Just off of Bear Lake Road on the way to the Bear Lake Parking area in Rocky Mountain National Park is a small, often overlooked viewpoint called Storm Pass. The parking lot holds about three cars but fortunately it isn’t usually too busy in the early morning hours so parking isn’t an issue. We were planning to hike to the top of Hallett Peak (the primary peak in this photograph) from the Bear Lake Trailhead just after sunrise so knowing this place was a relatively easy spot to stop and make some photos I chose this for my sunrise location.
Storm Pass (Rocky Mountain National Park)
I captured this image in three separate frames – one for the ‘normal’, one for the dark and one for the lights – to capture the full dynamic range. In addition, I used a ten-stop ND filter in this image to blur the motion of the river flowing back towards the Mountain. I only took a few frames this morning as I didn’t want to be late for the hike as I was meeting a few people but this would definitely be a place I’d go back to again and spend some additional time exploring as the mountains are nicely framed by the trees in the foreground and the river provides another interesting element to lead the eye from the front of the frame to the back.
I spent two mornings at Cottonball Basin in Death Valley waiting for the sun to rise. Cottonball basin was noted in an ebook I purchased before the trip called ‘Desert Paradise: The Landscape Photographer’s Guide to Death Valley National Park’ by Sarah Marino and Ron Coscorrosa as being among the best locations to watch the sunrise in the park. The unique salt flat shapes that form periodically throughout the year and the mountains that surround the basin on all sides make it highly photographic. However, the area is fragile so it is important to be sure that you leave no trace while hiking there so you need to be sure the weather conditions are right or else you may leave footprints in the mud for years to come. The authors noted they were fearful of including it in the book but that photo safari/groups had popularized the area in recent years so they did not feel like they could leave it out without the book being complete. Luckily, in my several days in the park I didn’t see a single soul down in this area.
Death Valley – Morning from Cottonball Basin
In this image it appears like the salt flat shapes may stretch forever but this was really a rather small area of the overall ‘Cottonball Basin’ which stretches for miles in all directions. Somehow these shapes shift periodically throughout the year so it is imperative to go out the day before with a handheld GPS and pinpoint the location or you won’t be able to find them in the morning. Unlike other national parks the ‘trails’ in Death Valley are essentially non-existent as you are free to roam everywhere – however, this means you have to work to find unique and photographic opportunities as opposed to walking up to a well known viewpoint. Without the GPS I would have been completely lost many times out there in the desert.
The colorful houses (mostly store fronts today) that makeup the five towns that create the historic Cinque Terre area in Italy were once primarily fishing villages. The houses were painted bright colors distinct from one another so that those on the boats far from the shore could navigate in as they approached and wind up near their ultimate destination. Fortunately for the Cinque Terre and for those lucky enough to visit little has changed in this gorgeous spot of the world. No longer a ‘hidden gem’ in Italy because tourism is undoubtedly big business here but still a magnificent and relatively unspoiled location within what is my favorite (outside of the US – home country bias of course) country in the world.
Fisherman on the Coast of Cinque Terre
The Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado about an hour south of Denver but a world away when it comes to the red rock formations scattered throughout the area. There are a number of relatively easy hikes (all one to three miles round trip) that I was able to knock out in half-a-day or so since they are also relatively close to one another. I’m sure there are more challenging hikes but the park is set up to really be family friendly and this would make a nice stop for someone visiting Denver and looking to get a quick day trip done (of course Estes Park – the home of Rocky Mountain National Park – is also only about 90 minutes away and I’d favor that over Garden of the Gods if I had to choose just one).
Photo of the Day – The Window of the Gods
Pikes Peak in the Continental Divide of the Rocky Mountain Range is visible through a rock window on the Siamese Twin trail in Garden of the Gods. A quick, well-marked trail takes you to this spot with duel rock formations with views onto the Continental Divide in the distance. Positioning yourself perfectly allows you to clearly see Pikes Peak in the distance. This was a terrific fall day in Colorado – one could really get used to living out amongst all this beauty. Each time I visit I’m really jealous of those lucky enough to live in the Denver area.
I spent a calm summer morning on standing on the banks of the picturesque Lake Louise in Banff National Park. The canoes that are rented to lake visitors made for an interesting and colorful foreground. I had to wait a few minutes for a couple ‘summer lovers’ to move of the dock as they huddled in a hoodie but once they cleared the area I took a couple pictures looking up at the Fairview Mountain Range across the lake.
Photo of the Day – Canoes on Lake Louise
I have a meeting in Calgary at the end of March and hope to make a weekend trip up to Banff again. The Lake Louise area is likely to be closed (closed for the winter) but many of the other sights should still be open.
The Trevi Fountain in the heart of Rome, Italy is typically overwhelmed with other like minded tourists who want to get close and throw a coin in (legend has it that doing so will guarantee your return). It doesn’t matter if it is day or night – the tour groups and locals alike gather. In an effort to beat the crowd I arrived at sunrise and took pictures for about an hour. While it was less crowded there was still a handful of people lingering – some still drunk from the night before – but definitely much less rowdy than the day or night crowds. After stopping here I headed over to the Piazza Navona drank a cup of coffee and had a pastry before heading back to the hotel. On the way back less than an ninety minutes later I passed the fountain again and the crowds had gathered to the point that it would have been hard for me to get close enough to get this view.
Photo of the Day – The Trevi Fountain in Detail
I wanted to get more detail of the fountain but unfortunately when I got out here on this morning I realized I left my 28 – 270 mm ‘all purpose’ lens in my other backpack thus I only had my wide-angle lens (10 – 28 mm) with me since that is what was on my camera. Since the crowds were sparse I was able to get close enough that even the wide angle was fairly close. A little processing here to bring out the detail in the statues. All and all pretty satisfied with how it came out.
The view from Zabriskie Point in Death Valley of the colorful clay and mudstone Badlands in Death Valley National Park. Millions of years (nine million by the estimates that I saw) ago the area that is now Death Valley was a giant lake – these Badlands formations were once on the bottom of this lake. There was also a volcanic eruption around five million years ago that covered this rock – the hardened lava is what formed to make the dark rock in this photo.
Photo of the Day – Badlands of Death Valley
Unfortunately, the clouds in the East blocked the suns rays from providing nice contrasts on the rocks and the mountain range in the distance. However, the sky was still colorful in the pre-dawn ‘blue hour’.