Golden Mines and Snow

Got a chance to get out and shoot a few more fall pictures… with more care and attention to detail this time! So this time I brought along my preferred landscape lens, the Canon 24-105 F4L and the

Pikes Peak Autumn

Breakthrough circular polarizer. When shooting fall colors I find the polarizer to be an invaluable tool for cutting through blown out highlights and really making the colors pop! Even though I was taking the extra steps to ensure that the camera was steady, the leaves were blowing around quite a bit so I kept my shutter speed up to around an 800th of a second with auto ISO selected.

The colors were a bit more vivid after a couple days rest since the last outing, but they are definitely now showing signs of being past peak color for this season. I also brought along my old  Canon A-1 film camera, which

Sangre de Cristo Autumn

just happened to have a roll of color film in progress, so we’ll see in a few weeks how those captures turned out! I was using a 35-135 FD manual focus lens with polarizer attached to get the best out of my 35mm ISO 400 Fuji film.

Anyway, it was a magnificent day in the high country and the colors were beautiful around the historic mines of the district. We have also received a special treat in the last few days, snow on the Sangre de Cristo Range. There is still quite a bit of leftover smoke and haze from the summer fires but the peaks are beginning to show through! Since they are one of my favorite photography subjects I am a happy camper with this seasonal development 🙂 The peaks are beautiful year round of course, when you can see them, but in my opinion they are much more magnificent with snow on them! Of course a polarizer is required to really bring out the detail on distant mountains like this.

Here are a few more images for you to enjoy, I hope you like them! Click on any one of them to view a larger copy!

 

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 Elk of the Season

I arrived at the trailhead early this morning with the intention of taking the long trail through the woods and up to the second set of peaks, in hope of finding some deer or maybe even elk to photograph. The wily hawk was not on his perch this morning so there was no need to stop and waste time with him. I cleared the first summit I looked all over the clearing but found no sign of the large ungulates. As I traversed the summit I stomped around a bit hoping to see the dusky grouse, but no luck there either.

Bull Elk

So I trudged up the steep trail through the trees to the 11,000 foot level above the treeline. As I quietly neared the summit I noticed the aspen leaves shaking wildly at the forest edge. As stealthily as I could I cleared the summit and made my way around one of the old mine digs closer to the action. As I neared I could see a large brown animal, but only the top of his head and his ears. At first I thought it was a bear foraging for food so I was a bit nervous about approaching, but I needed to get a little closer to make sure.  Eventually more of the animal came into view and I was disappointed but also a little bit relieved to see that it was a big bull elk, not a bear.

Free Range Cattle

Unfortunately my camera was set up all wrong, configured for birds in flight as I passed through the grouse zone, and as the grouse sometimes occupy the edge of the forest above the treeline I had opted not to adjust any of the settings. So the shutter speed was set to high, tracking was off and animal eye focus was off. Single point focus would have been fine but I had a larger zone selected and when I tried to focus on the elk I kept hitting the weeds. Then I finally got a shot off and for the first time in my life, the sound of the shutter actually scared away my subject. So on my way down the mountain I fiddled around with my settings and took some shots for practice of the free range cattle that had gone down to the watering hole 🙂

Thinking that my chances were done for the day I shut the camera off to save battery power and was soon startled as a whole flock of dusky grouse was taking flight all around me. I tried my best to get the strap for the monopod off my wrist and turn on the camera but in the end all I could do was watch helplessly as the beautiful birds disappeared into the dense forest 😦

Red-tailed hawk

Luckily I did come away with the one image of the elk before the great beast drifted back into the cover of trees, but now I’m thinking I need to set up a couple of custom modes for quicker reaction. With three to work with I think I could use a birds in flight, large mammals, and maybe even long exposure landscape custom settings.

When I got back down the mountain the hawk was on his perch so I chased him around a while, but he proved too elusive for me once again. No good shots in flight for today (I’m not happy unless I can see eyeball detail). Anyway, I hope you enjoy the couple of images I did manage to capture!

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”!

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

Another New Bird!

I’m always amazed at the variety of birds I find on my simple mountain. Grouse Mountain is nothing special, it’s not high, not particularly scenic, and no more rugged than any other place. I often see sparrows and song birds and the occasional red-tailed hawk. And just when I think I’m about to get another picture of an ordinary sparrow or song bird I find out how little I know. The other day I thought I was just taking a picture of another goldfinch when I discovered that I had actually seen a female western tanager. Never even heard of the cute little bird, but here she is!

The Three Amigos Emerge and a New Video

Mule Deer Bucks

I finally dared to pass through the dark forest to reach the higher peaks above the treeline on the other side. It was a beautiful morning, warm with no wind, I had nothing else pressing to do and I just went for it. I was hoping to see the dusky grouse that the mountain is apparently named for but I had no such luck. Don’t think I spotted a grouse up there last year either. In fact, I didn’t see anything up there except the grass and the old mines.But on my way down I spotted a deer on top of the ridge looking down at me so I snapped a picture which revealed a buck with fuzz covered antlers . Then another deer appeared so I stopped and attached the 1.4x teleconverter for a little better view. Finally a third buck appeared and I realized I was being treated to a view of my favorite deer trio, “The Three Amigos” as I call them. These three bucks have been roaming the countryside on my favorite mountain for several years now and I was delighted to see them still safe and together.

I wasn’t going to shoot a video but seeing them inspired me to flip the switch on my camera to video mode and shoot a few seconds of footage 🙂 I hope you enjoy the video as much as I do! Unfortunately I didn’t get a good still image of all three together because by the time I got done with the filming they weren’t standing together anymore, but I did get a good shot of two of them looking down from the mountain with great curiosity!

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”!

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!

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Beautiful Mountain Spring Morning

It’s been an amazing couple of mornings in the mountains… before the wind kicks in of course! Yesterday the Sangre de Cristo Range was putting on a great show in the crystal clear mountain air and today at Manitou Lake it was chilly in the wind but the red-winged blackbirds were there to take my mind off the cold 🙂

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!

Ghost in the Grass

A perfect day so far… Started out with biscuits and gravy at the Gold Camp Bakery, one of my favorite things to do 🙂 It was a nice cool morning too so I decided on a good long hike above  the treeline in the Pike National Forest. I thought I was going to get picture when I heard the unmistakable screech of the hawk in the blue sky above me, but he turned aside instead of making the anticipated fly over. The deer and elk I was hoping to see at the summit also didn’t appear so I just enjoyed a wonderful hike in the amazing countryside of the mountains.

Coyote on the Hunt

Eventually I reached my turnaround point, and headed back down the mountain satisfied that I had gotten a good workout and the peace of mind that comes with time spent in nature. As I descended, my eyes scanned the horizon for a photo op… Then our eyes met… mine and a ghostly coyote in the grass on the other side of the valley. I quickly raised my camera and took the shot, no time to mess with settings or focus, I just had to hope that I had planned ahead for what was before me.

The beautiful predator quickly noticed that I was aware of his presence and disappeared over the ridge. Now that I am in front of the monitor I am pleasantly surprised at the image I was able to capture in that split second. It never ceases to amaze me, the encounters I experience out in the the Colorado Rockies by myself.

Red-Tailed Hawk in Flight

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.

Search for the Elusive Dusky Grouse

I’ve only seen the elusive little fellow once this season, and it wasn’t a very good sighting at that. So I’ve been taking the hike to the summit of Grouse Mountain every once in a while in hopes of spotting this beautiful bird again. It’s a pretty strenuous addition to my regular hike so I’m not that eager to make the extra climb… Every once in while I have to remember a quote by the great Ansel Adams… “Don’t confuse hiking with photography…”

Dusky Grouse in the Morning Light

So there are now two parking lots at this trailhead, one at the bottom that I’m accustomed to using mostly just for the exercise. This trailhead starts with a strenuous hike straight up the side of the mountain for about three quarters of a mile and a new one that the local parks service built at the summit, along with a mock historic gold mine complete with historic information placards.

I decided on this day to park at the summit, which makes the walk across the top of the ridge and through the forest a lot quicker, increasing my chances of an early morning sighting of the little grouse. And my effort was met with success, just as I cleared the dense forest and was making my way through the mountain grass to the summit, the grouse took flight and landed in a nearby tree. It wasn’t the best view of the handsome fellow but I was able to capture a few seconds of video and a nice still.

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.

Amazing Alpine Hike with the Elk Herd

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

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

Herd of elk in the Pike National Forest of Colorado

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

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

Dusky Grouse in the Morning Light

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

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

The Three Amigos and a Lot of Fog

As of last night I wasn’t holding out much hope for a day outside today… We are supposed to have cold and rain every day for the entire next week, including a very high chance of rain today. And indeed it was raining before sunrise as the raindrops hitting the window awakened me well before I wanted to be awake. The plan was obviously to use the awesome sleeping weather to sleep! However, by the time I had drank my coffee and chowed down my waffles the rain had stopped. A quick check of the radar forecast indicated that at least for my little section of the mountains, the rain had subsided until afternoon.

Herd of Bucks

So I grabbed my camera and Gortex jacket and headed for the hills. A slight sprinkle at the trailhead convinced me to pack along the rain cover for my camera and off I went. I wasn’t expecting much more than a bit of exercise to help pass the day but as I strode along past the pine forest I could hear a lot of chatter. The birds it seems are not at all deterred by a little sprinkle! As I was getting the settings on my camera prepared for bird photography, a red-tail hawk flew right over me not 20 feet over my head! Darn… but even if I had been ready I don’t think I could have aimed and focused that quick, the whole show was over in about 3 seconds. But I watched where he flew and made a mental note to watch carefully for him on top of the tree branches on the return trip.

Soon I cleared the tree line and walked around to the other side of the mountain. There I could see the expected storm clouds rolling in so I quickened my pace. At one point I stopped to take a look back and much to my surprise I spotted the familiar face of a mule deer buck. I quietly and carefully readjusted my camera settings for the conditions and snapped off a couple of shots before attaching the camera to my monopod for some more stable captures. It was then that I noticed another buck… and then another! It was the Three Amigos as I call them 🙂

Herd of Bucks

They are quite used to me so they allowed me to quietly shoot for a while before wandering off into the dense forest at the bottom of the gulch. But I have to say, I was quite delighted to find them still alive and healthy! I also had the foresight to shoot some video footage, it was quite a scene to find them in the fog! The rest of my walk went as expected and I got back to my truck just as the rain began to increase a bit.

I wasn’t quite done though, there is a spot on Victor Pass where you can see the south face of Pikes Peak and also the historic mines of Goldfield, preserved from back in the gold boom days of the late 1800’s. This can be quite an amazing scene in dense fog so I always try to get up there with my camera when the weather turns nasty! As I arrived  the storm clouds were rapidly filling the valley, so I captured what I could of the mines and then with just seconds to spare I got a nice shot of the peak. Soon it was completely obscured and bigger raindrops were striking my windshield. I took that as a hint that my outdoors time today was over and I headed  back down the pass. Soon it was pouring and I began to look forward to see my bounty on the big display at the computer.

Historic Mines in Fog

I hope you enjoy the video of the Three Amigos and the fog rolling in on my Youtube Channel! Please like and subscribe if you enjoy the content, it really helps me in the rankings to have lots of interaction from the viewers!

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.

Pikes Peak in Fog

Encouraging Osprey Update

On a day I thought was without hope for a photo shoot, there was a break in the persistent Colorado snow as of late, giving me a short window to visit Eleven Mile Canyon. That is not to say it was a beautiful sunny day, on the contrary it was cold, foggy and gloomy. But as a photographer, this kind of day is sometimes the best of all!

Deer Herd in Snow

The drive to the canyon was magnificent, amazing stormy clouds and fog, and beautiful white snow covering the pine trees of the Pike National Forest like vanilla frosting. As I approached the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument I spotted a herd of mule deer at the base of the stunningly beautiful hillside, so I pulled my truck over onto Upper Twin Rocks for a good vantage point. Soon a huge black Dodge blocked my line of sight, as I looked up I discovered it was some old friends from my church in their new ride stopping to say hi 🙂 They drove on and I proceeded to capture as many views and focal lengths as possible before the gentle ungulates moved on.

Storm Clouds on South Platte Rvier

I glanced over at the eagles nest upon arrival at the canyon entrance and mama eagle was on her usual perch. There isn’t much room in the nest these days with three voracious young ones all simultaneously clamoring for sustenance! However it was early and with all the gloom I knew that at best I would be able to obtain a bland noisy image, the likes of which I already have a collection of hundreds.

I made a slow cruise past the old osprey nest hoping to spot some action on the hillside indicating the construction of a new nest, even though I know that the possibility of such a thing is extremely unlikely following a failure to reproduce. Unfortunately I saw nothing to support my hopes for the newly homeless osprey couple. I continued my slow cruise up the rough canyon road carefully watching the dead trees along the banks of the South Platte as well as the riverbed for signs of wildlife.

Northern FlickerI stopped to snap a couple of images of the river and canyon along the way, but the trip upstream yielded nothing in the way of wildlife. Near the big dam at the headwaters of the canyon I heard a peculiar chirping sound, so I pulled big blue over to the side of the road and got out to investigate. I quickly spotted an unusual colorful bird, slightly bigger than a robin or common blackbird calling out from one of the choke cherry bushes. I snapped a couple of images for Merlin and then began to make my way around to the south where I knew I would have better light. Unfortunately I was never able to get a front view of this little character, but I did get a good enough image for Merlin to identify it as my first ever northern flicker of the woodpecker family. shortly thereafter I captured an image, another lifetime first, a chubby little bird known as a townsend’s solitaire, which I’ll soon be adding to my Instagram page, along with a ton of other images from this shoot and many more!

Great Blue HeronThings began to look up on the trip down as I made several sightings of a beautiful great blue heron fishing along the river banks. Most of the time the giant water bird took to flight before I could get an image but fortunately I was able to capture one fleeting moment and a couple of satisfying images.

Eventually the winding river road returned me to osprey territory. I wanted to film a little video footage by the stream so I decided to get out with my camera at a particularly beautiful spot along the river. Much to my surprise I spotted one of our osprey flying in from downstream, so I readied my camera for a white bird in flight image against the stormy Colorado morning skies: shutter priority, a 2000th of a second and auto ISO with +1 dialed into the exposure compensation. I was stunned and woefully out of position when the great raptor landed along the banks of the pristine river. I tried to stealthily approach in hopes of a closeup but I was quickly detected and the beautiful hawk took flight.

Osprey Retrieving a Stick

Fortunately my settings were still good for a flight against the sky and as he circled me a couple of times I was able to capture a number of images. At first I thought he had caught a fish, but later in the truck as I zoomed in with my LCD screen to inspect the image I discovered that he had actually made the trip in quest of a stick from the riverbank. I have been heartsick since discovering the downed nest so earlier I had prayed for a sign that the impossible would happen, that the pair would spend the remainder of the summer rebuilding for a return to the area following this year’s migration. And I believe this simple stick is just the sign I was looking for, why would the osprey pair be gathering sticks except for the construction of a nest? 

Heavy Snow on the South PlatteI tried to follow the determined traveler but big blue is unfortunately no match for osprey wings. I spotted one of the pair again later, flying past the eagles nest heading back into the canyon, but soon the ever frequent Colorado snow had obscured my sight and I decided to call it a day. However, it is now my belief that the intrepid couple are somewhere on the hillside, busily preparing for next year’s offspring. I will continue to make frequent visits to the area in hopes of locating their new home.

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.

 

 

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