A Cimarron Sunset

Chimney Rock, Courthouse Mountain, Cimarrons, Ridgway, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, sunset

Chimney Rock Sunset : Prints Available

Sunset light on Chimney Rock and Courthouse Mountain in the Cimarron Range near Ridgway, Colorado - September.

Yesterday I witnessed a spectacular sunset from a high perch in the Cimarrons, the rugged mountain range east of the town of Ridgway. This range gets fantastic sunset light, since there are no peaks to the west to block the last rays of the setting sun.

During a previous hike up Precipice Peak earlier this summer (visible on the left side of the photo above), I had scoped out this possible overlook point, and I finally took the opportunity yesterday to bushwhack up there. Well, the view was even better than I expected, and the sunset was too!

Cimarrons, Ridgway, Pleasant Valley, Sneffels Range, Chimney Rock, Courthouse Mountain, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, sunset, panorama

Cimarron Sunset Panorama : Prints Available

The Cimarrons lit up by a spectacular sunset over Ridgway and Pleasant Valley, with the Sneffels Range in the background.  Chimney Rock and Courthouse Mountain are the prominent peaks near the center.  The West Fork Cimarron valley is at left.


This is one of those photos that just has to be viewed large; I would love to make an enormous print of this… and huge prints are certainly a possibility with this multi-shot stitched panorama.

20 thoughts on “A Cimarron Sunset

  1. I love visiting your blog to see your latest photos. Thank you! As you post, I’d be interested in seeing the lens and focal length info along side the photo descriptions.

    Great work – all the time.

    1. Hi Tyler, thanks for your comment! I don’t always keep track of the focal lengths so it would be difficult for me to always post the settings with the photos. For example, I often use a Contax/Zeiss manual focus lens that does not get its exposure settings recorded in the metadata.

      Anyhow, both shots above were taken with a 24mm TS-E lens; the second is a stitch of four images – and each of those four images were a combination of 2-3 exposures each for exposure range, for a total of 9 shots combined into one!

  2. Hi Jack,
    as follower of you blog I have to say that the photos and your treks are great! And, as I trek and make photos, and I have the intention to visit west part of USA someday not so far, specially the wild side and the wide landscapes, I love to see your tracks as GPS tracks or something.

    Thanks for your blog!

    1. Hi Imanol, thank you for your compliment! Btw, your photos are great!

      As for posting my routes and GPS tracks, I probably won’t do that… I’m kind of morally opposed to publishing route descriptions on the internet, for a variety of reasons. I could write a whole essay about this, but in short it comes down to three main reasons: 1) Many of the places I hike to have no trails and go through difficult terrain. I’m not a guidebook author, and it’s too difficult to describe these routes and I don’t want people to get into bad situations. 2) Some of the more remote, pristine places should stay that way, so even though I enjoy sharing the scenery with my photos, I don’t really want to popularize them and contribute to their ruin. It happens. 3) Half the fun and challenge of hiking landscape photography is the sense of exploration, through studying maps, personal recon, etc. Publishing this info ruins that part of the fun. I also question some photographers’ motivations, when they go on long hikes and treks with the goal of “reshooting” scenes that they’ve seen photographed before – that doesn’t seem very creative or fulfilling.

      That said, if you do make it out to SW Colorado someday, I’d be happy to point you in the right directions and give you some good hike ideas!

      1. Hi jack,

        I appreciate a lot your fast response and I completely understand you point of view; I see that you more than appreciate the landscapes and you try to keep the wilderness as it is, as far as possible from tourist massification. But sometimes, specially when your far and in unknown places like I follow you in your blog, it’s useful to know a little more about. I’m from little land of Europe (SW of Colorado is several time bigger than my country and you have National Parks hundred times bigger than our biggest one!! which is awesome) and until some years ago I thought Colorado was a enormous rocky desert… But after reading your entries and learn more about the state I realize that I have to make a big trip someday! Any good book about? I think the nearest thing that I can find here about is the Lonely Planet’s guide about USA, so you can imagine.

        Thanks a lot Jack and keep showing your treks and photos.

        BTW, if you are interested, take a look about my country in Internet: Basque Country.


        1. Ah, the Basque Country! I have some Basque friends here in Colorado – the Goicoecheas – that name is familiar there, right? Anyhow, I’d love to visit there sometime. I’ve long wanted to hike in the Pyrenees – are those mountains technically in the Basque Country?

          As for Colorado, there is a great guidebook for backpacking in the state, called “The Complete Guide to Colorado’s Wilderness Areas” by John Fielder, the famous Colorado landscape photographer. I highly recommend it. http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Complete_Guide_to_Colorado_s_Wildern.html?id=qZ7SrDKLXXkC

          1. Hi Jack,

            the book looks good and the price is very cheap compared with the standards here, but surely I will ask a friend that goes time to time to South Alabama to take it for me.

            Yes, Goicoechea (Goikoetxea, as written in Basque gaphy) is a very common surname here around. Literally it means “upper house”. My second surname is Bengoetxea (“lower house”), and I can tell by memory 8 surnames… Maybe is not common there that people look for surnames but I have a friend that reached more than 300 surnames in the family tree (a little more than 8 generations!). And mostly surnames are house names (basque-cottages) or place names, instead of (I think your surname is from german, “who makes beer”, if I am right) of job/occupation from german-like surnames.

            About the Pyrenees, a third part is in Basquelands, the greenest and foggiest part of the Pyrenees. Maybe is the most humanised part also, with old-style villages and a lot of cottages between neverending beech forest and green grass-covered hills. It has not very high peaks (highest 2.400 mts). If you travel east, mountains become higher, and rockier too. There are Grand Routes that cross west-east the entire Pyrenees.

            Have a good day! And tell to the Goicoecheas a remind from Basque Country!

  3. Jack – loving seeing your images from the San Juans this year! I’ve never seen this perspective on Chimney Rock before. I can’t help but sit here wondering “how on earth did he get down from up there in the dark after sunset?”!

    1. Thanks Stephen! To answer your question – Quickly! Normally I have a very bright headlamp that makes hiking in the dark not a big deal. However, that headlamp recently stopped working, so I only had a much dimmer regular camp headlamp with me. So I pretty much packed my stuff up and left immediately after sunset, giving me a half hour of hiking in the dusk light, and only about 15 minutes of hiking in the dark. Not too bad!

  4. Wow, what a stunner, Jack! This is hands down the best image I’ve ever seen of Courthouse Mountain/Chimney Rock and easily the best fall image I’ve seen this year. Awesome work!

  5. Spectacular shots. I love the shadows in the photos. I have just started to play around with using shadows in my shots and I find the results can be pretty sweet.

  6. Wooo, that is too good! (As an aside, I’ve only climbed eight mountains in CO, but two of them are in that picture…Courthouse Mt and Redcliff.) The Ridgway area is a beautiful corner of the world.
    Love your large format photos, too!

  7. Jack

    Truly fantastic photos. Both these and those in the previous post to this one.

    A question for you and please ignore it if I am asking about a “trade secret” (I hope I’m not!).

    How do you go about setting White Balance for a shot such as this? I find setting WB correctly as one of the “dark arts” of digital photography, especially for sunsets and sunrises.

    Often I spent considerable time post processing an image having set the WB to what I remember/what looks good, only to come back to the image and decide it’s completely wrong and have to start again…

    Just wondering how you approached this?

    Many thanks


    1. Thanks Jason! Yes, white balance can be tricky. It just depends on the situation. During the day, I keep it on AUTO. At sunrise/sunset, I often use SHADE or CLOUDY to get warmer tones. In the photos above, due to the intensity of the sunset the shade setting was much too warm, so I used DAYLIGHT instead.

      It is important (to save time) to shoot panos like this using the same preset WB. Also, by shooting RAW files, it’s all kind of irrelevant since you can change the WB later.

      I currently shoot Canon, and I find that their WB tends to be too cyan quite often. To remedy this, when I’m processing my RAW files in Canon’s Digital Photo Professional, I use the WB adjustment color wheel to move the color more towards magenta.

      Hope that helps!

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