Working Around Cloudless Winter Skies

Its been mostly quiet on the weather front in Rocky Mountain National Park for the start of this winter season. Saturday night however, we did get a few inches of fresh snow falling on the park. Like other landscape photographers, capturing RMNP after fresh snow has fallen on the landscape is something I always look forward to photographing. Capturing clouds in the skies at sunrise is a bit more difficult than one would think. Here I photographed the Earth Shadow or The Belt of Venus as it is known to capture and add some color to the skies over the Mummy Range, and Ypsilon Mountain just before sunrise. Technical Details: Nikon Z7, Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 S lens

Fresh snow on the mountains always gets the juices flowing for this landscape photographer. Mountains covered thick with fresh powder and pines covered in the white stuff can make for that perfect winter image.

As I’ve detailed in pervious blog posts, living in Colorado and photographing Rocky Mountain National Park, both clients and other photographers assume that capturing beautiful wintry scenes is like shooting fish in a barrel. If you’ve been a reader of my blog for any length of time you know that on the Front Range of Colorado, and specifically RMNP, its much easier said than done.

Photographing winter in Rocky is challenging for a host of reasons including high winds that often fill in on the backside of storms as the exit the region, a few breaks of sunshine here and there which will quickly melt and drop the snow from the pines and tree branches, and lastly clear blue cloudless skies which often can be found the morning after a snowstorm moves out of Rocky Mountain National Park.

This can be frustrating for the landscape photographer who gets up early, heads up to the mountains on snow covered roads and then heads out long before dawn in the winter cold to be in the right place at the right time.

One only get so many chances each season at capturing the beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park after a good dumping of snow, so you really want to maximize your chances of coming away with an experience and an image you are proud of.

While you may first wake up to the skies being filled with clouds, more often than not you will find much if not all the clouds in and around Rocky will have a way of dissipating shortly before sunrise. Being left in the lurch with cloudless skies after all that work to be in the right place at the right time can be frustrating.

One trick and tip I like to give clients is not to panic when you watch the skies clearing at a breakneck speed right as you are arriving on location. ‘The belt of Venus’ or the ‘Earth shadow’ will produce a nice magenta glow on the horizon a few minutes prior to the sun actually rising.

If you arrive to clear skies and before you decide to forgo that hike out into the backcountry of Rocky with the mercury hovering around zero degrees, turn off the car heater and get on site before dawn to capture the subtle but beautiful hue created by The Belt of Venus or the Earth Shadow. Doing so will allow you to both take advantage of photographing Rocky Mountain National Park in one of its most beautiful states after snow has covered the park, and capture a dynamic and beautiful landscape not only covered with snow, but also with some added color and beauty.

Rolling Into 2021

We can finally say goodbye to 2020 and welcom in 2021. Here is one of the better sunrises of an early 2021. Looking across Upper Beaver Meadows, past the fire damage caused by the East Troublesome wildfire, we see the continental divide glowing in the soft winter sunrise. I’m looking forward to continuing to offer my Rocky Mountain National Park photography tour services this coming year as well as continuing to improve my personal work and portfolio. Technical Details: Nikon Z7, Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 S lens

Farewell 2020, hello 2021. Most are more than happy to bid 2020 adieu and welcome in the new year. Many forsee the return of normalcy or at least more normalcy than we have all experienced in this previous year which will be one for the record books.

I dont think anybody has the slightest idea on what 2021 holds in store for us, but I think most of us are just hopeful that turning the page on 2020 will be in and of itself a positive momentum changing occurrence that many are looking for.

Truth be while 2020 was a challenging year for me, photographically speaking it was actual a very positive year. Business was more difficult with COVID, lockdowns and Rocky Mountain National Park being closed both due to the pandemic as well as the two large wildfires that affected swaths of the park. Even with the pandemic and wildfires making operations more challenging, I was able to narrow down my focus and work on accomplishing goals and projects I had been putting off.

While my Rocky Mountain National Park photography tours and guiding services were down for the year, I was able to use any spare time I had to photograph and backpack into areas of Rocky Mountain National Park that I had not been able to access previously.

Since we are rolling into 2021, what better way than to start by photographing an old wagon wheel hanging on the side of the Gateway Grocery store just outside the Fall River Entry to Rocky Mountain National Park. Technical Details: Nikon Z7, Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 S lens
Having this time to concentrate on my personal portfolio along with being able to create work that I wanted to was sorely needed. I started running my photography guiding service in RMNP back in 2015. While I very much enjoy getting clients out into the field and sharing with them the beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park, I had not been able to get out in the park and photograph where and when I wanted to the extent I was able to do so in 2020.

This has allowed me to reflect on how I will conduct business and photography tour services going into 2021. It will also allow me to continue to offer photography guiding services to my clients with a renewed passion and energy for both photography, Rocky Mountain National Park and my clients going forward.

So with 2021 underway, I look forward to continuing to photograph Rocky Mountain National Park while also meeting new clients, seeing some old friends and continuing to act as an advocate for protecting and sharing the beauty found in Rocky Mountain National Park.