Cimarron Glow-Autumn Sunset on the Cimarron Range in SW Colorado

The fleeting autumn rays of the setting sun light up the face of a section of the Cimarron Ridge behind a valley filled with multi-colored brush outside Ridgway, Colorado.
The fleeting autumn rays of the setting sun light up the face of a section of the Cimarron Ridge behind a valley filled with multi-colored brush outside Ridgway, Colorado.

I made a quick trip down to the Ridgway area in southwestern Colorado the first of October last fall in hopes of being there at peak fall color. What I found was a little disappointing. The colors this past year were a little different in Colorado as well as many other states. You were likely to find areas where a few aspen trees might be at peak color right next to a stand that hadn’t even started to turn yet. Oh well, that is what makes nature photography so fun (and frustrating!) at times.

There weren’t many clouds around this evening, but I headed out west of town to see how things looked out there. I thought I might shoot Courthouse Rock and Chimney Rock from the overlook along County Road 8. The valley below the mountains was filled with scrub oak bushes that usually were brightly colored even if the aspens weren’t at peak yet. I had shot there a couple of times before and thought I might try to get something a little different.

That sounded like a promising idea until I turned the corner to drive back to the parking area and there must have been at least twenty-five other photographers along the road! Not wanted to be part of a crowd, I turned right around and started back towards town figuring that was it for the day. The sun was setting and as I drove along I couldn’t help but notice the Cimarrons lighting up to the east. I quickly searched for a spot along the road that would let me see over the bushes. I came upon a gate in the fence and jumped out with just enough time to shoot a couple of panoramic sequences before the light was gone. I ended up with a nice sunset shot anyway, and I even had a cloud!

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Change of Direction-Shavano Falls in Southern Colorado

The North Fork South Arkansas River tumbles down Shavano Falls and makes a sharp turn through a narrow rocky canyon in the San Isabel National Forest in southern Colorado.
The North Fork South Arkansas River tumbles down Shavano Falls and makes a sharp turn through a narrow rocky canyon in the San Isabel National Forest in southern Colorado.

This past summer, I made it a point to visit some waterfalls in Colorado that I hadn’t been to before. A couple of those were not too far away from home outside of Salida. I packed up the camper and spent an afternoon and the following morning visiting two waterfalls on the North Fork South Arkansas River.

Shavano Falls was just up the road from the campground. I stopped by to check it out the afternoon before, but parts of it were in full sun, so I set my alarm for sunrise and got there as the skies were starting to lighten up. It is nearly impossible to get an uncluttered picture of the entire falls. A couple of vantage points let you catch sections of it, so I resorted to capturing this set of images.

I was there in August and the river had quite a flow. I assume it runs rather constant since there is reservoir five miles up the road. As you can see from the pictures, it is rushing right along at Shavano Falls.

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Fall Color Medley-North Shore Minnesota Autumn Panorama

A rocky hillside is covered with a variety of trees and shrubs at the peak of fall color outside of Silver Bay on the North Shore of Minnesota.
A rocky hillside is covered with a variety of trees and shrubs at the peak of fall color outside of Silver Bay on the North Shore of Minnesota.

My son and I timed our trip to the North Shore of Lake Superior at just the right time last year. I was worried we might be a little late for fall colors since I couldn’t get there until mid-October, but there was plenty to be found. In fact, this beautiful scene was right across from our hotel in Silver Bay, Minnesota. These bright red and orange trees caught our eye every time we came and went. Finally, one morning we pulled in behind the county maintenance buildings and shot from the parking lot. It was early morning and the sunlight seemed to make the trees glow. This is a large panoramic image stitched together from nine separate shots.

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Peaceful Dawning-Sunrise Reflection at Lake Wanaka in New Zealand

The rising sun paints the clouds pink and illuminates the top of Mount Hyde and is reflected in the still water of Glendhu Bay on Lake Wanaka on the South Island of New Zealand.
The rising sun paints the clouds pink and illuminates the top of Mount Hyde and is reflected in the still water of Glendhu Bay on Lake Wanaka on the South Island of New Zealand.

With it being the first of the year, I was doing some organizing of all my images and ran across this from a trip to New Zealand back in 2009. I spent a month touring both the North and South islands with a good friend and fellow photographer, Nat Coalson. I have yet to hardly even look at all the images, but this one stood out and I just had to process it.

We drove over from Queenstown to Wanaka the day before and had plenty of time to scout out locations for sunrise the next morning. Glendhu Bay was not far from where we camped, so we were there early. The interesting grassy shoreline had many little inlets and kept us busy jumping from one spot to the other trying to come up with the best composition. As the sun rose the clouds turned a soft pink and soon the sunlight reached the top of the mountains on the opposite side of the bay. It was just another beautiful sunrise in New Zealand. I look forward to sharing more in the future.

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Pink Winter Dawn-Sawatch Mountains Bathed in Early Morning Light

The Arkansas River valley and the Sawatch Mountains in the distance are bathed in soft pink light at dawn on a winter morning outside of Buena Vista, Colorado.
The Arkansas River valley and the Sawatch Mountains in the distance are bathed in soft pink light at dawn on a winter morning outside of Buena Vista, Colorado.

This is my consolation shot from what was planned to be some pictures of the lunar eclipse earlier this week. I had scoped out the location for shooting the moon over the mountains days in advance. It had to be up at a higher elevation or else the moon would drop behind them. I got up real early and made it there with plenty of time to setup. And then the clouds set in…

The winds were howling when I left the house early that morning. The full moon shining above made it almost seem like daytime. I thought things looked promising as I made my way up a county road outside of town. There was little snow to contend with on the drive and I made it to my spot in good time. I was shocked though as I climbed the last hill and dropped into the open area where I was going to shoot to find a pickup truck with some sleeping bags laid out on the ground. I circled around them and parked a way past them. I tried to be quiet as not to disturb my neighbors, but I had to start the Jeep a couple of times to move it to best block the strong winds coming from the northwest. Then their dog found me and started barking. So much for not waking them!

I set up my camera and long lens behind my Jeep to where I could just get a clear view of the moon and started taking shots. Soon the eclipse started. I shot for about a half an hour, waiting for passing clouds to pass. Then the real clouds showed up! I climbed in the Jeep and waited and waited. I sat there for another hour and a half until the skies started to turn pink as the sun rose. I rushed to change lenses and scurried down the hill to a spot a little lower. I didn’t have much time, but I was able to take a few panoramic shots while the mountains were bathed in pink light. At least the morning wasn’t a complete bust!

My neighbors were just rising as I left, and I stopped to apologize for barging into their camp in the middle of the night. They said it was quite a shock to hear me pull in considering they are out in the boondocks in the middle of winter!

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Ancient Overlook-Fallen Roof Ruin in Southeastern Utah

Late day light shines on the Fallen Roof Ruin overlooking the valley below in Cedar Mesa in southeastern Utah.
Late day light shines on the Fallen Roof Ruin overlooking the valley below in Cedar Mesa in southeastern Utah.

One of the other ruins that I hiked to with my photographer friend Jim Talaric last month. Fallen Roof Ruin is interesting in that slabs of rock have dropped from the rock overhang above and lay scattered on the floor below. I wouldn’t have wanted to be there when that happened!

The challenge we had with this location since it faced southwest was that we pretty much needed the sun to drop behind a ridge for the ruin to not be in full sunshine. We left the trailhead late in the afternoon and made the mile and a half trek along the icy canyon floor. After that, we knew we really didn’t want to be hiking out in the dark.

Upon arriving at the ruin, we found that we had plenty of time to play with different compositions while waiting for the sun to either go behind a cloud or to drop below the ridge to the south. After about an hour, I was finally able to capture this image which has just a hint of the setting sun highlighting the rock wall. Jim and I got our shots and booked it out of there as the sun quickly vanished. The amazing thing is we made it back out in half the time!

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House on Fire Ruin Panorama-Cedar Mesa in Southeastern Utah

Panoramic view of the House on Fire Ruin perched along a wall in the South Fork of Mule Canyon in southeastern Utah.
Panoramic view of the House on Fire Ruin perched along a wall in the South Fork of Mule Canyon in southeastern Utah.

I visited a few Ancestral Puebloan ruins on my trip to Utah and Arizona earlier this month with my friend and fellow photographer, Jim Talaric. Jim has visited many of the ruins in the past and wanted to revisit a few on this trip. It was something fairly new for me, but I didn’t really care where we went, I was just delighted to be out shooting!

I had seen many pictures of the House on Fire ruin with its distinctive rock striations that look like flames running along the ceiling. There are only so many ways to compose a shot of a ruin like this. The nice thing was that we were fortunate to have nice diffused light which gave us plenty of time to shoot. After taking the most obvious shots, I tried using different lenses from different angles to come up with a unique perspective. This was my take on a panoramic view of the ruin. It is a composite of six images.

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Stone Spectators-Hoodoos On Stud Horse Point in Arizona

A group of stone hoodoos perched along Stud Horse Point overlook a desert valley below with foreboding evening skies overhead outside of Page, Arizona.
A group of stone hoodoos perched along Stud Horse Point overlook a desert valley below with foreboding evening skies overhead outside of Page, Arizona.

Jim Talaric, a photographer friend of mine, and I took a quick trip through Utah down to Page, Arizona earlier this month to hike into the Wave (once again). We made it into town the day before our hike with enough time remaining to head out to Stud Horse Point for sunset. Storm clouds to the southwest were moving in making for the chance for an awesome sunset. We got there just before sunset and setup quickly. Unfortunately, the clouds were just too thick along the horizon and the light was quickly snuffed out. At least I was able to get this shot with a little bit of color in the foreboding skies.

Foreboding was right. The next day we set out for the Wave with some serious winds blowing. The constant wind speed was between 20 and 30 miles per hour with gusts up to 40! It was brutal just getting our gear packed at the trailhead, but we were hoping that as we hiked into the valley heading to the Wave, we would be sheltered from the worst of it. That proved to be true for most of the three-and-a-half-mile trek in until we started climbing the long sand hill that takes you up to the Wave. We were sandblasted as we worked our way up and it didn’t get any better once we got to the top. Besides the wind, the skies were pretty much overcast, and the temp was no where close to the predicted fifty degrees. We decided to have lunch hoping things would get better.

After enjoying our “sand”whichs and wandering around trying to stay out of the wind for an hour, we both decided it just wasn’t worth hanging around for. We packed up and headed back to the trailhead. We never did even get our cameras out of the bag. All we did was have a nice seven-mile hike and have a picnic lunch!

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Peaceful Beginning-North Shore Minnesota Sunrise

The sun peeks through the clouds as it rises above Lake Superior, shining light on Shovel Point and a rocky shoreline in Tettegouche State Park along the North Shore of Minnesota.
The sun peeks through the clouds as it rises above Lake Superior, shining light on Shovel Point and a rocky shoreline in Tettegouche State Park along the North Shore of Minnesota.

This rocky bay just behind the Tettegouche State Park Visitor Center was another favorite location that my son and I visited on our trip to the North Shore in Minnesota this past fall. We chose this spot for sunrise one evening and sunrise a couple of mornings. What was striking was how much the conditions of the lake varied each time. This morning the lake was calm and peaceful. The next morning was just the opposite with waves crashing against the shore!

Besides the condition of the lake, as photographers so much more depends on the clouds. Our sunset shoot barely had a cloud in the sky. The other morning at sunrise, the clouds were heavy to the east and the sun never broke through. This morning though was about as good as you could get with just enough clouds to add some drama to the scene. I look back at this picture and remember what a peaceful morning it was.

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Golden Grace-B.B. Ricketts Falls in Autumn

Kitchen Creek gracefully drops over B.B. Rickett Falls and winds around leaf covered rocks in autumn at Ricketts Glen State Park in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Kitchen Creek gracefully drops over B.B. Rickett Falls and winds around leaf covered rocks in autumn at Ricketts Glen State Park in northeastern Pennsylvania.

The waterfalls in Ricketts Glen State Park were all named by R.B. Ricketts, who once owned all the park land. Many of the falls have Native American names, but a few like this one are named after friends or family.

B.B. Ricketts Falls drops gracefully over a 36 foot drop along the Glen Leigh trail. I hiked down and back up this trail on an afternoon where the sun would break through the clouds frequently. Needless to say, I got my exercise in running back and forth between falls trying to dodge the direct sunlight! These falls just happened to be situated in a shady section which afforded me plenty of time to compose many different compositions.

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