Sometimes in life we take things for granted, especially simple things. I chose to live in Colorado because of its many beautiful locations. One of my favorite local areas to shoot is Rocky Mountain National Park. While I love to travel near and far to explore and photograph new areas, I find I am most productive when photographing places that are local. Local haunts allow me to return time after time to a location. Many of these locations I have visited on hundreds of occasions under all types of lighting and conditions. I can study the light, understand the weather patterns, all of which help to maximize my chances of capturing successful imagery.
This morning was a little different. When I went to bed the night before, our politicians were bickering and grandstanding attempting to settle our 2011 budget crisis. If the budget was not settled within a few hours of my going to bed early in order to wake early for sunrise, there would be a government shutdown. One of the casualties of the shutdown was going to be the National Park and the National Park Service. Of the countless times I have visited Rocky Mountain National Park, it had never occurred to me that it would be possible to have access restricted and the Park closed. I regularly visit and photograph Rocky Mountain National Park impressed that those who have come before me, had the foresight to protect this beautiful area as well as to keep it open to the public.
When my alarm went off at 2:30 AM the first thing I did was check to see if I would be able to access Rocky Mountain National Park. I had gone to bed feeling disgusted and disappointed over the fact that Washington politicians could not do their job and complete a budget. Not only was it possible that I would not be able access Rocky Mountain, but it was possible that thousands of employees would be out of work and furloughed. Luckily a budget was agreed upon and the National Park Service did not have to close or restrict access to the National Parks.
Because I was unsure of what I would be doing this morning, I took a wait and see approach to my photography. Normally I like to plan where and what I will be photographing. On my drive up to Rocky Mountain I could see that clouds were present to the east, but not to the west or over the Continental Divide. I needed to find a location where I could setup and hopefully catch those clouds off to the east light up as the Sun rose. I knew that Sprague Lake has a nice unencumbered view to the east. I also figured that Sprague Lake might be starting to thaw out and that I may be able to find some open patches of water to catch a reflection of the clouds if the sunrise worked out as I had hoped. I arrived at Sprague Lake to find almost all of it still covered in snow and ice. There was however, a small area on the west end of the lake with a thin layer of ice, not covered by snow. The eastern horizon was showing promise and the clouds were showing hints of pink and magenta. I quickly setup the camera and was not disappointed. To think I almost missed out on this beautiful sunrise.