Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Devil's Head

Today, I'm trying something a little different. I've been restricting myself to showing, at most, a single picture a day. Today, I’ll post a little series.

On Saturday I went to Roxborough State Park to catch a sunrise shot. I got a few, and by 7:00AM I was done. Instead of driving home via the Interstate, I took the Rampart Range road – a 60-mile gravel road from the town of Sedalia to the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.

Along the way, I stopped at the Devil’s Head trail. The trail is about 1.4 miles climbing up about 950ft to the historic Devil’s Head Lookout Tower. It was built in 1921 and is the last remaining of 11 original Front Range lookout towers.
Once you reach the cabin where the ranger stays, you can climb up the 143 steps to get the lookout. The tower is a small glass-enclosed building with lots of lightning protection. I’d love to ride out a storm up there – what a sight that would be!

From the top, you have a great 360 degree view. According to the USDA National Forest site, one can see mountain peaks over 100 miles on a clear day.

If you're ever in the area, it’s a great hike with an interesting destination. But, bring water!

I’ll share some of the other photos in a future post.

That’s My World! Go to My World Tuesday for more.

Monday, June 29, 2009


This beautiful specimen is a Prickly Poppy (Argemone pleicantha? - There are a lot of similar varieties of Argemone).

I find it very interesting to look at due to the juxtaposition of the delicate papery petals and the prickly appearance of the rest of the plant. But, the sight of all that pollen is almost enough to make my eyes water and nose itch.

Be sure to visit other Mellow Yellow site.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

2:30 AM

Yesterday was one of the few days that Roxborough State Park opened early enough to allow people to shoot the sunrise. They opened at 5:00AM for the 5:35AM sunrise. I've been wanting to catch one of these sunrise openings. The early openings in April and May were raining, overcast days. Today was the day!

I made sure I got there about 4:30AM so that I stood a good chance of getting the spot I scouted out during my last trip (see Scouting Roxborough). I was the third in line at the gate. Over the next 40 minutes (yes, the ranger was late), the line of cars waiting grew to 13. It felt like a race - not a relaxing morning of hiking and shooting! Once we all got to the parking lot, I grabbed by camera bag and tripod. The ranger asked me if I'd seen the bear as we were driving in. I had - it was a good size bruin. Too bad it was too far away to get a photo. Somebody used that diversion to get to the spot I scouted out. However, this second choice of place is not too bad either.

The whole time I was here and taking shots, I keep thinking to myself that I was missing the real show. The sky to the east had a fair amounts of clouds and looked like it may be the best sight. I decided to stay where I was because I didn't know of any good spots from which to shoot the eastern sky.

As with most photo trips I take, I learned something: when scouting a location, look for other possible alternative angles/shots depending on possible alternative weather and light conditions.

After capturing a number of versions of this popular composition, I hiked around a bit looking for compositions and subjects that express my style a bit more. Some of these photos are sure to appear in future posts.

Oh, and the title? That’s the horrible time that I had to wake up at in order to get this shot…

Be sure to visit Scenic Sundays!

Friday, June 26, 2009


Another sunset from the eastern plains of Colorado.

I'm ready for the weekend and a chance to get away from work, see the world, and take some photos.

Be sure to check out the other Sky Watch Fridays.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Alas poor Yoric!

I found this rodent skull sitting on a huge rock along side a small stream running though a tiny, tightly packed little canyon. I'm really curious how it came to be here. No sign of the skeleton nearby. Perhaps it's a warning against trespass from a band of pictsies.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


The flower pictured here is known locally as a "Butter and Eggs" (Linaria vulgaris). It has always been one of my favorite summer wildflowers. So, I was very surprised to learn that this flower is considered a weed! Apparently it is not native to North America (it was imported in the 1600's) and is considered to be an invasive species in several states and provinces.

Click on the link for more photos from ABC Wednesdays.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Morning Walk

I'm finally feeling well enough to go on early morning photo walks. This morning, I returned to one of my favorite spots, Ute Valley Park. Summer is definitely here. The cattails at that pond are filled in and hide the pond with their deep green leaves. The oaks have all filled out. The yuccas are starting to flower.

I was a bit foolish while taking this photo this morning. I was wearing shorts and flip-flops and wading through the tall grass. This is not smart because there are a lot of Rattlesnakes in the park, and flip-flops are not much protection against them. I never saw, or heard, a rattler, but I did meet a small grass snake at this location.

That's my world - be sure to click on My World Tuesdays for others'.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Road

A dirt road near the Taylor Park Reservoir (Crested Butte, CO area).

The title I gave to this photo made me think of Cormac McCarthy's "The Road". What a book. On the surface it appears bleak and hopeless, but it's actually a story of incredible hope. I see that a movie is being made of it. Although the cast looks impressive, I'm cynical about them actually doing this story any justice.

Click on the link for other Monochrome Maniacs.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Yesterday was the first chance for me to play with the camera in more than a week. So, I was disappointed when my truck was totally dead and would not start. After getting a jump start, I drove the ungrateful machine to my mechanic so he could find the issue with the electrical system. On the way there, I saw a huge field of wildflowers. As I was anticipating a long wait at the garage, so I left my camera at home. The overcast skies would have been perfect for shots of flowers. Anyway, 5 hours later, I was parked on the side of the road by this field. Luckily the sky stayed overcast. I'm sure that drivers along Austin Bluffs Blvd were wondering why that fool was rolling around on the ground and contorting himself.

I'm also sure that most of the drivers took no notice of me, and were oblivious to the field of wildflowers.

I'm not very good at photos like this. So, any suggestions for improving the composition would be greatly appreciated!

Click for more Scenic Sundays.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Sky is Falling!

This photo is from a very wet backpack Kelly and I did in the Pecos Wilderness in NM a while back. We ran into some seriously nasty thunderstorms with rain and hail. This shot shows the clouds we are walking through. Sometimes, in order to see the sky, one looks down.

This shot was taken with my old Canon G2. It's a great little camera to take when traveling light, and fast.

Click on SkyWatch Fridays for more.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


An overlook of the East River from the road between Crested Butte and to Gothic, CO.

I'm a curious guy. Whenever I post a picture, there is usually something about the photo or the subject of the post that stokes my curiosity and I end up on Google. Most of what one finds on the web should be taken with a grain of salt, but there is some good info out there as well.

For this photo, I ran across a miniature stream table used to demonstrate how streams flow though a watershed. Click here to see it. Looks like fun to play with!

I'm still recovering from my bout of illness. Lots to catch up on. I've not taken in photos in about a week, I'm behind on my blog roll, and behind at work. If only I didn't need to sleep at night, I would soon catch up!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Sorry for the lack of posts the last few days. I've been a bit ill. I took Friday off to go camping up near Aspen, Co. However, I ended up staying in bed most of that day.

This is a statue of Zebulon Pike standing outside the El Paso County Courthouse in Colorado Springs. Behind him, you can catch a glimpse of the mountain that bears his name. Originally, he was facing towards the peak. He was moved when the county expanded the court house. I'm sure he is now wondering where that mountain went...

Many people believe that Zebulon stated that no one could ever climb the Peak. People from the Pikes Peak region find this immensely humorous, after all, many of them get to the summit by way of the Barr Trail, the Cog Railroad, or the Pike's Peak highway. In fact, 1000's of people run up the peak during the yearly Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathons (I've done the Ascent twice).

Actually, many historians believe that he said they could not climb it in the winter conditions found at the time he visited. According to the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, the expedition was in summer uniforms and ill-equipped for the climb. Even though it is now June, the Peak is still covered with snow and would be a dangerous climb for anyone in summer clothing.

That's a part of my world - go to My World Tuesday to see others'.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Fly me to the Stars

This photo is the last picture I took the other evening while at the Paint Mines. It's cropped a lot to get the moon this big. It's also a bit fuzzy - there was a bit of a moon dog that night. I actually quite amazed at how well it turned out. I'd love to have access to a large telescope and take some big photos of the moon, photos of the planets (Jupiter and Mars), galaxies, nebulae, etc.

Be sure to point your browser over to Skywatch Friday.


Paint Brushes after rain in the Taylor River Valley. Looks like neon!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


The Garden of the Gods is another amazing park in Colorado Sprints. In 1909, the family of Charles Elliott Perkins gave the land to the city "where it shall remain free to the public, where no intoxicating liquors shall be manufactured, sold, or dispensed, where no building or structure shall be erected except those necessary to properly care for, protect, and maintain the area as a public park." The road though the park are often packed with tourists in cars, and locals running or biking.

This photo really illustrates what the quality of light can give to a photo. It was taken shortly after sunrise. Compare it to a similar photo of the same rock formation, but in a location that will never receive a sunrise and is unlikely to receive much of a sunset. The difference in the appearance of the stone is astounding.

That's my world! To see other worlds, be sure to visit That's My World Tuesday.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Last week, I went to Ute Valley Park well before dawn to attempt a sunrise shot in a certain spot. After I finished, I took my time returning to the parking lot, enjoying the morning, the bird song and scattered wild flowers. I found this little field of flowers highlighted by the yellow of the early morning rays.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


This photo blog has been a very interesting experience. It has lead to some personnel growth and has taught me some unlikely lessons. I'm an engineer by trade and thus have spent years exercising left-brain activities (heck, I use a spreadsheet to plan vacations!). I've never considered myself an artist. Photography started as a hobby for me, a way to record memories. It was never meant to make art. So, I was so surprised and pleased on that day that a film developer asked to display one of my photos on their wall. What a kick! Still, coming back from a vacation and having a $200-$300 bill to develop all the film lead me to eventually start to leave the camera in the closet.

I decided to start the blog last year, after I took the plunge and bought a digital SLR. I reckoned that it would be a good way to journal my attempt to becoming a better photographer, and to share stuff with friends and family. I certainly did not expect other people to read it!

I was looking for feedback when I started posting photos in public areas. It was a bit frightening when I first did. I was hoping for constructive criticism, but fearing ridicule or, worse, disinterest. I was ecstatic when I received some criticism. I learned a lot from it. The linked post is a result of that.

Then, I discovered the concept of photo memes. For awhile, I just lurked. There are so many people out there with interesting stories, beautiful poems, and gorgeous photos! I learned lot by lurking. When I stopped lurking and decided to contribute to a meme, I was, again, full of trepidation. But the response to my first post was, to me, overwhelming.

That’s when I learned that having a audience is fun. I’ve never liked being a center of attention, so, this surprised me! However, I also found that this brought with it a certain amount of pressure. After that first post to Skywatch Friday, I wondered what I’d post next. Looking through my collection, I saw nothing that I thought was as good as that one. I felt pressure to perform well. I’ve used that perceived pressure as a goad to get out and take a lot pictures, try need styles of shots (portraits, for example) and new techniques. I believe that I am a much better photographer than I was 10 months ago when I started the blog.

This, finally, brings me to this photo. A few days ago, I posted a photo. In that post, I mentioned that I took another that is one of my favorites, and that I’d post it today. The response to that was amazing. Now I’m obliged to post this one. What’s interesting is that in the past, I’d be nervous about the implied expectations, now, not so much. If nobody else likes it, I still like it, and I guess that’s what really matters. But, all you readers have helped me to gain some confidence in “my art”. I don’t yet consider myself an artist, but perhaps, I’m getting closer. Thank you all very much!

About this image: I saw the rays of the setting sun striking the tops of the grass and saw a cool photo. I took a number of shots, different compositions, and camera settings, etc. One of them I took with a slower shutter speed to capture the waving of the grass. I got the blurring of the grass in the foreground, but it didn' look right. But I still liked to overall image. So, I applied the Orton Effect which softens the overall focus. In the end, the result of that helped the image convey what I felt when I was standing there.

Sorry for the long post - I didn't expect that when I started writing :)

Be sure to visit Scenic Sundays or other great scenes.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Have any food?

This Steller's Jay accosted me while I was photographing some flowers in the Crested Butte area. These camp robbers are handsome, but always looking for a handout.

For more photogenic critters, head to Camera Critters.

Friday, June 5, 2009

An Evening Well Spent

Sunsets near my home are often not very good. I live in the shadow of the Colorado front range. To get a sunset, I find that I either need to head west to the other side of the front range, or head east far enough that the front range shrinks to be closer to the horizon. Unfortunately, I don't get the opportunity to do this often.

Last night, the girls went to see some 'girls only' play up in Denver. I took the opportunity to head east. I decided to go to the Paint Mines Interpretative Park (click to see some past posts about park). I didn't try to get any shots of the hoodoos that the park is famous for. Instead, I walked around looking for a representation of the prairie and the big sky.

I really didn't plan this trip well. I went out there in a tee-shirt, shorts and sandals. And, by the end of the shoot, I was shivering uncontrollably.

But it was worth it. The sky and the land was beautiful. There were, seemingly, millions of birds singing. I caught sight of one Western Meadowlark. Sadly, he was too far away to get a photo. I also glimpsed what was probably a Longspur of some sort.

To top it off, I took what may be one of my favorite pictures (not this one, I'll post it on Sunday)

Happy Friday everyone!

For more SkyWatch Fridays, click the link.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Drinking Man

This is the Drinking Man, who, originally from England, now resides at the Musee Mecanique in San Francisco, Ca. For a quarter, he drinks liquid from a bottomless cup (by re-circulating the liquid through a tube in his arm back to the cup.

The Musee Mecanique is a huge collection of Ed Zelinsky's coin-operated mechanical musical instruments and antique arcade machines. It is really an interesting, and noisy, stop on a tour of San Francisco.

Go to the Thursday Challenge and put a quarter in to see all the photos from todays theme: "MACHINES" (Watches, Computers, Cars, Vending Machine, Washing Machine,...).

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


These trees are Populus tremuloides, also known as Quaking Aspen. Aspens are a favorite tree to me. Growing up in deserts of New Mexico, aspens have always represented being in the mountains. Now I live in a place where I have aspens in the yard of my house!

Aspens are really interesting. In the dry western US, aspens propagate mainly by clonal root suckers. That is, new trees pop up from the root system of existing trees. That means that the forest pictured here may be made up of clones from a single tree. Go to wikipedia to read about Pando, a truly huge clonal colony.

The photo was taken during my recent trip to Crested Butte, near Ruby peak along the Kebler pass trail.

T is for Tremuloides. Click over to ABC Wednesday for more T-theme photos.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sunrise at the Park

Ute Valley Park - It is one of the best urban parks that I've ever seen. Perhaps, it's because I have such easy access to it. Ever since I moved to Colorado Springs, I've lived near it. There's a great little pond, an overgrown canyon, open prairie, great mountain biking, hiking and running trails, and great views of Pike Peak! Click here (Edit: Fixed link) to see all my posts of the Park. Additionally, it's a fairly quite park. Nearby Garden of the Gods can be packed with people on the roads; driving really slow and gawking. I feel so lucky to live close to the park, and I hope it show though my photos.

That's My World! Head over to My World Tuesday to see others'.

Monday, June 1, 2009

YAPP: Yet another Pikes Peak

Generally, I like Blogger. However, I really wish it had a better system to allow communications between people - maybe something more like Wordpress where you can have threaded comments. I've considered moving to Wordpress to get that feature, but their version of comment threads is only a partial solution (imho, it needs the ability to subscribe just to a thread) and I don't have the time to learn and create a new blog just for a partial solution. Anyway, I find it very, very awkward to maintain conversations.

This image is another shot of Pikes Peak. I never get bored of looking at the ever changing view of this beautiful Peak.

Be sure to point your browser over to Monochrome Maniacs for some great monochrome images.