Saturday, August 29, 2015

Front Range

The Front Range of northern Colorado has some great scenic opportunities.  Despite the growth of the Denver metro that really is turning the Fort Collins and Loveland area in suburbia, there are still some good scenery.

Get past the first few hills and it is even more so.

So when I was in Fort Collins I decided to get out early each morning and see if I could grab an image here or there.  On the west side of town you quickly go up into the hills past Horsetooth Reservoir and then into some scenic areas.

I drove out a few times to watch the sunrise, take a few images, and even get in a short hike.

It was good to get out of town for an hour or so, get some good activity, make a few images and then be on about my day.

Here are a few from my mornings there.

I drove out by the lake and could tell there was a good sunrise going to happen.  So I set up an an overlook and waited for the clouds to glow orange and got a nice image of he sunrise.

A little farther down the road I came around a corner and could see a small cloud raining and rapidly dissipating as a thunderstorm faded away.  I had no great landscape in front of me but did have the road.  Quickly I got the tripod out and framed up the shot with the road as a leading line.  This gives a great view of what it looks like just 10-15 minutes drive from Fort Collins.

I found a nice little open space area/park just west of there and took a walk.  Just a few hundred yards up the path I saw this great tree that I knew I had to get a shot of.  

I liked that enough, I went back a day later and out in the early morning even saw a few mule deer bucks.  Now, not being a wildlife guy, I do not have any big telephoto lenses.  In fact, traveling light like I was I only had my crop sensor Sony NEX6 with little 16-50 kit lens.  I zoomed out to the 50 mark and got a few frames with the bucks in it. 

Over the few days it made for some good quick photography sessions each morning and added a nice element to the trip to get a few images.





Saturday, August 22, 2015

Snowy Range Ramparts

The rugged rocky ramparts of the Snowy Range are incredibly scenic. Granite cliffs, spires, and peaks rising out of clear alpine lakes at the treeline are certainly some of the magic ingredients for a great location and photograph.

I have posted some images in mt last couple of posts of the sunrise I caught on my trip as well as the Milky Way images I was able to get.  I also wanted to show some images of the range and how scenic it is.

I love the high alpine country like this.  The mountains, the signs of glaciers from the last ice age, the little lakes, being right at treeline.  It all adds up to an incredibly fun location to explore.  Even on a short one night trip, I wanted to see what I could.

There were some afternoon clouds that were building up as they usually do in the summer days and I was able to work them into a few compositions as I walked among the rocks and trees along the edge of the mountains.

From a photography standpoint, I also might mention this trip was somewhat of a first for me in that I left my Canon 5D2 at home.  Only having one night, wanting to travel as light as I could, and wanting to get the Milky Way, I took my two Sony cameras.  I had the A7S with three adapter Samyang lenses- 12mm fisheye, 14mm f/2.8, and the 24mm f/1.4. Those are three big lenses being DSLR sized but all are outstanding at night (only used on a tripod).  I also took my tiny NEX6 with kit zoom lens as my walk around hand held camera.

It turned out to be a good kit.  More compact than my DSLR kit but it could still be smaller if Samyang and Sony would make small primes (hint hint).

In any event I was able to explore the peaks and set up several different images throughout the day as I scouted for a sunset location and waited for the Milky Way.


I realize I write this in most any blog post I do on this location but I am always amazed at how scenic this location is and how empty it is.  I easily consider it nicer than Rocky Mountain National Park (don't tell the Colorado folks) but it has zero crowd.

You could see something similar and not as scenic at Bear Lake in RMNP but you would sit in a traffic jam, then have to park in a huge parking lot and be shuttled up in a bus to Bear Lake.  Only to have to see and share it with 900 other people.  Good luck having a quiet mountain experience.


I had the Snowy's almost all to myself, seeing just a handful of other people in a day there.  In fact, this is one of the few folks a saw in the bottom picture here- a lone fly fisherman.

Luckily I was able to frame up a quick shot of him floating out in the cold waters of Mirror Lake.


Friday, August 14, 2015

Snowy Range Sunrise

After being up half the night photographing the Milky Way I had crawled into the tent about 1:30 in the morning.  By 4am I was back up and headed back out for sunrise.  The stars were already fading and a few clouds were already picking up very early light.

I went back to the cascade that spills out of Lake Marie and set up a few images there. However the best clouds were not in that composition.  So I walked the edge of the lake to find a way to put more of the distant clouds into the image.  There were clouds but basically none above me.  All were on the edge of the sky.  That had worked out very well for the Milky Way but it was now making me scramble to find the best compositions.

I suppose I should mention that it was July and I was bundled up with a fleece top as well as my down jacket, hat and gloves.  It was 37 degrees.  Quite the change from July in Texas.

After making a few images along the edge of the lake I went back and tried to work the cascade into the image.  The angle was not perfect though so I kept looking.

I also walked down the creek some to photograph more distant clouds to the south.

The morning light moved slow.  I had plenty of time to work the area.  It was actually going slow enough I considered getting back in the vehicle and moving to a different spot but thought it was best to stay here until it was full on morning and just work this location.

Finally I ended up back by the cascade at Lake Marie and put the little kit lens on the NEX6 to work and zoomed in some to compress the scene and take out the blank sky.

The morning was finally arrived in full and I went in search of a few more images up in the mountains.  I grabbed a few snacks for a quick breakfast and was off in search of something else to see.




Friday, August 7, 2015

Where the Great Plains Meets the Rockies

Wyoming is a fantastic state.  It is big, scenic, and almost empty.  The views here are big, as is the sky.  

It is a state where the Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains.  Spend time here and you will be amazed by the prairies.  There are also mountain ranges across half the state.  Most people think Yellowstone and the Tetons but that is just one small corner of a very big state.  Other places just as scenic dot the state but are lost in the big empty quality of the state.

One of my favorite views is the edge of the plains one finds here.  You can find that view in other states but it is usually less empty than Wyoming.  Here the view can seem to go on forever.

I really like that sight, seeing the mountains rise right out of the grasslands of the plains. 

It is a perfect view to photograph.  

On my drive to the Snowy Range I was able to see and photograph that view.  West of Laramie is open prairies for some 30 miles until suddenly the Snowy Range abruptly rises out of the grass.


I took images from a distance and then as I got closer.  Each stop was different and each view changed.

The clouds were drifting by and made for a great sky to go with the view.

At the very edge I made one last stop and got the shot of the day of the mountains up close.

Then it was up into the heart of the range.