Monthly Archives: May 2009

May 21, 2009 – Maroon Bells and Maroon Lake

Maroon Bells and Maroon Lake at dawn Maroon Bells and Maroon Lake at dawn

May 21, 2009.

So far, I’ve been trying to only post pictures that I haven’t already posted somewhere else on my profile. But.. whatever.

You’ve probably seen a picture from this viewpoint before, ESPECIALLY if you’ve ever looked at a Colorado calendar, or anything like that. In some ways, this is *the* representative Colorado view. I’ve seen it everywhere from postcards to grocery store discount cards. It’s f’ing everywhere.

This is a view of the Maroon Bells, looking over Maroon Lake. The viewpoint is near Aspen, about 20 minutes outside of town. In summer months, it’s pretty popular, to the point that after a certain time, they won’t even allow you to drive in anymore, instead they run busses from about 10 minutes down the road. Pretty wild.

I’ve actually visited this spot twoce, once was quite awhile ago when I was on a 3 week roadtrip through Montana, Colorado, and points in between. On that trip, I didn’t have a set itinerary, and ended up in Aspen for a night totally on a whim. I didn’t have a hotel lined up, so instead I just parked at the viewpoint and slept in my car. I woke up at sunrise, and shortly after, the sun was shining right up the valley, which let me get some nice pics of the reflection in the lake and such.

This time (2006), Julie and I had flown down to Colorado just for a long weekend, to drive around in the hills a bit to see the aspens. Since we had pretty limited time, we actually did plan out our route, which included a night in Aspen, this time staying in an honest-to-god hotel, with walls and a toilet and everything. Remembering my luck last time with the sunrise pics, I decided to do that again. So I woke up at around 5am, and headed over. Julie of course gave the response you’d expect from a wife who has been asked if she wants to wake up before dawn and sit there for a couple hours while you take pictures, so she stayed in the hotel and slept in.

Unfortunately, this was a very different time of year (last time was at the beginning of summer, this one was solidly into the fall), and therefore, the sun followed a much different path across the sky. So, instead of shining straight up the valley, illuminating the scene within an hour or two of coming over the horizon, it was rising behind one of the high ridges, which meant that Maroon Lake was in the shade until about 4 hours after sunrise. So, I got a few pictures like this one soon after the sun started rising, then I sat there and waited.. And waited… And waited… Eventually, I was able to get the pictures I wanted though, perhaps I’ll include one from later that morning in the picture of the day sometime next week. I ended up rolling back into the hotel at around 11:30 am, about 5 hours after I’d left, and about 3 hours later than I told Julie I’d be back.

Of course, there was no cell phone coverage in the valley, and besides that fact, Julie’s phone was dead and I didn’t know the number to the hotel, so when I came back several hours later than I said I would, Julie was understandably concerned. But, as it turns out, all is fair in love, war, and photography. To make it up to her, I actually came back to this spot later that afternoon, and brought her with me. By then they had closed the road, so the only way in was to ride the shuttle, but that’s fine. It’s really interesting to see though how the quality of the light and the general feeling of the scene changed throughout the day. I’ll show you some of the other pics if you’d like. One interesting difference: The air tends to be perfectly still in the early morning and late afternoon, which allows you to get these perfect reflections. During most of the day, there are almost always little breezes that keep the surface unsettled. And that held true today as well, right as I was leaving in the morning, the wind was starting to pick up a bit, so the reflections disappeared.

Okay, that’s enough text for today.

Map for this one:

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, 18-55 mm kit lens. 1/500s, f/4.0, ISO 400. Focal length: 28mm.

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May 20, 2009 – Headlee Pass

Lake Elan drainage, near Headlee Pass

May 20, 2009.

This is actually a brand new picture, never been seen before. I decided to use a picture from one of the late summer hikes I did last year when Julie was at home being pregnant, but I was running a bit late to work today, so I just grabbed the first one I saw that looked decent. I hope I don’t regret using it later.

This is from the Sunrise Mine Trail. The trailhead is along the Mountain Loop, down sort of near-ish to Verlot. Actually, it’s right near Big Four mountain, for those of you who know where that is. It’s a really nice trail, it climbs about 2400 feet in a little more than 3 miles, and gets you right up among some huge rocky peaks. The second half of the trail climbs right up the wall of a huge rocky basin, with fantastic views the whole way. It was a bit dicey at the bottom of the basin, because the trail disappeared under a snowfield for awhile, so it was a bit challenging to find where it popped out on the other side. It tops out at Headlee Pass, then drops down and leads to a little pond called Lake Elan (I just looked that up), which was still almost entirely snow-covered, even in late August.

This picture is taken just below Lake Elan, looking the other way, back toward the pass. I was hoping to get some pictures of the lake in the sunshine, but there was a very persistent cloud hugging the top of a nearby peak (Vesper, I think), which left the lake in the shade the whole time I was there.


Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300 mm VC lens. 1/30s, f/16.0, ISO 400. Focal length, 28mm.

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May 19, 2009 – Lightning over Colorado Springs

Lightning over Colorado Springs

Lightning over Colorado Springs

May 19, 2009.

Today’s pic is from way back in the day, about 10 years ago. This is way before I got involved with digital, this one is a scanned in 35mm shot.

As anyone who has ever lived there knows, Colorado Springs gets some capital-c-Crazy storms that roll in off the mountains on summer afternoons. Back when I lived with my parents, I dabbled from time to time with trying to get good shots of lightning. The basic idea is pretty straightforward: You point the camera where the lightning is, and hold open the shutter. Since it’s usually dark out, you can hold open the shutter for 45 seconds or a minute, and the frame won’t be overexposed. Then, when the lightning actually flashes, you can let the shutter close.

However, there’s two problems with that: 1) that only really works if it’s nighttime, because otherwise you can’t just hold open the shutter like that, and 2) lightning is sort of hard to predict. So you usually have to keep a pretty wide angle to even get it in the frame at all, and then it usually looks pretty small in the resulting picture.

There was one storm in particular though that let me get around those issues, I’m pretty sure it was when I was back at home during summer break from college. I started out with the usual wide angle, but the lightning was hitting so hard, often, and CLOSE that I decided to try putting on the big telephoto lens, and see what came out. I got a couple great shots from that storm, this being one of them. (The other good one actually has TWO strikes in the frame, but it’s also got a bunch of houses and stuff, so I always go back and forth over which picture I actually like more. Maybe I’ll post that one sometime later.)

Here’s the map for this one:

Notes: Old Pentax 35mm camera. Unknown lens, f-stop, shutter speed, probably 200 ASA.

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May 18, 2009 – Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso

View from Alpe Money trail, Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso, Italy

(Copying posts over from Facebook, backpopulating…)

May 18, 2009

I took this picture in September 2007, when Julie and I were in Europe for my buddy Trevor’s wedding. We spent the second week of our trip driving around northwestern Italy, mostly in the Aosta valley, which is surrounded by huge peaks, terminating in Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco as the Italians say), which is of course the tallest peak in the Alps.

We didn’t have a set itinerary, we just went wherever we felt like. We ended up spending a couple days at this little family owned and run hotel inside the big national park up there, Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso (named for Gran Paradiso, which is another huge peak similar to Mont Blanc, which is inside the park boundaries.)

The park is famous for it’s hiking trails, as well as for wildlife. (They’ve got a couple species there that are either extremely rare or nonexistant outside that area, like the Ibex (a mountain goat thing) and the Chamois (a little mini deer thing). We didn’t actually see any of either, but a couple British guys we were talking to saw a bunch on the trail they were on.

Our hotel was in a little village called Valnontey, in the valley with the amazingly coincidental name of “Valnontey Valley”, at the bottom of which is, surprisingly enough, the Valnontey River. As I mentioned before, we spent two nights there, and one full day. That day was spent hiking. We walked straight out of our hotel, and right into the mountains.

The trail followed the river up the valley for a ways, then headed straight up the valley wall, and then basically did a ring around the end of the vally, hiking along huge peaks and glaciers and such. Good stuff.

Here’s a link to the map for this image:

Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300 mm lens. 1/200s, f7.1, ISO 100. Focal length: 50mm.

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