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.
This photo from 2014 was taken before sunrise in a Northern Colorado lake.
It’s rare to find two large bulls hanging out together in a good photographic situation. The light was quite low and flat, but moose are seldom found in perfect light. The mist wafting from the lake’s surface gives a nice feel to the shot.
I’m still amazed at the images I made using the old, defunct, Canon EOS 7D. An APS-C camera that was probably the best affordable wildlife camera on the market for several years. It wasn’t much use above ISO 1600. This shot was at ISO 3200, pushing the limits of the sensor but with a little post processing in DXO PhotoLab Pro, I managed to milk a little more out of the old camera. The lens was a Canon 400mm prime with a 1.4x teleconverter. I don’t use teleconverters very often, they tend to degrade the image quality a bit but these guys were on the far side of the lake and getting a nice framing required it. No complaints.
As the old saying goes, the best camera is the one you have with you.
Six Hundred photos for the opening of summer in Red Feather Lakes.
My first impression this year is that the moose are there and just waiting for me to find them. The few I found within a mile of my place prove that they are on the move looking for the best food.
Environmentally speaking, the Aspen trees have just greened up above 8,000 feet and most of the willows are sprouting fresh green shoots, which is what attracts these hungry ungulates.
I managed to get a full test in of the new kit. I’m shooting with the Nikon D810 using the 200-500mm VR and the Nikon D750 using the 70-200mm f4/VR. No complaints. I don’t have to swap lenses in the field. If I need wider angle, I have a D7200 the 24-120mm VR and a couple of fast & wide primes. I’ve been shooting in predawn light and both cameras handle it well.
I’ll probably take a few days of down time and edit shots. I’m looking forward to getting back out though. The summer is only starting.