New life abounds everywhere and water levels are finally rising in the South Platte River. I hope you enjoy my new video of osprey along the banks of the river plus beautiful scenes of bald eagles raisin triplets!
It was another excellent day with the eagles… My original intent was to just go for a hike on my trail close by, but the second I arrived so did my nemesis with his wildlife chasing dogs. So I jumped back in my truck and took the four wheel drive road to the summit to make sure there wasn’t any wildlife there, and indeed I didn’t miss anything. So I drove back out and decided to head to my backup location and better photo location, Eleven Mile Canyon. It was my hope that I would find wildlife there, especially the eagles. I’m also watching the osprey nest with great anticipation!
All in all I would have to say it probably worked out for the best, I had several eagle sightings and some great captures! Plus there was a bonus at the end as I spotted a small herd of mule deer feeding on an island in the river. I stopped to grab a couple of captures and the gentle creatures didn’t seem to mind my presence so I was able to get some fairly closeup images. And much to my surprise the little herd decided to actually cross the icy river… an event that I came close to missing. Fortunately I was able to scramble up the trail a bit and get into position to capture most of the beautiful beasts in the water 🙂
Be sure to check out my video of the day which has the best clips and pictures of the day included. Also please be sure to click the notify, like and subscribe buttons if you enjoy my content and want to help my YouTube channel!
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!
This blog post is not sponsored. Any equipment used in the production of this post was purchased by myself on my own volition.
A visit to Eleven Mile Canyon Colorado can never be a disappointment and today turned out better than usual 🙂 Of course I had to check on the eagles when I arrived but they were already gone from the nest. It was a beautiful morning so I imagine they were soaring high above Eleven Mile Reservoir in search of fish for their lunch.
So I drove over to the entrance and paid my fee to enter the park. I cruised along slowly over the awful washboard dirt road hoping not to shake my poor old truck apart 😦 I’ve photographed the river rapids so many times that I really wasn’t looking for the best scenery in the river, I was more looking up on the cliff on the west bank for eagles or hawks. It wasn’t long and I
spotted a nest on a dead tree right on the other side of the river, so I stopped to check it out.
I was surprised to notice a little movement in the nest so I got out my long lens and found a spot for a better look. I could barely make out a couple of little heads moving around in the nest so I went down to the river for a couple of shots. Fortunately a little grey bird flew in to entertain me during the semi down time, stopping for a drink in the golden water of a Rocky Mountain sunrise. Eventually the little fellow flew away and a robin came to visit with a mouthful of weeds she was apparently planning to use for her nest.
I went back up to the bank and was happy to see that the large birds were starting to rustle around. It wasn’t long before one of the birds flew out and took up a perch on a tree branch that was a good distance away. I snapped a few pictures which I may have a use for someday, but I ended up with much better ones that are commanding my attention first.
Soon I could see the mama bird and a couple of little ones stirring around. The mama caught me by surprise by suddenly flying off and I was upset that I missed my chance for an in flight shot. It wasn’t long though and she was on her way back with a large twig in her beak which she promptly installed in the nest. Then she was ready to go again, and this time I was ready 🙂
After shooting in from that location for a while I wondered if I could find higher ground that would give me a better view of the nest. I looked around and it appeared that the mountain behind me was climbable so I started the climb the steep slope. Eventually I spotted a nice rock that looked like a good seat where I would be able to steady the camera on my knee and have a good 180 degree view of the river over the trees and bushes.
The beautiful raptors put on quite a show… the little ones stood up exercised their wings in what appears to be very early attempts to go airborne. They have a ways to go though, they didn’t seem to get any lift yet, where the eaglet I have been watching can easily catch an air current and rise quite a few feet out of the nest. It did make for a great photo op though, the whole event lasting maybe a minute. I got the idea to try to film some video and did manage to capture some cute mother chick interaction and have created a YouTube video for my channel. It’s a beautiful five minute capture of the sights and sounds of my day set to music, so give it a click and a like and subscribe to my channel if you would like to see more!
Finally the father bird left his perch high in the trees and flew off towards the reservoir and after a few minutes he returned with a stick of his own, putting on quite a show by circling the nest several times before delivering his contribution to the nest construction. I thought he would quickly fly off again but he hopped out of the nest and took up a perch on one of the dead tree branches forming the foundation for the nest.
It was such a good pose that I decided to try for a portrait and attached my 1.4x lens extension. By this time the sun was getting hot and I was fully aware of the male raptor’s patience for sitting on a perch. He had occupied his tree for a couple of hours before taking flight this time, and it was getting hot and the lovely morning light was giving way to the harsh midday sun… I decided this would be a good time to head for home and take a look at what the day had given me 🙂
As always, the best of these images 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 don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel if you want to see some of my adventures in action!
The most difficult part of hiking the beautiful Anne-Marie Falls Trail on Pikes Peak Colorado may be finding it in the first place! I have long wanted to experience this trail and finally today I was able to fulfill that wish 🙂 Today is a Sunday so photo buddy Kevin and I met at 7:00 a.m. so we could beat the weekend crowds sure to gather on the Colorado Front Range Trails. Even after diligently studying the trail maps we weren’t too sure of the exact location of the trailhead so I loaded the trail into my Alltrails app and turned on the direction finder. We journeyed down the four mile dirt road on the west side of the peak marked as the turnoff to the
famous Crags Trail. As we passed a blocked gate on the road about a mile past the Crags Trail parking lot, the magic electronic GPS finder announced the trail on the left which didn’t jive with the narrative so we just kept driving.
Finally at the end of the Crags road there was a small parking lot and a well marked trailhead with a large map on a sign. We donned our backpacks loaded with camera gear and headed down the trail. The first mile or so was a pretty tough ascent on well maintained trail, but with a couple of breaks and a little Gatorade the climb wasn’t too difficult. The beautiful trail wound it’s way through majestic old pine forest amidst birds chirping happily from the tall pines overhead.
Finally we began a long descent which culminated in a clearing featuring a picturesque beaver pond which of course we had to check out extensively! We walked most of the way around, occasionally having to take some care not to sink too deeply in the marsh surrounding the pond 🙂 After capturing the scenery with our wide angle lenses and shooting a couple portraits we came across a colorful cheery Wilson’s Warbler that flitted around us striking all manner of nice poses for a photographer to appreciate 🙂
Eventually we decided to continue on in search of the falls, for which we had not seen a single directional sign. We walked back to the trail where we debated returning the way we came, continuing on or exploring a totally unmarked poorly maintained trail leading towards the southwest and
Sentinel Point in the distance. It was here that my practice of recording the hikes onto my Alltrails profile proved to be quite advantageous! A quick check of my phone screen revealed our location at the beaver pond and a stretch of unfinished trail leading in the direction of the faint trail along the creek flowing out of the south end of the placid water of the dammed pond.
We opted to continue down in search of the falls where soon we heard the babbling of rushing water. With some indication of success, we were inspired to continue in the direction of the encouraging sound where before long we found the tiniest of waterfalls. Perhaps during the snow melt this might be an impressive falls but in the early summer it is just the pleasant trickle of a beautiful pristine mountain stream. Here I snapped a few pictures of the falls and the tranquil calm spot at the base of the diminutive waterfall.
After a nice break we headed back up the trail to the junction where the GPS indicated the possibility of a loop that might cut some distance and a long climb up the steep ridge! We began walking up the alternate route where I checked our location occasionally and indeed we did find ourselves successfully closing in on our final destination without having to climb the ridge again! Eventually we found ourselves on Forest Road 383 which ended at a blocked gate, the place where the direction finder first indicated a trailhead about a half mile down from the parking lot and the main trail marker.
Speaking of GPS, I highly recommend hikers on obscure trails in the Pike National Forest have some kind of direction finder. There are unmarked trails and jeep roads going everywhere and without some high tech assistance it would be quite easy to head off in the wrong direction and turn a beautiful day into a trying experience.
As always, these pictures and 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 tech gifts are also available including the newly added Covid masks! You can also purchase apparel, coffee mugs, battery chargers, phone cases, blankets and pillows and much more!
Something I’ve always wanted to do… See the headwaters of the South Platte River flowing through Eleven Mile Canyon in wintertime. Shouldn’t be that hard to do but I never seemed to have the right tires or brakes or time or whatever… But yesterday it finally all came together and I made the journey! I was kind of thinking about leaving my truck at the entrance but that idea was quickly abandoned when I got out to pay. Dang it’s cold in that canyon! Apparently the canyon walls are quite good at holding in the cold!
The road was snow packed and icy in places as I entered the canyon but as the road
turned to the west bare dirt greeted me and it looked like the journey should be doable even in a two wheel drive truck. As I drove past the roughest part of the river, a place where I usually climb down to the riverside for some shots and video of the roaring whitewater it became apparent that climbing on the banks was going to be out of the question in winter. Oh well I thought, I was sure the riverside would be accessible in other places.
And it was in a few places but mostly a riverside visit in the Rocky Mountain winter is a pretty treacherous endeavor 😦 In some places there was just deep snow to go through, but in others it was ice so solid that my Ice Trekkers were not even enough for traction. And in other places there was an icy shelf over the river bank so that it wasn’t possible to tell where the bank ended and the river began. One wrong step and one might find himself on an unpleasant winter swim in the icy waters of a raging Colorado river!
So getting pictures turned out to be a very difficult proposition. In summer you can pick
yourself right down to the waters edge to get past the vegetation that lines the entire bank for an unobstructed view of the river. But in winter so many good views are ruined by a bush or a tree or just bramble sticking up from the riverside. Getting just the right angle on the view is so important but I was simply not able to do that yesterday.
But I certainly enjoyed myself and had a great morning along the beautiful river. The canyon is always a beautiful sight to behold with it’s magnificent cliffs and eagles soaring overhead. Unfortunately the times I saw an eagle I was equipped with a wide angle for shooting the river. When I put on my long lens I could not find an eagle anywhere!
Well anyway, I did manage to get a few pictures I like, some of which are up on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets and I also was able to put together a nice movie called Eleven Mile Winter on my YouTube site 🙂 Don’t forget to subscribe if you like the video and want to be notified each time a video is published!
Also note that I was not sponsored by Ice Trekkers, I purchased them with my own funds because I think they are a good product and frequently find them useful on my winter adventures! I also recommend using a trekking pole or cross country ski poles for safety as you climb the banks of the river in snow!
Cold and windy out today, some sort of freezing rain / fog / light snow going on, covering everything with a sheet of ice. Were my trail not closed by the mine for their stupid drainage system maintenance I probably would have gone out in the weather to capture the stark white scene, but with the trail closed I’d have to take a long drive on the pass for forest access and that just is not in the cards in these conditions.
I’ve had this picture on my mind for a few days though, from my mountain bike ride
into Waterton Canyon last week. The rams just walked into the river and then powered through to the other side. This ewe however took a different approach. She climbed up on the rock and watched the rams cross. When the rams began feeding on the lush grass on the other side she just took the leap, winding up in the water about a quarter of the way across before making a run for the other bank splashing water everywhere. It was quite a sight! I had considered switching my camera to video to capture the action but in the end decided that stills would be the more prized result 🙂
As always, these images and more are available on my website for sale as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas, and traditional framing and matting. Tons of cool gift items, apparel and handy household gadgets and tech items are also available with a picture. Click to explore!
Pretty good day of photography in the Canyon, although for a while there it was looking like a shutout. We mountain biked in to the usual bighorn viewing area where there was sign but no sight of the iconic western critters. But we had all day so we just continued with our ride up the canyon hoping for a chance to photograph the bigger rams and maybe even the bears.
Eventually we passed all the good locations with still no photo ops with the bighorn. People coming back down from higher in the park offered little encouragement. Discouragement began to settle in and we stopped for a break at one of the picnic areas in view of a pair of cormorants sunning themselves on the rock they have called their own. Soon volunteer ranger Joe stopped by to chat and provide some knowledge on his way on foot to the upper reaches of the canyon, which of course was a pleasure and welcome advice 🙂 Word was that the bear was in the area and that the big rams had been seen further up the canyon in recent days.
We passed the rock mitigation area and continued on up the canyon where finally we
saw some of the ewes and lambs playing and eating on the cliff walls in the beautiful colors of aspen and other flora in full autumn glory. Eventually we continued on in hopes of seeing the big guys, but once again, people coming back down had not seen anything. We reached the crossover where a bridge takes you to the other side of the South Platte River, which was our planned turnaround point. The river is quite beautiful there and I decided that would be a good place to get some river photo and video before heading back down. Feel free to click on the video link to my Youtube channel and subscribe if you like!
On our way down we encountered another herd of ewes and youngsters playing on the road so we stopped for a few more photographs before continuing to the park entrance. word of a rattlesnake in the road gave hope for another photo op, but again… no word of the big males sheep. Unfortunately well after it was too late to do anything about it we received the disheartening word from one of the rock mitigation workers that a herd of the big rams had been seen somewhere in the upper part of the canyon. Later we learned that a herd of rams had put on quite a show crossing the river near the dam. Dang I would have loved to have photographed that event!
Soon the rattlesnake came into view so we stopped and put on our long lenses in hope of getting some nice shots from a safe distance! The little fellow was quite content lying in the sun and didn’t get too worked up about our presence. He did curl up and hiss when a truck went by, giving us a little better opportunity for pictures before heading on out of the canyon. In a way it was disappointing outing, but any chance to mountain bike in the canyon is always a plus, wildlife photography or not!
As always, a few of the better images have been uploaded to my website and are available for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting. Tons of cool gift items and handy household gadgets are also available with one of these images, including coffee mugs, t-shirts, battery chargers, blankets and pillows, handbags and much more! Just click the links to explore!
Me and the big dog went out again this morning in search of the beautiful buck mule deer that we’ve been seeing on the trail… We didn’t see the bucks but there was a nice looking elk cow meandering across the meadow that was visible when we reached the summit of our little mountain. My camera was ready to go… or so I thought, so I zoomed in and snapped the shutter. The usual satisfying mirror slap and shutter click sounded a bit off but I paid it no mind and captured a few more before she disappeared into the dense wilderness of the Pike National Forest.
Eventually our trek was complete and we found ourselves back at the parking lot where I gave Big Dog his drink and loaded ourselves back in the vehicle. As usual I made a quick check on the LCD screen of the day’s captures… First picture I looked at didn’t look too good, out of focus maybe? I always refocus a few times to make sure I get the shot so I checked another hoping to find at least one usable picture… no such luck, I stupidly didn’t check the mode wheel on the top of the camera and it was still set to Aperture Priority, which was still set for a long exposure of the river a couple of days before. Absolutely no chance of getting a sharp image of a moving elk at dawn with a 30th of a second shutter speed 😦 Nothing else to do but hit the reformat button on the memory chip and vow to do better next time.
That means I have nothing to work on today except the trip to Eleven Mile Canyon earlier this week. No wildlife to share today, but I do have a few more of the South Platte River whitewater for this blog!
As always these images and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Cool gift items, apparel and handy tech gadgets are also available… just click an image to see the options!
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!
Of course these images 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. Tons of cool gift, household and tech items are also available with a picture, including, apparel, coffee mugs, phone battery chargers, phone cases, blankets and more! Just click the link to visit the site!
The headwaters of the South Platte River, Eleven Mile Canyon, truly one of Colorado’s hidden gems. Finally made it after 10 years of effort 🙂 Almost made it last week but for one wrong turn that led me out onto the road from hell down to Eleven Mile Reservoir State Park 😦 But finally after two unintentional scouting runs I actually figured out the intricacies on finding the right road 🙂 The secret is to stay on Road 96 through Lake George which appears to go straight but actually veers to the right across the river.
Probably for the best to keep the ubiquitous Colorado riff raff and homeless pot heads out, the canyon is a fee area with a ranger station at the entrance to the park. After 8 a.m. there is a ranger there, but if you need to get in earlier there earlier you can pull an envelope out of the self help dispenser and insert your $7 before continuing your journey.
The dirt road along the river is fairly well maintained although the washboards did rattle my old Dodge truck pretty good in places! The trip is well worth it though with stunningly beautiful scenery, wildlife, campgrounds, picnic areas and some wildlife. Shortly after my journey began I spotted these beautiful mule deer heading back into the wilderness following a nice drink at the river. Had to quick put my big white lens back on and sneak past an embankment to get a decent shot of these ladies, but I thin it was well worth the effort 🙂 I need to get back at sunrise someday, I’m sure there must be a ton of wildlife that I didn’t have the opportunity to view due to being there in the middle of the heat of a Colorado summer day.
I didn’t check to see exactly how long the road is back to the dead end at the dam, but I would estimate about 7 miles of roaring whitewater, beaver dams, placid trout fishing pools and massive rock cliffs made of gigantic boulders the size of houses! About half way in I encountered the road to Wagon Tongue that I didn’t want to take my truck on last week, along with trails and short roads leading to campgrounds and picnic areas all along the way.
The road is quite narrow but there are plenty of pull outs where you can stop to take pictures, hike down to the riverbed and get out your trout fishing gear if that is your thing. I must have stopped a dozen times to take pictures of the magnificent roaring water and cliffs.
At one point I knew that a still photograph wasn’t going to do the trick so I did something I have never done before. I have owned this camera for over four years and I have never shot a video with it… And this was the time to try it out! The video lever on the back of my Canon 70D was a bit sticky having never been switched a single time in the entire years I have owned it, but I finally got it wrangled into the video position and was ready to go. A look through the view finder yielded nothing but darkness and panic 😦 Until I remembered that in order to shoot video the camera has to lock up the mirror to make the sensor available for uninterrupted video streaming. So I quickly flipped open the LCD viewfinder on the back and there it was… video on my still camera! Obviously this is not the most professional video you have ever seen, but at least you can experience the roaring whitewater that I was hearing and seeing 🙂
Finally I reached the end of the road at the dam entrance and turned around. I saw a couple of scenes on the return trip worth additional stops before finally reaching the end of the canyon. There was a photographer there with a big lens, so of course I had to get out and see what the interest was and there was an eagle nesting across the river. I may try to process that image with some hefty cropping, but at first glance the bird was way to far away for a decent photograph, even with my 400mm zoom.
I highly recommend this day trip to Lake George. The scenery is stunning and there is nothing like a day spent in the beauty of God’s Creation! As always, these images and more are available on my website as wall art on glossy acrylic and metal sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting. Tons of gift items, apparel, tech gear and more area also available with a beautiful #swkrullimaging picture!