Another Stunner

The clouds at the base of the majestic Sangre de Cristo were an incredible scene this morning and I was looking forward to the vista I was going to behold from the summit of the highest mountain on our morning hike. But as it is many times… what actually greeted me as I cleared the ridge was even better that I had hoped ๐Ÿ™‚ This awesome herd of deer happened to be standing in perfect position for me to include them in the image with the mountains and the foggy clouds! These mountains never cease to amaze me ๐Ÿ™‚ If you look carefully you can see another deer in the shadows of the pine trees and yet another peeking out from the branches to the right. Those might actually be the Collegiate Peaks in the background of this image. From here you can see both mountain ranges and it isn’t that easy to determine where one ends and the other starts!

Mountain Mule Deer

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Beautiful Mule Deer Herd

Beautiful Snow Capped Sangre de Cristo Range

The Sangre de Cristo are always amazing… but sometimes they are more amazing and today was one of those days! Tons of new snow now graces these majestic peaks and there was almost no haze today to block the view. The pristine white snow against the stunning intense blue Colorado sky was just amazing this morning.

When the mountain landscape photography was done we began our descent and I

Beautiful Herd of Mule Deer

noticed a small herd of mule deer basking in the morning sunlight on the hillside. There are very few trees on the summit so I knew there was no way we were going to get close, but a deer herd in the mountains is going to make a great picture no matter what! My first shots were directly into the rising sun so I knew silhouettes were going to be the result of that situation,ย  but I snapped a few anyway for a record of the day in case they decided to bolt.

Beautiful Herd of Mule Deer

Once I was sure I had some captures the big dog and I began to circle around the hillside hoping that my non direct approach wouldn’t startle them into a run. They kept a wary eye on us as we descended and curved back but they didn’t run! I snapped a few more along the way as the lighting got better and then finally when we were completely on the other side they began walking to the summit. I was about to head for the truck when I noticed they were going to traverse the top ridge with the blue sky as a backdrop so we just waited a few minutes for them to reach the top. Nothing wrong with hanging out in the warm Colorado mountain sun for a while! Eventually they did reach the top of the ridge and I rounded out the days shooting with a line of them heading for cover in the dense wilderness to the south.

As always these images and more are available on my website as wall art on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alpenglow on the Sangre de Cristo Range

Alpenglow, the amazing solar effect that causes a pink glow in the atmosphere opposite the rising sun is how the Sangre de Cristo Range of Colorado acquired it’s name.ย  The Spanish explorer Antonio Valverde y Cosio was impressed by the reddish snow capped peaks at sunrise and named the range after “the Blood of Christ”.

Alpenglow on the Sangre de Cristo

I too am impressed by the beautiful effect on that magnificent mountain range and had planned to arise early enough on one of my days off to make it to the overlook for a photo session. This is the best time of year to see the effect, the sunrise in the east is at a perfect angle for the effect to fall from the sky on the rugged range.ย  I think it apropos that my opening would fall on Easter weekend, when the Blood of the Jewish carpenter was poured out to save souls in eternity for all who would believe and call upon His Name.

I have been watching the sky every morning for a few weeks, judging the sunrise and looking for the time of morning with the greatest effect. That time turns out to be between 6 and 6:30 at this time of year, so it was coffee andย  blueberry muffins at 4:30 this morning to give me enough time to come out of my morning coma before hitting the trail. Big Dog and I pulled into the overlook right at 6:00, just as itt was just starting to get light and the band of red spread across the sky high above the mountains. It would be another 15 minutes or so before the light would settle down upon the beautiful snow capped range.

Alpenglow on the Sangre de Cristo

When it finally did I was ready, ISO 100, camera set to Av mode and aperture at f5.6. I wasn’t too concerned about having a lot of depth of field, pretty much everything in my photograph was going to be at infinity. I was parked at a perfect angle so I just steadied the camera on the door of my truck rather than get out and mess with a tripod. In retrospect, after looking at some of my resulting shutter speeds, I probably should have. I have a lot of 1/30 and 1/15 of a second captures and with a long lens it would have been wise to have had extra steady support. Oh well, the pictures look nice anyway ๐Ÿ™‚ The first one I think is the best example of this wonderful solar effect that I have ever achieved!

These pictures, the spectacular snow capped mountain picture with the polarizer that I was testing with yesterday and some of my recent bighorn sheep pictures are available on my website as wall art printed 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 t-shirts, battery chargers, gift cards, yoga mats, shower curtains, beach towels and much much more!

 

Gear Test: B+W XS-PRO Circular Polarizer

In my quest for the perfect circular polarizer for my Canon 100-400 lens I finally settled on the B+W 77mm XS-Pro Kaesemann High Transmission Circular Polarizer MRC-Nano Filter. Dang, that’s a mouthful but what does it all mean? For starters, Kaesemann is a precision glass company purchased by Schneider Optics of Germany in 1989. The high transmission designation refers to the ability of the glass to transmit light. This filter is advertised at 99.5% with a filter factor of 1 to 1.5 stops of light loss due to the darkened blue glass. The MRC feature is Multi-Resistant-Coating, which is a series of layers designed to prevent reflections and ghosting while the NANO designation refers to a hardened eighth layer that assists in keeping the filter clean. The B+W filter is constructed using a brass outer ring that provides an exceptionally smooth threading capability when affixing the filter to the lens. The rotating mechanism for turning the filter is stiff but very smooth. The construction of this filter is superb.

That’s all well and good of course, but does it work, that is the real question! Today looked like a perfect day to find that out as the sky is perfectly clear and the sun was beating down on the snow capped Sangre de Cristo at almost a perfect 90 degree angle this morning. Just looking at the mountains they appeared washed out and faded to the naked eye, perfect conditions for a polarizer.

So, I pulled into the overlook parking lot and shot one picture with no filter followed by another picture with the circular polarizer with the glass turned to maximum effect. I shot in raw as always, but applied no processing to these two images, as I didn’t want to pollute the results of the test with a bunch of Photoshop adjustments. Here they are, first the mountains with no filter and then with the filter:

Springtime Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Sangre de Cristo Range

As you can plainly see, the second image has significantly increased saturation and detail in the white highlights of the snow capped peaks with a much deeper blue in sky. The snow and trees just below the peaks are also much more visible in the polarized image.

I will also be trying the filter out over water when I find some! Not much water around here in this mountain desert, but sooner or later there will be a river or a lake in the sun where I will find the filter useful! All in all I would say I’m extremely happy with this purchase from B&H Photo Online and would highly recommend the filter to anyone using a DSLR camera.

Beauty of the Storms

Snowstorm in the Sangre de Cristo

It snowed again so obviously I was obligated to go out in it this morning… and I’m glad I did! In the aftermath of this winter’s latest act of fury, the scenery was stunning and the wildlife were out in number taking advantage of the respite between storms. We saw herds of deer and elk at the edge of wilderness foraging for food, beautiful blowing snow,ย  amazing cloud formations and the majestic peaks of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range.

I was wishing I had a circular polarizer for my 100-400mm long lens, but alas it has not yet arrived. Actually I’ve been Winter Storm Deerputting it off because there are a number of B+W circular polarizers from which to choose. I finally researched all the features and discovered the one that I need is the 77mm XS-Pro Kaesmann High Transmission Circular Polarizer MRC-Nano model. That’s a mouthful for sure, but more on that when the piece arrives ๐Ÿ™‚

Also would like to mention today that my website has a new look! Fine Art America has made a number of improvements on

Winter in the Pike National

their web site hosting platform which I have

incorporated into my site as well. Now the landing page presents a nice slide show which you are welcome to watch for a while before placing an order if you like! The standard keyword search continues to be available and there is still a button for collections which allow you to narrow down your search by category. Additional buttons across the top of the slide show are now available to give you quicker access to the type of products you are interested in, for example… apparel, wall art, lifestyle, etc. I really like the new look, much easier to navigate!

Anyway, hope you enjoy today’s pictures!

Winter in the Pike National Forest

 

Another Glimpse

Elk on the RidgeAnother glimpse… and that’s about all! The elk were back on top of the ridge but with all the racket my snowshoes were making on the crusty snow it didn’t take them long to notice I was there. So A couple of quick snaps of the camera were all I was able to capture before they drifted out of site into the dense Pike National Forest wilderness.

However all the recent heavy snow has left a beautiful mantle of white on the majestic Sangre de Cristo mountain range, well worth a stop for a couple more pictures. Spring is nearly upon us and there are 40 degree days ahead… I don’t think I’ll be snowshoeing much longer on this mountain, but it was a good winter. I got more of the exhilarating snowy treks in this year than I have in the last ten years put together!

Heavy Snow on the Sangre de Cristo

 

Sangre de Cristo Mountains Up Close

I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time… to go see the Sangre de Cristo Range of Colorado up close. I can see them from my favorite vantage points on my hiking trails around home, but I have never actually seen them up close. I tried once but the road on which I turned was in a valley and I didn’t really get to see much except foothills.

Arkansas River by S.W. Krull Imaging

I almost went up to Waterton Canyon to look for bighorn sheep today, but I was tired and a six mile hike up the dirt road didn’t seem to be in my best interests, so the Sangres it was! Drove down High Park Drive from Cripple Creek over to Highway 9 and then down to 50 where me and the big dog proceeded west along the Arkansas River. I had to make one stop on one of the many pull outs along the river so Big Dog could stretch his legs. Didn’t get the big camera out there, but I did get a nice shot of the river with my phone camera ๐Ÿ™‚

Finally we arrived at Highway 69 where we turned south and it was just a few miles up a

Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range of Colorado

canyonย  before the big mountains came into view. I took my first opportunity to pull over and get some shots because the light was good, but rapidly changing. I brought along both of my zoom lenses, the 70-200 and the 100-400 and it turns out they both came in handy. My polarizer only fits on the 70-200 and there were a few times when the sun was bright and from the side where that filter came in handy! Moments of sunlight and longer periods of overcast skies were a challenge today but by the time I got to Westcliffe I was satisfied that I had captured what I came for.

Westcliffe is a quaint little mountain town way out in the boondocks in southern Colorado. It took but a few minutes to cover the entire town in both directions as I looked hopefully for a micro brewery. There were none to be found and my phone didn’t have a signal there so that a search could be performed so I just decided to head on back. There was a BBQ place there that looked intriguing but I wasn’t that hungry yet and there were some antique stores and art galleries and a coffee shop that also caught my eye! Sometime when I can get an earlier start I’ll have to go back and check it out ๐Ÿ™‚

Beautiful Herd of Mule Deer

On the trip back I was keeping a close watch on the hillsides hoping for a deer or elk sighting and just when I thought I was going to be disappointed, I encountered a herd of mule deer right along the side of the road! I snapped a few out the truck window as the herd moved up the mountainside. This bunch was so cute, all of them looking at me, especially the three all perfectly lined up in the middle of the frame! Eventually they had moved far enough away that I was able to get out of the truck without scaring them off and captured a few images while they looked on from this neat looking rocky knoll (below center). Some sunlight would have been nice for these pictures but by this time the sky was pretty well overcast. Oh well, it was still fun to see them.

All in all I collected about 110 images for the day so I have a lot of processing to do! As always, these images and more are available as wall art and gift items on my website. Please check back in often as I will be displaying many more!

Beautiful Herd of Mule Deer