Fall Color Photography Lessons, 2019

Photograph Fall Color in Fabulous Southern Colorado

October 14-15.
Our Two Workshop in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado

Let us teach you how to photograph grand landscapes like this one between Durango and Silverton, Colorado. ©Kit Frost

Let us teach you how to photograph grand landscapes like this one between Durango and Silverton, Colorado. ©Kit Frost

Our Colorado Fall Color Photography Workshop takes place in the San Juan Mountains.  Round-trip from our accommodations at Cascade Village, we take you to our favorite grand and intimate scenic locations throughout Southern Colorado, stopping along the way to teach lessons such as:

  • Composition for the Grand Colorado Landscapes
  • Photographing Aspens in the Forest
  • Patterns and Textures of Aspen
  • Working with Depth of Field and Shutter Speed.
  • We make sure you’re familiar and comfortable with YOUR camera.
Photographing in and around aspen forests is a fun, learning experience on our Fall Color Workshop. ©Kit Frost

Photographing in and around aspen forests is a fun, learning experience on our Fall Color Workshop. ©Kit Frost

Day One finds us exploring the landscapes, light and aspens between Durango and Silverton, we explore locations for lessons at the Pigeon, Turret view, along Lime Creek Road, Molas Pass.

Skills learned:

  1. How to properly use YOUR camera to combine f-stop, shutter and ISO to make your images sing.  Discussion of what makes a good photo into a great photo.
  2. Aperture control for depth of field
  3. Shutter control for those “quaking” aspen.
  4. Choosing back-lighting, front, and side lighting to improve your photography

Day Two After an early check out of our accommodations, we continue chasing the fall color and mountain compositions that “call our names”.  We teach you to improve your photography skills.  Digital video instruction (optional) will be demonstrated as we make our way through the mountains, creating short video clips of your adventure, the forests, time lapse of the grand and intimate scenes.

We travel up and along the scenic highway from Silverton to Red Mountain Pass, Owl Creek Road to Silver Jack Reservoir.  The Cimmaron Mountains are our backdrop as we explore “near-far” relationships in the autumn landscape.  At sunset we will photograph the Sneffels Range from Dallas Divide, a must see fall scene in Colorado. Learn what composition skills are needed to isolate beauty in the “big” scene. This workshop ends at 5pm on Day two.

Skills learned:

  1. Using leading lines in your photos.
  2. Create near-far compositions and learn to select the proper f-stop
  3. Working with exposure compensation (+-)
It's always surprising to see the mix of color in our golden aspen forests. Let the landscape show off to you and photograph this awesome display. ©Kit Frost

It’s always surprising to see the mix of color in our golden aspen forests. Let the landscape show off to you and photograph this awesome display. ©Kit Frost

The Amazing Autumn Color  of Red Mountain Pass

The Amazing Autumn Color of Red Mountain Pass

Tuition and Accommodations

Accommodations in Durango are at Cascade Village where we share a 3 bedroom Condo.  Once registered for our Fall Color Photo Workshop, we’ll pass along more information about suggested gear, clothing. Click here for Kit’s suggestions for adventure gear.

Tuition, includes expert photography instruction, accommodations, light beverages and lunch at our photo locations. $1200. for two days

A light dinner will be served on our first night, and breakfast and lunch on day two.

For more information about fall color in Colorado.

And Why Leaves Change Color

And while in Durango.

Join us for our Adobe Lightroom class after your workshop,

Learn to upload, edit and sequence, title and add music to YouTube and Facebook videos.

Getting ready for Colorado Fall Peak Colors

My favorite Cottonwood Tree in all it's fall glory.  Beef Basin Road. Near Newspaper Rock, Utah ©Kit Frost

My favorite Cottonwood Tree in all it’s fall glory. Beef Basin Road. Near Newspaper Rock, Utah ©Kit Frost

My studio faces north.  I can see the La Plata Mountains, and the Animas Valley.  I love the see the approaching, clearing and socked in storms that surround this mountain town.  I live and work with the San Juan National Forest and the Weminuche Wilderness in my backyard.  As I sit here this morning, I’m anticipating the fall color spectacle with excitement.  My best guess is that the end of next week will be a great time to get out and photograph.  I’m heading north on this coming Friday and planning to get out and stay out for a few days late next week.

In preparation for fall photography, here are a few things I suggest

  1. Charge batteries
  2. Clean lenses
  3. Upload and empty all CF and SD cards
  4. Leave the tripod in the car, ready to go
  5. Pack a bag of layered clothing for the mountains
  6. Pack raingear for the inevitable storms (oh yeah)

In addition to the gear preparation, I tend to look over fall photos from past years to get inspired. Here are a few, from Colorado, Utah,  and New Jersey. I live 3 hours from Moab and Southeast Utah. Some of my favorite trees (Cottonwoods) are along the Newspaper Rock Road between Monticello and Moab.

This Maple and the Oak behind it live at Round Valley Reservoir in New Jersey ©Kit Frost

This Maple and the Oak behind it live at Round Valley Reservoir in New Jersey ©Kit Frost

round valley maple

The images above are examples of using my 75-300 lens to compress space.  The backgrounds in both photos are a considerable distance from the trees in the foreground.

Centennial, Hesperus and Aspens reflection

An Autumn Drive, October 4, 2010, led to this reflection and views of our local mountains, Centennial, and Hesperus with a fresh dusting of snow. ©Kit Frost

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

 

Colorado Wildflowers are Blooming in the San Juans

What kind of flowers are currently blooming in the Mountains of Colorado?

Purple Fringe grows prolifically along this rocky mountain cliff.  Near Highland Mary Lakes in the Weminuche Wilderness. ©Kit Frost

Purple Fringe grows prolifically along this rocky mountain cliff. Near Highland Mary Lakes in the Weminuche Wilderness. ©Kit Frost

Blue Vervain, Colorado Blue Columbine, Silvery Lupine, Orange Paintbrush, Parry’s Primrose, Elephant’s Heads, Sky Pilot, Larkspur, Dusky Beardtongue, Purple Fringe, Fairy Trumpet, to name a few; the wildflower bloom is ON in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.

Above 12,000 feet we hiked alongside fields of Alpine Phlox, Dwarf Clover, Rosy and Sulphur Paintbrush, Old Man of the Mountain, and Moss Campion.  Along the ridge lines I photographed Purple Fringe and Asters, while along the creeks at lower altitudes a mix of Elegant Death Camas, Orange and Rosy Paintbrush, and Sky pilot greeted us in movement and color.

Some locations, like the rocky backdrop for the purple fringe below are along high altitude ridge lines.  The hike to this location is from the Highland Mary Lakes trailhead.  I like to challenge myself physically and photographically to capture these beauties while they last.  Late July snowfields in the background add interest and location to this image.

Other Wildflower Blogs by Kit Frost

A low camera angle (I was laying on the ground) allows me to show the big scene as well as the wilds. ©Kit Frost

A low camera angle (I was laying on the ground) allows me to show the big scene as well as the wilds. Highland Mary Lakes. ©Kit Frost

Join us for lessons on using your digital camera to capture these beauties, we take you to amazing locations in the San Juan Mountains north of Durango, Colorado.  July 26, 9am-4pm, August 1st, August 8th, August 15th, 2pm-7pm.  Email kit@kitfrost.com for more information or to schedule private lessons on how to use your digital camera.

Often by late July, the only places to find Parry's Primrose along high altitude creeks.  This group was photographed at Clear Creek.  ©Kit Frost

Often by late July, the only places to find Parry’s Primrose along high altitude creeks. This group was photographed at Clear Creek. ©Kit Frost

 

 

South Park-52

Although a 3 mile hike to this location along the Silverton/Rico trail, the trail is clear, and the surrounding mountains really add to the photos. ©Kit Frost

I like to include reflections of nearby cliffs in the creeks to grab the interest of the viewer. ©Kit Frost

I like to include reflections of nearby cliffs in the creeks to grab the interest of the viewer. Columbus Basin, La Plata Canyon©Kit Frost

 

 

Reflections of a Large Format Photographer

For years I used a Toyo 4×5 View Camera, shooting 4×5 sheet film.  Up until 2007, I processed all my large format film, both color transparencies (chromes) and black and white negatives in my darkroom.  I used the Jobo rotary processor for film, and Cibachrome printing of my color images.  I printed all my own Gelatin Silver Prints. I operated a Community Darkroom in Durango, Colorado.  And taught darkroom and film skills at the Maine Media Workshops, at Bayonne High School in New Jersey, and private lessons in Durango.  I miss it.

Tonight is the opening reception for the Colorado Plateau: A Storied Landscape exhibition here in Durango.  As an invited artist, I was asked to show my Black and White imagery from the Four Corners.  I’m stoked to be showing right alongside Don Kirby, Bruce Hucko and Serena Supplee.  Years ago I attended and assisted a workshop, my first trip into Antelope Canyon, with Don Kirby, Bruce Barnbaum and Stu Levy.  These men are some of the biggest influences on my photography and choice to use large format, along with Ansel Adams and John Sexton.

Original 4x5 black and white negative, scanned and digitally printed. ©Kit Frost

Original 4×5 black and white negative, photographed with Toyo 45AII large format camera, scanned and digitally printed. I printed this image 24×32 and it’s amazingly sharp at that size.   Gotta love large format. ©Kit Frost

In order to complete all the work for the exhibition I reviewed years of my archive of negatives and chromes.  Choosing just 6-8 images proved challenging, yet, I found that the show was focused on the Colorado Plateau so some of my images spoke louder to me during the editing process.  Old school editing, lightbox, loupe and all.

Once I made some choices, I scanned the 4x5s at 2000dpi, planning to print to 16×20 and matte and frame to 20×24. And then the fun began.  I have digital dust on the sensor of my D300 and D5100 but nothing compares to the dust cleanup necessary with film.  My storage is a clean area, as dust free as possible. Once committed to the process of zooming in to each small square of the file in Photoshop CS4, I used the healing brush, one spot at a time.  Very Zen.  I gave myself the luxury of time, time to get the clean up completed.

Bears Ears, or Honey I'm Home!  Large format black and white negative, Toyo view 45AII, scanned and digitally printed.  ©Kit Frost

Bears Ears, or Honey I’m Home! Large format black and white negative, Toyo view 45AII, scanned and digitally printed. ©Kit Frost

As you can see, I love Southwest thunder clouds and cumulus clouds in general.  So a clean, spotless print, is important to me.  The prints were made on an Epson 7600, boy that printer is a workhorse, as I’ve had it running in my studio since 2003.  Amazing quality.  I used a combination of Lightroom and round tripped to Photoshop to use all the tools in my “toolbox”.  I enjoy the editing process, I enjoy the ease of  Lightroom to organize portfolios, to make choices as to how images look in combinations (I made a bunch of collections to view images as a group). I burned the midnight oil (but never judged prints under night lighting in the studio).

Passing Summer Thunderstorm, from Hunts Mesa, AZ.  Large Format Color Chrome, scanned RGB, converted in Photoshop. ©Kit Frost

Passing Summer Thunderstorm, from Hunts Mesa, AZ. Large Format Color Chrome, scanned RGB, converted in Photoshop. ©Kit Frost

Looking towards the Weminuche Wilderness, the Grenadier Range, part of the Colorado Plateau series.  Large format color chrome, scanned and printed digitally. ©Kit Frost

Looking towards the Weminuche Wilderness, the Grenadier Range, part of the Colorado Plateau series. Large format color chrome, scanned and printed digitally. ©Kit Frost

I plan to record video stories about each of the images hanging in the current exhibition.  I love story telling.  And preparing the work, editing, scanning, printing, matting and framing has inspired me to use my Toyo View Camera once again.  Interestingly enough, I’ve been shopping the Nikon D800 as an upgrade from my current gear.  I look forward to working those 36 megapixels into a series of 30×40 prints. But the view camera is calling my name.  I have plenty of Ilford and Fuji film, but as many of you know, the “in the field” workflow is so much different with DSLR compared to the view camera, that I’m spoiled by the speed and quick results of my Nikons.  Waiting for film to be processed by the lab could prove to be a real challenge for me.   So maybe it’s time for my next darkroom, eh?  More to follow.  Stay tuned.

Are you using a large format set up?  Have you retired your large format gear?

 

Photos Chosen for Upcoming Exhibition

 

While still huffing and puffing from hiking to the top of a crest, this view presented itself: Today's destination. ©Kit Frost

I’m still huffing and puffing from hiking to the top of this saddle. The view ahead: camp four. ©Kit Frost

 

Ruby Lake and Weminuche Wilderness view, Colorado

The view from the summit of Mountain View Crest looking northeast into the Weminuche Wilderness. I love a hike like this, the anticipation mounts as I get closer and closer to the summit. ©Kit Frost

 

Submitting work in exhibitions is a great way to complete a portfolio, to edit, matte, and frame a few images.  I begin my process by planning each trip, pouring over topos, mapping out routes, and then finally, feet to the ground, camera backpack and tripod at the ready.

 

These images are part of a Weminuche Wilderness portfolio, photographed last summer while hiking and backpacking.  For years I planned to be standing right on the edge of these summits, and I was blessed with clouds on both occasions.  I am often heard saying “no sky, no sky” because I really love summer cumulus clouds in the top of my photographs and if there are no clouds then I eliminate the sky as much as possible.  Summer monsoon season in the mountains of Colorado usually means big, puffy, interesting cloud shapes across a big blue sky.

 

In both cases, shortly after making a handful of photographs the clouds blocked the light falling on the land, making further imagery too flat and dark.

 

I do my post-production using Adobe Lightroom, uploading each “shoot”.  After upload, the next step is to rate and reject any strong images (or weak ones).  I then have Lightroom refine the image collection to just show me the 5 star images and pick the best of those for final editing in Develop Panel.  The “best of” are put into a collection, where I also upload them to directly to my facebook page.  Comments and favorites are chosen with the help of my followers on facebook.  I like the help I get to choose the best for display, exhibition, and contests.  Thanks Friends.