Favorite Shots of 2018

May 22, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

Hmmm, seems the beginning of 2019 has ticked along very quickly and I had not yet finished writing my year in review. It isn't quite summer so I thought I would squeeze in this blog post before summer unofficially starts this weekend with Memorial Day.

In years with normal weather patterns, Memorial Day weekend would signify the opening of Trail Ridge Road and the road up to the top of Mount Evans, two of my favorite places in Colorado to take in the vast views of the Rocky Mountains and spend time with the animals that love the cold as much as I do. But this year, winter just doesn't seem to want to let go. Even today, just a few days before Memorial Day, Estes Park is having snow showers. It will be pretty amazing if both roads can open this weekend—a true feat to the crews that plow the deep snow from the roads. To see images of the snow drifts and plowing operations, visit RMNP Facebook page.

American_pika_RMNP_2018_7American_pika_RMNP_2018_7An American pika (Ochotona princeps) stops on top of a rock with a mouth full of plants for his hay pile in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. There were many great photo ops in Rocky Mountain National Park last year. One of my most memorable was with a pika family high in the alpine tundra. I found a quiet spot where I could spend time with them each week. Building that familiarity helped keep them safe and comfortable while building a trust for great photo ops. I have already photographed one of them this year so it is shaping up to be a fun summer in the alpine terrain with these little tundra inhabitants again.

Elk_RMNP_2018_7Elk_RMNP_2018_7A newborn elk calf (Cervus elaphus) looks up at his mother as a light drizzle falls in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Another memorable moment in Rocky was about this time in 2018. Memorial Day weekend is typically the beginning of the elk calving season. This shot was the first calf I saw of the year. Although the cow only allowed the calf to be out in the open for a few moments before moving her to the safety of cover, I was able to catch this endearing look up at its new mom.

I visited Grand Teton National Park twice in 2018. The first was in May for NANPA’s Celebration event. Not only did I learn a lot from many talented and inspirational photographers, but I also spent some time in the park photographing grizzly bears, made a quick drive up to Yellowstone National Park, photographed wildlife at the National Elk Refuge and watched some fun little goslings in Jackson. This little guy was enjoying the bumper crop of dandelions. Canada_goose_gosling_NER_2018_2Canada_goose_gosling_NER_2018_2A Canada goose gosling (Branta canadensis) picks dandelions in his beak on a sunny morning in the National Elk Refuge, Wyoming.

The second visit to Grand Teton National Park was over Thanksgiving week. The snow was already accumulating in the Jackson Hole valley but we took the RV up anyway. We are no strangers to traveling by RV in winter weather. And it was a great weekend to be in the park. We had many wonderful photo opportunities, including this morning with several bull moose foraging in the sage brush flats set against the distant Teton Range. Moose_GTNP_2018_1Moose_GTNP_2018_1A bull moose (Alces alces) feeds in a sage brush flat beneath the towering, snow-covered Teton Range in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

This shot of a group of bison was in Yellowstone during that May visit. I had been waiting several hours for a badger to pop out of a den. I heard from some other photographers that she usually makes an appearance late in the afternoon so I thought I would take a drive a little farther down the road. As I turned the corner, I spotted a herd of bison walking towards the road. They seemed to just keep coming out of this gulch in the distant foothills—it almost looked like a stream of clowns coming out of a car, one after another just kept coming out of the gulch and into the green valley. I spotted a ridge where they would have to climb and thought it would make a great spot for a photo. Bison_YNP_2018_1Bison_YNP_2018_1A group of bison cows and calves (Bison bison) walk up over a ridge set against some mountains shrouded in clouds in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. There was some clearing weather that left fog and clouds in the valley below the rugged mountains, which would make a great background. I patiently waited near the road for the herd to appear. By standing there, I couldn't tell how close they were but then all of a sudden I saw one, then two, then a stream of bison coming directly my way. It worked beautifully to have the cows and calves breaching the ridge with the weather and mountains behind them.

Fall is a wonderful time in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. The fall colors are stunning, especially after a wet summer. Last year was no exception. Fall is also the peak time for the moose and elk ruts, or mating seasons. Even though I live in Estes Park, I still reserve a campsite in Rocky Mountain National Park each fall to be in the center of the action. There were many great photo ops with the elk during the rut but this was my favorite of the year. Capturing the juxtaposition of fall and winter represented by the bugling bull elk (fall) on a bitterly cold morning that created frost all over the elk (winter) was a scene I envision every year. Last year all of the elements came together. Elk_EP_2018_10Elk_EP_2018_10A bull elk (Cervus elaphus) bugles on a cold, frosty morning causing steam to rise out of his mouth in Estes Park, Colorado.

As I mentioned earlier, Mt. Evans is one of my top two favorite places to photograph in Colorado. The weather is typically 20 degrees cooler—sometimes more—at the top than around Denver, which feels great in the heat of the summer. The wildlife is almost always photogenic, and even with as frequently as I visit the top of this 14,265-foot peak, I very often find new and interesting shots. That was the case with this photo of a mountain goat enjoying the morning by bouncing up and down on the boulders at the top. Mountain_goat_Mt_Evans_2018_15Mountain_goat_Mt_Evans_2018_15A mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus) that is shedding her thick winter coat jumps on top of a rock against the distant Rocky Mountains on a sunny morning at the top of Mount Evans, Colorado.

The highlight of the year was my workshop in Alaska. In addition to my usual trip to Lake Clark National Park, I also visited a new location—Nome! Being my first time to this port town along the west cost of central Alaska, I was interested in exploring the area in consideration for future workshops and photo opportunities. I was there the second week of September and completely stunned by the beautiful fall colors of the tundra landscape. I also timed the trip just right to catch some of the muskox rut. These two muskox had just mated when they nuzzled heads before going their separate ways. Muskox_Nome_2018_1Muskox_Nome_2018_1A male and female muskox (Ovibos moschatus) nuzzle heads after mating on the tundra in fall color near Nome, Alaska.

Follow my Facebook and Instagram pages to get the latest info about future workshops in Alaska, including a return to Nome and Lake Clark National Park.

 

 

 


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