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Wild Animal Country; Colorado

Denver, Boulder, Estes, Rockies

(each link is to an Instagram photo from @travel_junkie or @alenkadesign)

We started late and our first destination was Boulder, only a short 40 minute or so drive from Denver. The prettiness started from the first moment, as we were driving straight towards the mountains that we’d soon be climbing. But first, a stop in Boulder was in order for a little lunch and to check out the street performers on Pearl Street (yes, there’s a person in there!).

One of the sites to see in Boulder is the Flatiron formation, which we drove up to the National Center for Environmental Research to get a better view of (which wasn’t really the best view, apparently, but still a nice drive and we saw the first of many large furry critters while up there).

Flatirons in Boulder, Colorado, from the NCARFlatirons in Boulder, Colorado, from the NCAR @ June 2011 | Panasonic Lumix GF-1 & Lumix G 20mm ƒ/1.7 @ ISO 100, ƒ/3.5, 1/1000

Eventually we started the journey towards the Rocky Mountain National Park, and with only one quick stop to tweet a reality check that we weren’t in the flatlands anymore, our first proper stop was when we encountered some serious wildlife. Alenka spotted them and I swerved off the road to react, and after a few quick shots from the car, I pulled out the big guns and fired off a handful of frames of a small elk herd moving their way across people’s front lawns.

Wild Elk in the Rocky MountainsWild Elk in the Rocky Mountains @ June 2011 | Canon EOS 1Ds Mk III & 70-200mm ƒ/4L IS @ ISO 160, ƒ/4, 1/640

Not the kind of thing you see in Los Angeles, for sure.

We recovered from this amazing sighting at the local Colorado Cherry Company, where a slice of cherry pie à la mode and two coffees were sorely needed. That made us smile.

The drive west and up continued, with more pretty prettiness that had to be shared, and another stop at the entrance to the Estes Park area. We were quickly accosted by a mob of hungry chipmunks who, in pretty clear English, demanded food for passage. Alenka was happy to oblige.

Alenka feeds the chipmunks. They demanded it.Alenka feeds the chipmunks. They demanded it. @ June 2011 | Panasonic Lumix GF-1 & Lumix G 20mm ƒ/1.7 @ ISO 100, ƒ/2, 1/500

She named him Cheery-oki. You’ll have to ask her.

Rocky Mountain National Park

We decided not to stop in Estes Park, the town itself. Adorable, for sure, but crammed with tourists and we had far more interesting natural beauty ahead in the Rocky Mountains National Park. Alenka had to prove to the world why were stopping so much, but when you have shocking beauty like this, you just have to stop again and again and again! And even though it’s June, and a refreshing high 60’s through most of the park, the snow was piled high. The drive itself was certainly different than what we had the day before in Kansas and eastern Colorado.

There’s no describing the stunning vistas up there; you simply have to go see it for yourself. Just don’t forget that you’re at some pretty serious elevation — over 12,000 feet in fact — so don’t do too much running around with a heavy camera if you’re not used to it (*pant*… *pant*).

The route down was equally gorgeous, but also in the shadow side of things, so we stopped a lot less on the way out of the park. Shadow Mountain Lake was worth stopping for however, where we saw an empty lot and dreamed ever-so-briefly about a life on the lake in a log cabin, before picking up a Realtor’s advertisement for a lovely cottage on the water priced a paltry $1.8M. Adorable.

Needless to say, I have a lot of photos to share over the coming months from this drive.

Rocky Mountain National ParkRocky Mountain National Park @ June 2011 | Canon EOS 1Ds Mk III & 24-70mm ƒ/2.8L @ ISO 160, ƒ/7.1, 1/500

Today we head towards Salt Lake City, Utah. Never been, and we’ll be connecting with fellow photography Nicole Young. Can’t wait!

One more thing… Trey Ratcliff’s New Photography, HDR, and Post-processing Course

Many of you are already familiar with Trey’s fantastic HDR work over at Stuck In Customs, but in case you missed it he’s just released a new HDR tutorial series that includes 11½ hours of content in nine different classes, and at just $97 for the “best value” package, if you’re into learning HDR, it’s unquestionably a great value. Check it out here!

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I've a Feeling We're Not in Kansas Anymore

The Road Behind

(each link is to an Instagram photo from @travel_junkie or @alenkadesign)

The drive from the Middle of Nowhere, Kansas to Denver, Colorado was somewhat uninspiring. For the first part of the day, seeing something, anything, was an event to photograph. We passed a small windmill farm, and I questioned where Don Quixote was. I even tried really hard to make the vista more interesting with Instagram filters, but failed miserably. At one point the road curved, which was fascinating. As one facebook poster commented, “AGH! Untie the wheel! Turn off the cruise control!”. True, true.

OMG! the road turns! HOLD ON!!! #sc2or

We stopped for a much needed caffeine break in Colby and decided against a snack of fried fried stuff, then after some indeterminate period of time, were finally welcomed to colorful Colorado, although Alenka lamented the lack of hills to go along with the (lack of) color.

The weather looked like it might turn for the worse, which made for a pull-off-the-highway-worthy iPhone photo, where a Colorado state trooper was kind enough to pull over and ensure we were OK. That had to be the highlight of the day.

Weather. #sc2or

Finally to Denver, where we stayed at a B&B found on, walking distance to the Cherry Creek part of town and home to a new and wonderful “tacos and tequila” restaurant called Machete, which serves all kinds of “street food” deliciousness, some wonderful salsas and very very strong and creative margaritas (think jalapeño and cilantro muddled tequila). Yum.

The Road Ahead

The plan from Denver was originally to go straight up I-25 to I-80 and over to Salt Lake City, but we’ve decided to break that trip into two days and instead pass through Boulder and then the US-40 through the mountains. We will probably stay in Steamboat Springs tonight, or somewhere slightly past that, and at the moment we’re still deciding if we should go from Boulder north through the Rocky Mountains National Park, or south and visit historic Georgetown. We may not decide until we stop in Boulder, and of course we’re always soliciting your opinions!

Also the journey through there should fill the camera coffers with more beautiful vistas than open-prairie Instagram snapshots ;-)

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Canvas Prints… Coming Soon!

At PhotoPlus Expo last week I was introduced to Roxanne Benton of Pixel2Canvas by one of my favorite people in the world, Bobby Davis. Bob uses Roxanne’s prints for his weddings, and that frankly is enough of an endorsement for me! Then on Tuesday at “Real Time Community” with Dane Sanders, Scott Bourne was talking about his print sales, and it frankly seems like a silly idea not to start selling some of my best images this way, too.

Next week I’m going to visit Roxanne’s studio and make some selections on just what print types and sizes I want to offer, but suffice it to say these will be stunning prints, and sold large. As much as I love computers, there’s nothing better than seeing a photo in print, and printed BIG. It’s what all those pixels were created for.

This also means I need to start selecting some images to print and offer. Here’s a couple of the first ones I’ll make available… and I’m having the Indian beggar boy test printed to see in person next week.

If you’re interested in purchasing prints, please contact me directly.

A young beggar boy at the Dadar train station in Mumbai, India. He stepped in front of my lens and refused to leave until I made a photo. He obviously knew something I didn’t.

An Empty Road in Colorado, USA, shot during the Race Across America, 2006

Twilight view of Saint Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest, Hungary

Manhattan, as seen from the ferry ride from New Jersey