Through The Lens 115 – Cement Wall

Another shot from the archives. D&RGW #478 makes its way through the Animas River Canyon at a location known as Cement Wall. The narrow sliver of land that the tracks occupy and their position on the outside of a bend in the river made them a constant problem due to washouts. In response, the railroad poured a large cement wall to protect the tracks, giving this location its name.

This was taken on a private photo charter on the Durango & Silverton back in February 2011. Hard to believe this was 7 years ago as well.

Through The Lens 86 – Maroon Bells

Maroon Bells is a popular location to photograph sunrise in Colorado, especially in the fall when the aspen trees on both sides of the lake turn gold.  A storm was blowing through the morning I was there, so we didn’t have the typical alpine sunrise reflected in the lake. There was a short break in the clouds after sunrise that allowed the photographers assembled at the lake to get a couple of photos before the clouds closed in again.

I’ll post Part 3 of my Colorado Fall Trip Report on Tuesday, covering Maroon Bells, Independence Pass and Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Trip Report – Colorado Fall Color 2016 Part 2

Devil's Lookout

Continuing where we left off in Part 1 of the trip report, after leaving Mesa Verde National Park, I drove North to Montrose Colorado to be in position for sunrise at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison became a National Park on October 21, 1999, encompasing 30,750 acres and is known for its incredibly steep cliffs and narrow canyon.  At its narrowest point, Chasm View, the canyon is 1,100ft wide at the rim, 40ft wide at the river and 1,820ft deep!  This unique steepness and narrowness is caused by the steep route the Gunnison River takes through the canyon.  It averages 34ft of drop per mile which causes the river to cut deeper into the canyon faster than the walls can erode and widen the canyon.

Island Peaks:
Island Peaks

Pulpit Rock:
Pulpit Rock

Chasm View:

Chasm View

The canyon is difficult to photograph during the day due to the huge contrast between the shadows and the sunny side of the canyon. I think this park may be best captured in the pre-dawn and post sunset light.  A second trip to better capture this park is definitely in order.

Part 3 of the trip report will cover Maroon Bells and Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Through The Lens 76 – Painted Wall

As magma cools and solidifies, water becomes concentrated, making the remaining magma more fluid.  That last bit of magma to cool moves easily into the cracks in the surrounding rock before cooling and forming a type of granite called Pegmatite.  The light colored streaks at Painted Wall in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park are an impressive example of this phenomenon.  For reference, those are full size trees above the rim of the canyon.  At 2,250 feet high, Painted Wall is Colorado’s tallest cliff.

The patterns in the rock look great in black & white too.

Check back Tuesday for the long overdue Part 2 of my Colorado Fall Color Trip Report.

Trip Report – Colorado Fall Color 2016 Part 1

Last fall I had the opportunity to attend two photo charters in Colorado, so I extended the trip to allow time to visit a couple of national parks.  First up was Mesa Verde National Park. Created on June, 29th, 1906 by Theodore Roosevelt, Mesa Verde National Park was the first of it’s kind. All prior National Parks were created to preserve nature. Mesa Verde was established to preserve the works of man.

I only had one afternoon to visit Mesa Verde this time, but that was more than enough time to capture the two images I had in mind. First was sunset at Square Tower House:

Square Tower House Sunset

Second was the Milky Way over Park Point:

As a bonus I got a post sunset shot of the old Knife Edge Road that served as the entrance to the park for many years.  The went around the rock formation to the left in the image below, literally only one car width wide.  Thankfully they’ve built a wider road to replace it:

After finishing with the milky way shots, I headed north to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.  More on that in Part 2.

Through The Lens 66 – Square Tower House

Square Tower House in Mesa Verde National Park is the tallest cliff dwelling in the park. It also is a great location to shoot at sunset.  Since the last time I visited was a cloudy day, I made a point to stop at Mesa Verde on my way to Black Canyon of the Gunnison on a trip last fall.  I’ll post the first part of the trip report on Tuesday.

Through The Lens 39 – Hangman’s Trestle

Sunrise at Hangman’s Trestle on the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad. Legend has it that a locomotive was commandeered from the Antonito Colorado Yard and used to transport a Mr. Ferguson to the trestle, the first suitable structure from which he could be hanged for an unknown capital crime. Nobody knows if that really happened or not, but what we do know is that the trestle makes a great location to photograph a locomotive at sunrise. Next month I’ll be visiting the Cumbres and Toltec again, but will be attending a charter that focuses on the west end of the line, closer to Chama, New Mexico.

Note: Due to technical difficulties user error this posted late.