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.

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

 

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

Photographing under mixed lighting conditions

In this exercise, I set up my tripod to compose a beautiful group of wild lupine.  These wildflowers bloom in late June at altitudes around 10,000 feet.  On days when the sun is hiding behind clouds and the clouds are moving, there are plenty of opportunities to see the light travel across the subject.  I usually like when the sunlight is slightly diffused by the clouds.  Which one do you prefer?

Wilds-2013-8-2

Full shade was on this bunch of lupine, the cloud cover was heavy. ©Kit Frost

Wilds-2013-10-2

Bright, speckled sunlight was painting across the same bunch. ©Kit Frost

Wilds-2013-11-2

I really like the subtle light as it flowed over the lupine. I waited until the foreground lupine was well, but not too harshly lit. ©Kit Frost

 

Lupin Lupinus Nederlands: Lupine (Lupinus) Fra...

Lupin Lupinus Nederlands: Lupine (Lupinus) Français : Lupin (Lupinus) Deutsch: Lupine (Lupinus) Español: Lupín (Lupinus) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Top 10 hints for Winter Landscape Photography

Near Telluride, Colorado.  By using a long lens, the mountains appear even bigger in this composition. ©Kit Frost

Near Telluride, Colorado. By using a long lens, the mountains appear even bigger in this composition. ©Kit Frost

When it snows in the mountains of Colorado, you can hear the locals shout POWDER DAY!   Those of us who don’t alpine ski, but who LOVE photographing snow it’s time to get out and play.

Snow-laden spruce and fir, snow-covered mountainsides, and the pure white of new snowfall make for wonderful subjects.  The challenge is to grab your gear and drive, hike, bike to locations before the snow melts.  We get bluebird skies here in Colorado, even on days with a foot of snow;  get out early to take advantage of a small window of opportunity for great images before the snow melts from the trees.  I also prefer to photograph mountains with snow; I think they look better, bigger and more seductive than when snow has melted in the spring, summer and fall.

Here are a few hints for proper gear.

  1. Bring snowshoes, gaiters, hand warmers, thermos of your favorite hot beverage, gloves, hat.
  2. And for the more adventurous, load up your x-country skis too
  3. When pulling over to the side of the road, be sure your car is safely parked, away from any ditches.
  4. If you’re hiking, wear waterproof boots, gaiters, and be cautious of “tunneling” into the snow banks.
  5. When using a tripod for deep depth of field, make sure the legs are secure.  Sometimes the snow melts and the legs “plunge” into the snow.  Take time to set up your composition and check it carefully.

Now some hints for improving your photography.

  1. Give your subjects a sense of place and grandeur.
  2. Use shadow and highlight to your advantage.
  3. For hand-held photos without your tripod, set your ISO to 500 (so you can achieve deep depth of field when needed)
  4. Set your exposure bias (+ -) for a bit of overexposure (+), but don’t overdo it.  I like +.07
  5. Focus on the nearest object in the frame, and let a small aperture capture the rest clearly (f22-32)
Separation created by using shadows and highlights to your advantage.  ©Kit Frost

Separation created by using shadows and highlights to your advantage. This photo shows “near/far” relationships too. By using the 75-300 lens the background “compresses”, appearing closer. ©Kit Frost

Get out and play! © Kit Frost

By showing the near and far mix in the photo you can give the viewer a deep sense of space. Wide angle lenses capture the grand landscape. © Kit Frost

Winter Landscape Photography Examples

The stories behind some winter photos in my portfolio

As the sun was rising, the mountains cleared, revealing themselves on a winter morning.

I am lucky enough to have a dear friend who needs his dog and house taken care of when he’s out of town.  His cabin is on a lake just 20 minutes north of Durango in the San Juan National Forest. Snowfall began in the evening and I set my alarm for just before sunrise, knowing it would be a “powder day”. I woke up to almost 3 feet of fresh snow, quickly shoveled the stairs, and set up my tripod and gear.
Shortly after sunrise, the mountains started to appear, revealing themselves. I love the blue, cold, tones of fresh snow on trees.  It’s important here in Southern Colorado to get out early before our bluebird day begins and the snow melts from the spruce, fir forests. Oftentimes, a bit of over-exposure (+) helps to make the whites in the sky sing.  But be careful of too much exposure; “blowing out” the highlights can cause post production problems in that there is no density in that part of the image to work with.  I used Adobe Lightroom to file and edit the image and “sweetened” it up a bit with adding just a tad of magenta to the image above.

The white middle ground of this image is a lake, with about 2 foot of fresh snow.  ©Kit Frost
The white at the lower 1/3 of this image is Haviland Lake, in the San Juan National Forest, with about 2-3 feet of fresh snow.  I used the ponderosa pine tree on the right to balance the view from foreground (pine tree) to background (highlighted Twilight Peak).  You can see the blue sky as the low-lying clouds and ground fog clear.  No graduated neutral density filter was needed here.  I use the Tiffen .06 for about 85% of my landscape images, to hold detail in the sky while letting the foreground and middle-ground metering guide the exposure.

This peak, located in Southwest Colorado is one of fifty two 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado

Located in Southwest Colorado, Hesperus Peak is the highest summit in the La Plata Mountains in Colorado.  At 13,232 ft, Hesperus is notable as the Navajo People’s Sacred Mountain of the North, Dibé Ntsaa, which marks the northern boundary of the Dinetah, their traditional homeland. I could see this view from my front porch in Mancos.  I set up my tripod and enjoyed photographing the fast moving, low lying clouds from the winter storm reveal and hide the mountain tops. A few moments after taking this image, the clouds covered the scene and the mountains didn’t appear for the rest of the day.

Winter in California

A few years ago I spent the holidays along the coast of California, traveling each day from “home base” in Monterey. The coast of California in winter is quite a dramatic change from Colorado. I loves the shapes of the succulents in the sand.  The light in late December was quiet, almost somber, and the ocean was a beautiful blue-green color.

Capturing the waves in the background and the shape of the succulents on the beach required the use of my Nikon 12-24 lens and deep depth of field. Sometimes I used the boulders to block distracting elements in the distance.  The earth “curves” at ultra wide angle, so I would check in my viewfinder to be sure I had not distorted the horizon lines too much.

Capturing the waves in the background and the shape of the succulents on the beach required the use of my Nikon 12-24 lens.

The coast of California is quite a change from winter in Colorado.  I loves the shapes of the succulents in the sand.

Near Santa Cruz,  I loved “dodging” the waves after they came through these “Natural Bridges”.  By moving my camera only a few inches I could choose what to frame within the opening. Slow shutter speeds and capturing the light on the rocks were important aspects of creating these photos; knowing when to press the shutter release was half the fun too.  Timing the waves, cautious about getting the wet sand on my tripod, and framing the distant scene, while choosing a small aperture for deep depth of field were all part of the workflow.

Setting our tripods up in the sand, running away as the water flowed under the "bridges" added to the fun of this winter photo excursion ©Kit Frost

Christmas Day photography.  I loved "dodging" the waves after they came through the bridge. ©Kit Frost