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 ofย  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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Awesome Autumn

Crystal Creek AutumnEverything came together like a dream. For years I have been looking longingly at photo magazines, facebook posts by other photographers and online articles dreaming of actually going somewhere new to do some shooting. There was always something, somebody was sick, not enough money, truck broke down, whatever… always something to keep me from going anywhere.ย  This year though was truly awesome! Made it to several places I have been wanting to get to, like forever it seems. Rocky Mountain National Park, Phantom Canyon, Crystal Reservoir

Sunset on the Collegiate Peaks

My week long autumn blitz is about over… Fitting that I was able to get this wonderful sunset picture on the last night of my project ๐Ÿ™‚ Not that I am done shooting for the year, I will still get out on days off and on the mornings when I don’t sleep too late! Already though I can see that the wind has taken it’s toll on the autumn leaves, some of the trees are already looking a bit threadbare. The actual fall color season in the Colorado high country is quite short…. wind and rain and even snowstorms are quick to bring the amazing color show to an end. At lower elevations it is quite different, I’m sure down in the cities the trees haven’t even begun to change yet. But up here where I live the long Rocky Mountain winter is making it’s steady advance, bringing with it a stark beauty of it’s own.

 

Steve on Trail Ridge Road

Today finds me at my computer screen, looking over all that I have captured over the last week, happy in my memories of successful photo shoots. The day in Rocky Mountain National Park though will be the one day that stands out in my memory the longest. It is so amazing there, the rugged beauty of Trail Ridge Road, the wildlife, the amazing blue Colorado sky and fresh air are unparalleled ๐Ÿ™‚ Please be sure to check in on my website often, I will be putting up new imagery as quickly as I can!

 

Go With Your Gut

Finally over the hump… The blazing sun of summer is beginning to fade and Labor Day Weekend is finally here. Two of my biggest photography obstacles are nearing an end for the year as the tourists pack up Monday and head en masse to whence they came and the color killing direct sunlight continues it’s steady retreat to the winter solstice in the south.

Sunset on the Sangre

As evening approached yesterday I was thinking the clouds looked like they were setting up for a nice sunset. The smoke from the summer fires is slowly dissipating and the Sangre de Cristo are becoming visible again so I decided to go with my gut and head over to the overlook with Big Dog and the camera. On the way out the door I could see that my instincts were correct… a huge storm cloud was already glowing in the beautiful orange early evening light. By the time I got to the overlook the scene was even better, layers of misty mountains to the south back lit by the soft glow of the evening sun setting in the west. As an extra bonus, there was a small herd of mule deer grazing in a meadow that were willing to hang around for a few minutes as I prepared for the sunset, that is at least until Big Dog noticed them and voiced his hello ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Magestic Buck Deer

Normally I would have just stayed in the one spot to catch the last vestiges of the day, but I had another gut feeling… that the valley visible from the bridge was going to provide an even more magnificent vantage point for the light show that was unfolding. Not sure it was actually better, but it was at least equally amazing and also gave me a view of the storm cloud that I had seen earlier. A few shots there and I decided to try to capture the storm cloud with the Sangre in the background… off to the Grouse Mountain parking lot. There are so many power lines in the parking area that there was no choice but to grab the leash and head up the mountainside with Big Dog in hopes that I would arrive at the top of the first ridge before the sun became too low to provide any picturesque light.

Sunset on the Sangre

The sun was retreating fast, so Big Dog and I had to make a run for it. And I can tell you, I am not used to running up mountains right at this point in my life! But we did make it in time and I was able to use the gate post to steady the camera for a few last shots before the sun disappeared altogether. All that remained now was a walk in the dark back to the parking lot. It was a great evening of photography and I’m glad I went with my gut… Had I listened to my mind, I would have just thought, “naaaa, we haven’t had a decent sunset all summer.” and just sat it out on the couch!

These pictures and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art and royalty free stock images for commercial use. Pictures are available on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, wrapped canvas, traditional frames, and many cool gift and household items such as blankets, pillows, shower curtains, battery chargers, t-shirts, coffee mugs and much more!

 

Glamorous Job

I am fortunate to have a brother in the field of Canon Photography to talk with at work, and to exchange equipment when the need arises… The plan today was to test out the 1.4x lens extension he had loaned me for the weekend. When I looked out the window at first light as I was pouring my first cup of coffee I noticed what a pretty morning was shaping up in the beautiful light of sunrise. So I swigged down my coffee and grabbed the camera and the 1.4x. Then it was out the door with Big Dog but much to my surprise, in that 15 minutes a heavy bank of fog had rolled in and I could barely see my hand in front of my face! Needless to say a 200mm lens and a 1.4x extension are not much good when your field of view is only 10 feet ๐Ÿ˜ฆ But Big Dog was not about to be deterred from his walk by a little fog so into the pea soup we went.

Swimsuit model at sunset

I mentioned my friend at work, well this week we were comparing our experiences with portrait photography back in the day and I ran across this one from a photoshoot from the days of film. I still remember going through the prints the next day after receiving them back from the lab. I was at my favorite coffee shop sorting out my favorites when a guy went by and asked me if I was a photographer which led to a short conversation about the business. He commented what a cool job it must be to take pictures of beautiful girls and how glamorous it must be. Of course the story is long, but I just smiled and agreed.

The next day however was a completely different matter… Earlier in the week I had received a call from a lady in Iowa who was in charge of a jewelry show that was going to be conducted in the convention center in Denver. The assignment was to shoot portraits of each one of the approximately 150 event participants. She informed me that there was going to be a backdrop provided with the name of the show on a sign above that I was supposed to include in each picture. She told me to be sure to bring extra lighting. How much I wondered? She didn’t know, but I was definitely going to need extra lighting.

So I showed up early at the event center to be sure to find a parking place and get set up in time. I had no idea what I was in for, trying to imagine what I could possibly need all the lighting for that I had packed just in case. Well I found a parking place in the parking garage which appeared to be free… Grabbed my three Bogen light stands with umbrellas and soft boxes, three flash heads in their suitcase style carrying cases, two cameras complete with portable flash and battery packs and headed for the stairs.

Well the stairs were not that easy to find, but I made my way down to the lower floor of the parking garage when I noticed a pay kiosk. I had no idea how to run the damn thing, didn’t remember my exact parking stall number, or even if the kiosk on the bottom floor was applicable to the parking place on my floor. I looked around a bit to see if there was someone in charge and saw no one. In fact I saw no one at all, at the convention center on Broadway Avenue in the middle of Denver. It was like a ghost town ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I wondered if I even had the right day, what if I had already missed it, maybe the Rapture had occurred and I was the only one “Left Behind?” ????

The exit I took had me out on foot on Broadway Avenue, still not a soul to be found. I had no idea how to get to the room where the show was so I just kept walking, carrying my light stands, two cameras, three flash heads and God only knows what else. I walked and walked and walked looking for some kind of sign, some kind of door to go in, or even a person who might know… and I was getting more and more tired carrying all that gear. Finally I was sweating profusely and I could only go a few feet at a time before having to put all the gear down to rest. I thought I was going to die, I remember thinking to myself, “So this is how it ends, right here on Broadway Avenue…”.

Well, after walking all the way around the entire building I finally found a bunch of people and a door… This has to be it and lucky for me it was and I found the lady in charge with no trouble. After surveying the situation I quickly ascertained that the three light stands, umbrellas and flash heads were completely unnecessary. One camera with an off camera flash would be just fine. I could have made that walk with 10 pounds of gear instead of 75. Grrrrr…

So I completed the shots of all 150 or so people without a hitch. Except one lady who could not smile. I took six shots of her, each time her smile resembling more the look of terror that one might experience while witnessing a train wreck or car accident. Finally I gave up said “next”. Finally the job was complete and I told the lady I was done. She informed me she wanted the pictures the next day and gave me a bunch of Fedex account stuff. Well Fedex was a long and difficult trip for me so I offered to just get them developed in time to return to her before the end of the day. The pictures turned out fabulously and I made it back in time to give them to her before she left. She flipped through every one of them without saying a word… that is right up until the moment when the previously mentioned severely traumatized woman’s image came into view. She said, “Wow, she looks scared!”. Then through the rest of the images and without a word and she handed me my check and said “Thanks.”. That’s it, no more feed back from my day in hell. I remembered the guy from the coffee shop the previous day and thought to myself, “Yeah, some glamorous job ๐Ÿ˜ฆ “.

Lol… oh well, I’m sure it was nothing that a green chili burrito and a couple of beers could not cure at the Brewery Bar, my favorite Denver watering hole. Actually about a month later I received an email from the lady with a formal thank you for all the beautiful pictures. Apparently they were a big hit and I have to say it made me feel a lot better about the whole affair ๐Ÿ™‚

Not According to Plan

Well that certainly turned out differently than I had planned. Got in the truck to go to my sunset spot when I heard a very unnerving noise coming from somewhere so I promptly parked and gave up the idea of sunset pictures tonight. But from my house I could see a hint of a good sunset and a possible view that I hadn’t noticed before. So I just started to hoof it down the road to see if I could maybe salvage some sort of successful evening.

Sangre De Cristo Sunset

Sunset over the Sangre De Cristo Mountains of Colorado

Well as I got closer to the view I was eyeing, I noticed that I might get a better view from a nearby dirt road so I set my sights on that. However as I neared the road the sun began to set and walking turned into running and before it was over I had covered a couple of miles on foot, and had to negotiate my way around a particularly difficult cattle guard that I could not get the dog to cross one other time when I was walking down this way.ย  Fortunately when I got to the dirt road I was able to see the Sangre De Cristo rangeย  and maneuver into places where there weren’t power lines and buildings in my way ๐Ÿ™‚

I wound up with no tripod and no remote release, but I still managed a few good captures at f11 before the color began to fade to darkness and I headed back down the hill where much to my amazement there was an impressive sunset scene going on over the town and over the big gold mine. I scrambled up the hill on the other side of the dirt road and steadied my camera on a fence post while getting my coat caught on some barbed wire. But I got the shots and as I am looking at them I am also noticing that there is a view of Pikes Peak in the distance from near my house.

Pikes Peak Sunset

Beautiful Pikes Peak Sunset

Well anyway, the evening was definitely not according to plan, but I got some shots and learned about some new spectacular views that I can walk to if need be. And I also found a way around the cattle guard so that I can bring Big Dog with me up the dirt road in the mornings when it looks so pretty over in this direction. Now my legs are exhausted, my arms are even tired and it is definitely time for a Fat Tire that I wisely purchased before all the trouble started ๐Ÿ™‚

A Word With Myself

Had to have a word with myself yesterday… Coming off a week of some kind of flu bug or something, I finally had a day off. Well sort of, since I had actually worked until 6:00 a.m. the same day. It was cold and spitting snow late in the afternoon and all kinds of things that I think I should be doing, including paperwork, hiking, shopping, walking the dog, etc. were running through my mind and I was feeling quite guilty that I didn’t seem to be getting to any of it.

Finally it hit me, and I could almost hear the audible scolding I was about to get from myself, โ€œDude, you are running a temperature, coughing up your lungs, running on a total of eight hours sleep in the last four days… It’s OK to just REST!
So I almost took my advice, I didn’t go out in the cold, but I did get on the laptop and work on a few pictures that I have backed up over the last year or so. Found some sunsets, snow pictures on Pikes Peak and a few mule deer that I could be uploading to stock. Looks like it wasn’t a huge year in my photography history, but I did get a few decent ones to remember the year by ๐Ÿ™‚ I thought this beautiful snowy shot of the peak was quite appropriate for the day!

Feeling a bit better today after getting 11 hours of sleep last night so I did venture out and get a couple of things done. But it didn’t take long and I was feeling very worn out again and in need of some more rest. Maybe another 11 hours of sleep will do the trick!

Well anyway, as always my images can be found by clicking the links in the menu for this blog… There are links to prints and gifts, stock images and more in the menu, so please enjoy!

Sangre De Cristo Winter Sunset.

The smoke and haze this winter has pretty much ruined the chance for getting suitable mountain panoramas but luckily the same problem has been making for some great sunsets. I don’t like shooting sunsets all the time because they can quickly get clichรฉ and boring but there is definitely a time and place for them. I was thinking, there is only one time of year when the sun is setting at this angle, right over the best part of the Sangre and I don’t want to miss it and have to think about it for an entire year!

 ome promising looking clouds and some free time the other night worked together to provide the opportunity so I headed out towards Victor to my favorite Sangre De Cristo viewing spot. Well before the sun began approaching the horizon I could detect some promising color in the sky and I knew it was going to be a good night. When the sun finally began to set the color didn't disappoint. As the sun went down and the colors changed I moved around along the viewing area to get some different angles and some different exposures. When the sun was far enough gone to make sure I didn't burn out my sensor, I tried some shots directly into the light, rendering some interesting lens flare, which won't be useful as stock but might make an artistic print for someone who likes that effect.
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Now in Photoshop working on the images I remember one reason why I don't like shooting sunsets! Even using all my tricks, sometimes there remains some unsightly Chromatic Aberration which requires a good amount of tedious hand painting to correct. Thought I would use my best one so far and also one with lens flare in it for this article. As always these images are for sale on my website, which you can view by pressing the links in the menu. In addition to the sunset images, there were a couple of abandoned mines in that looked kind of interesting in the light and I was hoping to have them on my site as well, but a plethora of power lines that were not visible in the evening light have invaded the pictures beyond repair. Oh well, maybe I will have to just go in search of a less public mine for those shots.