Friday, August 1, 2014

Brainard Lake, July 2014: Part I

The fine folks of the Front Range Wildlife Photographers Facebook group had whet my appetite for some more wildlife photography of my own again, this time with stories and pictures of bull moose at the Brainard Lake Recreation Area. So Thursday morning I headed up in the hopes that the persistent rain we'd been having would go away, but the moose wouldn't.

Red Rock Lake
I stopped at Red Rock Lake to check for moose there.  Negative.  But the lingering low clouds made for a nice scene.

Ladybug on Lupine
Ladybug on lupine, accentuated by some remaining raindrops.  Everything was still pretty wet from a couple of days of soaking rain, and I'd forgotten my bandana at home which I often use to dry off my camera bodies.  Fortunately the Mountain Man Outdoor Store in Nederland was opening right as I got into town and I was able to grab one there, which ended up getting a lot of use as I traipsed through underbrush.  Thanks, John!

Brainard Lake Cascades
The main creek flowing into the lake was running high and fast.  I always appreciate overcast conditions for shooting running water since the lower light allows me to leave the shutter open longer and get more motion in the image.

Brainard Lake Cascades
Speaking of motion, I thought this shot really captured the violence and power of the cascades well.

Brainard Lake
Brainard Lake itself was placid and serene.  Light winds made for a fairly sharp reflection of the Indian Peaks, and wildflowers were in bloom along the shore.

White-crowned sparrow
A white-crowned sparrow hopped around me expectantly for a little while, until he figured out I wasn't going to feed him.

Queen's Crown
A wildflower I wasn't familiar with grew right on the edge of the lake -- Queen's Crown.

Bull Moose, Brainard Lake
Nearly two hours and no moose yet.  I chatted with a father and son fishing and the dad mentioned that he'd seen some moose the day before on the south side of the road that runs around Brainard Lake.  So I headed in that direction, and there they were -- three young bulls, munching contentedly among the willows.

Bull Moose, Brainard Lake
They apparently were pretty familiar with people, and knew I wasn't a threat to them or their food supply.  So they generally ignored me and everyone else who stopped to gawk and take pictures.

Bull Moose, Brainard Lake
I love the marbled look of the velvet on this fellow's antlers.

Bull Moose, Brainard Lake
This guy stayed closer to the trees, and seemed to be working on rubbing off his velvet.

Bull Moose, Brainard Lake
The overcast conditions which were beneficial with the cascades and wildflowers weren't helping as much now.  I had to use a very shallow depth of field in order to maintain a fast shutter speed at the full extent of 80-400 mm zoom lens.  That made my margin of error for sharp focus pretty slim.  But following the rule to always focus on the eye when shooting wildlife, I was able to do all right.

Click here for Part II.


JaneAnn said...

Great pictures and I enjoyed the comments you made! Thanks for sharing.

SteveHarbula said...

Thanks, JaneAnn! I like providing a little context for the photos. :)