Fun With Fences

Fences continue to interest me as a subject and often make their way into my photographs. I do have a lot of fun finding and composing with the wooden fences, gates and corrals found in my area. Whether they are the main focus or combine with other elements, I love the interest they can add. The fences here often fit in with my love for photographing the weathered and my collection is steadily growing! The following are some I’ve set aside for this post … all shot this summer, from June through August.

Pretty clouds hover over a field of Mule's Ears in Ridgway, Colorado.
‘Clouds Over Mule’s Ears’ © Denise Bush
In June Mule's Ears grow wild everywhere you look in Colorado!
‘Mule’s Ears & Fence’ © Denise Bush
A view across an open range, of some of Colorado's San Juan Mountains,.
‘Open Range’ © Denise Bush
A fence below Wilson Peak is simply made of available branches and barbed wire.
‘Fence Below Wilson Peak’ © Denise Bush
An old collapsing ranch gate is chained to protect from unwanted intruders.
‘Gated Frame’ © Denise Bush
An old broken down corral reminds us of a romanticized West and times gone by.
‘Collapsed Corral’ © Denise Bush
A meadowlark sits on a post adding a nice addition to this barbed wire fence.
‘Meadowlark On A Post’ © Denise Bush
A barbed wire fence provides an opportunity to create a silhouette against a sunset sky.
‘Barbed Silhouette’ © Denise Bush

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Some Summertime Scenes

The last few posts were about very specific themes … trees, water, mountains and then wildflowers. These subjects are common in my portfolio. In this set I’ve combined subjects, while considering how the elements come together to provide a sense of place. I want my photographs to portray a feeling of being there. Ideally it’s great when viewers see what I thought was special enough to capture, process and show. After looking at a series of my landscapes, a friend recently wrote, ‘each and every one is like a journey’. That comment made me feel I had met my goal … at least with that friend and set of images!

A little pond offers a pretty reflection as a mountain is illuminated with morning light.
‘Little Pond Reflection’ © Denise Bush
Red Mountain is lit up under a dramatic sky as seen through beautiful spruce trees in summer.
‘A View Through Spruce’ © Denise Bush
Clouds roll in to create a beautifully reflected scene in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.
‘Cloudy Reflection’ © Denise Bush
King's Crown and other wildflowers grow on a sunny slope in the mountains of Colorado's San Juans.
‘King’s Crown On A Hill’ © Denise Bush
Fireweed grows in August along the shore of this mountain lake in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.
‘Fireweed Along The Shore’ © Denise Bush
Water from the mountain peaks falls down the mountain in a series of cascades and falls, like this one.
‘Lower Basin Falls’ © Denise Bush
Flowers, trees, mountains and puffy clouds ... who could ask for more?
‘Summer Mountain Scene’ © Denise Bush
Beautiful clouds light up at sunrise in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.
‘Summer Sunrise’ © Denise Bush
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Some Summertime Scenes

Summer just goes too fast … doesn’t it? Here in the mountains it goes especially fast, with snow possible so early, and winter lasting so long. What’s making it even shorter this year for photography are the all too frequent smoky skies, from fires in states west of Colorado. At times, and as I write this, the mountains are not visible … not at all like the clear, blue sky scenes shown here! It all depends on how the wind blows so getting out on days when the conditions are more favorable is key. Still, summer feels especially good to me this year. With jeep roads clear of snow, being able to experience the high country is the highlight of the season. I added a few (less scary) jeep roads to my solo ventures and had a lot of fun. I explored other high places with my husband as driver, visiting some that had been on my list for awhile, including the pond location shown here. Well, even though I am already seeing signs of fall, summer is not over … the last day is September 22nd. I do hope conditions will improve soon so I can get back out there!

Sneezeweed has a special place to blossom in a summer meadow in Colorado.
‘Sneezeweed Mountain Meadow’ © Denise Bush
A pretty patch of Sneezeweed (Asteraceae) makes a bright statement in a Colorado alpine meadow in July.
‘Sneezeweed Get-together’ © Denise Bush
A still pond creates a beutiful scene reflecting the blue sky and red mountain ridge high in the Colorado Mountains.
‘Red Mountain Ridge Reflection’ © Denise Bush
A pond reflects the vibrant colors of the sky and mountain. One of the San Juan Mountain's, Red Mountains is visible.
‘Reflecting Pond In Morning’ © Denise Bush
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A beautiful blue sky and red mountain make perfect subjects for reflections in the ponds below.
‘Seeing Double’ © Denise Bush
Elkweed is also known as Green Gentian or Monument Plant. It can grow up to 7 feet tall!
‘Corn Lily Passage’ © Denise Bush

Wildflower Extravaganza!

The last few summers I have been working to improve my wildflower landscapes. My goal is to have the flowers in a scene for a sense of place, instead of isolating them for a portrait. Creating these kind of landscapes to my satisfaction is one of the more challenging goals I have assigned myself. Finding a good cluster of flowers that can be aligned with an interesting background, getting low to include some close up, while balancing on rocky uneven ground, and waiting for the wind to die down is just half the challenge! For the most part I use my wide 16-35mm because it focuses close and has good depth of field. Distance to subject is one of the factors that affects depth of field. So, when focusing so close it is impossible to get it all as sharp as I am aiming for in one click. To fix this I focus stack … one shot focused close, one or more in the middle and one in the distance. The shots below are anywhere from 2-5 shots layered and blended in post for acceptable sharpness throughout. A lot of photographers who do this kind of work use a tilt-shift lens which enables them to get everything in focus in one shot. Tilt-shift lenses are expensive and a little tricky to use too! I might find more wildflowers while out shooting, but at this point I am happy with my efforts. I picked my favorites to show, and archive for myself as well. There were many more that did not make the cut! Shot between June and July, I hope you enjoy my bigger than usual post … a wildflower extravaganza!

Lupine and Mule's Ears grow along a fence line in Ouray County Colorado.
‘Flowers Along The Fence Line’ © Denise Bush
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Some pink paintbrush greets the morning high in an alpine basin.
‘Pink Paintbrush View’ © Denise Bush
Sneezeweed and lupine combine on a hill for a pretty combination of yellow and purple. Elephant's head provides a pink accent on the left.
‘Yellow & Purple Combo’ © Denise Bush
Lupine line a back mountain road in the San Juan Mountains.
‘Lupine Lined’ © Denise Bush
Lined with wildflowers a mountain cascade tumbles down the mountain feeding water to rivers below.
‘Wildflower Cascade’ © Denise Bush
The hills are aline in San Juan County, Colorado with displays of wildflowers including this King's Crown.
‘King’s Crown With A View’ © Denise Bush
Pink Paintbrush wildflowers like this spot, way uo high in a Colorado mountain basin.
‘Paintbrush Gathering’ © Denise Bush
Dawn arrives to great Columbine, awakening with the early soft light.
‘Columbine Time’ © Denise Bush
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Spring melt flows from the mountain tops, surrounded with a lovely natural garden along the way.
‘Nature’s Zen Garden’ © Denise Bush
A patch of lupine bloom along a mountain road, inviting a longer look.
‘Roadside Pretties’ © Denise Bush
Some Elephant's Head gather to eagerly greet Colorado's San Juan Mountain, morning sun! Elephent's Head or Elephantella grow in moist areas. The individual blossoms look like resemble the head and trunk of an elephant.
‘Elephant’s Head In Sun & Shade’ © Denise Bush
Here's a good look at how we find many of the wilflower meadows in the mountains of Colorado.
‘Assorted’ © Denise Bush
A wild primrose is sitting pretty beside a mountain waterfall.
‘Beside The Falls’ © Denise Bush
Columbine grace the Colorado high country with their beauty in July
‘Columbine Season’ © Denise Bush
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High & Wild!

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)

Wildflowers are abundant along the highway near Telluride, Colorado.
‘Wildflower Hill’ © Denise Bush
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A wildflower hill poses beside an glowing orange ridge at the end of a beautiful day!
‘Wildflowers Beside Glowing Ridge’ © Denise Bush
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Mother Nature has provided us with a beautiful color combination including purples, reds and oranges, among the green grass and blue sky!
‘Mother Nature’s Colors’ © Denise Bush

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 fence creates a boundry protecting a beautiful field of lupine.
‘Fenced Lupine’ © Denise Bush
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A rare white lupine cluster stands out in a filed of purple!
‘A Splash Of White’ © Denise Bush

A brilliant lupine field shows off its color under a cloudy sky.
‘Lupine Under Clouds’ © Denise Bush

A field of Lupine makes an early July sunset even more beautiful, in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.
‘Lupine At Sundown’ © Denise Bush

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.

The flower stalk of this plant with many names erupts from a very large basal rosette of leaves, reaching heights of up to 8 feet. It flowers just once in its lifetime of 20 to 80 years and then dies.
‘Blooming Monument Plant’ © Denise Bush

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)

King’s Crowns and other wildflowers are found along a summer slope in Ouray County Colorado.
‘King’s Crowns On High’ © Denise Bush

A high mountain road leads to a beautiful display of wildflowers.
‘Columbine Trail’ © Denise Bush

A close-up look at Columbine, shows more, dotting the green landscape.
‘Columbine Close-up’ © Denise Bush

A road, high is a mountain basin outside of Silverton Colorado, displays beautiful pink paintbrush and other wildflowers.
‘Wildflower Pass’ © Denise Bush

Some pink paintbrush blooms on the side of a mountain basin near Silverton, Colorado
‘Paintbrush & Friends’ © Denise Bush
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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)

Some bluebells sit peacefully under cloudy skies beside a fast-moving mountain stream.
‘Bluebells Beside The River’ © Denise Bush
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Cloudy skies loom over a high mountain wildflower basin near Ouray, Colorado.
‘Wildflower Assortment Under Looming Clouds’ © Denise Bush

Some wildflowers decorate a ledge offering a good view of a waterfall below.
‘Waterfall Overlook’ © Denise Bush

Columbine grows among boulders, high up, in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.
‘Columbine & Boulders’ © Denise Bush

Indian Paintbrush graces a gentle slope leading to a mountain lake, high in the mountains of Colorado
‘Indian Paintbrush View’ © Denise Bush

An old mining building high up in the mountains is surrounded by gold … gold flowers that is!
‘Mountain Gold’ © Denise Bush
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Paintbrush cheers up rocky terrain on a Colorado slope at first light.
‘Slopeside Beauties’ © Denise Bush

Columbine blooms on a rocky slope in the San Juan Mountains near Telluride, Colorado.
‘On The Wild Side’ © Denise Bush
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Pink Painbrush wildflowers create a beautiful nature scen high in the mountains of Colorado.
‘Peaks & Pink Paintbrush’ © Denise Bush

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!

The Lost Files

In preparing for my annual tradition of posting favorites from the year on my website, I came upon some random landscape images that didn’t appear in this year’s blog posts. Feeling they too deserve a chance to be processed and seen before the year ends, here they are …

‘Bare Trees’ © Denise Bush

‘Basin Falls’ © Denise Bush

‘Lakeside Wildflowers’ © Denise Bush

‘Summer Aspens With Sunburst’ © Denise Bush

‘Southwest Silhouette’ © Denise Bush

‘Over The Cimarrons’ © Denise Bush
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‘Road To Sneffels’ © Denise Bush
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‘Ready For Winter’ © Denise Bush
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‘Ripples In Beaver Pond’ © Denise Bush

‘Lakeside Grazing’ © Denise Bush
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‘Autumn Colors’ © Denise Bush

‘Divide House’ © Denise Bush

‘Lakeside Glow’ © Denise Bush
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‘September Surprise’ © Denise Bush

‘Through the Willows’ © Denise Bush

‘Dead Ponderosa Pines In Winter’ © Denise Bush
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Mystic Falls … My First Time

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!

'Mystic Falls I' © Denise Bush
‘Mystic Falls I’ © Denise Bush
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'Mystic Falls II' © Denise Bush
‘Mystic Falls II’ © Denise Bush

'Mystic Falls III' © Denise Bush
‘Mystic Falls III’ © Denise Bush

Forsaken Farm

In my last post I talked about exploring new ideas while continuing to shoot my usual subjects. That certainly includes my love for old barns. I often say in jest that I could make an abandoned barn, coffee table book. On a recent trip and early morning shoot I captured this barn that begged to be processed … immediately!

‘Forsaken Farm’ © Denise Bush