Autumn comes and goes early in the mountains so I got right to it upon the first signs. There’s a lot of talk each fall about ‘peak’ color and I’ve come to the conclusion it’s difficult to pinpoint. There may be aspen groves of green, peak color and bare branches all in the same area. I do enjoy fall colors when there is still some green in the palette and that’s how September starts. The weather can be unpredictable here and later in the month snow came to the high elevations … creating snow-capped peaks and adding more beauty to the landscape. The nights are getting colder and as I write this we’ve had some windy days and a snow that reached the lower elevations. Fall color was too short this year but there are still some October images to come. Presented here are some September favorites.
Filed under: Colorado, Landscape Photography | 38 Comments
Tags: aspen, autumn, Colorado, landscape, Ouray County, photograph, prints, ridgway, San Juan Mountains, Telluride
The early evening rain of late has made for some interesting and colorful skies here on the Western Slopes of Colorado. Traveling down a dirt road looking for worthy photo subjects I saw clouds glowing in the distance. I hurried to get to this spot where I’d have a clear view of the mountains. Arriving just as the sun set to my back I worked quickly to capture these frames of one of the most beautiful scenes I have been privileged to witness. OMG!
Filed under: Colorado, Landscape Photography | 40 Comments
Tags: clouds, dramatic, Hayden Peak, landscape, photograph, prints, San Juan Mountains, Sneffels Range, sunset
I have always been drawn to rural scenes and taking rides in the country (with my camera of course) is a favorite pastime. Perhaps I was a farmer in a previous life! Give me a country road and I’m happy … put a barn or shack on it and I’m even happier … and a mountain back-drop or setting moon … ecstatic! Here are few rural scenes I enjoyed shooting recently. In processing them I took care of some haze that was present on this particular morning caused from the wildfires all the way in California! Not too far from home, I am looking forward to shooting at these locations again.
Filed under: Colorado, Landscape Photography | 32 Comments
Tags: barn, Colorado, country, hayrake, landscape, photography, rural, scene
The alpine wildflower meadows here in the San Juans of Colorado make a beautiful photo subject. One would think it would be easy … right? Well that’s what I thought … until I got started. For the most-part my objective was to capture the flowers and scenery together since this union is what I find special. While I appreciate shallow depth of field images, with these I preferred that both the foreground flowers and background be sharp. Following are the lessons I learned and some choice images.
- Getting There: Above tree line, high in the mountain basins some wildflower meadows are accessible along high-clearance jeep roads while others only by hiking at high elevations. The average wildflower hike starts at 6 miles round-trip and more. That doesn’t sound like a lot until you experience walking uphill at an elevation gain of 2,000 feet (or more) at a high altitude. You need to factor in how long it will take to get there.
- The Light: In some locations there may be a delay before the sunrise comes up over the peaks. This lessens your time before the already bright mountain light becomes too bright. Late day and sunset may be better but if you’ve hiked 3 hours to get there, your return hike downhill (in the dark) might take almost as long. Jeeping to or camping at the location are ideal.
- Subject: Finding a prime flower patch along with an interesting mountain background can take a lot of looking and exploration … but that’s part of the fun!
- Conditions: It has been my experience that it is windy more often than not. My goal was to keep everything sharp from front to back, so instead of sacrificing f-stop I increased my ISO to quicken my exposure attempting to freeze the motion. (Upon review I tossed some images because the flowers were moving and blurry.) Finding the meadows near peak bloom can be hit or miss. Sudden rain and hail storms can also occur so you need to beware.
- Equipment: Unless you can drive to your location you will need to lighten your load (more so than hiking at sea level)! On one occasion I hiked more than 7 miles round trip with my large DSLR, tripod and drinking water. I ended up not even using the camera since the light and conditions weren’t favorable when we finally got there. On the next hike I left my tripod at home but wished I had it when I saw the moving water. Then on my last hike (rated difficult) to the most beautiful location of all I brought my big camera but forgot my battery in the charger at home … ugh … traveling light does mean bringing the essentials!
- Camera Settings: In addition to increasing my shutter speed to compensate for the flowers blowing about I found focus-stacking to be helpful. Since flowers are relatively small I found I needed to get quite close to make them stand out. My usual method estimating hyper-focal distance didn’t always work. Taking shots at close, middle and far focal lengths then blending them together seemed to be a solution.
Living here and having these wildflower opportunities available is certainly a blessing. As wildflower season fades I look forward to putting these lessons to use next year.
Special thanks to all who helped me experience these awe-inspiring locations!
Filed under: Colorado, Landscape Photography | 46 Comments
Tags: Colorado, columbine, landscape, meadows, mountains, Paintbrush, photography, San Juan Mountains, scenic, tips, wildflowers
My previous post was about the first location a friend was kind enough to share, Mystic Falls. Here is the second location … an usual grouping of curved aspen trees! Once again it was a little tight sharing a small space with seven other photographers but taking turns, it worked out all the same. We were lucky to have some puffy clouds that diffused the sunlight that was fast becoming a bit harsh. Straying and swaying from the norm I love the character of these curvy aspen trees and tried as many different compositions as I could. To protect this fragile environment from too many visitors the location is semi-secret. Not wanting to be the one to ‘ruin it’ my friend asked that we not divulge it on the internet. We get a lot of photographers here, and especially in the fall so I can certainly agree with that request. This is another place that will look different in other seasons.
Filed under: Colorado, Landscape Photography | 28 Comments
Tags: aspen, B&W, bent, black and white, color, curved, forest, landscape, photography, prints, trees
Last weekend a kind friend invited me on a photography outing to two locations not easily found. It was a fun time sharing the adventure with seven other photographers. I had seen photos and learned about the first location, Mystic Falls almost a year ago and had been wanting to photograph it since. The directions seemed sketchy and after seeing the trail for myself I was glad to have help in getting there. With eight of us wanting to take pictures there was not a lot of room to move around and we each took our turns trying to stay out of each others’ way from the limited vantage points. Nestled between steep canyon walls it is one of the prettiest waterfalls I’ve seen. I do hope to return in the fall when the water is lower and more angles are possible. Here are three favorites from my first (but not last) visit to this very beautiful and mystical place!
Filed under: Colorado, Landscape Photography | 37 Comments
Tags: Colorado, framed, landscape, long exposure, nature, photography, prints, scenery, stream, summer, waterfall
Wildflower season is upon us and here is my first post of the summer focusing on this lovely subject. These scenes include fences … often catching my attention they are an attractive and common visual element in the scenery here. Coupled with the wildflowers that offer that ‘something extra’, I felt it was a good time to capture their character. I especially enjoy fence styles that include natural and uneven branches as supports. The zigzag, stacked style is popular and a favorite subject among photographers. The wildflower meadows are a beautiful sight to see … stay tuned for more wildflower posts in the near future.
Filed under: Colorado, Landscape Photography | 28 Comments
Tags: Colorado, fences, landscape, mountains, nature, photography, San Juan Mountains, scenic, wildflowers