Sangre Mountain Sunrise

Sangre de Cristo mountain sunrise

There is nothing like watching the alpenglow at sunrise in the Sangre de Cristo mountains of Colorado!

Moonset in the Rockies

Followed by the setting of the moon πŸ™‚

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Alpenglow on the Sangre de Cristo Range

Alpenglow, the amazing solar effect that causes a pink glow in the atmosphere opposite the rising sun is how the Sangre de Cristo Range of Colorado acquired it’s name.Β  The Spanish explorer Antonio Valverde y Cosio was impressed by the reddish snow capped peaks at sunrise and named the range after “the Blood of Christ”.

Alpenglow on the Sangre de Cristo

I too am impressed by the beautiful effect on that magnificent mountain range and had planned to arise early enough on one of my days off to make it to the overlook for a photo session. This is the best time of year to see the effect, the sunrise in the east is at a perfect angle for the effect to fall from the sky on the rugged range.Β  I think it apropos that my opening would fall on Easter weekend, when the Blood of the Jewish carpenter was poured out to save souls in eternity for all who would believe and call upon His Name.

I have been watching the sky every morning for a few weeks, judging the sunrise and looking for the time of morning with the greatest effect. That time turns out to be between 6 and 6:30 at this time of year, so it was coffee andΒ  blueberry muffins at 4:30 this morning to give me enough time to come out of my morning coma before hitting the trail. Big Dog and I pulled into the overlook right at 6:00, just as itt was just starting to get light and the band of red spread across the sky high above the mountains. It would be another 15 minutes or so before the light would settle down upon the beautiful snow capped range.

Alpenglow on the Sangre de Cristo

When it finally did I was ready, ISO 100, camera set to Av mode and aperture at f5.6. I wasn’t too concerned about having a lot of depth of field, pretty much everything in my photograph was going to be at infinity. I was parked at a perfect angle so I just steadied the camera on the door of my truck rather than get out and mess with a tripod. In retrospect, after looking at some of my resulting shutter speeds, I probably should have. I have a lot of 1/30 and 1/15 of a second captures and with a long lens it would have been wise to have had extra steady support. Oh well, the pictures look nice anyway πŸ™‚ The first one I think is the best example of this wonderful solar effect that I have ever achieved!

These pictures, the spectacular snow capped mountain picture with the polarizer that I was testing with yesterday and some of my recent bighorn sheep pictures are available on my website as wall art printed on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting! Tons of cool gift, household and tech items are also available with a picture, including t-shirts, battery chargers, gift cards, yoga mats, shower curtains, beach towels and much much more!

 

Alpenglow and Storm Clouds

We have had a beautiful springlike couple of days but this morning’s clouds portend a change… Snow and cold are on the way for later this week, temperatures will be dropping back to near zero for a couple of days. Big Dog and I were up early today so just

Alpenglow and Storm Clouds

before sunrise we grabbed the camera and the snowshoes and headed for the mountains. I could see that it was going to be a beautiful sunrise and indeed it was. But the real show was not to the east, but to the southwest where the alpenglow effect was illuminating the Sangre de Cristo and Collegiate Peaks ranges in a beautiful pink glow. I found a good spot and pulled over for a few shots before going on to the trailhead where I hoped for another photo op with the elk herd. For some reason however, they were not there today, no sign of them at all. It’s like they have vanished off the face of the earth! Oh well… maybe this week’s cold weather will bring them back down to lower elevations. Lol… and by lower elevations, I mean 10,000 feet πŸ™‚

Alpenglow and Storm Clouds

Our snowshoe hike yielded nothing in the way of wildlife. Did get a few shots of the storm clouds gathering on the Sangre though, some of the nicest that I have seen in a long time!

As always these pictures are available on my website as wall art and cool gift items! Please give us a visit if you like what you see!

Beautiful Powder

Had to wear snowshoes today in order to make it to the summit, life at almost 10,000 feet has it’s benefits! Besides the beautiful scenery the snow up here is much better, not like that sticky mess found at lower elevations πŸ™‚ It was a tough climb though, I could hear my heart thumping in my ears… not too much though! Well anyway, when we crest the ridge and these mountains come into view all petty problems fade a bit for sure!

Sunrise and Storm Clouds on the Sangre

 

Dust in the Wind

Tremendous wind howling up from the Arkansas River Valley last night. Big Dog was startled out of a sound sleep at 5:00 a.m., leaping to his feet and letting out a massive woof that woke up the entire town I think. I looked around with the flashlight and didn’t see anything so I was going to just go back to sleep, but instead got to thinking I would like to see the sunrise over the Sangre de Cristo. Sunrise would not be until 6:30 though, so there was time for one of my favorite activities… morning coffee πŸ™‚

Sangre de Cristo Sunrise

The wind overnight had created a dust bowl out of the valley making the mountains barely visible, but it was still an inspiring sight when the alpenglow band settled down over the peaks. The effect was only good for a few minutes and we were headed back home for some more coffee.

The old 1970’s song by Kansas, “Dust in the Wind” was going through my mind as the wind whipped the dirt up into a veritable cloud around us. Got me to thinking about the truth of the song, “Everything is dust in the wind”. Everything in this life is truly temporary, jobs, houses, relationships… I was thinking back on my computer career realizing that all the software I had been paid to write is now gone, along with the very computers that it was meant to operate. Even the company I worked for is gone, like it was never there. The job seemed so important at the time, deadlines, overtime, status meetings to explain how it was all going to get done on time, weekends misspent at the office, and now that it is all gone it seems so silly to have been so stressed out, so stupid to have spent so much time away from family, to have lost so much sleep.

Even life itself is temporary. For some people, life is long and fulfilling. For others like my wife, life itself can be unexpectedly swept away far too soon. We never know when we are going to be struck down by illness, accidents or natural disaster. Cancer took my wife along with all the things she dreamed of, collected and worked so hard for. Everything we had together is now like the song, just dust in the wind. Her life itself is a faded memory in the minds of few, the fruit she and I measured our lives with now remembered by no one.

In the end it all comes down to the words spoken at the final judgement, “Well done good and faithful servant.” If we have lived our lives in friendship with Him we will never have to hear the bitter words, “Depart from Me, I do not know you.”, our legacy will live on in the afterlife and all we have done in this life will not be blown away forever, like dust in the wind.

Futility

I have to admit, today’s project seems like an exercise in futility. Without a running vehicle I see the same scenery and the same photo subjects day after day with little hope of shooting anything original or new. And even if I did the odds in this saturated marketplace that anyone will even see my work is becoming more and more remote. Last week I wrote of alpenglow, the cool celestial effect from which the Sangre de Cristo mountain range got it’s name. I don’t know, maybe everyone but me already knew about alpenglow or maybe I’m just more easily entertained than others, but the fact is virtually no one saw the article. Or maybe I am the victim of the new Facebook algorithm that picks out for people what Mark Zuckerburg thinks they should be looking at. I have noticed recently that I am only seeing the posts of a couple of people, over and over and over. Funny, I eliminated 90% of my most annoying liberal friends and now all I see are the annoying posts of my few remaining liberal friends. Not sure what that means, maybe liberals make the most posts or maybe FB thinks I am in need of reindoctrination, lol. The fact remains however, virtually no one is seeing my posts and Facebook has become a nearly irrelevant tool for marketing my work. On every post I make, I am reminded that others are “boosting” their posts by purchasing ad space. And true enough, my side space is filled with ads by other photographers that I have no interest whatsoever in making a purchase from and am quite sure that they have no interest in my work either, a waste of money for all involved.

Springtime Aspen and Fence

Barren springtime Colorado aspen trees

Fortunately for me, the business models of my stock agencies are more business oriented in their search methodologies, favoring those who work hard and consistently produce new material without making judgements on the political correctness of the producer. Shooting for stock is quite a bit different than shooting for art, in fact too much artistic manipulation will only get your work rejected by the stock editors. Subjects of great beauty are of course helpful in stock photography but not necessary. Advertisers are often not looking for magnificent scenery for their ad campaigns, but are looking for a concept that matches their vision. A suitable backdrop for their vision often includes a copious amount of open space for text or imagery of the product they are marketing.

So today, the mountains looked pretty much the same as they do every morning at sunrise, amazingly beautiful and worthy of a few shots even though I don’t see any difference since the last time I photographed them. But today with the despair of the failure of my more artistic work to sell I turned my sights back to stock. I have been eyeing these aspen trees for some time and today I noticed that the sun was casting an interesting light upon them and the parched mountain grass. Knowing that sharp focus is important to stock editors, I set my camera to Av and f8 in hopes of a razor sharp image and tried to capture a vision of solitude or loneliness in the simplicity of barren late winter aspen trees. These I uploaded to my stock agencies along with some of the morning Sangre de Cristo, however only this one have I added to my own website where it will be sold as royalty free stock.

Facebook posts of my work require a lot of extra time, and my return on investment of this effort does not appear to be worthwhile so I won’t be putting in any extra effort making my images available for viewing there. Until I see some effort in fairness by Facebook I consider it to be an irrelevant tool as far as business marketing is concerned. On the upside, I have recently noticed that I have made “All Star” at LinkedIn as interest in my portfolio is growing there πŸ™‚ Any of my readers who want to continue to see daily updates are welcome to add me as a LinkedIn contact! You are also welcome of course to subscribe to my blogΒ  by clicking the follow button and you will receive an email each time I publish a new article!

Alpenglow

β€œIn 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.β€œ, 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.

If you enjoy this article and others that I produce, please consider subscribing and you will receive an email each time I publish a new one, ensuring that you will never miss out! Also please feel free to share my work often, for without your assistance many will never know of my work. As always, these images and more are for sale on my website as wall art and royalty free stock