Gothic DownstreamOn one of my first, "photography" specific trips, I encountered less than ideal conditions. I had just purchased my camera, and I had just had a biopsy on what would eventually be a melanoma on my left cheek, so I was not only self-conscious about the sutures, but I was also nervous about the photography. The is the valley that is formed by the East River as it drains the basin near Gothic, Colorado. Dirty light and low hanging clouds, and a photographer who had no idea of what he was doing - I'll value this image for a very long time I hope.
ClustersAspen groves are in fact a single entity with multiple shoots. Watching the groups change in their individual ways is fascinating. This group on Buzzard Gap, near Somerset in the Gunnison National Forest is no exception.
The Bells - 2016This was actually my second trip to Aspen for the fall colors. The first was accidental, and I went begrudgingly. On my motorcycle and with only my iPhone, I just want to "see what all the commotion" was about surrounding the Maroon Bells. I can only say that I'm embarrassed it took 28 Autumns to get there. This trip I was carrying the Sony a68, and truthfully had no idea what I was doing with it. The stillness of the water, I'll probably never experience that again.
I thought I missed you...I had a name for this image earlier. While driving to my optometrist a name "popped" into my head and I was thrilled with it. Now it's gone, and I feel like the image will suffer if I don't give it a good name. By opening the lens as wide as possible, and by keeping the shutter speed fast, and dark image is generated because the camera was focusing on two, tiny stalks of grass. Light was hitting them, though faintly; yet the illumination is definite and distinct.
Gothic Downstream - 2017A re-imaging of one of my favorites from 2016. The conditions were nearly identical, but the technical control of the camera was completely different. This was shot in RAW file format instead of JPEG, so there was much more camera information, and it was processed in Lightroom instead of SnapSeed. I like both, equally. The each represent such different asked of my photographic development.
Kebler Pass - Pando 4 DetailFallen Aspen, ferns, and a loan Pine tree added to the composition. A low aspect offers a different point of view, I'm a bit shocked I didn't get on the ground more than I did.
Kebler Pass - Pando DetailThe slope of the land allows for shots into the middle and the tops of the trees, combined with more focus stacking the view draws me in. I want to be there, now.
Kebler Pass - Pando 1Pando, the Latin word for "spread" is how and Aspen grove is described. Aspens groves are a single organism and are considered to be some of the world's largest organisms. Fungi are actually the largest. This particular colony on Kebler Pass, in the West Elks of Colorado is majestic as any, and contains such amazing hues of yellow and gold alike. This image is my first attempt at focus stacking, combining multiple images shot at different focus points, in this case four, to create a depth and effect that is impossible for single exposure to capture. I have a few more of these to capture this fall, though I am so happy with this one.
Taylor Pass - Color
Last Rush - Ohio PassA last, lost image from Ohio Pass. I got focused on some of the other aspects of this gallery, and wanted to retrace some of my steps. This one has such a compelling line, and depth, it takes me immediately back to the forests "up-North."
Kebler Pass - Pando 4Pando, the Latin word for "spread" is how and Aspen grove is described. Aspens groves are a single organism and are considered to be some of the world's largest organisms. Fungi are actually the largest. This particular colony on Kebler Pass, in the West Elks of Colorado is majestic as any, and contains such amazing hues of yellow and gold alike. This image is 11 images at various focal lengths stacked together with Photoshop to create a focused image that draws the viewer in. I completed a number of these compositions on this trip; it is a technique I am coming to enjoy for the challenge and the complexity of the image it creates.
East River - 2017East River - 2017 The East River drains the basin surrounding the historic community of Gothic, just north and east of Crested Butte, at the foot of Schofield Pass. This conjunction of the Sawatch and Elk mountains offers some of Colorado’s most rugged and wild beauty. The high Aspens that are so prominent just a few miles west along Kelber Pass are less frequent, but this is heart of wildflower country. And in the winter, it is a legendary experience. So finding this assortment of yellow and orange peeking out of these smaller groves was a welcome surprise. This is certainly a scene I will be returning to in the coming years, it is warrants the opportunity to present it self in as many possibly lights as it can. It’s also an interesting take on the idea of illusion. I feel that fundamentally humans are optimistic. We go into most situations hopeful. We go into most situations helpful. We do also tend to make decisions that protect our self-interests, and when that happens it may make us look selfish. When it fact it really just show who and what were are; complicated creatures, each trying our best to make meaning of each situation as they evolve around us. A setting like the East River is so emblematic of this duality. What do we see, and what do we want to see, those can be and are often times two very, very different things. A setting like this changes seasonally, and a it changes with ever shifting light. People and relationships can do the same; they can shift over longer periods of time, and they can shift moment to moment. I know that I held onto the illusion of relationship far longer than I held onto the actual relationship. We are all certainly guilty of this, so maybe the practice is to move more gracefully with these changes. To worry less of the illusion and expectation and to place more value in the moment, and seeing the beauty in the ever changing conditions and light.
Kebler Pass - Pando 2Pando, the Latin word for "spread" is how an Aspen grove is described. Aspens groves are a single organism and are considered to be some of the world's largest organisms. Fungi are actually the largest.This particular colony on Kebler Pass, in the West Elks of Colorado is majestic as any, and contains such amazing hues of yellow and gold alike. This image is 11 images at various focal lengths stacked together with Photoshop to create a focused image that draws the viewer in. I completed a number of these compositions on this trip; it is a technique I am coming to enjoy for the challenge and the complexity of the image it creates.
Somerset - Fall 2018 That ONE shot. I’ve been chasing these colors and this light for three years.
Autumn Reflecting - DetailI think this is my favorite of the fall, as it was so completely unexpected.
Somerset - WallpaperA crop, from a panorama created during sunrise, September 29th. I rode passed this spot four years ago, while on a tour of the state. I’d never taken a specific trip in all my years in Colorado to see the colors changing, and in this specific moment I was too focused on the dirt road and was looking forward to the road ahead. This was the trip that put my on the journey that I am now, seeking out color, seeking out light. This image sits on my phone, as a reminder of the importance of that journey, and as a marker of where that journey has taken me, and how I long to continue on it.
Somerset - SunstarAn effect of the lens… the aperture blades of the lens dictate the shape, pattern and number of rays on the starburst effect. Sometimes a hard horizon or vertical line is required to bring out the full effect, other times it’s simply the characteristic of the lens. In this case, it is all lens, as this lens begins to render them at around F/13.
a softer light
Chaotic StateThe Aspens, the ferns, the Conifers and the underbrush; each stand in front of a granite face bathed in that autumnal light that makes everything glow.
the dj hit repeat...One of my favorites, I decided to shoot it in brighter light this year. The colors are remarkably familiar, and similar, with the addition of the blues in the sky. I shot this with a wide open lens, f/2.8, in order to get focus on the foreground trees, and I love the distortion of the wide angle lens even more.Last years image was titled “damn love song,” a Kris Delmhorst title. It was appropriate last year, but still holds a lot of meaning now.
Courthouse - Closeup
Dancing Nancies...Two images, that already had motion in them because of a longer exposure, about 10 seconds, and the gusts blowing the canopy around while the foregrounds trunks stayed in placed. The images were then blended together, to give even greater motion to the canopy. Movement, getting drawn into the motion, sitting in the scene; isn’t that what artists want us to do?
CourthouseA childhood full of western lore, and the icons the made it famous. Another scene from that past, again with the movies, and today the moody colors play to a different time. How I love the west, and how I got here.
CR-7 - PanoramaA shot I’ve been hoping to compose for the fall. The alpine glow was more fleeting this morning than usual, but capturing it in that moment was nonetheless breathtaking. To shoot this in the winter will be true challenge, but I’m looking forward to that opportunity, and many more in the fall.
CR-7Mt. Sneffels is one of the more challenging peaks in Colorado’s 14’er pantheon. I haven’t climbed it, and not sure if I will at this point. The Blue Lakes and the Yankee Boy Basin that surround it offer epic scenery, and wildflower vistas that I do intend to take advantage of.This spot, in Ouray County is well photographed, and leaves little to desire. It’s near the area known as the Dallas Divide, close to the famous Last Dollar Road, setting for the movie “True Grit.”
Last Dollar - Aspen Panorama I
Autumn's LayersOne of the stands of Aspen on the Last Dollar Road; sitting with it for an hour to watch the light and shadows play. These are the layers that make autumn beautiful. Focus stacked, five images blended together, shot at 200mm to create a depth with the light.
Last Dollar Road - Detail
Mt. Wilson - Sunset Panorama
Last Dollar Road - Detail
Mt. Wilson - a light at the endthe sequel to “the worst heart to break is your own…”Life circles around us, people return, but the past can’t be relived. Patterns have to be changed so we don’t repeat them; the groves we wear into our lives can stabilize us, and they can burden us.
Last Dollar Road - Aspen Panorama
the Brother's Grimm...
Autumn Colors - IThis reminds me of home, of Northern Michigan, of Charlevoix. Damp autumn days, soft mud, harvests coming in. Yet, this is lodged high in the Rocky Mountains, and world and a lifetime apart.Because of it’s depth, intimacy and familiarity, this is my favorite image of the fall. It was a simple, single image shot without a tripod. I used the widest aperture of this lens, to emphasize the distant group of trees, and allow the foreground to present a softer, inviting presence.
the Brothers Grim - detail
Autumn Colors - IIThis reminds me of home, of Northern Michigan, of Charlevoix. Damp autumn days, soft mud, harvests coming in. Yet, this is lodged high in the Rocky Mountains, and world and a lifetime apart.
Autumn Colors - IIIThis reminds me of home, of Northern Michigan, of Charlevoix. Damp autumn days, soft mud, harvests coming in. Yet, this is lodged high in the Rocky Mountains, and world and a lifetime apart.
Mt. WilsonOddly enough this was not the feature I thought I would be shooting this summer and fall. I love the compositions and lighting the presented themselves, something about taking things in as they are, and accepting what is offered.
The Castle - Ohio PassThis is a single image taken while creating a series of panoramas of the Castle, a popular and noted feature on the Ohio Pass Road between Crested Butte and Gunnison. The clouds didn’t favor a lighted feature, but they did create a mood and tones that are not often replicated. Shot at 100mm for greater detail.
South Park - Last HarvestThe framing is very subtle; glowing Aspens in the foreground create direction, guiding us to the illuminating beams on the last harvest of summer.
Wintery PinesIt isn’t really a winter scene, but it is a mountain scene, and because it is a mountain scene, that means winter can take place anytime of the year.I’d expected fog, and was hoping for more light. The snow and the stillness were a welcome surprise, real gifts when composing these images.
Leftover ColorI wasn’t going to shoot here this fall, period. I wanted to shoot here, but the water in Maroon Lake is extremely low, and I’ve been so fortunate the past two autumns to capture beautiful light and the calmest water, that I thought I would let it go this year, that I would let other visitors and photographers have an opportunity to see this true cathedral. But, snow arrived in the High Country, and I couldn't pass on the opportunity to shoot the Bells in a very different light. Most of the morning was foggy and cloudy, which created beautiful contrast with the blue sky. The white piled on the mountain added to this contrast. Most of my larger compositions will be black and white, it just works so well. But, finding this lonely leaf, trapped in the still water of the creek gave me the opportunity to capture the elements that make Maroon Bells so memorable: color, reflections, and snow. A much smaller scale, but all three elements are there.
Kebler Pass - Pando 3Pando, the Latin word for "spread" is how and Aspen grove is described. Aspens groves are a single organism and are considered to be some of the world's largest organisms. Fungi are actually the largest. This particular colony on Kebler Pass, in the West Elks of Colorado is as majestic as any, and contains such amazing hues of yellow and gold alike. This image is 7 images at various focal lengths stacked together with Photoshop to create a focused image that draws the viewer in. I completed a number of these compositions on this trip; it is a technique I am coming to enjoy for the challenge and the complexity of the image it creates.
Thick as Thieves - Fall 2019 IThere is a radiance in this white. I’m never sure I actually see it, because it only lasts for a moment. Something to do with the direction of the sun, or maybe the clouds, or maybe even the humidity in the air; but I swear, these Aspens really do glow.
Silver Linings - 2019 IIThe Fall of 2019 has brought more changes, and forever the process of growth and release is its ever present self. Tanner has taken flight, heading off to new adventures and growth of his own in Chicago. Andrew continues to make progress on his degree with Adi alongside him. A new group of students are set along their paths, with our Social Studies courses as the benchmarks for their continued success. What autumn casts away will fertilize the new seeds, what stays close will be stronger after its rebirth.
Cinque - Fall 2019 IIIFocus stack of 5 images, with a wider aperture, f/2.8, and focusing at multiples of 3 starting at one meter. Add a little more light, a little more yellow in the leaves, and a little more orange of the forest floor. Hopefully I can return here when that is all unfolding.
Somerset OverlookThird attempt at this composition, and I’m pretty happy with the results. I can’t wait to be able to camp here for a couple of nights, and truly explore the mesa, and watch as the clouds and galaxy battle it out for supremacy in the sky.
Somerset Overlook - 2019 II
Kebler Pass - Sunset
Mt Crested Butte - September, 2019While I have a lot of different shots of Mt. Crested Butte, I still don’t have one with the vibrant morning light that the valley is known for. I do know it is just a matter of time before I get that shot, but this one comes very, very close for me.
Gothic Mountain - September, 2019I found a vantage point, just above the East River, that allowed me to turn my attention back and forth between two different cameras. This is the shot to the north, a 30 second exposure capturing that brisk morning wind as it smears the clouds across the sky.
Ohio Pass - The CastleAnother one of those elusive compositions for me, the clouds that were making my morning glow so much were nowhere to be found as the day was getting on. I’m also beginning to believe that this is better as a morning composition, but only time will answer that question for me.
Kebler Pass - Focus StackAs the day moved on the shadows became longer and the light more diffuse. Shooting six different focal points, and then stacking the images together to create sharpness throughout the entire final image.
Ohio Pass - GroundcoverThe ferns demanded some attention this year. I’m not sure if it was because they spend so much time under the snow last winter, or if they know another long winter is fast approaching, but they were vibrant and thick this year, and added depth to ever image.
Ohio Pass - FoliageMore ferns, more Aspen, but different light and a different composition.
Ohio Pass - At the CornerOhio Pass, between Gunnison and Crested Butte is most famous for the Castle. a stunning rock edifice that towers over the valley it faces. As well, the area is rich with Aspen and the contours of the surrounding mountains create rich layers. Add in the long light of an afternoon filled with fast moving clouds, and you’ll ultimately get a composition that highlights exactly what you want if you can be patient. This was an afternoon that I was happy to be patient on.
Ohio Pass - StandoutThese are great images to capture, when the day has strong light, and the clouds are rapidly recombining as the cross the sky, their a windows that are creating that let in a perfect ray of light, illuminating something as intriguing as this lonesome stand of Aspens.
Ohio Pass - At the DitchWhat I found when I arrived at the corner…
East River - VintageA statement on post-processing: With film cameras, the images had to be developed. Time was spent with the strips of film soaking in various chemicals to pull out the color and detail from the images that had been created. Certain films and certain techniques with the chemicals could alter the coloring of the final print. Those who’d mastered this craft were able to produce unique images to capture the imagination of their art but also the realism of the scene.Today, we have sliders and filters to use to “correct” our digital images. Today, a black and white image isn’t the absence of a chemical, but the selection of a preset. In the case of this image, it is a long exposure, shot for 30 seconds, to blur the cloud movement and smooth the flow Of the East River, but a also added a filter, Vintage to be specific, because this particular scene feels older to me, much older than October of 2019.
East End - PanoramaA highlight of this fall trip was having a longer focal length lens. A longer lens for allows for more intimate framing fo distant landscapes, and it can be used to created panoramas with stunning detail. I was able to take advantage of this a few times in and around Crested Butte, but will definitely work on incorporating this technique more.
Twin LakesSouth of Leadville is the Arkansas River. This is area represents the headwaters for the Arkansas, and over the years a number of diversions and damns and reservoirs have been built to hold back to water for flood control, irrigation, Front Range water storage and even hydroelectric generation. The hill sides and mountains surrounding Twin Lakes have some of the most vibrant Aspen groves in the state. This late afternoon shot was capture while driving towards the Maroon Bells and Grand Mesa. I wasn’t able to capture the sunset I was hoping for, but the late afternoon light certainly made the Aspens glow.