Photo Cascadia Blog
January 26th, 2015
This year I made an early New Year resolution back in November to make sure that I maintained a healthy lifestyle through the winter period. A lot of people like myself commit to goals like this but fall short of achieving this. So how was I going to follow through with this promise to myself. Well I have come up short most winters so I how could make this one different. I needed to take my health serious. So this article is about getting a game plan for fitness during winter.
First, I had to be honest with myself about why I wanted to be healthy. That was simple, I wanted to be able to do lots of hiking when spring and summer came around. If I waited till spring to get into shape then it would be too late. So I really thought hard and long about my reasons for it; I then I had to come up with a game plan to get into action and stay consistent. When it comes to fitness plans and goals almost all fail. So how was I going to find a fitness plan that I could stick with. Like many I seem to fall into a winter slump and hibernate into a lazy lifestyle. In the Pacific Northwest it rains a lot and thus it takes some motivation and determination to stick with fitness goals when it is so much easier to stay warm indoors and be lazy.
My first plan of action was to find a gym that I liked and was close enough in proximity. In the past I have chosen gyms based on lower costs but travel times of more than half a hour. I found out that this never works as you rationalize that travel time is too long and you end up doing something else. So I had to find a gym close enough to take away that excuse of travel time regardless of how much it cost. Once I started going to the gym, I had to find the motivation in me to keep going on a daily basis. I had to find exercises that not only interested me but also challenged me. The main reason most people don’t stick with a gym is the lack of a clear goal and doing the same exercises day in and out. So I set forth a plan that would get me through the winter and allow me to continually push myself.
To achieve this you have to have a starting point that you can look back at to see a progression in your health. As hard as it may be you need to do a couple of things, which are very hard to do. You need a baseline weight of course but you also need to take pictures of yourself and get yourself some measurements of your starting point. I hated to do this and was avoiding it but once it was done I could move forward by charting how much progress I was making each week. I found some good fitness goals that would take me through the winter and spring and get me in prime shape for hiking in summer.
I choose a fitness plan that would be focused on strengthening my cardio to go longer distances when hiking. So exercise goals included a lot of treadmill, and interval training. After a few months of this, I really stepped up the intensity and duration as well. I now center my strength training by doing a lot of leg exercises that include squats, and core abdominal exercises.
The next step in my goal was to be able to hike not only longer distances but carry more weight; to achieve this I have started adding a 30-50 pound backpack while doing all steady state cardio. This really has gotten my body used to carrying heavier weights for longer distances.
The immediate benefit of this goal has been the ability to do steeper hikes as well. To prepare for this I make sure to include the stair climber in my workout a couple of times a month. At first it really is painful and not much fun but the body really gets used to it fairly quick. Whether on the treadmill or any other cardio machine I make sure to include both long periods of steady-state cardio as well as interval training which primes the body for long distances when hiking. Interval training includes exercises where you do short bursts or sprints followed up by short period of rest. Keep interval training short for periods of 10-15 minutes followed by steady state cardio like a easy walk of 30 minutes. Remember to try adding the backpack when walking or doing the treadmill. Goals in terms of the heart rate should be around 90% when doing interval burst training and then around 65-70% when doing steady state cardio training.
Remember to keep it simple and choose you can see progress as well as challenge myself on a daily basis. Try to do something everyday so that it becomes a habit and not something you have to think about. Reward myself when you reach certain goals and thus allows you to maintain interest in keeping a goal through the winter. The most important element is consistency so that when Spring comes you are ready to hit the trails. Remember if you like what you are doing you are much more likely to stick with it. See you on the trails !!!
January 20th, 2015
Carleton Watkins, 1829-1916, is possibly the most famous early Western photographer. Nearly a hundred years before Ansel Adams was taking his iconic photographs, Carleton Watkins was sharing the awe-inspiring beauty of the Western United States with the world, aiding in the birth of American environmentalism, and revolutionizing landscape photography. But his life was a series of tragedies, and he died anonymous and destitute in a mental hospital.
Born in New York, he moved to California and became a photographer, soon specializing in landscape photography. He photographed much of California and Oregon, but it is his photographs of the Yosemite valley that made him famous. In 1861, Watkins set off with his mules to Yosemite. The pictures he took during this trip were some of the first views of Yosemite people in the Eastern portion of the United States had ever seen. These photographs were in part responsible for Abraham Lincoln signing an 1864 bill that declared the valley inviolable. This paved the way for the existence of the National Park system in its entirety. The bill signed by Lincoln is often seen as the beginning of environmentalism in American politics.
It’s hard to imagine what Watkins endured to make photographs: loading up a team of mules with nearly a ton of photographic equipment, including a mobile darkroom tent, a dangerous assortment of flammable chemicals, and an enormous custom-built camera that produced “mammoth” 18×22 inch glass plate negatives. The reason for such a gigantic negative was that negatives could not be enlarged back in those days, so the negative had to be the size of the print. Imagine the amount of detail in those prints!
Watkins owned a gallery where he displayed his work, but he proved to be a poor businessman, and he lost the gallery to his creditor. The new owner also took ownership of all the gallery’s contents, due to the fact that the 19th century had no copyright laws covering photographs. They sold reproductions of his pictures and there was nothing he could do. In the 1890s his health was declining and he began losing his sight. Unable to work, he and his family lived in an abandoned railroad car for a year and a half. The great earthquake and fire in San Francisco in 1906 destroyed his studio, and countless photographs and negatives were lost. He was declared incompetent and his daughter had him committed to a mental hospital in 1910, where he remained for the rest of his life. He was buried in an unmarked grave on the hospital grounds.
As photographers, we owe Carleton Watkins a debt of gratitude. Not only for his contributions to the world of landscape photography, but for helping preserve the beauty of the American West for future generations. One of Yosemite’s mountains is named Mount Watkins in honor of his part in preserving Yosemite Valley.
January 12th, 2015
High dynamic range light continues to be a challenge for outdoor photographers. Another term for dynamic range is contrast. As long as the contrast of a scene, from darkest shadow to brightest highlight, does not exceed the camera’s ability to record dynamic range it is possible to record detail throughout a scene in a single exposure. In nature, especially around sunset and sunrise when the sky is bright and the landscape is much darker, the contrast often exceeds the camera’s dynamic range ability. Going all the way back to it’s beginning, more than 150 years ago, photographers have looked for ways to deal with high dynamic range light. There are many in-camera techniques for this, such as using a graduated neutral density filter to hold back light in bright areas or using some sort of artificial lighting to illuminate dark areas. In the current era, digital images and imaging software have made it possible to combine multiple exposures that contain image detail for all light values in a high dynamic range situation. This can be done with automated HDR software or by using masking techniques in Photoshop to “hand blend” multiple exposure values into a single extended dynamic range scene.
Whatever technique is being used to blend the exposures, it is necessary to first capture or “bracket” a series of exposures that encompasses the entire dynamic range. Knowing when and how to bracket exposures so that you have collected enough detail across the entire light range can be confusing. My goal is to take only the exposures I need, no more and no less. Most non point and shoot cameras feature an Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) feature but I find that it often doesn’t succeed in capturing what I need. Sometimes the number of exposures I have set is too many and some times it is too few. Even if I guess right and choose the correct number of exposures, the camera often misreads the scene and doesn’t center the exposure series properly, missing important details either at the shadow or highlight end of the range.
I have the most success when I manually bracket exposures but this requires establishing a well practiced approach to be able to do it quickly and consistently. Help with manually bracketing exposures is a common request during workshops. In the video above I explain how I evaluate a histogram to determine when bracketing is necessary and I also outline two different manual bracketing methods I use to make sure that I have successfully recorded the entire dynamic range.
I’m currently working on a complete update to my video tutorial series called Developing for Extended Dynamic Range and this is one of the chapters. Production on the updated series will be completed and the new videos should be available by the end of January, 2015. I will be sending out an email notice to people who own the original series when it is available. I will also be teaching a weekend class on exposure blending and developing for extended dynamic range in Bend, Oregon in May.
January 5th, 2015
by Zack Schnepf
I get one request more than any other, to see what my photos look like before and after I process them. I found this incredibly helpful myself when I was starting out in photography. I’ve done this before and I think I will make it a regular series here. The following are a selection of images that I think turned out well and capture my experience in the field. The top photo of each set is the final master image.
This first set of images is from one of the most amazing mornings I’ve ever spent in the field. Sean and I set out several hours before first light in the pitch black, frigid, icy morning. This was a morning we had hoped to see while on our trip. It’s very rare to get the first snow during peak fall color. Sean and I had hoped for such conditions somewhere on our trip, but knew the chances were very low to witness such an event. We were extremely fortunate to be able realize our dream of capturing just such an event. This was one of my favorite moments during that morning. The dynamic range was too much even for the Sony A7r. To overcome the limitations of the camera I captured 3 different exposures capturing all of the tonal information. Using my tonality control techniques with the aid of Tony Kuyper’s actions and action panel I was able to blend the exposures together in photoshop to produce the final image. Thanks again to Raynor Czerwinski for sharing his local knowledge of this spot with us. If you find yourself in Crested Butte, be sure to visit him and his wife Susan at the John Ingram Fine Art Gallery.
This set of images is from another location from my trip to Colorado this fall with good friend Sean Bagshaw. This is Chimney rock and Courthouse Mountain. On the evening we photographed here we were fortunate to witness some spectacular light and atmosphere. I processed this again using my tonality control techniques with the aid of Tony Kuyper’s actions and panel. Each image always presents it’s own challenges. In this case I used 3 separate exposures and double processed one of them for a total of 4 exposures. This allowed me to really target each tonality zone to achieve the look and feel that captured the experience for me.
This set of images is from another spectacular evening from the Colorado trip. This storm rolled in quickly spoiling the sunset I had in mind and replacing it with something so much better. Sean and I had to make a split second decision to abandon our current location and rush to another location we had scouted earlier. It was spectacular, but the camera was not capturing what I was seeing. Again, I used my tonality control techniques with the aid of Tony Kuyper’s actions and panel to bring the drama back into this image. The final image captures my experience extremely well.
For all these images I was using my tonality control techniques and Tony’s action panel. For more information about my video, or to purchase a copy visit the video page on my site: http://www.zschnepf.com/Other/Videos2
I’m currently producing a video on how I use Tony’s panel with my techniques. It will be available in the next few months.
You can follow me on Facebook
January 4th, 2015
An Interview with David Thompson by David Cobb
1. Tell us a little about yourself David.
I was born in Las Vegas, and I consider myself an
ordinary guy. Both my parents were in the military and I’m the only child. From Vegas we
then moved to New Mexico. While living in New Mexico I spent quite a bit of time in the
outdoors. I use to hike and ride my bike in the deserts, and also did some camping and
fishing in the nearby mountains. From New Mexico, we moved back to Las Vegas in
1993. I’ve lived in Vegas ever since.
2. When and how did you get your start in photography?
I got my start in photography in 2004. My father gave me a Pentax ZX 35mm
film camera. I didn’t know anything about compositions, exposure, or how to use the
basic functions of the camera. After many months of failed attempts to take a decent
picture, and the high costs of film development, I gave up. In 2008, when my son was
born, I got my first digital camera which was a Canon Rebel XTI. I started with just family
pictures at first, and honestly I wasn’t good at that either. During my travels, I
would constantly see these amazing sunsets/sunrises and I wished I could capture what I
was seeing. One day I decided to go online to do some research on landscape
photography. Once I saw all the fantastic images online……..I was hooked! I had to
learn more! From there, that’s where my photography journey began.
3. Much of your landscape photography is centered in the America Southwest. What do you love about this area, and what keeps you coming back?
What I love about the Southwest, is all the amazing landscapes here. What
keeps me coming back is the landscapes are constantly changing. The light is never the
same, the atmosphere is always different, there are so many different variables that make
photographing these landscapes interesting.
4. You recently travelled to Iceland, tell us how it is similar and different from the
stark landscapes of the desert southwest?
Iceland……the landscape of Iceland is beautiful and unique in its own way.
Iceland is very similar to the deserts of the southwest, particularly the areas around Death
Valley National Park. The landscapes are very similar in terms of their otherworldly/lunar
features. They are also similar with their rugged appearance and treeless vistas. Where
they differ, obviously the climate is different, but in Iceland there is water everywhere.
Waterfalls flowing from every cliff in sight. You will see random tarns amongst
the volcanic landscape. Another feature that was very different from the deserts of the
Southwest, was the contrast in colors. There were so many color variations throughout
the landscapes in Iceland.
5. When you’re not photographing the desert southwest, where do you like to travel and photograph and why?
When I’m not photographing the deserts, I like to photograph anything that is the
complete opposite of the desert. Whether it be the lush canyons of the Columbia River
Gorge, or the shores of the Pacific Ocean along the southern California or Oregon coast,
anything that is different than the desert works for me. I love shooting all landscapes. I’m
not too picky.
6. What are your top three personal favorite images and why?
“Hoodoo Magic” With this image, I have seen virga numerous times here in the
desert. But this display of virga was something like I had never seen. On this particular
evening in the Bisti Wilderness area of New Mexico, my buddy Paul and I were just
watching this storm develop for about 45 minutes. The sun eventually broke through the
clouds giving us an amazing display of light. The sun really brought the landscape to life.
“Nuclear Dunes” (see top image) The light I witnessed on this evening was in my top three
sunsets I’ve seen in my photography journey. I had gotten off work late that afternoon.
My plan was to drive to Lone Pine, California for sunset on my way to the Eastern Sierras but
there was no way I was gonna make for sunset, so I went with my alternative plan, and hit
the Mesquite Sand Dunes for sunset instead. I remember complaining to myself because
the sky didn’t look like it would have any potential, but I hiked out onto the dunes
anyway. I sat there for a little while contemplating if I should leave or not. As I started
packing up my gear I saw a little glimmer of light creeping through the clouds on the
horizon. I didn’t think much of it, until I saw a little glimpse of pink in the clouds. I turned
back around, and within seconds that sky was ablaze with color. That light lasted a good
hour after sunset. I only saw one other person shooting that evening. Talking
about that image gives me the chills.
“Peeled “ This small scene is one of my personal favorites. A couple friends and I
stumbled upon this area while exploring a section of the Painted Desert in Arizona. This
section of cracked mud was very interesting to me because of the peeling features of the
mud and the natural gradient in colors. I waited about 25 minutes before sunset for the
sun to get lower to the horizon. The timing couldn’t have been any better. For me, the
mix of golden light and shadows looked incredible on these cracks.
7. Explain your nickname D Breezy, and what it means to be D Breezied?
The name D Breezy is a name I came up with some time ago when I initially set
up my account on Flickr. It’s basically D, for David, and Breezy for my easy going
attitude. I’m the type of person that just goes with the flow. For some reason the name
has kinda stuck with me over the years. It’s funny because I never thought that the name
would stick like that. What it means to be D Breezied is when you miss great light due to
daily life, family, or sitting at home instead of being out shooting. I seriously can’t believe that the
term D Breezied is being used on a regular basis now. It started off as a joke years ago.
8. What is the most important piece of photo equipment you can’t live without?
The one piece of photograph equipment that I can’t live with out with would have
to be my Really Right Stuff TVC33 tripod. It took me some years to understand how
important a sturdy tripod is. Once I got the RRS legs, I was thrilled to have legs that I
could use in any type of shooting situation. Probably the best piece of photography
equipment that i’ve purchased.
You can see more of David’s outstanding images at: davidthompsonphotography.com/
December 21st, 2014
Once again another year is coming to a close for all of us which brings time to look back on the past and what might lie ahead for the new year. This year marks the 5 year milestone since Photo Cascadia was born. Surviving the toddler years we are feeling strong with a continued united mission “learn, explore, create” as we intended from the early days. It’s pretty amazing how well we all get along. Some of us knew nothing more than the name and associated photos of each other when Photo Cascadia started. That said Photo Cascadia would not be where it is today without you. Thank you to all of our subscribers and viewers to the newsletter, blog, social media and everywhere else!
Looking back at the photos each of us from Photo Cascadia captured this year and the places we visited, we feel truly fortunate. Wherever 2014 took you with your photography adventures we hope you enjoy looking back at what it brought for you. For us viewing this slideshow is fresh reminder of the beauty that surrounds us on this planet. Regardless of politics, religion and other beliefs we all enjoy what earth has to offer us from grand landscapes to intimate scenes. A great quote that sums it up best.
“A landscape image cuts across all political and national boundaries, it transcends the constraints of language and culture.” – Charlie Waite
We invite you to take a few minutes (3:35 if I have to be exact) to see a few of our favorites from the team this past year. Slide show is best viewed full screen at 1080p resolution.
We will take a holiday break from blog posts until sometime in January. After that we should be posting again and look forward to engaging with all of you as we do throughout the year. We hope this holiday season brings you memorable experiences and quality time with family and friends.
Happy Holidays and New Year from the crew at Photo Cascadia!
Adrian Klein, Chip Phillips, David M Cobb, Kevin McNeal, Zack Schnepf and Sean Bagshaw
December 2nd, 2014
By David Cobb
A decade ago I traveled through Iceland exploring and planning for my 2006 walk across the island. I marveled at the stark scenery and the long hours of beautiful light-a photographer’s paradise. Today, you can’t fling a spoonful of Slátur (blood pudding) in Iceland without hitting a photographer. Those early feelings in an earlier day I had for Iceland rose again on a recent trip to Slovenia, but on this trip I felt I had barely scratched the surface of discovering the beauty of Slovenia.
The Slovenian photo opportunities are much more than the beautiful Church of Assumption atop an island of Lake Bled–waterfalls abound, gorges seemingly are everywhere, the Julian Alps are spectacular, and the countryside is filled with vineyards farms, and picturesque landscapes.
My trip began in the capital city of Ljubljana (a place I joked was the only city with more coffee shops and bicycle riders than my hometown of many years Portland, Oregon). The streets of old town are attractive and easy to wander with a camera and tripod, and at night they truly become alive with lights reflecting onto the river below. And like many European cities, Ljubljana is topped with a castle that you must explore.
Next on the list was a trip to Lake Bled which is truly in a fairyland setting. From here short trips can be made to the popular sites of Lake Bohinj, Vintgar Gorge, Savica Falls, and other parts of Triglav National Park. I’m sure there are more than a million places to discover, explore, and photograph here, but I only had time for a few as we moved on to our next destination east to the town of Ptuj which is surrounded by rolling hills and vineyards that reminded me a bit of Tuscany or even the Palouse. The rural countryside, green grasses, and fall color combined with the soft light to make for some enjoyable photography. The small city streets are also quite photogenic, and the morning city fog adds an air of mystery to it all. From here we left to explore the northern section of Croatia, a country I’ve visited in the past but wanted to see more. We returned to Slovenia along its small coastline and stayed in the town of Piran–a lively coastal city and photogenic along the harbor.
A two-hour drive brought us back to Ljubljana and completed our loop of the country. The people here were always friendly and knew English well. The food ranged from very good to excellent, so I never had a bad meal. Like I said, I barely scratched the surface of this country’s photo opportunities. Fellow Photo Cascadia member Sean Bagshaw also vacationed here in 2014 and we’re planning to conduct a fall color photo tour of this country with Slovenian photographer Luka Esenko in 2017, so stay tuned for updates.
November 25th, 2014
I often get asked which is the best time to visit the Oregon Coast and why. Most people believe that would be the summertime when the sun is out and the days are filled with blue skies. But as a photographer we don’t want the clear blue skies that most ordinary people would want. This could not be more true for the Oregon Coast as the summers are usually filled with no clouds and just boring blue skies. In the winter is when you get the best sunrises and sunsets which make for great dramatic photos. Yes it is true this is when you get the most rain as well but it as the tail end of these weather systems that you are likely to get these amazing weather patterns that make for great photos. So when choosing a time to hit the Oregon Coast it is best to allow some extra time in the vacation to ensure you allow for some bad days. I usually like to go at durations of week or more to ensure I allow for all kinds of weather.
The motto as most photographers know is that the more unstable the weather is the more likely the sunrises and sunsets will be good. So next time the rest of the world takes cover from the rain this is the time to be ready to capture the best photos especially along the Oregon Coast.
Another advantage to shooting on the Oregon Coast in the winter is the extra amount of rain which makes for better reflections and tide pools. This is especially true after a recent rainfall that make for great reflections of the clouds in the tide pools. I time these with low tides where the beach is more likely to be exposed and add a variety of tide pools and beach patterns. The tide pools really add another dimension to the coastal images along the Oregon Coast.
The tide pools add foreground interest which really pulls your viewer into the image. That immediate draw tells a story by combining a foreground with the background through juxtaposition of elements. The tide pools also add a natural mirror to the scene and double the color and beauty of the scene.
This also adds depth to the image and really enhances the illusion of the 3-D in your images. Another advantage to photographing right after a rainfall is the sand and rain together create nice patterns in the sand. I looks for these patterns in the sand in relation to sand ripples and the way the lines lead through the image. I compose my images so that the ripples and patterns lead to the subject I am trying to highlight in the image. If you carefully compose your images at certain angles you can really take advantage of reflective color off the side of ripples that really draw converging lines toward the subject.
With so many images from the Oregon Coast you really need to think carefully how you are composing your images and making them stand out from other images from the coast.The rain adds a great reflective element to the beach and makes for great reflections. By using the weather elements of winter to your advantage you can really create unique compositions that stand out.
Another advantage to photographing the Oregon Coast in the winter is there is the number of people are much fewer. To photographers this is important as nature can best be viewed when one admires nature in solitude. I am a firm believer in this and that whenever I can get somewhere and be with myself I can connect with nature more. It is important to really figure out what each scene is telling you and then try to convey that in the story of the image. The absence of people also means the lack of footprints in the sand around your composition which is almost impossible in the summertime. I like the fact that when shooting after a rainfall the beach is again in pristine condition and lacking footprints.
Winter photography along the Oregon Coast also allows for the change of ratio and rule of thirds when composing images. To be more specific when i shoot during the summer months along the coast I am forced to compose an image where I try to not include much sky. Because there is never anything much interesting going in terms of just blue skies it forces me to compose the image to be one-third sky or even less and two-thirds foreground (beach). This really limits what I can do in terms of compositions and really hinders my creativity. In winter, with dramatic skies I can change my ratio to either emphasize the sky or foreground and that choice is mine. Using the mood of the sky I can really add creativity to the images with long exposures, reflective ripples, reflecting tide pools, and mirror reflections off the sand.
With so many advantages to shooting coastal images along the Oregon Coast with winter weather conditions make it a priority this winter to get out and do some shooting.
November 11th, 2014
It would be ideal if every image we took could be displayed as a fine art print on somebody’s wall. These days, however, most photographs will be viewed on a screen via a website, so it is important to prepare our images for optimal viewing on the web. Unfortunately many websites, such as Facebook, further process the images we upload, compressing them and causing loss of detail and sharpness and introducing glitchy artifacts. Dedicated photography sharing websites, like 500px.com and WhyTake.net, handle our images with much more care, but the bottom line is that once we upload an image to any website other than our own, how it is processed and displayed is beyond our control. For this reason it is even more important that we do as much as we can to optimize our images before posting.
One of the most frequent questions I receive is how I get my images on the internet to look as good as they do. Various talented people, none of them me, have developed a variety of excellent techniques for preparing images for the web. Thanks to them, people like us are able to feel confident that the images we share look as good as they can. Sizing, sharpening and using the correct color space are the three most important elements of prepping images for optimal web viewing. I cover this topic in some of my tutorial sets, but it comes up enough that I wanted to address it on the blog and my YouTube Channel. In the following video tutorial I cover several techniques for sizing and sharpening images for the Internet. Some of the techniques can be easily accomplished on your own in Lightroom or Photoshop. Other techniques involve very advanced, multi-stage sizing and sharpening algorithms programmed into actions, scripts or plug-ins. In the notes below the video I include links to all of the web sizing/sharpening apps I demonstrate in the video. If you have a web prep technique or app that you would like to share, please comment in the blog comments or on the YouTube page. Sharing is one way we all progress.
Apps I reference in the Video:
- TKActions Panel
- My luminosity mask videos packaged with Tony’s actions available on my site: www.outdoorexposurephoto.com/video-tutorials/the-complete-guide-to-luminosity-masks-tony-kuypers
- Just the actions are available on Tony’s site: www.goodlight.us
- Andreas Resch WebSharpener (MAKE SURE TO DONATE!): www.andreasresch.at/2013/04/07/web-sharpener-better-sharpening-for-the-web
- PhotoKit Sharpener 2.0: www.pixelgenius.com/sharpener2
- Nik Sharpener Pro: www.google.com/nikcollection/products/sharpener-pro
Web Sizing/Sharpening Examples
(Click on images to accurately display size and sharpening)
November 4th, 2014
by Zack Schnepf
I recently returned from a trip to Colorado following the fall color with good friend and fellow Photo Cascade Member Sean Bagshaw. This was a trip Sean and I planned over a year ago. The plan was to bring our mountain bikes and get a few rides in between photography sessions, all while traveling in Sean’s trusty Camper Rig the Millennium Falcon II. Colorado is known for its it’s spectacular scenery, and epic mountain bike trails. Both lived up to their reputation. It was a fantastic trip, full of amazing photography, incredible mountain biking, good food, and friendly people. With the help of the Millennium Falcon II we were able to cover a lot of ground and we always had the flexibility to change our plans depending on the conditions. It was my first time to Colorado, but it was Sean’s third trip here and his knowledge of the area was essential to our success.
Our first stop was Moab, Utah where we met Bret and Melissa Edge at the Bret Edge Gallery. Super nice people and a beautiful gallery. If you’re in Moab make sure to stop by, also make sure to stop by Love Muffin right next door. Love Muffin is a fantastic cafe, great coffee and food. After our quick stop in Moab, it was off to Aspen, CO. Aspen was beautiful and the color was already at peak when we arrived. We went to work right away and headed into the mountains. Sean was eager to test out the capabilities of his newly customized camper rig, so we took some pretty rough dirt roads into some lesser known spots in the Capitol Peak forests. I snapped a quick photo on our way up a steep section of road here. After a lovely few days in the area we headed across Kebler Pass and into Crested Butte.
I loved Crested Butte the moment we arrived. The fall color was spectacular and the town is Awesome! If I wasn’t so in love with Bend I would move there. Great food, friendly people, the most bike friendly town I’ve ever seen, and surrounded by the rocky mountains. Crested Butte also has the best mountain bike trails we saw on the trip. You can see a quick video I made of our rides here: MTB Video
We were fortunate to have some storms roll in while we were shooting. It made for some very dramatic moments of light and atmosphere. While wandering around after dinner one night we stopped into the John Ingham Gallery and met local photographer Raynor Czerwinski and his wife Susan who run the gallery. Both Raynor and Susan are very nice and talented artists. I highly recommend visiting if you’re ever in the area. Raynor even gave Sean and I some tips on some lesser known locations in the area. We spent a few days photographing the area, riding the trails and enjoying the town. We could have stayed longer, but decided to see how the color was looking at some other locations. Crested Butte left a song impression on me and I couldn’t wait to come back.
Sean and I set off toward the Sneffels Range around Ridgeway. We explored the area and photographed some of the iconic spots, but the color was way behind Crested Butte so we decided to check out Telluride next. We got caught in a pretty strong storm while in Telluride and found that like Ridgeway the fall color was far behind Crested Butte. The forecast was calling for some low snow levels the next day, Sean and I knew we needed to decide where we wanted to be after the first good snow of the season. We decided to head back to Crested Butte and shoot a location we had scouted previously. On the way back we photographed the Sneffels again and headed up to a location with great views of Chimney Rock and Court House Mountain. We arrived several hours early in pretty cloudy conditions, but we kept getting glimpses of light peeking through. We photographed this scene for several hours, each time thinking that we had probably seen the best conditions we were likely to see, but it just kept getting better. It was one of the best displays of light we saw on the whole trip.
We rolled into Crested Butte just as the winter storm arrived blanketing the area in the first snow of the season. We woke up early and started hiking to our sunrise location on a mountain ridge overlooking Gothic Peak. We arrived and setup as the predawn light was just starting to illuminate the snow covered scene around us. The view on that morning is something I will never forget. The fall color was at its’ peak and with the fresh snow the color was even more vibrant than before. It was a scene we dreamt of seeing, but we knew it was highly unlikely. This made the morning that much sweeter.
After eating breakfast and running some errands in town we met up with Raynor Czerwiski. He invited us on a shoot to one of his favorite locations on Kebler Pass. We packed up and headed into the mountains still high from the morning session. We had another fabulous evening of photography, and Raynor turned out to be fantastic company. We shared stories and photographed some gorgeous earth shadow twilight and topped it off with dinner back in Crested Butte with Raynor and his wife Susan. It was a great way to end our stay in Crested Butte.
Sean and I shot sunrise on Kebler Pass and started the drive back to Oregon. We stopped in Fruita Colorado along the way to experience some of the legendary single track mountain bike trails in the area. They did not disappoint, we had a great ride and headed to Moab on our way back. I had a shot in my head that I wanted to capture of the milky way over Delicate Arch and I knew the moon would be out to help illuminate the scene. Sean and I arrived in Arches National Park and prepared dinner, we were ravenously hungry from the bike ride earlier. We ate our two burritos each while the multitude of people hiked back from sunset at Delicate Arch. As twilight was settling in Sean and I started hiking against the flow of people coming down the trail. We got quite a few odd looks from people wondering what the heck we were doing hiking up in the dark. Sean and I have both been to Delicate Arch during the day, and experienced the zoo. This was a much more peaceful and enjoyable experience. There were still a few photographers up there capturing some night photography, and Sean and I got to work. I was still learning how best to capture night sky images with my Sony A7r, we spent a few hours photographing the scene. For this image I captured the sky earlier when there was no moon obscuring the view of the milky way, and I captured Delicate Arch after the moon had risen. When we were done we packed up and hiked out in the moonlight with our headlamps off. I really enjoyed the experience.
After a good sleep we headed into Moab and had Breakfast at the Love Muffin Cafe where I enjoyed the greatest sandwich of my entire life, called the Banh Mi. After the life altering sandwich we stopped into the Bret Edge Gallery and had a lovely visit with Bret and Melissa Edge again. After our visit, it was time to get on the road to make the long drive back to Oregon. It was the greatest Photography road trip I’ve ever been on and maybe my greatest road trip period. Sean was a great traveling partner, always positive and motivated to get out and shoot. One of my favorite aspects of the trip was how Sean and I would feed off each other when shooting locations, he would push me in directions I would not have thought of and vice versa. We had great conditions, and the mountain biking was spectacular. Colorado was so beautiful and really lived up to it’s reputation. It left me wanting more, I will definitely be back again before too long.