My next photographic journey is back to the San Juan Mountains and Ouray, Colorado.
Ouray (pronounced Your-ray) is a majorly great place in Fall. A historic Colorado mining town in SW Colorado, Ouray has just about everything you’d ever need to be happy about life. In the heart of the San Juan’s, about 10 miles south of Ridgway and on the other side of the Sneffels Mountain Range from Telluride.
A lot of people think of Colorado and associate the state with the singer/writer John Denver and perhaps Coors beer. John was a well known fixture here, but to me Colorado is defined by the beauty of the scenery and the people who live here. John Denver celebrated through song what we landscape photographers celebrate through sight. We have a very diverse population and culture. Our state population is less than 6 million people. I’ll put that in perspective for you. If you took all of Great Britain, it’s population of some 60 million and plopped it down in the middle of the state, there would be plenty of room left over for for us living here. We’d just have to put a fence up to keep it from getting too crowded.
Autumn photography trips are an annual ritual here. This year I’m being joined by New England Landscape Photographer, Jon Steele. Jon and I have enjoyed many years of annual photography treks together in the Autumn. This year, we’ll be spending a week in the San Juans and probably grinning the entire time.
Life doesn’t get any better than this. Come see us sometime, you won’t regret it. The best weeks are the last week of September and first week of October.
Here are a few sample Autumn Color photos from the San Juan Mountains I’ve taken over the past 15 years.
With Summer coming to an end, so goes another season of Moose Photography in Colorado.
My moose photography season lasts from June through the end of August when the hunting season begins. I’m not interested in contending with hunters and subjecting myself to misplaced projectiles, thus I don’t normally spend much time photographing moose after the Labor Day holiday.
To use the hunting vernacular, I’ve harvested over 8,500 in focus photographs of moose this season. That’s a solid effort. The old photographers saying goes, “If you get one good photograph a day, it’s a good day.” I don’t even have a count of “good” photographs from this summer, but I’m certain it averages out to better than one good shot a day. I’ll take it.
A lot of wildlife photographers pay big bucks to go to the Tetons or Alaska for their moose photos. I typically use a half tank of gasoline per day in the pickup truck to get my fix. Economies of scale here. My dollar per moose expense ratio is pretty good and considering the income I derive from these photos, moose images ultimately pay for themselves, year after year. I can’t shake the mentality of keeping the economics of photography in line with income derived from photography. That’s the businessman in me taking charge, but it’s not really about business, it’s about my anal retentiveness, personal desires and justification for spending far more time exercising my passion for getting photographs of these and other subjects.
I’ve developed a distinct photography cycle, alternating between subjects on a seasonal basis. These subjects are based on subject opportunity and popularity of my results. I’m already planning, with great anticipation I would add, for my next photographic subject. Autumn Photography.
Along with the change of season, this year I am changing my business model too. I’ll no longer be offering paid workshops and tours for moose. Not to say I’ll stop photographing moose, it has more to do with my losing interest in the workshop environment. I’ll instead organize club and private shoots with my friends and colleagues around the country. It’s much less stressful. I’ve never liked the competitiveness of professional workshop hosting. I know a number of photographers who have to do this to make a living. I’ve decided that in the future, I’m going to concentrate on enjoying it for myself and sharing that enjoyment with like minded friends, new and old.
As my rubber raft of retirement drifts further from the shore, I’m finding more that I need that proverbial Chicken Soup for the Soul.
All this bloviating aside, here are a few of my most recent moose photographs from 2018. It’s been a fun summer and now it’s time to move on. Not to say that you won’t be seeing more moose photos from me as the days go by, as I have thousands of images I have not even looked at. When I find a good one, you’ll see it.
That’s what my photography is about. Showing you what I’ve seen and what I’ve experienced. For those who can’t get out in nature to explore this amazing experience first hand, I’ll show you and tell you what it’s like so you can daydream and enjoy the world beyond every-day life and all the distraction it generates.
When I’m taking photos, there are no Conservatives or Liberals. There’s just me, the mountains and the reality of life as I see it from my view of the road.
Now that I’ve returned from a successful and probably final moose photography outing in Northern Colorado this year, I’m sifting through and editing some 3,500 or so fresh images of these amazing creatures.
As with any photographic subject, one can find a number of different attitudes and views among friends and acquaintances.
One reoccurring attitude I experience in the field is the desire to photograph mainly large bulls with big antlers and that younger less developed bulls, cows and calves are looked upon as less desired subjects.
I don’t share that view of the road when photographing wildlife. My intention is to capture images of all the animals I encounter in their environment and their state of development. All moose are cool to me. I’m not going to shoot the big bulls and hang their heads on my wall. I want photographs that depict the diversity of the species and the reality of their existence.
Autumn is beginning in the high country of Colorado.
I’ve just returned from what will probably be my last major effort at moose photography this Summer. A very good Summer indeed.
For those who live at lower altitudes the change of seasons probably isn’t apparent, however, working at 10,000 feet in Northern Colorado, fall is fully underway and the moose rut has started. The bulls should be shedding the velvet from their antlers this next week. The cows with calves will be moving to their safest areas and the unattached cows are already hanging out with the bachelor bulls.
This cow and calf were quite elusive. She did everything she could to avoid my camera, weaving in and out of the woods as she took her child to some unknown destination in the forest along a creek. I was lucky enough to find her in an small opening as she came over a hill. Moments later, she and her calf were safely out of sight.
As I wind down from this year’s moose photography, I’ll be sharing more of my summer experience. I get 3 months a year to do this type of work and I never take it for granted. I’ll spend this winter dreaming of the next moose photograph.
There aren’t many ducks that are more pretty than the wood duck. Fairly common duck in Colorado and around the US. I’ve found them in the local lakes quite often. Sometimes they will even perch in the trees.
One nearby lake in particular provides a nice Autumn color setting with water reflections. The local photographers can often be found there in numbers.
Continuing with my current bird theme, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite images.
Northern Shovelers are a common waterfowl here in Colorado.
The shoveler is a fairly skittish duck, tending to keep its distance from people.
It’s easiest to catch them in flight as once hey hit the water they will move into an area of the lake that will give them a safe distance from the camera toting photographers. On occasion, they will paddle by and when they do I grab the best lit scenes as targets of opportunity.
I’ve been offline for a week, working on stock photographs. Here’s a small collection of American Avocet photographs I’ve taken over the past few years.
These birds regularly breed in a local lake and I make it a point to get a few shots each year when they turn up. Very gentle and cooperative subjects. I can normally stake out a spot along the lake shore and they will eventually wade in the waters directly in front of me.
For stock photos, I like to capture the animals to give an accurate depiction of the subject. Behavior images are fine too, but honestly, most of the images that sell tend to be nice clear views of what the bird looks like.
This has been a quick week for me, despite having done much of nothing. I managed a mountain goat day trip with my friend Merlin. I took a one camera one lens combo this trip. The Nikon D7200 with the 70-200 f/4 VR. It took a bit to get used to it, as I seldom shoot with the D7200, despite the fact that it’s a pretty good small DSLR. It worked out fine.
In my slack time, which has been most anytime, I’ve been consolidating my photography articles to the Image Colorado Blog. The WordPress blog is slowly taking shape and I’m certain that by the end of this year it will begin to be my main entry point into the internet for things I like to blither about. Facebook is a hard habit to break, as a lot of folks follow me there.
Doobie and I are bachelors this weekend. Trudy is in Red Feathers with her mother. I’m pretty boring to Doobie. There is a routine to our co-existence. We have a large yard so I make it a point to get him at least 30 minutes of high intensity running around like a crazy dog activity each day. All I have to do is go sit in the shade of a tree and watch. Doobie does all the work. He’s a heck of a dog. Nothing like sitting in the Summer shade with a Doobie.
One thing I hate about bachelor days is how I eat. I don’t cook for myself unless it’s a very simple and unhealthy meal. I don’t eat fast food either. That’s on my list of things to quit doing. I’m 95% successful, and it’s really a question of my self discipline. I have none.
I managed to get a half dozen stock photos up yesterday, taken on my singular photo day this past week. I’ve got a little print making to do sometime this weekend. That’s good, the printer has been idle for a few weeks.
Today’s photo is an old shot. I think I took it with a Canon EOS 5D and a Sigma 105mm Macro Lens. Yeah, a wildlife shot with a macro lens. It was early in the morning and a friend and I were walking over the ridge on Mt. Falcon to get wildflower shots. Thus the macro lens. As we peaked the ridge a group of mule deer ran in front of us in a line. It was a perfect setup and I just raised the camera and framed each of them as they passed through. I liked this one for the deer stopping long enough to look back in the direction of the sun. One of my personal favorites as it was totally by surprise and I had less than 5 seconds to get it all with no warning. The old Sigma 105mm EX DG Macro is a discontinued lens now, but without a doubt one of the best macro/prime/telephotos optically that I’ve ever seen. Sigma replaced it with an image stabilized version and ruined it. Good luck looking for a used copy, as people who have them don’t want to let them go. When they do come up, they aren’t cheap. They were less expensive brand new.
I’ve been taking a break from photography and blogging these past few days getting my mental batteries recharged.
I’ve caught up on the car show dvr recordings. I’ve mowed and trimmed the lawn. I’ve watered the flowers. I’ve played “crazy doobie” more times than I can count. I have laundry running as I write this. There remains a long list of other tedious daily chores, none of which I’ll get to because I’m a lazy dog.
I turned the computer on Sunday long enough to do my FB photography group chores. It’s been sitting idle since. Today, I look for a photograph you haven’t seen.
A nice bull moose about to pounce on some wildflowers. I took this shot a few weeks back. One of hundreds I’ve only glanced at. I like this one. There’s an impending sense of action in this shot.
One thing about moose shots. In the Colorado forest, you get three colors. Blue (if there is sky), green (trees and grass) and brown (moose, dirt and tree trunks) This limited natural color pallet drives Adobe stock’s “auto analyzer” crazy. It constantly flags moose photos as having some technical tonal/contrast problem. I click “ignore” and things move on along as planned.