Too Much Gear Head Talk These Days

Shiras Moose of the Colorado Rocky Mountains

Happy Moose Monday

Enjoying a few last days of quiet time before I meet a group of photographers in Red Feather Lakes for a 4 day moose photography trip.

This is the second year in a row I’ve organized the outing for North American Nature, Wildlife and Landscape Photographers Association, a Facebook group I started about 6-7 years ago.

The intention is to organize this outing each summer as long as there is interest. Moose are a niche photography subject. I think a subject for the elder photographers. I’ve been debating writing about them for Fstoppers, but I’m not sure the audience for that publication is all that interested in things like this. Maybe it’s best to keep things in their respective boxes. Young people are more interested in photos of young women’s assets and gear head talk.

Life in the slow lane.

I don’t generally hang around young women trying to show off their assets and I don’t do too much gear head talk these days.

Cute Is As Cute Does

Mountain Goat Kids at the Summit of Mt. Evans, Colorado

Summer wildlife photography is prime right now.  With Mt. Evans finally thawed out enough to get to the Mountains Goats, my friend Tim and I made our first run up the mountain on July 5th.

Wild Mountain Goats Living on Colorado Mountain Peaks.

We were not disappointed with the results. Quite a large herd of goats on hand with at least a half dozen kids running around in the rocks.

Cute is as cute does.

Wile E. Coyote

Wildlife of Colorado – Coyote at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge

With the weather finally behaving like summertime, I’m off this morning with my son-in-law Shawn to The Rocky Mountain Arsenal to look for wildlife photos.

He’s playing with a new toy and I have one just like it. A Nikon D750. For a 4 plus year old camera (still available), it does a pretty good job as an all around camera.

As for Rocky Mountain Arsenal, it’s full of stuff, but I’ve seldom been there in summer.

Here’s a Wile E. Coyote photo taken there a few years ago.

It is Wildlife Wednesday.

Feathers Friday

Red-winged Blackbird perched in a tree, protecting his territory.

Today is Feathers Friday.

The Red-winged blackbird is fairly common in my neck of the woods. Loud, obnoxious birds. They are stunningly pretty though.

I’ve been working on new articles and actually have a couple ready to publish. I’ve been invited to write for another internet publication, where I’ll be writing about photography, so I’ve been sitting on them for that to begin. But, it’s never wise to get too far ahead of the curve. Once I’ve got that arrangement nailed down, I’ll share the results.

In the meantime, I’m still writing for my blog and am looking forward to sharing more than daily photographs this summer.

It’s been a long, cold winter and very busy spring. Time to get back to work.

Enjoy your weekend.

The Local Duck Pond

Female Wood Duck Swimming in the Sunbeams Along a Lake Shore

I’ve been a bit dormant on the photography front for the past several weeks. Getting everything ready for summer and that type of stuff.

I made a trip out to my local Duck Pond the other day with my friend Tim.

Nice afternoon sunlight, lots of interesting birds.

Here’s a sample.

A Snowy Egret Rests on a Rock in the Shade Next to a Pond.
Double-Crested Cormorants Perched On A Log With Wood Duckling Swimming By
Wildlife of Colorado – Wood Duck Duckling in Calm Blue Water
Adult Canada Goose Walking in a Green Field of Grass

And That Was The Mistake

Bull Moose Shedding Velvet - Colorado
Bull Moose Shedding Velvet – Colorado

Moose Monday!

It has become a tradition to post a moose photograph each Monday. No problem. By my calculation have about a half million moose photos.

I’m still nursing a severely strained back and just when I think I’ve made some progress, it reminds me that it’s not over with.  I’m on phase three of the recovery, which started yesterday (Easter Sunday.)

Moose Monday, I’m finding, is a bit improved from where I was the night before when I went to bed. The fifty thousand dollar question is will it be well enough to make the drive to Kentucky on Thursday? That’s a lot of driving, four long days on the road behind the wheel round-trip. I’ll make the call on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, back at the computer, I’m going through a older catalog of moose photos from 2013. It’s interesting to look at the older shots, it helps keep a perspective on the photography. What was I doing then? What were my good shots? What where my mistakes? What’s different about how I work now?  Like anyone else I suppose, I can make mistakes. Always good to not repeat them.

I found an inadvertent mistake, omission, brain fart, call it what you like, in my thinking back in 2013 vs today. My interest in moose was peaking back in 2004 and has progressed up until now. By 2012 I had figured out where and how to photograph moose and get consistently good results. One of the “holy grail” moose shots I originally put on my shoot list was the moose shedding velvet shot.  I got my first taste of that scene in 2012. Saw the whole thing from beginning to end, multiple moose, nice morning sunlight,in close proximity.

What more could a wildlife photographer ask for? I was happy. I’ve enjoyed knowing I checked that box off many years ago. I put them in a catalog and then forgot about doing it again.

And that was the mistake.

 

 

I Have To Ask Myself These Questions

Photograph of a Elk Cow in Northern Colordo
Wild Elk in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado

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.

I need another 450 elk photos.

 

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.