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Monthly Archives: February 2012

I had planned on sleeping in this morning but my wife woke me up and said there was a lot of frost out in the prairie. I looked out and everything on the ground had a nice coating of frost. We have been having unusually warm weather which has resulted in fog with has resulted in some nice frost. I also noticed the wind was not blowing so I grabbed my camera and Macro lens and went out into my small prairie area to get some photographs.

Canada Goldenrod Gall

Milkweed

Frosty Wire

Barbed Wire

Earlier this week I received a big envelope from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. My wife mentioned it and then filed it. I assumed it was some correspondence related to my tree farm. Today I finally remembered that it was in my pile of things to open. When I opened it I was surprised to fine five copies of the February 2012 issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine. The cover photo was one I had submitted to the Great Lakes Photo Contest several years ago of a couple Kayaking at the Apostle Islands Sea Caves.

Sea Caves

After suffering through another week of warm weather and no snow I started thinking of those rare photography events when everything seems to come together to create an outstanding day of photography. I can count mine on one hand. Perhaps the best such event occurred in 2006 when I drove out to Colorado to photograph the fall colors. I stopped in Estes Park to photograph the Elk and do a little hiking. I had to wait an extra day because the road through the park was closed due to snow.

Elk

The next day I drove through the park and on to Aspen. As I came over Independence Pass it was cold and blustery and I could see storm clouds in the distance. By the time I reached Aspen it was raining hard. I continued on to Carbondale, Colorado where I was staying.

Leaves

The next day it was still raining. I decided to drive up to toward Kebler Pass. At the lower elevations it was raining as I reached higher elevations I started to encounter heavy wet snow. Another driver had made a track through the snow so I followed them. I met a car coming down from the pass. After a short distance the tracks ended and I the car I met was the car that I had been following. I had a AWD car but I started to see aspen trees bending over the road from the weight of the wet snow. I didn’t have a saw with me to cut my way out so I turned around. It was a good thing I did because when I made the same trip later the next week there were still trees down over some of the side roads. I could ┬ásee where folks had gotten trapped and had to saw through downed trees to get out to the main road. Even five days later I had to weave my way around the downed trees. This shot was taken at a turnout on McClure Pass where I met the driver of the car that was following on the Kebler Pass road.

McClure Pass

The following day it was still raining so I decided to drive over to Aspen and try and find the old mining town of Ashcroft. The roads were covered with snow but passable as I headed toward Ashcroft. I stopped to take a photo of an aspen tree that was covered with snow. I continued the drive the clouds lifted a bit and I could see the brightly highlighted aspen leaves surrounded by snow covered pines.

Birch Trees

Aspen

When I reached Ashcroft I was the only one there. Snow covered everything as I wandered through the old mining town taking photos. As I was about to leave three other four wheel drive cars arrived. It looked like a group of tourists from Aspen. Fortunately I had already finished taking my photos.

Ashcroft Colorado

Blue Mirror Saloon

Ashcroft

I drove back to Aspen and spent the rest of the day wandering around town and then took the gondola up to the top of the mountain. It was still overcast with a few breaks in the clouds so I could get a glimpse of what it might look like on a clear day.

That evening the weather report predicted clearing overnight. This was my chance to finally make a dash for the Maroon Bells. I woke early in the morning and sure enough there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. When I reached the road into the Bells it was snow covered but passable and there had been other cars driving on it. When I reached the parking lot it was already about three quarters full and it wasn’t even daylight yet.

I grabbed my gear and headed for Maroon Lake. As I approached the lake there were already about fifty photographers jockeying for position. It was cold and windy. I talked to a number of the photographers and they had also been waiting for several days for the weather to break. Some of them had been stuck in tents or campers for three days. At least I had a motel room. This is a shot from later in the morning when the photographers were in much better spirits.

Photographers Maroon Lake

When the sun came up it was beautiful with blue sky, fall colors and snow but because of the wind there was no iconic shot of the Bells with a reflection in the lake. As the morning wore on many of the photographers started to leave as the wind continued to blow. Since I hadn’t been to Maroon Bells in over forty years I decided to take advantage of the fantastic opportunity so I headed off through the snow to take photos that didn’t include the lake.

Maroon Bells

Maroon Bells

Maroon Bells

Aspen Leaves

A couple of hours later I noticed that the wind had died down and so I headed back to Maroon Lake. The lake was perfectly calm and I was able to get the iconic shot of the Bells in fall color, covered in snow and reflected in the lake.

Maroon Lake Reflection

After I returned home from that trip I started reading comments from fellow photographers who had been at Maroon Bells on the morning of September 24th 2006. Some were as ecstatic as I was others weren’t so happy because they had been among those who left early and missed the iconic shot. Years later photographers still talking this event. This was one of the best days for Photography I’ve ever ┬áhad.