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When Everyone Else Turns Left, Turn Right Instead!

Having lived out west for years now, we’ve gotten to know Rocky Mountain (RMNP) and Yellowstone. They are two very different parks with different landscapes and wildlife, but both are so very special. Everyone has seen recent articles of how busy the parks are, especially this past summer when so many families said they were traveling hell or high water! In 2019, approximately 4.67 MILLION people passed through the gates of RMNP to appreciate its beauty, majesty and wildlife. Currently parts of the park, especially the back country, remain closed due to the damage and instability caused by the summer’s destructive wildfires. The purpose of this blog is to share a little insight if you care to visit RMNP anytime soon.

  1. Go early! The earlier you’re in the park the better. There are fewer people, the animals are more active and the light is amazing. When we travel we often get into the parks before 6 am, go back to our hotel about 10 am and relax while the people file in! Then, we head back in about 4 or 5 pm when everyone else (or most people) are heading out of the park to catch dinner!
  2. Go off the beaten path! It doesn’t mean you have to take the worst roads but truly explore the parks in all their glory. Sure, there are the typical stops and lookouts that you’ll want to hit, especially on your first trip. But here are a couple of suggestions:

Bear Lake.

Bear Lake is a must see, but after you’ve taken in its panoramic view and walked around the lake, head to a trail called Bear Lake to Howell Park. You’ll join the rest of the summer crowd climbing a rather steep trail to the Bear Lake Trail, but instead of tuning left with the throngs, TURN RIGHT INSTEAD and head to Howell Park. It is about a 7 mile hike but the beauty is, in part, it is down hill. In the height of the summer season, we ran into one other couple and a bull elk the entire time on the trail. You’re surrounded by woods, babbling streams and exit into a beautiful meadow surrounded by peaks. It was such a pleasure! Be sure to check its availability and whether it is open to the public before heading out as there may be fire damage that restricts access.

Bear Lake In The colder Weather
Bear Lake In The colder Weather
Craig Getchius at Bear Lake
Craig Getchius at Bear Lake
Elk on Bear Lake to Howell Park Trail
Elk on Bear Lake to Howell Park Trail
End of Bear Lake to Howell Park Trail, Entering Howell Park
End of Bear Lake to Howell Park Trail, Entering Howell Park

The West Side of the Park

Many people travel through the park to the Alpine Visitors’ Center at the highest point, enjoy the view and turnaround and go back down to the heart of the park. As you’re leaving the center, you turn left to head back but TURN RIGHT INSTEAD! The west side of the park is wonderful and full of wildlife. Moose are notoriously recluse and are generally found in the marshy landscapes. The west side of the park has abundant wetlands and offers an opportunity to view moose that are elusive on the eastern park side.

Moose On The West Side of RMNP
Moose On The West Side of RMNP

However you choose to enjoy the park, whatever time of year, be sure your cameras are charged up and ready to go and enjoy the experience of photographing one of the most beautiful places in the world!

Craig Getchius Photographing in RMNP
Craig Getchius Photographing in RMNP

Thanks for reading! – ADG

Photographing An Elk And More

Hmmm, about twelve years ago when we moved from Illinois to the west I was excited to be so close to some of the greatest national parks in the world. I figured all I had to do is show up early in the morning in Yellowstone, Grand Teton or Rocky Mountain National Park and I would experience a smorgasbord of animals doing all sorts of wonderful things. Heck, there would be bison running, herds of bison forging rivers. Bears would snarl, wolves would howl and run. Moose would be drinking from a river, and elk prancing about. Eagles would be soaring high and of course antelope would roam. I could not wait to witness animals chasing each other. So on and so on.

Well, on very rare occasions I did experience some fantastic action scenes. But mostly, no matter what time of the day it was, I watched elk slumber or eat grass. Most of the time when watching a herd of elk they seemed to want to show their butts to me. Or they just laid down and did nothing. When it came to bears on occasion I got some pretty good closeups which were nice photographs but, to be completely honest, nothing that one would say “hey that is an outstanding nature photo.”

Probably my best bear action photo was a brown bear sitting on a huckleberry shrub eating the fruit. How that bear maintained its balance on those flimsy branches is beyond me.

Over the course of time I have gotten some nice pics of antelope roaming or running. Note to readers: If your thing is to take photos of pronghorns (antelope) Wyoming is the place you want to be. In Wyoming the antelope are everywhere.

When it comes to elk photos one of my favorites is this photo of a herd of elk crossing the road.

I kind of consider the “elk crossing the road” photo to be a documentary photo of life near a national park in the west.

Of course I have a lot of photos of elk standing and posing for me.

At this time I think you should understand that when I moved west I wanted to dedicate myself to being one of the best wildlife photographers in the west. Then reality set in. To accomplish that goal I would have to spend days at a time away from home and family. I would have to go into the back country maybe for weeks at a time. I would have to return over and over to the same location realizing it might take months, if not years, to get those special photographs that would awe the photographic world.

To become a successful wildlife photographer I would have to shirk my family responsibilities. I neither had the desire or lack of conscience to do that. So my photography slowly started to evolve into landscape photography.

Still, I never lost my desire to be a wildlife photographer. I understood that it would take tremendous luck to get those wonderful capture that we all visualize when we think of wildlife photography. I could not rely on luck. Instead, I had to figure out how do I take an ordinary wildlife scene and make it different? Yep, make the ordinary in nature seem interesting.

To accomplish this I started using what I had learned from other photographic disciplines and applying them to wildlife photography.

In street photography and portrait photography shooting your subject in black and white brings out its emotion.

Again street photography: Look for a normal scene in an odd situation.

Another rule of street photography: Hey stupid it does not matter what the camera is, be ready to be a photographer at all times.

The previous two photos were taken from my car parked on the side of the road with a small old Nikon V1. If I had to get out my bigger camera and lens most likely I would have missed the shot.

In portrait photography start close and work outward. Well, this is a crop of the other photo. With thirty-six megapixels you can do that.

These next two photos I ignored the standard elk photo and concentrated on the face. While taking closeups of the elks face I moved around so I would get different perspectives of the elk.

Portrait and street photography: It is the expression in the face that makes the image.

Sports photography: Remember the horse bet. When photography was in its infancy two men made a bet on when a horse ran if all four legs left the ground at the same time.

Streetscapes and landscape photography: Lines.

Ok, I am never going to be a famous wildlife photographer. Nevertheless, I am still learning and most important of all I am enjoying what is around me and not fretting over what I wish I could photograph.

Hope you enjoyed my little growths in photographing the normal wildlife in our national parks. It is a work in progress. All photos, with the exception of the antelope photo, were captured in either Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park or Rocky Mountain National Park.

The antelope photo was taken about twenty miles southeast of Yellowstone National Park. Like I said, antelope are everywhere in Wyoming. – CLG

2021 Time To Get Going

2020 is behind us. I doubt it is an overstatement to say we are all glad it is now a memory. I have been sitting around way too much. It is time to venture out into the world and discover all that it has to offer. Oh, April and I will be safe. We are not stupid. But hey, enough is enough. I am tired of feeling old. Trying to stay active while most of the time being surrounded by the same old walls is not really good for a person my age and health.

Each day is a new day and if I let it it will be full of new discoveries and new possibilities. To motivate myself I have started to putting together a portfolio website. Just a website of some of my favorite photographs. Each month on this portfolio website we will have a whole new collection of photos. Hopefully they will be quality photographs of what April and I experienced the month before. There will not be any words describing the photographs. It will just be our photos for all to view and enjoy. It is time to get out and see the world.

I guess I should also say that while you can view and enjoy you cannot copy the photos and use them for your personal or professional life. Darn, it is sad that I have to type that. We all should respect each other’s endeavors. But the world is what it is. Anyway, click on Getchius Folio to view the website.

The equipment is all cleaned, the batteries are in the cameras and flashes are all charged, and the car has a full tank of gas. Time to document the world and just maybe snap a few photographs that will make 2021 the year I truly once again become proud of my photography.

Yep, time to stop gaining weight and to get going. Camera for video Nikon D500

Hopefully we all get jabbed soon and life will get back to normal. Have a great 2021. – CLG

New Mexico – Desert and History!

Well…she’s baaack! I have been remiss in preparing a blog – I think the whole quarantine has created a malaise that makes it hard to stay motivated, but I’m back! I’m going to retrace my steps, so to speak. As for all of us, the whole lockdown due to COVID-19 has been wearing and our options for things to do somewhat limited. As the restrictions begin to lift, we are hoping we can begin to get out and about and explore the beautiful country safely. This may turn into more of a travel blog than a photography blog, but should be fun nonetheless, especially as Craig expands my photography lessons. I’m sure there will be plenty to laugh about! So in the spirit of retracing my steps, I’ll revisit a trip we took before all the isolation and lockdowns.

Before the COVID-19 hit, we wanted to get away from the cold weather here in Colorado. We got in the car and headed south to New Mexico as I noted in the last blog. Well, that was interesting. We ended up in Alamogordo, New Mexico and a very desololate area. As I mentioned, our target was White Sands National Park (White Sands National Park). It is very fascinating and full of history. The dunes are stunning and ever changing. The light rolling over the dunes creates a beautiful scene.

White Sands National Park
White Sands National Park

The region is very barren and sparse. There are miles and miles of nothing except sand, cacti and sage brush. It, however, has its own beauty in many ways. The dunes are vast and very different than those found in Southern Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park. These dunes are whiter (looks like the area is covered in snow) and a different formation than Great Sand Dunes.

A scene of the vegetation and dunes at White Sands National Prk
A scene of the vegetation and dunes at White Sands National Prk

I was amazed at all the rocket science that has take place there. The area is the home of first atomic bomb testing, just 65 miles from White Sands, part of the Manhattan Project. Even today, the highway nearby closes for a couple of hours at a time for missile launch testing. The International Space Hall of Fame is located in Alamogordo, the town adjacent to the park.

It was established in 1976 to honor those who have contributed to advancements in space. If you are there, it is well worth the trip to see the history, the story behind the inductees. The inductees range from Copernicus to Sally Ride to Carl Sagan to every astronaut and scientist in between. It is also the last resting place of Ham, the first primate launched into space in 1961.

Ham’s gravesite
Ham’s gravesite
Ham’s space suit!
Ham’s space suit!

The museum is very well done and lots of fun. The visitors ranged from older folks to young families and had many hands-on exhibits. There areas designed as the Star Trek’s transporter room!

Beam me up!
Beam me up!

But the history the Hall of Fame captures is amazing and stirring. You’re reminded of the risk of the brave souls that took off in space flight – some giving the ultimate sacrifice. Others working against all odds to advance science, technology and our world!

Robert Goddard display
Robert Goddard display

In short, if you ever get the chance, the trip to the International Space Hall of Fame is well worth it!

I love my scooter

Been Revamping My Life

If you wonder where I have gone and why I have not been posting as of late it’s because I got myself in a funk.

The virus, my age, caring about my wife kind of got me stagnant in life. Do not get me wrong, we have on occasions gotten out and about. Just not often. Also a couple of times each month we were able to do some fun photography. It’s just I got into this funk of what the heck, stuff can wait until tomorrow, then tomorrow, and tomorrow after that. You get the idea. It is called not caring and laziness. That was stupid on my part.

Now, I am going to stop talking about it and maybe in other posts explain a little further. Actually, some of it is kind of funny. Anyway, In starting to get back in the swing of things I came across a blog post that I had started and never finished. Here it is. Hmmm, after reading it I have the feeling I did post but in looking over past post I can’t find it. Aging is so much fun. That was written sarcastically.

My Scooter, My Wife, And Photography

I am a lucky guy. My wife has to put up with a lot of crazy photographic ideas that I come up. When I told her I wanted her to come outside and take pictures of my shadow while I rode my scooter up and down the street she rolled her eyes. I don’t think she really wanted to do this little photo project. She was probably thinking that “crazy Craig.” Of course she is good to me and a good sport and did it anyway.

I love my scooter. It is great for going around town taking snapshots. Riding around on a scooter with a Fuji camera slung over my shoulder feels really good. Photos that I have taken that way are for another time and another post. For today, here are some photos that the wife captured for this little photo project of mine. Thank you April.

Camera was the Fuji X-T1 with the Fuji lens FX35mm F2 R Wr attached. Just having fun with the camera. Photographer: The April D. Getchius

The photo shoot was fun and easy. Doing simple things with a camera and photographing the simple things can be rewarding. I even think April enjoyed herself. Note: over the last few years Fuji has followed up the X-T1 with the X-T2, the X-T3, and the X-T4. I now own a X-T3. My favorite of all those cameras is still the X-T1. There is something about that little camera that is a joy to use. It is still a great street photography camera. – CLG

Yes, Snow in Colorado

April and I took a little drive To Rocky Mountain National Park today. Here is a little video, using a Go Pro and the Nikon Z6. It was quickly edited in Adobe Rush on the iPad.

Ok, below is the proof that we are actually having snow in Colorado on September 9, 2020. I think it is safe to say 2020 has been a strange year. CLG &ADG

September 9, 2020 in Colorado

Iowa Wind Turbine Time Lapse

Going through some old video files and came across these two video files. They were created a few years back while I was enjoying the back roads of Iowa. It was such a relaxing time.

Video was created with the Nikon D500 on a tripod. Hope this uploads correctly and hope you enjoy. ✌️Peace, Love and Victory – CLG

Iowa, Wind Turbine Time Lapse CLG

Watching her learn is fun

My wife has slowly been learning how to video. Here is a link to an example of her work in progress at White Sands National Park. The video is raw and some of the video was captured with a dirty sensor. When I have time I am going to have to remove those sensor spots. That is not as easy in video as it is with digital photographs. Still, the video is rather enjoyable to watch. I have to admit I have really enjoyed watching her learn how to video. Both my wife and I are not exactly young in age. Yet, in so many ways we are still young at heart. Learning new things helps keep life interesting. Also being around someone who is enjoying experiencing new ways of looking at life is enriching to me. Getting out, though not around other people, sure has made life easier during the pandemic. I am so lucky to have a love one around me during these trying times.


Notes: All the video clips were captured using either a Nikon Z6 or Nikon D850 cameras. The point of this learning exercise was to do the video and post processing as simple as possible. Therefore the time-lapse clips were process in camera. Post processing was accomplished on an iPad using the Adobe’s Rush App. In this case the editing and merging clips were rather simple and hurried. One could do the same edits with free Apps such as Apple’s Movies. Hope you enjoy. – CLG

A Simple Stuck At Home Photo Project.

Macro photography is not my forte and yes, this photo is rather cliche. Nevertheless taking this viola flower photo was rather fun and easy to do. Wish I had a different color background and a spray bottle to mist the flower. Tonight I just might raid the wife’s fabric stash that she using for her various sewing project. Ace Hardware is open so I might also stop by the store and pick up a bottle to spray flowers.

Anyway, this photograph was from a single candescent light. The viola was placed in a pan of water that was wrapped in black fabric and the same black fabric was used as a background. The water with the black fabric underneath helped create the reflection of the flower. Moving the light source around will create different degrees of reflection of the flower in the water. To keep the flower from falling over I weighed it down with a paper clip.

The camera I used was the the Nikon D850 and the lens was a AF-S Micro NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8. This combination of camera and lens is great, especially if your goal is to create a print that will be rather large. Also to create this photo I used focus stacking that was post processed in Adobe Photoshop. You don’t need to do focus stacking to create amazing results. But without it some of the flower would not have been in focus. Also you could get as basic as using the camera on your phone and get fantastic results.

Since taking this photo my imagination has been going crazy with different ideas to create a different and/or a better image. I am discovering the key to creating interesting macro photos is to just keep trying new ideas. Yes, let your imagination flow. Hopefully, I will have more to share with you soon.

Hang in there. Things will get better. – CLG

Stuck At Home, Keeping Your Photography Skills Sharp

On Instagram the photographer Joe McNally, posted a wonderful idea of how to keep your photographic skills sharp while waiting out the Corona Virus. Here is the the link: Joe McNally is famous for his flash photography. If you want to check out his images go here:

I have a pretty good collection of tabletop photo books. On this Easter Sunday I am enjoying and studying the book “Bill Brandt Shadow & Light.” As I turn the pages and admire Brandt’s wonderful black and white images I am getting the overwhelming urge to get out and capture the world through my viewfinder. Also, photo project ideas are starting to race around in my head. In my To Do app I have started a brainstorm category and am listing all my photo project ideas and types of creative photography and videos I would like to do. I can’t wait to start getting back out into this wonderful world of ours. I bet that will happen sooner than I imagine.

One of my brainstorms was trying to do a little ink and water videos. It was fun yet very amateurish. Here is a link to the result: Now I figure if I am going to showcase something that I still need more practice I might as well go all the way. If you turn the volume up really loud you can here me trying to pound out the song “Bottle of Wine” written by Tom Paxton. Hey, A few months ago, because of my neurological problems I couldn’t even finger a cord. Everything is getting so much better. Camera used for this project was the Nikon D850 and a 60mm Macro Lens. Peace, Love and Victory.

Oops, it doesn’t seem the sound for the video uploaded. That is probably a good thing. Nevertheless,I will see if I can fix that.

Happy Easter. CLG