Sunrise at Garden of the Gods - This morning, I left early to try photographing the full moon setting during sunrise. Since there was cloud cover, there was no moon to be seen, however, I hoped for a decent sunrise and was rewarded beyond my imagination! I walked uphill from the visitor center and concentrated on taking panoramics of the scene as events unfolded. I knew the cloud cover to the west would provide some dramatic color, so I maximized it in the composition. Notice, also, that when composing panoramics, it's a good idea to find an obvious starting and ending point - in this case, the rock formations. This will give the viewer a more pleasing experience. For this image, I used eight overlapping vertical shots and imported them into Panorama Maker 5 Pro, which I use to build most of my panoramics. Although advertised to, Panorama maker doesn't seem to play well with raw-format images, so I exported the unaltered raw images to JPEGs using Lightroom prior to building the panorama. Once I had the JPEG panorama, I made slight adjustments in Lightroom. In the past, I've noticed that while photographing the formations during sunrise, the red channel of the imager tends to oversaturate more quickly than the blue and green channels, so I actually had to unsaturate the red channel a bit in Lightroom to make the colors more realistic. What you see here is very close to what I saw - pretty amazing! It does pay to get up early!
Saturday, October 23, 2010
North Cheyenne Canyon #2 - With the help of fellow photographer, John Vinson, I was able to locate another great spot to photograph along North Cheyenne Creek, near Colorado Springs. The fall color was maybe a week past prime, but I just loved all the fallen leaves on the rocks along the creek and the multitude of interleaved waterfalls. Exposure was about a half second at f16 and ISO 250.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Black Bear in Tree #1 - Sheila and I were photographing in North Cheyenne Canyon yesterday and just prior to entering the park, we caught sight of two black bear cubs - maybe two years old? - that were scavenging for food. Their mom was just up the street. I captured one of the cubs as they climbed an apple tree and started scarfing down the fruit. Must have been tasty, because it stayed there quite a while chowing down! Canon Rebel T2i with 70-200mm/f2.8 lens, handheld.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Cheyenne Canyon #1 - Sheila and I spent part of the afternoon photographing in North Cheyenne Canyon. We were trying to take advantage of the last vestiges of fall color. It was heavily overcast by the time we arrived - perfect conditions for photographing dense foliage like we had here. Most of the leaves had already fallen and were covering the trail. I love the subtle colors that are just about gone. The camera used was a Canon 5D with f11 and 1.3 seconds exposure. The best angle for this shot was with the tripod positioned in the middle of the creek!
Friday, October 15, 2010
Backlit Aspens #2 - Here's another take on backlit aspens. This was captured along the road SE of Aspen, CO, near sunset. A lot of attention to detail was paid in this image - not only the correct technical details like exposure and depth of field - but compositionally, as well. I positioned the major trunk just off-center towards the right, with the smaller one positioned in the larger half of the frame. This creates balance to the image. I also placed the darker branches so that they served as framing elements, top and bottom. I allowed the ends of these branches to exit at the corners (right side). The diagonals they form are also a pleasing element to the eye. The dark green background of trees was adjusted during post-processing and the green complements the yellow leaves. All these help create the most pleasing composition - at least for me! I hope you enjoy it also.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Crystal River Reflection - While the Crystal Mill is the reason most of us to trek down a very rough and narrow road east of Marble, CO, there are many more great shots in the area. This view, for example, captures the fall colors and sky in the Crystal River just below the famous mill. I set the shutter for 1/2-second in order to soften the rapids, making the image a bit more abstract.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Wedding Bells! - Today, we celebrated son, Chris, and his fiancé, Alex Ramirez', wedding in LaPorte, Colorado (north of Ft. Collins)! The wedding was held outdoors in the shade of huge oak trees at the Tapestry House, a large mansion and farm - now converted to an event center. The happy couple will honeymoon in Estes Park, a favorite haunt of theirs. Several family and friends were able to participate with a reception following. My sister and retired wedding photographer, Susan Langley, photographed the event. What a special day!
Friday, October 08, 2010
Backlit Aspens - Friend and fellow tour guide Nat Coalson who we passed on the road to Crystal Mill, recommended we check out the aspen grove just past the near-ghost town of Crystal once we had finished photographing the Mill. Boy, am I glad we did. We had stayed at the Mill until near sunset and as dusk was approaching, we drove on past Crystal and were met with this incredible scene. While the sun was well down, there was enough glow from the sky to provide an amazing backlight to the golden leaves. Everywhere we pointed our cameras was more backlit scenery! We took individual shots. We took panoramics. We "worked it" for all it was worth. By the way; most of the photographers had left long ago. We were nearly the only ones to experience this amazing light! Just goes to show you it's always worth staying "a little longer", just in case God plans a special show. Forget Crystal Mill - this is the picture to capture!
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Maroon Bells Sunrise - Here's the image you were all waiting for - Maroon Bells reflected in Maroon Lake. THIS is why we nature photographers drag ourselves out of bed at 4:30 AM! This was taken 18 minutes before official sunrise. The mountains were being lit purely by early morning sky light. To our eyes, it was still nearly dark. To the camera's sensitive imager (with a 5-second exposure), this is what was actually captured. Tomorrow, I'll pull the camera back and show you a different perspective!
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
Aspen Shadows - This image was taken during our half-day fall "mini-tour" and right at the turnoff for Gold Camp Road, near Victor, CO. Although most forest photography is hopeless during mid-day sun, due to the typically extreme contrastiness, if you point directly into the sun (as in this case) or directly away from the sun, you can often get usable photos. I used a wide-angle lens and included the shadows on the ground for a dramatic effect.
Monday, October 04, 2010
Crystal Mill/Pumphouse - I actually sent this picture out to the group in error, but so many of you asked about it - well here it is officially! This is one of the classic Colorado icons and it took me a while (many years ago) to locate it. It was constructed in 1872 to pump air to the various mines in the area. Water was diverted from the adjacent Crystal River, through the building and down the flume to drive the pump machinery. The owners have continued to restore the building, because it is so often photographed; hence the steel cables and new roof installed last year. To reach this spot requires traveling on a VERY rough jeep road from the town of Marble, Colorado.
Aspen Grove, Maroon Lake - While the fall color tours are over for this year, I thought I'd draw things out for you by continuing to send pictures for a few more days! Besides, there were several more great images I'd like to share.
The best time to photograph forests is prior to full sunlight, so before the sun reached the highest ridge to the east, we walked over to the west side of Maroon Lake and started photographing the thick forests there. This was one of my favorite spots, as the large boulder creates a strong compositional element with the trees wrapping around the three sides. We spent quite a while here working it from all angles, but this was my favorite.