Fiery Sunset

Of course I awoke hours ago to the news that the president has tested positive for the covid virus and it is my sincerest hope that he and the first lady as well as senior aide Hope Hicks make a rapid and complete recovery. I know during times like these it is difficult to tear away from the news and continue on with your work, but then again… how do you not? It also occurs to me that this kind of thing gives a lot of people an opportunity to show how big or how small a person they are. So far I have seen a number of examples, particularly from the so called Hollywood Elite just how petty and small someone can be, which is why I avoid those people and their rapidly degenerating craft as often as possible. As for me I will say my prayers and continue on in faith as best as I can.

Sunset on Longs Peak ColoradoToday I am continuing the process of sorting through hundreds of images from my recent photo trip to Rocky Mountain National Park and today I am working on some sunset pictures captured on our second day in the park. We had just completed a long day in Moraine Park trying to capture the elk in action during rut season. The sun was beginning to set and smoke from the Cameron Peak wildfire was beginning to fill the valley with thick smoke. The elk were settling down for the night and the light was becoming far too dim for effective wildlife action photography so we decided to call it a day and head for the campground.

Sunset on Longs Peak Colorado

On our way out of the park I looked back and noticed the spectacular sunset enhanced by the thickening smoke taking place over the high peaks of the park and of course we had to stop and capture the scene! I still had my long lens attached for wildlife photography but I leapt out of the SUV and snapped a couple anyway, just to make sure I had something from the magnificent scene! Then I grabbed my 25-105 wide angle and crossed the highway to try to do the moment justice. I decided upon an aperture of around 4.5 to gather as much light as possible without sacrificing too much depth of field and a shutter speed of around 160th of a second. As I moved around capturing the scene I adjusted my exposure compensation to lighten and darken the captures with the hope that I would get that one coveted hero shot to take home 🙂

Sunset on Longs Peak ColoradoAnd I have to say I am pleased with the result, considering the difficulty resulting from darkness and the choking smoke! What a fabulous finish to an already amazing day in the park :)

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Dog Days of Summer

My photography really struggles this time of year. The landscape is all dried up and the lighting is harsh. Sunrise is way too early and by sunset I am so tired I’m ready to drop. Hence… not many pictures taken lately.

Sunrise Mine

But the time has not been wasted. I have had an Instagram account for a long time but it was pretty lame, only a couple of dumb pictures of myself taken with my phone. I briefly tried to use the laptop to upload a couple of better ones from my DSLR, but couldn’t find a button that would let me do that. So my account has languished for years, until now. I purchased a data wire so my laptop and my phone can work together and found a way to upload my best ones from my laptop 🙂

Don’t know if an Instagram portfolio is going to do me any good. I got off to a roaring start with tons of followers but they are slowly beginning to dwindle, probably in direct correlation with the number of images I am uploading. Time will tell, but I am having fun going through all my old best images, reminiscing about the adventures that I have undertaken 🙂

Morning Bucks

Did pick up a couple of nice shots of this mine the other day though… Big Dog and I working hiking out in the mining district hoping to see some wildlife. As we were strolling along just after sunrise I happened to glance up at the mine and noticed the beautiful splash of color directly behind it. That was about it for the day, but sometimes one good one per outing is a pretty good day!

This image and more are available for purchase as wall art on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, canvas, and traditional frames. Tons of cool gift items are also available including beach towels, battery chargers, phone cases, greeting cards and more!

 

Alpenglow

In 1719 the Spanish explorer Antonio Valverde y Cosio named the Sangre de Cristo (“Blood of Christ”) mountains after being impressed by the reddish hue of the snowy peaks at sunrise.“, according to Wikipedia.

Sangre de Cristo Mountain Alpenglow

The beautiful red glow in the morning on these mountains is from an optical effect called Alpenglow that appears as a reddish glow on the horizon just before sunrise. The glow emanating from the solar disk appears as a band of colored light across the sky or mountains reflected by ice crystals or precipitation at these high elevations. I’ve seen the red glow countless times since having moved to Cripple Creek but have never quite found the right time to get out and photograph them. Yesterday I noticed that the effect was most pronounced at exactly 7:20 a.m., so today I awoke at 5:00 to prepare.

Sangre de Cristo Alpenglow

I figured it would take us about a half hour to get down the trail to a point where I have an unobstructed view of the entire range. It was clear and cold this morning as we strode through the darkness, a perfect morning to photograph the Alpenglow effect. As we neared the overlook I was able to barely make out the snow capped peaks through the darkness, with no sign of the anticipated red glow in sight. A few minutes later however, I noticed that there was a band of color forming across the predawn sky, which I surmised was the expected glow from the sun’s curvature still hiding below the horizon.

We arrived at the overlook at about 7:00 as the glowing red band was moving down towards the mountain peaks. Then at 7:15 just as I had planned, the red glow from the rising sun descended upon the rugged range. It was still quite dark however and I was concerned that I was not going to have sufficient light to create usable photographs, but I proceeded with my shooting plan anyway. I chose ISO 200 so as not to get too much digital noise in the images and some I shot on auto for a higher shutter speed while others were shot in Av mode with aperture f8 in hopes of getting some depth of field. Now that I am looking at the images, it appears I was successful and have a good collection of usable captures.

By 7:30 a.m. it was all over, the pink was gone and the beautiful mountains shown in the bright morning sunlight. I hadn’t noticed while shooting, but by this time I was pretty darn cold! My fingers were tingling even with glove liners on and my shoulders and back were aching from the bone chilling cold. So me and the big dog decided to pack it in and make the trek homeward, hoping to see a few of the deer or elk that had left so much evidence in the sand the night before. No luck there, but now back in the warmth of my home I feel privileged to have stood in the presence of the mountains named for the blood of my Savior.

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Some Days There’s Only One

Not such a successful couple of days shooting, if you want to count keepers. Yesterday there was a beautiful sunrise lighting the Sangre de Cristo mountain range and I was able to get a few shots of it before the light changed… Unfortunately none of them turned out. It was a difficult situation with the a nearby landscape in front of the more distant mountains. I assumed that the horizon was far enough away for the lens to focus on infinity, making both the foreground and the mountains both sharply in focus, but I was wrong. Usually that works, but in this case there was just too much distance between the two landscapes and the foreground details were simply too close. The foreground would have disappeared nicely into silhouette and the distant mountains would have been sharp, if I had chosen more accurately. I should have tried both, but apparently I thought I had nailed it. Oh well, live and learn, with emphasis on learning!

Sangre Mountain Sunrise

Sunrise and Fog on the Sangre

On the other hand maybe any photo batch that has one keeper could be considered a success. I was luckier this morning, I made the same mistake but in this case the distant mountains were shrouded in clouds and fog and the lack of sharpness there didn’t adversely affect the image 🙂 So, lesson learned and one keeper to show for it.

The day has devolved into a cloudy windy snowy day, perfect for staying inside snuggled up on the couch buried in puppies. As always, this image and more are available for purchase from my image gallery both as wall art and commercial stock. Hope you will stop in and have a look! New images include beautiful lighting on the south face of Pikes Peak, some mountain landscapes of the Sangre and some shots of elk and deer to round it out!