I’ve been pushing hard going through my photo catalogs, mining stock photos.
Today, I’ve crested the hill, the personal goal of having 3,000 stock photos before the end of the year.
Today is Wednesday.
This is my 3,000th stock photograph and I’ve cleared the hump. The rest of the year is a piece of cake.
Somebody out there will eventually be looking for a nice photo of a bighorn ram and will drop some change into my coffee can for this shot. Someone else will do it too. Eventually, it may make me ten, twenty dollars, who knows, maybe more.
That’s a twenty dollars that didn’t exist yesterday. All I had to do was upload it.
The dead of Winter here in Denver, I’ve been sitting in the office working on travel photographs.
I’ve been to the Hawaiian Islands several times over the years. I’ve photographed a wedding on Waikiki Beach, I’ve flown over the islands in a helicopter, I’ve been on whale watching boats. I still can’t get enough of Hawaii.
Here are a few photos from my years of Hawaiian travel.
I’ve been debating purchasing another tripod for my night photography equatorial drive.
I have several tripods, most of which are quite suitable for the type of work I normally do, however, the night photography rig can be quite heavy and while my best tripod will handle 26 lbs of overall weight, I’m pushing it to the very limit. Honestly, I’d prefer to have something that could hold 40 or more lbs of equipment. The answer to that is of course, spend money.
The problem with the “spend money” approach is that I’m a penny pincer. Spending money on something is always my last option, so I’ve been waiting and thinking and deliberating and waiting…
Last week we had a nice snow storm come through Denver. Every time we get a nice snow, I break out the snow blower and clean off the sidewalk in the cul-de-sac, my driveway and the driveway of the lady who lives next door.
My next door neighbor Judy (not her real name) is a retired school teacher from my same home town of Louisville, Kentucky. Neither of us have lived in Louisville for many many years, but we always had something in common. I figure it’s good Karma to help keep her driveway clear of snow and I would certainly hate to see her fall on the ice and hurt herself. I’ve been doing this for years, no questions asked, without a thought.
The other day, someone rings the doorbell, which my wife answers. Moments later I get a text from my wife to come downstairs to the front porch, which I do. Standing there with my wife is my neighbor Judy with a box of Russel Stover Pecan Delights chocolate candy and an aluminum tripod in hand. She wanted to thank me for keeping her driveway cleared of snow and was offering me this tripod, which belonged to her father many years ago. She’s been hanging on to it since he passed away.
So, I’m looking at the tripod and realizing that this isn’t some junky piece of outdated equipment. It’s actually a very well built, professional grade aluminum tripod and it appears to be totally intact and very sturdy. I thank her for the candy and the tripod, realizing the synchronicity of the moment. Her father’s tripod, which has to date back to the 60’s & 70’s, was used by a photographer in Louisville, where I grew up, at the same time I was growing up.
How cool. I thanked her very much and retreated to my office where I ripped into the candy and immediately began an internet search for this tripod.
They are still available and not very expensive, but the original version (this model) was made years ago and designed for professional medium format photography. Upon further research, it turns out this particular tripod has a 44 lb load capacity.
Behold, the synchronicity of doing a good deed for a neighbor who grew up in the same place I did, some 1,200 miles away and 40 years later.
I now have a good, solid tripod for my astro-photography rig and I didn’t have to spend a penny on it.
There are three major areas within shouting distance of Denver for photographing Sandhill Cranes.
Kearney, Nebraska, Bosque del Apache, New Mexico and Monte Vista, Colorado.
I’ve been to each of these locations over the years and I’ve found my personal preference to be Monte Vista, Colorado.
Kearney, Nebraska is a major convergence point for the Lesser Sandhill Cranes, with upwards of 500,000 birds traveling through in late March every year. While the bird count is high, it’s a bit more difficult to get close to the birds along the Platte River near Kearney. The birds have a knack for avoiding humans and pretty much keep themselves at a distance from human activity. There are areas where one can get close, such as the Rowe Sanctuary, but for the most part, close up action requires you photograph the birds from a blind at a cost. Pay to play is the best way to get shots in Kearney.
Bosque del Apache in New Mexico is another splendid location for photographing the Cranes, with peak season being the first week of December each year. The problem with Bosque is that it’s so popular, the photographers show up in the thousands. All one has to do is spend a morning on the “flight deck” in Bosque and the full effect of having a large number of photographers gathered in a small spot is immediately apparent. It’s just too busy for my tastes.
My favorite location for photographing Sandhill Cranes is Monte Vista, Colorado.
Monte Vista hosts an annual Sandhill Crane Festival and I normally go there the week following the festival to avoid the crowds. Ground Zero for the festival is actually the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge, which is about 7 miles south of the town of Monte Vista, on highway 15. Monte Vista has a population of about 4,500 and is about 250 miles from Denver. It is in the San Luis Valley in Rio Grande County, South Western Colorado.
What I find particularly attractive about Monte Vista is the surrounding landscape. The Great Sand Dunes are not far away and also offer another scenic location for photography. With the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east as a photographic backdrop, the location is far more scenic than Nebraska or New Mexico in my opinion.
Lodging is available in the Town of Monte Vista and in nearby Alamosa. The remaining area is fairly sparsely populated so traffic is seldom a problem.
This year, I’ll be in Monte Vista photographing the Sandhill Cranes on March 11, 12 & 13.
Maybe I’ll bump in to you. I always meet up with someone I know.
Below are a few sample photos from my previous trips to Monte Vista.
As a boy growing up in Kentucky, horses were a common sight. In my youth, we lived near Nicholasville, Kentucky where we had a mule, a pony and beautiful white horse, all running half wild across the 52 acre tobacco farm. I never owned a saddle, we were too poor for such luxuries. I did have an old weathered bridle which I would carry around when I tried to round up the half-wild pony. I chased those animals from one end of the farm to the other.
The horse, I never caught. The mule was too large and dangerous for me to mess with. The pony; Sandy, was manageable for a skinny 12 year old kid. I rode her bare-back, up and down the country roads, visiting my friends and pretending I was living in the age of horses being the primary means of transportation.
The area I grew up in was full of Thoroughbred horse farms, some of which were hosts to Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown winners. We drove by these farms often. Rich people who had massive bluegrass fields filled with all manner of horses young and old. My grandfather would take me to Churchill Downs from time to time. He was a grizzled old man who loved betting on the horses at one of the most famous race tracks in the world. The memories still fill my head. I can still smell the cigars and the stalls and the leather.
I moved away from Kentucky when I was 17 after joining the Navy but my love of Thoroughbreds never left me. As an adult, all of my visits to where I grew up involved driving by these Thoroughbred farms which are still a staple of visual life around Lexington. About 12 years ago, I began photographing the Thoroughbreds. Not always a simple task as these animals were often at a distance. Slowly I’ve accumulated a small but nice portfolio of images that have done quite well as stock photos.
The photograph above was taken in 2008 on a farm near Versailles, Kentucky. One of the many farms near the old Kentucky home. The horse is a mare named Emotion Parade, a successful Argentine Thoroughbred that raced in 2005 & 2006, with four wins and one place over a course of 8 races. At the time of this photo, she was living happily in the pasture on a Kentucky Thoroughbred farm as breeding stock.
This year I intend to return to Kentucky in late April to photograph more of these most magnificent horses of Kentucky.