Rock Concert

 

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Quandary Peak (elevation: 14,265′) – Ascent of a Colorado Fourteener

IMG_7657 - Version 3Ah, the dividends received upon summiting a “Fourteener.” They are countless.

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All photos and artwork included in this Web site are copyright-protected and the exclusive property of Eric Schickler Photography. No downloading, use, reproduction, manipulation, sale and/or distribution permitted without express written consent.

© Eric Schickler Photography

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Rocks, Deserts 3

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Florida – Singer Island and Riviera Beach 2

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Rocks, Deserts 2

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© Eric Schickler Photography-Red Rocks & Sumac (1) Rock Wall in Geometric Cuts-Manging Lake Trail-HI-RES - Version 2 (1) Rock Outcrop along Upper Bear Creek in Blowing Snow-HI-RES Monolithic Rock in Desert - HI-RES IMG_7612 IMG_7588 - Version 2 IMG_7538 IMG_7509 IMG_6757 IMG_5161 IMG_1788 IMG_1626 IMG_1624 IMG_1623 (1) GrandCanyon-HI-RES-best shot (1) Cliffs of Rock - Gunnison Area - tight view -HI-RES

 

 

Rocks, Deserts 1

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Shrine Ridge Trail – Vail Pass, Colorado

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© Eric Schickler Photography

 

 

 

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Snowy Scenics – Evergreen, Colorado

Winter in Evergreen is remarkable, and scenic beyond belief. Within one mile of my home are the most scenic spots, that take on a magic quality when the blankets of white fall from the sky. I find subject matter that is simple, grand, intriguing, soothing, peaceful, invigorating, quaint, inspiring and fascinating.

These images were taken in, around and near Alderfer/Three Sisters Park, and along Bear Creek, just east of Evergreen.

The park has 770 acres of ponderosa pines, silver-plume quartz outcrops and scenic open meadows, accessed by 10 miles of gentle trails. The primary early landowners, the Alderfer family, named the landmark rock outcrops after their children: the “Three Sisters and the “Brother.” The park has become very popular with mountain bikers and hikers, many of whom drive up from the Denver metro area on weekends.

I find endless moments of adventure, exercise and solitude in the park during the week, when you can often explore for hours without seeing a solitary person. Animals represent a higher percentage of the population at these times. I’ve seen coyotes, deer, elk, fox, bear, marmots, and plenty of hawks and eagles.

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One of my favorite little critters is the Abert’s squirrel, distinguished by its black coat and fuzzy upright ears. It is named after Colonel John James Abert, an American naturalist and military officer who led the Corps of Topographical Engineers, which mapped the western U.S. in the 1800s. The squirrels are found primarily in ponderosa pines forests, which they use for food, protection and nesting.

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One inhabitant I’m happy to have never met on the trail is the mountain lion. They are known to inhabit the park, and I have heard a few growling off in the distance. I learned early on that it’s not a great idea to run the wooded trails at dusk or dawn.

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The elk population in and around Evergreen has grown significantly over the past several decades due to their protected status and the small remaining number of mountain lions, their primary predator.

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Human-elk interactions are a daily occurrence in Evergreen, where the concept of “Rush Hour Traffic” is very different from that found in the city. Rush hour in this community often refers to a herd of elk in the middle of the road, on your driveway, sidewalk or in your backyard. Automobile traffic is stopped by both traffic lights and elk herd crossings.

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The funniest Evergreen “rush hour” moment for me was watching five elk parading aimlessly around a traffic circle in the center of town at 5 p.m., paying no heed to the well known rule that vehicles already in the traffic circle have the right of way! Fortunately most resident drivers are very alert to sudden elk appearances, and show great patience in allowing them their migratory freedoms in and around town. Letting them ravage one’s deciduous trees and gardens is another matter altogether.

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When snow covers the park, hikers strap on snowshoes, skis and ice & snow crampons to tackle the trails. Some hardy mountain bikers continue to ride the trails when the snow is hard-packed.

Winter is such a highly rewarding time for photography. That’s when I experience and document unique contrasts, the mix of cool and warm light, soft gradients, the visual delights of falling snowflakes, the juxtaposition of stark blue skies and sheets of white, and the dance of snow clouds as they rake the mountaintops.

Then my lens moves to the fascinating formations of snow on the sturdy ponderosa pines and aspens, the gentle lines and reflections along the waters of Bear Creek, the sparkle of Colorado’s dry champagne powder, and the soft draping of powder on exposed rock outcrops.

My most successful winter images are those that actually capture and convey the hush that exists when a deep blanket of snow covers the landscape. That peace and serenity is also why I so enjoy braving the elements to bring you these images. Which brings me back to the primary reason I am a nature photographer. It keeps me outside and away from the computer!

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As I get older and find myself staring down yet another winter, my mind drifts to thoughts of a warm tropical beach and all the comforts that come with it. But then I look out my door and find scenes like these in the Colorado foothills. I could never move to a one-season location. Look what I would miss!

The Paint Mines – a Colorado Geological Wonder

Leave it up to my mom. She’s nearly 80, and still seeks out hiking destinations like a high- schooler who just got out for the summer. And she acts the same way when she gets there. I always have admired her spunk.

For a few months, she’d been telling me about a fascinating place east of her hometown of Colorado Springs called The Paint Mines. Of course, she’s been there and done that already. I was late to the party, again.

She knows I’m always looking for different places and things to photograph, and knew I’d enjoy the hiking and scenery, even if I didn’t have my camera.

The day after our family’s Thanksgiving gathering was the perfect day to take her up on the offer. The stars were in alignment:  I was already in Colorado Springs, I had my camera, my Dad was serving as our valet, it was a sunny, warm and dry morning, and I needed to work off several thousand calories from last night’s turkey feast.

After a half-hour drive into the eastern Colorado plains, our adventure started out as an uneventful stroll on what appeared to be someone’s dull, sprawling ranch land. This would be perfect—if I were a prairie dog, or a tumbleweed. What could be of much interest way out here?

Well, okay. They say there are pronghorn antelope, mule deer, hawks, falcons, foxes, coyotes, lizards, even an occasional mountain lion. Maybe now I’m interested. I do see some pronghorn tracks.

There are also plenty of wildflowers and thrilling natural grasses! And hey, if you like flowering yucca, this is your Mecca! You lost me again. Big whoop. Let’s turn around, get out of here, and hit that Air Force-Army game at the Academy.

But wait…there’s got to be more out here if it’s been turned into an interpretive park. And they do have modern restrooms. That’s a really good sign.

So, trusting my mom’s recommendations on all things scenic and natural, I commenced to hiking, with camera gear in tow.

After a very pleasing mile-long stroll, over a few gentle hills, we descended into a swell surrounded by cliffs, rounded a bend, and suddenly came upon a vastly different landscape. And a cast of characters the likes of which I have never seen etched in the earth. Goblins, dinosaurs, bobble head dolls, serpents, reptiles, mushrooms, buildings, dwellings, and–Gasp! Shield your eyes, mother!–male and female you-know-what organs. All around them were colorful mazes, labyrinths, monoliths, gulches, outcrops, ridges.

All these formations of multicolored sediments appeared in large eroded shoulders on the hills and cliff sides. Trails and promontories offered wide-angle and close-up views of geological treasures that looked like they could be the dental profile of various monsters. Huge discolored and pearly white molars, central incisors, even bicuspids!

You can follow narrow, semi-hidden passageways through the rock. Play hide and seek. Get lost.

I felt like a kid again, in some fantasy playground. Maybe this was the prehistoric prototype for the Ronald McDonald playhouse. I’ve never been to Disney World, and I don’t hold a grudge against my folks for denying me that right of passage as a boy. No, this seemed like the preferred destination resort for me. No commercialism, no admission fee, no expensive vendors, no lines, no crowds. And no noise. My mom knows how to pick ’em. Mickey and Minnie can have their grand time down there in Orlando.

I’m whirling about in a sea of colors, patterns, curves, abstract alignments and juxtapositions, shadows, nooks, crannies and diverse textures. There’s sandstone, jasper, oxidized iron-infused clays, and soft, fine-grain sand lying on the trails.

The Paint Mines is a geological jewel recently designated as an 750-acre park by the El Paso County (Colorado) Parks & Leisure Services. The surreal, almost alien-like formations constitute about 30 acres of the serene, wide open park.

As visitors stroll along its 4.5 miles of sunny, scenic trails, they can take in views of the distant hills, farms, plains and the extensive band of woods known as the Black Forest back to the east.

My eyes were bugging out with the rich photo opportunities. It’s the stuff I most love to photograph. Your imagination runs wild while framing shots and afterwards, when you view the finished photos.

As is often the case when I get lost in my photography, I felt bad that I was now pretty much ignoring my folks and sister, and missing the opportunity to spend quality time with them, which is always limited. But they know me well, and know this is my irresistible passion. Besides, I told them if the mountain lion shows up and gets me, they get to keep the photos, and the camera.

I vowed to return soon, probably by myself, to shoot for many more hours, with more equipment, in different light, seasons and weather.

As a photographer who revels in nature’s abstracts, patterns and light variations, on this first visit I was immersed by an aura of fantasy, intrigue and wonder. In addition to the visual delights, it’s just a magical place to be. Quiet, detached, and simple. But powerful in its telescopic probe into earth’s past.

This unique geology, possibly one of only four such areas in all of Colorado, has attracted visitors for 9,000 years. The colorful clays were used by Paleoindians, and later American Indian tribes, to make pottery, tools and ceremonial paints (ergo the name of the site). Indians also liked the area for its unique hunting opportunities, due to its overlooks, and ideal landscape for cornering and isolating bison.