2019, Fall Color Photography Lessons

Capitol Reef National Park, October 2019

Join us for two days of photographing the Splendor of Wingate Sandstone and Fall Color in Capitol Reef, and Boulder Mountain Aspens in Utah.

We will create amazing photographs as we “loop the fold” following the Waterpocket Fold, from the Fruita District, to Boulder Mountain to the Burr Trail and beyond.  Bring your favorite camera gear, camp, or we can suggest accommodations in nearby Torrey, Utah.

Kit Frost will teach you her favorite photography and post-production techniques to capture the Gold.  Kit spent 14 weeks at Capitol Reef and knows the Park very well.  There are slot canyons, huge Navajo and Wingate Sandstone Walls, Orchards and the Park is an International Dark Sky location.

Contact Kit Frost for more information and to confirm 2019 dates for the best locations for golden color in Capitol Reef.

Aspens are PEAKing in the San Juan Mountains

If you didn’t get a chance to get out and make photographs today, tomorrow will do, as will next week. Although I’ll call it “peak” color, and there are plenty of places to get your fill of Colorado Fall Foliage, there is still plenty of time.

Now in bloom:

  1. Near Durango Mountain Resort, Engineer Mountain, Lime Creek Road.
  2. Along the Hermosa Cliffs about 17 miles north of Durango.
  3. Just starting to peak at Haviland Lake
  4. You can find “pockets” of color everywhere in the San Juan Mountains.

Give yourself till next weekend for peak color making it’s way down to Durango.

The view looking northwest from Haviland Lake.  Yesterday's snow was sure to melt so I hit the road for sunrise this morning. ©Kit Frost

The view looking northwest from Haviland Lake. Yesterday’s snow was sure to melt so I hit the road for sunrise this morning. ©Kit Frost

Multicolor Fall Hues from Haviland Lake. ©Kit Frost

Multicolor Fall Hues from Haviland Lake. And YES, that’s digital dust on my sensor.  I was in a rush to get a report out today.©Kit Frost

 

Set your f-stop for a small aperture and take a few images of backlit aspens.  Along Hwy 550 North of Durango

Set your f-stop for a small aperture and take a few images of backlit aspens. Along Hwy 550 North of Durango

Just south of the Cascade Village. ©Kit Frost

Just south of the Cascade Village. The shadows on the corral are from the low sun behind me. ©Kit Frost

At Purgatory, Durango Mountain Resort, just after sunrise. ©Kit Frost

At Purgatory, Durango Mountain Resort, just after sunrise. I used a 300mm lens to compress the “space” and create a painterly feeling. ©Kit Frost

I was anxious to photograph the spruce fir with snow on them, as I knew our warmer, sunny day would melt the snow and "clump" it up.  8am today. ©Kit Frost

I was anxious to photograph the spruce fir with snow on them, as I knew our warmer, sunny day would melt the snow and “clump” it up. 8am today. ©Kit Frost

Today’s Assignment: Photograph the Star of the Show

Make a tree the star of the show.  Although the hillside is full of golden Aspen, can you imagine this photograph without the dark tree in the foreground?  Comments?  email your Star of the Show for posting here.

Although the story here is all about the golden aspen up along Highway 550 between Durango and Silverton, the Spruce tree is the Star of the Show.  This image was created in 2010 ©Kit Frost

Although the story here is all about the golden aspen up along Highway 550 between Durango and Silverton, the Spruce tree is the Star of the Show. This image was created in 2011 ©Kit Frost

Colorado Updated Fall Color Report

Fall Color Report, Sept. 29, 2013

I spent a few days driving the Alpine Loop in Colorado. this drive is especially nice in the fall as it’s a Photographer’s Gem. This year the aspens are slow to bloom, as we have a had a warm late summer and fall.  The West side of the loop, and the La Platas are not showing color changes just yet. We searched out a few of my favorite high altitude pockets of aspen, above 9000 feet, but I estimate a week to 10 days for prime time on the West side. Even though it snowed in Telluride and up on Lizard Head Pass, the aspen is still predominately green.

On the West Side of the Alpine loop, it was challenging to find aspen copse in full bloom.  It snowed so you can see a dusting on the fir trees at the top of this scene. ©Kit Frost

On the West Side of the Alpine loop, it was challenging to find aspen copse in full bloom. It snowed so you can see a dusting on the fir trees at the top of this scene. ©Kit Frost

I usually count 10 days from the first frost and then take a group of students to my favorite locations. Because a storm and strong winds were in the forecast for Friday, we went West to East on the Alpine loop; Durango, Mancos, Dolores, Telluride, Ridgway.

As we approached Dallas Divide, I knew there would be a ton of photographers at the "scenic viewpoint". So I took my class to one of my favorite locations without crowds.  ©Kit Frost

As we approached Dallas Divide, I knew there would be a ton of photographers at the “scenic viewpoint”. So I took my class to one of my favorite locations without crowds. ©Kit Frost

We hit the top of Lizard Head Pass just as a storm hit.  So we skipped Telluride, which was to have snow starting at 5pm through 10pm, and drove up to Dallas Divide.  I love changeable light and was like a kid in a candy store taking my students up to Ridgway.  I wasn’t disappointed.

Once we arrived at our Sunset location at Dallas divide, the Sneffels view was obscured by clouds, but still wonderful for photography and some time laspe, as the storm was driven by strong, cold winds, and was moving fast. At the Divide, the crowds were lined up for sunset and I noticed a strong cloud bank just to the west, where the sun would soon set. I like to be there an hour or more before to scout the light. Even though Star Walk app posted sunset at 7:05 I knew we would be “skunked” out of it if we got there too late. The best time right now is about 5-6:35.

  • Between Ouray and Silverton, I’d say the colors are at 50%
  • Between Silverton and Coal Bank, I’d say the colors are at 40%
  • Between Coal Bank and Durango, give it a week to 10 days for full bloom.
  • Between Mancos and Ridgway, give it a week at least, as the aspen, cottonwoods, and oak along the Dolores River, Dunton, and the West Fork of the Dolores, are all still green

Want to learn more about photographing the big scenes in fall color, the intimate aspen forest.  Trust a local…join us next Friday, October 4th or on Sunday, October 6th as we take you to our favorite locations along the Alpine Loop.  We’ll teach you everything you need to succeed.

The storm cleared for just a moment on Mount Sneffels.  I like this composition better when the aspens in the highlights are golden and the oak in the foreground is red-orange.  Next week.  ©Kit Frost

The storm cleared for just a moment on Mount Sneffels. I like this composition better when the aspens in the highlights are golden and the oak in the foreground is red-orange. Next week. ©Kit Frost

Related articles

Create a “star of the show” in your Photos

Compositionally, its easy to keep your mind focused on a few simple steps.

  1. Should this image be horizontal or vertical (landscape or portrait)?
  2. What element of the scene is the “star of the show”?
  3. What element then become the supporting cast?
  4. What is the focus of the image (what seduced me to take this photo)?
In this image I was drawn to the red oak brush in the midst of the aspen forest.  She is the "star of the show".  Surrounded by her supporting cast. ©Kit Frost

In this image I was drawn to the red oak brush in the midst of the aspen forest. She is the “star of the show”. Surrounded by her supporting cast. ©Kit Frost

Learn what to include and what to eliminate from your compositions, making your photograph concise and clear.

This image was made in 2009, with a Fuji 7megapixel point and shoot camera.

Our fall color changes are seducing photographers from
all over to visit Colorado.  Stay tuned for up-to-date Colorado Fall Foliage Reports.

What do you think? Feel free to comment below and to email your “star of the show” for review and discussions.

Create Drama in your Photographs

Use Shadow and Light to lead the viewer’s eye through your composition

Shadows point the way towards Hesperus Peak, Southern Colorado

Shadows point the way towards Hesperus Peak, Southern Colorado

I favor using foreground shadow to accentuate the middle ground and distant subjects in my photographs.  I think the darkness/shadow in the foreground is important.  I wait for it.  Sometimes it requires a late afternoon or early morning low light, at other times cloud shadows work to take away the flat, boring, full sun.  Check out these examples and evaluate what you think the images would look like without the shadow and light.

This week’s assignment: with or without your camera, notice shadow and light. Whatever your subject, observe the light falling on and around your composition.  Perhaps a slight change in composition would really make your photo have drama.

Because there is a mountain behind me as well as in front of me.  Late in the day shadows fall on the closest trees. ©Kit Frost

Because there is a mountain behind me as well as in front of me. Late in the day shadows fall on the closest trees. ©Kit Frost

I deliberately framed this image with the fir tree on the right for added depth and interest. ©Kit Frost

I deliberately framed this image with the fir tree on the right for added depth and interest. ©Kit Frost