Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Yesterday I headed to the Spanish Peaks Wilderness in the hope of getting some nice sunset photos of West Spanish Peak. It's a fairly simple matter when the weather cooperates — just find your way to Cordova Pass, and about 100 yards from the trailhead you're looking through the trees at the peak. I planned on making it only slightly more difficult by walking a little farther up the trail, where the trees give way to rolling meadows where I once saw a black bear amble across the trail right in front of me in broad daylight. No bear sightings on this trip, but not really much in the way of sunset light either. The photo above shows why. [click to enlarge] Rain clouds and the occasional clap of thunder kept me on my toes while I waited to see if the sun would sneak out from under the gray mass over Trinchera Peak to the west. No go. Oh well, it was a day in the mountains. And like I often say, a bad day in the mountains is better than a good day most anyplace else.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
This morning I peeked outside before sunrise and noticed some lingering fog in the area, so I grabbed my camera gear and headed to Garden of the Gods. I almost T-boned an S.U.V. on the way there when the driver apparently was still asleep and ran a red light. But that's not the close call I'm writing about.
A week ago an experienced climber fell to his death near Pyramid Peak, on a sub-peak called Thunder Pyramid. My thoughts go out to his family and friends who are mourning the loss. (I'll refrain from naming him, since I didn't know him, and only read of the incident in the Aspen Times a few days ago.)
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
A few times a year there's an interesting shadow play that takes place in Monument Valley (that familiar place on the Utah/Arizona border where John Ford made all those great John Wayne westerns). The sun sets in such a position that it casts the shadow of one of the Mitten Buttes on the other. It's a scene I've long wanted to photograph, and happens around my birthday each year. (And again roughly six months later.) Well, I decided that the possibility of combining the Monument Valley Mitten Butte shadow with this year's perfectly timed moonrise was just too good to pass up, so I made a banzai drive down there Sunday. I totally misjudged the time it would take to get there from Colorado Springs, and even leaving at 10am, I got to Monument Valley at 6:40pm, only 20 minutes before moonrise. Phew! Close call! It was killing me going through the San Juans in southwest Colorado with clouds hanging all over the place and lots of stormy weather all around, but I was so determined to get to MV in time that even if Elvis riding a unicorn had crossed Highway 145 right in front of me, I would've kept on truckin'. Didn't really matter, since the moon was a little farther right than I had thought it would be, just left of Merrick Butte, and there were thick, lightning-spitting clouds all around that prevented the infamous shadow scene from appearing. Oh well. I tried to get some lightning shots, because it was popping off all over the place, but failed in that attempt. This is just about the only scene I came away with for my 500 miles of trouble. As always, click the image to see a larger version.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Over the weekend I car-camped up above North Fork Reservoir in the southern Sawatch Range near Salida. As sunset approached, I was heading down to nearby Billings Lake to try for some sunset reflection photos of the surrounding peaks. Looking over towards Pomeroy Peak, I noted that the late-day sun was backlighting a bright orange curtain of rain that looked like it was headed in my direction. I hoofed it down to the lake, thinking that if it was as brief a shower as I suspected, maybe I'd get a rainbow reflected in the lake.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
I'm currently in the midst of a photo trip over the Fourth of July holiday, and yesterday I was rewarded with what can only be described as a gift from nature. I left my truck at 11am, with the intention of climbing North Star Mountain near Breckenridge. If conditions warranted, my plan was to stay til sunset and hike out in the dark.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
After Monday's crescent moon hunt, I decided to go out to Garden of the Gods last night for a repeat performance. This photo is one of many results. Again, no trickery to get the detail in the dark side of the moon, that's completely a product of Earthshine.
Monday, April 4, 2011
[no Photoshop magic was used to enhance the incredible amount of Earthshine you see here.]
Friday, April 1, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
The Cranes! (groan...)
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Someone pointed out to me recently that I mention my dog, Riley, in the subhead of this blog, but I have yet to mention him in any of my posts. That ends TODAY! Here, for your viewing pleasure, is Riley at his best, via Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=halLJmRtbSY
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
I ordered a 2011 Scenic UTAH Calendar by Tom Till as I do every year.
I was disappointed because over the last many years you have included October 16th as National Boss's Day. This year you did not. Why?
I think the numbering system you used this year (font) and size is not as good as last year. My question is why can't you simply include all the holidays you used from last year. [sic]
I am not disappointed in the work by Tom Till, but I am with the holiday and layout. Maybe next year your publishing company can get it right.
Just wanted you to know someone is paying attention out there and your quality control may be a little bit off.
(I'll show mercy and not publish her name.)
And my response:
Thanks for your concern. Speaking of getting things right, our company has been publishing Tom's calendar for several years, and we have never included National Boss's Day. Just as in the calendar titles we've published for nearly 20 years, the only holidays and observances we include are either national holidays (MLK Day, Labor Day, etc.) and prominent Jewish holidays (Yom Kipper, Chanukkah, etc.). We also include historically popular holidays like Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Father's Day. The lone exception is in our Colorado calendar titles, which include a listing for Colorado Day. We don't include Boss's Day, Secretary's Day -- er, I mean, Administrative Professionals Day -- Nurses Day, and sadly, no Take Your Dog to Work Day (FYI: June 24th). Furthermore, the grid design and font is exactly the same as it has been in every year we've published Tom's calendar. Perhaps you're paying attention to a different calendar?
Complaint Department, Skyline Press
Sunday, January 2, 2011
I made my first trip to Moab sometime in the late-'80s. It was Christmas Eve, I had just finished work at the Focal Point camera shop, and I had no family in the area, so obviously a road trip was in order. Oh, and did I mention that the states of Colorado and Utah were being pounded by a blizzard? What better time to hop in the ol' Chevy Chevette and drive 400 miles! After many hours of white-knuckle driving, I stopped at the first motel I could find, and awoke Christmas Day in tiny Silt, Colorado. (Perhaps the name Sludge was already spoken for?) Thankfully, the storm had moved on by morning, leaving a winter wonderland in its wake. It was still slow going, as I-70 was hard-packed with snow and ice all the way to the state line.
The highway got a little better as I moved through Utah, so I took the advice of my then-boss to take the detour at Highway-128 and follow the Colorado River down to Moab. I'm eternally grateful for his suggestion, as this is my preferred route to and from Moab to this day. It's slower going, but the scenic rewards are many times that of the more conventional highway route.
As I wound my way south, the canyons along the river were all decked out in their snowy best, and the scenery jut begged to be photographed. At one particularly scenic bend in the road I pulled my car onto the shoulder, well out of the driving path, and set up my tripod. About that time a big dually pick-up came rumbling along, and as this man with family in tow passed me, he honked the horn like I was in his way. Nearly had to change my underwear! It just wasn't very nice. And on Christmas morning? Really???
I did take a fair number of pictures, but it was so bitterly cold that I spent a large amount of time in my motel room, where I caught HBO's airing of the Steve Martin/Chevy Chase/Martin Short classic, The Three Amigos. Merry Christmas to me!
Fast-forward 20+ years. Nowadays I actually make my living as a nature photographer, so to be able to go to places like Arches and Canyonlands helps pay the rent. With my recent move back to Colorado Springs, it had been a while since I'd had the time to take a trip. The prospect of shooting during and after an impending sequel to my original snowstorm follies was too good to pass up. At least in the intervening years I figured out that you leave town before the storm hits, not at the very moment it's applying a choke hold to your state. Owning a 4WD truck instead of my little Chevette helps, too.
My first stop was Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction. I slept in the truck as the snow really started to fly, and spent much of the next morning photographing the winter weather. [photo] On my way out, the ranger said they were closing the road due to the snowy and icy conditions, so my timing was just right. I then headed south along the Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic Byway, which winds its way through Colorado's own canyon country. Unfortunately, the snow was coming down so hard that I really couldn't see much. There were a few photo ops along the way, but fewer than I'd hoped. [photo]
I dropped into Paradox Valley, then climbed the other side and headed for the state line. By now the snow was really piling up, with easily two feet of powder flanking the road over the nameless pass that spit me out into Utah along the southern flanks of the La Sals. Once I hit the north-south Highway-191, I opted to head south 70 or 80 miles to another Utah gem called Goosenecks State Park. [photo] So named because of the way the San Juan River meanders wildly through its canyon, Goosenecks is little more than two overlooks, one a mere 1,000 feet above the river, the other called Muley Point, atop nearby Cedar Mesa, that's around 1,600 feet above the San Juan. I spent the night at the lower overlook and shot sunrise from there. I made an attempt to get to the upper vista point, but after climbing up treacherously windswept and snow-drifted switchbacks of the road to the top of the mesa, the access road to Muley Point was totally snowed in. So then it was back down the switchbacks, 500-foot drop-offs be damned! [photo]
By now I was feeling like a little civilization might be nice, so I made the long drive north to Moab and got a motel room. I didn't bother with any HBO classics this time around, but enjoyed myself enough that my intended one-night stay turned into two. Unlike my first trip, I spent very little time in my room, despite the bone-chilling temps.
For my first sunrise of 2011 I headed to Canyonlands. I thought about shooting Mesa Arch first [photo from many years ago], and was heartened on my way past the trailhead that there were no cars in the parking lot of this popular destination. I headed to Green River Overlook hoping for some clouds below the rim, and barring that, I figured Mesa Arch made a good fallback position. No clouds, so I headed back to the Mesa Arch trailhead. There were now, just 15 minutes later and half an hour before sunrise, six cars in the lot. I pulled in while I considered my options. Then car seven came along. And car eight. Knowing the shooting space at the arch is pretty limited, and guessing that the fresh snow now had roughly a million foot prints in it, I decided to head to Grand View Point instead [photo][big photo], one of the most aptly named overlooks you could ever imagine. I always like transitions, be they weather, seasons or calendar, so to see the sun breach the horizon for the first time in 2011, with its new beginnings aura, was even better than the last sunset of 2010 the previous night, spent shooting near the Fiery Furnace in Arches. [photo]