Filling in the Holes

Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, CO

My primary pursuit for photographs these days are stock photos. Yeah, I’m still interested in the fine-art aspect of the work I do, but the really nice landscape and wildlife photos are not really my focus (no pun intended.) Case in point, Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. A good stock photo is one that sells. Not everyone is looking for fine art, some are looking for descriptive photographs of popular landmarks.

Garden of the Gods is a city park located near Pikes Peak and is a really big tourist spot. I’ve been going there for many years, and even photographed a wedding there once many years ago. It’s a beautiful place with very interesting rock formations and beautiful views of the Rocky Mountains. My stock photo catalog of images from Garden of the Gods for years has been limited to a handful of photographs, and those photographs sell frequently. The problem has always been that I didn’t have a lot of shots from there.

Earlier this week I decided to address the lack of coverage issue and wanted to add to the selection of images on the stock agencies, so my buddy Jim Esten and I made the drive down in afternoon construction traffic and worked the park for several hours.

The end result is that I added another dozen or so images to the catalog and I fully expect some of them to make a few bucks. Travel websites and other online publications are always looking for specific images of a location, so now they have more to choose from in my catalog. I’ll probably return to Colorado Springs this Winter to get some added photos with snow on the ground.

The idea, find the holes in my catalog and fill them. If filling those holes earns me more than it cost me to get new photographs, it’s a win. By my estimates, I spent about $20 on gas. The dozen new photos will probably earn me more than that within a year.

Covid-19 Hunker-down Log – Stardate 44100.39

North fork of the S. Platte river runs through Buck Gulch, Colorado.

Combating Boredom

The big deal this week was having to watch the progression of the Cameron Peak Wildfire as it moved ever closer to Red Feather Lakes. This morning’s fire map shows the fire about 2 miles away from the village and burning in a north-easterly direction. Kinda straight at the village. We evacuated a couple of weeks ago, along with our neighbors who are now staying with us here in the Denver area. While personally safe, we are fairly stressed out about the what will be there when this is over. All we can do is pray.

Trudy and I did a day trip to Buena Vista, Colorado to get a good look at the Autumn foliage in the mountains. The trees are looking quite sick in the mountains and smoke from the wildfires is so pervasive as to make it even more ugly, so I’ve decided to skip making a trip for foliage photography this year. Just too much ugly and too many logistic problems with the pandemic in full swing to deal with trying to get Autumn foliage photographs. I’ll poke around the foothills near Denver as color develops, perhaps I’ll find something interesting. I’m considering a lost year for that business.

Happy Thought Inventory

Everyone is safe and healthy. For now, that’s about as good as it’s going to be.

It is “Scenic Saturday” so here’s a photo from Buck Gulch, Colorado.

Slacker Status

Slacker is as slacker does. The Covid-19 case rate is still going up in Colorado. Why? Because there are too many slackers out there.

No first responder activity to report.

Still alive and well here in Denver.

The Lost Year

Kebler Pass. Golden Leaves of Aspen Trees in the Beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

My Autumn photography endeavors for 2020 are looking poor. I did a full day scouting run on Sept 24th to gauge the feasibility of a photography trip and to be quite honest, I wasn’t encouraged by the suitability of landscape scenes I was finding this year.

The basic problems are multiple here in Colorado.

First, we’ve been experiencing a severe drought this summer. Warmer than usual temperatures across the state coupled with virtually no rainfall have resulted in much of the mountain foliage (aspen, scrub oak, cottonwood) in a seriously distressed condition.

Second, we had a major snow storm and freeze in early September across much of the state and that too has hastened the normal autumn transition time and destroyed the quality of foliage this year. What I’ve seen in most areas are spotty patches of color with most of the major stands of colorful trees having leaves that have turned brown quickly and prematurely. Most of the remaining trees are seriously stressed and appear to be muted in color and in some areas the trees are already having their leaves stripped by wind. It’s just not a very pretty Autumn here this year.

The third problem, and probably the most devastating issue regarding photography is the prevalence of smoke in the atmosphere from the numerous wildfires in the western part of the country. I made a loop drive from Denver to Buena Vista to observe the Collegiate Peaks and the smoke haze was so bad as to obscure peaks in every direction to the point that it was simply ugly to look at and hard to be in from a respiratory aspect.

Adding to the problem is the fact the the weather continues to be hot and dry, with no forecast for any type of change in weather patterns for the next 10 days, which is when the normal color peaking will be occurring.

Another issue of course is the COVID-19 pandemic. Traveling and sustaining myself on the road for several days presents a unique problem during the pandemic, so the bottom line, what I’m seeing in the mountains isn’t worth going after this year. Yeah, there may be a few areas here and there where shots can be found, but committing to several days in a specific area is just not practical this year so I’ve decided to skip this years Autumn Photography trip. I’m majorly bummed out about this, but none of it is going to change with my wishful thinking.

I would also add, that the past several years have been a slow decline in the conditions of trees during the autumn change here in Colorado. Politicians can posture and pontificate all they like, but the effects of global warming are quite evident in the Colorado high country, with weather patterns that one would normally expect to see over a period of time being replaced by extreme patterns that are no longer the exception but rather the rule.

2020 has indeed turned into the “Lost Year” and I personally will be glad to see better times, if and when they happen.

Travel Thursday

Snow storm and pine trees in Colorado
Autumn snow near Telluride, Colorado in 2011

Most likely, I’ve explored the San Juan Mountains of Colorado more than any other part of the state.

Today’s photo was taken during a two week long trip to the San Juan Mountains in October of 2011. I was traveling with friend Andy Long and we were stuck on the highway south of Telluride during a blizzard after a tractor-trailer truck flipped over on the highway. We pulled the car over and explored the woods near the road as the snow was blanketing the mountains. We found this pond and spent about 30-40 minutes composing images.

We would have never found this scene if it wasn’t for the traffic jam, which goes to show you that great scenes are sometimes just a few yards away from you, all you have to do is look for them.

Autumn Photography in Colorado – 2020

Photograph of the Collegiate Mountain Range in Colorado
The Collegiate Mountain Range of Colorado.

As is normal this time each year, I begin planning for a photography trip for Autumn color.

With the pandemic in full tilt boogie, I’ll be working solo.  This year I figured I’d work a little closer to home and travel to Buena Vista, Colorado to explore the Collegiate Mountain Range. The Collegiate range is ripe with mountain peaks over 14,000 feet and there are many lakes, rivers and streams, providing a plethora of scenic compositions. The most important thing though, is the color in the Aspen trees.

Predicting peak fall foliage is a hit and miss proposition some years. I typically plan my Colorado Autumn photo trips for the last week of September and the first week of October. What throws a wrench into the picture is the unpredictable nature of Colorado weather. Adding to the normal unpredictability of weather conditions in Autumn are the effects of global climate change. I’m no weather scientist, but I can say with absolute certainty that the past 3 years have been out of the norm. Autumn 2020 is shaping up to be out of the norm as well. Perhaps, the new normal is that nothing will be normal.

After a near record breaking Summer of hot dry days and drought, Colorado was slammed with an Arctic cold wave on September 8th, which dumped large amounts of snow in the high country and on the Northern front range. The temperatures dropped from the upper 90’s to the lower 20’s in less than 24 hours. This type of dramatic change in weather plays havoc with the trees and foliage in the mountains.

With this drastic weather landing on much of the state, the prediction is for the trees to quickly change color and drop their leaves. In my experience, a hard freeze and temperature drop before peak color usually destroys the vibrancy of the normal color change. Right now, it’s a big unknown. It’s possible that I’ll have to change my plans as the color shift begins over the next couple of weeks. The Collegiate Range was hit especially hard during by the Winter blast, so I’ll be keeping a close eye on the effects and results and I’m very concerned that I’ll simply abandon my Autumn photography for this year. It’s not worth risking being infected by being forced to eat in restaurants for several days and then have lousy scenery to enjoy.

2020, the lost year. I’m already dreaming of the future.