How the Art Happens - Red Lady Glow

January 15, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Red Lady Glow

Red Lady GlowRed Lady GlowBright golden aspen trees line the valley below Mount Emmons, also known as The Red Lady, near Crested Butte, Colorado.

Autumn is beautiful up here in the mountains of western Colorado. The aspen groves around Crested Butte are particularly inviting and attract visitors from all over the world. The season for capturing the colors of fall can be pretty short, depending on the wind and the weather. That means that once the leaves begin to change, photographers need to get out there and get after it, capturing the golden beauty before it vanishes into stick season.

Mount Emmons, known locally as "The Red Lady" lies just west of Crested Butte, Colorado and, as such, dominates the landscape when you look that direction. There are several local stories about how it got its nickname. One popular idea is that it reflected the lights of the red-light district of town during the rough and rowdy mining days at the turn of the century. While that's a fun story, they would have had to be very bright lights and light doesn't reflect well off mountains. So, I believe it got its name from the red glow of sunrise light it displays most mornings. Every artist in the area has pictured this phenomenon through every medium you can imagine. I have several versions I show too.

This past autumn I was running around the valley chasing our fall foliage when I happened upon this sash of yellow aspen trees at the base of the slope south of town. The lighting from the side really kicked up the glow and the color but I needed more to make an interesting scene. It only took a small amount of trespassing to find a location that offered Mount Emmons as a backdrop to my sash of gold. The light and the angle has created a third theory about the nickname "The Red Lady". Apparently, there is some type of plant or ground-cover, high on the rocky slopes of Mount Emmons, that turns red in the fall. Who knew?

I like the additional color to my scene. It helps add some depth and texture to the bowl of "The Red Lady" and it adds a little color contrast to the golden sash in the valley below. It's a scene I call "Red Lady Glow".


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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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