Posts Tagged With: mt evans

The Goats of Summer

Mountain Goat Babies (Kids)

I love to go up the Mt. Evans road in summer!  Besides being the highest paved road (to just shy of 14,264 feet in elevation) in the United States, it is what is found on the mountain’s slopes that make it special.  The drive ascends through climate zones much as you would driving north to the arctic.  The destination is the alpine tundra, but getting there you traverse switchbacks from the montane at Echo Lake, to the subalpine and timberline at Mt. Goliath, where bristlecone pines grace the slopes.  Beyond is the land I love:  the high rarified air of the alpine tundra:  land above the trees.  Here rock gardens bloom with tiny vibrant flowers hugging between the rocky landscape.  Also here are well-developed alpine meadows of alpine aven, nodding sky-pilot, green leaf chiming bells and dwarf clovers, all combining to create a colorful scene on the slopes.  Here also is the home of my favorite animal species:  white-tailed ptarmigan, long-tailed and least weasels, pikas, and marmots.  Even more spectacular are the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep and Rocky Mountain Goats found going about making their living at elevation, residing on the cliffs, and foraging in the meadows.

In early summer the nannies and ewes stay hidden away with their newborns in nurseries of meadows with protective cliffs above and below.  About mid-June, the ewes and nannies appear with their babies, climbing the slopes along the Mt. Evans roadside and to the summit.  There they seem to create a social scene for their babies to meet the babies of other nannies, and ewes, and to eat the minerals found in the rocky soil, and perhaps the salt spread on the roads early in the season when road-opening and spring storms sometimes come together.  Here they also meet US, and their young become of tolerant of the two-legged gawkers who watch them, photograph, and sometimes interfere with their passage.

Wildlife photography is renowned on Mt. Evans.  Nearly any day of the week photographers toting huge lenses, tripods and cameras search out the alpine wildlife to photograph.  Because of their long lenses, they can hold their distance from the animals, and do not disturb their movements and their habits.  However, I have been dismayed and sometimes annoyed by people with pocket cameras and cell phones trying to get close up photos of the sheep and goats.  Both species are extremely tolerant of humans, but they are not tame pets.  They don’t beg for food, and they prefer respect in the form of the distance humans keep.  They prefer a quiet group who makes no sudden movements, and quiet sounds.  They will continue their normal behaviors and display immensely satisfying antics, if not crowded.  In more remote places on the mountain, I have been able to sit on the ground where the goats and sheep will actually approach me.  Sitting is not as threatening, and the animals’ innate curiosity will often allow a close encounter.  I’ve often hiked to the goats and sheep, and I’ve had wonderful opportunities to observe and photograph the intimate moments of their lives.  If you don’t own a telephoto lens, do be content to include the environmental surroundings of the animal as a highlight to the landscape.  Enjoy the animals with respect, and you will be rewarded with some amazing moments!

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Categories: The High Country, Wildlife Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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