The Lost Year

Kebler Pass. Golden Leaves of Aspen Trees in the Beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

My Autumn photography endeavors for 2020 are looking poor. I did a full day scouting run on Sept 24th to gauge the feasibility of a photography trip and to be quite honest, I wasn’t encouraged by the suitability of landscape scenes I was finding this year.

The basic problems are multiple here in Colorado.

First, we’ve been experiencing a severe drought this summer. Warmer than usual temperatures across the state coupled with virtually no rainfall have resulted in much of the mountain foliage (aspen, scrub oak, cottonwood) in a seriously distressed condition.

Second, we had a major snow storm and freeze in early September across much of the state and that too has hastened the normal autumn transition time and destroyed the quality of foliage this year. What I’ve seen in most areas are spotty patches of color with most of the major stands of colorful trees having leaves that have turned brown quickly and prematurely. Most of the remaining trees are seriously stressed and appear to be muted in color and in some areas the trees are already having their leaves stripped by wind. It’s just not a very pretty Autumn here this year.

The third problem, and probably the most devastating issue regarding photography is the prevalence of smoke in the atmosphere from the numerous wildfires in the western part of the country. I made a loop drive from Denver to Buena Vista to observe the Collegiate Peaks and the smoke haze was so bad as to obscure peaks in every direction to the point that it was simply ugly to look at and hard to be in from a respiratory aspect.

Adding to the problem is the fact the the weather continues to be hot and dry, with no forecast for any type of change in weather patterns for the next 10 days, which is when the normal color peaking will be occurring.

Another issue of course is the COVID-19 pandemic. Traveling and sustaining myself on the road for several days presents a unique problem during the pandemic, so the bottom line, what I’m seeing in the mountains isn’t worth going after this year. Yeah, there may be a few areas here and there where shots can be found, but committing to several days in a specific area is just not practical this year so I’ve decided to skip this years Autumn Photography trip. I’m majorly bummed out about this, but none of it is going to change with my wishful thinking.

I would also add, that the past several years have been a slow decline in the conditions of trees during the autumn change here in Colorado. Politicians can posture and pontificate all they like, but the effects of global warming are quite evident in the Colorado high country, with weather patterns that one would normally expect to see over a period of time being replaced by extreme patterns that are no longer the exception but rather the rule.

2020 has indeed turned into the “Lost Year” and I personally will be glad to see better times, if and when they happen.

Covid-19 Hunker-down Log – Stardate 44094.35

McClure Pass, Colorado

Combating Boredom

Back to our normal groove here in Denver. Summer is winding down. I’m scheming my schemes for Autumn photography. Still not totally sure of where I’ll be going as the freak late summer weather has thrown a wrench into the mountain color change. I’m kinda leaning towards SW Colorado and the San Juan Mountains again this year. Realistically speaking, I’ve sold more photos from the San Juans and it’s looking like the trees are behaving almost normally in that part of the state. Still a couple of weeks out, I’ll know more soon.

Our neighbors from Red Feathers have returned home after spending some time with us while Randy got his all clear from his neck surgery. Poor fellow, he’s been in a neck brace for the better part of the last year. I’m glad we could be a port in the storm for them. Hope the fire doesn’t chase them out of their home.

Been avoiding television and Internet news and will continue doing so until after the election. It’s not really news, it’s just yammering about how much the Red and Blue people hate one another. Someday, maybe, all these nit-wits will figure out it’s better to work together than it is to piss on one another. Too much lead in the water?

I’m a day behind on getting my weekly Covid-19 blog update. No big deal. It would have been the same entry if I had done it yesterday.

Happy Thought Inventory

I’m quite chuffed at the fact my daughter and son-in-law are now neighbors in Red Feather Lakes. They purchased a nice lake front cabin last week, just down the road from our place. The fire situation has been nerve wracking but they are now villagers and I expect there will be a lot of new memories to be had and I’ll get to spend more time with them in the place I love. Congratulations Nick and Shawn!

Slacker Status

Slacker is as slacker does. The Covid-19 case rate is going up in Colorado. Why? Because there are too many slackers out there.

No first responder activity to report.

Still alive and well here in Denver.

Living On The Edge

On Thursday August 13th, 2020 at approximately 01:48 PM, the Cameron Peak Wildfire began burning near Chambers Lake in Northern Colorado.

I was at that very lake with a friend looking for moose on the morning of the day the fire began but we left the area around 10:30 am. We were lucky to have not been caught up in it.

The area of the fire is a major habitat for moose and other wildlife. An area not far from my cabin in Red Feather Lakes, I’ve been doing photography up there for the past 15 years. I had to cut my last moose outing short due to the fire and I’ve spent a lot of time watching this disaster continue to develop over the past few weeks, as it’s threatening my home in the area.

The photo was taken the evening of September 5th by my wife Trudy, who is at our place in Red Feathers as I type this. The view is to the Southwest from the shore of Lake Ramona. The fire is about 12 miles from Red Feathers at the moment and the general burn direction seems to be pushing the fire to the east towards Rocky Mountain National Park in the Mummy Range.

It’s heart wrenching to see this happening. We have several large fires burning across the state and the loss of property, the threat to life and livelihood for everyone in these areas is extensive and a lot of people will be affected by these disasters.

Nobody knows how much damage this particular fire will cause, but so far nobody has died and no property has been destroyed. I doubt that it will remain that way though.

I’ll be exploring the destruction in the fire area next summer to see if I can figure out how the moose population has been effected by the loss of habitat. It also means that I probably won’t be doing moose tours next year as well. I’ll post periodic updates to this situation as we move forward. For now, we are all hoping that the fire won’t force the evacuation of our village and even worse, burn the village and/or the surrounding communities.

Life in the mountains is dangerous. I’ve seen a lot of people move to the mountains to get away from life in the city or suburbs, only to get chased out by the harsh and unforgiving realities of living off the grid. This year, may be our turn. You never know.

If you’d like to know more about the fire, you can visit this link. Incident Information Management System by the US Forest Service.


Covid-19 Hunker-down Log – Stardate 44079.28

Combating Boredom

The past week has provided an interesting combination of boredom busting activity.

I’ve been steadily working on the redesign of my websites and progress has been made. Website visitor traffic has also picked up now that the search engines are beginning to index my site. So far, so good.

We continue to monitor the status of the Cameron Peak wildfire in the Rawah Wilderness of Northern Colorado. The fire hasn’t approached Red Feather Lakes much but the smoke has made its presence known and air quality in the village his a hit and miss prospect. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the change in weather will improve the ability of the firefighters to get this fire under control.

This past Thursday, our Xfinity cable and internet service went out. I went through the normal service call routine and after chasing our tails for several hours on the phone with someone in India, we began exploring our backup options. Both Trudy and I have iPhones that will act as an internet hot-spot, so we attached a Roku to the television and streamed television to the living room through the iPhone hot spots. It worked out quite well actually. On Friday afternoon, a Comcast service tech showed up at our door and began troubleshooting the problem in our back yard, where the neighborhood cable distribution box resides. Internet, TV and phone service is now back up and running but the outage concerned us to the point that we’re considering switching to a new service when our contract expires. It’s obvious that we can do everything we need to do without having to rely on the inept customer service at Comcast/Xfinity. It was our turn in the barrel. We do our best until we find something better.

Happy Thought Inventory

The internet is up. Mom can watch her television shows and make her phone calls. Trudy is heading to Red Feathers for a few days. Life is back on track and the hunkering down continues.

I’m still plotting what I’m doing for Autumn photography. I need to come up with a solid plan sooner rather than later as the last week of September and first week of October are prime-time for Autumn color. I’ll come up with a plan.

Slacker Status

Still improving out there in Zombie Land. Seems that many of the covidiots who refused to wear a mask in public have had a change of heart or been hit with the reality that their errant mindset isn’t going to really help them get through the pandemic.

No first responder activity to report.

Still alive and well here in Denver.

And, Happy Scenic Saturday. Today’s photo is a previously unpublished image from Kebler Pass, Colorado. A memorable week in 2014 that feels like it was yesterday. It is also the first time I’ve ever displayed this photograph to the public.

Covid-19 Hunker-down Log – Stardate 44072.35

Combating Boredom

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve reduced the frequency of these updates to once a week. Hunkering down during a pandemic seems to produce a “same shit, different day” syndrome, which I’ll spare you from.

Not much going on with actual photography lately. Moose photography has been halted due to the Cameron Peak Wildfire in Northern Colorado. This fire is burning about 13 miles from my home in Red Feather Lakes and has burned close to 23,000 acres and counting at zero percent containment at the moment. I don’t believe it’s going to threaten the village with burning, but the smoke from the fire makes for some very nasty air quality up there, and even here in Denver, from time to time. No property reported destroyed and no lives lost, but a few of the firefighters have contracted the virus. The other bummer is this fire destroying a large portion of what I call “Mooseville”, as it’s basically burning in a major moose habitat. Based on my knowledge of the area, this fire is going to grow much larger than it currently is.

As a result of halting photography, I’ve decided to rebuild my websites, Gray Photography and Image Colorado. A fresh slate, with better integration between the sites. Time to clean things up and come up with a new approach. Still working on that, but it’s going well and I have lots of new ideas you’ll see appearing on both websites in the future.

My brain cells are sorting out what I may be doing for Autumn photography this year. I do want to get back out there but I haven’t decided where I’m going yet.

Happy Thought Inventory

I have my Ford Explorer back from the shop with a brand new transmission. It’s all clean and spiffy, sitting in the garage, just waiting for me to take it back out on the road.

Picked up a fresh batch of weed yesterday, so the mellow hunkering with an aura of laidbackness can continue.

We can now return to our regularly scheduled programming on Television. The political conventions have came and gone. I spent exactly ZERO time watching them or even reading about them. One can’t avoid the headlines, but I don’t really give a hoot about any of the political posturing, lies and bullshit buzz phrases that seem to ooze from these things. I know how I’m voting and have since election day 2016. Nothing said between now and election day 2020 is going to change how I feel about a cockroach being in charge of our government.

Slacker Status

I’m not seeing as many dim-wits running around without their face masks lately. I know they are still out there, but my avoidance techniques have tuned me in to steering clear of the dumber people roaming the streets. I consider wearing a mask to be a simple IQ test. Stupid people don’t wear them, smart people do. Avoid the stupid people at all costs.

No first responder activity to report.

Still alive and well here in Denver.

Work Progresses

I’ve been chugging right along reworking Image Colorado and Gray Photography websites.

New things added today.

Official contact form. It’s on the main menu of both sites.

Featured Images gallery added to Gray Photography, available on the menu of both sites. This will grow as time goes by.

Installed necessary WordPress Plugin’s. These add features and functionality to both websites, but you’ll only see the results.

The Status Quo – Image Colorado

Photographer Gary Gray
On the job and enjoying the life.

I’ve been developing my own websites for the past 20 years. Not that I’m a web developing wizz, but I have enough technical knowledge and experience to address my needs to my own satisfaction.

Before I retired from pursuing commercial photography business a couple of years ago, my websites were more or less designed to promote my professional services and to help me generate income. But, I’ve moved on from that and I’ve realized that my web presence needs to reflect what I’m doing now and not trying to impress potential clients. Not that I don’t want to sell photographs and prints, I’ve simply realized that I’d rather showcase my current and past work and not dwell on the commercialization of my persona.

To boldly move into the future with my web presence, I’ve elected to start fresh with what I want my websites to reflect about me and the type of work I’m doing today. The culmination of my recent rationalizations have led me to begin anew. I’ve decided to keep the general design of Image Colorado and my parent site, Gray Photography, with much the same simple and elegant look I’ve been using for the past several years. I like a clean web page. The content though, has to be different from what I’ve been doing. So I’ve rationalized.

My first order of business in this regard is to integrate Gray Photography and Image Colorado to a greater extent than I have in the past. Redesigning the look, feel and continuity between these websites is my first task. Defining what these two sister entities will look like is underway. I want it to look like the same environment when you visit either.

All that explained, what I think I’ll be doing with Image Colorado is showcasing my past and current photography projects. That means more photos. Some of my best work, done at different times over many years, and adding to that with my new projects as they come and go.

For Image Colorado I now have a clean slate. I removed all of my photography articles from the site and plan to create more galleries of images. I’ll probably continue to write articles, but those will most likely get posted on my Gray Photography site. As for the old articles…who cares? Every monkey and their uncle is writing mind bogglingly repetitive photography pieces and there’s really nothing I can tell you in the way of technique and tips and tricks that isn’t already out there, so what’s the point of reinventing the wheel? This blog will be more real time and better represent my adventures in photography, past and present. As I improve the content here, I’ll keep you posted via the blog and point you to that content when I have it online and viewable for your personal enjoyment.

I still have a disdain for being overly commercial though. I won’t be adding click-bait links to cajole you into buying anything other than what I’m offering for sale. No links to B&H photo, Amazon, or other box stores. This blog and Gray Photography will be my small photo gallery along the side of the road. A worthy click on your mouse I hope.

Until things pick up with adding more content here, I appreciate the patience and support I’ve received from my friends and followers. I know you are out there and I’m very proud of the following I’ve received from the general public. I’m not planning on going anywhere and with this pandemic we are all suffering, it’s time to take advantage of the down time and rethink the web presence with a fresh take on things. I hope you will all continue to follow me and continue enjoying my photography.

Besides, I’m also bored as hell and want a new challenge. What better way to do it than rethinking and reworking concepts, ideas and methods?

Please stay tuned.