Sandhill Cranes in Monte Vista

Sandhill Cranes in Monte Vista, Colorado
Mass Liftoff of a Flock of Sandhill Cranes Near Monte Vista, Colorado.

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.

Enjoy.

Sandhill Crane Migration Near Monte Vista, Colorado.

 

Sandhill Crane Doing the Stick Dance.
Greater Sandhill Crane Browsing for Breakfast
Sandhill Cranes doing their dance during the Spring migration in Monte Vista, Colorado.
Sandhill Crane spreads its wings to fly at dawn near Monte Vista, Colorado.
The Sandhill Crane mating dance, near Monte Vista, Colorado.

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.

 

Mastering Photography – Those Pesky Power Lines

Bison in Field Near Denver, Colorado Bison At Rocky Mountain Arsenal

I’ve noticed over the years, the tendency of landscape photographers, including myself, to lament the presence of power lines in their composition.

Power lines are just about everywhere one goes. They are a byproduct of human civilization.

As a photographer, sooner or later, you’ll have to make a decision on what to do with them in your scene.

The first choice I see many photographers make is to simply edit them out in post processing.  Don’t want no stink’n power lines in my photo. It ruins the essence of nature I’m trying to capture. I’ll change reality and make it look more natural with a little help from Photoshop.

The second choice I often see is changing position to obtain a different field of view, one that doesn’t include the power lines in the scene. This works too, most particularly when a different position provides a better photographic viewpoint.

A more amateurish approach would be to be completely oblivious to the power lines and just take the photo. This is a rather hit and miss approach and often results in a strange combination of composition elements that don’t really capture the true essence of the scene in a pleasing manner. I call these “snapshots”

One of my early photography teachers enlightened me on how to handle them, photographically speaking.

I’ll share the knowledge.

Don’t look at power lines as being a negative.  Always start with the assumption that the power lines are part of the scene and try to find the composition that uses them rather than take the approach that they should be removed or avoided. Removing the power lines in post processing or compromising the composition by moving to a less desirable position should always be plan B or C.

The first decision you must make is rather or not the presence of power lines maintains the continuity of the scene.  By continuity, I’m talking about the reality of the situation. Why the power lines are there, where they appear, where they go. Are they really creating a distraction or is it some mental hangup you are experiencing that causes you to think they are really a problem.

Make the power lines work for you. Find the continuity of the power lines and the environment that complement the reality of what you are trying to capture.  The first choice should be to use them, not lose them.

The Bison photo explains this concept perfectly.

This shot was taken at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal near Denver and the backdrop of the Denver skylines defines how to approach this scene. Anybody who has been to RMA National Wildlife Refuge knows about these massive structures and it can sometimes be quite distracting to find a nice buffalo or deer standing under a great steal structure. It just doesn’t feel natural, so it’s a common practice to ignore the shots that include the power lines.

In the case of this photo though, the power lines aren’t out of place. The photograph conveys the juxtaposition of the natural world with the hand of man. The presence of a majestic bison in a field of tall grass with the Denver skyline in the background. Of course this isn’t what this scene would have looked like 200 years ago. Denver didn’t exist. But this photograph wasn’t taken 200 years ago. The power lines explain the environment and the composition uses them to frame the scene.  The power lines also amplify that juxtaposition of man vs nature. The bison is oblivious to the power lines, it’s only the human eye that knows what they are and why they are there.

Use good composition skills and learn to use the environmental elements to your advantage.

Tell the story.

Photography doesn’t have to be a deception. We don’t have to pretend that the human presence in nature is obscene or distracting. The truth is often more interesting than fiction. Reality trumps thought. Embrace the realities of the scene and use it to your advantage.

It’s possible that someday, these power lines will be gone or that civilization creeps into the environment to a greater degree. This photo documents reality as it existed when the photo was taken. Somebody viewing this image fifty years from now may have a different take on what it looked like “then” and what it looks like “now.”  It’s a historical representation of the truth. Those real life historical contexts can make this photo far more interesting for a much longer period of time.

We often try to separate humans from nature in photography, but the simple undeniable fact of life on earth is that humans are part of nature and so are the things we build. Give some thought to explaining nature as it exists now.

Learn to love your power lines and you’ll find their presence less bothersome.

Wrapping up 2018

Cow Moose With Calf – Red Feather Lakes, CO

With 2018 coming to an end, I suppose it’s okay to reflect on my life this past year.

2018 has been a different year for me professionally and on a personal level, in so much that my wife experienced her first year of retirement from her job as an Engineer with Lockheed and I have retired from taking on active photography clients for jobs and workshops.  We’ve entered full-tilt retirement.

Oh, my business still exists, mostly in the form of private photography for art and stock photography. Gone are the days of soliciting business as a photographer. It’s no longer a necessity for my personal growth. As a matter of fact, personal growth has already been achieved throughout my life. 2018 was the year I learned to live life with and for my wife and me. I’ve served my country, I’ve been to college,  I’ve had my corporate career, I’ve been a successful photography business owner, my kids are alive and well. My grand-kids are growing up. My best friends are still my best friends.

I have found a new groove with my photography though. More time doing the type of work I enjoy the most. Wildlife, nature and landscape work. I’ve lost the desire to travel the world, I’ve seen a lot of it already and the memories are grand but the new memories are going to be based more on my corner of the solar system. Home here in Littleton is the earth and my place in Red Feathers is the moon. The beauty of this simplicity is that I can orbit either at will and without the stress of having to deal with the distractions of working for somebody else. Simplification and clarity.

Not that there aren’t lessons to still be learned. I think learning never stops, unless you give up on the idea. But what is left to learn seems to me to be more involved with learning to grow old gracefully and peacefully. Removing the stress and mental barriers has found a home in my heart. What comes will come, what is gone is gone.

My year in photography has been a good year by means of photographic output. I’ve found a good niche in Stock Photography, my profits are up 200 percent from 2017. I’m enjoying doing work that I know will continue to provide me with additional income for the rest of my life and to those who survive me. That’s a good thing.

The phone doesn’t ring much these days and when it does ring, it is more likely to be someone wanting me to give them money for something I never once thought about prior to the call.

I’ve forgone the concept of travel photography, been there done that.

I don’t do camera clubs. Been there, done that.

No more weddings to shoot. Been there, done that.

No more corporate events. Been there, done that.

No more property photo projects. Been there, done that.

No more volunteer work. Been there, done that.

No more teaching photography. Been there, done that.

No more angry, ugly, hateful, hurtful people injecting themselves into my life on a daily basis. Been there, done that.

Nope, I think I’ll spend more time in 2019 doing what I’ve found to be enjoyable.

Writing more. I love to write if you haven’t noticed.

Spending time with my family and with my friends.

Spending time at my cabin in the mountains.

Spending time photographing the wild critters and the natural beauty that surrounds me.

I’m a Colorado photographer now. Oh, there will still be road trips to different places but my heart and my soul is in the Rocky Mountains and the life I have here.

My wife and I will finish out this life and endeavor to persevere the remaining obstacles. I think that’s referred to as “going with the flow.”

In the meantime, I’ll still be taking photos and sharing them.

As children we are often asked what we want to be when we grow up.

My ideas have changed over the years. I’ve found the end goal.

Be happy.

Fame and fortune can wait until my next life.

 

 

 

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.

The Eyes Have It

Talk to any experienced portrait photographer and they’ll explain the importance of the eyes in any close-up photograph. The best portraits display the subjects eyes clearly and distinctly. It is the eyes that attract the viewers gaze. An important aspect of those captivating eyes is the use of “catch light.”

Catch light is a specular highlight in the subjects eye(s) caused by a reflection of a bright light source.

Unlike a portrait studio where a light and reflectors can be positioned to enhance a human subject, photographic conditions for wildlife can be a bit more difficult to control. Absent the ability to control the light, one must consciously be aware of the possibility that natural light will produce a good result.

The most common technique I use is to position myself with the sun or bright sky to my 4 O’clock or 8 O’clock behind me.  By insuring I have a bright source of light at a suitable angle behind me, all I have to do is watch the animal’s movement and look for that reflection to appear in the eyes of the critter. Once the animal’s eyes are lit, I start firing shots. Once the animal moves and the specular highlight is no longer appearing, I stop shooting until I can see the animal’s eyes again. It’s an observational and reactionary technique called capturing the decisive moment.

For sunlight reflection, I’ve normally found the best conditions to be at sunrise and early morning after sunrise, or late afternoon, as the sun is low in the sky and beaming directly into the eyes of the animal. I try to position myself to get the sun at my 4 or 8 o’clock. Animals don’t normally like to look into the sun so they’ll often times reposition their head to minimize the glare and that can give you a nice angular field of view to their head, thus reducing the likelihood that the animal will be staring directly at the camera.

Bright blue sky can produce a very appealing catch light in the eyes as well. It will normally manifest itself as a half or partial reflection in the upper portion of the critter’s eyes. Again, one looks for the decisive moment. Simply ripping off shots may result in a frame or two with catch light, but waiting for it to happen and capturing it when it does is the secret here.

I’ve noticed a great reluctance on the part of wildlife photographers to use a flash when photographing animals. I’ve heard many reasons for not making use of a flash; I don’t have one, I’m afraid it will startle the animal and it will attack me, I don’t know how to use a flash, etc…

In my experience, firing a flash at an animal produces no response. I’ve never seen an animal react to a flash going off. They don’t know what it is and animals are more likely to react to something they identify as a potential threat. I believe that flash is just another bright light to critters and they are programed to deal with it the same as any other light they see. They react more to the sound of your camera shutter, and the beauty of a flash is that you aren’t likely to rip out a stream of shots, which can startle them. A rapid mechanical sound of a burst from your camera’s shutter is what they’ll react to. With the flash, you may get two or three frames off but that flash is going to have to recharge and this keeps the bursting down to a minimum while the camera waits for the flash to return to use.

Flash is particularly good with lighting the eyes of birds. The reflective properties of bird eyes are different from mammals and that flash can actually light up the eyes of the feathered creatures quite evenly and distinctly. I’ve never seen a bird react to a flash either.

Don’t be afraid to use your flash.

There are situations where you aren’t likely to get a good catch light and you’ll have no choice but to accept the light as it is. Backlit shots are what come to mind as being the mostly likely scenario. If there is no direct light to bounce of the animal’s eyes, you’ll get those deep shadows and you’ll have to rely on other composition techniques to make the photo stand out. Rim light, silhouettes, etc…

I continue to practice what I preach. and practice is where you’ll find the techniques and results that make compelling animal portraits. When you venture out into nature, take the time to concentrate on perfecting the techniques that work. The trick to getting good animal portraits is to be close to the animal and get those eyes lit up. Every animal has a different personality and it’s the portrait that gives us a look into the soul of the creature. It’s the catch light that draws the viewers eye into the photo and directly into the individual personality of the subject.

There’s more to getting an appealing catch light though. Post processing is always an option for enhancing the catch light.

For me, I never create an artificial catch light in Photoshop. A discerning viewer can tell when something is natural and creating a fake light in the eye, to me, is obvious and more often than not unnatural in appearance. I’m not suggesting you not try it or use it, but for me, I avoid faking something in post processing.

But, as with human portraits, you can and should enhance those eyes if it can be done with good effect. I have no qualms about zooming in on the eyes when editing and giving that specular highlight a little bump of brightness and contrast. I’ll sometimes do a little dodging and burning around the eyes to enhance the natural lines and details that grab the viewers attention. Sharpening the area around the eye ever so slightly improves the detail of the hairs, eyebrows and eyelids. Making those specular reflections just a touch brighter is quite effective too. I look at it as applying makeup to the subject, after the fact.

For me, the eyes have it.

 

This marmot head-shot was taken on top of Mt. Evans, Colorado. The critter was sitting on a rock and I had a bright, clear blue sky behind me.  The curious animal moved his head to an angle while I was framing him in the viewfinder. Once the catch light appeared, I ripped off a burst of shots.
Here’s an example of a moose with catch light. On this particular occasion, it was cloudy and the light was quite flat.  I was fairly close to this moose so I used an external flash to fill the face of the animal and the reflection of the flash gave me the catch light I wanted. The moose didn’t flinch.
Bison in Colorado
This bison photo was taken as a snow storm was clearing. The sky in the direction I pointed the camera was nearly totally white along with the snowy environment the bison was in. The clearing bright blue sky was directly behind me, so I had a nice flat light situation with a very bright blue sky to reflect in the eyes of the buffalo. I spot metered on the forehead of the bison to get the snow to saturate the exposure and give detail to the head of the animal. I let the sky do the rest of the talking. End result, a nice, high-key image with great catch light. Interestingly, this bison had blue eyes (yes, it happens in nature), so it gave me a nice positive reflective property that created an other-worldly appearance of this bison’s face.
Portrait of a mule deer doe with catch light and a neutral background.

The Photographic Cycles of Life in Colorado

American, Bison, blue, buffalo, bull, calf, coat, Colorado, cow, fur, generically, grass, heavy, herd, hoofed, horned, large, mammal, nature, plains, prairie, pure, seasons, sky, snow, tall, thick, trees, ungulate, water, wild, Wildlife, Wyoming
American Bison at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge

By mid-October, Winter weather begins its grip on Colorado. As a matter of fact, it’s snowing as I type this. Our first noticeable snow storm of the season here in Denver.

The warm season doesn’t last long here at high altitude. Mountain folk think of Denver and the Front Range dwellers as “flat-landers” to a certain degree.

Being a flat-lander doesn’t dial us suburban folks out of the mountains though. And it certainly doesn’t prevent us from experiencing and photographing wildlife. My primary residence is in the foothills on the South West side of the Denver metropolitan area and for me to get into the mountains is not much trouble. Living in the Denver area provides us locals with plenty of wildlife to photograph.

A popular location is the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, about 20 miles north-east of downtown Denver, near Denver International Airport.

My next photographic cycle of the season will involve returning the Arsenal for photographs of deer, eagles, hawks, coyote and bison. All of these subjects are worthy of the effort, as I sell quite a few stock photos of these critters. Most popular among them are the bison.

One of the “holy-grail” photos I’ll be after will be the snow covered buffalo. I have a few, some better than others, but there’s always a better shot to get and I will put forth the effort to find that new and better snowy buffalo.

I still call them buffalo too. Techincally speaking buffalo aren’t really buffalo. As every pedantic wildlife enthusiast in the area knows, they are American Bison, but who cares. Nobody ever heard of Bison Bill. He was called Buffalo Bill and he’s buried on top of Lookout Mountain near my house.

I read somewhere that there are over 500,000 buffalo in the United States, the majority of which are actually domestic livestock that are genetically a mix of regular cattle and buffalo. Buffalo meat is tasty and ranchers breed the buffalo with cattle to make the animal more docile and easy to manage in large numbers, though you’d be hard pressed to look at one and know if it’s a Beefalo or a Buffalo.

We have a number of genetically pure buffalo in the state though. The Arsenal herd is a genetically pure herd, so I try to keep it as authentic as possible and go for the pure species specimens.

So with all those happy thoughts evoked, my next goal is the Buffalo.

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.

Goals and Milestones

Photograph of a Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron Hunting in the Shallows.

I’m in a contemplative mood this morning so this post is going to be a little more from the heart. Hope you don’t mind the ramblings of a man who is trying to grow old gracefully.

I’ve rationalized just about every aspect of my life over the years, justifying to myself and to others, my reason for existing, my motivations, my mistakes and my successes. Most of those rationalizations bring me back to who I really am as a person and the self realizations that spring from these ever changing thoughts. I reckon that I’m not unique in this regard.

One thing I’ve rationalized as an important aspect of my life is always finding something to look forward to. My most depressing moments have been in times when I felt there was nothing to accomplish and my motivations in life have generally been based on this simple self observance.

As I’ve grown older, my motivations have seen an obvious shift and an overall simplification of what I believe to be the things I want to do to stay happy and stay engaged with life in a positive way. Simplify, simplify, simplify. I find that word to be the main pivot point of my thinking.

Of course, everything isn’t going to be simple. I don’t shrink from complicated things, my mind won’t allow that, but I always find a way to trim away the fat of what I consider meaningless attachments to anything I do. As time grows shorter for me, not wasting that time on life’s baggage seems to be goal.

Long gone are my aspirations of fame and fortune. I served my country, I did my corporate ladder climb to middle management, I’ve married and divorced and remarried and friends and family have changed over and over again. No regrets, but there is still a candle burning in my soul and that candle is used to light my next path in life as it always has in the past, with a low, flickering flame that can’t be extinguished by the actions of someone else.

Find something to look forward to. That is the simplified thought that drives me from day to day, and I have indeed found a way of having something to look forward to doing. Simple things usually.

After a lifetime of ambition and service to my employment masters, I started a small photography business and I’ve successfully kept it alive for over 12 years. I’ll continue to keep it alive as long as I’m physically able to do it.

My secret of keeping motivated is that I always find something in photography to look forward to doing.

Well, today I’ve reached another small goal, a small milestone and set a new goal and milestone to replace it.

The goal I set for myself in 2018 was to have at least 2,000 images on sale at the stock agencies before the end of the year. Nothing monumental in the grand scheme of things, but to me, it’s an accomplishment. This morning I had my 2,000th stock image approved and it’s now online with the others. It won’t make much money over time, maybe five or ten dollars a year if I’m lucky. But, when  I look at what it cost me to take that 2,000th photograph, it adds up to about 3 dollars in gasoline and one hour of my time. I’m certain that I’ll profit for having taken the time to look forward to that next photograph. The next photograph has value beyond the few pennies it will make me. It keeps me motivated, it keeps me engaged and it pays for itself in the long run. What could be more simple than that?

Today’s photograph is of a great blue heron. It’s my 2,000th accepted stock photo and I’m quite proud of it.

Today, I’m sharing it with you too.