Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Well, even though the fall color tour is over, I thought I'd send out a bonus shot of the Crystal Mill/Pumphouse. This well-known Colorado icon is only found at the end of a very rough and narrow jeep road east of Marble. More description of this is found at the post below.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Last day of the fall color tour today. We drove up Ohio Pass Road and all over Kebler Pass Road in search of good color. The best area seemed to be at the west end of Kebler. Later that afternoon, we drove through Marble to the the small mining town (near ghost town) of Crystal, where we photographed a Colorado icon - the so-called Crystal Mill (actually the pumphouse portion of an air compression system that fed to several of the nearby mines). You've probably seen it portrayed in Colorado calenders. There's a picture of it on my Web site, as it didn't make the picture of the day. That honor goes to a special grove of aspen near the west end of Kebler. The sun was low in the horizon, ready to set, and providing a soft sidelight. This single grove is considered one of the largest living organisms in the world, stretching for miles in every direction. Tomorrow we're homeward bound - thanks for joining us on this trip!
Today, we toured all around the Crested Butte area. The fall color in the aspens is quite late this year based on the average. Yet we found several isolated stands of excellent aspens in their full glory. We also photographed several waterfalls, but the attached image won picture of the day status hands down. This was one of the last photos taken today. The sun had already set, but there was enough residual light that backlit the leaves nicely. Tomorrow, more aspens and we be traveling out the Jeep road to the Crystal Mill - a Colorado icon!
Today, we started the fall color tour in the Crested Butte area. I spent the morning scouting out locations for the best color and then met Tim from Missouri later in the afternoon. I must say...the aspens this year are confused. Some have already turned and dropped their leaves - but most are still green and just beginning to turn (they're late by at least a week). However there are a few colorful stands, and this is one of them. The very best time to photograph forests are when they are out of direct sunlight. This stand was north of Crested Butte on a north-facing slope, so were in the shade. The color tone is simply amazing with very subtle coloring and without the harsh shadows had it been taken with direct sun.
Today, I woke up at 3:30 AM in order to drive out to Maroon Bells for the sunrise. There were 40 other photographers lined up along Maroon Lake in order to capture the reflection - and this, on a Thursday morning! The clouds muted the sunrise quite a bit, so the Bells weren't quite as striking as normal. I decided to leave early and scouted around for nice-looking aspen trees. Very often, it pays to "take the road less traveled". I discovered an unmarked side road as I left the Maroon Bells area. This side road led to a trail, which led me to this path in amongst a beautiful aspen grove. I followed the path a ways and it took me deeper into the grove - a lovely way to spend the morning. The path reminds me of Robert Frost's 1920 poem, and a lesson I try to live. This afternoon, I moved the trailer to Gunnison in preparation for a photo tour I'm leading over the weekend.
Today is the official start of our fall color week here in Colorado. I'll be ending the week by leading a photo tour around the Crested Butte area. Today, though, I'm camped near Buena Vista and spent the day scouting out good fall color locations in the Cottonwood Canyon area, west of Buena Vista. The conditions were a bit unusual, in that half the aspens hadn't turned yet and the other half were way past prime and many leaves had already fallen. I suspect they've had high winds lately, which will "do a number" on the leaves. Although I took a number of aspen pictures, none really "grabbed" me, so Cottonwood Creek gets the nomination for picture of the day. I used a polarizing filter to eliminate the glare on the water surface and about a 6th of a second shutter speed to turn the water "cottony", which helped depict a degree of motion. Of course, I had to use a tripod to get this shot.
As this was a travel day today, there were no pictures taken, so I dipped back into the images of the last two days and chose one taken by friend, Bob. This was also taken at the spot overlooking Bear Lake on the 20th. What really struck me was the intense reds and oranges in the aspen leaves, as well as the rich greens of the lake and browns of the tree trunk. The composition is balanced well and the rocks serve as an anchor at the bottom. If you want to get my attention, use lots of color! Bob did well here. Note this was taken with a Panasonic compact camera. It's not the camera folks, it's the one holding the camera!
We were camping at the Elk Meadow Lodge & RV Resort just outside the south entry to Rocky Mountain NP and we had about an inch of snow last night and this morning. Clearing later in the day, Bob and I hit the road to capture some elk and take some short hikes. By the time the snow slowed and the sun came out, however, the elk were out in the center of Moraine Park (meadow), so were tough to photograph. Best times for elk are early morning or late afternoon, where they may come closer to the roadways. Just in case, I took Bob out to the Cub Lake Trail, where, after about a half mile, the cows tend to bed down late in the day. We also decided to take the trail to the lake since the day was proving to be perfect. The two-mile trail wound around a large moraine and then up a small valley passing through several nice groves of aspen. Golden aspen leaves littered the trail adding the perfect element for our fall hike.
Sheila and I are on the road again - this time meeting long-time friend Bob in Rocky Mountain NP. We were hoping for some early fall color in the park and we weren't disappointed! The image above was taken just above Bear Lake about a quarter-mile up the trail towards Bierstad Lake. The day was overcast much of the time and we hoped for a nice sunset - but it was not to be. Still, the golden aspens were striking against the dark rocks. Hallett Peak is in the background (right side).