May 15, 2017

A Weekend of Front Range Photography

I was lucky enough to get into the mountains twice this weekend – and it was glorious!

My friend Tim is an incredible amateur photographer, and I’ve long admired the beautiful shots he’s gotten all over the world. Since moving to Denver from Dallas, he’s been going out many weekend days to capture various Colorado landscapes, and I’ve been incredibly envious. This weekend, I got to venture out with him to Rocky Mountain National Park for a sunrise photo session at Moraine Park.

We arrived about 30 minutes before sunrise, and I got to watch the sky turn from dark to pink. So pretty!

The wakeup was brutal – Tim picked me up at 3:50am, so I had to be up at 3:20am to get myself together. I headed to bed at 6:30pm on Friday night with a book (this one), but didn’t end up getting to sleep until 10pm. Whoops! I felt kind of out of it for the whole day, though I wasn’t entirely sure if it was the short sleep, the fact that I accidentally didn’t drink enough water on the trip, or the altitude that was bothering me. By the time we left, my hands were swollen, so I’m guessing some combo of the latter two? I was just SO tired that I couldn’t believe that didn’t have something to do with it!

But even though I kept thinking about lying right down in the grass or even going to the car for a quick nap, I really enjoyed the trip. Tim knew the best spots to go for great shots, as evidenced by the fact that when we arrived just before 5am, there was already another photographer at our not-so-secret vantage first vantage point. Although I didn’t learn quite as much as I had hoped about how to take a good photo, Tim had picked the perfect time of day and location for me to get some great shots. (That’s the part I really need to learn.) I’m excited to get some of these printed on canvas and up in my house!

My first really good pic from our “money shot” location. I took a ton from this spot and kept experimenting with both the light and the angle/foreground.
This is facing the “wrong” direction (away from the snowcapped peaks) but I just loved the meandering river and how the sun played on the little waves.
I really liked Tim’s tip of “framing” shots with things in the foreground, and I experimented with a lot of grass, reeds, and this pussywillow-sort of plant. The colors in this came out so vibrant! (But we had to wait till about 8am for the sun to come all the way down to the valley.)
We headed over to Sprague Lake for our final hour of shots, which was sunny and beautiful… but not quite as fun to photograph. It was hard to avoid getting the parking lot in the pics, as it was right below the mountain views! I think this pic manages to hide it decently well, though.

I had a great time out with Tim, but by the time I got home at 11am, I was so exhausted that I actually felt sick. I decided to take a “quick” nap… and ended up falling asleep for four hours. Yikes! After I woke up, I ended up not doing all that much else: I spent the late afternoon gardening, cooking dinner, and then still trying to get to bed reasonably early. Fortunately, the nap didn’t mess me up and I was able to sleep by 9pm. I guess I had been even more tired than I thought.

The next morning, I had been planning on a six-hour hike of Bear Peak. But given how out of it I had felt the day before, I decided to scale it back and instead do Green Mountain, which usually takes me about three hours. I tried to take advantage of my new photography eye along the way for a few pics…

Maybe not as majestic a pic as those of the mountains from the day before, but I was overwhelmed by the gorgeous greenery at the beginning of the trail and really wanted to capture it.
My attempt at being artsy: closeup of the peak finder at the summit of Green Mountain, with the various peaks in the out-of-focus distance. I also took a pic that was the reverse (mountains in focus, peak finder out of focus)… I need to get Tim to teach me how to put those two images together so it’s clear all around.

Even though I stopped for pictures along the way, my hike time was really fast – I made it to the top in just 83 minutes, and down in 47 minutes! I think that’s the fastest I’ve ever done Green Mountain, which was pretty good given that I didn’t even run down – my backpack was bouncing and annoying me when I ran, so I just did a fast walk. (Any suggestions on a small backpack or vest that will hold a water bladder but still be small/fitted and not bounce at all? My friend Amanda suggested the CamelBak Marathoner Vest, but it looks like that’s been discontinued.) I couldn’t believe I had finished in only 2:10 total – that’s fast enough for me to do Green Mountain on a Friday if I start early enough! I might need to set a goal to see if I can go under two hours by the end of the summer?!

Today, though, my legs are sore – so now I think I understand why I made it so quickly. I guess I was pushing harder than I thought! Better rest up before I do it all over again next weekend.

I love Colorado 🙂


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