The First Annual Father/Son Photo Expedition

Sagebrush Symphony

Sagebrush Symphony

As you can tell from my posts, I’ve been bitten hard by the photography bug and am having a bit of a challenge keeping up with all the editing. I seriously haven’t forgotten to finish my story about the trip to see Grizzly Bears, I’m just putting it on hold, taking advantage of the season to bank images of Autumn in Colorado. Last weekend, my two grown Sons and myself loaded our gear into the camper and headed out in search of nature’s seasonal grand finale. We didn’t even know where the journey would lead us. We would drive as far west and south as necessary to find ourselves surrounded by peak colors.

Darkness fell just as we reached the summit of Monarch Pass and we pondered camping there for the night until we realized how frigid the air temperature was. Onward we pushed past Gunnison to the shore of Blue Mesa Reservoir, Colorado’s largest body of water. The air temperature was so much more tolerable and we were staged for a night of astral photography. Blue Mesa sits generally in the center of Colorado. Far enough from city lights, and with a low horizon in all directions, the night sky there is stunning. After a quick spaghetti dinner we went to work.

Midnight at Blue Mesa BLOG

Midnight At Blue Mesa

Approaching Storm

Approaching Storm

three quarter moon BLOG

Sagebrush Moonrise

Night photography is a genre made ever so much more interesting by the latest camera technology. The newest full sensor cameras have ISO sensitivities that enable the camera to see things in the dark that the human eye cannot see. As we stood on the shore of the lake, dialing in camera settings and experimenting with the low light conditions, a dark mass of lightning producing clouds slowly edged closer to us from the west. To the naked eye, the setting was strangely sirene. In the review monitor of my camera, the setting was ominous. At some point I realized that it had been a while since the last flash of lightning and the big dark blob was now blocking out the stars to the west. The Boys and I deduced simultaneously that we better head back for the camper and we scurried with no time to spare. A wall of water and wind hit the sides of Alexander Supertramp (camper) just as we closed ourselves in. We laughed about our close call and talked about the adventures of the day.

treasure FB

michaelcreek

boys shooting

luke bushwacking

sneffels tele 2 BLOG

Mt. Sneffels

Colorado Pops FB

“Colorado Pops”

in the bank #2 FB

“In The Bank”

Michael, Luke and I resumed our quest for colorful leaves first thing in the morning. We drove west to Montrose, still disappointed by the post-peak fall foliage. We wondered if we were too late. Fortunately, not long after turning south once again, we began to notice ribbons and patches of yellow, gold, red and even a lot of green in the San Juan Mountains, we had arrived! Leaf Chasing is a lot like storm chasing. You never really know where you’ll end up. We followed the vivid luminous colors onto a dirt road on the Dallas Divide, climbing slowly but surely to the base of Mt. Sneffels. By the end of the day we had gathered images in the thousands and as the sun was setting, we found a high mountain meadow where we could set up camp.

campsite sunset BLOG

Dinner was incredible. Chopped garden vegetables, potatoes and apple sausage cooked in foil packets on the coals of the campfire. There were lots of smiles and laughs around the fire that night and we talked about making this trip the first of many, a new tradition. As the last light of the day vanished to the west, more stars than you can imagine appeared in the night sky. We doused the fire and went into the camper to get warm, prepare equipment and get bundled up for another night of Photography.

luke skywalker FB

Luke Skywalker

skywalker 2 FBclashing light BLOG

moonlight ridge BLOG

I can’t handle the cold like I did when I was younger. I shivered in the October midnight air, even with three coats and a blanket over me. We were actually lucky that we weren’t dealing with snow on the ground, after all we were above 10,000 feet. By the time all was said and done, the first rays of the rising moon were hitting the tips of the mountain range in front of us and as the nocturnal golden hour progressed, the light of the Moon spilled down into the golden aspen forest. We were all snug in bed by 2am.

Sunday would lead us into the picturesque town of Ouray for a hearty breakfast, before making the five hour journey home to Denver.

boys BLOG

My Great Harvest Blood Moon Eclipse

Denver Eclipse Interior BLOG

Lunar Eclipse Over Denver

Thank You for being here, for taking the time to read my rambling. Writing is something I’m compelled to do I guess, for without it I would feel trapped in this life without a voice. Having somebody there on the other end completes the circuit and creates the spark that ignites purpose. In the same way I’m compelled to use visual images to speak for me when I cannot find the words. So Thank You, Thank You, Thank You for being such an important part of my life.

Do You get sidetracked as often as I do? On visits to local retailers, do you find yourself actually forgetting what you came to buy? Have you ever been focussed on a task with the pinpoint accuracy of a laser? When that beam is suddenly refracted in another direction, do you follow? For me, getting sidetracked is a common occurrence. Today’s post should have been part 6 of the Alexander Supertramp Adventure, yet I find myself putting that on hold in favor of a more current event. Don’t worry, I’m not a quitter, I’ll finish the story of our recent journey to see Grizzly Bears in Bella Coola, British Columbia, but today I want to share My Great Harvest Blood Moon Eclipse assignment!

A couple of weeks ago, I started hearing the news about an upcoming Lunar Eclipse that promised to be a once, or maybe twice in a lifetime celestial event. This is where I got sidetracked. All of the important things that I’m working on were set on the side shelf and the next thing I know, I’m researching, scouting viewing spots and feverishly using iPhone apps like the Photographers Ephemeris and Sky Guide. The race was on. All In all, I planned on catching three full moonrises in a row on Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights.

moon denver BLOG

Saturday Night,,Hmm..too early

Saturday night, the waxing moon came up over the eastern horizon while the strong setting sun lit up the foreground. Interesting results, but not the jaw dropping image that I had in mind.

Sunset Before Moonrise

Sunset Before Moonrise

Sunday night, my Wife and grown up Daughter joined me on the shore of Sloans Lake, just to the west of downtown. There was already one other photographer set and ready to go when we arrived. I felt validated for choosing a good spot yet strangely surprised. As the most incredible sunset lit the entire western sky and dipped beyond the Rockies, people began to show up in droves. Are there really this many people in this town that will pass on a Broncos game to watch the moon, I pondered. I have to say, my faith in humanity was bolstered somewhat and it was amazing to watch so many other people entranced by the spectacle. The stage was set and as the Giant Red and Orange Moon slipped above the eastern horizon, a hushing silence cast a spell on the crowd of witnesses. We stayed right there on the shore of the lake until the moon was well up into the sky, morphing into a fully shaded orb.

paddlers close BLOG nologo

Witness

Monday night, my Daughter and I found ourselves at the top of Lookout Mountain in Golden. The plan was simple, Capture the rising full moon above metro Denver while the lights of city streets an downtown dressed the foreground. As we positioned ourselves beyond the guardrail at a precipitous mountain switchback, we took in the view to the west, a vista that included Clear Creek Canyon and the Continental Divide. We hoped for an impressive sunset since the sky to the East was cloudy and my hopes for a dramatic moonrise began to wane. The sunset was just ok and I began to wonder if night number three was one too many. Just after sunset however, more people started showing up and the heavy haze to the East and began to subside. As the giant red and orange moon rose above the horizon there was just enough of an opening in the clouds on the eastern horizon to let the light through in dramatic fashion, just enough time to snap off a couple of sets of bracketed photos.

lookout jessica BLOG

My Gorgeous Daughter

one shot sunset BLOG

Clear Creek Canyon At Sunset

Bikes BLOG

getting busy

check out this Looney! I didn't even have time to focus

check out this Looney! I didn’t even have time to focus

Getting sidetracked turned out to be a really cool thing and I was able to share some memorable moments with a couple of my favorite people.

hello moon 2 nat BLOG

Moon Over Denver