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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Entries Tagged as 'Photography'

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A Mandarin Duck

December 22nd, 2012 · 5 Comments

This morning since I couldn’t decide whether to hike to Bobolink Trail along South Boulder Creek or along Clear Creek, 25 miles from here in Jefferson County, I hiked both. Even though the temperature was below freezing, that wasn’t my concern. I wanted sun and the prediction was for clouds. But after I answered my email this morning, I looked out and saw what I was looking for. Immediately, I hit the road and then the trail.

Since I didn’t expect the sun to last, I headed for the Bobolink Trail, which is just three miles northeast of my apartment. But like all the streams, lakes, and reservoirs that I’ve visited recently in Boulder County, it was frozen over. I saw only a couple of blackbirds.

So I headed to the section of Clear Creek that flows through Prospect Park in Wheat Ridge. The creek is so wide and so swift that no ice has formed on it. Instead, it was covered with ducks.

Almost all of the ducks were Mallards. But among them, I spotted one male Mandarin Duck. I couldn’t have hoped for anything more.

I had seen a Mandarin Duck along the same stretch of Clear Creek on April 30, 2011, and my guess is that the same guy had returned after a long flight elsewhere. That day a year and one-half ago I got off only 166 shots of this colorful bird before clouds rolled in and spoiled the view. Today I managed to capture 1,348 images in the 51 minutes that the Mandarin and I were together. I also had better light today and a little more experience. Consequently, today’s shots were a bit better.

The Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata) Looks Proud (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 310mm, f/8, 1/1000, ISO 800, -0.5 EV)

The Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata) Looks Proud (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 310mm, f/8, 1/1000, ISO 800, -0.5 EV)

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The Water Ouzel

December 17th, 2012 · No Comments

The Water Ouzel is a special bird that I have longed to see ever since I hiked up to Ouzel Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park more than four years ago. But I failed to see it then.

Actually, nowadays we call this songbird an American Dipper or by its scientific name, Cinclus mexicanus. But, like many people, I prefer to call it a Water Ouzel.

This spring, Sharon took to a swift-moving section of Boulder Creek to show me where she had seen one earlier. We didn’t see it that day or in the two or three times I went back there in the past six months. But I finally found it there last Wednesday:

A Water Ouzel Perches along Boulder Creek (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/60 with fill flash, ISO 800)

A Water Ouzel Perches along Boulder Creek (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/60 with fill flash, ISO 800)

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I was able to get close enough to use my camera’s internal flash, which was necessary because the sun had just gone down. Even though the light was poor and I didn’t capture the Water Ouzel in the water, I was pleased enough with this shot to send it to my friend Marveen. She in turn suggested that re-reading what John Muir had written about this unusual bird would be even more enjoyable for me now. It was.

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Tantra Lake’s Waterfowl

December 16th, 2012 · No Comments

The sun briefly came out from behind the clouds on Sunday afternoon, so I walked out from my apartment in South Boulder to Tantra Lake and photographed our birds for an hour. I wanted to get some better shots of the migrating Ring-necked Ducks than I got the two previous afternoons.

Mostly, however, I saw Canada Geese. What we call “the goose step” is a special marching step that soldiers perform in formal military parades. But Canada Geese perform it informally.

True Goose-Stepping (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/1000th, ISO 400, -0.5 EV)

True Goose-Stepping (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/1000th, ISO 400, -0.5 EV)

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Tundra Swans

November 27th, 2012 · No Comments

On Sunday afternoon when I looked out the window at my desk where I was working, I saw that the sky had cleared. For me clear skies = stop working. Since I live in Boulder, which brags about our 300 sunny days a year, that means I don’t get much work done.

My work indeed came to an immediate halt. I intended to drive to a favorite preserve, but just in case I could see some Tundra Swans that someone had reported at Baseline Reservoir, I stopped there and looked.

From the road I could see a flock of them in the distance. So I stopped there instead of going on. I parked my SUV on the south side of the reservoir at the dirt road behind a locked gate and crawled through the barbed wire fence. Then I walked back with my camera and tripod until the swans were at a right angle to this trail.

The swans were still several hundred yards out in the reservoir, so I was glad that I had mounted my teleconverter on my lens. That gave it a 560mm reach, but when I use a teleconverter with my camera and lens, I lose autofocus capability. Precise manual focus is much harder than autofocus, but since the light was good, I was able to stop down to f/16. That gave the lens a greater depth of field.

I also took a lot of pictures — 1,112 during my 1 1/4 hour visit — in hopes that some of them would turn out. Some did:

Two Adult Tundra Swans (Cygnus columbianus) and One Juvenile Rest on Baseline Reservoir (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens and 1.4 teleconverter = equals 560mm, f/16, 1/500, ISO 800, -0.5ev)

Two Adult Tundra Swans (Cygnus columbianus) and One Juvenile Rest on Baseline Reservoir (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens and 1.4 teleconverter = equals 560mm, f/16, 1/500, ISO 800, -0.5ev)

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Rocky Mountain National Park

November 26th, 2012 · 1 Comment

Before the snow of winter blankets all of Rocky Mountain National Park, my friend Sharon and I explored some of its elevations below 10,000 feet on Black Friday. But our day in the wilds was anything but black.

We started by hiking up Deer Mountain. Each of us had been there before separately, but I hadn’t been there since September 2008.

Deer Mountain is best for its views. In the photo below you can see Horseshoe Park in the foreground, and in the background, from left to right, is 12,454-foot Mount Chapin, which I climbed in August 2008, 13,069-foot Mount Chiquita, and 13,514-foot Ypsilon Mountain.

The View to the West from Deer Mountain (Panasonic DMC-TS3, 9mm, f/14, 1/125, ISO 400)

The View to the West from Deer Mountain (Panasonic DMC-TS3, 9mm, f/14, 1/125, ISO 400)

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Adams County Regional Park

November 25th, 2012 · No Comments

Sharon and I returned to Adams County Regional Park on the morning of Thanksgiving Day. She had introduced me to this oasis in June 2010. About 30 miles east of here out on the high plains, this park has three or four lakes and one river.

The river is the South Platte, which flows into the Platte and thence into the Missouri, the Mississippi, and the Gulf of Mexico. The Platte figures in American history since the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery Expedition travelled it as far as possible as did the immigrants to the West in the years before the railroads came. Noted as being “a mile wide and an inch deep,” the river where we saw it wasn’t quite so wide and a bit deeper.

The South Platte Flows Through Adams County Regional Park (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 100mm, f/16, 1/250, ISO 400)

The South Platte Flows Through Adams County Regional Park (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 100mm, f/16, 1/250, ISO 400)

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McIntosh Lake

November 24th, 2012 · No Comments

On one hand, McIntosh Lake in Longmont is too civilized for us. Much of the 3 1/2 mile path around this large lake is paved with cement. Both Sharon and I prefer to walk on dirt.

On the other hand, we found plenty of dirt. When I wandered off the path to get close to a group of American White Pelicans, I had to cross a mudflat. The mud got thicker and thicker and finally got so sticky that I couldn’t lift one of my boots out of it without going down on my knees and crawling back. I did get dirty, but of course protected my camera. It doesn’t like dirt as much as the little boy in me does.

Actually, I didn’t get any good shots of pelicans then. But an hour later both we and the pelicans had moved to the other end of the lake. Of course, they were in the lake, and we were next to it, and this time I wasn’t in the mud.

Pelicans are one of the largest birds in North America and among my favorites, especially because they seem to choreograph their movements in sync with each other. As they did here:

Three American White Pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) Swim Together in McIntosh Lake (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/1000th, ISO 800)

Three American White Pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) Swim Together in McIntosh Lake (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/1000th, ISO 800)

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Sawhill Ponds in Fall

October 26th, 2012 · 4 Comments

When my friend Marveen visits me from her home in Alaska, I make sure to show her Boulder’s beauty. The fall landscape at Sawhill Ponds is one of my favorite places, so that’s where we went on Monday.

The city of Boulder manages this open space as a wildlife preserve just east of the city limits. Except for a few maintained trails, several social trails, and the occasional overflight of planes taking off from the nearby Boulder Municipal Airport, this is a preserve for birds, fish, and animals, rather than people. That makes it all the more attractive to me.

Boulder Creek forms the western boundary. There we saw fish that were at least two feet long.

Boulder Creek Has Some Big Fish (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 105mm, f/8, 1/30, ISO 800)

Boulder Creek Has Some Big Fish (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 105mm, f/8, 1/30, ISO 800)

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Clear Creek

October 25th, 2012 · No Comments

On Sunday we knew that fall was quickly coming to an end with a snowstorm predicted for this week. So even though we knew we wouldn’t be alone on the trails, Sharon and I hiked on a weekend day anyway.

We hiked the trails on both sides of Clear Creek in Wheat Ridge’s Prospect Park. About 25 miles south of Boulder, where each of us live and only a dozen miles from downtown Denver, this lovely Park is an oasis in the city. And once we got more than a few feet from the parking lot we had the trails mostly to ourselves and the birds.

Sharon Hikes the Trail Along Clear Creek (Canon 7D with 18-200mm lens at 20mm, f/16, 1/180, ISO 800)

Sharon Hikes the Trail Along Clear Creek (Canon 7D with 18-200mm lens at 20mm, f/16, 1/180, ISO 800)

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Clear Creek Flows Through Prospect Park (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 100mm, f/11, 1/180, ISO 800)

Clear Creek Flows Through Prospect Park (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 100mm, f/11, 1/180, ISO 800)

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A Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) Prepares to Attack (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO 800)

A Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) Prepares to Attack (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 400mm, f/8, 1/2000, ISO 800)

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We saw an many birds as people. And this hawk surrounded by fall foliage was my favorite.

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Heil Valley Ranch

October 20th, 2012 · 2 Comments

We never saw so many wild turkeys before. Several times in the past few years Sharon and I had hiked the trails of Heil Valley Ranch, which starts just 12 miles north of Boulder. I know that I had seen two or three of these big birds on a hike there earlier this year. I’ve also seen individual birds or small groups on Green Mountain, Bonny Lake, and Rocky Mountain and Mesa Verde National Parks. But today we saw at least 46 of these colorful birds, none of which seemed the least bit afraid of becoming our Thanksgiving Dinner.

One of a Family of 28 Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) that We Saw at Near the Main Trailhead (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 320mm, f/8, 1/3000, ISO 800)

One of a Family of 28 Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) that We Saw at Near the Main Trailhead (Canon 7D with 100-400mm lens at 320mm, f/8, 1/3000, ISO 800)

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Sharon left her car at the main trailhead to Heil Valley Ranch, an important part of Boulder County’s North Foothills Open Space. Then we drove together in my SUV 12 miles north to a new and little-known trailhead at the end of Pyrite Way in Lyons, where I left my vehicle.

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