My dad, brothers, and I took a long weekend trip into the Rocky Mtn. National Park last week. We entered through Estes Park, which brought back memories of performing as a band for the GMA Music in the Rockies festival a few years back. That was probably one of the most exciting times in my life when all of us (Justin, Jason, Matt, and I) had no idea what the future had in store. Heading back there, I didn’t know what kind of feelings I’d have with those memories being stirred up inside me. With my life a little more structured I wasn’t sure if it would be a totally positive experience.
Toward the end of the trip we came into contact with three guys who were our rafting guides down the Arkansas River. One of them was the complete definition of a vagabond. This guy sleeps in the bed of his truck most nights under the stars in Colorado. He’s making his way out in the next few months (doesn’t know exactly when) and heading towards San Francisco. I say “heading towards” because he doesn’t know when he’ll get there. He has no specific time frame. Just taking his time, stopping by places that he’s never been like Yosemite National Park, Redwood Forest, etc. and will eventually end up in San Francisco. Doesn’t have a job lined out or anything. Just says he will find a job waiting tables and after he’s done there, he’ll eventually make his way back to Colorado.
I’m not gonna lie I was a little envious of him. More so the idea of being in that sort of circumstance again and being ok with not having things planned out. For those of you who know me, you know I get really passionate about the things I involve myself with, whether it’s relationships, music, politics, photography, etc. My dream job would involve doing landscape photography. Although those guys get to spend weeks at specific locations waiting for perfect conditions, I’ve got to make due with the conditions around me in a short period of time. Maybe someday I will have the that luxury though. I have no particular plan on how to make it happen, nor do I have any certainty that it ever will happen, but I do have a camera and a learning mind and I love putting these things to good use, striving to become more knowledgeable and more creative.
With all that being said, I hope you enjoy these pictures. I really enjoyed my time in Estes Park, R.M.N.P., and greater Colorado and It’s lessons to live my life with a good balance of uncertainty and wisdom. Being with this vagabond helped bring out the younger version of myself and the knowledge that I need to embrace unpredictability in my life, but also with a sort of balance that experience brings. Finding the healthy tension between these will be a life long goal of mine, I’m sure of it.
4 sec. exposure
For any who may have seen the earlier version of this next picture on fb/twitter, that was the picture straight out of camera. Here is the final edited version:
Sunrise at Sprague Lake
BW + Landscape version of the 1st waterfall:
6 sec. exposure
This next picture was taken right as night was falling and a storm was approaching. You can’t see it but there was a herd of Elk swimming in the lake and drinking the water. It was unbelievable. One of the most peaceful moments I’ve experienced in quite some time:
Storm at Sprague Lake 60 sec. exposure
This next shot took 3 stacked filters for about 10 f stops of light loss to pull off. With that much light loss, it’s basically night time to the camera’s lens, which allows you to do a longer exposure during the daytime. It also saturates colors like crazy, as the sunlight moves across the picture. I actually had to reduce some of the color in this image to make it look real. The movement in the clouds and grass caused some motion blur, which I tend to like, and of course, the reason for the long exposure was to get the smooth running water:
15 sec. exposure stacked with all kinds of filters 😉
It took me over an hour to get the next shot. One of my favorite landscape photographers is David Muench. He has a strategy when photographing mountains to wait until the sun is only hitting the top 3rd of the peak. It makes for some really cool soft lighting on the mountain. People were all over the place, but fortunately they left just about the time the lighting was getting good. I wish I could have gotten stiller water for a clearer reflection, but I’ll take what I can get. The rocks and logs in the foreground were visible because of the polarizer I used, which cuts through the water’s reflection. Polarizers are awesome! They are very useful in situations like these for landscapes. This was definitely my favorite shot of the trip:
Sunset/Moonrise Over Bear Lake
My poor attempt at an Ansel Adams esq. BW landscape. I liked how the shadows mimicked the tree line on the upper left side of the mountain:
Moonrise Over Bear Lake
This next one at Emerald reminded me of Lord of the Rings for some odd reason. I think it was the jagged peaks in the background. Fortunately, the all seeing eye was nowhere to be found. P.S. if you ever get the chance to hike to this lake, do it! It’s amazing:
Stacked with filters again:
I believe this was a 10 sec. exposure
Conner eventually got in trouble for this, but who could resist. The little guy was hungry!
Up before dawn to hike and catch the sunrise over the Park:
One more sunrise at Sprague Lake
BW Portrait of Emerald Lake:
I liked the shadows, shapes, and colors of this next one. More of an abstract idea:
25 sec. exposure
Another abstract idea:
created by a 1/8 sec. exposure with vertical tilt of camera
That’s it for Rocky Mountain National Park. I hope I get to visit Colorado again soon. My life is better every time I do.