The recent cold snap had me thinking about the coldest weather I’ve experienced. It was -31°F the morning we went to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and it was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen. Clear blue skies and the air shimmered with tiny ice crystals floating. Its hard to believe it was ten years ago. It seems like I was just there.
Tomorrow (unless postponed by weather) is the 2017 edition of the Antietam Memorial Illumination. I won’t be attending this year as I have other commitments, but I highly recommend anyone in the area making the trip to Sharpsburg to drive through the Battlefield. The army of volunteers places one luminary on the battlefield for each casualty. Antietam remains our bloodiest day in war with 23,110 casualties, a number that isn’t fully understood until you see it represented in candles.
More information here for those who wish to attend: Antietam Memorial Illumination
Continuing on from Part 2, the next stop was Maroon Bells for sunrise. Located in the Snowmass Wilderness, this is a very popular sunrise photo location. Unfortunately a storm was blowing through so I didn’t get the alpine glow sunrise that you typically see here. Instead I got a nice pre-dawn shot (above) with some stars visible between the clouds and a late morning shot when the sun came out and the wind stopped just long enough to get a decent reflection in the lake.
From there I traveled south over Independence Pass, stopping at a couple of spots to take photos of the spectacular landscape before heading to Great Sand Dunes National Park.
I arrived at Great Sand Dunes in a windstorm, so I didn’t spend much time on the dune field. Clouds over the park with clear skies to the west provided some nice storm light on the Dunes.
Dune field from the Entrance Road:
Look for Part 4 covering the two railroad photo charters this trip was centered around in a couple of weeks.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
In case you missed my original review, please take a minute to check it out. Now that I have my copy of the book (the review was of a pre-production copy), I’m happy to say it is even better than I expected.
To go along with the hard copy, a PDF reference version was recently released by the author to allow you to take the book in the field with you as a reference. The PDF copy is low resolution and formatted specifically for loading onto a smartphone or tablet and can be loaded onto multiple devices.
The PDF is available directly from the author’s website and costs $30 if you don’t own a hard copy of Treasured Lands or $5.00 if you own a copy.
Q.T., thanks again for putting this together!