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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Denver Area, Colorado


Labels: Favorite Places
This Article Features Photo Zoom


Location
Adjacent to several state and national parks, diversity is the name of the game in Denver and the surrounding area. There are lakes, creeks, dense stands of trees, open fields, canyons and foothills. With all the varied terrain, Denver is home to a variety of wildlife—foxes, coyotes, mule and occasionally white-tailed deer, black bears, owls, hawks, eagles and various migratory waterfowl. Even in my neighborhood in the western suburbs, I see foxes, coyotes, skunks and even mule deer on a regular basis. The state and city parks offer a much wider sample of animals, however, like Roxborough State Park, which is a gem! Just south of Denver, the park has dramatic sandstone formations, rolling hills and lots of wildlife—mule deer, black bears, red and gray foxes, mountain lions and golden eagles. (Hiking the trails gives you the best opportunities, but you also can find lots of photo ops from the car.) Alternatively, the Mount Evans Wilderness Area is my summer home. Just a few miles west of Denver, it offers easy access to alpine critters like pikas and marmots, with mountain goats as one of the main attractions. (Kids are born in early June and start making their appearance around mid-June.) You also can easily find bighorns, short-tailed weasels, ptarmigan, and even elk and mule deer. The road up to Mount Evans is open only in the summer.

Weather
It's Colorado—hot in the summer, mild (usually) in the fall and spring, and cold (from around freezing to "Holy Crap!" depending upon the most recent front) in the winter. There's also mild to moderate snowfall from fall through spring, though snow usually melts quickly. Most wildlife is active year-round.


Photo Experience
The best photography kit for an excursion can be as diverse as Denver. Many of the areas I frequent (the backcountry and horse trails of the local parks) are under heavy tree cover or behind large ridges, blocking the sun for much of the morning, so a fast lens can be beneficial for the low-light conditions that persist even in the day. (My most commonly used lens is a 300mm ƒ/2.8.) A sturdy tripod can be useful, not only for steadying the camera in low light, but because cold fingers are shaky fingers. Chemical heating packs can be a life-saver on cold mornings. My favorite photographic accessory is a pair of knee pads; knee pads are the best $30 investment I ever made.

Best Times
Denver is great year-round, and each season has its own special charm. In the summer, I stay on Mount Evans where temperatures are easily 50º cooler than Denver. The alpine wildlife is plentiful and easy to access. As soon as fall arrives, temperatures start to become more bearable, and I spend time in the state parks, primarily looking for black bears. In the winter, I spend most of my time in the city parks, seeking foxes and coyotes in the snow and on the frozen lakes.

Contact: Learn more about the area at the VISIT DENVER Convention and Visitors Bureau website, www.denver.org.

Essential Gear...

Grabber Warmers
Inclement weather is phenomenal for capturing images, but keeping hands warm is important for working with cameras in cold or freezing conditions. There are several options for keeping hands warm and fingers available, like fingerless gloves, touch-screen gloves and hand warmers. Inexpensive hand warmers are ideal solutions as they're light and portable enough to throw in a camera bag, yet they also can be used with your feet and toes. One nice thing about hand warmers is that you can use them to warm up your gear as well as your hands so you can keep shooting as the temperature drops. Common lifetimes are available from half an hour to over 10 hours.

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