Colorado nature photography: John De Bord

john de bord

John de Bord is a nature photographer based in Colorado, USA. His photography is dedicated to capturing the wildlife and landscape of Colorado in all its diverse beauty.

“I became interested in photography back in the late1980s. I belonged to a hotrod car club and the photographer there would shoot all of the car events we attended to document it. He was the first person who really got me interested in photography. I took a hiatus for many years and rediscovered my love for photography when I was attending Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design here in Denver, studying for my BFA degree in illustration. Photography was a requirement of the course and it rekindled my love for the art all over again.


“I shoot exclusively using Minolta Maxxum/Sony Alpha mount. My main camera is a Sony a550 DSLR, and I have a backup Minolta 5d DSLR that I use every once in a blue moon. As far as bodies go, the rest are all film cameras; a Minolta x370, and Minolta Maxxum 5000 & 7000.

My main go-to equipment for lenses is my Tamron 200-400mm. It is the lens with which I shoot all my wildlife on and I have fallen in love with it. Other lenses I use on a regular basis include the Minolta 18-200mm (my go-to landscape lens), Minolta 28mm f2.8, Minolta 35-70mm f4, Minolta 70-210 f4, and the Minolta 50mm f1.7.

As for filters, I use Fotodiox filters almost exclusively. I use a 4 stop ND grad, a ND8, a tobacco ND grad and a circular polariser.

My tripod setup consists of Weifeng legs backed by a Fancier FT6693AH Pro Ball Head. I also use a Puffin Pad quite often when I photograph wildlife. It is sort of like a bean bag made from automotive and memory foam. As far as equipment goes, it is the best purchase I have ever made under $30.

I go out and take pictures as often as I can, but how often depends on the time of year. On average it is between one and four days a week. In winter it is maybe one or two times a week, or sometimes a little less. My two busiest times a year are sunflower season and autumn, when I usually shoot for two weeks straight, take a couple days off to regenerate, and then shoot another two weeks straight. During this time I wake up at 3am and shoot until 9pm every night. It can be tiring!

In a Rut

Colorado has one of the most diverse landscapes in the United States. The sunflower season is one of my favorite subjects to shoot, not just because of the colours, but because of the annual elk rut in Rocky Mountain National Park. There is also wildflower season and of course storm chase season. Storm chase season is incredible on the eastern plains. To see mother nature at her most ferocious and to hear tornado sirens going off is my personal adrenaline fix! Being there to photograph it all is simply an amazing experience.

There is a lot of wildlife here in Colorado, including bears, moose and mountain lions to bald eagles and pika. It is a very diverse habitat and environment. It is one of the things I most enjoy about my state. I try to keep my distance from the animals when I photograph them. I have seen people do plenty of stupid things when it comes to wildlife. One lady wandered out into the meadow where the elk were rutting in fall pushing a baby stroller. There have been several times when myself and some of the fellow photographers I shoot with have had to yell at people and report them to the Rangers. People don’t realize that bull elk will charge and can kill you. They are huge animals and highly unpredictable when in rut.

I use a 400mm lens because I like to be able to keep my distance and get in as close as I can with a large lens. My next purchase will be a 500mm lens. I generally photograph large wildlife, but in the last couple of years though I have fallen in love with bird photography.

I shoot in two very distinct styles. When it comes to wildlife, I generally don’t take any artistic liberties with my images and keep any editing to a minimum. Landscapes are a different story, and I generally have multiple versions of the same image, all processed differently.  Ultimately, with my photography I want to leave an impression on people and have them come away thinking that there is still a lot of beauty in this world even when it seems as though there isn’t. I aim to make people smile and make them feel relaxed.”

If you want to view more photography from John De Bord, take a look at his portfolio on 500px, or follow him on Twitter.

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