My introduction to moose photography in Colorado occurred in May of 2005 while visiting Rocky Mountain National Park with my wife (then girlfriend) Trudy. I was never dialed into moose or wildlife photography at that time. It was the waning years of my time at The Wall Street Journal and I was in the process of re-imagining my life after having spent 25 years making newspapers and living in the corporate world. Digital Cameras had been around for a few years, but back then were still a new technology. I wanted to learn more about these new types of cameras too, so I bought my first DSLR, a Canon EOS 350D (known at the time as the Rebel XT)
My trip with Trudy to Rocky Mountain National Park in May of 2005 was my first attempt at photographing moose. We came upon a bull, cow and calf, grazing in an open field near the Southwest entrance to the park. There were probably a half dozen or so other people hanging out by the road and in a pull off watching these moose from a good perspective. I pulled into the parking area and while sitting there getting my camera configured for a few shots, another vehicle pulled up next to us. I looked at the driver and couldn’t believe my eyes. It was former NFL quarterback Joe Montana. A totally distracting occurrence. He was traveling with a lady and had pulled in right after we did, trying to get a look at the moose. I had a decision to make, go gaga over being next to Joe Montana while we watched moose together or get out of the car and make some photos. I chose to get out of the car and make some photos. I wandered out into the woods near the road to get a better view of the moose. I wasn’t very smart though, as this pissed off the bull moose and he charged me. I ducked behind a large tree and fired off a sequence of photos as he came running towards me. It turned out to be a bluff by the bull. He veered off from his charge and turned to chase the cow and calf back out into the field away from the gathering crowd. The moose eventually wandered to the other side of the field and out of usable photographic range. I walked back to the car and noticed that Joe Montana and his guest were driving out of the parking area. Oh well, I didn’t get a chance to meet him, though we were at one point only a few feet away from one another.
When I got home later that evening, I quickly downloaded the moose photos and found out that most of them were out of focus. A rookie mistake it was. I used too slow a shutter speed and anything involving movement was simply blurred beyond use. My first moose photos were a fail.
Shortly after that, it occurred to me one day, while visiting my cabin in Red Feather Lakes, that I was seeing a lot of moose when I went into the higher elevations around the village. I decided to pay closer attention and begin looking for them. As it turned out, I could find them just about everywhere. I started taking family and friends along. They all enjoyed it but nobody seemed as enthusiastic about it as I was.
After being bitten by the moose bug, I was hooked. I was tiring of wedding and event photography and had started focusing my attention on landscape tours and wildlife. My business model was morphing and I was tiring of photographing people gatherings. After several years of exploring Northern Colorado and learning more about moose, I decided that in 2013 that I would begin organizing moose photo tours. I did paying moose gigs until 2017, and reverted back to enthusiast status after that. But the moose have never left me and I’ve taken private groups out for photography each year since.