Woodland Grace-Nellie Creek Falls in Southwestern Colorado

Nellie Creek Falls gracefully steps its way through a forest filled with the golds and greens of early autumn in the Gunnison National Forest outside of Lake City, Colorado.
Nellie Creek Falls gracefully steps its way through a forest filled with the golds and greens of early autumn in the Gunnison National Forest outside of Lake City, Colorado.

I spent the last couple of days driving around the state checking out fall color conditions. A little out of the way, but high on my list was to visit Lake City in southwestern Colorado. I have only been to this waterfall once before back in 2014 and was anxious to get to another chance to photograph it.

I made my way out of Lake City to the narrow four-wheel drive road that passes by the falls and found the parking spot. There was some good color in the aspens and underbrush, but still plenty of green in the aspens up above where I had shot from before. I took a few different shots and packed up. As I walked down the road I noticed a faint trail down along the creek and decided what the heck, why not check it out. The scramble down the hill wasn’t too bad and I made my way back to the falls.

From down below I was able to frame up with falls with a beautiful mix of greens and golds, much better than from above. This was my favorite of multiple compositions that I made. I love how the falls are framed by the golden foliage. I figured this was just going to be a scouting trip, but came away with a shot I love. Who knows, I might be back in a couple of weeks to see how it looks again!

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Gentle Awakening-Sunrise on Marcellina Mountain

Marcellina Mountain basks in early morning sunlight beyond a lush green meadow in the Gunnison National Forest outside of Crested Butte, Colorado.
Marcellina Mountain basks in early morning sunlight beyond a lush green meadow in the Gunnison National Forest outside of Crested Butte, Colorado.

I got a chance to get out and do some shooting last week over in the Crested Butte area. The skies were rather smoky at times due to a major wildfire burning down north of Durango, but Friday morning it was fairly clear to the north and west. After shooting sunrise from a new location (I have been to the area many times!), I drove down the road a way to see how things looked. I was glad I did because there was Marcellina Mountain with this beautiful soft light shining on it. I pulled into a camping area that fortunately had no one there so I could shoot out across this meadow.

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Gentle Steps-Autumn at Deckertown Falls in New York

Catlin Mills Creek gently flows over Deckertown Falls and winds its way down to a calm pool ringed with fallen autumn leaves in the village of Montour Falls, New York.
Catlin Mills Creek gently flows over Deckertown Falls and winds its way down to a calm pool ringed with fallen autumn leaves in the village of Montour Falls, New York.

This waterfall is one of two that I visited last October right outside of the village of Montour Falls, New York. You literally drive down a short residential street to the end and walk a couple of hundred feet through the woods to find it!

After finally finding and shooting Eagle Cliff Falls (read more here) shortly after sunrise, I drove the short distance over to the parking area for Deckertown Falls. The falls face the west, but after spending quite a bit of time at the other falls, there wasn’t much time before the sun would rise high enough to create bright spots in the scene. I worked quickly framing up a couple of different compositions before the sunlight began to stream through the trees behind the falls. This one came out nicely.

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Candy Lane-Colorful Maple Trees in New York

A narrow gravel road passes through a kaleidoscopic grove of maple trees in the Sugar Hill State Forest outside of Watkins Glen, New York.
A narrow gravel road passes through a kaleidoscopic grove of maple trees in the Sugar Hill State Forest outside of Watkins Glen, New York.

This past autumn the fall colors were just a little off the norm in many areas of the country. On my trip to the Finger Lakes region of upper New York in October, I found that the best color was at the highest elevations between each of the lakes. I spent one morning after sunrise driving many of the backroads above Watkins Glen and came across this gem of a road. Ironically it was appropriately signed as “Maple Lane”. With the brilliant collage of colors enveloping the road, I decided to name it “Candy Lane” instead!

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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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From Every Angle-Shavano Falls in Southern Colorado

The North Fork South Arkansas River tumbles down Shavano Falls in the San Isabel National Forest in southern Colorado.

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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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