How the Art Happens - Colorful Castles

September 02, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Colorful Castles

Colorful CastlesColorful CastlesThe Castles rock formation rise from a sea of golden aspen trees near Ohio Pass in the West Elk Wilderness area of Colorado.

As summertime starts to wane in the higher elevations of Colorado, we all are beginning to wonder what kind of fall we will have. To say it's been dry up here would be a huge understatement. It's been the driest 9 months that I can remember in my 33 years here. The prolonged drought has spanned three seasons and shows no sign of changing any time soon. The weather experts are saying that the drought will move fall-color up by a week or so. Many of us are wondering if it will happen at all.

"Colorful Castles" is an image from just 3 years ago. The Castles rock formation brings viewers from far across the planet, especially during the peak of intense fall foliage in late September. The formation is located in the West Elk Wilderness area so you can hike or ride horses to get there but most folks choose to enjoy the views from the Ohio Pass Road. It is a striking geologic scene rising from the surrounding mountains.

Since my father's study of geology at the University of Kentucky was responsible for my moving to Colorado, it's only fitting that I would choose a geological subject. The Castles rise above this huge sea of golden aspen trees making them a good subject using a variety of lens focal lengths from wide-angle to telephoto. For the photograph above, I chose my go-to lens, a Nikon 24-120mm that's always on the camera. This image has the lens set at 105mm so it's slightly compressed, bringing the Castles a little closer than we would normally perceive them to be. The contrast with the fresh snow in the distance and stormy sky with the sunlit aspens in the foreground is what made me pull over and get the camera out. I love that the upper parts of the trees are still decorated with the deeper orange leaves. This happens when a sudden freeze traps the sugars of photosynthesis in the leaves, or so I'm told. They will turn yellow within a few days. I really was attracted to the variety of colors in this scene. I hope you like "Colorful Castles" as much as I do.


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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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