Rocky Mountain High

Bighorn Ram photo by Gary Gray
Bighorn Ram – Colorado Rocky Mountains

Back to the summit this morning.

My main mission was Rocky Mountain Goats, however, the goats were scarce. I had to settle for the bighorn instead.

Beautiful morning on the mountain though. The clouds were blowing through fast and wafting below the summit of Mt. Evans.  All in all, it was a productive morning.

 

I’m Not a Weekend Warrior

Photograph of a wild mountain goat
Juvenile Mountain Goat – Colorado

Mountain goat season is here.

This is a photo from June of 2016.

With the tourist season upon us here in Colorado, I try to avoid getting out on weekends. The crowds form quickly and the probability of getting nice photos goes down dramatically.

I’m not a weekend warrior.

Mooseaholic Monday

moose, wildlife, animal, photography, photographer, nature, water, grass, young, bull
Young bull moose walking through a pond.

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.

My Job Is To Explore

Elk Photograph by Gary Gray
Young Bull Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park

For me, the month of May is the time of year when I begin gearing up for wildlife photography here in Colorado.

I’ll be heading to Northern Colorado later this week, where I will be spending a lot of time this summer. The Laramie Mountains of Northern Colorado are, from my view of the road, one of the least frequented areas of the state for photography. What that means to me is I get to work without crowds of tourists and weekend warriors to wade through.

Not that the northern mountains don’t get tourists, but the ratio of tourists per square mile is much lower than areas to the south such as Rocky Mountain National Park.

As a matter of fact, I’ve pretty much abandoned working in National Parks due to over-crowding and hostile park rangers. They can keep it. There are lots of unexplored and lesser known areas between Fort Collins and Steamboat Springs.

My job is to explore.

Lazy Sunday

Red Fox by Gary Gray
Red Fox

I’ll stick with this photograph for today’s blog post.

This little fox was found sleeping in my back yard. It isn’t uncommon.

That’s A Different Story

Bull moose in a lake. Northern Colorado
Bull Moose – Northern Colorado

I suppose I’m a traditional type of person in that I find emotional comfort in certain traditions.

For internet purposes, I practice the tradition of “Moose Monday.”

I’m not quite certain of the origins of “Moose Monday” as it’s been observed by quite a few people I associate with. I’m I the reason? I don’t think so, but I may have contributed to the delinquency of others.

The Moose Collective. I think the first guy other than me who I recall using the phrase was Matt Dirkson and he too appears to have this insatiable appetite for photographing wild moose but we aren’t alone. Birds of a feather so to speak, it was inevitable that we collide and join a growing a photographic tradition of naming specific photographic themes for days of the week. Some days are better than others, literally.

Still, no one person gets credit for anything organizational in a collective. It’s more symbiotic than organized. We have “Moose Mommas” in the group too, so it isn’t a guy thing, I know that much.

These things aren’t just limited to Moose either. Us moose people in the collective are sort of a sub-collective. There are many sub-collectives in photography and we all appear to be traditional people from what I can see. Many of us are obcessed with our traditional ways, so we find our collectives and carry on.

To add to the confusions, I’ve picked up a nick-name as well.”The Moose Whisperer.” I’m not certain of the origin of that name, as I’ve heard it used many times over the years describing me but that’s a different story.

 

Sunday Morning Deer Action

Wildlife photography by Gary Gray
Mule Deer Doe

Out to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR this morning.

There have been news reports of newborn bison at the Arsenal so my buddy Tim and I made a run through the arsenal this morning.

Lots of bison, lots of deer, not a lot of photography as the animals weren’t exactly in good light for most of the morning.  Still, we managed to spot three newborn bison calves. One looks like it was born in the past 24 hours as the mother was looking quite raw and low on strength.

Bison photograph by Gary Gray
Newborn Bison Calf

The placenta is still fresh and hanging from the calf and the mother is on her feet.  One of three calves we spotted.

Trending on Sunday.

Photography by Gary Gray
Bison Sparring at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge

A nice little snow storm landed on Denver yesterday and they have been far and few between this season to use an overused cliche.

As a result, my friend Tim and I took the opportunity to spend Sunday morning at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, Northwest of Denver.

We lucked out with a herd of about 100 or so Bison being positioned in good light near the road.

The kit today.  Nikon D750 with the 200-500mm VR and the Nikon D7200 with the 18-140mm VR.

Bison are one of the more difficult larger animals I’ve photographed over the years.  Reason being, their fur.  Bison fur is very course and thick and doesn’t provide a lot of edge contrast for the autofocus on most cameras to accurately pick up on.  End result, I get a higher than normal amount of out of focus shots with Bison.  Therefore, I take lots of shots when I’m shooting Buffalo, just to add a little more water to the gravy so to speak.

Couple the fur/focus issue with the fact that we were working in large open fields of snow, and you’re just asking for trouble with the cameras focus and exposure.  Today, I cranked in +.7 stops of exposure compensation to make up for metering in an almost solid white environment.