10 stop requires a lot of concentration! Fortunately I downloaded a neat little app for my phone the night before called simply “Exposure Calculator”. To use it I just set my camera to A mode at f8 and ISO 100 to get an exposure reading and plugged that info into the app as the base exposure. Then for the new exposure I plugged in the same data and selected 10 as the ND factor and wala, the app gives me my new shutter speed 🙂
I forgot my cable release so in order to successfully execute a long exposure I set my drive mode to two second timer, camera to maunal exposure mode and lens to manual focus at the same focal length and focus as the shot prior to installing the 10 stop. I also switched over to live view mode to lock up the mirror and then took the shots. Playback showed that I indeed got the correct exposure and I could see that the water was smoothed out as expected 🙂
Satisfied that I had captured the scene, I returned the camera to all the normal modes and continued down the river. Then of course I
repeated this entire process at each location, getting both motion blur and regular images of each spot. Very time consuming and the big dog didn’t appreciate all the standing around the tripod one bit 😦 Don’t think I would have the patience to do this all the time like I see some photographers on YouTube doing. But I do really like these two images and may actually get myself a 10 stop someday!
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Fortunately for me the weather forecast for this morning was wildly inaccurate. It was
supposed to be 4 degrees and snowing so my popplans were to just sit on the couch like a vegetable and drink coffee 🙂 I was getting a pretty good start on just exactly that when Big Dog came wandering in from the bedroom asking for his morning constitutional… So on went the coat, gloves, hat and thermal underwear and out into the elements we went!
I had looked out the window earlier and could not see the mountains for the clouds and mist so I didn’t bother to bring the camera, we just walked down the street to the open space. But as we got a bit closer to the saddle I could see that it wasn’t just clouds I was viewing! Filling the Arkansas River Valley was a beautiful layer of fog which I knew was going to need some closer examination! So I hurried Big Dog along and loaded him into the truck while I ran in and got the camera.
And off we went to snowshoe trailhead for a better view of the Sangre de Cristo and the Arkansas Valley from the summit of Little Grouse. And it was so well worth the trip. First of all the snow and fog had left behind a beautiful coating on the aspen grove at the bottom of the hill which I deemed worth a couple of captures and I thought the bright blue Colorado sky was amazing!
Then from the summit the view was stunning. The mountains in the background were just beautiful as they jutted above the fog in the valley below, and there were a couple of the smaller peaks that were just peeking through the fog in the lower valley. And as with the aspen trees, the dense pine wilderness of the Pike National Forest was also sporting a new mantle of white from the fog and snow.
These images are available on my website as wall art on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, stretched canvas as well as traditional matting and framing.
This is what gets me going every day… Sitting there drinking my coffee, warm puppy on my lap, I’m always thinking, not today, today I’m just going to sit here and enjoy this moment. But soon I begin to wonder, what am I missing, what wildlife is on my mountain, what kind of weather am I missing? And off I go and I am almost never disappointed :)
Such was the case today. It seemed just like a normal partly cloudy morning, no wildlife to be found, perhaps only a day of exercise on the snowshoes was going to be my reward. But then we crested the mountaintop and this amazing winter scene came into view. A beautiful Colorado winter wonderland to behold 🙂 Well worth the effort it took to get myself up the snowy hillside!
As always, this image and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting.
We have had a beautiful springlike couple of days but this morning’s clouds portend a change… Snow and cold are on the way for later this week, temperatures will be dropping back to near zero for a couple of days. Big Dog and I were up early today so just
before sunrise we grabbed the camera and the snowshoes and headed for the mountains. I could see that it was going to be a beautiful sunrise and indeed it was. But the real show was not to the east, but to the southwest where the alpenglow effect was illuminating the Sangre de Cristo and Collegiate Peaks ranges in a beautiful pink glow. I found a good spot and pulled over for a few shots before going on to the trailhead where I hoped for another photo op with the elk herd. For some reason however, they were not there today, no sign of them at all. It’s like they have vanished off the face of the earth! Oh well… maybe this week’s cold weather will bring them back down to lower elevations. Lol… and by lower elevations, I mean 10,000 feet 🙂
Our snowshoe hike yielded nothing in the way of wildlife. Did get a few shots of the storm clouds gathering on the Sangre though, some of the nicest that I have seen in a long time!
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Ten degrees, wind blowing, face frozen, drifting snow, complete solitude… It doesn’t get any better :) Perfect day for snowshoeing. Most of our trail has been buried by the drifting snow from yesterday’s storm but most of the time I could ascertain where the packed trail probably was. Sometimes not though, but the feel of the fresh powder beneath my snowshoes was well worth the extra effort. Big Dog seemed to be better at finding the trail as he charged ahead, I suppose he could locate by smell! Good companion to have along :)
Was hoping to find that the elk had gathered at the edge of the forest near the summit so I could get some good wildlife photographs,
but I saw little sign of life anywhere on the frozen mountain. Looking back at where we had come from all there was to see was our trail in the snow over the top. Thought it made for kind of a neat scene though! On our way down I did find elk tracks leading up a different trail around the other side of the ridge, so maybe tomorrow we will go investigate.
I arose early this morning in preparation for a snowshoe trek over the top of the mountain, the wind was not as bad and the snow has taken a break for now. I knew it was going to be a tough morning though, cutting a new trail through the deep wind blown snowdrifts!
As I began the climb with Big Dog I was thinking maybe it wasn’t going to be so bad after all… the wind had blown the snow completely off the trail and we were just striding along in comfort on the hard packed base. But… it wasn’t long, the trail took a turn and we found ourselves in a deep drift which seemed to go on forever. Big Dog was really struggling to get through and for a bit I thought we were going to have to give it up. But soon for some reason the drift hardened, and with the snowshoes both me and big dog could hike along in comfort right across the icy surface.
Up in the trees there were a couple of spots where we had to cut a new trail, but on the top of the ridge the snow had mostly blown away. The view from the summit was of course amazing as usual so I stopped for some pictures. A couple of bucks were also of the mind for cutting a new trail and I could see that they were having a tough day as well.
The backside of the mountain was easy, the snow had completely blown away leaving bare grass and dirt most of the rest of the way. Here I encountered a trio of doe mule deer foraging on one of the pine tree. So intent upon their task were they that they paid us no mind at all making for a great photo op and a couple nice portraits. These are not shown in this blog post, but are definitely for sale on my website in the wildlife gallery!
Now that I have the hard part done I’m looking forward to another trek over the top in the morning and hopefully some more wildlife pictures! There are rumors of more snow though… stay tuned!
Been a wild couple of days with tremendous winds, snow and zero degree temperatures so I have been wimping out and staying indoors at the computer. But today it finally warmed up a bit although a stiff breeze persisted throughout the day. When I looked out the window though and saw the show on the jagged peaks of the Sangre de Cristo I knew I was going to have to go out and investigate!
The always ready Big Dog was eager to get out and play in the new snow so off we went. Worn out from a week of sleep deprivation from work though, I wasn’t ready to attempt the deep snow so we took the lower trail around the east side where the wind had blown the snow away instead of piling it up on the trail.
No wildlife was out at that time of day, but the snow blowing over the high peaks of the block fault range in the distance looked magnificent. With the sun climbing ever higher in the southern sky with the steady approach of spring, I was happy to have brought along the polarizer which did a good job of accentuating the clouds and blowing snow. In fact the entire Arkansas Valley was a bit obscured by blowing snow so the images don’t have a lot of contrast, but I am happy with the mystical effect that resulted from the weather.
Hoping for some good rest tonight though, so a snowshoe trek could be on tap for the morning!
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