It seems to be a banner year for fall colors around the San Juans! I can’t remember seeing such a wide variety of colors in the aspens before… yellows, oranges, reds, and even a few mystical purple ones. Lots of healthy aspens this year. Also, the weather has finally returned, with lots of clouds and dustings of snow on the peaks. Woohoo! Here’s some photos from the aptly named Fall Creek today.
I spent several days this last week on the Grand Mesa, relaxing and fly fishing with my dad. This was my first time visiting the Grand Mesa… it’s really a beautiful place, kind of like being in the mountains, minus the mountains. Here are some photos!
Dusk reflection in one of the many lakes (well, reservoirs mostly) on the Grand Mesa.
Amazing variety of autumn colors in the vast aspens fields along the south side of the mesa.
I spent four days this week hiking around in the Elk Mountains, where I photographed the rugged and mighty Capitol Peak for three sunsets in a row, from various vantage points. Read more and see LOTS of photos here!
Here’s yet another 4×5 photo from the archives, unearthed from the depths of a backup harddrive where it’s been collecting dust for 4 years. This was taken back in September 2006, during a backpacking trip in the San Juans with fellow photographers Momo Vuyisich and his friend Csaba. (See more photos from the trip here). We had arrived at the high elevation Columbine Lake in the afternoon in the midst of a rain/sleet/snow storm and sat around in our tents for a while. When we noticed that the storm was clearing we quickly hiked to a high ridgeline above the lake and beheld this amazing view of the storm clouds clearing off the peaks! This was the first shot I took, with a wide angle lens. Since the clouds were lifting so fast, I quickly switched to a longer lens, refocussed, and shot a second, tighter shot that has been a favorite ever since. This one here has more of the clouds, though, and looks really cool especially at full resolution.
I’ll never forget witnessing and photographing this fleeting spectacle from such a lofty vantage point. Nor will I forget Momo’s enthusiasm… he kept shouting “Woooohooooo!!!!! Woooohooooo!!!!!” Good times…
By the way, this orange mountain here is one of my all time favorite mountains on Earth… because of the amazing snowboarding lines it offers in the winter! I’ve ridden countless different lines on many different sides of it over the years. See, and read on below…
A sunset snapshot from my friends’ backyard in Ridgway, Colorado this evening. The clouds and rain (and associated weather cinema) came back yesterday and today after several weeks of bluebird sunny skies. Unfortunately* the forecast is calling for a return of more sunny weather for the next few weeks.
*Unfortunate for photography; fortunate for hiking/hunting/any-other-outdoor-activity.
On Tuesday my buddy Chris and my friends’ dog Lily and I hiked two fourteeners in the San Juans – Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks. Nothing too spectacular about these mountains, just a long stroll up two massive San Juan rock piles. One cool thing, actually, about Redcloud Peak is its colorful bands of red, orange, and yellow rocks. I spent quite a bit of time up there taking abstract photos of these colors; perhaps I’ll post a small collection of these another time. But for now, here’s a few photos from the hike. The one above is Redcloud Peak, as seen from its neighbor Sunshine.
I did mention beforehand that I’m not actively shooting large format film anymore, but hopefully my responses will still be informative. One of the goals of ELFPA is to interest young people in large format photography, and I hope that my interview is not subversive to that goal!
Here’s a photo I made this evening on a hike above Ouray, Colorado. I tried to use the gusty wind to my advantage by taking long exposures showing the movement of the wildflowers and clouds.
This photo deserves a bit of explanation on how I created it. It’s mainly a stitch of two vertical photos, taken one after the other using a tilt/shift 17mm lens – one with the lens shifted all the way up, and one shifted all the way down. When making panoramas with a tilt/shift lens, the camera does not move at all; only the lens is moving up and down. The beauty of this is that the two photos fit together seamlessly, requiring no stitching software or cropping. Anyhow, since the 17mm is already a really wide angle lens, this double-shot vertical panorama is showing a huge angle of view here, from the little flowers right up close to the lens, to the dark clouds almost overhead.
I also used a little photoshop trickery in the flower portion of the image. I had taken numerous 30-second exposures, and in each one (depending on the wind during the exposure) the flowers ranged from totally blurry, to somewhat sharp with a little bit of blur. The fairly sharp one still had too much blur to use on its own, while the totally blurry one was probably too abstract, just streaks of yellow lacking any context of flowers. So I stacked up three of those flower exposures in photoshop, and turned the upper two layers to “lighten” blend mode, meaning that only the parts of the layers that are brighter show up. The result is this composite of three flower exposures, showing a combination of some sharpness and some blurriness (ok, mostly blurriness). Of course our eyes don’t see like this naturally (at least when we’re sober), but the effect adds a bit of visual interest to the photo by showing the windblown chaos. What do you think… dig it or ditch it?
And, in an unrelated side note – last night it snowed a little bit on the high peaks around here! Yes, the air is getting cooler and Fall feels like it’s right around the corner!