Dale Petefish, a wildlife photographer, artist, author, and poet, recently joined the Gore Range Artisans Gallery. His featured photos showcase hours spent in the backcountry capturing wildlife and glorious landscapes.
An avid outdoorsman and bow hunter, Petefish channels his passions through photography and captures it for others to see. His love for photography began in a junior high class where he learned about the art of photography, experimented with black and white photos and learned to develop photos in a darkroom.
He continued to experiment with photography over the years, and moved from film to digital. He currently uses a Canon 7D Mark II with two different L series lens, a 100 to 400mm and a 200 to 400mm.
But it is not his equipment that sets his photos apart, it’s his willingness to “get-off the beaten path” and his patience and ability to watch an animal for hours at a time to capture the perfect photo. He spends a lot of time out spotting his wildlife and then working into the ideal spot. “I use very little photoshop,” Petefish says of his photos, “I take a lot of time and a lot of images to get the shots right.”
Petefish fondly recalls the circumstances of watching a grizzly bear for hours before it decided to take a nap. “It was one of those photos that had perfect timing to catch it resting its head on the log. I had been watching it for two hours and it had just begun to snow. If you look at the photo, there is snow.”
“The more you spend in the outdoors watching an animal the luckier you will get,” he shares noting some of his favorite photos – the one of a bighorn sheep just months old running up a granite faced rock at a sheer diagonal, the one of a two-year-old bull elk in velvet nursing, another of a bull elk with a wild flower in his mouth rubbing velvet off, and the dancing baby mountain goat doing a backflip in the air, were some of the first to come to his mind. “ P h o t o g r a p h i n g wildlife is unique because every second something is changing,” Petefish accepts the challenges of photographing in the wilderness and philosophizes, “We should all be more like nature in life and let the beauty flow. We need to stop and look between the branches instead of just looking at the branches.”
A Walden resident for the last 25 years with his wife Wendy, Petefish has the perfect backdrop for photos, but he is also willing to travel. He has photographed the landscapes and wildlife in Alaska, Canada, Nebraska and Arizona. He now shares his passion with his eleven grandchildren and speaks fondly of his four-year-old grandson who is already planning their trip to photograph grizzlies. However, it is Trista, his 17-year-old granddaughter, who is his main photography partner for now.
“Trista is a senior at East Grand and spends a lot of her time in the woods with me photographing,” says a proud grandpa.
Petefish may be familiar to many in Granby and the Kremmling area as a grandparent and as a construction contractor.
He also served as the former Chairman of the Colorado Bow Hunters Association. He hunts with a longbow he made. “I am a conservationist. It is about the journey for me. I don’t need to kill something to have a good hunt. I am blessed to see so much of God’s creation.
This is also why I write, to share with those who have been there and those who can’t.”
He is currently working on his third book, Wildlife of the Rocky Mountains, which features a year’s life cycle of all ungulate (hooved animals), predators, birds of prey and other species. He is expected to release the book in the spring of 2018. He is currently sorting over 120,000 images to select 300 of the photos to be printed in the book.
Photos are the prime focus of his books but also include stories and his poetry. His book, Essence of Mt. Zirkel Wilderness focuses on the 160,000 miles of wilderness of North Park along the Continental Divide and includes, “… a lot of photos and history of the wilderness.”
“I really tried to capture the beauty of whole wilderness…the ice on the needles, the ice on the water,” His book, Wanderings, is a series of short stories of bow hunting journeys, photos and some poetry to share his passions for the outdoors.
Throughout his life, Petefish’s passion for the outdoors has shaped his hobbies and his service to others. Packing into the backcountry on horseback is at the top of his hobbies, and in Jackson County, his knowledge and love of the backcountry served him well as a Search and Rescue team leader.
The appreciation of beauty, through the lens of his camera, also encourages him to capture the uniqueness around him, from old buildings, to tractors and trains.
Petefish’s photos and books are currently available at Gore Range Artisans on Park Avenue in Kremmling. You can also learn more about Petefish on his webpage dalerpetefishphotography. com or on his Facebook page Dale R.