In lieu of the fact that I’m not out taking photos this week, I’ve decided to go through some of my neglected image catalogs.
Case in point. Rodents.
Not the most glamorous subject in the photographic world, rodent photos still sell on the stock agencies though I’m not sure why.
My best guess is they are needed to fill out some type of web or print article on the subject, and as such I try to keep a good supply of nice, clear photographic depictions of the critters available for that purpose.
While going through my catalogs, I noticed that my rodent photos were not exactly organized the same way I organize most of my other photos on the hard drive. Neglect pure and simple.
Today, I’m wading through a sea of rodent photos and have been concentrating on getting my portfolio of Marmot shots straightened out.
Here’s one of them. He is now a well organized rodent.
July brings a fresh slate of activity here in Colorado.
The bulk of my moose photography is done each year in July and August and this year is not going to be much different.
I have two big moose photography tours planned, one in late July and the other in early August.
I’ll also start my new writing job with Fstoppers in July. I think I’m supposed to publish an article each week, so my laptop will be my constant companion while I’m working in Red Feathers, scouting for moose and taking photos.
There will be very few lazy days of summer this year.
Despite the lack of blog entries recently, I’m still alive and well.
I’ve been knee deep in getting my cabin fired up for the summer and this year has been a particularly busy time with several renovations going on. I’m just about done with that business.
While in Red Feather Lakes, I usually take a spin around the surrounding mountains and lakes to look for wildlife in the mornings at sunrise. I normally come up with something too.
Take this Osprey for example. Found this bird and a bald eagle hunting Lake Letitia in Red Feathers. The Osprey was far more cooperative, performing its hunting acrobatics just 50 yards from me in good light along the lake shore.
I’ll be spending more time in Red Feathers as the summer progresses and you’ll be seeing more photographs from that area as well. Moose season is beginning and I’ve got two group photo tours going this summer for my Facebook Group, North American Nature, Wildlife and Landscape Photographers Association. Give us a visit.
I’ve been in such a production mode on my photographs since January, I haven’t really taken the time to sit and analyze my portfolio of images. I have a few basic guidelines I try to stick to when considering an image that I’ll use as a stock photograph. I try not to over-think things, but the real danger lies in under-thinking things.
I am a Colorado photographer. Yeah, I’ve done a lot of traveling, but I don’t see me venturing out of the region much in the upcoming years. Getting old ya know, things that were never an issue when I was younger are taking on a more prominent role in my thinking.
A large part of my thinking is flying. I’m to the point that I don’t really want to drive to the airport and get on an airplane to fly somewhere. There are probably a few reasons for that, one being that I don’t want to spend the last moments of my life screaming in pure terror, another is that I don’t want to lug a bunch of weight around airports and all things associated to that. I usually check my luggage but the camera gear stays in my possession all the way. This makes for a more basic kit of camera equipment and it still ends up being a lot of weight to have to deal with for a long periods of time. God forbid that I tear both rotator cuffs moving luggage around only to die in misery on a flight that crashes into an ice covered Minnesota corn field. I know, I’m over dramatic, but don’t tell me you don’t think about the same thing when you walk down the causeway to get in an airplane.
As a result of my changing mental state as I’ve grown older, I prefer the road trip. I have vehicles that will do just about anything I’d want to do at any time of year. Colorado is a big friggn’ place too. Think about the room I have to explore, If you took the entire Commonwealth of Great Britain as a land mass, you could place it comfortably inside of Colorado and still have a fairly large piece of land left over. When you think about the population, Great Britain has some 66 million people crammed into a space less than the size of Colorado, and inversely a population in Colorado of 5.6 million people occupying an area 1/3 again larger than Great Britain. Well, you can get the picture.
Literally, you can get the picture in Colorado without having to deal with everything that flying a long distance has to offer in the way of inconvenience, harassment and unknown events. When one does a road trip, one can keep everything they’ll need in the boot and get there at a comfortable pace without having to worry about much more than not wrecking your vehicle. I’ve a pretty good driving record, wrecking cars isn’t something I’ve ever done a lot of.
As to the point of today’s blog entry… Well, that’s the grind it out part of blogging. One has to conjure up blog entries, otherwise one isn’t blogging correctly. I come up with things to write about all the time, but by the time I go to write them, they no longer interest me. I need more immediate gratification when it comes to writing something. Blogging is more of a literary quickie. Writing short stories is more of a sustained act of passion.
I much prefer to write about today’s things than I do writing about something I came up with 2 days ago. So with that in mind.
Today’s things are Elk.
I have a few really nice elk photos, good enough to maintain a portfolio of 45 or so images in my stock catalog.
So, here I am yammering on about being a Colorado photographer and I have such a puny catalog of a very nice and abundant species of wild animal. The elk. Yeah, there are lots of elk scattered around the entire country and there are probably even 10 times more elk in Colorado than there are moose.
So why haven’t I focused more attention on elk?
It’s a good question. I have to ask myself these questions. And I probably should answer them as well.
The answer is simple. If you need elk, you go get elk.
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.
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.
I am back to photographic action this week after a short hiatus.
I find that my propensity to write articles is closely related to my propensity to take photographs.
The two main subjects this month and probably through the end of the year are Deer and Bighorn.
One of the things the wildlife photographer is after is capturing animal behavior in the animal’s natural environment. Bighorn Sheep are rutting right now, so early November in Colorado is a prime time for witnessing these powerful animals. When it comes to bighorn sheep, there are certain shots I try to get. One always wants to see the nice big rams with their curled horns. Combat between rams competing with one another for mating rights, and of course that actual animal courtship/mating shots.
I’ve noticed that some folks are embarrassed or reluctant to accept mating shots, but these types of images are not all that easy to get. As a photographer, I live for them and when I get them, I’m always pleased to add them to the portfolio and share them with my audience.
I was out and about with a friend this past week for Bighorn and we came upon a small herd of about 14 or so animals. There were two very nice, mature rams among a group of ewes and younger rams, so mating behavior was full tilt boogie.
And yes, I was able to capture a complete sequence of a mature ram mating with a ewe and quite a lot more activity. It’s moments like I experienced on this recent outing that inspire me to write.
This is what life is about for me right now. Here are a few photos from this week’s outing. I hope those of you who may never be able to see this happen in person can enjoy seeing the product of my obsessions.