15 June, 2013- Crossing the Rockies


After a long and fruitful week at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass, I rolled out of Aspen late afternoon on Friday with designs to photograph my way home, over Independence Pass and back to Summit County. The sun was too harsh at my scouted location  along Independence Pass, so after a brief sojourn at the top that left me feeling nostalgic for my days in the Sawatch Range as a Wilderness Ranger, I pushed onward.

Coming over Fremont Pass, outside of Leadville, the sun began to enter its golden hour.  I screeched the brakes at Clinton Gulch reservoir and commenced to hike down to the Lake for a closer look. Pulling the camera out of the bag I set up the tripod and observed as the scene became more saturated with warm colors. As an old-school photographer who was reared in the days of slide film, this scene was far too contrasty.  What to do?

Since the photography course I attended was entitled “Lighting the World” I employed a technique that purists might once have scoffed at. I used my flash to illuminate the foreground. Purists once upon a time would have eschewed such tactics, opting instead for split density filters and other such approaches.  Its been years since I’ve flashed a landscape shot, but I certainly see nothing wrong with judicious use of flash.

In landscape photography, the rule for success is not being able to recognize that it was used at all.  And this was the point of these photos.  By removing the flash from the camera and triggering it remotely, I handheld the flash well above and about five feet to camera right. I also greatly toned down the flash to minimize its impact.  All in all I was pleased with the results.  Cliche yes, but classic Colorado, and not to be taken for granted.





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