Two Ducks, Six Bears And The Misadventures Of A Landscape Photographer

Mr. and Mrs. Duck

First there is a warning quack, then a resounding quack-quack followed by the fluttering of wings.  “There goes Mr. and Mrs. Duck” Tammy will say and we watch the pair skim over the water in the same easterly direction.  And so the chain of events repeats itself, day in and day out as we take our daily walks.  Ahhh, summer in the mountains of Southern Colorado.

When I was a kid, I’d take an old shoe box, poke a hole in the end of it and tape a piece of black and white photo paper inside.  It always amazed me how I could miraculously produce a photograph using such simple tools.  Today, it amazes me that with all of the fancy equipment I can’t seem to get a wildlife image that looks much different from those pinhole camera pictures.  Shooting photographs or video of wildlife is an art form that I have not neither mastered.  I am persistent however and I have the desire, a combination that will eventually unlock the door to success.

So, back to that elusive pair of Ducks and the comical scene that unfolds each time I try to photograph them.  I’ve done everything shy of dressing in camouflage and building a duck blind to capture their image.  I have indeed, crawled through the grass on my belly and hidden behind a nearby shack a number of times.  Holding my camera in shooting position, I peer around the corner as if I’m an FBI agent on a drug raid.  “Quack…Quack Quack….Flutter Flutter”, they’re gone before I can take command of my focus ring.

Quack…Quack Quack…..Flutter Flutter

It seems as though the same scenario plays itself out no matter what the subject matter is.  Tammy and I drive everywhere with cameras ready and tripods extended for when and not if we see a heard of Elk, a Bear or a Mountain Lion.  The way it really seems to work is quite different from what we anticipate though.  In the past 7 days, we have seen a Blonde Male Bear, a Black Male Bear and a Momma Bear with three darling little Cubs.  When we see something really great there is an adrenaling rush and a very confusing attempt to communicate with one another that could easily lead to disaster.  “Stop” “Go” “Roll Down the Window” “ Move out of my way” “We need a new windshild” are the types of things you might hear in that moment.  It’s not uncommon for me to lose my mind and attempt to take pictures from a moving vehicle, while I am driving.  And then there are the times when we are whispering and moving very slowly to get into position.  I open the door with the key still in the ignition and the “ding-ding-ding” announces to the whole forest that we are there, larger than life.

So go easy on me when you judge these pictures.  They aren’t as easy to get as you might think.  You can bet that I will be bragging it up when I finally get that award winning wildlife shot.

It Really Is All Relative

Back in the day, somebody brought home this truck and they must have beamed with pride as the Colorado Sun glimmered and danced on the factory fresh chrome. Imagine the smell of the new upholstery and the feel of the transmission as it shifted from second to third. In all likelihood, at some point in time a happy couple went out for a Sunday drive in this truck and as they noticed an old wooden wagon, abandoned and leaning at the side of the road and they thought to themselves, “back in the day”.

My In-Laws out for a Sunday drive on the new Can-Am

Now, Imagine a line of wooden wagons climbing up Glorieta Pass on the Santa Fe Trail.  Despite the excitement that they must have been feeling as they traveled that last 20 miles, many of these folks parked their rigs and hoofed it up the hill to visit the impressive ruins of the ancient Pecos Indians.  Oh, how these weary travelers must have marveled at the ingenuity of those who accomplished so much without the “modern conveniences” that they had.

The Pecos Mission (circa 1600) on a hill next to the Santa Fe Trail

Last Saturday, en route home from a weekend getaway in Santa Fe I felt compelled to take the exit from I-25 to see what the Pecos National Historical Site was all about.  And as I walked about the ancient city on the hill, I thought to myself Wow, “back in the day”.

My Family in front of the Old Pecos Mission on a hill near I-25

Super Moon Rising

“I never did a day’s work in my life, it was all fun” ~ Thomas Alva Edison

When opportunity knocks you have to answer the door, right?  Hmm, I’m not so sure about that one.  Who says Opportunity makes housecalls?  If you think about it, even the winners of the powerball must first make the effort to exchange their hard earned money to buy a ticket.  As Thomas Edison, one of Mankind’s most influential creative’s astutely observed, “opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work“.

In my experience, opportunitiy is a kind of omnipresent, latent circumstance that is waiting to be claimed.  If I put myself in a position to cross paths with it, and if I am patient, and if I believe, more often than not I end up banging loudly on opportunity’s door.

Over the course of the past week, Tammy and I had the opportunity to visit the same general area of the Cuchara River Valley to film evening interviews for projects that we are working on.  On both occasions, the interviews ended just before sunset and we seized the opportunity to capture the valley in the most incredible light.