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.  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.  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 and  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 🙂 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!

 

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Sangre de Cristo Easter

Easter, my favorite morning of the entire year. It is so quiet on resurrection morning, no commute traffic, no construction chaos, no hustle and bustle, just the beautiful silent peace that this day brings. I wanted to watch the sunrise but didn’t quite make it out of bed in time to get all the way down to my overlook to view it. Still beautiful though, and it seemed appropriate to celebrate the morning in the shadow of the mountains named for His sacrifice, the beautiful Sangre de Cristo “Blood of Christ” Range of Colorado.

Sangre De Cristo Mountains

Sangre De Cristo Mountains

As I neared the top of the hill that I like to visit I could see a small pocket of fog at the base of the foothills which I thought was kind of cool and worth a stop for a couple of pictures. But that sight was nothing compared to the scene that unfolded a few steps later. The entire Arkansas River Valley was filled with a silky sea of fog at the base of the towering peaks, the best pictures I’ve been able to capture yet this year… A beautiful Easter gift from my Savior to me on the day of His greatest gift of all, the free gift of salvation for all who will accept it.

Hoping for a peaceful and joyful day for all my readers and to everyone on this wonderful Holy Day. He is Risen!

 

 

It is Finished

This year as Christians celebrate Easter, Jews are celebrating Passover. One of my friends posted the words “It is finished.”, a phrase that reminded me that the two holidays were never meant to be celebrated separately. As Christians celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus, Jews this year are celebrating and remembering their deliverance from Egypt during the time of Moses, documented in the book of Genesis and subject of the great cinema adventure with Charlton Heston.

4,000 years ago the Hebrews were saved from the death that killed all the first born of the Egyptians by the blood of a lamb painted on their door posts. So it is for Christians today, saved from spiritual death and Hell by the “Blood of the Lamb”. In the time of Moses no one person was more worthy of salvation that night than another. If the lambs blood was on the door posts, the occupants were spared. That would have also included Egyptians with the foresight to hide inside with the Hebrews.

That Passover 4,000 years ago pointed ahead to what we celebrate now as Easter and the parallels are astonishing and the subject of many deep studies which are easily found online with a google search of the words “It is finished”. I will focus only on that one phrase, “It is finished.”, the final words spoken by Jesus in human form on this earth.

According to the New Testament, Jesus and the Apostles were clearly celebrating Passover when Jesus was killed on the Cross. Each and every event documented in scripture leading to the Cross is significant and was provided as a reminder of just exactly what was going on at the time… The long awaited Messiah was being sacrificed. For example, Kind David foresaw the day in Psalm 22 “For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.”

2,000 years after these words were written by King David they came true as Jesus hung on the Cross with nails in His feet and hands while the Romans bargained for his clothes. At the same time Jesus was hanging on the cross, a lamb was being prepared by the high priest in the Hebrew temple for the Passover sacrifice. Finally the lamb was killed and the High Priest uttered the words, “It is finished.”. At that moment on the Cross, Jesus uttered His last words, “It is finished.”, and the final sacrifice was made. The Blood of the Lamb is now available to everyone who will accept it, no one more worthy to receive it than another, no religion with any greater claim to it than another.

This Easter, I urge all who read this and pray for those who don’t to accept the gift that was given to us 2,000 years ago on the Cross. I also pray for reconciliation between the religions for the event that was meant to unite, not divide. And I pray as well for people who are victims of false religions, false messiahs and those pursuing empty aspirations that lead nowhere, to accept the gift that we celebrate on Easter Sunday and for the dedication of lives to the only cause that can provide “Living Water” that can sustain life in this lifetime and the next.

Easter

The higher I climb the closer I feel to God, so on Easter morning it seemed appropriate to make my highest climb of the spring. With first light I could see from home that the peak was going to be magnificent so I gathered up my equipment and headed out the door. The sun hadn’t cleared the ridge and I was anticipating coming upon the mule deer herd, so I set my camera to ISO 400 with an exposure adjustment of +.25, a good setting for low light and nervous animals.

Soon I was rewarded as I caught a glimpse of a white tail in the trees. I slowed my walk and tried to avoid snapping any of the multitude of twigs littered about the trail from the long winter of heavy snow and wind. The deer saw me but didn’t seem to be to concerned on this Easter Morning. I moved about in the shade of the pines getting as many of the subjects as possible from several angles. Eventually the deer showed signs of becoming annoyed so I headed up the mountainside to avoid chasing them away from the lush meadow they were enjoying.

Soon the magnificent view of snow covered Pikes Peak against a dark background of early morning rain clouds came into view. A quick change in camera settings to ISO 100 and and an exposure adjustment increase of a full stop to compensate for the brilliance of the morning sun on the fresh white snow was in order as I stopped to captured the mountain in all it’s springtime glory.

As I climbed ever higher, I stopped to capture intriguing changes in the lighting and shadows on the north face of the big mountain. Finally I arrived at my destination, the top of the ridge and respite from the annoying sound of the highway below. I found a good spot and sat down to soak in the magnitude of the sacrifice that makes my joy in such solitude complete. As I absorb the sights and sounds of that mountaintop creation I get a small sense of the magnitude of the Creator. What joy He must have felt as He created the birds and gave them each a unique and beautiful song to sing. What joy He must have felt when he settled on the perfect scent for the pine trees that provide us with life giving oxygen. How soothing is the sound of the mountain wind blowing through the needles of the massive trees swaying above.

There is never enough time to spend in this heaven on earth and I turned around to make my descent back down into the reality of life. However the time that I spend up there remains with me, on the silicon sensor of my camera and in the recesses of my brain where they can be recalled whenever the stress of life becomes too much and I need to draw near to the Comforter.

Mule Deer

Doe mule deer

Easter Peak

Pikes Peak on Easter

Easter Peak

Pikes Peak Colorado on Easter Morning