When my husband and I moved here (Denver, CO) I was slightly concerned that I would have a hard time making friends in a new city. My awesome hubby suggested a website called Meetup.com. I’m always skeptical with anything regarding meeting people from the internet. The site lets you type in your interests and it will locate group of people who go out and do things in regards to your interest. For example “photography”. I was surprised on how many photography groups there were. So after reading each one, I picked one I wanted to join. There is no fee, no real signing up, just a “join group” option. I was hooked. I was able to see the groups upcoming events, get togethers and contests. The first one I signed up for there was a fee to attend, so if your thinking of joining a group, make sure before you sign up to attend. The fee was completely worth it. The event I signed up for was called Hawk Quest. Where a falconer would bring out a few birds for us to shoot (photographically) ha! I could barely hold in my excitement!
Before I actually get into the actual Hawk Quest event, I should tell you how I needed to prepare. Since I was raised in Vegas, and not seeing snow since I was a kid, I needed to get myself together. It had just snowed, and several inches, where I live. The location for the event also had gotten a lot of snow. I didn’t have any snow gear or anything to keep myself warm. I needed to invest in some snow gear. I officially bought some snow boots! My first snow purchase, other than my jacket. Whoo! I needed to brush up on some techniques to get the best shots I could, so I did some research on how to shoot movement and quick movement. Thankfully it all worked out.
When the day finally came to the shooting event, I got up extra early just to make sure I had everything packed. I had my new snow boots my camera bag and all the trimmings. I drove up to the location, which was on a ranch in Parker, CO. Absolutely gorgeous. There was a little farm, a partially frozen pond, oh… and knee deep snow! Yikes! At first, I was extremely intimidated by meeting all these photographers and I didn’t know how I was going to survive a 2 hour photo shoot in 4 degree weather. Then I heard the other photographers laughing and joking around, as well as complaining about the cold, I eased right up. There is something to be said for being in a group of people with the same passion as you and making jokes only you would understand. I loved it. The only thing I loved more was the actual act of photographing.
The falconer took us up through some snowy hills and atop one that overlooked the farm, he had each bird at a different location so we could all take turns without stepping on toes. My first bird was the Barn Owl, my favorite of the owls. She was peaceful, content, and gorgeous. My second owl was the Horned Owl, he was looking a little surly, but just as beautiful. The volunteers who were with each bird to protect them and make sure no one got to close, they were just fantastic. They were friendly and knowledge able, it just made my experience so much better. My third bird was the American Bald Eagle, she was 16 years old and one of the most memorable experiences of my life. She was so majestic that just having the opportunity to photograph her made me fee so privileged. The next bird, was the Gyr Falcon. This bird was a delight, he sat atop a snowy boulder and couldn’t have been more lovely. The fifth bird was the Long-Eared Owl. At first I had a hard time spotting him, since he blends so easily into the tree he was perched in. However, with my mad where’s-waldo-skills, I found him and was able to capture his beauty. We then got to photograph the American Bald Eagle in a second location overlooking a frozen pond. She is just the most gorgeous creature, honestly. We then were surprised by a bonus bird to photograph. This one was called a Aplomado Falcon. This fellow only weighed about 8 ounces, surprising sweet and happy. Each bird was really an experience, not just because I love animals or photography, but because I was with people who understood how great an opportunity this event was. I feel very blessed to have had the chance to go.
If you would like to see more of the photos from the photo shoot, please see below for the full gallery. Enjoy!