Saturday, February 10, 2018

Icing On The Day: Bobcat

Sunrise on Point Lookout, at the entrance to Mesa Verde.

A February day at Mesa Verde National Park began with it now being light enough around 7am as for the sun to soon be crawling over the eastern horizon, lighting up the towering rampart of Point Lookout as I drove into the entrance of the park. The vertical cliffs of sandstone at the summit glowed with gold, while the more angled and brush covered lower slope turned rosy. And all the other slopes still in shadow provided a wonderful contrast of angles and tones.

Up onto the Mesa itself, and 20 miles in as I neared park headquarters, I saw that I had plenty of time for a swing around the Mesa Top loop road. To see how things looked now that the sun was much further north than it had been back at Winter Solstice. A nature photographer has to keep up on such things, you know.

Square Tower House cliff dwelling site in the soft shadows at sunrise.

At Square Tower House I parked and walked down the paved path to the overlook. The sunshine was just creeping over part of the rim of the canyon, but the alcove below with the remnants (lovingly stabilized by the National Park Service) of the prehistoric village lay in soft daylight illumination.

In late afternoon as I was driving "outbound" as the rangers call it (there's only one road into the park, and out) a bobcat Lynx rufus) was walking down the opposite edge of the road. This being a National Park with no hunting, it was much more relaxed than if it had been surprised by a vehicle pulling up behind it outside the park. 

And though I had my camera equipment beside me, it was zipped up in the case, and it did not have the long lens on.

This still being the serene offseason in the park, I stopped right in the road, put my warning flashers on, and watched the bobcat to see if it was going to bolt out of sight into the brush, or not. It didn't. So I hurriedly pulled out the camera and changed lenses, while the beautiful little predator walked up onto the brushy bank a little.

I didn't think I had time to change the camera to a much higher ISO speed, so I shot away with what it was set on. What the heck.

Blurred but beautiful bobcat shot.

Still no other cars approaching behind me, so I kept shooting. The first one here I like even though the shutter speed was slow enough to make for a blurred image. But it is of the small cat in full length stepping down the slope. It almost looks like a tiger in this shot.

Bobcat, over the shoulder pose.

Then it turned back up the slope and almost seemed to pose briefly. From this angle the patterns in its fur shows how well it can blend in with the brush.

Bobcat, hoping I'll drive on and leave it alone.

Then it looked to the other side, right at me. Between its momentary stillness, my resting my hand on the car window, and my camera's state of the art image stabilization technology, we had a win.

And I continued "outbound", down the hill to Cortez and home.

Photo Location: Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, USA.

See more of my photography, and order prints at my website:

© Copyright Stephen J. Krieg

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Moonrise to Lunar Eclipse Moonset, Colorado San Juans

Moonrise over the San Juan Mountains, Trout Lake, Colorado.
The end of January 2018 was supposed to be not just a Full Moon, but a "blue moon", meaning the second one in the same month. But that's merely the calendar. The Blue Moon occurred on January 31, just one day before February started. Thus robbing February of a Full Moon at all! What should that be called -- the Non Moon?

Whatever. The important thing is that the weather was forecast to be clear, and I live in southwest Colorado. As in: awesome landscapes abound in which to photograph a rising moon above one of them.

So I drove up to Lizard Head Pass (elevation 10, 222 feet or 3,116 meters) the day before the Full Moon as indicated by the calendar. Why? Because depending on when the moon actually reaches "full illumination", you have to be out there the evening before if you want to make landscape photography shots with both the moon rising and the landscape not in darkness.

Trout Lake, just north of Lizard Head Pass. Sun almost down, moon not up yet.
I got to the Pass while the setting sun was still glowing enticingly on the high peaks. I did not stop at the pass but chose to drive down the other side a few miles, to an overlook above Trout Lake. There the warm sunlit peaks, though they were slipping into shadow fast, made for a fantastic accent to the snowy lake in twilight shadow below.

But! Having those peaks so close to me meant that the rising moon would not clear them for quite a while. After dark. Not good.

So I did a U-turn on the highway and headed back up to Lizard Head Pass. The additional 500 feet in elevation would make a critical difference.

And it did. It was a gorgeous January evening. Unseasonably mild, and there was not even a breeze. Still enough to hear a coin drop on the pavement.

The moon was already up over the peaks, of course, and the sun had gone down, too. No time to lose. Shoot the moonrise in the early twilight, before the moon would become a white round disk in a black sky.

So back to work, camera on tripod of course.

Moonrise panorama. Click on image for larger view.
As I was about to finish up a lone cross country skier appeared back up over the opposite road bank, to his car. Taking his skis off, he saw me photographing and said "What a great view to photograph!". Something like that. We each savored the scene for a few more minutes, then wished each other to have a good rest of the evening.

So much for that evening. I would get up early the next morning for the second half of the show: a full Lunar Eclipse as the moon was getting ready to set before sunrise.

See more of my photography, and order prints at my website:

© Copyright Stephen J. Krieg

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Ship Rock, The "Rock With Wings"

Ship Rock, New Mexico.
I drove down into northwestern New Mexico to photograph Ship Rock. It's west of the town that bears its name, Shiprock.

The Ship Rock is the weathered remnant of a volcanic plug -- the magma that cooled to rock while in the throat of the volcano as it was dying. Afterward the volcano eroded away, and here we are looking at what was inside.

The site is on Navajo Nation land. This image was taken from the public highway, as I have no desire to intrude upon private Navajo property for the sake of a photo.

The Navajo call Ship Rock "the rock with wings".

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© Copyright 2018 Stephen J. Krieg

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Mesa Verde: Sunset Glow At Square Tower House

Square Tower House Ancestral Puebloan ruin, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado.
Square Tower House alcove just before sunset, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado.
November has arrived. Up in Mesa Verde National Park at the park's south end, (7,000 feet elevation), I spent an evening seeing how the much lower angle of the autumn sun was working the sunset light on the cliff dwellings.

On the beginning of the Mesa Top Loop road, I soon was able to see how Navajo Canyon was lit up by the low angle of the late autumn sun. Square Tower House, I thought, was going to look really good.

And it did. But it was still a half hour or so until sunset. So I drove on to see how the light was playing on some of the other Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwelling remains along the drive.

Oak Tree House alcove, early November afternoon sunlight.
Cliff Palace, as the pre-sunset shadows come up the alcove wall well before sunset.
Nice, but I was really interested in seeing how Square Tower House would look at sunset.

I swung back around the loop and parked and returned to the overlook. I was the only one there. I kept glancing at the sun, so low above the mesa top to the south. The lower the angle of the sun, the warmer the light would be. Each few minutes mattered, the difference noticeable.

As the shadows came up the alcove wall, the warm sunlight glow intensified. It seems to do this better at Square Tower House than at Cliff Palace because the adjacent canyon (Navajo Canyon) is wider, allowing the sun to be even lower before it finally disappears below the far canyon rim.

Square Tower House in sunset glow.
Photo location: Mesa Verde National Park, southwest Colorado.

See more of my photography at

© Copyright Stephen J. Krieg

Thursday, October 12, 2017

High Peaks Sunrise and Valley Fall Colors

Moon setting at dawn, Rico, Colorado, October 7.
October 7, and I was driving up the Dolores River valley in southwest Colorado for another day of experiencing the fall colors. It was still dark as I left Cortez, and cruised through the town of Dolores.

Approaching Rico, dawn was occurring. When it got light enough to take decent landscape photos, I made some compositions with the just past Full moon getting ready to set behind the San Juan Mountains with their aspen forests fall colors.

Dawn at the beaver ponds on the edge of Rico.
At the edge of town I turned off on a gravel road that I knew bordered some old beaver ponds. A nice wide open view of the mountains, and a glassy reflection provided by the water's surface.

Sunrise on the high peak, above and below.
I was about to continue on my way when the sunrise lit up a high peak above timberline with an orange glow. And reflected on the pond's surface.

See more of my photography on my website:

Photo location: Rico, southwest Colorado.

© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Rico, Colorado Fall Colors

Fall colors from Rico Community Church on an overcast morning, September 30, 2017.
As I track the progression of the fall colors in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado, I return again and again to the tiny community of Rico. Once the county seat when it was a mining boom town, it's now part tourist destination, part bedroom community for people working in Telluride.

At about 8,800 feet in elevation it's a good bellweather of what's going on in the high country, ringed by high mountain peaks.

Fall colors on a sunny afternoon, October 7, 2017.
I returned a week later, on a perfect early October day. Warm, no haze to speak of, and no wind.

Photo location: Rico, Colorado.

See more of my photography on my website:

© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Aspen Colors in First Snow

Orange, yellow and green aspen tree foliage in the first snow of the high country.

Photo location: San Juan National Forest, Colorado.

© Copyright Stephen J. Krieg