It's everyone's favorite time of year in Colorado - Autumn! I love the Fall colors in the mountains this time of year! This year is tough for me, as I'm not able to get out there to the mountains for fresh photos, and this is one of the most dramatic years for colors in many, many year. Heartbreaking! Nevertheless, I'm enjoying seeing the photos from all my other photog friends, and I'm taking the time to go back through some of my old images and re-live the moments from last year and beyond.
This image is one I shot just east of the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness Area, just outside of Fairplay, CO; along the edge of the famous South Park. I was taking some wider shots of the peaks themselves, which you can see in the same gallery as this image (just click the image in this post to be taken to it in the gallery), but for this one I decided to zoom in and get close to that colorful swath of forest rising up out of the valley, onto the hillsides. It was just after the sunrise, and those golden aspen leaves were lit up beautifully by the early morning sun hitting them. I can remember that wonderful morning like it was yesterday...
Wow, just looking at my blog, I see it was April since I last posted any content to the blog! For shame... :) I need to change that! My family and I are about to make a big move in a couple days, so I won't be posting anything for about a week, but I'll get back on churning out new content once we get settled in our new place.
I hope you're all having a great summer so far!
Last week I added the above image to the Tenmile & Mosquito Ranges gallery. If you follow my Facebook page, you've likely already seen it. The image itself isn't new, as I've had the color version of it, shown below, in the gallery for quite sometime. However, I've always intended to go back and do a proper black & white edit on this image, as, to me, this scene just screams black & white. That said, I don't know that I necessarily prefer one version over the other. I like the black & white both because I have a predilection for black & white anyway, and because this scene really was just perfect for it (the color contrast, the clouds, etc.). However, I also really like the colors contained in this image, and I think the color version, too, works extremely well.
With the color version, you'll notice that I left the lens flare in (sky, right center). I thought it actually added a little something in this case, sort of a sense of place, sense of the lighting at the time - kind of adds some warmth, in my opinion. In black & white, though, it was simply too much of a distraction, as it stood out too prominently (due to its brightness).
The image itself was taken atop Weston Pass. It's a beautiful place that you should really consider checking out if you haven't been there and you have the means. I understand the drive up from the Leadville side is a little hairy and requires a decently capable 4WD vehicle, but the Fairplay/Buffalo Peaks side, which I drove up, is easily drivable by any 2WD vehichle, even w/ fairly low clearance. I wouldn't think twice about driving my family up in the minivan. However, if you do have a 4WD vehichle, there's a cool little side utility road that parallels the pass that you can take that's pretty fun. It keeps you a little higher up on the ridge, gives you great views, and is a ton of fun. I took the official pass road all the way up, but drove that side road about half way down. No matter how you go, go check it out. Great views and access to the alpine tundra without having to hike for miles. And bring your camera! :)
So, which version do you prefer? Color or black & white?
The new additions keep coming, and in this post I'll show you some new images from both the Tenmile and Mosquito Ranges, a couple of my favorite ranges in Colorado that I'm able to visit fairly often due to their relatively close proximity.
The image above is one I took while out hiking and picnic'ing with my family at Clinton Gulch Reservoir back in late Summer of 2012. If you've never been to this area, you owe it to yourself to go. It doesn't require a lot of effort, as it's right off the highway (north side of Fremont Pass, between Copper Mountain and Leadville) and the hiking trail that runs alonside it is a pretty hike. We were able to have a perfectly pleasant hike with our three small children. That ease of access, though, doesn't mean the views are any less stellar. You're hiking in the immediate shadow of the Tenmile Range at over 10,000 feet, and the views are epically beautiful. This is a great one if you have any flatlander relatives or friends visiting, as you can show them some classic, epic, Colorado beauty, all without having to wear them out by trudging them through miles of steep backcountry trails. I thought the image of this guy fishing on the reservoir, right off the trail, perfectly captured the type of high country, mountain experience we all get to enjoy here in Colorado. Just makes you want to be there right now, doesn't it?
This next one, which I call "Life & Death", was also taken at Clinton Gulch Reservoir, not very far from where you see the fisherman in the top picture on this post. This cut-up, dead tree stump with all its roots still attached, strangely discarded right by the lake shore, had kind of an eery vibe to it, so I processed it accordingly, letting that feeling come out in the final image. Feels like it's going to reach out and grab you, doesn't it?
These next two, the immediately above and below, both come from the Mosquito Range, a range I'm able to visit and enjoy fairly frequently, as we own a cabin with friends in Fairplay, CO. It's not incredibly far down the road from the Buffalo Peaks, which is what you see in the image above. The Buffalo Peaks are a couple of my favorite mountains in all of Colorado, as they have such a distinctive look to them, and you can see them rising above South Park from miles away if you're driving up from Denver or Colorado Springs. Absolutely beautiful peaks... They're also part of a wilderness area, the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness Area, which is the smallest federally designated wilderness area in Colorado, and the only one in the Mosquito Range. As such, it's often overlooked by many people, and you can enjoy some incredible solitude in there. It's not a spot that should be overlooked, though, as it is incredibly beautiful and peaceful, and again, not hard to get to. It's a little more off the highway than Clinton Gulch - you'll have to travel some gravel road for a ways to get to this one - but it's only a matter of a few miles of driving off-highway, and still perfectly passable by a two-wheel-drive vehicle.
The image above is simply a variation of a similar image I already had in the gallery, but this one processed to a larger format and in black & white. I like the feeling of this one because I love a good B&W landscape, but I like my other color edit because it shows off the Fall colors. Whichever mode you prefer, I've now got it covered.
This last one isn't taken very far from the Buffalo Peaks image, just heading up Weston Pass past it a ways. This isn't really a new image; if you've followed my Ryan Fonkert Photography website, you've surely already seen it. I just somehow missed it when I was originally loading images up to this website, so have simply now corrected the omission. Weston Pass is a drive you should check out while you're out checking Buffalo Peaks, too. I know the north side of the pass, which I haven't actually driven yet myself, is a little hairy and probably requires a 4WD vehichle, but this east side is an easy drive up, easily drivable by any 2WD vehichle, even one with fairly low ground clearance. Park County seems to do a pretty good job of maintaining it. And the views up there are outstanding, so check it out.
Lower Ice Lakes BasinThe lush, green beauty of the lower Ice Lakes Basin. I took this photo basically right next to our campsite, and there was another giant waterfall right behind that. BEAUTIFUL area.
This post is just to give a quick heads-up to some new images from Ice Lakes Basin posted in the San Juan Mountains gallery. My image stock from my trip up there last summer just keeps giving... The above image is one I took in the lower basin, near our campsite. There is also a black & white version of this image posted in the gallery, so be sure to click through and check it out. This basin is a beautiful area, and should be on every Coloradan's bucket list.
This next (above) image isn't new, but I re-processed it so it has a little more depth to it now. Looking at it with fresh eyes recently, I felt that I had played around a little too much withe the dynamic range on my original edit, perhaps recovering shadow detail to the point where it felt a bit flat. So I revisited the image, putting a little more contrast back in, and I'm now much happier with this image. I hope you will be, too. This image was also made in Ice Lakes Basin, but this one was shot in the upper basin, up above timberline. It's a whole different world up there; equally beautiful, but very different as you enter the solidly alpine environment.