How the Art Happens - The Gold Spot

October 16, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

The Gold Spot

The Gold SpotThe Gold SpotA spot of sunlight illuminates a stand of golden aspen trees near Crested Butte, Colorado.

Our fall color is over for this season. It was late in arriving and didn't seem to last very long this year. A few nights with single-digit temperatures and some wind has turned the brilliant colors of autumn to stick season in the high country of Colorado.

Several years ago, while returning to Crested Butte from Gunnison, I noticed this one stand of aspen trees. They were glowing with the yellow and orange leaves that are typical of the peak of fall colors around here. But the peak was long-past and the rest of the trees on the hillside behind this grove had lost most of their leaves and were turning dull. It was mostly cloudy that day with small patches of sunlight moving across the hills and valleys. I knew I wanted sunlight on my subject to kick-up the colors. I also wanted the rest of the scene to be in the shade of the clouds. I didn't want your eyes to wander anywhere else in the scene. I just wanted the shapes and subtle colors to support the subject of the single, bright, grove of aspens.

I set up my tripod and camera with my 300mm telephoto lens. I use this lens in landscape photography a lot. I love the way it compresses distance, flattens out the scene, and isolates a subject. Once I got set up, all I had to do was wait for the sun and clouds to cooperate. I might not get what I want but if I don't set up I never will get the shot.

I probably shot a half-dozen frames as I waited for the light but after about 45 minutes I got just what I was hoping for. A small patch of sunlight crossed the valley floor and illuminated my trees leaving everything else in shade. I only got one frame before the lighting changed. It seems a lot of landscape photography works that way.

Sometimes I see a scene, figure out what light or timing might make it something unique, set up the gear, and wait. Sometimes I get the shot. Lots of times I don't!  I guess it's a lot like fishing. You ought to see the ones that got away. "The Gold Spot" didn't get away.


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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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