Posts Tagged With: Colorado Rockies

Pet Photography (Yes, It Has Been Awhile!)

I’ve been remiss!  I’ve done so many things and have been so many places that I hardly know where to start.  Hiking season is obviously over in  the Colorado Rockies.  We trade in our hiking boots for skis or snowshoes to visit the backcountry at this time of year.  I love snow photography, but haven’t had much time to be out in it since the Fall season.  I also have a new puppy!  I need to share some photos of him and talk a bit about pet photography.

Get down low, first of all.  Try to be at eye level with your pet.  A given is to either train your pet to stay put and call them for their attention, or have someone just behind or beside you wave a toy, a squeaker, or a treat while your pet is tethered to something behind him that is out-of-sight.  In the photo, below, I had someone hold the leash, and then I cloned out the leash in photoshop.  There was nowhere to tether the pup in the below shot:

Spirit on Mt. Evans the first week I owned him

Spirit tethered to the aspen, behind. The leash is not visible.

As Spirit grew a bit, I was able to tether him and put a dog biscuit in my mouth as I took the photo.  One thing I have noticed is that animals, wildlife or pets, don’t see your eyes when you put a camera up to your face, and they may lose interest in looking towards you.  Calling, making noises, using a squeaker or treat, all help keeping the animal focused towards the camera.

It is SO helpful to have an assistant.  In this photo, below, an assistant stood behind Spirit (believe it or not, there was safe room before the drop off….please do not do this unless it is safe, and you are secure in a situation like this!!!) and kept him safe and looking towards the photographer by tossing treats forward as the photographer also called his name.

Spirit is held in place by leash and by a non-acrophbic assistant above the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

Since I’m training Spirit to “stay”, I am higher than I’d like…..I had a treat in my mouth, and was quietly saying his name, so as to not have him bound towards me!I am working at teaching Spirit to “stay”, but it is a work in progress…….sometimes cloning out the leash is all that works, though in this photo I was able to get him to stay momentarily in front of the hearth tree.  However, I had little opportunity to compose this shot.  I really felt pretty pleased to get the photo at all!

Remember to set your aperture to a setting that isolates your subject.  An open aperture gives you less depth of field so that the background blurs and the subject is in clear focus.  That allows your eyes to take in the subject.  When youwant to include the background and the subject is more a part of the photo as a whole, you will want to close your aperture down so that theentire photo is in focus (as in the shot of the Black Canyon of theGunnison, above).

An older, 7 mo old Spirit poses, but still needed tethering, here. I am photographing a bit from above to keep the background simply the snow. I’ve also cloned out the park bench where I tethered Spirit. In this urban open space dogs are not allowed off-leash, besides, a puppy may take off in interesting new territory. A youngster is rarely secure enough to stay with distractions. The lIght on Spirit’s face helps spotlight him as the subject of the photo.

When posing more than one dog, all the above is magnified!  The final two shots are Avie, my older, female Samoyed, posing with Spirit, on Christmas Day at my sister’s.  (New territory for Spirit, but familiar to Avie).  In the first photo, the two dogs are tethered, and the tethering is cloned out.  In the second photo, the tethering merely does not show in the photo (always preferable to cloning since it is hard work to clone out images in a photo).

Avie, on left, and Spirit on the right. Leashes were cloned out of this shot.

In these photos I’ve isolated the subject by light, or by blurring the background with a wider aperture.  I’ve also used different directions of light.  The photo below, shows the use of backlight, where the light comes from behind the subject.  This can be good to keep the subjects from squinting (as they are doing in the front lit shot, above).  This is also something to remember when taking people shots!  By shooting towards the light source, in this case the sun, the subject will be in shadow, with a pleasant look.  You may have to open up your aperture a bit, or you may need to fuss with the exposure to lighten up your subject during post-processing with an editing program like Photoshop when using backlight.  In the photo, below, the snow has reflected light back up into the subjects’ faces.

I hope some of these hints will help you take nice shots of your loving pets!

Avie on left, and Spirit, right, are tethered to the old tractor, but leashes are hidden.
Categories: Other Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Hiking In the Clouds

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The summer of 2011 has seen some interesting weather.  The “monsoonal effect” is not an unknown phenomenon in the Colorado Rockies.  During weather patterns when moisture pours up from the southwest, it results in fantastic cloud patterns, building thunderheads, and potentially violent storms, usually in the afternoon hours that can culminate in “gully washers,” hail, and scary cloud-to-ground lightning.  We had had some wild weather the evening before, but the storms did not arrive until late in the day.  We hoped we would be down from the heights before the sky show began once again.  None-the-less, we hiked with an eye towards the sky, and could not help but be amazed and awed by the beautiful building clouds on the skyline.  Our hike that day was to be mostly above treeline, where lightning can be the most dangerous to mountain hikers, but a beautiful boon to the landscape photographer.  Wide-angle lens photography is particularly suited to ridgetop views with incredible thunderhead skyscapes.

We began our hike at Berthoud Pass along U.S. route 40.  We parked at the old unused ski area parking lot, and began our hike across the highway on a trail once part of the Berthoud area ski runs.  The trail switch-backed towards the ridgeline and met up with the Mt. Nystrom trail that runs through the Vasquez Peak Wilderness.  Once above tree line, the views were tremendous.  To the west we looked towards Byers Peak.  To the north were the Indian Peaks.  Eastward we saw the 13,000’ peaks above Berthoud Pass, and to the south was the 14,264’ massif of Mt. Evans. We walked along the old peneplain (flat ground that was raised up during mountain-building ages, showing remains of the older, once lower, flat land).  We entered the Vasquez Wilderness, and moved north towards a tundra pond, then hiked up to the top of the slope, turned east, and traveled to the edge of the peneplain above the Current Creek Basin.  This was our high point of the trail, where we rested and photographed the peaks around us before our descent to the Current Creek valley.

Our descent involved a scramble along the cliffs of the ridge that marked the boundary of the Current Creek Basin.  We found the easiest route downward, and made our way with caution.  Once below the cliffs, we were able to walk the tundra slopes down into the trees below the basin.  Once in the trees we encountered our exit route:  the Berthoud Ditch, a water diversion project owned by the plains city of Thornton.  The aqueduct cut a swath across the mountains just below treeline.  We were happy to reach this point because any lightning danger is less once hikers are in the forest.  Still, the clouds seemed beautifully benign, and the subalpine pond we pointed towards was the perfect place to intersect the aqueduct.  From there our hike involved walking out along the ditch to where it came alongside Highway 40, right by Berthoud Pass, the beginning of our circular hike.

Map used:  Winter Park, Central City, Rollins Pass Trails Illustrated Colorado map # 103

6.22 miles with an elevation gain of 1638’

Hiked  August 4, 2011

Categories: The High Country | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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