Roadblocks and Breakthroughs

Well it’s been a busy 2022 already, one of my resolutions… well maybe my only resolution was to actually do something with all the thousands of images I’ve captured over the last few years. Maybe more than a few years, I got my first digital camera in 2002 and I’ve been blazing away ever since!  My original plan was digital stock photography but the returns on that medium are now so low that it is barely worth doing.

Red-tailed Hawk

So I decided to try my hand at book writing starting with an ebook on Kindle thinking that the file I created with the free software would easily translate into a paperback book. That turned out not to be the case though so I thought I was going to be limited to the ebook route.  But I really want to be able to create a paperback so I didn’t give up. It occurred to me that Adobe has a good utility for doing just that called InDesign. What the heck, I thought… so I downloaded a seven day trial version to see if I could learn yet a new software package. Fortunately It is enough similar to Photoshop that I was able to pick up the essentials in a day and I’m about halfway through re-creating the ebook I had written on the raptors into the Adobe software. Besides, I figured if I was going to be serious about this there’s no way to avoid using serious professional software anyway.

But after sitting in front of the computer for a couple of days I’m still going to have to get out with the animals for a few hours, maybe tomorrow!

 

 

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 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.

Cold Morning and a Panorama

Red-tailed Hawk in Flight

Cold, gloomy and windy… kind of like every morning these days. I was the first to reach the trailhead so I had high hopes of spotting some wildlife. I had seen a few herds of deer on my way but they were all grazing in the dark shadows of the trees, far too little light and scenery for a nice picture so I didn’t want to delay my arrival at the trailhead. As I neared the summit I heard the signature screech of the red-tailed hawk. I was in the trees so I couldn’t see him but I readied my camera for a bird in flight image just in case. A 1600th of a second shutter speed, F5.6 and the ISO on auto. Amazingly he did float into view and I was able to snap a couple of sharp images. Unfortunately I had forgotten to adjust the exposure compensation and underexposed the image about a stop. With Photoshop and Topaz DeNoise and GigaPixel however, I was able to make a good enough image for Instagram!

Snow covered Collegiate Peaks Colorado

As I cleared the forest I noticed a bit of morning light falling on the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Range and hoped that it would still be so when I reached the overlook. It was not to be, but by that time the band of light shining through the dense clouds to the east was shining on the Collegiate Peaks, far in the distance to the west. As a single image from that distance it wasn’t a real exciting view so I decided to try a panorama. I had left my tripod in the truck so all I had was my monopod to steady the camera, not the ideal situation for a panorama… but I tried it anyway.

I have Custom Function C2 set up for panorama shooting so I dialed in the settings and fired off a test shot. A little underexposed so I increased my ISO from 100 to 200 which turned out to be just about right, my histogram showed data all the way across the spectrum. So I was ready, a 320th of a second at F7.1 for this shot. I might ordinarily shoot with F11 for better depth of field but these mountains were so far away that most everything was going to be beyond infinity anyway so F7.1 was about right for the light and ISO 200.

Snow covered Collegiate Peaks Colorado

Seven horizontal images were required to span the scene so my original is something like 111 inches across! I cut that down to 60 inches for the upload to my website in order to comply with the size constraint of the server!

Well anyway, it was a pretty good morning, got some good exercise, some valuable time of solitude in nature and the screech of the red-tail is always a treat! I’m hoping for a more extensive week though, a trip up to Waterton to see the bighorn sheep may be in the cards if all goes right 🙂

 

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.

Alpenglow on the Sangre

Something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time… a panorama of the Sangre de Cristo at first light in the alpenglow. My original plan was a quick hike up Grouse Mountain to look for deer and elk, but as I drove past the overlook I noticed the amazing pink glow on the beautiful range named for the “Blood of Christ”.  I took several images in three sets to capture the entire range and I find myself happiest with the first set.

Alpenglow on the Sangre de Cristo

In blending the images to pano in Adobe Photoshop I noticed that the “auto” option doesn’t always work right. For this one the “perspective” option produced the best rendition.  I also noticed an odd effect prior to “flattening” the image, there was the appearance of the images looking like puzzle pieces.  At first I thought I had made a mistake in the shooting that might cause them not to stitch properly, but after a bit of research it appears that the effect was just an artifact of the many layers not displaying correctly. Once I flattened the image the stitching was perfect.

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!

Waterton Collection and New Photoshop Techniques

Working on some new stuff these days… I finally have enough images of beautiful Waterton Canyon to make a separate collection on my website for them.  Included in this amazing category are tons of bighorn sheep, beaver, deer and the lovely pristine waters of the South Platte River as it streams out of the Rockies on it’s way through eastern Colorado and Nebraska, all the way to it’s destination as it joins the Mighty Missouri River near Omaha.

Bighorn Sheep Waterton

Fortunately I was able to add a few more to the new Waterton Collection today from our latest mountain bike adventure yesterday. The sheep weren’t too active on such a lazy beautiful early winter day but we were lucky to see Scruff all by himself making his way past the cliffs and up to higher ground where he would enjoy his day from the lofty heights of the canyon walls.

Bighorn sheep herd in Waterton Canyon Colorado

As we rode up the rugged road we did spot the entire herd  resting up on a grassy mountainside, not a very photogenic scene but a welcome sighting anyway. As we waited and hoped for them to come down for a drink in the river a rumor emerged that a beaver was busy building a new lodge near the diversion dam at the 2.5 mile marker near the picnic grounds.

Beaver in Waterton Canyon

We decided to take a quick ride up there to see if we could get a shot of the little guy hard at work. Indeed, we did catch a few glimpses of the hard working wilderness construction worker as he brought a few sticks from upstream to add to his new home which will hopefully house up to six of the photogenic aquatic rodents in the near future!

After a small lunch at the nearby picnic grounds we headed back down for another look at the sheep herd which had barely moved in the hour or so that we were upstream. We watched for about 45 minutes for any sign of action before giving up and heading back to the truck.

I’ve been messing around with a couple of features that I’ve never felt the need for in the past, the radial and graduated filters now available in Adobe Camera Raw. Others have been using these features to create much more dramatic images so I guess I’m going to have to keep up!

Bighorn Sheep Waterton

Anyway, I have been using the radial filter on certain wildlife images, mainly the portrait style captures of bighorn sheep. I just click on the animal’s head, adjust the ellipse to cover a pleasing area of the face and horns, select invert selection to adjust only the background and less important parts of the subject and make adjustments to darken or brighten the background as needed to make the face stand out more. You can also adjust the percent of feathering to make the transition in the mask less noticeable. In this particular image I left the face alone and darkened the back part of his body and the cliff walls to create a more dramatic effect.

South Platte River in Waterton Canyon

The use of the graduated filter is more obvious, darken or lighten certain parts of the image to correct uneven lighting. To use this I just select the filter and drag up or down to set the direction of the effect. You an also change the angle of the horizon to match the needs of the image as well.  In this image the contrast between the dark and light parts of the river was too great to create a useful image so I used a dark filter on the top half to calm down the intense brightness of the sunshine on the water.

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile CanyonAs the action in the bighorn sheep rut season winds down I am looking forward to the next great mating season in Colorado. The time of the eagle migration and mating season is nearly upon us and rumor has it that a few of the  great raptors have already been gathering in Eleven Mile Canyon. I am also looking forward to up to 50 bald eagles making their winter visit to Barr Lake State Park next month to fish and look for a mate! Be sure to hit the follow button so you don’t miss any upcoming action in the Colorado wilderness!

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!

Photoshop Sky Replacement

Just downloaded Adobe Photoshop 2021 with the new sky replacement filter and it just so happens I recently captured the perfect picture to try it out! On last week’s journey to Tin Cup I captured this relatively boring image of the town with the San Juan’s in the background. Unfortunately with all the smoke and no clouds the mountains and sky were quite undramatic 😦

Ghost town of Tin Cup Colorado

The new feature comes with three types of clouds, blue sky, sunset and spectacular if you really want to go all out! For this one, anything but one of the blue sky selections failed to match the plain sunshiny foreground.  So… with this feature you can adjust the lightness, darkness and location of the edge, brightness and temperature, and even apply some adjustments to the adjacent foreground!

Ghost town of Tin Cup Colorado

So for this image I have chosen some wispy cirrus clouds which required no scaling at all to look realistic. The default color temperature worked well and only a little adjustment to the edge fading was needed to match it to the mountains.

I have to admit, I’m a bit torn about this feature… I am a bit of a purist in that I believe that a photographer should take whatever steps possible to capture the image in camera. However, at times replacing a sky can mean the difference between a salable image and a useless capture. Time will tell how my thinking evolves regarding this matter!

Frosty Fog

Frosty Fog

For the above picture I used a spectacular sky setting which required quite a bit of edge adjustment to overcome the software mistaking the fog bank for sky. I also faded the color of the new sky quite a bit to match the grey brooding mood of the day.

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!

The Deep Freeze

Sub zero temperatures and about six inches of fresh snow greeted the sunrise this morning and I was just flat too tired to trudge out into the snow with my shovel at 7:00 a.m. to photograph the beautiful amazing sunrise. By the time I finally did dig the old Dodge out the sun was so bright I couldn’t even see, much less capture good pictures!

_MG_6898

So I spent the day cleaning the house and working on some things I’ve been thinking about lately. Saw my flashlight the other day when I was doing something else, thinking “hey, there it is”… Of course now I have forgotten where “there” is and spent part of my day looking for the flashlight. Didn’t find the flashlight, but at least I got some things done that I’ve been meaning to do.

One of the things I was wanting to do was research the new “Compressed Raw” feature that Canon has come out with, so after watching a couple of YouTube videos on the subject I went out and snapped a couple of shots of the hill out back to do some comparisons. The final verdict on that subject is that although Compressed Raw would probably work just as well while saving a lot of disk space, it turns out for those of us who use Adobe DNG there is no space savings at all. Raw and Compressed Raw result in a DNG file of equal size. I did turn off high ISO noise reduction as it has no effect on raw files at all. Long exposure noise reduction I decided to leave on, even though it results in doubling your exposure time length in the production of the black frame it uses to cancel

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

out the hot spots with. Even though it renders your camera unusable for a few seconds it seems that the feature is the most efficient method of ridding your image of the annoying hot spots.

Also, while I had the computer turned on I decided to process one more image of the elk from my awesome adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park 🙂 Unfortunately the aches and pains of three days of shoveling snow are going to mean an evening of hot water bottles and ibuprofen. Hope you enjoy the pictures!

After the Storm

The latest cold front has passed through along with the tremendous winds that accompanied it. The Sangre de Cristo Range was beautiful this morning and the bitter cold was not quite as biting as yesterday. Windchill of -7 instead of -13 for some reason felt much better! Big Dog was ready to go for a jaunt so I decided today would be a good day to try out the polarizer.

Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range

Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range

I haven’t really used it much for a long time since previous efforts have resulted in disappointment. Somewhere I read that professional travel photographers always use these things and that there is no Photoshop substitute for replicating it’s effect. Previous attempts have resulted in unacceptable and irreparable digital noise so I just quit using it, but advancements in newer sensors have done a lot to reduce the noise that plagued early digital imaging technology. So the hope is that with my much newer camera the polarizer is a piece of equipment I can now put to good use. My polarizer is a top of the line B&W brand circular polarizer so there should be no worry of glass quality adversely affecting the image.

Armed with the necessary equipment and enough winter gear to fend off the cold, off we went. A couple of miles into the woods we were confronted with an excellent view of the magnificent snow capped mountains so I stopped to get the shots. White balance on daylight instead of auto so as not to negate the effects of the dark blue polarizer and +1/3 exposure compensation to make up for the slight loss of light from the dark glass. While looking through the viewfinder I turned the glass until I could see the most effect and I have to say it looked amazing!

But now in front of the computer the results are once again disappointing. There is an unacceptable softness in the images due to what appears to be loss of contrast, perhaps from light dispersion. I should have paid more attention to the aperture when I was shooting, but I don’t think a wide lens opening can be blamed for this much softness. Hoping for a quick answer, I went outside to photograph the gas company sign across the street using f11 as an f stop. In looking at those images with and without the polarizer, it does appear that there is some softness that I find unacceptable for my main purpose, which is the marketing of images as stock.

I do appreciate the beautiful saturated effect of the filter so I don’t think I’ll give up on it just yet, but next time I’ll definitely have to conduct a much more controlled series of pictures. Tripod, f11 and side by side images of the same scene with and without the filter. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the picture, the mountains are beautiful and the effect on a small version of the picture create a wonderful scene 🙂

Fly Like an EagleThis mystery raptor is as of yet unidentified. I have looked though every hawk, falcon, eagle and osprey picture on the internet that I can find and I can’t find a match. So, please, if anyone knows what this magnificent fellow is I’d be happy to hear from you!

New images are being added to my website all the time as wall art, gift items and royalty free stock! Please visit and check out new images and the best of my old images as well!

If you like my articles, please be sure to hit the subscribe button and you will receive an email notice when new content is published. It has come to my attention that those expecting to find timely updates from their Facebook feeds may be disappointed.