Colorado Fall Color

Jason and I arrived in Southwest Colorado hoping to find that there had been an early snowfall on the mountains like last year, but it was not to be. So, we made the decision to focus on scenes that were not so dependent on mountains.

With the clear morning skies, the first subject on the list was the rather well known group of curved aspen trees near Ophir, Colorado where the rising sun would provide some nice back lighting on the aspen trees along with a beautiful sun star.

Colorado, Ophir, fall, color, aspen, curved
Curves : Prints Available

Just south of Telluride is Cushman Lake, one of the prettiest fall color settings in Southwest Colorado. It had been windy for days, which causes ripples on the water and prevents the lake from having good reflections of the trees. We finally got a good forecast of calm winds so we got there before sunrise and were well rewarded.

Colorado, Telluride, Cushman, Lake, Fall, Color, Reflection
Morning Reflection : Prints Available

Colorado, Telluride, Cushman Lake, Fall, Color, Aspen, Tree,
Above The Lake : Prints Available

Colorado, Telluride, Cushman, Lake, Fall, Color, Reflection
Morning Calm : Prints Available

The remnants of Hurricane Rosa that had come ashore in Mexico were on their way to Colorado. The viewpoint of Mount Wilson near Telluride was the perfect place to capture the incoming weather. The morning sun was still shining on the mountain and the aspens in front of it when storm clouds began building behind the mountain. I could not have asked for more.

Colorado, fall, mountain, Mount Wilson, Storm, Clouds
Southwest Storm : Prints Available

We continued searching the back roads around Telluride for good fall color scenes and came across a stand of aspens where an old road appeared to go through them. It was raining, which did a nice job saturating the color of the leaves, but had me heading back to my dry car without spending time to see where the old road went. Maybe next time. Down yet another back road was a stunning setting showing off the contrast between the pines and the aspens.

Colorado, Telluride, Fall, Color, Road, Aspen
The Old Road : Prints Available

Colorado, fall, Telluride, trees, aspen, color
Constrast Of Colors : Prints Available

Not too far northeast of Ridgway, Colorado this unusual ridge with Courthouse Rock makes for a wonderful fall color scene. At sunset, it sits high above to the east allowing the setting sun to light it up beautifully. On this day, the sun was not blocked by any clouds as it made its way to the horizon behind us, providing us with a warm glow on Courthouse Rock.

Colorado, Ridgway, Sunset, Courthouse, Rock, Fall, Color
The Courthouse : Prints Available

We headed to Crested Butte in search of some new scenes. The leaves had begun to fall off most of the aspen trees, but we headed out early on the winding dirt road west of town where some very nice fall color scenes can be found. On the way back to town, we came around a curve and there it was, this wonderful grouping of pines and aspens that we couldn’t see when previously heading the other direction. Everything about it was perfect, with the pines surrounded by the aspens on the left and the grouping of the white aspen trees on the right.

Colorado, Fall, Color, Crested Butte, Ridgway, Telluride, Aspen, Tree
Fall Contrast : Prints Available

It was on to Aspen to see what was happening with the fall color there. The iconic image at Maroon Lake was not possible due to extremely low water levels and still no snow on the mountains. So, we headed up Fryingpan River and were able to capture a nice scene of the Cottonwood trees overhanging the river. Just like Aspens, they turn yellow in the fall, as well.

Colorado, River, fall, Cottonwood, Aspen
Cottonwood Colors : Prints Available

Finally, during the last two days of our time in Colorado, it began to rain, with snow at the higher elevations. The best place to capture snow on the mountains was going to be at McClure Pass, west of Aspen. On our last day, we got there before sunrise planning to photograph from the river at the bottom of the valley, but found the entire valley to be covered with low clouds and fog. I thought our day was done, but then decided to drive to the top of the pass to see if we could get above the clouds. It worked, and we were rewarded with two incredible images.

Colorado, McClure, Pass, Mountain, Fog, Fall, Color
Morning Light : Prints Available

Colorado, Mountain, McClure Pass, Fall, Color, Sunrise
Above It All : Prints Available

Next up will be a November trip to Death Valley and the red rock country of Utah during the peak of fall color there.

Thanks for looking and feel free to share. You can also follow the journey on Facebook for more current photographs that may not be on the blog. https://www.facebook.com/JosephFilerPhotography

Sedona and the Grand Canyon

August is definitely the time to be in the Southwest with the high likelihood of great clouds and storms. The goal was to capture some great images and I was thrilled with my success.

After flying in to Phoenix, the plan was to spend one night in Sedona and capture one sunset and one sunrise image. For sunset, I headed south to Oak Creek to get a different view of the iconic Cathedral Rocks. At the end of a road that seemed to be going nowhere, I came across this scene with the old wooden fence with Cathedral Rocks in the background. It may have been photographed before, but I had not seen it and decided this was where I would plant myself and wait for the soft, warm light of the setting sun behind me. The billowing cloud behind the Rocks made it all come together.

Arizona, Sedona, Cathedral, Rock, Red, Rock, Country, Sunset, Fence
Sedona Sunset : Prints Available

For sunrise, I took a chance. Cathedral Rocks have been photographed from the Slickrock Trail many times at the end of the day, but based on where the sun was going to rise to the left of them, I thought sunrise might work pretty well. I hiked out pre-dawn, was the only one there and got the camera down low in position for the reflection in the water that was in the depression in the rock. Many images were taken, but this was the one that had the best clouds and sky. I hiked back to the car knowing it was going to be good.

Arizona, Sedona, Slickrock, Secret, Sunrise, Cathedral, Rocks
Secret Sunrise : Prints Available

From Sedona, it was on to the Grand Canyon. The forecast did not look good for storms, but I know that can always change. I spent the first couple of days going to every overlook and learning how they would work at different times of the day. I wanted to be able to make the right decision as to where to go for sunrise or sunset based on the clouds and what I could see on the radar images. The storms finally came and I somehow managed to be in the right place and not be struck by lightning.

The Grand Canyon is one of the most difficult places I have ever had the pleasure to photograph. This trip allowed me to learn a great deal about it. I’m already thinking about going back next August.

Arizona, Grand Canyon, Sunset, Lipan, Point
Lipan Lights : Prints Available
Arizona, Grand Canyon, Sunrise
Canyon Contrast : Prints Available
Arizona, Grand Canyon, Sunrise, Panoramic
Ultimate Sunrise : Prints Available
Arizona, Grand Canyon, Sunset, Yavapai
Yavapai Sunset : Prints Available
Arizona, Grand Canyon, Yavapai, Rain, Storm
Yavapai Rain : Prints Available
Arizona, Grand Canyon, Sunset, Grandview, Point
Grandview Sunset : Prints Available
Arizona, Grand Canyon, Sunrise
Illumination : Prints Available
Arizona, Grand Canyon, Sunrise, Moran, Point
Moran Morning : Prints Available
Arizona, Grand Canyon, Storm,
Underwater Canyon : Prints Available
Arizona, Grand Canyon, Lightning
Canyon Strike : Prints Available

Next up will be Southwest Colorado for fall color scenes. It is an area that I truly love going to and have learned so much about. I’m crossing my fingers for healthy fall color and some snow on the mountains!

Thanks for looking and feel free to share. You can also follow the journey on Facebook for more current photographs that may not be on the blog. https://www.facebook.com/JosephFilerPhotography

Oregon Again!

After a couple of years of talking about it, my sister was finally able to accompany me on one of my photo expeditions. We had a fantastic time together and the search for images almost became unimportant.

We started this expedition in northern Oregon around the Columbia River Gorge. We were disappointed that the trails and waterfalls around the Gorge were still closed off due to the Eagle River fires of 2017. We did make one afternoon trip down to Trillium Lake for sunset before moving up our schedule to head to central Oregon.

The calm conditions at Trillium Lake were just what we had hoped for, but we didn’t figure in all the people that would be at the lake on a Saturday afternoon enjoying various summer activities. The kayaks and paddleboarders didn’t do the reflection any favors, but I do feel this image conveys the enjoyment of being out there with others to enjoy a great sunset.

Oregon, Trillium, Lake, Sunset
Summer Sunset : Prints Available

We moved on to central Oregon, basing in the town of Sisters, which is a wonderful little town northwest of Bend and close to the rivers and waterfalls we were targeting. There is a section of the McKenzie River, that for some reason, has a bright and deep blue color to it. You would think from looking at the images that it couldn’t really be that colorful and that I increased the color. The river really does have that much color!

Sahalie Falls is a large and powerful waterfall that you start out quite close to. To get the scene right, the trick is to get back from the falls to include the river. It’s a slippery, muddy climb down the embankment and you risk falling in the river, but the result is worth it!

Oregon, McKenzie River, Sahalie, Falls
Sahalie Falls : Prints Available

Just up the trail from Sahaile Falls is a wonderful log footbridge that goes over the river. I simply cannot pass up bridges like this. It was not possible to find a place along the river to photograph it from there, so I decided on an image of the bridge itself. As it turns out, this may have been good fortune, as I really like the image.

Oregon, McKenzie, River, bridge, wood
Summer Crossing : Prints Available

Our next target on the river was Koosah Falls. Photographing these falls was the biggest challenge of the trip. It was an extremely steep, muddy and root filled scramble down a steep 50 foot embankment to get in position. I wasn’t sure if I should do it, but I really wanted to capture this image. I was absolutely thrilled with the result and equally happy to make it back up the embankment to the trail.

Oregon, River, McKenzie, Waterfall
Koosah Blue : Prints Available

We searched for every possible location to access the McKenzie River and there was only one more that we found, at the end of the river before it poured into a reservoir. There wasn’t really a marked trail, but I could see that if I crawled under and over some downed trees, I could get to a small area with a great view up the river. I can’t begin to say how thrilled I was to find this spot. I have never seen it photographed from here before. The colors were vivid and the view spectacular.

Oregon, McKenzie, River, Blue
Blue Rush : Prints Available

Next up will be the Grand Canyon in mid-August during the monsoon storm season. I am hoping to capture some lightning images over the canyon along with some great sunrises and sunsets. This is another one that has been on my list for a while.

Thanks for looking and feel free to share. You can also follow the journey on Facebook for more current photographs that may not be on the blog. https://www.facebook.com/JosephFilerPhotography

Oregon Coast and California Redwoods

Our main target of this expedition was the northern California redwoods. We were hoping to capture some of the Rhododendrons in bloom among the redwoods, but they were apparently on a different schedule than usual this year. This just meant that we had to search a little harder for some quality images.

On the way south, we stopped for a couple of nights in Bandon, Oregon. The beach there has these wonderful sea stacks that make for great subject in the sunset. I had been there on a previous trip, but did not have any luck. We struck out again with heavy clouds on the first night, but it came together on the second night. We could see the small hole in the clouds as the sun was setting and were hoping it would give us a nice sunburst and light up the scene. It did, if only for a few seconds, but that was enough.

Oregon, Bandon, Beach, Sunset, Pacific, Coast
Sunset At The Stacks : Prints Available

We headed south to Brookings, Oregon for a couple of days there hoping to get something good on the coast at Samuel Boardman State Pak, where there are these wonderful, large sea stacks with trees growing out of them. It was Fog City all day so we headed inland to some trails and captured two very nice images

Oregon, forest, trail, footbridge, Brookoings
Footbridge : Prints Available
Oregon, Brookings, forest, trees, woods
Full Of Life : Prints Available

Next, it was on to California and the redwoods. Here, the fog was what we were looking for and there was plenty of it. Just outside Redwood National Park, there is an area known as the Bald Hills, where the Lupine bloom. I couldn’t resist but to capture an image one morning here.

California, Redwoods, Fog, Del Norte
Into The Fog : Prints Available
California, Redwood National Park, redwoods, fog, trees
Morning Warmth : Prints Available
California, Del Norte, redwoods, fog
Standing Proud : Prints Available
California, Redwood National Park, Bald Hills, Lupines, Spring, Summer
Springtime : Prints Available

I return to Oregon in July and will be accompanied on this trip by my sister, who has always wanted to hang out with me on one of my trips. I look forward to it for many reasons. We’ll be working more of the inland areas and are sure to come away with some good images.

Thanks for looking and feel free to share. You can also follow the journey on Facebook for more current photographs that may not be on the blog. https://www.facebook.com/JosephFilerPhotography

Arizona & Utah at Night

When the skies are clear and you can’t get the sunrise and sunset images you want, there is the option of going out and doing some night photography. The Milky Way core is above the horizon from late March through October, so it isn’t a year round opportunity.

It has to be truly dark, which is from 2 hours after sunset to 2 hours before sunrise. For general safety reasons, you probably don’t want to be doing this alone. In this case, I was with another photographer, but it was still creepy at times.

Monument Valley in Utah is famous for its large rock formations known as The Mittens. We thought this would be a nice place to begin our night efforts. Night photography is totally different from the daytime. All the camera settings and concepts are changed. So, you get a nap from 10pm to 1am, get up and shoot until 4am and then back to bed. We joked that it was like we were going back to the kindergarten school of photography.

The first night was a learning experience, to say the least. We learned quickly though, and the second night’s efforts resulted in a nice shot of the Milky Way over Monument Valley.

Utah, Monument Valley, Milky Way
Monumental : Prints Available

About 20 miles south of Monument Valley, just into Arizona, is this incredible rock mountain known as Agathla Peak. The light from the nearby town of Kayenta lit up edges of the peak providing some great highlights. This location is really in the middle of nowhere, so the creepy factor at 2am was pretty high. Again, it was our second attempt there, but I am super pleased with the result.

Arizona, Utah, Milky Way, Agathla Peak
Kayenta Lights : Prints Available

While at Monument Valley, we took a morning to drive up to an old Indian ruin known as House On Fire. The unusual way the colors streak in the rocks over the ruins has the look of flames, which resulted in the name. I had been wanting to shoot this scene for years and I was finally able to check it off the list!

Flames : Prints Available

We left Monument Valley and headed to Zion National Park for our last couple of days of this expedition. The good news is that there were a few other people out there in the middle of the night, so it wasn’t quite as creepy. Plus, being in a National Park just felt better. The iconic mountain, known as The Watchman, is just slightly illuminated by the light of Springdale. With the long exposure needed for the sky, the mountain appears to light up quite well. There is more to do in this location, so a return trip there could be called for.

Utah, Milky Way, Zion National Park, The Watchman
Night Watchman : Prints Available

During our first morning in Zion, there were some storm clouds that we waited 2 hours for to clear enough to show the peaks. It truly lasted about 30 seconds and they were gone again. The contrast of the bright green spring colors of the Cottonwood trees against the red rock was marvelous.

Utah, Zion National Park, Mountains
Breakthrough : Prints Available

I’ll be heading to the southern Oregon coast and the northern California redwoods next week. The hope is for the rhododendrons to be in bloom and for the fog to roll in among the redwoods. If all goes right, some really nice images are possible.

Thanks for looking and feel free to share. You can also follow the journey on Facebook for more current photographs that may not be on the blog. https://www.facebook.com/JosephFilerPhotography