Layers Upon Layers

layers of Fog on the Sangre

Another awesome weather day in the high country. I was totally not expecting this… it appeared that I was just in for a cloudy dreary early winter morning in the mountains, not that a cloudy day in the mountains isn’t a thing to look forward to! But as I rounded the first turn on the way to my trailhead I quickly became aware that the day was going to be much more than I thought! Some of the fog from yesterday lingered in the valleys between the layers of mountains building up the the magnificent Sangre de Cristo Range in the distance, a perfect recipe for awesome landscape pictures!

I caught myself driving a bit faster along the winding road to the overlook where I knew I would stop for the photo session. Finally I arrived at my destination and the awesome layered effect was still in effect. I set my camera for landscape images in low light and took a couple of test shots. The exposures looked good so I continued until I was satisfied that the scene was captured. Then I continued on to the second overlook at a higher elevation a bit further to the south and repeated the process.

layers of Fog on the Sangre

Finally I was ready for my hike to the top of the ridge where I captured yet another angle of the beautiful mountains. I was hoping to see a few deer today, but they were nowhere to be found. Oh well… there is much to be said for a quiet hike in the high country of the Pike National Forest! A red-tail hawk soared high above me, well out of camera range, but a hawk is always a good omen 🙂

The biggest news of the day is that my favorite place for coffee, the Gold Camp Bakery is once again open following a closure of several weeks for upgrades and remodeling. Nothing like an order of biscuits and gravy to reward one’s self for a good day of photography 🙂

 

layers of Fog on the Sangre

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! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

The Gathering Storm

Fog in the Valley

One sure sign of approaching weather is a massive fog bank filling the Arkansas River Valley at the base of the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range of Colorado. I never miss a chance to photograph this beautiful weather phenomenon and this day was no different. Each morning over coffee I peer out my front window down the valley towards the Sangre range to see what kind of day is going to develop. I knew from the forecast that weather was coming in and from my limited view I could see that I had better grab my camera and hit the road!

Fog in the Valley

This particular morning was so fantastic that I had to make two passes just to take it all in. There was a great view of the action from my usual vista point along Highway 67 but I knew that I was also going to have to drive on up to Victor where at the mine entrance there would be a view from higher up. Some days I call it good at that point and go on in to the Gold Camp Bakery for coffee, but on this day another pass was going to be necessary in order to catch the panorama available from the overlook on the Cripple Creek side. Eventually I was confident that I had adequately captured the magnificent scene and that breakfast was well deserved!

The impending snowstorm never really developed though, a few flakes lazily drifting out of the alpine air was all we got for this round but I’m sure that it won’t be long and we will be experiencing a lot more winter white!

 

Fog in the Valley

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! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

Winter Has Arrived

Storm on Pikes Peak

After a long sunny autumn a major change is afoot. Cooler temperatures and moisture have enveloped the Pikes Peak Region and even the animals seem to know that it’s time to get ready. The change was first evident on massive 14,150 foot Pikes Peak in the form of blowing mist and fog, a phenomenon I have enjoyed photographing since I moved to the southern mountains of Colorado. Now heavy clouds have moved in and snow is on the way later today. Hopefully that will make for a beautiful morning filled with wildlife out gathering food after the foul weather.

Mule Deer Bucks in the Rockies

As I arrived at the trailhead I spotted the Three Amigos trotting over the ridge, well out of camera range but still a welcome sight. The does at the summit weren’t in the rush that the boys were and remained for a few pictures. The fourth buck who sometimes joins the Three Amigos was lingering in the forest as I approached the summit, standing in perfect light. I stretched out the legs of my monopod and attached the camera… By then he had spotted me and took a few steps toward me which I welcomed until he stopped in the shade to stare at me. Now I was faced with a very bright background and a dark subject. I waited a few minutes for him to move back into the sun but was eventually compelled to settle for a silhouette. I left my exposure with the settings for a sunny image and shot the silhouette.

Mule Deer Bucks in the Rockies

After a few captures I adjusted my exposure compensation to +2/3 of a stop to see if I could brighten up his face a bit and shot a few more. The does were much more cooperative, content in the warm sunshine feeding on the nutritious foliage being served to them by one of the local bush species.

It wasn’t a huge day but I got a great workout in the mountains, got to check on my four footed friends and even got a few nice images in the process. But I am ready for the snow to spread down from the peak into the valleys later and hope for a much bigger day of photography tomorrow!

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! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

First Snow on the Sangre de Cristo

First Snow on the Sangres

The weather report showed a completely average morning today… sun shining, a little chilly… but generally a nice autumn mountain morning. It was a struggle to psyche myself up to take my camera out in such an average morning… but I did it. As usual on the ride to the trailhead I took a glance  toward the Sangre de Cristo range expecting to see the same smoke obscured view that we’ve been seeing all summer. Much to my surprise the magnificent range has received a blanket of new snow and the air was as crisp and clear over the Arkansas Valley as it ever has been!

First Snow on the Sangres

I drove a little faster knowing I was going to be treated to a stunning mountain vista at the top of the ridge. And indeed it was, I stopped for a good half hour to make sure the camera had gathered it all in 🙂 I also took a quick jaunt through the woods hoping for an elk herd on the other side, but I guess all the great beasts were all hiding from the wind in the tranquil valley below.

First Snow on the Sangres and Mine Country

Quick trip up Victor Pass to view Pikes Peak wasn’t as interesting… there was little snow on the massive peak and no clouds to create an interesting picture. However the view from there in the other direction was something to behold… the old historic mines against the fresh snow of the Sangre de Cristo was incredible. And I have to say I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen anyone capture this particular view of the  area!

Confident that I had enough imagery to make a good story for today, I decided upon the Phantom Canyon Coffee Shop for a nice cup of coffee and an apple fritter. This may well be my favorite coffee shop, and a place I’ll be spending some time out of the cold this winter! The atmosphere is great, the coffee even better and the barista friendly and helpful. If you can get to Victor Colorado, I recommend you stop in!

First Snow on the SangresAs 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! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

Journey into the Clouds

Snowing again for the I don’t know how many days in a row… I was trying to figure out what to do today while actually considering taking a day off and staying inside. Finally I made up my mind to just go out and shovel a bit and clear the snow off my truck so that I could go somewhere if I could ever figure out what to do. Once I was dressed and out I decided to just go visit my local trail and see how amazingly beautiful the trees of the high country forest might be on this cold dreary spring morning.

High Country Snow

Once on the trail it came to me that the key to finding something rewarding to do in this beautiful state of Colorado is just getting out the door. Once you are out in the great outdoors it doesn’t really matter what you have decided to do. Being outside in these amazing mountains is reward enough. Anything after that is a bonus. It doesn’t matter if you are visiting the same trail for the millionth time… it looks different every time you go. You never know what you are going to find. You could see some amazing cloud formations, a herd of elk, deer, a coyote hunting, a bald eagle or a red-tailed hawk.  If that doesn’t happen you might discover a new species of bird to add to your lifetime sightings collection!

As for me today, I wound up at my usual trail… I didn’t want to drive very far as the weather forecast was calling for a significant amount of snow and I don’t like to take chances with bad weather on the road. I began my climb up the hill and decided that at a minimum the trees covered in a beautiful mantle of white were going to be a great subject for today. I put my camera on a 650th of a second with auto aperture and ISO. I knew the bright white snow would affect the meter so I set my exposure compensation to +1 and snapped a test shot.  Then I wrapped my camera and lens in my trusty rain shield and headed up the hill.

High Country Snow

Amazingly at the summit I noticed that I was actually inside the storm clouds. The weather app indicated that it wasn’t snowing but a quick glance around proved definitively that was not the case at this elevation. This is often the case when you find yourself high enough to be in the clouds. I could see them swirling around me so I attempted to capture some of that action on video. I captured some idea of the effect but even video didn’t do the wonder of the scene justice!

As a bonus for the day I managed to capture a couple of images of deer and a red-tailed hawk in the snow. All in all I have to say I am quite happy I decided to just go outside… with or without a plan!

High Country Snow

Again there are far too many images from today to fit them all in this blog post, so please feel free to follow my Instagram page to see  the rest and much much more!

Also watch my Youtube Channel for a short video clip of the great blue heron!

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! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

Deer in Snow

They’re Back !!!

I’ve been checking for a month now and finally… they’re back! The osprey have completed their four thousand mile semi-annual migration from Central America back to their breeding site at Eleven Mile Canyon, Colorado 🙂 As I entered the canyon I was disappointed to see that there were no osprey in the nest. It looked just as cold and lonely as it has all winter so I just kept driving with the intent on going up the canyon to look for the bald eagles

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon

But wait… what is that, on the tip top of a dead tree way on top of the ridge. I stopped and got out with the camera and trained my long lens on the speck standing out against the blue sky.  It looked like a bird but I was unable to ascertain what kind so I snapped a picture that I knew wouldn’t be any good, but I could zoom in on the LCD screen and maybe see some more detail. Indeed it was an osprey, I could see the unmistakable stripe on his face. I assumed since he was so high just watching over the valley, that he might be the male as that is the behavior we came to know him for.

From last summer I remembered that he was patient, capable of sitting on that perch for hours at a time without moving. So I decided to continue on to search for the bald eagles. It wasn’t long before I spotted Speckles sitting in a tree looking intently at the river for a fish. He wasn’t quite as jumpy as he has been lately so I was able to get a few captures and some video footage as well. Eventually he flew and took up another position in the trees. Up to this point all I had been able to capture was him on the perch. Both times he flew it was into the trees with no chance of a picture.

Bald Eagles in Eleven Mile Canyon

Finally I spotted him in a  very unusual location. He had taken up a perch on a tiny tree on top of the rocks above the tunnel. The lighting didn’t look very good so I was a bit disappointed but decided to stop and watch anyway. He remained a good long time and as I watched I realized that if he did take flight it would likely be right at me, a rare opportunity for sure! So I shot a few seconds of video footage before deciding to concentrate fully on the impending launch. Eventually my patience paid off and the great raptor took flight, just as I expected… right at me. He was even looking straight at me as his flight leveled off and the upward trajectory began.

Another highlight of the eagle hunt occurred up near the big dam. I spotted two large birds flying together in what appeared to be joyous play. A closer view had me hoping that I was witnessing the golden eagle finding a mate. Not so, however the news is good anyway, it appears that two juvenile baldies have decided to take up residence in the canyon. Probably the offspring of the two nesting pairs residing at each end of the canyon.

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon

My thoughts then returned to the osprey. I figured enough time had passed that the beautiful male might be done with his sentry duty at the top of the ridge and there might be some action closer to the nest. As I neared the nest I was happy to see  what I believe to be the female busy working on their abode in preparation for the mating season. I shot a few seconds of video and snapped a few images from the truck and then climbed the icy hillside on the opposite side of the river, at least as far as I dared given the less than safe condition of my usual perch on a rock high above the canyon floor.

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon

The mother osprey was active on this day, flying back and forth with sticks to fortify the nest, battered from the harsh Colorado winter. I was blessed to get captures of her approach, soaring in the sky and landing in the nest, all within an hour or so. I never did see the two birds at the same time but considering the behavior I witnessed, I’m pretty sure they are both back. Anyway, I am looking forward to a summer of entertainment from their antics, hoping they are able to raise two healthy offspring from nest to flight in late August.

To go along with this blog post I have recorded one of my better videos, including my trips up and down the canyon, the eagles and the osprey. I hope you enjoy it 🙂 And if you wouldn’t mind, please hit the thumbs up and the subscribe buttons to help my Youtube channel to grow! Also in anticipation of hundreds of new osprey images that I will be taking this summer I have created a new gallery on my website dedicated to these amazing raptors! Just click to enter the gallery and then click on your favorite image to view product options and pricing.

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon

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! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon

Aftermath of the Snowstorm

Colorado’s fourth biggest snowstorm in history went on for three days so I was really happy to finally get out and enjoy the mountains again today! I was planning on snowshoeing my trail but when I got to the trailhead it became apparent that the oddities of Colorado’s weather had defeated that idea. Although parts of the county had received as

Snowy Traill

much as three feet of snow with drifting even deeper than that in place, my trail had received almost none. I was concerned on the drive down that there would  be so much snow in the parking lot that I would have to abandon ship and think of something else to do… But when I arrived there was no one flake of snow in the parking lot.

I didn’t even bother to bring my snowshoes with me as I climbed the east side of the mountain. As I suspected, there was a pretty good sized snow drift in the trees through which someone had already cut a trail, making the trek an easy one for me. The scenery on the mountain was even more incredible than usual so I shot a short YouTube video to document the visit, I hope you enjoy it!

Storm on the Sangre

The storm clouds over the Sangre de Cristo Range were particularly incredible looking so I stopped there to shoot a few stills which I will be uploading to my website for sale.

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!

Weathering the Storm

New YouTube video of my snowshoe hike in the howling wind and driving snow on top of Grouse Mountain Colorado. Wasn’t able to record audio on the mountain due to the tremendous winds but I hope you enjoy the beauty of such harsh conditions! My Ruggard rain cover performed admirably on my camera, very easy to use and provided excellent protection for the camera, especially for such a great price! Looks like my minor repair on my MSR snowshoes is holding after accidentally running over them with my truck last year 😦

Ground Blizzard

Neither the video nor this blog post was sponsored, all equipment used in the production were purchased on my own volition.

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!

Between Storms and Monochrome Toning

It finally warmed up a bit this morning, well above zero with mostly clear skies so I thought it was a good day for a hike. As it turns out it was also a pretty good day for pictures! Although it was just partly cloudy here there were thick ominous clouds hanging over the Sangre de Cristo range at sunrise and it was quite a sight!

Stormy Sangre Sunrise

I saw a lot of evidence of recent wildlife activity in the snow but saw no actual animals on my two mile trek through the fresh snow. Still, there’s something therapeutic about a walk in the mountains. 

These images looked pretty nice in color, but so early in the morning with a lot of haze from the previous storm there wasn’t much color to work with. I decided that these would look much more dramatic in black & white so I used the channel mixer to create the best monochrome version possible. They looked pretty good but I thought I could do even better with a little bluish toning which I accomplish using the “hue and saturation” tool in the Photoshop adjustments drop down. First I click the colorize check box which adds a horrific color and hue to the image. From that starting point I adjust the saturation, in this case I chose 12 to apply just a bit of color. Then I change the hue to the value most representative of my plan for the image, which was 242 in this case. The lightness value I left alone, at zero.

I actually got the idea for doing this while reading an Ansel Adams book filled with some of his best landscapes. I noticed that the default values for black and white weren’t nearly as dramatic as the ones in the book so I read up a bit and learned about the process of toning from the era of photographic film processing. I wanted to find a way to recreate that look and it was just through experimentation and trial and error that I eventually came up with this method.

And of course no day of hiking would be complete without a quick trip over to historic Victor for some biscuits and gravy and coffee at the Gold Camp Bakery 🙂

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!

Stormy Sangre Sunrise

Every Day a Surprise

I decided to take a different route around the mountain today… I normally just go straight up what Kevin has appropriately dubbed Hell Hill to the summit where I hope to find whatever wildlife I’m going to see for the day. However lately the winter wind has been relentlessly howling and even the animals are avoiding the summit.

Rocky Mountain Deer Herd

There is another route around the east side of the mountain that doesn’t include such a wicked hill so I decided I would avoid the wicked cold wind and just take the lower trail past the free range cattle. As usual they were curious and walked over to greet me, particularly this cute little young fellow 🙂 I glanced up toward the high meadow on my way past and didn’t see anything so I was glad I had taken the sheltered route.  As I was nearing the high point of the lower trail I spotted a pretty good sized herd of mule deer heading down the mountain toward the shelter of the pine trees in the valley below.

I wasn’t near enough to get any closeups but the herd did spot me where they stopped for a second to check me out. Then I captured some pretty nice images of the entire herd disappearing over the ridge.

I guess the moral of the story today is just take the hike. There are surprises to be found on even the easy trails 🙂

Rocky Mountain Deer Herd

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!