How the Art Happens - Elk Avenue Snow

December 02, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Elk Avenue SnowElk Avenue SnowRecord snow hangs off the colorful shops that line Elk Avenue, the main street through Crested Butte, Colorado. Elk Avenue Snow

The winter of 2007-2008 brought record amounts of snow to the mountains of Colorado. In December, usually a pretty dry month, we had over 100" of snow in a 10 day period. It was beautiful. It put huge smiles on the skier's faces. It put some smiles on the photographer's faces as well.

Back then the town of Crested Butte left the piles of snow as a buffer between street and sidewalk traffic. Each business would have to shovel a hole in front of their shop so shoppers parked along the street could get to the sidewalk and their stores. Although the weight of this much snow can threaten the building below, it accumulated much more quickly than anyone could shovel it off. It did make for some great photos though.

One of the tricks to getting great snow photos is to get to the snow before anyone else does. It's much nicer without cars, tracks, and those shoveled paths to the street. Also, once the sun hits it, snow starts to fall from tree branches and signs. "Elk Avenue Snow" was captured just before sunrise on a completely empty street devoid of cars or people. Before sunrise the light is soft and there are few shadows, just about always my favorite lighting scenario. The color balance before sunrise is a little blue. I could correct for that and make the snow more neutral but I really preferred the cooler feel to the image. I like to use a longer, telephoto lens for photographs like this since it seems to compress more buildings into less space. I used an 80-200mm zoom lens at 135mm on my Fujifilm S5 Pro camera for this image. The exposure was 1 second at f16 making the tripod a necessity. A tripod is usually a necessary tool in my photography.

As we head into winter again, most of us up in the mountains are hoping to end 2020 with abundant snowfall. Our attitudes could really use a break this year! I hope you enjoy "Elk Avenue Snow".




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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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