Autumn Adventure with the Bighorns

Bighorn Sheep In Waterton Canyon

Probably our most successful outing with the bighorn sheep of the season. It was a great start to the day… a short ride of only a couple miles and we were already seeing sheep, right where they have  been congregating at the mouth of beautiful Waterton Canyon. At the time of our arrival though there were just a small group of ewes, youngsters and one big ram hanging around on the not very picturesque mountainside so we decided to press ahead past the diversion dam to see if we might see the bear or maybe the bigger herd of battling rams.

We saw no more wildlife at all on the four mile ride to the crossover so we decided to

Bighorn Rut Season in Waterton Canyon

just turn around and head back to where we saw the small herd. unfortunately the turnaround greeted Kevin with a flat front tire and there was nothing to do but walk the three miles back down 😦

But the good news was, when we got back down to the sheep, that a couple more rams had joined the action and were jostling each other around a bit while also chasing around the ewes. Pictured in the video, one of the rams took quite a fancy to one of the girls and was chasing her all over the place. However, she wanted nothing to do with him and every time he got close she ran off. finally her patience was gone and she turned around to give him an unexpected blow between the eyes with her own horns… obviously she didn’t have the horns or the mass of a male, lol… but he did look pretty surprised for a little bit! After quite a few minutes of the chase she finally just laid down and put an end to it.

Eventually the entire herd decided to take a break and laid down in the shade of the big trees lining the bank of the South Platte River. We decided to do the same and I found a nice spot to sit on the other side of the jeep road. I wondered if we were done for the day but it was no more than a half hour before a few of the little ones were back up and meandering down the embankment for a drink at the river.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

The underbrush there was pretty thick and there did not appear to be a pathway to the river, but I knew if we didn’t get down to the riverbank we were going to have no opportunity at all for photography. I grabbed my trekking pole and picked my way down the steep riverbank to the thick vines at the bottom. As it turns out there was a faint trail at the base of a big cottonwood so I fought my way through.  And there they were, a little group of the youngsters and one ewe on the shoreline of the pristine river getting a drink. I picked a spot nearby, noticing that they were casting a wary look in my direction. I thought maybe if I just sat down a little distance away they might not perceive me as a threat and go back to their normal routine. It turned out to be a successful strategy and I was able to get some wonderful pictures with the beautiful blue water in the background. In the meantime a couple of ewes and little ones crossed over to try out the vegetation on the other side.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

There was a commotion on the other side of the river as a ram began chasing one of the girls around over there. Her evasion tactic was going to be a river crossing but the ram was not going to be deterred by a little water. He just chased her right into the river where we were waiting with our cameras at the ready 🙂 At first I wasn’t sure I liked my shot of this, but the drama of the event is growing on me and this image has become one of my favorites of the day.

Eventually the big ram became interested in the girls on the other side and he too

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon by the South Platte River

decided to cross, the moment I had been waiting for! As soon as I perceived that he was going to cross I quickly made my way down the embankment and through the thick brush. Much to my surprise the massive beast had come down another way at the same time and I found myself in an unnerving face to face encounter with a huge bighorn sheep ram! I had no desire for a head butting challenge with the great beast so I quickly backed away and told him I’d be going the other way! He kind of looked at me and then thankfully turned towards the water in another direction.

Here I got some nice video footage of a few more of the young ones standing with the grandfather of the herd along the water, and eventually some shots of him in the water as well. It was one of those moments, at the completion of it, when you just know. I got the shots I came for. We packed up our gear and headed for the truck. My guess is that with such low key tussling among the rams on this day that the rut season is winding down. Will probably take a break from the canyon next week and do something else… some snow shoeing maybe!

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The Leap

Bighorn Sheep In Waterton Canyon

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

Bighorn Sheep In Waterton Canyon

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!

Bighorn Sheep In Waterton Canyon

Sheep and a Rattler in Waterton Canyon

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.

Cormorants on Rock in River

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

Bighorn Sheep In Waterton Canyon

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!

Bighorn Sheep In Waterton Canyon

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!

Rattle Snake in Waterton Canyon

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!

Platte River in Waterton Canyon Colorado

Eleven Mile Autumn

Autumn on the South Platte River

It was a magnificent autumn morning in Eleven Mile Canyon this morning with the leaves changing all along the banks of the South Platte River. I wanted to get some pictures that were a bit different than the usual trees and mountains without having to drive halfway across the state today and the headwaters of the Platte were just the ticket!

I knew from previous visits that some of the most beautiful scenery is along the banks of

Autumn on the South Platte River

the river in the first couple of miles so I just pulled off at the first spot possible and hiked the river trail. As I made my way along the trail I looked for rocks I could climb on to get the best views of the whitewater cascading down the canyon.

My reward was a lot of nice pictures and wet feet! Unfortunately I was not always able to find my footing on the top side of the rocks 😦

Autumn on the South Platte River

As always the best images from every shoot are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy acrylic and metal sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting. Many gift, tech and household items are also available with a S.W. Krull Image!

 

 

Dumb Mistake

Whitewater in Eleven Mile Canyon on the South Platte River

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 Whitewater on the South Plattte in Eleven Mile CanyonI 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!

Whitewater in the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon

Eleven Mile Canyon Redux

Whitewater in Eleven Mile Canyon Colorado

Needed a close place to photograph today… Buddy Kevin had a day off coinciding with my day off but unfortunately I had a 1:00 dentist appointment which was going to cut our day short 😦 Kevin had never been to Eleven Mile and I was thinking I was not done shooting that place yet, so the Headwaters of the South Platte River it was! The idea was going to be another attempt with the 10 stop ND filter for motion blur whitewater.

We didn’t get in on the best pre0sunrise lighting but we had some pretty good success with a couple of very scenic sections of the river with

Pristine Blue Water of Eleven Mile Canyonwild whitewater scenes, along with some more traditional shots with a polarizer.  Not much more to say about the trip, but here are three of my favorites :) Funny though, the one shot through the trees was an afterthought, almost didn’t even bother to shoot it, which might be the lesson of the day… go with your first instinct when you see a scene! Over analyze it and you might miss a great photo op!

As always, these images and more are available as wall art on my website on glossy acrylic or metal sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting! Tons of cool gift items are also available, including household, tech and apparel! Just click the images to bring up the options!

Whitewater in Eleven Mile Canyon Colorado

 

 

 

 

 

Whitewater and a 10 Stop ND Filter

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.

Eleven Mile Canyon and the South Platte River

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

Eleven Mile Canyon

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!