How the Art Happens - Aspenshine

September 09, 2020  •  Leave a Comment


Golden aspen trees on a Colorado mountainside.AspenshineA Colorado hillside covered with bright yellow aspen trees receives a splash of diffused sunlight during an autumn storm.

I am fortunate to live in an area favored by many of the world's best artists for capturing fall foliage. I get to spend more time than most wandering the back roads of western Colorado in search of the perfect photograph. I did not have to wander very far to find "Aspenshine".

While this is not a new photograph, I've been sitting on it for quite a while. I like my subjects to be tack-sharp and the original capture of this photograph was just not up to standards. I have learned, the hard way, over the years that technology might be able to save some of my mistakes if I hang on to them long enough. That bit of wisdom holds true for this image. New software offerings are now using artificial intelligence to legitimately sharpen once-soft photographs. But that's not the complete reason I saved this photograph.

I really love the light. It was a rainy, overcast day with little hope for full sun. But, there were brighter and darker patches of cloud cover delivering soft shadows and highlights moving across the valley and hillsides near Gothic, Colorado. Since I usually add some vignetting to the corners of many of my images, the darker top area and lower right corner help the bright aspens really stand out and help keep my eye inside the edges of the photograph. I also really like the dynamic feel of motion created by the diagonal composition. The sky was ugly which is why I chose the panoramic format. It's perfect for eliminating distracting skies and foregrounds that I would have to accept in a traditional 2:3 ratio most cameras deliver. When I create these panoramas, I usually capture the scene with the camera in a vertical orientation and combine multiple images while panning the camera from left to right. I overlap each image by 50% so when I stitch them together the software has plenty of information to work with. Keeping the camera absolutely level while panning is the most challenging part of creating these panoramas. But there are great tools for that.

I use an L-shaped device made by Really Right Stuff that allows me to level the camera in any orientation, even with a long, telephoto lens. It's a miracle for creating panoramas. This photograph is from September 23, 2010. The stitching software I used back then erased a lot of the metadata in the file when it combined the photos. One bit of information that was not saved was the lens I used. I think it was a Nikkor 300 f4 but I might be wrong. We'll never know for sure.

That's the story about "Aspenshine". You could be the first person to own a print of this image. I think it would look amazing on canvas at 20" x 48". What are your thoughts?


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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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