One of my photo goals this summer was to expand my portfolio to include more wildflower landscapes. I have better experience with flowers close-up, using a 100mm macro lens. It was time to focus more intently on wildflowers in the beautiful Colorado landscape.
I’ve written a little about this subject before, explaining how challenging I find it. Most of the wildflowers are up high, in the mountain basins. This of course, requires getting there … by hiking steep trails at high elevations or jeeping on sketchy roads. I’ve tried setting out in the morning and hiking while carrying a tripod, camera and water. By the time I got to where I was going it was high noon and the light was too contrasty … not to mention how tired I felt! Monsoons accompanied by lightning often roll in on summer afternoons and to be safe it’s wise to head back down the mountain soon after you get there! This year jeeping was the way to go but there are still other challenges to deal with. Finding the right patch of blooms can be difficult … especially when trying to line them up with a background to make a nice composition, and without distractions. Once found I also need to be mindful of the ever-present wind, setting a shutter speed fast enough while still allowing plenty of depth in focus. For images with flowers very close I’ve used a tripod and focus-stacked … combining images with the focus on the foreground, middle and background, and then manually blending them using layers and masks in Photoshop.
The collection starts with a surprise wildflower field near Telluride at about 9,000 ft. Record snow this year created a display like never seen before. But the snow also delayed the wildflowers higher up as well as the opening of many jeep roads. I heard a rumor that this field was radioactive … an explanation for the bountiful bloom! With a lot of mining history in the area … who knows? (June 24)
Another 9,000 ft. surprise was a familiar lupine field that just exploded with blooms this year. Here the fence kept me from getting very close. I visited on a few different occasions but was happiest with the combination of clouds, flowers and mountains. (July 1-20)
A first for me was seeing Monument Plants in bloom. This grouping was near Silverton but they were just about everywhere throughout the area. They get as tall 8 feet and flower just once in their lifetime of 20 to 80 years before dying. Other names include; Elkweed, Deer Ears, Green Gentian and Showy Frasera.
Now it’s up to the higher alpine basins … 11,300 to 12,600 … give or take! As I’ve mentioned, the roads can be sketchy and every year there are casualties. There are many jeep roads I will not attempt alone. Once there, the slopes are steep and rocky so making your way to a good vantage point is often a careful balancing act. Here I found King’s Crowns, Columbine, Bluebells, Larkspur, Elephant Heads … Pink, White & Orange Paintbrush … and more! (August 2-6)
I continued to like cloudy or partially cloudy skies for these scenes. Full on sun was much too contrasty. There is something about the pretty, delicate flowers along with the brooding clouds that appeals to me. (August 11-29)
This is a longer than usual post. Now it’s time to take a short break and get ready for fall foliage in the landscape! I hope you enjoyed looking at these summer scenes!