How the Art Happens - Mount Crested Butte Winter Panorama

February 19, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Mount Crested Butte Winter Panorama

Mount Crested Butte Winter Aerial Panorama 2020Mount Crested Butte Winter Aerial Panorama 2020Aerial panorama of the town and ski area of Mount Crested Butte, Colorado on a perfect winter afternoon.

Sometime back in the early 1970's someone climbed to the top of Sunlight Ridge just west of Mount Crested Butte and made a series of photos, creating a panoramic view of the ski area and the town of Mount Crested Butte, Colorado. This may have happened before Mt. Crested Butte was even a town but there were only a handful of buildings in that original photo that is displayed in the Town Council Chambers at Town Hall.

The original photo had faded to the point that a viewer had to use a lot of imagination to realize what was supposed to be in the photo. I decided it was time to update and, hopefully, replace this faded, yellowing, vintage photograph. On the last day of the ski season in 2006, I repeated the climb and, using more advanced technology (a digital camera) replicated the vintage photograph. This new image was, and still is, quite colorful. The ski trails, base area buildings, and the homes of my little ski village were all quite visible and the print had no seams even though it was over 6 and a half feet long. Technology has made some wonderful improvements to the photo industry! I was hoping that the Town would replace the 1970's version with my new photo but the powers that be decided to display both to show the evolution of the town.

So, fourteen years have passed and my town is still evolving. There are buildings in the 2006 photo that no longer exist. There are several new buildings. There are lots of new homes. It was time for a photo update. The Town Clerk called to express her need for a new and updated photo, presumably to go with the other two.

My mountain climbing days are behind me so I turned to advances in technology to make this assignment easier and, in my opinion, even better. Utilizing my flying camera, I was able to get the elevation I needed without climbing. I was also able to gain a little better position so the sides of the hillside were behind me and not blocking the northern edge of the town. This new perspective shows more of the town and allows the roadways to create some interesting lines in the foreground.

I knew the photo had to be made in the afternoon so there would be direct light on the west side of the mountain. I knew it had to be a sunny day with fairly fresh snow. Last Friday I made a test flight a little after 3 in the afternoon. The light on the mountain was great. The sky was great. The snow was great. The sun had moved far enough west to create some deep shadows on the foreground which I decided did not enhance the image at all. I needed to fly earlier in the day or much later in the season to get the sun in the right place. There was snow in the forecast for the next day so I would just have to wait for a better forecast. As is frequently the case, the next day the forecast was wrong. It was sunny and warm. Perfect for flying. A little after noon I set out to re-shoot the panorama. This involves taking off and flying to a point where the composition will work once 8-10 separate photos stitched together create a cohesive panorama, hopefully with a nice composition. I ended up making 3 slightly different panoramas before getting the one above which, I feel, is the best of the lot. Ten overlapping photos from 100' up and about 80' horizontally was just right the spot. I could not have gotten to that spot without my flying camera! I hope the Town Clerk likes the new "Mount Crested Butte Winter Panorama".



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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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