How the Art Happens - Crested Butte Mountain Alpenglow

April 23, 2020  •  1 Comment

Crested Butte Mountain Alpenglow

Crested Butte Mountain AlpenglowCrested Butte Mountain AlpenglowThe last rays of sunlight, called alpenglow, illuminate Crested Butte Mountain of the last day of winter.

Sometimes my photos are just waiting by the side of the road, right around a turn. Other times they are conjured in my head and take some time to develop. Still, others get stuck in my head and never find the camera. The photo above was conjured or conceived long before it could be executed.

I have always been fond of looking down on a town and I enjoy the symmetry of the grid of streets and houses. My flying camera makes this possible in a much better way than a plane or helicopter could. Plus, I have nearly complete control over my composition and altitude. The challenge with this image was the sky. Clouds usually dissipate just before sunset up here. A blank blue sky is not a very interesting feature especially if it's going to occupy so much of the image. I actually flew this shot 3 times before it came together. The two earlier attempts were dashed when the sun went behind a bank of clouds to the west long before sunset. It just got dark. No alpenglow!

As they say, "third time's the charm". I was lucky to get this one done since daytime temperatures had been creeping into the upper 40s and the snow was melting fast. Big brown spots were starting to appear. In my perfect world, the photo would have been made just after a snowstorm but my world is far from perfect. I am pretty happy with the result but will probably try to get that post-snowstorm shot if the weather cooperates someday. I think I want a summer version of this as well.

Besides getting the sky to cooperate, there was another challenge. Flying cameras are only oriented horizontally. They cannot be turned on their side for a vertical photo. The image above is actually a composite of 5 overlapping frames that were stitched together at home. The only other option to achieve a vertical frame would be to back off and crop the horizontal frame into a smaller vertical photo. That approach makes the file size too small be useful for printing so the vertical "panorama" approach was used instead.

My only disappointment with the photo is that it was made about a week into our "stay at home" order and the main street has no cars on it. You have to look closely but the empty street does not convey the joyful sunset shot I was hoping for. I hope you like "Crested Butte Mountain Alpenglow" even without the cars.


Debbie OHagan
I kind of like empty streets but I know they're not healthy streets. But it does look peaceful and that makes me happy
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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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