Monday, October 20, 2014

Visiting Home

Day 6: Leaving the Denver area I traveled north on I-25 along the Front Range to my boyhood town of Loveland, Colorado. It's funny how things feel so familiar and yet are entirely different. When I left here back in the dark ages Loveland was home to about 17,000 people. Now the population has swelled to over 72,000. Visiting here brought back a lot of pleasant memories. Everywhere I turned something came to my mind. I love to visit but I know that I no longer belong here. It is similar to the German feeling of Sehnsucht. Longing for a place that can never be yet it still home.I stayed with my brother Eric and his wonderful wife Sue at her Mom's house. They are temporarily displaced while their new house is being built up in the Rockies. What a beautiful place it's going to be. It has a great view and it is easy to get to Rocky Mountain National Park from where the house is being built. Eric was awesome because he set up a blind and a bird feeder for me to use in the backyard. I really wanted to photograph a Blue Jay because I've never photographed one before. There weren't any Blue Jays in Loveland when I grew up there as a kid. But they are there now and I really wanted an image of one. Luckily for me the Jays obliged. After I finished photographing photographing Jays Eric took me out to photograph some of the local Prairie Dogs and then we headed up to North Park next to Loveland High School to photograph Canadian Geese and Fox Squirrels. I watched one squirrel insulating its nest with bark in preparation for the upcoming winter. We got home just in time to BBQ some chicken for dinner. Early Fall evenings in Colorado are spectacular. What a wonderful and fantastic day I had. Thank you Lord for the experience. God's love to all, chris

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Checking the Mail

Lenore was watching our bird feeders this morning when she told me, "Quick come take a look. There is a buck out here." I arrived just in time to see it poking its head around my mailbox set up for the birds and squirrels. I grabbed my camera just in time to photograph it nosing around the door and then sticking its head inside checking for the mail Um I mean the seed. It made for a couple of great images. Now I need to go out and repair the mailbox that has mysteriously been ripped from the post. Sigh, a photographers work is never done! God's love and blessings to all, chris

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Wild for Wood Ducks

Day five of my trip to Colorado and Wyoming found me up before the cock crows and heading down the residential streets of Littleton towards Sterne Park Lake. I wanted to stake out a good spot to photograph Wood Ducks. My arrival at the lake went unnoticed by anyone because I was the only person around. I claimed my spot just across from the island and sat down in the wet grass beside the lake with my feet dangling down the bank towards the water. Why hadn't I thought to bring something along to sit on? It didn't matter now as there were woodies swimming back and forth in front of me in the gathering light. I ended up photographing Wood ducks for over two hours. It was a perfect spot with fall colors being reflected onto the surface of the lake.There were a few nice looking Mallards and some Canadian Geese floated down and landed right next to me. It was a great morning which took me hours and hours of editing time yesterday! It was well worth it. Enjoy the Wood Ducks and God bless, chris All images created with a Canon 7D and a Canon 100-400l IS lens on Manfotto 055XB tripod with a Bogen 3055 ballhead.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Looking for Woodies

Day four of my trip to Colorado and Wyoming found me looking for Wood Ducks. I arose early and was out of the house before the sun rose. I first checked out Ketring park where I spotted a few but they were too far away to photograph. Next stop was Sterne Park where I found them in abundance. Well maybe not abundance but there were twenty or so of them in various parts of the lake. I wasn't alone in my pursuit as there already was another photographer there in a prime spot across from the island. I worked around him so as to not disturb him and still managed to get some fairly nice images of some Woodies. I also got a beautiful one of a Great Blue Heron coming in to land with its wings outspread. An image of a nice pair of Canadian Geese for my daughter Annika who just loves geese. Don't you Annika? I poked around a bit more but didn't come up with anything substantial. I went back to Dan and Julie's house and photographed Zack the wonder dog. What a great dog. Later that evening I made a nice image of Dan playing guitar as well. So nice to be among old friends. God's precious love and blessings to all, chris

Out and About or RMA and Colorado Center for the Blind

The mornings sunrise found Dan Burke and myself headed south on I 470 towards the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. We wanted to hike the trails and spot some of the numerous wildlife found there. After passing through the gate and the visitors center we spotted the first of many deer that inhabit the refuge. They were busy having breakfast and didn't pay us much mind. The refuge is home to a large population of Prairie Dogs that can easily be photographed from your vehicle. If you get out of your car though they are gone in a flash as evidenced by the Prairie Dog hole! After parking the car we hiked the three mile long trail around Lake Ladora. We spotted more deer and Dan recorded Meadow Larks singing and Magpies raucous calls. We also heard a mysterious buzzing sound that we were never able to figure out. It was from the grass and it was more staccato and continuous than the cicadas we could hear in the cottonwoods. We spotted a tattered Monarch Butterfly on its journey south to Mexico. Hopefully it makes it as it is awfully late in the year to be migrating.It has been unseasonably warm so it stands a good chance. Leaving the park we headed out for a lunch of Greek Gyros. Yum! After lunch Dan gave me the grand tour of the Colorado Center for the Blind. The center was pretty amazing. It is in an located in an old YMCA building and was beautiful and spacious. The place was a beehive of activity. I observed students receiving training in cooking, cane navigation and travel as well as reading braille. The center runs numerous programs including Independence Training Program for Adults,Youth Programs, Senior Programs and Training for Professionals on Blindness. One of the primary goals of the center is for its students to be independent and self confident. Here is a quote from their website "Grounded in the National Federation of the Blind’s positive philosophy of blindness, the Colorado Center for the Blind provides innovative teaching techniques, daily challenges and self-confidence that are the building blocks of independence, opportunity and success. Day after day, year after year, blind students leave the Colorado Center for the Blind’s training program as living examples of the NFB’s motto: “With effective training and opportunity, blind people can compete on terms of equality with their sighted peers.” Following the tour of the center we stopped by Ketring Park for a short walk around the edge of the lake and got a great look at one of the friendly inhabitants a Red Fox Squirrel. Then we headed homeward for a well deserved break. God's love and blessings to all, chris

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Photography Basics and Beyond Cruise

Now that the weather is chilling down it's time to plan ahead for a winter escape.Have you always wanted to learn how to take better images with your camera? How about a low stress trip on a cruise ship to Catalina CA and Ensenada, Mexico to learn those skills. Book a cruise with Celtic Heritage Destinations and Carnival Cruise Lines. This tour will include hands-on and classroom instruction, group excursions, and photography assignments geared to help you discover the basics of focus, exposure, ISO, and shutter speed. But don't worry if you only have a point and shoot camera or even a cell phone! You can still learn how to get the most out of these great options for photography. This small group is perfect for those who are just starting out in digital photography, who have a new camera, or those that feel they want to take their photography to a higher level. What could be better? Learning new photography skills, all while enjoying the amenities of the Carnival Inspiration and the scenic beauty of Southern California and Baja! But our focus will be on FUN! Please contact Jenny Senter of Celtic Destinations to book your travel needs. Chris

Way Up High for Pikas

Day two of my trip to Colorado and Wyoming found me driving up into the rockies at 5:30 a.m. with my best buddy Dan Burke. My goal was to photograph Pika way up in the rockies and I wanted to be there at first light. When we reached the top of the pass at 11,991 feet the sun was just cresting the peaks to the east. We parked and when I stepped out of the car and it was pretty brisk I immediately went to the trunk of the car and grabbed a well needed warm sweatshirt for the trail. We slowly plodded up the trail looking for Pika . Wow, is it hard to walk at that elevation for a lowlander. I began having an anxiety attack and I had to stand for a good length of time to calm myself down. It takes awhile at acclimate to that elevation. After awhile I began to feel better and we started hiking up even higher. At 13,200 feet we began to hear Pika before we could see them. Soon I spotted several in the lichen covered rocks and we searched for a good spot to sit. One of the easiest ways to photograph Pika is to find out where they are and then just find a likely spot to sit and wait. The spot ended up being perfect. After about a half hour wait the Pikas started getting bolder and began coming down out of the scree (bunch of loose rocks) to feed. I was surprised to see that the Pika weren't gathering any plants at all. They were just eating and then running back up the scree to rest. Eventually I had one feed to less than three feet from me. It was so close that I couldn't focus on it. Not long after that all activity semed to come to a stop. It was good timing as it was getting too bright to photograph. On the way down I photographed a Mountain Bluebird and we spotted several Marmots one of which I photographed from a distance. We stopped in Idaho Springs for a well deserved lunch. We had awesome BBQ at Smokin Yard's BBQ. What a great way to finish off a morning. Thank you Lord for providing me this experience. God's love and blessings to all, chris