Wildflower landscapes are by far the most challenging assignment I give myself each summer! High up in the mountain basins, slopes and gulches, is where you go to find columbine, paintbrush, king’s and queen’s crown and more. Getting to them, finding a good patch with minimal distractions, and that then align with an interesting background, is most of the challenge! Combining the wildflowers and landscapes together helps viewers experience a better sense of place. The daisies in this set are more accessible since they grow a little lower.

Ideally my goal is to get wildflowers prominent in the foreground, and a mountain feature in the background. In order to get everything sharp close and far, I always use a tripod. My Canon 16-35mm is my usual lens of choice for wildflower landscapes. I focus-stack, taking exposures at select focal points (close to far) in the scene. I bring the frames into Photoshop using ‘load files into stack’ and check attempt to align. The files with different focal points come in as layers and I use masks to blend them according to sharpness. Using a tilt-shift lens is another way to get this desired affect. I need to consider the pros and cons of an investment in one as they are quite expensive.

First light light up a peak across a lake while daisies line the shore.

‘Daisy Delight!’ © Denise Bush
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Daisies grow wild near the Red Mountains in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.

‘Daisies Below Red Mountains’ © Denise Bush

Sneezeweed makes a bright appearance in summer alpine meadows in Colorado.

‘Sunny Sneezeweed Meadow’ © Denise Bush

Queen's Crown and other wildflowers soak up a morning rain in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.

‘After A Rain’ © Denise Bush

Boulders and wildflowers are the subject of this scene just below a high mountain pass.

‘Three Boulders & Wildflowers’ © Denise Bush

Pink paintbrush takes a staring role in this summer, apline scene.

‘Paintbrush Below Cloudy Ridge’ © Denise Bush

Pink paintbrush create a beautiful scene in the high elevations of Colorado.

‘Pink Paintbrush Paradise’ © Denise Bush

King's Crown is upfront in this summer wildflower scene, shot in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.

‘King’s Crown & A View’ © Denise Bush

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No matter what scene or subject I’m out to capture, I’m always open to the many mountain scenes I’m presented with. For this post I’ve grouped some recent compositions where the mountains and peaks play the starring role!

Trees along a road leading to Mount Sneffels shine with morning light and help to set the stage.

‘A Different Road To Sneffels’ © Denise Bush
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The rising sun lights up a distant peak to greet the new day.

‘A New Day’ © Denise Bush

The mountains are far away in this layered landscape.

‘Layered Landscape’ © Denise Bush

The setting sun lights up clouds to the northeast, in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.

‘Evening Vista’ © Denise Bush

Red Mountain is aptly named for the high iron and mineral content giving it beautifully colored slopes.

‘Fading Light On Red Mountain’ © Denise Bush

The sun makes its way over the eastern mountains to illuminate the landscape including a portion of the Sneffels Range.

‘Morning Highlights’ © Denise Bush

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Someone once told me that ‘water’ was the most photographed subject. When I thought about water in all its forms and features, it was easy to believe. There’s oceans, seas, lakes, reservoirs, ponds, rivers, streams, creeks, waterfalls, cascades, fountains, watering holes and even puddles … and then there’s snow and ice too! Regarded as the ‘source of life’, water is interesting symbolically as well. Upon investigating the claim, the internet tells me there are other contenders for ‘most photographed’, so let’s just say water is a ‘popular subject’!

Water subjects have a special allure. My favorite time to photograph beside the water is in the spring and early summer, while it is still flowing from the mountains. Ponds and reservoirs are full before they shrink, sometimes drying up altogether later in summer. I don’t think I’ve concentrated on water subjects as much as some previous spring/early summer seasons, but still have the following to share.

Pretty clouds are twice as nice when reflected in this watering hole on the range.

‘Cloudy Watering Hole’ © Denise Bush
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A beaver dam and lodge illustrate the beaver's master building techniques.

‘Built With Skill’ © Denise Bush

The Uncompahgre River leaves the town of Ouray; and travels north toward Ridgway swiftly in spring.

‘Leaving Ouray’ © Denise Bush

Water rushes down a river in a big hurry to reach its destination.

‘Rushing Over Rocks’ © Denise Bush
(Yes, the rocks are really this orange!)

A summer waterfall branches out taking different paths of vertical descent.

‘Vertical Divergence’ © Denise Bush

A close-up of a spring cascade captures the flowing motion.

‘Flowing Motion’ © Denise Bush

Water rushes downstream through a rocky river in Colorado.

‘Mountain Currents’ © Denise Bush

Spring melt rushes down a mountainside and plunges through a rocky grotto flowing to a river.

‘Waterfall Grotto’ © Denise Bush

A long waterfall plunges from high above the cliff to disappear behind a rocky ledge.

‘Spring Plunge’ © Denise Bush

See more water subjects in my ‘Colorful Colorado’ collections HERE!

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The Forgotten

14Jun22

Last September I went out exploring, unsure where I would end up. I came across a place with several abandoned buildings and had a wonderful time framing up some subjects. I came home, pleased with what I found, processed them, and then … forgot about them! I can only guess that since it was at the beginning of September, I got side-tracked with fall color. While looking for a particular image today I found them all ready to go, once keyworded, sized and watermarked. I’m glad I didn’t forget about them forever! Now … what was it I was looking for in the first place?

A beat-up Ford truck is parked on the corner of a building to match.

‘Parked On The Corner’ © Denise Bush
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There is something charming about the colors and simplicity of this little old shack complete with a rusty tin roof.

‘Tar Paper House’ © Denise Bush

An old log cabin offers a look back in time.

‘House Made Of Logs’ © Denise Bush

A bull elk skull and antlers hang above a door in Southwest tradition.

‘Elk Greeting’ © Denise Bush

Tall grass surrounds a house complete with a picket fence ... probably very quaint and cared for years ago.

‘Picket Fence’ © Denise Bush

Old, weathered shutters offer an abundance of texture, lit with warm afternoon sun.

‘Shuttered Window’ © Denise Bush

An abandoned log building is locked up tight with shutters and padlocks on all three windows.

‘Three Shuttered Windows’ © Denise Bush

An old Chevrolet truck parked next to an outhouse reminds us of how it used to be!

‘Truck Stop’ © Denise Bush

See my ‘Remnants & Remains’ and ‘Windows & Doors’ galleries HERE!

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The following are spring images chosen for their mountain theme. Spring has given me renewed enthusiasm for getting out there! These were shot in May, and at this time of year some of the mountains can still have snow on them. The snow can get a bit dirty from high winds and blowing dust, but Mother Nature sometimes freshens it up on the peaks. With more roads open I’m revisiting favorite locations to explore new compositions. And, I’m finding some new spots too … although that is getting more difficult close to home. ‘Everything is far away!’ someone once told me, and there is truth to that. A typical photo outing can range from 50 – 150 miles, and a day trip is often closer to 300 miles. I’m looking forward to more exploring, shooting and posting in the days ahead. I appreciate all the looks, likes and comments … thank you!

Springtime aspen trees show-off their bright green, under Sunshine Mountain near Telluride, Colorado.

‘Sunshine Mountain In Spring’ © Denise Bush

The morning sun illuminates spring aspen leaves allowing a view of distant mountains.

‘Through Spring Aspens’ © Denise Bush
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A winding road climbs before ending up at the trailhead that leads to Mount Sneffels of the San Juans.

‘The Way To Sneffels’ © Denise Bush

Kendall Mountain in southwest Colorado, catches beautiful light while spruce trees below create a shady frame.

‘Kendall Under Blue Sky’ © Denise Bush

An old style corral adds a western theme to this San Juan Mountains scene.

‘Corral Vista’ © Denise Bush

A beaver pond in the San Juan Mountains reflects a mountain peak lit with the low setting sun.

‘Reflecting Beaver Pond’ © Denise Bush

Beautiful clouds light up in pastel colors above Mears Peak along the Sneffels Range.

‘The Valley & Beyond’ © Denise Bush

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Aspen Awakening

26May22

After Colorado’s long winters I get excited when the aspen trees begin to leaf out! When it happens, depends on where. Lower elevations before higher elevations, and sunny spots before shady ones. The foliage starts out very bright and delicate, and I enjoy seeing the tree structure through the leaves. When new leaves are backlit, it can feel magical … like twinkle lights shimmering in the breeze. I’ve been getting out to shoot and survey aspen progress. As I write this, a lot of the leaves in higher elevations have not yet emerged. I traveled far to check on a composition I am visualizing and the trees in the scene are still bare. Timing is important. It doesn’t take long for the bright green to darken. I hope you enjoy this early selection … there are surely more photos that include aspens to come!

New aspen leaves are especially beautiful in spring ... bright and delicate!

‘New Spring Leaves!’ © Denise Bush
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Natural elements come together to create this peaceful spring scene.

‘Spring Moon Setting’ © Denise Bush

Backlit aspen leaves are especially beautiful in the spring ... bright and shimmering in the sun.

‘Awakening’ © Denise Bush

Mount Sneffels makes a statement every time of year. Here its beauty is enhanced with spring aspens framing the tall peak!

‘Spring Joy Drive’ © Denise. Bush

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I’ve never adhered to any kind of schedule for blogging. I simply post when I have recent work and themed projects to share and archive. Then today I realized it’s been over a month since my last post, and that’s a little longer than I like. As explained then, our winters are long! It seems I have lost my enthusiasm for the winter landscape (until next year) so I haven’t been out with my camera as often as usual. I’ve been waiting for spring and thankfully each day is bringing a little more green. When the aspen trees leaf out I will feel fully rejuvenated! But with that said, I have been out a handful of times during the last month, and this post displays my latest landscape keepers. In chronological order you’ll see how the snow has melted down below. We’ll have snow on the peaks for quite a while longer, and then it starts all over again!

I was delighted when this pink cloud perfectly positioned itself above some distant mountains, glowing with last light!

‘Pink Cloud Over Peek-a-boo Peaks’ © Denise Bush
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The San Juan Mountains, in Colorado are known for its rail fences and beautiful mountains as displayed in this scene.

‘San Juan Classic’ © Denise Bush

Rusting farm equipment provides an introduction to this mountain scene.

‘Resting Plow Parts’ © Denise Bush

An abstract version of Mount Sneffels is reflected in a spring puddle.

‘Vertical Reflection’ © Denise Bush

First light strikes a distant snow-capped mountain while the valley below begins to turn green.

‘May Mountain Morning’ © Denise Bush

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Wintry Mix

25Mar22

The following is a random mix of winter subjects shot in the last few months. If it seems like I post a lot of winter images, I can explain … our winters are long … very long! Second only to autumn, I think winter is a great time to shoot. Challenging as it may be, it offers opportunities for unique and beautiful nature images. As I write this we have the possibility of more snow in the forecast. But this time of year the sun is strong and it melts fast, leaving our mostly dirt roads a muddy mess and adding a new challenge to my photo outings. With our winter coming to a close, I wanted to document the following not included in other posts. I’ve posted more in March than usual … a sort of spring cleaning, readying myself for a new season. I hope you like this mix and other recent posts … if you missed them!

Cool hues contribute to the cold feeling of this wintry scene.

‘Wintry Hues’ © Denise Bush

Last light strikes a mountain peak in this snowy winter scene.

‘Last Light On Peak’ © Denise Bush

Detail of an icy winter cascade in the mountains.

‘Cascade Detail’ © Denise Bush

Cold water flows along a mountain stream, freezing to rocks along the way.

‘Winter Cascade’ © Denise Bush

A view from the Double RL (for Ralph Lauren) includes Loghill Mesa in the center and the northern end of Cimarron Ridge in the distance.

‘Ranch, Mesa & Ridge’ © Denise Bush

A partially frozen Ridgway Reservoir creates a wintry view of McKenzie Butte in the distance.

‘Winter At The Reservoir’ © Denise Bush

A pink alpenglow and pretty clouds are a wonderful sight to behold over the Cimarrons, of Colorado's San Juan Mountains.

‘Sunset Over Wintry Mountains’ © Denise Bush

The moon appears on this scene near Telluride to create a unique winter scene.

‘Twilight Moon Over Snowy Peaks’ © Denise Bush

A snowy slope near Telluride reflects beautiful pink alpenglow!

‘Slopeside Alpenlow’ © Denise Bush

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I love winter imagery in black & white. Early in the season my dream was to create a bigger collection of monochrome photos, but after looking back have only a modest offering. There were several trials that when viewed objectively, looked best in color. Black & white can be tricky and only a small percentage of images work to my satisfaction. If I don’t see something special in an image, whatever it might be, I prefer to keep them to myself, or better yet, toss them! The images below range from the first dramatic scenes, to the more intimate, such as the slope-side tree surrounded by trails from descending snowballs. And last are some even more intimate nature studies, shot earlier in the season when there was only a dusting of snow. I hope you enjoy seeing everything here in black & white!

A mountain spire reaches to the heavens dressed in a new coat of snow.

‘Winter Steeple’ © Denise Bush

Clouds clear after a snow storm, leaving the mountains a brilliant white.

‘Clearing Over Coated Peaks’ © Denise Bush

Last light appears on a mountain peak above spruce, aspen and snow.

‘Winter’s Last Light’ © Denise Bush

A tree on a steep slope is surrounded by trails from descending snowballs.

‘Slope-side Slide’ © Denise Bush

A light snow coats some pine cones and sticks for an intimate nature study in black and white.

‘Pine Cones & Sticks One’ © Denise Bush

A light snow coats some pine cones and sticks for an intimate nature study in black and white.

‘Pine Cones & Sticks Two’ © Denise Bush

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Sunset and the golden hour are undoubtedly the most popular time to be out shooting … but not just because it’s a beautiful time of day! It’s just a wonderful experience to be there, and in the moment. It can feel absolutely magical when the elements come together, creating pure visual splendor. I like to go out in the late afternoon to scout for a good spot, and often one that is looking in a direction other than west. After all, there’s more to sunset than watching that big fiery ball sink below the horizon. I look for the last light hitting the tallest peaks while day’s end shadows creep upward from below. Changing seasons create new opportunities as the sun’s position alters its path over peaks and ridges, striking the landscape differently. Alpenglow is another wonderful sight, often offering beautiful gradient skies that cool as twilight approaches. And when I’m lucky a scene can display both, last light and alpenglow. Two of the scenes below are similar compositions shot just minutes apart. I included them both to show how the color of the light changes in a short time. I hope you enjoy seeing these late day captures, shot in different directions.

Last light on a peak across the lake is reflected in the icy water.

‘Icy Reflection’ © Denise Bush
– EAST –

Last Light highlights the top of a ridge near Telluride, Colorado.

‘Light Along Winter Ridge’ © Denise Bush
– EAST –

Beautiful light falls on the mountains at sunset.

‘Southeast Surprise’ © Denise Bush
– SOUTHEAST –

Chimney Rock, The Turrets and a snowcapped mountain beyond all light up with the last light of day.

‘The Chimney & Beyond’ © Denise Bush
– EAST –

The last bit of light illuminates the end of Cimarron Ridge near Ridgway Colorado.

‘Last Light Over The Ridge’ © Denise Bush
– NORTHEAST –

Just after the sun sets the sky turns a lovely alpenglow pink over a snow covered mountain ridge.

‘Pink Sky Over Winter Ridge’ © Denise Bush
– EAST –

After sundown a beautiful gradient sky can sometimes appear in the east. Here the affect is beautiful against the fresh snow.

‘Gradient Sky Over Winter Layers’ © Denise Bush
– NORTHEAST –

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