I need some help please. If you go back a few posts, you can read about the slow process I'm undergoing to get a book printed of my best shots. I am considering this image that I recently processed to be a part of that book, either as a part of the collection, or to take the place of another shot. What do you think? Is it worthy? Thanks.
As promised, here is the other new (to me anyway) bird species I was lucky enough to photograph last Friday at Barr Lake State Park. This is a Western Grebe:
This guy was maybe fifteen feet from the shore. He almost caught me off guard, but I was able to duck down and watch for a couple of minutes. He would dive below the water and then come up maybe 10 or so seconds later. Looking for fish no doubt. A much more experienced birder than I happened to walk by as I was watching two similar birds. I asked him what I was looking at, and he told me the name. He also mentioned there have been reports of Clark's Grebes also roosting at Barr Lake.
When I got home, I looked up these two birds on my ID app. They are very similar species. See how the black bank goes beneath the eye here on the Western? Yeah, it goes above the eye on the Clark's. Otherwise, they look exactly the same. I'm going to have to remember that...
Last Friday was my Birthday. I took the day off. I needed it. A few hours of me time is a must have. What better way to spend the day then to go to Barr Lake and do a little birding. I didn't have any preconceived notions of what I wanted, instead just wanting to mosey in whatever direction my feet took me, and taking my time. I was in no hurry, not needing to come home to run errands or go to the store to get something for lunch.
Anyway, I was hoping to have great light in order for me to practice my bird ID skills. I didn't get it, as Friday morning was very overcast. Everything I saw through the binoculars, and everything I shot with my camera was gray. Like more than 18% gray. I kept walking though, hoping the sun would manage to burn through the clouds. As you can see, sometime patience and perseverance pays off. I had seen three (previously unknown to me) birds flying around a next near the beginning of the trail. I got some decent images of them, but I'm going to need to lighten all of them. A little later, I happened to spot this guy not ten feet in front of me. I got one shot off before he flew away. Lucky indeed. Then it took me a day and a half of trying to figure out what he was. You can tell, there aren't many identifying features on these birds. I finally found an image on my ID app that sort of made me think this is a House Wren, which is very common in Colorado. My ID was confirmed by a fellow birder in the Front Range Wildlife Photographer's group on Facebook.
Overall, I managed to identify and report to ebird.org 17 different bird species. This isn't bad, considering I am still very much a beginner. I even got another up close image a little later on. It was a new species to me as well. I'll post that image on Wednesday. Until then, Happy BIrding.
I love it when we get a lot of rain in a short period of time. It results in the overflow/retention pond right next to my house being filled up with runoff. It usually sits around for a couple of days. Invariably, it also attracts some wildlife. Last year we had an American Avocet camp out for a couple of weeks (the pond was clogged and didn't empty). It has been very, very rainy in Denver the last few days, and after finally clearing out on Friday, I looked out the kitchen window to see two male and one female Cinnamon Teal had flown in for a little relaxation. There was also a Blue-WInged Teal, but I haven't processed those pictures yet. One of the male Cinnamon's was still there on Saturday morning, but I decided to leave them alone. I wonder what we'll attract next. Kind of makes me want to leave on land with a permanent pond...
Last summer after I was informed I was going to get laid off, my family and I drove down to Santa Fe and Taos to use one of my six weeks of saved vacation that I had been saving for some silly reason instead of taking it. We went down there to relax, look at some art, eat good food, and basically relax for a little bit. The mission was accomplished, as I figured out what my next step was going to be.
Anyway, Santa Fe and Taos are really cool cities. Just hard to navigate around when you have a toddler in a stroller. The sidewalks are not stroller friendly. Anyway, there is art everywhere. There is food everywhere. There is culture everywhere. These are some of the images I took on this trip that aren't family related (though I have some of those that are really good too).
Santa Fe has a daily Artisan Market where local merchants can sell their goods. You could tell this bread was very fresh.
This church was built just after the Civil War ended. It is Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. It was very beautiful inside, as you can see below. That tapestry behind the alter was beautiful. Masses in this church are still held to this day.
Contrasting the church is a War Memorial dedicated to the large contingent of New Mexican National Guard who died while being forced to endure the Bataan Death March after the Japanese conquered the Philippines in World War II. The history of World War II is very important to me, and I had no idea that so many of the soldiers this Memorial is dedicated to were from New Mexico.
All in all, we spent four days in the company of our Southern neighbor. Two days in Santa Fe, and two in Taos. The majority of pictures were taken were of family, and thus off limits here. But if you're interested in getting a little culture, you can't go wrong with Northern New Mexico.
There is a different version of these Ferns in my Black and White page. I just bought some new pre-sets though from photographer David DuChemin. Hands down I like this version better. The tonality here is way better.
As far as how this was processed, it was given a mocha filter, a very strong vignette, and warmed up a little bit. I also desaturated some of the green. Try that combo out, you might like it...
This was supposed to be saved as a draft to have a story included. Something go messed up and straight to the inter webs! Oh well. Hope you like the photograph...
Going through these images tonight gave me an idea for another post regarding photographing birds. This image will have to do for now though, so consider this a teaser.
Here is a quick snap from my early days of trying to figure this craft out. The outdoor mall in Loveland used to have this wall that would be painted a different color every few months. The window was highly reflective, which made for a pretty awesome combination. Have a great weekend!
Here we are. The last image in my photobook series. I started with a sunrise, and I am ending with a sunset. Every image in this series is about nature. The only thing man made in the last 23 images was the road in the shot of Canyonlands. Sure there are flowers and trees planted by man, and a couple of buildings in the image of the bison back at the beginning, but I chose all this images to show off the natural world. This is a fitting closing image. Taken at Barr Lake State Park, this was a magnificent sunset. One of the best I've ever seen. The whole sky across my field of view was every hue of orange and purple you can imagine.
So now the next step is to get the book printed. Good thing blurb is having a sale right now. Guess I should upload some pictures huh...
In 2008, my wife and I went for a weekend trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park. We stayed at Zapata Ranch, which is an awesome place to stay by the way. We want to take our kids there one day, as they have a complete ranch experience package. And it's run by the Nature Conservancy. Check it out here: (http://www.zranch.org).
Anyway. This is one of my first attempts at HDR. I just love this image. I love how the clouds lead your eye from the upper left, curving just as you arrive at the summit of High Dune. This is 800 feet of sand. It's also just a monster to climb. Very difficult. The sand is reflecting some early afternoon light, which is again giving us some red/blue color contrast between it and the sky. In retrospect, the HDR is probably a little over done. The sky isn't really that blue here all the time (although I have seen it that blue). There are highlights in the clouds that are blown out, but hey, I was working with an 8 MP camera back then. It's a solid attempt, and one from which I have learned. And I like that there are four people in this image.
I haven't done as many HDR's in the last couple of years. Mainly because I don't live as close to the mountains anymore. That's an excuse though, and one that needs to go away. I enjoy HDR, and tinkering around with all the plugins. It's cool, and it's all that should matter.
Only one photo left...
We've entered into the home stretch of the phonebook project images. In fact, there are only two more after this one. I remember this day quite well. It was New Years, and we packed five adults into my Jetta for a three hour trip south to the Springs. Then I couldn't find the road to the park because it wasn't well marked. And it was cold (did I mention it was New Year's?). But what a sight these rock formations are. The one thing I still wonder is whether or not I should have studied Geology in school instead of Biochemistry. I love rocks. I think it goes back to all my time as a kid spent on the Colorado Plateau. Striations are wonderful. Geologic uplift is inherently beautiful. And, I love the way this particular rock formation looks like an old man, covering his mouth as he yawns (the red/blue color contrast is also very nice). To this day, one of my favorites.
I've mentioned Florida a couple of times. My wife is from there. We got married there. Our favorite restaurant is The Jetty, in Jupiter, Florida. This place is awesome. It's so awesome we had our rehearsal dinner there those many years ago. The restaurant sits on the Indian River just as it approaches the Atlantic Ocean. They have a large patio where you can sit and watch boats returning home. The best part is that across the river is the Jupiter Lighthouse (http://www.jupiterlighthouse.org), which is just amazing. It's light is a Fresnel lens, which is capable of sending light some 14 miles out to see. Nobody really knows how Fresnel made his lenses, and it can't be duplicated. I need to do a post on the lighthouse specifically. Anyway, the restaurant is delicious, and satisfies our cravings for fresh seafood when we go down there. These palm fronds are in the parking lot. They serve as a great reminder of what we get to experience whenever we are fortunate enough to make it down to Florida.
After shooting Mesa Arch, I drove a little bit further down the road to the main over look which marks the end of Island in the Sky. At the bottom of an 800 foot drop, there lies the true beauty of Canyonlands. You can see FOREVER. And part of what you can see is the wonderful work of water on sandstone. Erosion is beautiful. I watched a Jeep slowly drive along the trail. I remember them getting out at one point and walking towards the edge. Oh what fun it would be to experience this. Once you enter this trail, you're committed. There is no turning around. You can only go one way. You also have to sign in at the visitors center so they know you're there. That way if you don't come out, they can send out the rescue team to try and find you. Driving this trail just looks fun, and an incredible life experience. Maybe I should put it on my bucket list?
Arches is unlike any place on Earth. Utah is unlike any place on Earth actually. This is the famous Balanced Rock in Arches. It has been photographed approximately 140 million times since every one and their brother now owns a digital camera. Getting an original composition is difficult, and I image this particular scene from this particular angle has also been photographed by someone else. It's all good though. I don't care.
What I managed to capture is some gorgeous red/blue color contrast in sunset light. We have some foreground elements, and some nice shadows underneath the juniper shrubs. This image makes me feel the desert warmth, and it makes me remember the exact moment I shot it. How I walked around for 30 minutes looking for a foreground that would work. That was the first time I had really made a cognizant effort to search for a pleasing foreground element. I think my patience was rewarded. I love this image. It's one of my favorites from the trip.
I grew up in Western Colorado. That means I spent a lot of my time in Eastern Utah. There were many summers where every Friday afternoon, my family packed up, hitched up the boat and drove the four hours to Lake Powell. We'd come back late Sunday night. It was awesome. And it gave me such a deep appreciation for the beauty the desert holds.
In 2012, I returned to Utah for two days of solitude. I hadn't been there in ten years or so, and I had forgotten why I love the place. After I checked into my room, I drove up to Canyonlands to do some scouting. My heart leapt when I saw the sheer sandstone cliffs, and I was overcome with excitement. I was a kid again, back in my second home.
The next morning, I shot Mesa Arch at sunrise with 50 other photographers. That afternoon I went into Arches, and made my way around in the late afternoon. This is Double Arch, which is where one of the scenes in Indiana Jones was filmed. Definitely a majestic hunk of rock, and well worth spending some quality time here. If for nothing else, just to listen to the wind and watch the rock pick up the color of the setting sun.
I took a lot of photos on this trip. I need to go back soon. It's been far too long...
As I mentioned with the last black and white, I have really start to look for patterns and symmetry when I go on my hikes. Being able to see these types of things can really enhance the image when it is processed in black and white. It basically boils down to intention, and having a plan in mind when composing that particular photograph.
I don't always have a plan when I go out, other than to know where I'm going. I usually go out to look for birds and try to work on that life list. But I am always open to other images. Especially when there is great light.
If you head South from the parking lot at Barr Lake State Park, there is a boardwalk leading to a gazebo that sits on the water. The problem is that a lot of the water gets drained out of the lake by mid summer because it is used to irrigate farms out on the plains. What is left after the water is gone is this mishmash of dying water plants, weeds that aren't water plants, and stuff that settles in one spot because it has nowhere else to go. If you are paying attention while walking out to the gazebo, you might just spot something pleasing to the eye. Like maybe a pointy piece of driftwood, sitting in a bed of weeds. This was even on the shady side of the bridge. This image wouldn't have worked if we were on the other side.
I don't remember if I added any birds to my list that day, but I do remember being extremely pleased after processing this image.
Last time we looked at this same stream as we hiked up the mountain. Well, on the way back down the hill, I spotted this gigantic tortoise coming out of the water. What gorgeous texture on that rock! Add in the roaring water, and this is a just a wonderful photograph. It still makes me smile all these years after making the image. Absolutely one of my favorite photos from my earlier days.
Rocky Mountain National Park in the summer. Not a bad place to be. This little stream sits along side the trail as you hike up away from Bear Lake. I don't really remember how far up the trail we are here, but I do know it's leaving from the Bear Lake trailhead. What I like most about this image is the silky smooth water, and how green and vibrant the foliage is. This is an HDR image, so combining the images is what gives the water its look. The rest of it comes from being late spring and shooting at mid morning. Summer's heat hadn't taken hold yet, turning everything brown. I love Spring. Glad it's almost here...
This is another one of my favorite Rocky Mountain National Park scenes. Absolutely no wind to disturb the lake water, and a perfect reflection of the pine trees as the result. Yes this image is centered in the frame, but I think that is what makes brings out the brilliance of the reflection. If I had cropped off some of the lake water, the image loses its impact. It's okay to sometimes break the rules, as long as you do so with a purpose. This shot is worth it to me. That being said, I am curious about what others think. I know what my two image reviewers thought...