Scenic Saturday and Other Things

Mt. Sneffels in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado

With all this moose business taking center stage this time of year, I’m still planning other adventures. Such as my upcoming trip to the San Juan Mountains for the first week of October for Autumn photography.

I do an annual trip, somewhere, and this year it was between Crested Butte and the San Juans. I get better sales from the photos out of the San Juans and to be honest, it’s a better target rich environment down there.

So, here’s today’s “Scenic Saturday” photo. On the Dallas Divide in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.

Enjoy your weekend and stay tuned for more moose photos as my second week in Northern Colorado begins on Sunday, August 11.

Photography Occurs in the Conditions That Exist

Landscape photography by Gary Gray
Autumn on the Ralph Lauren Ranch

Camera packs. I have many of them and it’s always a curious challenge for me determining which gear I’ll take on a trip and what is left in the cabinet.

I always have these fearful visions of my vehicle breaking down in the middle of nowhere with a boat load of photography equipment inside. Oh yeah, insurance is a good thing but it doesn’t really alter the mental convolution process.

For this trip, I’m packing my landscape kit; however, I’ll bring along the big lens just in case I run across some wildlife that begs to be photographed. I’ve heard that the moose are moving into the San Juans, so who knows? Maybe I’ll come back with a few wildlife shots as well.

My friend Jon and I have been discussing our plan of attack on the San Juan Mountains via email for the past two months. Every day, a new flurry of insightful thoughts are exchanged, google map locations examined, discussions about the weather predictions and announced road closures are factored in to our ruminations.

There are eyes on the ground reports too. A number of friends making the same trek, all reporting their sightings and impressions of how the color is developing in the mountains. Predictions of an early Fall, bad color, blown leaves, mold and mildew and smoke from fires. I never worry about the negatives, because I know from experience that all these variable conditions are, well, variable. One learns to photograph the event as the event exists, not as one wishes it to exist.

Take 2017 for example.  My visit to the San Juans was punctuated by lousy weather. Clouds, cold weather, sketchy color conditions. End result of last years trip was I got one of my best selling photographs from those conditions.

Nope, time to quit worrying about things that can be less than optimal or go wrong. Time to finish packing the gear and make the journey. I’ll find good shots, just like I do every year. Those shots will occur in the conditions that exist when we get there.

Anticipation

Photograph of Autumn Color in the San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains of Colorado

Colorado Autumn Color – From The Vault.

Sneffels Range, San Juan Mountains, CO.  October 9, 2011

Canon EOS 1Ds Mk II: 1/10 sec, f/9, ISO 100, 118mm

We go through the same cycle of anticipation each year, waiting for the Autumn Color trip to the Colorado mountains.

Today I’m going to find what information I can on the color status in the San Juans. From what I’ve been able to glean from web cams and individual reports, the mountains are indeed experiencing that annual transition, same as it ever was.

What I’ve learned over the years is to be patient. The color is what it is, the change is what it is, the weather is what it is. The job of the photographer is to show up at the best time possible and get the best shots as possible. Everything else is up to nature.

What is different this year is that the San Juan Mountains have been experiencing a serious drought this past year. How will the leaves react?  Lots of experts on weather and trees and chemistry and things like that, but the bottom line is you show up, find the best scenes available and take your best shot at them.

It’s the waiting that gets to you. A trip planned months in advance will occur with or without the grace of nature.

Small Surprises

Colorado’s San Juan Mountains in Autumn

For me, landscape photography sells almost 2:1 better than wildlife. My most popular theme is Autumn photography in Colorado.

Sometimes I take the scenic beauty in Colorado for granted. I’ve been doing this for long enough, going to my normal haunts around the state begin to feel redundant.

What I’ve discovered is to not concentrate on the iconic locations and scenes, photographed by thousands, over and over.

These days I spend more time looking for scenery in the nooks and crannies along the back roads. Areas that one doesn’t normally associate with group workshops and camera club outings.

I don’t recall ever seeing a photograph of this location, though the area is heavily covered by shutterbugs.

The best days are when you find small surprises.

I Have My Camera With Me

Colorado Landscape Photographer Gary Gray
Priest Lake Cabin

Browsing through my landscape photos this morning looking for a lazy day Sunday image, I came up with this photograph from the San Juan Mountains at a place called Priest Lake.

This photo was taken shortly after a robust snow storm hit the area near Telluride. It made for difficult driving but offered up some great photography.

I love it when seasons collide and I have my camera with me.

Photography is a Business Too.

Colorado Landscape Photographer
The Dallas Divide – Colorado

One of my continuous photographic endeavors is to steadily increase my stock photography catalog.

For the entire months of February and March to date, this has been my hottest stock image.

This photo of “The Dallas Divide” in the San Juan Mountains was taken last Autumn on one of my photo tours using the Nikon D7200 and the 18-140mm VR kit lens. It’s a great portable camera kit and is capable of taking outstanding landscapes.

The real trick I suppose, is to keep taking photos of everything you see. Those photos can be converted to cash. Photography is a business too.

Random act of photography

Photo Tours by Gary Gray
Autumn scene in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado

Taken near Ridgway, Colorado at sunrise.

Ridgway is normally where I work from when doing Autumn photography in the San Juan Mountains. It provides good access to The Million Dollar Highway, the Dallas Divide and Last Dollar Road area.  There’s a good pizza joint in Ridgway too.