Friday, June 27, 2008

Tiger Road

One of my favorite areas around Breckenridge is Tiger Road. In the summer it is one of the routes to get high in the backcountry as it goes from pavement to graded dirt to jeep trail.

One winter, I spent a lot of time photographing the creek and a dipper (a small mountain bird that literally walks the bottom of creeks looking for its food) that frequented the area. My photo, Winter Stream, came from the Swan River as it gurgles its way beside the road.

This summer I've been up it a couple of times. I've been rewarded by the evening peaceful time of watching the trout surface, creating small ripples on the beaver ponds. When my kids were growing up, we spent time on our vacations fishing beaver ponds near Silverton. Part of the allure of fishing is getting to be out in a beautiful place, enjoying your surroundings while you are waiting for the fish to bite. While the fish you catch at beaver ponds are small brook trout - they sure taste good at the end of the day.

On our first drive up Tiger Road this year, I just enjoyed being on a jeep trail. I eyed the back country campsites, remembering how much fun it was to camp in a tent, right next to the babbling, gurgling creek. We were also rewarded with two beaver sightings, but they were far enough away that I did not try to bring out the big lens, instead I just watched the first beaver chew off branches of the willow lining his pond and finally take a bunch across the pond. He took that bunch and dove down under water presumably to his home-it was not as obvious as other beaver homes I've seen.

The second night I headed up to the beaver ponds. I pulled out the big lens, hoping a beaver would show. While I was waiting, I was enjoying the fish coming to the surface.

I decided to see if I could actually capture a fish surfacing with the big lens. Amazingly, I did - actually in one of the earlier frames.

Now this is cropped way down, ISO was something like 1600 to get a fast shutterspeed - so image quality is poor. But this is the kind of shot that luck really plays a role. You never know where they're going to surface, so you are never really set up for the shot. And for a memory picture, this is worth a lot to me. But it will never be submitted for publication, contest or stock photography.

I was finally rewarded when the beaver came out.

The original shot had a lot of digital "noise" from the high ISO needed for the lighting conditions. I used the noise reducing filter in photoshop and then went back using the art history brush and brought back out detail in the beaver. It came out better than I expected.

The beaver realized I was there and went under the water. I was at an angle and the water was so clear I could see him swimming below the surface.

He decided to move to some of the other ponds and headed off down one of his trails. I was getting eaten by those wonderful mosquitoes the fish were feeding on. The light was also fading, so we headed back down to civilization.

No comments: