While driving across the country in June, I stopped in Carbondale, Colorado to take my annual photograph of Mt Sopris. This time I decided to make the long shadows across the field an abstract, black foreground element. Exposure time was ~4-5 minutes with a 10-stop ND filter to get a little blur in the passing clouds.
Mt Sopris, Shadow, and Clouds (B&W, Bulb), near Carbondale, CO (7″x16″)
Another panorama of storms over the eastern Colorado plains off I-70 on County Road 134.
Storm Clouds and Glow on Horizon (Panorama #3), near Agate, CO (16″x37″)
I recently drove from Washington State to North Carolina. It was a haul, but there were some fantastic storms in Colorado. After passing through a wild hail/rain/thunderstorm in Denver, I pulled off I-70 on County Road 134 (near Agate) to photograph the surrounding storm clouds. There’s unfortunately no strong foreground element in this panorama, but I hope the texture of the boiling storm clouds is enough eye candy!
Storm Clouds and Glow on Horizon, near Agate, CO (16″x55″)
Blue hour bulb/ND panorama of snow fields, cirque, and summit of Mt Sopris from Upper Thomas Lake at Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, White River National Forest. It was hard to get the exposure right as the light was fading- you can probably tell that the panorama gets darker from left to right as I left the exposure times the same for each of the frames in the shot. The second panorama is from the following morning- I used a B&W conversion to try to emphasize the texture of the rocks and clouds.
Upper Thomas Lake and Mt Sopris at Blue Hour (2019),
Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado (16″x35″)
Upper Thomas Lake, Mt Sopris, and Morning Clouds (B&W),
Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado (16″x40″)
Earlier this summer, I backpacked up to Thomas Lakes in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness of Colorado and took a few photographs along the way. I’ve always loved this stretch of hike- the trail switchbacks through an open field, then crosses the top of a hill and enters a grove of aspen as it ascends to Thomas Lakes.
Trail through Field to Mt Sopris and Sopris (2019),
Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado (16″x46″)
Last summer was quite dry and hot on the Western Slope of the Rockies in Colorado- smoky air from forest fires and streams and waterfalls that trickled instead of gushed. This summer, I took my annual walk up to Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon and photographed the falls- there was much more water, with falls spouting out of the cliffs in multiple places. Here is a 30-second exposure of the falls at Hanging Lake.
Hanging Lake and Falls (Bulb Exposure, 2019),
Glenwood Canyon, White River National Forest, Colorado (11″x18″)
After the fires this summer, views of Mount Sopris from Carbondale and the surrounding area were sadly hazy and smoky. A few evening rain clouds blew in over Sopris, but there wasn’t enough precipitation or wind to fully clear the air, leaving the views of one of my favorite mountains slightly obscured.
Sopris, Clouds, and Smoke, near Carbondale, CO (12″x18″)
Fortunately, on my last night in the area, the winds changed direction and pushed some of the smoke out of the region. It felt like I’d put on glasses- the view of Mount Sopris appeared crisp and well-defined as the setting sun cast a pink glow on the flanks of the mountain.
Sopris and Evening Clouds, near Carbondale, CO (12″x18″)
I stopped to photograph Hayes Creek Falls along Colorado-133 (south of Carbondale, just west of Mount Sopris). Water was barely trickling over the Falls, so I crossed CO-133 and shot a few bulb exposures of the water flowing around the rocks in the Crystal River. Hoping this area recovers from drought and fire season.
Crystal River (Bulb Panorama), near Bears Gulch, CO (16″x54″)
Crystal River (Bulb Single Frame), near Bears Gulch, CO (10″x18″)
As we approached Winfield from Hope Pass along the Continental Divide Trail, the clouds parted near the horizon and allowed a few rays of golden light to shine across the valley onto Emerald Peak, Mt Belford, and Mt Oxford.
Light on Ridge near Hope Pass, near Buena Vista, CO (12″x18″)
While in Colorado this summer, I helped a friend scout Hope Pass for the Leadville 100. Before stopping for lunch at the saddle (~12,500 feet elevation), I took this panorama to the west and north looking back down the valley towards Twin Lakes.
Trail to Hope Pass, Continental Divide Trail, near Buena Vista, CO (16″66″)
Visiting the same location year after year forces me to try to see the same scene from new perspectives. This summer, I spent more time to the right of the falls taking a few long exposures of the water flowing out of the limestone at Spouting Rock above Hanging Lake.
Spouting Rock (Horizontal #3, Color, 2018), Hanging Lake, Colorado (16″x20″)
Spouting Rock (Vertical #3, Color, 2018), Hanging Lake, Colorado (28″x16″)
Here are a few more panoramas taken around sunrise at 14,000+ feet in Colorado.
Ridge Line from Mt Lincoln, near Kite Lake, CO (16″x50″)
Ridge Shadows to Mt Democrat, near Kite Lake, CO (16″x70″)
Rising Sun over Mt Lincoln, near Kite Lake, CO (16″x64″)
After hiking up the flank of Mt Democrat, we turned to the east and headed towards Mt Lincoln to avoid the large crowds on the first peak. We followed the ridge to Mt Licoln, ate breakfast, then walked up the side of Mt Bross and down to Kite Lake. The mining equipment, pits, and trails are quite the spectacle at 14,000+ feet .
Mining Equipment, Trails, and Mount Democrat, near Kite Lake, CO (16″x67″)
Scree and Talus Field on Mt Bross, near Kite Lake, CO (16″x60″)
A few photographs from the Buckskin Creek cirque/headwaters and my Kite Lake-Mt Lincoln-Mt Bross hike.
Alone in the Sky, near Kite Lake, CO (12″x18″)
Looking Back from Mt Bross, near Kite Lake, CO (12″x18″)
While working Boulder this July, I drove up to Kite Lake near Fairplay and Alma, CO. The camping areas near the lake were packed, so I hiked up a cirque along Buckskin Creek and set up camp near 12,500 feet in an isolated meadow. The cirque was relatively close to the parking area, but the steep hill blocked the view of the road and trails, so the area felt like the middle of the wilderness. The next morning, I slid out of my sleeping bag before sunrise to hike up a few peaks in the area- see future posts for peak panoramas.
Snow Field and Stream, near Kite Lake, CO (16″x54″)
Unnamed Crescent Lake, near Kite Lake, CO (16″x60″)
A few weeks ago, I hiked past Bluebird Lake (along the Wild Basin trail in Rocky Mountain National Park), scrambled up a scree field, and made my way along an old cirque above tree line just below Isolation Peak. The towering cliffs and exposed rocks are stunning when viewed up close. Looking down valley, I seemed to be standing above the clouds.
Unnamed Ridge, Cliffs, and Clouds, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO (16″x42″)
My first weekend in Boulder, I drove to the southeastern corner of Rocky Mountain National Park and hiked up to the back of Isolation Peak. On the way back down, I stopped at Ouzel Falls and Calypso Cascades to take a few long-exposure/bulb photographs of the flowing water.
Ouzel Falls and Stump, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO (16″x28″)
Calypso Cascades and Logs, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO (16″x27″)
After arriving in Boulder, I noticed flashing light off to the east through the trees. I couldn’t hear the thunder, but lightning was striking every half second in the thunderstorm over the plains. I drove up the hill near the NCAR Mesa Lab and took a few 30-second exposures of this storm cloud before heading to bed.
Lightning Storm from South Boulder (#2), Boulder, CO (12″x18″)
Lightning Storm from South Boulder (#4), Boulder, CO (12″x18″)
When I arrived at Great Sand Dunes, the campgrounds were full, so I decided to camp in BLM land for the night. I got up early and took a quick hike to Zapata Falls (chilly!) then headed over to photograph the dunes before continuing on my drive to New Mexico. I was concerned that I had missed the early morning glowing light and that the dunes were too crowded (the tracks erase the rippling patterns), but I was pretty happy with the big, sweeping crests and clouds once I got up on the taller shifting sand.
Sweeping Dune Crest and Mountains, Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO (16″x69″)
Advancing Dunes Retreating Clouds, Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO (16″x39″)
After photographing a passing summer storm near Hooper, CO (see last week’s post), I stopped near the entrance to Great Sand Dunes National Park to shoot a panorama of the same storm as it lumbered over the Preserve and the mountains in the background. I shot this scene using HDR to get a more even exposure in the clouds and shadows on the ground, then made the image partially black and white to emphasize the drama of the scene.
Lone Tree, Dunes, Mountains, Clouds, Great Sand Dunes NP, CO (16″x54″)
On my way to Great Sand Dunes, I stopped along the highway to photograph this abandoned house in a field as a summer thunderstorm passed overhead. If you read my photography blog, you know that I love to photograph clouds (and would have stopped to shoot them anyway), but it was even better to have a dramatic foreground element. Additionally, the Dunes hug the foothills of the mountains in the background.
Farm House and Summer Storm, near Hooper, CO (16″x62″)
Over the summer, I drove through southwestern Colorado after a few weeks of research in Boulder. I passed by Great Sand Dunes National Park as a rainstorm rolled through the region. After camping nearby, I walked around the dunes in the morning to photograph the line of clouds advancing across the deep blue sky. The clouds projected moving pools of shadows across the mounds of shifting sand.
Sweeping Dune and Advancing Clouds, Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO (16″x34″)
I spent a few weeks doing research in Boulder, Colorado this summer. Every day as I drove in to work, I was treated to a view of the giant slabs of the Flatirons. One morning, I grabbed my camera and took a few photographs as storm clouds rolled over the rocks and trees.
Last week I posted a color panorama and a black and white single-frame photograph of Mount Sopris and passing storm clouds. I also shot a panorama of the mountain and virga (streaks of rain that had fallen from the clouds but evaporated before touching the ground).