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.
Since a number of folks liked my previous post from Ravens Roost Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, I thought I’d share another.
I usually don’t include people in my landscape photos because they’re often distracting elements. But on the rare occasion when they’re standing in the right spot, its nice to include people to add a sense of scale. After other photographers had moved on to other locations at the overlook, I found a composition that allowed me to include two people between the trees.
This photo of sunset at Ravens Roost Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway is another case of luck favoring the prepared. I was driving from work in Baltimore down to Roanoke for Memorial Day Weekend to photograph N&W 611 on her trips out of Roanoke. During lunch at work I took a couple of minutes to look up potential sunset locations on the the Blue Ridge Parkway just in case I was ahead of schedule and had time to head back up the parkway after checking into my hotel. Four traffic accidents on I-81 turned a 4 hour drive into 7 hours, but remembering one photo I saw of an overlook at the North end of the parkway, I turned east on I-64 with just enough time to get to Ravens Roost Overlook before sunset. Sometimes you just get lucky.
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.
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.