Whetstone Mists, or How Less is More
June 06, 2013 • Leave a Comment
Most of us up here in the Colorado high country are about ready for the snow to stop. It was a great winter. Lots of mountain towns received and enjoyed record snowfalls. Here in Crested Butte we didn’t get very close to a record year but it was better than average. A lot better. And now, six weeks after the ski lifts quit running, we’re ready for “spring”. You know spring! T-shirts, flip-flops, beers on the deck, cookouts, bike rides, hikes and that sort of thing. It’s going to snow here all week!
Spring snow is a love/hate sort of thing. It keeps us from doing the stuff we want to do outside in the footwear we’ve been missing since September. It means we have five different types of coats hanging on the hooks by the door. It means we finally have to sit down and write the blog to keep from going crazy. But when we get enough snow to cover the brown snow, bare brown dirt (mud), reconstituted dog poo, bare tree branches and mountain tops it really can be quite lovely. Trust me, it’s way better when this happens in April than it is in the middle of May, but what are you going to do?
A few years ago (in April) we got one of these spring snow events. It amounted to about six inches overnight with clearing skies the next morning. Since lots of snow had already melted (that year) we could drive some of the rural roads that had remained un-ploughed for the past eight months. So I ventured out to see what there was to see.
One of my favorite places in Gunnison County, Colorado is an area we call Brush Creek. That’s not a really good description but let’s just say it’s easy to get to and not far from home. That’s important because if you spend a bunch of time and gas going somewhere that you hope will be nice, and it isn’t, you’re really bummed out for the rest of the day. So I head over to Brush Creek. The road just past the Cold Spring Ranch offers about the best view back to Whetstone Mountain that there is. An added bonus is the old ranch house and the barns and other outbuildings supporting the active cattle ranch. Cover everything with a half-foot of snow and you have a pretty nice scene. Add some low-hanging clouds and it’s becoming spectacular. Lots of depth, texture and atmosphere is making a really beautiful sight. I make some pictures.
A while later I’m editing images and I run across these spring snow photos. They’re just not quite right but I can’t quite get what’s wrong. A few months later we cross paths again…same thing. The excitement of the scene just isn’t in the photos. (This happens a lot) About a year later I was “messing” with a technique to convert color images to black and white. It’s a process that sounds pretty simple but like most things done well, it’s not as simple as it looks. So, I was looking for an image to play with and I ran across the Whetstone shot and decided to give it a try with this “new” conversion technique. WOW! Until I eliminated the color in the image I had no idea what it’s “problem” was. Then it was really obvious. In the original color image the sky was bright blue but everything else was essentially black and white. The blue sky (as much as I’d like to see one today) was really obnoxious and distracting. Sometimes less is more. This was one of those times.
I hope you like “Whetstone Mists”. It’s one of my favorite photographs of a typical but vanishing part of the beauty of the west. It is available in a variety of sizes but would look great over your fireplace (large).
Keywords: Art, Photography, atmosphere, black and white, color, Colorado, Crested Butte, Landscape, spring, The art of photography, weather
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