Bridge To Summer

Just a day removed from the winter solstice and trying to find subjects to photograph this time of year in Rocky Mountain National Park can be a challenge. This time of year, I spend a lot of time photographing locations and subjects in RMNP that I would be less likely to photograph during the bountiful summer and autumn months. The newly completed bridge over the Roaring River at the Alluvial Fan was one location I was photographing a spectacular sunrise at last week. This beautiful new 54 ft. wooden bridge might not be the most sexy subject in RMNP, but it’s been on my list of subjects to photograph and this beautiful off-season morning in the park was the perfect time to do so. Technical Details: Nikon Z7, Nikkor 24-70mm F4 S lens

One day removed from the winter solstice and you’re getting an itch to get out in Rocky and do some winter photography. You have some time off from work, maybe you scored a new piece of gear during the black Friday sales or you’re just trying to get out in nature and enjoy a few hours on the trail.

Now you have to figure out what you want to photograph during the offseason in RMNP. It’s not as easy as it will be six months from today when a short hike up to Dream Lake would lead you to one of Colorado’s and Rocky Mountain National Park’s most spectacular and iconic locations.

Drop your camera at Dream Lake in late June and you are likely to have a wall hanger. Maybe it’s not quite that easy but you get my point. This time of year it’s a little more difficult to jump out of bed on a cold and windy morning and get motivated to get out in the field. Cold, snow, and wind are waiting for you right on the other side of the front door.

Once you get done fretting about the weather and get done scraping the ice of your vehicle, the next step is figuring out where and what to photograph in Rocky. Getting out far into the backcountry like one would in the summer requires dedication, physical endurance, knowledge own winter safety and avalanche protocols and proper equipment to ensure you are prepared for the weather and difficult conditions often found in the mountains this time of year.

So maybe your not gung-ho about heading out into the backcountry but still want to get out and get some winter photography done and kick off the rust thats accumulated since the last aspen leave fell this past fall.

The good news is there is always something to photograph in Rocky, especially when the light is good. Even better, Rocky Mountain National Park gets some of its most dramatic light in the middle of winter.

There are plenty of subjects to photograph in Rocky even during the short days of late December. My strategy this time of year is to take the time to photograph subjects and locations I would likely not be photographing during the summer and fall. Many of these locations are also short hikes from the trailhead or vehicle which is welcome on chilly mornings in the park.

Favorite locations and subjects for me this time of year are any of the lower elevations in the park such as Horseshoe Park, Moraine Park (access currently limited), and Beaver Meadows. It’s also a good time to photograph some of the man made structures and objects this time of year as well.

Even with the brown and white landscape and the short, cold days found this time of year in Rocky, there is plenty to see and photograph to keep ones creative juices flowing. Concentrate on the light and compositions this time of year more than just the drama found in the landscape and you should be able to satiate your photography appetite and come away with some images that will hold you over until your next winter adventure.

Icy and Brown

December has been a very quiet month so far in Rocky Mountain National Park. Little in the way of snow or interesting weather has visited Rocky of late. With cold temperatures at night and mild days, the landscape remains frozen and brown. This sunrise from Sheep Lakes last week in Horseshoe Park is indictive of the current conditions. Frozen and snow free water, and brown grasses. A colorful sunrise helps to bring the landscape to life but we would certainly welcome a few good snowstorms here in the coming weeks. Technical Details: Nikon Z7, Nikkor 20mm F1.8 S lens

Icy and brown. That’s the current state of the season in Rocky as I write this. Nights have been clear and cold and days mild and sunny. Our stretch of dry and mild weather has continued right into December now.

While there is some snow on the higher portions of Rocky Mountain National Park right now, the lower elevations are mostly just brown. Nights are cold enough that most of the lakes and streams have frozen over. Overall, Rocky is immersed in its early winter slumber.

I keep checking the weather looking for dramatic sunrise or the hope of a few good days of snow but so far no dice. Dry Novembers and December are not uncommon in Rocky, but one can usually bet on some colorful sunrises and sunsets this time of year. Wild wave or lenticular clouds are often common when the winds pick up, as are some colorful sunrise on account of high clouds over the region. So far, neither of these scenarios have come to fruition.

So it remains quiet and calm here in Rocky Mountain National Park as the park enters its winter slumber. We could use both the moisture and some dramatic weather to spice things up, hopefully the pattern shifts shortly and the drama awakens the slumbering and brown landscape for us photographers.