Having spent the better part of the past month with my camera gear still packed from my recent autumn photography trip, this past Sunday I finally mustered up enough motivation to attempt a day trip to Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. I charged the batteries, cleaned the lenses, made sure everything I needed was in the camera pack and got up early on Sunday morning with the plan that I would be at the gates of the Arsenal at sunrise.
I decided to check the RMA website on the outside chance that there may be a closure or something going on that would cause me to waste a trip. Good thing I did too, as it was clearly posted that the wildlife loop would be closed for a few days, starting on Sunday, to relocate the bison herd. Well hell. No point in going for bison photos if I couldn’t get to them. As an alternative, I thought perhaps I could make a drive into the mountains to look for bighorn. I was itching to trip the camera shutter, but I knew it might be too early to find bighorn in their normal locations, as the weather has been warm and they don’t normally come down lower until there is some snow on the ground. I checked the weather reports and the forecast was calling for rain/snow mix with no accumulation in the Georgetown area. Best to wait I figured. At least for another week or two as the action doesn’t really pick up until early November. No reason to dirty up the car after having just spent $20 having it washed. I decided not to go, figuring I’d just stay home and watch the Bronco game on television.
While licking my wounds on the back porch I was admiring the clouds in the sky above. They were looking pretty good. Nice big puffy clouds with interesting formations, wafting by the house. I took the queue and grabbed my camera pack, loaded it in the car and drove to a open area not far from the house to get some cloud shots.
I’m always looking for good cloud photos, as I use them on my stock images when I need to replace a sky. I’ve have accumulated about 1,000 sky photos over the past few years, most of which I’ve imported into Photoshop for just that purpose, but most haven’t been used yet. I have probably edited about 50 stock photos using a replacement sky photo I’ve made. I try not to reuse the sky photos, as I don’t want to have the same sky in more than a couple of shots. I get pretty picky about that too. I also never use the default sky photos that came with Photoshop, as there is no telling how many photos are out there with those in them. Still, I don’t have a hang-up about replacing a sky in a photo if I think it can use it. I’ve heard a few photographers poo-poo the concept, usually saying something to the effect that it’s cheating or something like that. The fact is, photographers have been modifying the skies in their photos since people began photographing skies, so it’s no big deal to me. I like to use every tool in my toolbox. Another truth is that the stock photos where I have replaced the sky sell quite well. The trick is to do it correctly and make it look natural. That’s a subject for another blog post though. The bottom line is that I was able to at least get out of the house and make a few photos that could be used at a later date.
As for the bison and bighorn and whatever else may be out there waiting to be photographed. There will be another day.