By Crested Butte, Colorado photographer, Dusty Demerson

How the Art Happens - Snow Tango 2

August 27, 2020  •  1 Comment

Snow Tango Part 2

Snow Tango 2Snow Tango 2Cottonwood trees seem to be dancing in a Colorado spring snow storm near Crested Butte.

This morning at breakfast one of the other "regulars" at Paradise Cafe mentioned that part of this iconic couple had fallen to the ground. I had to drive down to the site to, sadly, confirm that he seemed to have dropped his partner in the dance.

The tire-swing had fallen a few years ago and for a few winters had been decorated with Christmas lights. I did not get that photo! Now, today, the tango has ended. These changes to an iconic scene remind me as I hurry to and fro that I might not get a second chance to photograph a location as I see it today. Stop the car. Take the photo. Even if the scene is not perfect. Take the photo. It may be my last chance.

I have had the opportunity to photograph these trees many times and I have frequently stopped and taken their picture. With each stop and edit, a vision develops about how I can capture not just a snapshot of the scene but how I can create a unique image. That's my job. To create, capture, save, present, and archive my unique point of view or vision for a scene is my job. Considering the scene above, I loved the fresh snow that helps define the delicate branches against the foggy surroundings. The fog removes all the color from the scene except for the trees creating a surreal landscape photograph. The atmosphere was fantastic! I did not even see the tango element of the photograph until I posted it to social media in search of a title. One of my best college friends offered the title "Spring Tango". Since spring snow is a rarity in most of the country, it became "Snow Tango" instead.

This is the second edit of this photograph. The first one is all white without the vignetting around the trees. This second version has more depth and is more interesting, in my opinion. I guess I'll have to live with this version since he has dropped his partner leaving the scene completely changed.


How the Art Happens - East River Magic

August 17, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

East River Magic

by Dusty Demerson

beautiful sunrise over the East River near Crested Butte, ColoradoEast River MagicA beautiful sunrise in late September creates some East River Magic near Crested Butte, Colorado.

Some scenes just capture your soul. The meanders of the East River near my home in Mount Crested Butte, Colorado is one of those scenes. I love looking down on the river snaking its way through the valley below. I'm not the only one in love with this scene. It's a really popular stop for photographers and sightseers from all over the world.

Sometimes Mother Nature provides us with a scene for new eyes though. I remember being not very optimistic about making photographs on this morning in late September a few years ago. The overcast sky did not seem very promising so I decided I would just run out to Gothic to see what was happening with the colors. Well, this was happening! I didn't want to lose the light so I quickly found a pull-out and set up the tripod and camera. There was a huge range of exposure between the bright sky and shaded foreground so I took bracketed exposures in the hopes of combining them in the processing step. That approach was a total failure so I ended up using darkroom techniques to bring everything to life with a single exposure. Thankfully, modern software lets us accomplish these tasks easily and with reversible precision.

Besides the snaking river and the sunlight streaking through the clouds, I really like the diagonal line of trees in the middle ground. Diagonal lines add a sense of excitement and movement in photographs. This was definitely not a "static" scene so the diagonal lines help to tell the story of this beautiful sunrise. As it turned out, this photograph was the only "keeper" from that day. I hope you like "East River Magic".


How the Art Happens - Making Memories

August 01, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Ruby Range Reflections

by Dusty Demerson

Ruby Range ReflectionRuby Range ReflectionThe Ruby Range reflects a perfect mirror image in Lake Irwin near Crested Butte, Colorado.

I got a new client this week. A friend recommended that he check out my website and he found several photographs that he wanted to display in his home. When I met with him to discuss sizes and finishes he shared several stories about the memories he had from the locations in my photos. He has had Crested Butte connections for several generations and, like me, grew up with annual visits to the area. It was interesting to learn about the emotional connections and memories my images brought back for him.

One of my portrait and wedding mentors is Charles J. Lewis from Grand Rapids, Michigan. I learned a lot from Chuck over the years but the most powerful statement he makes is "people purchase photography for emotional reasons". He was mostly speaking about portrait and wedding photography but I'm learning that same principle can be applied to landscapes and events.

The photo above, "Ruby Range Reflection" pulls at my heartstrings. I spent a part of almost every summer at Lake Irwin camping with my family during "Dad's vacation". He fell in love with the Crested Butte area when he spent a summer here during college at the University of Kentucky studying geology. Once we moved far enough west, we came every summer. Later, I learned to ski here. Lake Irwin was always our favorite spot until they built the lodge. Listening to chainsaws and bulldozers diminished the summer experience for us. I still love hanging out at Lake Irwin and most of my private photo tours end up at this spot for the mirror reflection of the Ruby Range.

Views of the lake take me back to fond memories of my childhood. Are there any places that take you back? Do you have any good memories triggered by a photo? I would love to hear about them if you do.


Top 10 Tips for Great Wildflower Photography From the Wildflower Capital of Colorado

July 21, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

The Top 10 Tips for Great Wildflower Photos from the Wildflower Capital of Colorado

Columbine Summer ColoradoColumbine SummerColorado Blue Columbine, the state flower, bloom on a hillside near Schofield Pass in western Colorado on a perfect summer day.

Crested Butte has been celebrated as the Wildflower Capital of Colorado for over 30 years. This small, former mining town high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains never ceases to provide abundant and colorful floral displays throughout the summer months.

This year the annual Crested Butte Wildflower Festival has been substantially curtailed due to the Novel Coronavirus. There are no hikes, no tours, no photo instruction, and, mostly, no participants to be found. It's been a huge disappointment to everyone involved but these are strange times in every respect so when the Festival was canceled, it came as no huge surprise. But, that doesn't mean I can't provide a little photo instruction for those of you who love to take photos of wildflowers.

Here are my top 10 tips for making great wildflower photos in no particular order:

 

1. Use a tripod. Try to make friends with a sturdy tripod. Besides holding your camera steady, it will give you the opportunity to fine-tune your composition and the ability to step away from your subject and think about what you are trying to accomplish.

2. Bend your knees. Get a better perspective and show your subjects respect by working at or even below their level. This also gives you an opportunity to include the surrounding landscape like the photo above.

3. Don't come in out of the (light) rain, fog, or mist. While most photographers will run for the house, heavy overcast skies help saturate colors and a few raindrops or dew can really add an interesting dimension to your photos.

4. Start Early. Early morning light is usually warmer and less harsh and contrasty. It's also usually less windy and there are fewer competing photographers out just before or after sunrise.

5. Don't be afraid of intimacy. Get in close. Simplify your compositions. Eliminate as many distractions around your subject as possible.

6. Choose perfect subjects. Try to find subjects that have bloomed recently and are pristine and undamaged. Don't be afraid to blow off the bugs and do some minimal "gardening" by bending and hiding surrounding grasses and distractions.

7. Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon-day sun. Early morning and late afternoon provide the best light and times for wildflower photography unless you're willing to use diffusers and additional equipment to soften the light.

8. Think about your foreground, middle ground, and background. Give your photos some depth by trying to engage all three parts of the scene if possible. Frequently, you'll find the foreground and background interesting with no real help from the middle area. This is a great time for a low-angle point of view.

9. Use a variety of lenses. Keep your images fresh and interesting by mixing it up. I use every lens from a 14mm super-wide-angle to a 300mm telephoto for wildflower photography. The wide-angle lenses are great for including the surrounding landscapes and the longer focal lengths are perfect for isolating single flowers in a sea of out-of-focus surroundings.

10. Keep it fun and creative. Don't be afraid to try new techniques, lenses, filters, diffusers, angles, etc.

 

These are a few of the tips I share on my photo tours. For more advanced participants, we go a lot deeper discussing what to keep in focus and where to place the subject, etc. Color balance, ISO, additional lighting, how to choose a great tripod, and many other questions get answered in my advanced classes and private tours.

Since I didn't get to teach this summer, I thought I would share a few tips with you since the flowers are still out there waiting to be photographed and shared with the world.

 

Happy summer!

 

 

 

 


How the Art Happens - Crested Butte Cottonwood Colors

June 24, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Crested Butte Cottonwood Colors

Crested Butte Cottonwoood ColorsCrested Butte Cottonwoood ColorsLate autumn leaves golden Cottonwood trees along Coal Creek as it wanders through Crested Butte, Colorado.

Most of my best photographs for the past 10 years or so have been somewhat planned. Since virtually all of my imaging happens within 30 miles of my home, I have a long history of learning where I need to be and when I need to be there. I have the luxury of only photographing on the very best of days and in the very best weather.

"Crested Butte Cottonwood Colors" was not planned. It was a spontaneous response to an incredible play of light and shadow at the peak of fall color with some helpful horses in just the right place. As I rounded the curve at the cow camp the scene exploded in front of me. We were having our typical fall weather of late-afternoon showers and there was a substantial bank of clouds shading the top of the scene. That shadow really made the backlit trees pop and glow. The horses seemed to be almost in a spotlight and add a wonderful element of life to the scene. I did vignette the bottom and sides a bit to keep your eyes in the scene, a technique I learned from Ansel Adams.

I'm a bit sad that the photograph became so long and skinny. It makes it awkward to print and display. Obviously, I can crop the edges to a more comfortable ratio but I don't like losing all those trees. So, here it is: "Crested Butte Cottonwood Colors". Let me know your thoughts.

 


How the Art Happens - Spring Whispers

June 03, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Spring Whispers

Spring WhispersSpring WhispersMother Nature whispers "It's time to rise and shine" in an aspen forest near Kebler Pass and Crested Butte in western Colorado.

As the cold, bare, signs of winter give way to spring, the landscape slowly changes flavors to margarita-colored trees gently sprinkled through the forest. It seems like Mother Nature is softly whispering about what's to come in the next few weeks.

I love this transition time from winter to spring for all the reasons most people seem to like it. The cold, naked starkness of winter is interesting for a while but up here it's simply relentless. Seven months of bare trees is just too long! Fresh green leaves fill the trees much nearer the first day of summer than the first day of spring. It's exciting to finally see some color come back to the forest after months of whiteness.

To my eyes, this transition is best expressed through sharp details but soft, diffused lighting. This image was found near Horse Ranch Park over Kebler Pass. The point of view is actually a few hundred yards away so composing this photograph required a long, telephoto lens. I chose a 300mm which also compresses the feeling of space between the foreground and background thus flattening the feeling of the photo. I like the contrast between the bare aspen trees and those with fresh leaves. The darker conifers help with that contrast too. To achieve the maximum sharpness and detail in the trees, I used a solid Really Right Stuff tripod and head. But, to gain maximum detail, the camera's mirror was locked up and I used a remote cable release to activate the shutter. I also had to wait 'til the wind subsided.  This technique guarantees me the best sharpness and finest detail my equipment can render.

I think "Spring Whispers" kind of reminds me of a salad. What do you think?

Any prints of "Spring Whispers" ordered before my next blog post will receive a 40% discount from regular pricing. Let me know if you would like one or several. You will need to order prints directly from me via email or phone (970) 349-5038


How the Art Happens - Aspen Greening

May 27, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Aspen Greening

Aspen GreeningAspen GreeningDelicate new aspen leaves fill a Colorado aspen forest as spring turns the landscape green once again.

It's that time again. Finally! This spring has, seemingly, lasted forever and has only recently resulted in green stuff showing up on trees and lawns. This week the leafing-out of our aspen trees has coincided with the opening of Kebler Pass to our west. I can't speak for anyone else but the opening of the pass feels like freedom to me. Freedom to wander away from Crested Butte in a new direction and via a road that's closed seven months of the year can be exciting for those of us who love to wander.

Finding fresh, new leaves on our aspen trees lets us remember that it's time to start anew. Fresh starts are especially welcome this year with limited travel, limited socialization, and lots of other limits too. Tiny, lime-green leaves can really brighten up a forest as well as my soul. I guess saying "hope springs eternal" is probably pushing the limits of being punny but I hope you let me get away with it anyway.

So, "Aspen Greening" is actually an image from a few years ago. I love the delicate leaves decorating equally delicate young aspen trees. The sky was overcast providing bright but soft light with few shadows and little contrast. This is probably my favorite light for making images. It just accentuates the softness I feel in most of nature. I also like that there are about a million different compositions within this scene. Every time I look at this photograph I find a new area of interest. I hope you like "Aspen Greening" as much as I do.

With most of the art galleries and restaurants either closed or with limited hours and seating I thought I would start something new with my blog images. For the next week or until I write my next post, any orders of "Aspen Greening" will be 40% off. To receive the discount you will need to contact me directly instead of ordering through the website but any size print or canvas will receive the discounted price. If you click on the links or the photo you'll see the sizes available and the original, undiscounted, prices. Let me know your thoughts.

 


How the Art Happens - Clearing Storm, Artist Point, Monument Valley, Arizona

May 13, 2020  •  1 Comment

Clearing Storm, Artist Point, Monument Valley, Arizona

Clearing Storm, Artist Point, Monument Valley, AZ copyClearing Storm, Artist Point, Monument Valley, AZ copyA clearing spring storm leaves a pastel landscape at Artist Point, Monument Valley Tribal Park, Arizona.

Monument Valley is one of the most overwhelming and amazing landscapes in the United States. It seems to go on forever. Every distant mesa or spire leads to another bit of eye-candy. Because the landscape goes on forever, the sky becomes a huge element in the success or failure of photographs in Monument Valley. I've probably driven through at least a half-dozen times without even picking up my camera because the sky was socked-in and overcast or completely cloudless. Neither of those situations provides me with the light or the sky that I want in my photos.

Almost exactly four years ago I made a long-awaited trip to Arizona to see Canyon de Chelly National Monument. After three days of exploring the canyon, it was time to meander back to Colorado. The weather had been interesting and the sky was showing some promise so I decided to reroute my trip a little to the west and go home through Monument Valley. It was a great decision!

I arrived at Artist Point, a favorite overlook, to a light drizzle of rain under a grey and overcast sky. The sky to the west looked better so I decided to wait and see what happened. About 30 minutes later, the photo above happened. I love that the color of the landscape gets reflected on the bottom of the clouds. The rain muted the colors and contrast a bit which I also like. Most of the Monument Valley images are in bright sun with deep shadows. I prefer this pastel coloring since I don't see it all that often.

I continued to make images until the sun was fading in the west. There's really only one place to stay at the park so I checked in to the hotel hoping for a great sunrise before heading for home. I was not disappointed. After a handful of mediocre trips to Monument Valley, I finally got one that worth the effort. I hope you enjoy "Clearing Storm, Artist Point, Monument Valley, Arizona" as much as I do.


How the Art Happens - Half Dome Sunset

April 29, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Half Dome Sunset

Half Dome SunsetHalf Dome SunsetWarm sunset light illuminates an icy Half Dome in Yosemite National Park on an early November evening.

Many years ago, I found myself in Yosemite National Park in early November. I had spent a few days down south celebrating my uncle's birthday and decided to take the long way home. Since it was off-season at the park, I got some great rates on a few nights at the historic hotel at Wawona and a night in a Curry Village cabin that is absolutely the worst place I've ever stayed in my life.

But, enough about the travels. After spending my first day exploring the beautiful Yosemite valley, I found myself at the intersection of the Oak Flat Road and the Tioga Pass Road. I had hoped to spend some time exploring the Tioga Pass Road with its overlooking views of the valley below. There was a barricade. Obviously, from the photo, you can see that they had experienced a little early snow that year. As I stood before the barricade contemplating an act of trespass, one of the park rangers drove up. She shared with me that there were a few icy spots and that Californians had no idea how to handle ice below their tires so, they closed the road. Seeing my Colorado plates, she offered to let me past the barricade the next morning if I was there by 8 am. What a deal!

At 8 the next morning there were two of us waiting at the barricade. The other photographer was from Wyoming. The ranger showed up and let us in, telling us to be back before sunset. We spent the day separately making photos all the way up to Tuolumne Meadows. We only saw each other a few times and we saw nobody else. I didn't get many good photos. The landscape was pretty bleak and barren. The day passed and the sun was getting low as we started back to the intersection until we arrived at an overlook near Cloud's Rest. The setting sun was reflecting off the icy Half Dome on the other side of the valley creating an angle of Half Dome and an atmosphere I had never seen photographed. We both started making photos just as the ranger showed up doing his sweep of the road. He really wanted us to leave but both photographers continued to run interference for each other until the sun set and the light failed. We tried to get the ranger to enjoy the scene but he probably had seen it a dozen times and just wanted to go home to his dinner.

I'm sure we both got some great images. This one is my favorite selection from my work. I love the silhouetted trees and the warm sunset glow reflecting off Half Dome. I also like that the photo is from eye-level instead of looking up at Half Dome which is the most prevalent view in the park. "Half Dome Sunset" is an image that required some patience and a little negotiation rather than photographic skill. Oh, and the light was perfect!

Upon returning to my hotel at Wawona I discovered that the dining hall was full and not taking any more people for dinner. Since Wawona is miles from the nearest place to eat, I even had to negotiate my dinner. I did get to eat!

 


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.


How the Art Happens - San Francisco de Asis Mission Church

April 15, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

San Francisco de Asis Mission Church

San Francisco de Asís Mission Church copySan Francisco de Asís Mission Church copySan Francisco de Asís Mission Church is a historic and architecturally significant church on the main plaza of Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico. Built between 1772 and 1816 when New Mexico was part of the Vice-Royalty of New Spain, it is one of the finest extant examples of a Spanish Colonial New Mexico mission church, and is a popular subject for photographers. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970

I love the architecture and materials used to create the Spanish missions in New Mexico and southern Colorado. Every time I visit one of these churches I'm overwhelmed by a sense of peace and serenity. Visiting when there are no other people around probably helps.

This church a few miles south of Taos, New Mexico is one of the most-photographed buildings in the world. Ansel Adams brought it to my attention first. That may be the reason I really like it in black and white. He was enamored with the huge buttresses at the back of the church. They have been the subject of many artists in every medium imaginable. They are interesting but I think my job as an artist is to show you something new that you haven't seen before. So, I went around to the front of the church. I really love the wall and entry gateway. The space is pretty tight so I had to use a very wide-angle lens from a really low point of view to get the crosses on the top of the bell towers in the image. This point of view allows the walk to create great leading lines to the church and highlights the stonework of the walkway. Framing the subject this way adds depth to the photo and helps keep your eyes in the scene.

Most of the time when I try to frame my subject the end result seems contrived and corny. I think the textures and tones in this image help the technique work to create a cohesive photograph. The bright, white cross on the top of the wall helps too. The sky was not awesome on this particular morning so I searched for compositions that helped get as much sky out of the photo as possible. Creating a successful photograph frequently requires getting rid of distractions even more than finding a great subject.

Thanks for reading my story about the "San Francisco de Asis Mission Church". Now you know what the front looks like!


How the Art Happens - Inside Tony's

April 08, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Inside Tony's

Inside Tony's Conoco and Hardware Store.Inside Tony'sLooking through the front doors at Tony's Conoco and Hardware Store in downtown Crested Butte, Colorado. 1988

When I first moved to Crested Butte, Colorado, I lived in the middle of downtown above the bakery. I was at ground-zero for everything that happened in this little town. Parades, concerts, bar fights, you name it, I was on the front row. While this is a great way to get to know a community, at some point I decided I needed a little distance with some peace and quiet.

One of my favorite memories of living downtown was walking the two blocks to church on Sunday mornings. This walk took me right past Tony's iconic gas station and hardware store. One morning I decided to take my camera and snap this photo through the glass on the front door. Any other day, Tony would be sitting in the chair by the stove but on Sundays, he was probably headed to church too.

The character of this interior has been mostly kept intact by the building's current occupant, the Crested Butte Museum. The gas pumps are long-gone but looking through the front windows still evokes many of the same feelings as in 1988. The darker edges of the photograph force the viewer's eyes to the center of the frame. The old coal stove being dead-center in the frame commands attention as the main focal point. Sunlight streaming softly through the window illuminates the stove and provides shadows that bring out the textures of all the stuff on the walls. I can look at this image for hours and always find details I missed before.

I wish Tony had been in this photo but it works like this too. I remember trying to pump my own gas right after I moved to town. Tony didn't believe in self-service. I didn't repeat that mistake. He was still getting onto the roof to shovel snow into his 80's. My Dad came to Crested Butte in the late 1950s and when I moved here he asked about the "old man at the hardware store". It seems my Dad had his own memories from "Inside Tony's".


How the Art Happens - Priorities

March 30, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Priorities

"Priorities" skis are protected indoors while tools are left outside to rust.PrioritiesRusted tools and toys decorate a Crested Butte, Colorado barn protecting an older pair of red snow skis. This photograph won Best in Category for Mountain Culture in the Banff Mountain Photography Competition in 2006.

The long-gone mining days of Crested Butte have left their marks on the architecture and decor of this colorful mountain town. This garage is one of the more famous landmarks. It's covered with tools, toys, small bottles, and almost anything else you can imagine. Lots of old, broken artifacts are proudly displayed in all of their rusting glory on the side of this garage.

I've done many pictures of this place. It's even been the backdrop for family portraits. This winter I used it as the landmark for photos of the Alley Loop Nordic ski race that runs through the streets and alleys of Crested Butte. This photograph was made around the turn of the century. (No, the most recent one!) Since the building faces east, I prefer to photograph it without the harsh morning sunlight so I wait until the afternoon or a day with overcast skies. I can't remember which situation led to this photo but I do prefer the softer light which brings out the warm-toned saturation of the wood and colorful toys. The red in the skis don't hurt either.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival used to have a still photography competition that coincided with the film festival. It had multiple categories like sports, landscapes, mountain culture, etc. I decided this might be a good entry for the Mountain Culture category so, I sent it in. The Banff folks seemed to like it too and awarded "Priorities" first place in the category way back in 2006. I think the title really helped!

As you might imagine, times being what they are, there aren't a lot of people shopping for art right now. With everyone stuck at home, I think it's a good opportunity to update a wall or two with some new visual distractions. So, from now until April 30 I'm offering 25% off all prints and canvases along with free shipping in the USA. This discount applies to the work I have in stock as well as special orders made directly from me from the Studio Inventory or Signature Edition Prints galleries. Just use the code "Free ship 25" when you check out or you can call or email me with your selections too. (970) 349-5038 [email protected]

 


How the Art Happens - Paradise Divide Winter Panorama

March 18, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Paradise Divide Winter Panorama

Paradise Divide Winter PanoramaParadise Divide Winter PanoramaSoft clouds and jagged peaks provide an afternoon of contrast at Paradise Divide, west of Crested Butte, Colorado

I sure wish I was better at this new "social distancing" thing we're supposed to be practicing right now. The truth is, I really miss going out to breakfast. Even though the crowd is usually the same dozen people or so, it was the basis of my social life most days. So, after four days of self-isolation, I decided I had to get out of the house for a bit. Just some fresh air and to gather the mail was the original plan. But, there was some interesting light to the west.

The view to the west of Crested Butte is one of my very favorites. The soaring peaks of Paradise Divide are just the picture that comes to my mind when I think of the Rocky Mountains. A few cotton-ball clouds, some fresh snow, and some spotty, afternoon light created an interesting contrast of textures, light, and shadow. I love how the distant peaks are framed by the darker slopes in the foreground. I spent some time standing in a slushy lane waiting for sunlight to strike the peak of Cinnamon Mountain. I like to have the peak of my mountains to be in the sun or, at least brighter than the rest of the scene. That seems to be a natural place for my eyes to travel and having sunlight on the peak helps show you where I want you to look.

This is not the photo that I visualized so I'll go back and try again. We're supposed to have snow for the rest of the week and I'm hoping the dark brown spots of earth get covered for a second chance. I also hope to be at my spot a little later in the day for some warmer, sunset light. We'll see.

As I wait for the weather and the light, I'll continue to practice my "social distancing" skills, washing my hands, and taking my vitamins. Everyone stay healthy. I hope to have more for you next week.


How the Art Happens - Mystical Canyon Light

March 11, 2020  •  1 Comment

Mystical Canyon Light

Mystical Canyon LightMystical Canyon LightThe warm glow of sunset fills the Grand Canyon as an early October storm moves out.

Several years ago I decided I needed to visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in search of that elusive snowy canyon photograph. The North Rim closes in early October but there had been promising storms moving through the area so I reserved a campsite and made my way to the Grand Canyon.

After three solid days of rain and spending most of my time in my camper reading, I decided to head to the visitor's center and have a real dinner instead of my usual dehydrated, boiled water, camping fare. They were full and not taking any more diners. The park would close for the season the next day. I had made only a handful of photos, none of which would ever see daylight. There had been no snow. Now there was going to be another disappointing dinner. But, after going out to the observation deck below the lodge, I discovered a sliver of blue sky on the horizon. Sunset was about 20 minutes away so I decided to wait and see if a photo might develop. (pun intended)

I found a seat and pulled out my book. Every few minutes I would look out the window and at my watch. It was still raining. The guy next to me questioned my confidence but I explained that if I wait, I might get the shot. But, If I leave, I definitely won't get the shot. He laughed. With a few minutes to go before sunset, I grabbed my gear and headed out to the deck. I was the only one out there. I set up the tripod, framed my shot, and waited. Just at the predicted time, the sun dropped below the clouds and lit-up the canyon with a rainbow far to the east and warm, sunset light filling the canyon. I made a few photos. Tourists charged the deck. It was over in about 2 minutes. But, I got the photo above, "Mystical Canyon Light". I caught the eye of the guy giving me grief earlier and just smiled. He asked how I knew that would happen and I just suggested that I had been chasing moments like this for a very long time. Sometimes I won, sometimes I lost.

I love the soft, warm glow of the light on the rocks in the canyon. The amber, sunset light contrasts nicely with the cool tones in the sky and helps provide some depth to the image since cool tones tend to recede and warm tones tend to advance psychologically, at least according to my art teachers.

On the way back to the campground my truck was having problems. It would only go about a half-mile before the engine would die and I would have to wait 10 minutes before it would restart. I limped back to the campground and had to convince the rangers to let me stay the night in the parking lot for fear of blocking all the rest of the guests in the campground. Cell phones don't really work on the North Rim so I went to the nearest payphone and called a towing service in Kanab, Utah. They were able to come first thing Sunday morning so I made myself comfortable for the night, boiled some water, and ate my disappointing, dehydrated dinner.

Getting TowedGetting Towed

At 7 am the next morning the flatbed tow truck from Ramsay's Towing showed up. He loaded my truck on the flatbed and we headed to Kanab for repairs. As the clouds started to lift, I noticed the canyon was filled with fresh snow and beautiful light. I was in a tow-truck. I spent the next three days enhancing the economy of Kanab, Utah while my truck got a new fuel pump and sending unit. My seven-day adventure netted one usable photo and cost about $2,000.

Sometimes you're the windshield. Sometimes you're the bug!

By the way, I highly recommend Ramsay Towing and service in Kanab, Utah. Their service was far over and beyond expectations and their rates were a bargain.

 

 

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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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