Photographing Transitional Seasons

November 11, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Late fall in the Rocky MountainsDUS7156

by Dusty Demerson, photographer

I love photographing fall colors. It’s my favorite time of year. The vibrancy of yellow aspen leaves against a “robins-egg-blue” Colorado sky is tough to beat. Majestic snow-covered mountain peaks add a sense of drama to subjects that are already pretty awesome. The colors of fall added to my reduced workload from portraits and weddings team up to make me a very happy photographer.

When it starts getting colder and the windy storms start blowing through the high country, the beautiful colors can quickly fall and fade to a variety of browns and tans. The contrast changes from vibrant to subtle almost over night. The catharsis of this situation is enough to make a photographer put the camera away until snow covers the once-colorful earth. While I believe it’s more difficult to create strong compositions with a monochrome landscape dotted with snow, it’s not impossible. When the scenery reminds me of a Bev Doolittle painting I love trying to replicate her hidden subjects in the landscape.

I don’t think that happens with the photograph above but it was a warm late-autumn day and the clouds were providing an amazing dance in the sky. I couldn’t just sit by and watch. Trying to find a good foreground was a challenge. This frozen beaver pond and dam wasn’t too bad. I like how the swirls in the ice seem to mirror the shapes of the clouds. And those clouds! They were changing pretty quickly but I got lucky and caught this scene with a subtle line leading into the image toward the towering peaks of Paradise Divide. The direction of the stream helps support the line of the clouds pulling the viewer’s eye into the center of the photograph.

Our eyes are naturally drawn to the brightest portion of a scene or areas of highest contrast. I want that area to be well-inside the frame, not anywhere near the edge of the photograph. Having bright areas near the edge of the image can create confusion to the viewer and allow their view to exit the photograph too quickly. The brightest area of this image is the snow-covered mountains in the middle of the frame. They are smaller and less-dominant than I would prefer but changing to a longer lens would have destroyed the perspective of the frozen pond. Life is full of compromises. The clouds were also pretty bright and their location and shapes tended to pull the view away from the peaks. Some subtle vignette allowed me to darken the edges and corners of the photograph to retain the viewer’s attention toward the snow-covered peaks. My camera is inadequate when it comes to capturing my perception of the warmer values of a scene. I frequently need to lighten and increase saturation of the reds, oranges and yellows to recreate my perception of the colors of photograph. I also removed the vapor trails from two jets and a couple of houses and driveways on the hillside to the right. That’s about it for this image. I hope you like it.

You can always see more of my images at If you visit, be sure to check out my “Print of the Month” gallery were I present new images every month at discounted prices.

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Crested Butte, Colorado photographer, Dusty Demerson creates fine art photography displayed as prints and canvases and provides private photo tours in and around western Colorado.

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