Elk on the Run

Sangre de Cristo Sunset

Not a huge morning for photography… But it was a fabulous morning for a hike with the big dog. I chose to tackle the high ridge again today because I know there is a herd of buck mule deer up there that have been eluding me for some time now. Unfortunately, today was no different. I was looking hard for the animals when we cleared the top of the ridge but didn’t see any sign that the beasties where there today. All of a sudden from behind a grove of trees I saw the backs of the deer as they high tailed it for the safety of the dense woods with no chance whatsoever of a picture.

It was a beautiful sunrise though, the distant mountains were obscured a bit by smokeMountain Wildflowers and haze but the effect on the nearer mountains created a nice effect. There was also a good crop of wildflowers blooming everywhere, probably what is tempting the mule deer herd so.

Finally as we neared the end ofΒ  our trek I noticed a herd of elk in the distance. I had hoped that they would stop and look at me, but they were definitely in a hurry to go somewhere! Seems every time I see elk these days they are on the run. I thought I was being quite stealthy and I don’t think they knew we were there but they were in a hurry

Elk Running in the Colorado High Country

anyway. I suppose they feel quite nervous out in the open and they were just trying to get to the safety of the wilderness as quickly as possible! I did get this shot of three of them going the other way and I’m thinking it has a good chance of being successful in the stock photograph world!

Perhaps I will outsmart the deer tomorrow… in the meantime I’m going to get a good meal in my belly!

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Sangre Mountain Sunrise

Sangre de Cristo mountain sunrise

There is nothing like watching the alpenglow at sunrise in the Sangre de Cristo mountains of Colorado!

Moonset in the Rockies

Followed by the setting of the moon πŸ™‚

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.Β  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.Β  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 andΒ  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 πŸ™‚ 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!

 

Stunning Sangre de Cristo

It’s not always easy to put down my coffee and go out into the cold with my snowshoes at sunrise, but if you want to get the pictures there is no other choice. There is nothing like first light on the mountains. However it does help to have an enthusiastic partner… Big Dog is always ready to go, well before sunrise if need be 😦

So off we went, to the trailhead while looking for any deer or elk we might find along the way. Past the overlook, it didn’t look like this morning was going to be anything spectacular and I saw no need to pull over for any photography there. At the trailhead… strap on the snowshoes and head up the mountain into the cold and the wind. My eyes scanned the edge of the forest for any critters that might be trying to catch some early morning rays, but there were none. I don’t know where the animals all went but I haven’t seen any stirring since the elk departed the other day.

It was looking like all we were going to get today was some exercise, nothing wrong with that though! There is no such thing as a bad day of snowshoeing! But as we crested the ridge I could see the tops of the peaks and something had dramatically changed! The sun was shining underneath the cloud cover right onto the Sangre de Cristo Range giving them a stunning soft early morning glow that would take your breath away! So me and the big dog began running, not an easy thing to do on back country snow shoes! But I knew the scene would not last and there was no shot from where I was. It was about a quarter of a mile to the edge of the mountain I was on and we had to get there before the light changed!

Sunrise on the Sangre de Cristo

Of course Big Dog thought running in the snow was the bomb, but by the time we got there I was pretty out of breath and wondered if I would even be able to steady the long lens. But most importantly, we had made it in time and the soft glow of first light still shown magnificently on the rugged range in the distance. I dialed back the ISO to 200, down from the 400 that I was prepared to shoot wildlife with and decided upon a exposure compensation of +2/3. A little fiddling and I tried a few more with ISO 100 and a few with compensation of +1. As I look at the pictures on the computer I’m not sure which worked out better, but they all turned out beautifully πŸ™‚ I’ll study the results more carefully later on, right now I’m going to have some more coffee and some waffles while I try to warm up!

Oh, here’s a nice tip… when you come in from the cold just leave your camera in the bag for a while. The camera is cold, the bag is cold and both will warm up slowly and safely. If you don’t expose the camera to the warm air right away there is a lot less chance of damage caused by condensation!

As always these images and more are available on my website in the “Sangre de Cristo Gallery” as wall art on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, canvas, and traditional framing and matting materials. #swkrullimaging pictures can also be purchased on a ton of cool gift, tech and household items such as t-shirts, gift cards, phone chargers, blankets, pillows and more!

 

Alpenglow and Storm Clouds

We have had a beautiful springlike couple of days but this morning’s clouds portend a change… Snow and cold are on the way for later this week, temperatures will be dropping back to near zero for a couple of days. Big Dog and I were up early today so just

Alpenglow and Storm Clouds

before sunrise we grabbed the camera and the snowshoes and headed for the mountains. I could see that it was going to be a beautiful sunrise and indeed it was. But the real show was not to the east, but to the southwest where the alpenglow effect was illuminating the Sangre de Cristo and Collegiate Peaks ranges in a beautiful pink glow. I found a good spot and pulled over for a few shots before going on to the trailhead where I hoped for another photo op with the elk herd. For some reason however, they were not there today, no sign of them at all. It’s like they have vanished off the face of the earth! Oh well… maybe this week’s cold weather will bring them back down to lower elevations. Lol… and by lower elevations, I mean 10,000 feet πŸ™‚

Alpenglow and Storm Clouds

Our snowshoe hike yielded nothing in the way of wildlife. Did get a few shots of the storm clouds gathering on the Sangre though, some of the nicest that I have seen in a long time!

As always these pictures are available on my website as wall art and cool gift items! Please give us a visit if you like what you see!

The Privilege of Wildlife

On a morning like this I feel so privileged. There are very few places where a person can regularly go out a few minutes from home and suddenly find himself in the midst of a wilderness scene like the one I experienced this today πŸ™‚

Elk Herd on a Winter Morning

I was at the trailhead early, just before sunrise and just in time to see the elk herd again. I think there were even more animals in the herd today and I could here them calling, talking to each other I guess. Anyway it was amazing to be in the presences of complete silence other than the breeze in the pine trees and the sound of pure wilderness. Well, there was no time to waste, all the talk I was hearing could be an elk discussion about heading up the mountainside! So I raised the big 400mm to my eye and steadied it on a fence post for a few shots. I always make sure I set up and start shooting as quickly as possible. Nothing worse than fiddling around and ending up with no record at all of your encounter!

Once I was sure I had something to show for the day I began slowly moving up the trail for a better view of the action. There is a fence at the trailhead to keep in the free range cattle so the

Elk Herd on a Winter Morning

elk had to negotiate that before moving higher. There is a gate which is kind of like a mini maze which does a good job of keeping in the cows. But the elk have figured it out just fine and most of the animals were just walking right through it, but some decided to jump the fence instead. Elk and deer have no trouble at all in jumping a five foot fence. They don’t even have to take a run at it. From a standing start they just hop right over.

Elk Herd on a Winter MorningSoon all the magnificent beasts were on the other side and they began the journey to the dense pine forest on the other side of the mountain top. I followed on my snowshoes for a while hoping they would stop. They did gather in the meadow at the top where I was able to capture a few more images, but they soon noticed me and vanished into the wilderness. Pretty much all the imagery I captured there was elk butt heading in the other direction!

I hiked another mile or so around the mountain in hopes of another encounter to no

Elk Herd on a Winter Morning

avail. However there was a good view of the sun rising on the southern mountains which made the extra miles worth the effort. Hopefully I’ll have time to process those in the next couple of days.

As a side note to myself, I may have accidentally learned a new trick. In all the excitement I accidentally bumped the exposure compensation wheel and shifted it from +2/3 of a stop to 0 compensation. I thought for sure I had blown the entire shoot, but as it turns out a quick check of the histogram showed a decent exposure to the left and the unintended benefit of that was a faster shutter speed. The images were well within tolerance of Camera Raw to be able to drag the exposure over and the faster shutter speed resulted in those images being sharper than the more accurately exposed ones! Don’t think I would make such an extreme adjustment on purpose, but I might consider a third of a stop shutter speed increase to be a good choice some morning!

As always these images and more are available as wall art on my website on glossy acrylic and metal sheets, canvas and traditional framing and matting. Cool household, tech, and gift items are also available! Just click the “elk” gallery to view only images of elk and then click an image you like to view all the product options and pricing!

Beautiful Powder

Had to wear snowshoes today in order to make it to the summit, life at almost 10,000 feet has it’s benefits! Besides the beautiful scenery the snow up here is much better, not like that sticky mess found at lower elevations πŸ™‚ It was a tough climb though, I could hear my heart thumping in my ears… not too much though! Well anyway, when we crest the ridge and these mountains come into view all petty problems fade a bit for sure!

Sunrise and Storm Clouds on the Sangre