Goodbye 2018 – Hello 2019

American Bison In Snow Covered Prairie Grass in Colorado

The end of the year is always a slow time for photography and even slower time for Internet traffic.

Normally Colorado has seen a bit of snow by the end of December but this year has been fairly dry and cold.

Interestingly, as I write this article on New Year’s Eve, we are actually getting a little snow. The day is still early, so maybe there will be a little accumulation for the last day of the year. We can really use it.

I wish I had some wonderful new stuff to show you, but for now I’ll just reflect on 2018 a bit and think of the adventures I should be having in 2019.

I put a lot of effort into updating my stock portfolio in 2018. It has paid off too. My sales have picked up nicely compared to the year before. My goal was to have 2,000 images in the portfolio by year’s end. I’ve exceeded that number and now have over 2,500 photos in the catalog. The target for 2019 will be to increase that number to 3,000 images. I see no problem reaching that goal. I look at stock as a retirement pension.

Since I retired from doing workshops in 2018, I’ll be focusing more on getting out with friends and members of my Facebook photography group, North American Nature, Wildlife & Landscape Photographers Association in 2019. With over 1,100 members, many of whom are located in Colorado, I foresee a greater effort on my part to grow this group.

I have added a new dimension to my photography kit. Wide field astro-photography. I’ve been spending the last week of the year getting to know and understand my new motorized equatorial drive and I hope to have enough practice in to get a nice sequence of the upcoming total lunar eclipse that is occurring on the evening of January 20th. I have an experienced friend, Carl,  who is planning to join me, so maybe I will actually learn something. That should be a fun evening with an old pal. I do like to socialize with other photographers from time to time, usually for a mutual trip or event or local outing. Hope to experience more of that in 2019, now that I won’t be heaping on a normal workload of workshops and such. I like the slower pace to life 2018 brought me.

Writing is a passion so I’ll have lots more to say here on this blog and on my other online venues. I have a half dozen articles that I’ve started but the holiday period slows things down as I’m more lazy and tend to stick to enjoying the family life as Winter settles in.

Health wise, 2018 was pretty good for me. Like most other folks, I’ve been dealing with the typical health issues that start cropping up with getting older. Everything is under control that needs to be under control. I have a few things that continually make their presence felt, the worst of which is having to deal with Psoriatic Arthritis.  It’s not a severe situation, yet, but modifications to my lifestyle have resulted. One must accept that I’m on the decline side of life and with that comes the inevitable health problems. I won’t let it stop me from what I want to do though. Enough whining about that.

Next up on my travel schedule should be Sandhill Cranes in Monte Vista, Colorado around mid-March. I made the trip in March of 2018 but it was cut short due to a problem with my vehicle. I managed a few hours of shooting though, but this year I hope to make up for the lost opportunities of 2018.

I may be able to salvage some of the local opportunities, if we do see some snow here locally. The deer and bison at Rocky Mountain Arsenal are there, but I tend to ignore the location if there is no snow on the ground. The deer will be active through February, after which the bucks will begin losing their antlers. C’mon Mother Nature, bring on some snow.

I’ve been giving some thought to heading over to Sandwash Basin to photograph the wild horses in April. I’ll stew on that thought a while longer.

Summer will be active, as I have two group sessions of moose photography scheduled with my Facebook group in late July/early August. I will of course spend the better part of June through September in Northern Colorado as usual. I only get about 4 months out of the year to work up there so I tend to get in chin deep during those months, the remaining 8 months is spent waiting.

I’ll take another Autumn Photography trip in late September or early October, but I’ve made no plans regarding that yet. My friend Jonathan Steele has been joining me for the past few years, and I’m guessing we’ll try to get together again this year.

Life here at home has been good though. Trudy and I have found our retirement groove. We’ve got the house and property in pretty good repair, so I hope to keep the major expenses under control in 2019. Something will come up, that’s what always happens. I just hope it isn’t something that requires tens of thousands of dollars to deal with.

That about sums up where I stand on New Years Eve, 2018.

I’d like to thank all my readers and all of my friends for their support over the past year. I’m hoping to make new friends in 2019.

Keep on keeping on and have a very happy and healthy 2019.

 

Photography Do’s and Don’ts

Grammatical exceptions aside, here is a quick list of photography “do’s and don’ts” I’ve formulated from my field experience.

Just for a little fun.

Do; Keep a charged extra camera battery on your body when working.

Don’t; Offer unsolicited critique of another person’s photograph.

Do; Keep a lens cloth with you when working.

Don’t; Use a UV filter on your lens.

Do; Keep spare lens caps.

Don’t; Show a client a photograph that is unflattering towards them.

Do; Learn how to use your flash.

Don’t; Forget to bring your flash.

Do; Keep extra camera memory chips with you.

Don’t; Photograph the south end of a north bound animal.

Do; Make prints of your photos.

Don’t; Forget to back-up your digital images.

Do; Learn post processing.

Don’t; Count on earning much money from your selfies.

Do; Take your camera with you when you leave the house.

Don’t; Leave your camera gear in the car overnight.

Do; Consider your lens as more important than the body it’s on.

Don’t; Work for the promise of “exposure.”

Do; Keep your camera’s sensor clean.

Don’t; Brag about your expensive camera gear.

Do; Keep a hand towel in your camera kit.

Don’t; Forget to clean your camera equipment when you’ve returned from the field.

Do; Respect the other photographers in your work area, they have as much right to be there as you.

Don’t; Forget to fill the gas tank the evening before the trip.

Do; Own a rocket blower.

Don’t; Change lenses in the wind.

Do; Keep a pair of gloves in the vehicle.

Don’t; Suddenly stop your vehicle with a camera laying on the passenger’s seat.

Do; Put the window down before you see the animal.

Don’t; Make noises to get the animal to look up.

Do; Turn the engine off when shooting from the vehicle.

Don’t; Step in the moose poop.

Do; Check your shoes.

Grand Finale

Another season of Autumn Photography comes to a close here so I thought I’d put together a gallery of some of my personal favorite Autumn Landscape Photographs from my journeys through Colorado over the past 10 years.

It’s difficult to choose which images to include as I have close to 500 commercial photographs, but this selection represents my personal photographic vision.

Fine Art Print of each of these photographs and others are now available in my online Fine Art Prints sales gallery.

With the holidays rapidly approaching, now is the time to order the gift of art. You may visit my print sales gallery by clicking the link below.

Gray Photography Fine Art Photographic Prints

 

Autumn Blizzard Near Telluride, Colorado
Owl Creek Pass Near Ridgway, Colorado
The Sneffels Mountain Range and the Ralph Lauren Ranch Near Ridgway, Colorado
Misty Morning Near Crested Butte, Colorado.
Long, Tall Aspens on Kebler Pass, Colorado
Sunrise Mist on Kenosha Pass, Colorado
The Last Dollar Ranch Near Placerville, Colorado
Crystal Lake on the Million Dollar Highway in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.
Autumn Road Near Ironton, Colorado
Sunrise Frost Near Red Mountain Pass, Colorado
Pond on the Ralph Lauren Ranch, Colorado
Winter and Autumn Collide on the Dallas Divide, Colorado

Originality in Photography

Autumn Scenery in the Beautiful San Juan Mountains of Colorado

In this article, I explore the concept of the “blue jelly bean” of landscape photography.

Understanding the importance of originality in your art.

Article now available in my Photo Articles

 

 

 

 

Photography Occurs in the Conditions That Exist

Landscape photography by Gary Gray
Autumn on the Ralph Lauren Ranch

Camera packs. I have many of them and it’s always a curious challenge for me determining which gear I’ll take on a trip and what is left in the cabinet.

I always have these fearful visions of my vehicle breaking down in the middle of nowhere with a boat load of photography equipment inside. Oh yeah, insurance is a good thing but it doesn’t really alter the mental convolution process.

For this trip, I’m packing my landscape kit; however, I’ll bring along the big lens just in case I run across some wildlife that begs to be photographed. I’ve heard that the moose are moving into the San Juans, so who knows? Maybe I’ll come back with a few wildlife shots as well.

My friend Jon and I have been discussing our plan of attack on the San Juan Mountains via email for the past two months. Every day, a new flurry of insightful thoughts are exchanged, google map locations examined, discussions about the weather predictions and announced road closures are factored in to our ruminations.

There are eyes on the ground reports too. A number of friends making the same trek, all reporting their sightings and impressions of how the color is developing in the mountains. Predictions of an early Fall, bad color, blown leaves, mold and mildew and smoke from fires. I never worry about the negatives, because I know from experience that all these variable conditions are, well, variable. One learns to photograph the event as the event exists, not as one wishes it to exist.

Take 2017 for example.  My visit to the San Juans was punctuated by lousy weather. Clouds, cold weather, sketchy color conditions. End result of last years trip was I got one of my best selling photographs from those conditions.

Nope, time to quit worrying about things that can be less than optimal or go wrong. Time to finish packing the gear and make the journey. I’ll find good shots, just like I do every year. Those shots will occur in the conditions that exist when we get there.

Rocky Mountain High

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.

Autumn in the San Juan Mountains of ColoradoFirst Light on the San Juan Mountains

Autumn in the San Juan Mountains of ColoradoVariations of Color in the Sneffels Range

Autumn in the San Juan Mountains of ColoradoAbandoned Trestle Bridge Near Telluride

Autumn in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado
Dallas Creek Runs Below Mt. Sneffels

 

Autumn in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado
Campfire Smoke in the San Juans

 

Autumn in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado
The Sun Setting on the Ralph Lauren Ranch

 

Autumn in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado
Rural Splendor Near Ridgway

 

Autumn in the San Juan Mountains of ColoradoTaking a Walk Along a Country Road Near Ridgway

 

The Best Moose is the One You Have With You

Moose Near A Pond
Shiras Moose of the Colorado Rocky Mountains

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.

The reality for me is…

The best moose is the one you have with you.