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

Rain, Hail and Fall Colorado Foliage Color Report

The whole state of Colorado from the Front Range, Boulder, Lions, and the Greeley area have experience epic rainfall and flooding recently.  We had our share of mixed weather this past week too.

Here’s a photo taken while I was sitting in my car.  Hail, rain and flooding.  And one block behind where I sat, a huge tree fell onto East 3rd Avenue, in Durango.  I’m so glad I was safely in the studio at that time.  I chose to return to Durango from my camping, scouting, teaching trip to Haviland Lake.  Good choice.

Sitting in my car during a recent hail storm and flood.  Durango.

Sitting in my car during a recent hail storm and flood. Durango.

When photographing reflections, with clouds, I like to slightly underexpose (-) my photo to hold detail in the sky as well as the reflected sky.

Hermosa Cliffs are beginning to show early fall color.  Sept 21, 2013 ©Kit Frost

Hermosa Cliffs are beginning to show early fall color. Sept 21, 2013 ©Kit Frost

Eliot Porter stated "don't include the sky unless it has something to say.  What do you think this sky is saying. ©Kit Frost

Eliot Porter stated “don’t include the sky unless it has something to say. What do you think this sky is saying. Haviland Lake Reflection, Sept. 21, 2013.  Click on the photo above to be linked to a time lapse video on my YouTube channel. ©Kit Frost

The reflection will almost always come out darker than the actual cloudy sky, so by underexposing the photo by 1/3 or 2/3 I can hold detail in both.  Click on the photo above to be linked to a time lapse video on my YouTube channel.

Tips for improving your reflection photography

  1. Set up your composition, watch for keeping the “horizon line” straight.
  2. Balance your image from top to bottom and from left to right too.
  3. If there are clouds, use a graduated neutral density filter or underexpose to keep detail in the sky.
  4. Pick a focus point.  If you have a strong foreground element, like flowers, think about focusing on them or just past them.
  5. Choose a deep depth of field if your scenic is grand.  f18-22-25-29-32
  6. Use a tripod to improve the detail of your scene.  A tripod allows for slower shutter speeds and gives you an opportunity to refine your composition.
  7. Have fun.

I was out making photos, camping and mushroom hunting, at Haviland Lake, between Durango and the ski area, North of Durango.  The fall colors have barely changed but i could see that the color change is beginning.  You can see the slight yellowing of the aspens at the top of this photo.

For reflections, I like to get out early and grab some coffee, my tripod, and Nikon D5100.  I experimented with varied f-stops and will report back here about the details of the sweet spot on my lens (Nikon 16-85)

What’s happening-Fall Color Changes in Colorado

While the northern part of our state is experience epic, destructive rainfall.  We in the southern parts of Colorado are having some rain too.  We’ve been in a serious drought in the Southwest US,  so it’s often a time for celebration when it rains in and around Durango.  Many folks in Durango, herself included, bike commute to work, and it’s been challenging.

What this moisture means for our upcoming Fall Color display is hard to say, but there was a light dusting of snow on the mountains nearby.  Below freezing temps are expected in the mountains as the sky clears during the night later this week.  I’ll keep you informed. In the meantime, here’s an image of our locals favorite, Engineer Peak, October 2011.

Morning light shines on Engineer as reflected in the Cascade Village Pond ©Kit Fros

Morning light shines on Engineer as reflected in the Cascade Village Pond.  October 8, 2011©Kit Frost