From the sea back to the high mountains… and a local iconic (cliché?) postcard landscape for you from just above the Boulder Bubble, aka The Friendly People’s Republic of Boulder.
With my D800 and my 24-70mm lens off at Nikon for repairs (they were dropped some time ago…both still worked, but were pretty banged up), it is the iPhone that I have with me most often these days.
REPAIR UPDATE: It appears that my D800 is coming back from Nikon as “unrepairable” This means I will have to use the thing sans battery door and with a small pointy object always handy to pry the battery out of its slot each time I need to charge or change it. The camera still makes good images, though, even with the bashed batt compartment.
So, the spring snow storm continues here in Colorado. In the Foothills now, it looks more like mid-winter than it does May Day, so there were lots of folks out capturing images with whatever camera they had handy–iPhone, point-and-shoots, DSLRs, even GoPros held out the window of a slow cruising car.
This kind of meteorological instability is really not unusual, though, as March and April can actually be very heavy months for precip in these parts.
The snow line must have been right at 5,430 feet above mean sea level today as the flakes turned to wet rain the minute they hit the streets here in town–but, just a few hundred feet higher, the snow accumulated heavily in the trees, bending their boughs under a very wet, thick, blanket of white.
April snow showers bring May sun and flowers??? We’ll see!
Here are a few images from Flagstaff Mountain this afternoon as we move from April into May…ever closer to summer.
Can you spot the raptor soaring between the Second and Third Flatiron?
Here is a closer view of the raptor, or…? Let me know, ornithologists, if you have a positive I.D. on this gal or guy:
The weight of these spring snows can break tree limbs and down power lines:
One of the many switchbacks that climb the hill, a route popular with local cyclists and rock climbers who specialize in bouldering:
The jagged north profile of the First Flatiron was occasionally visible as the cloud base moved and wreathed up and down:
The “day (or two) after”, rather than the exact date of the full Moon, is my favorite time to think about a landscape photograph with the Moon hanging just above the horizon right after sunrise. This makes the tonal range much easier to capture–the brightness of the Moon is not so different from the surrounding scene once the Sun wakes up–and the long first shadows and early morning light on the undulating terrain features can be beautiful.
Shooting the day of the full Moon, on the other hand, is a bit more difficult because the Moon will be very low or setting just as the Sun gets high enough to equalize the bright Moon with the darker landscape. You can shoot earlier, while the Moon is higher in the sky, but the sky and terrain will be even darker and the contrasts much harder to capture in a single image. With tall mountains very close to you on the western horizon, or if you are in a valley, the Moon will be gone still earlier–when the sky and ground are quite dark. If a high contrast image is what you are after, all of this might be just fine for you. (See such an example below in which I let the Moon “blow out” with a slight star effect.)
The above example was a capture from December 27th, 2015, two days “after”. (The “day after” had been an obvious lost cause due to a low overcast in the morning.) In this case, the Moon was a waning gibbous disc at 94% and the spread between sunrise and moonset was just a bit too long (sunrise at 7:22a.m., moonset at 8:48a.m.). I would have liked the Moon lower at sunrise–and a few sunrise-pink clouds in the sky, too!
Ideally, you can find “a day (or two) after” that will give you some better variables.
First example: On January 24, 2016 (a “day after” the full Moon) the sun rises in Boulder at 7:16a.m., then the Moon ( a 99% disc) sets eight minutes later at 7:24a.m. With this situation, you’ll get the Moon very low just as the Sun’s rays hit the landscape. This could work as long as terrain on your western horizon does not point up more than maybe 5-10 degrees above the “real” horizon. If I were shooting the same scene as above, though, there is a good chance that the Moon would fall behind the mountains before the Sun rises.
Second example: On January 25, 2016 (two days “after”), the spread is much better. Sunrise in Boulder occurs at 7:16a.m. and the Moon doesn’t set until 8:01a.m. (97% disc). This means the Moon will above a level horizon for some 45 minutes after the sun strikes the landscape, thus giving you a bit of time to find the best compositions. With high terrain in the west, though, this time will naturally be reduced.
Another very rough way of looking at this last situation is that the Moon, at sunrise, will initially be about 10-15 degrees above the horizon at my latitude (a fist or so at arm’s length)–is that high enough for it to be above my western mountains at sunrise? Probably so, as long as I am not pegged right up against said mountains, or in a deep valley.
What morning you choose to go after the Moon all depends, then, on your goals. Do you want to challenge yourself with a high contrast scene, or do you want to work with a more evenly-lit landscape?
Here are two excellent sites to check for appropriate planning and scheming info:
Finally! I was beginning to think that Chicago had sent us their winter weather. But today, Colorado blue skies reappeared as the mists above began to part.
In this one, I cloned out a few hikers–and a small sign–that didn’t conform to my vision of the composition. I did leave one hiker on the trail to help with a sense of scale. (Yes, I certainly do manipulate my images–I am not a photojournalist, after all!)
Note the huge icicles hanging from the overhangs on the Second (middle) Flatiron.
OK, OK…a color version for the Black and White challenged…
Socked in. Temps into the single digits. Snow fluttering down. Ice on the roads. Traction Law in effect on I-70.
Often that can be a good combination for some wonderful winter landscape images. Stormy weather is much more dramatic than plain-Jane, true-blue, skies.
It’s those single digits that have made me wimp out these past few days. I guess I’m still thinking with my Summer-Fall Brain and I haven’t yet adjusted my physiological-psychological thermostat to the reality that official winter is but three weeks away.
So, I turn to my cold weather photo duties:
–Rearranging, sorting, deleting files and images on the hard drive.
–Backing up image files.
–Printing out images that have been on my “To Print” list.
–Organizing my LLC paper files.
–Post-processing images that I had forgotten about.
–Combing through old files to see if I have overlooked possible good images.
–Preparing files and paperwork for contest/gallery submissions.
–And so on.
There always seems to be plenty of housekeeping to be done if the weather gods have made things miserable outside.
Soon, though, I’ll get accustomed to the new winter status quo and I’ll be back out there shooting. For me, it’s always much more fun to be behind the camera rather than behind the computer.
Isn’t it ironic…to scrape and scramble for a parking space as close as possible to the trail head when your plan all along is to go hiking? Yep, I’m guilty of it, too.
2016 Black & White Magazine, Spotlight Award Winner! (Issue: June, 2017, #121)
All photographs on this website (unless otherwise indicated) were created by and are the property of Daniel R. Joder and may not be used for any purpose without permission. Most of the images you will find here are available for license or purchase. If you are interested in using one of my images for your website, or if you would like a print, please contact me directly (See the Contact and Purchase Prints buttons for more information).