Stormed Out!

Well our big March snowstorm in Rocky Mountain National Park has moved on out leaving a heaping of fresh snow in its path. As I was just saying a few blog posts ago, too much snow is a bad thing for landscape photographers. Sometimes a few inches of fresh snow are better than the 2 foot plus of snow RMNP received during this past March blizzard. With so much snow falling, the NPS had to close nearly every road in the park in order to plow and keep visitors safe. The end result of this big storm is that when there was finally enough access to Rocky, it was quite limited. Yesterday was the first morning I was able to get back into the park. Being that it was St. Patricks Day and the mountains were covered in clouds and snow, I used the opportunity to photograph Horseshoe Park. Here the colors of the Irish can be seen with orange willows, white snow and green pines covered in fresh snow from the weekend storm. Technical Details: Nikon Z7, Nikkor 200-500mm F5.6 AF-S VR Lens

Well our big March blizzard came and went and in the process dropped over two feet of fresh snow on Rocky Mountain National Park. With a little less than half the month of March left, its possible that we will certainly have more snow though not quite as likely to have as much as this past storm.

As I just wrote about in the blog a few columns back, big snowstorms aren’t always conducive to landscape photography. I stated in the column that sometimes a few inches of the fresh white stuff is better than feet of snow falling and this latest storm was a case in point.

By the time the storm had cleared out on Monday morning, anywhere between 20 and 30+ inches of snow had fallen on the northern Front Range towns and foothills of Colorado. We had a spectacular sunrise down here in Erie as the Boulder Flatirons were covered in snow and clouds over the peaks turned pink along with the skies as the sun rose over the tundra like landscape.

Of course I was out all ready to photograph the said beautiful sunrise after the historic storm?, nope. Not because I did not want to head out but between shoveling through the four foot drifts on my driveway and the fact that all the side roads and streets had also not been touched by plows along with parking lots there was no way to get out to photograph the sunrise as the storm departed. There was just too much snow, too fast for the plow operators and maintenance people to keep up with. I was snowbound for the morning and had to watch this beautiful sunrise unfold from the confines of my office where I suffered from a serious case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).

The same problem was occurring up the hill in Rocky Mountain National Park. While the mountains in Rocky Mountain National Park remained covered in clouds and snow flurries, the National Park Service closed access to Rocky Mountain National Park down on Sunday so that the plows could work safely.

A very small section of RMNP reopened by Tuesday afternoon on the east side of the park. US 36 to Deer Ridge Jct. and US 34 through Fall River entrance were open. All other areas were closed leaving only a very small section of the park that one could photograph. As of this writing on the morning of 3/18, Bear Lake Road is still closed and being plowed and the NPS is reporting there is 63 inches of new snow that has fallen at Bear Lake.

So while this was a great storm for precipitation which we desperately need in Rocky, it was a terrible storm if one wanted to photograph snowy landscapes or just gain access to the trail system and backcountry area. Good news is that Sunday through Tuesday of next week look unsettled and hopefully we have more snow, but not so much that roads and access are closed off making photography impossible.

Snow Inbound

March in Rocky Mountain National Park has been pretty queit so far. It’s typically one of our snowiest months and current forecasts are calling for the potential for a classic spring snowstorm to setup towards the end of the week. I’m looking forward to it as we could use some more snow and moisture in Rocky moving forward. So far this week its been mild as it was yesterday when I photographed this beautiful sunrise over Moraine Park. You can see the burn scar from the East Troublesome Fire in the lower middle portion of the image. A big snowstorm will only help to mitigate this potential moving towards our summer season. Technical Details: Nikon Z7, Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8 S lens

March has entered like lamb. If weather forecasts hold it looks like it will want to stick around like a lion for awhile here. Forecasts currently call for snow to begin towards the end of the week in Rocky Mountain National Park with the potential for heavy snows occurring through this weekend.

This is great news for Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park. February was a good month for moisture and to be able to compound it with a big snow dump in March would be great. March is typically our snowiest month, though in recent years March has actually underperformed. A good spring blizzard feels like a Colorado tradition and a right of passage that every new resident to the state or visitor to the state should experience.

A couple days of good heavy, wet snow followed by warm sunshine and a quick melt off is always welcome here even though many of us are getting the itch for summer and warmer weather to return to RMNP.

The snow and weather changing should help to present some good photography opportunities moving forward. Photographing the storm during and after should lead to some good potential winter images, but the moisture from these storms will help get the rivers flowing, the wildflowers blooming this summer and hopefully keep our fire damage down as we enter the warmer months.

Frankly, by this time of the season, as a photographer I think we are all just looking for some new opportunities to open up as we start to grow tired of the brown season in the lower elevations of RMNP.

Getting a big dump of snow is great, but as I stated in my blog post last week, 3 inches or 3 feet of snow does not really make much of a difference when it comes to actually photography. In fact, if we do get a big dump of snow (some forecasts are saying 2+ feet), it may be difficult or impossible to travel around the park and local roads.

So at this point we will just wait it out and see what develops in the coming week. We certainly will be getting snow in Rocky Mountain National Park, the only question is just how much, will travel be possible and will those westerly winds that follow these storms hold off long enough to give us a window or two to photograph the landscape before blowing the snow off the pines. All I can say at this point is stay tuned!.

In Like A Lion Or In Like A Lamb?

March is already here and 2021 is moving right along at a breakneck pace. Is March coming in like a Lamb or a Lion?. So far its been quiet but March is one of the best months to photograph winter landscapes in Rocky Mountain National Park. While I shot this image of Longs Peak from Hollowell Park last week, weather conditions and improved lighting as the sun moves north all make March a great month to photograph in RMNP. Technical Details: Nikon Z7, Nikkor 24-70mm F4 S Lens

I cant believe its already March. Winter is flying by and summer is tangible with it right on the horizon. March is an interesting month here in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s our snowiest month and one of the best time of the year to hunt for winter landscapes and fresh snow. You can get a taste of all four seasons in March but the one is more likely to get the full brunt of a winter powder dump in March than any other time of the year.

So far March 2021 in Rocky Mountain National Park has come in like a lamb. They early weather pattern looks fairly mild over the next week with a few chances for some light snow. We need the moisture here in Colorado and we have slowly been working our way back towards normalcy as winter winds down. Snowpack in Rocky is at about 90% of what it should be right now. Thats pretty decent considering how dry its been since the fall.

Even if we get some of our classic March blizzards and snow dumps we are still going to have a very difficult time getting our snowpack back to 100% for this season. Because March is our snowiest month, catching up to at or near 100% normal snowpack will be very difficult as we would need a lineup of large storms to really dump on the area in an above average pattern.

Still we can remain positive knowing we have made up some of the deficit and while I would say it’s likely we enter the summer months at a slight disadvantage, we should still be looking better than we were at the start of 2021.

More importantly, it’s a good time to plan a trip to RMNP if one is looking towards capturing winter landscape images. The storms this time of year tend to be packed full of moisture but they also tend to move out quickly which opens up opportunity for snow covered landscapes, fog and dramatic lighting if one’s in the right place at the right time.

One other benefit to capturing the snow covered landscapes this time of year in Rocky is that the lighting angles on the east side of the park are really improving. Many of the classic Rocky Mountain National Park landscapes have peaks that face north and east. As the sun rises further north on the horizon each morning as we head towards summer, the lighting gets better on the northeast face of Longs Peak, Hallett Peak, Taylor Peak and Notchtop.

Contrary to the middle of winter when the sun is rising at its southernmost point, these iconic locations will be getting nice frontal lighting now. In the middle of winter mountaintops such as Longs Peak and Hallett Peak will be mostly in shade or side lit when the sun rises leading to long shadows and often poor lighting.

Keep an eye on the weather and be prepared for just about anytime of weather this time of year. If you want winter landscapes to add to your photography portfolio, March and April are the months to circle your calendar and keep your winter gear tucked in the back of your vehicle. With a little luck we can improve the snowpack and our winter portfolios all in one shot. Good luck!.

You Only Need A Little

A lot of people and landscape photographers always get caught up on getting out to photograph after a huge snow dump. The reality is one does not really need huge winter storms that dump feet of snow in Rocky Mountain National Park to make compelling landscape images. This morning in Rocky saw about 6 inches of snow fall in the lower elevations of the park. It was just enough to make travel easy enough but keep the landscape and trees covered with snow and allowing for the appearance of a winter wonderland. 2 ft of snow might have meant that unplowed roads would be closed in Rocky or traveling even short distances from ones vehicle would require great effort. Technical Details: Nikon Z7, Nikkor 24-70mm F4 lens

I’m a big fan of landscape photographer Michael Frye. I’ve been reading his articles in Outside Photographer and blog for a long time now. Michael’s skill as a landscape photographer are second to none and his ability to teach and educate are also top notch. Much of what Michael states resonates with me and in many way our approaches and philosophy on photography seem very similar. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Michael in person, but from following along as a fan for a long time now, I’ve come to believe we have similarities.

When reading his blog a couple of weeks back he was discussing a recent outing to Yosemite National Park to get out and photograph one of the recent snow storms that had moved through the valley. Michael spends as much time photographing Yosemite as I do Rocky Mountain National Park so he has great insight into photographing locations over and over again in different conditions as I like to think I do.

Frye commented in his blog post that ‘Photographically, it’s not the amount of snow that matters. I’ve made most of my best Yosemite snow photographs with just a few inches of new snow on the ground. For me, other factors are more important, like having fresh snow still in the trees, and some mist to accompany that snow. It’s fun to see a big snow dump, but all that snow makes it difficult to get around, and it’s not necessarily more photogenic’

I’ve had this thought many times, and when I reading Michaels blog post thought to myself ‘at least I’m not the only one who thinks this way’. Sometimes I feel like a bit of an imposter when posting winter imagery from Rocky Mountain National Park because of the fact that big snowstorms are not required to make beautiful winter images of Rocky.

People are obsessed with how much snow there was and how hard was it to travel and get around. The truth is in landscape photography, 2 inches is just about as good as 20 inches of snow is. As long as it covers the trees and the landscape with fresh powder the weather conditions such as wind, clouds, fog and of course composition and light will all be more important in determining how impactful the landscape photograph is.

Secondly, snowshoeing in 2 feet of fresh snow is much harder than walking in 2 inches. Driving in 2 feet of fresh snow on unplowed roads is much harder than driving in 2 inches of fresh snow. The point being here that you don’t need to wait for big storms to hit a given location to make great images. You need weather, light, atmospherics and most importantly great timing and vision to make it all come together. When looking back on images 10 years from now you wont remember if the storm dropped 2 ft of snow or 2 inches, you will just remember how great the light and conditions were that day.

Bouncing Around Boulder

Artic cold has settled in over the Front Range of Colorado this week. While its chilly out, the change in weather has really opened up opportunities to photograph some dramatic conditions for a change. I’ve been out all week trying to get myself in the most favorable locations based on the weather and cloud layer. This particular morning, Walker Ranch above Boulder was a perfect spot to photograph the inversion layer and the backside of South Boulder Peak. Technical Details: Nikon Z7, Nikkor 24-70mm F4 S lens
As I sit here in my office and write this post its currently a chilly one degrees fahrenheit outside. A cold arctic blast has settled over the Front Range of Colorado bringing winter roaring back. While i’d prefer to see it a little warmer out, I can really complain about the change in weather for two reason.

For one, we’ve barely had much of winter here on the Front Range to speak of. It’s been mild and dry and we really need to start playing catch up on our moisture and snowpack. Secondly, the change in weather brings with it great opportunities for photographers looking for dramatic conditions and spectacular light and atmospherics. All those mild and dry days we’ve had so far this season have made for so ho-hum lighting conditions in what is typically a difficult season to photograph as is.

When the weather changes around here and the dominant weather pattern changes to an upslope flow on the Front Range, winds out of the east northeast bring with them snow, fog and inversions.

Fresh snow on the landscape with clouds and fog will spice up any landscape photographers day but get yourself in the right location in regards to the inversion of clouds caused by the upslope flow and you are all set to take the drama up another notch.

When chasing and photographing inversions on the Front Range of Colorado, the important part is figuring out at what altitude the cloud layer or inversion is at, and then figuring out how to get yourself in a position to be just above the layer of clouds. You can have ideas where you want to shoot and you may have a checklist of locations you want to shoot when conditions are right, but the weather is ultimately going to determine where you end up.

Some days when I’m out chasing the weather and trying to get above the inversion of clouds, the elevation of the inversion puts me high up in Rocky Mountain National Park. Other mornings, the layer is lower and I’m bouncing around the foothills just west of Boulder working on getting above the clouds so that I can see and photograph the light when the sun rises above the horizon.

The following day after photographing at Walker Ranch, the cloud and inversion layer settled a little lower than the previous day. This particular morning, Walker Ranch was free of fog and clouds but a little lower down Flagstaff Mountain was looking good. About 3 miles up Flagstaff Mountain just above downtown Boulder, I was able to get above the inversion layer again and photograph the north side of the Flatirons with Gregory Canyon covered in fog. Technical Details: Nikon Z7, Nikkor 24-70mm F4 S lens
With the big changes this week we had a couple of good days of inversions, fog, snow and rime ice on the trees. So far this week the weather has been such that the best locations have not been up in Rocky Mountain National Park but in the lower elevations and foothills just around Boulder. The inversion did not creep up the the foothills high enough to reach RMNP this week and most mornings settled between 6000 and 7000 ft.

This put Walker Ranch as the best area to photograph one morning, and Flagstaff Mountain just west of downtown Boulder as the best place to photograph the second morning this week. While Rocky had some snow, the winds were mostly out of the west at higher elevations obscuring the mountains and pushing the upslope flow with east northeast winds below Estes Park and back up against the high plains of Colorado.

This arctic weather is going to stick around for a few more days. Every morning I’ll be out checking web cams and trying to figure out where the best spots are going to be and if I can even get above the cloud layer for dramatic photography. Regardless, it’s great to see some moisture and change and typically speaking, this pattern tends to strengthen more as we had towards spring. Either way, these mornings albeit cold, can make for some great photography if you can get yourself in the right location.

New Views

Winter keeps rolling along here in Rocky Mountain National Park though you almost wouldnt know it. It continues to be a mild and placid winter so far in 2021. The mild winter has made traversing many parts of Rocky easier then in previous years as there is a lack of snow on many of the trails below 9000ft. This lets me easily get out and explore areas withouth having to trudge through snowdrifts or wear snowshoes. This view of Longs Peak is along the burn scar from the East Troublesome Fire. The golden pines on the middle ridge are actually burned. This view has been opened by the fire and I’m hoping to get back here after a fresh dusting of snow. Technical Details: Nikon Z7, Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 S lens
Things are quite here up in Rocky. We are almost half way through the winter season and it still feels like we’re awaiting its arrival. While its not uncommon to have dry January and Februarys, the lack of snow and interesting weather seems more pronounced this season then previous seasons. Most of our moisture will arrive as we move towards and into spring. So I’m looking forward to what is usually the best time of year to photograph winter scenes in Rocky Mountain National Park.

So as a landscape photographer how do you keep yourself busy while waiting for some weather to arrive?. For me I try to get out and explore no vantage points and locations in the park. I want to be ready when when some exciting weather and light arrives and have a handful of new locations that I can parse through and photograph when its primetime.

With the lack of snow in RMNP right now, its pretty easy to travel around the park on foot, especially in the lower elevations of the park in which conditions are much more like autumn than mid winter. There is no need for snowshoes or spikes in lower elevations as of this writing, no snowdrifts to posthole through and no head scratching moments when you lose the trail in the snow and spend 10 minutes getting yourself back on course in the pre-dawn light.

It’s easy sledding right now (pun intended) in Rocky Mountain National Park for photographers looking to be mobile in the middle of winter. I used the easy trekking to head into Upper Beaver Meadows again to look for some new compositions post fire.

While almost all the areas in or near the burn area from the East Troublesome Fire are still closed, the trails through Upper Beaver Meadow are open and skirt right along the boundaries of where the fire came down Spruce and Fern Canyon and down Beaver Mountain into the meadows burning the hillsides and in the process opening up some new locations and views.

There is a lot of potential for some new vantage points, especially looking south towards Longs Peak. I had a decent sunrise while out exploring but will need to get back to these spots after some snow or fog graces us with her presence. Until then, I’m going to keep exploring, hope for some good weather and most importantly some good light.

Happy 106th Birthday RMNP!

106 years ago today President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Rocky Mountain National Park act creating what we now know as Rocky Mountain National Park. RMNP celebrated its 106th birthday with a celebration of light and snow over its beautiful landscape. From a vantage point along Trail Ridge, I photographed the Mummy Range this morning in all its splendor as one of the best sunrises this winter unfolded in front of my camera. Technical Details: Nikon Z7, Nikkor 24-70mm F4 lens

106 years ago today, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Rocky Mountain National Park Act protecting and creating Rocky Mountain National Park. It was the culmination of years of hard work and dedication by people like Enos Mills who fought so hard to make sure the place we now call Rocky Mountain National Park would be protected and accessible for generations of people to visit and enjoy.

With snow falling on the park last night, I was up and out the door early hoping to capture something interesting with my camera. I’d be lying to you if I said we have had lots of good opportunities for sunrise and sunsets this winter with lots of fresh snow on the mountains. Truth is, Colorado and the Front Range have been very dry since the fall and decent snow has been few and far between the past few months. Hopefully the pattern is changing as we are desperately in need of some moisture here in Colorado. Selfishly, snow and unsettled weather also makes for a lot more interesting photography as well.

Snow was falling lightly as I passed through the Beaver Meadows entry long before dawn. I was hoping for a possible inversion or some breaks in the cloud cover around sunrise. About 2 inches of snow had fallen over night, just enough to coat the pines and landscape with something other than the mostly brown grass we’ve been plaque with since the autumn. I checked the cloud layer as I always do trying to figure out just how high up the inversion was and whether I would be able to possibly get above it either by driving Trail Ridge Road to the winter closure point at Many Parks Curve, or throw on spikes and hike up Flattop Mountain.

With the thermometer on my truck in the single digits, I took the easy way out and headed up to Many Parks Curve as opposed to hiking up Flattop Mountain to see if I could get a better feel for how high up the inversion was.

As is always the case when there is an inversion in Rocky Mountain National Park, it’s like two different worlds above the clouds vs. below the clouds. Below the inversion layer the Ponderosa Pines along Deer Mountain were covered in frost and snow. It was the best of both worlds on RMNP’s 106th Birthday. Technical Details: Nikon Z7, Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 S lens
When I arrived at Many Parks, it was socked in with fog. I parked the truck and took a look around. While walking around the overlook checking out the frosty landscape, the Mummy Range started coming into view through the fog and clouds. This of course meant the inversion layer was right at about 9400 ft or so. I had about 40 minutes to sunrise at this point so quickly packed up and started hiking up Trail Ridge Road.

I have a few spots along Trail Ridge Road when its closed in winter that I like to shoot the Mummy Range from. I settled on one about .5 miles up from the gate and watched as I could see a burst of color begin to form to the east. There were lots of clouds in the sky and fog below in Hidden Valley so it wasn’t a for sure bet that I would see any color or sunlight over the Mummy Range.

Perched up on a high hillside trying to stay warm I watched as the inversion stayed low enough so as not to block the mountains and the skies over Chiquita, Chapin, Ypsilon and Fairchild started to glow pink and magenta. The light show lasted all of 5 or 6 minutes before the clouds obscured the sun again and I packed up and headed back down to find other subjects to photograph.

106 years after its creation, the area that we now know of as Rocky Mountain National Park continues to give. Even on its own birthday, it would be hard to ask for a much better place in all of Colorado to get out and photograph sunrise on this cold January morning. Happy Birthday Rocky Mountain National Park and as always, thanks for all the great memories and experiences over the years!.


Rocky Mountain National Park was hit with two large wildfires this summer. Both the East Troublesome and Cameron Peak wildfires burned large parts of RMNP. Most of the burn areas remain off limits but some small areas such as Upper Beaver Meadows allow limited access to the burn zones. I hiked into Upper Beaver Meadows earlier this week to explore some of the damage and look to capture some of the beauty that can be found even amongst the destruction. The charred husks of the Ponderosa Pine trees made for an interesting subject as the wildfire had turned the normally red trunks to metal husks full of detail. Technical Details: Nikon Z7, Nikkor 24-70mm F4 S lens
Rocky Mountain National Park experienced two of its most devastating wildfires congruently this summer. The Cameron Peak Fire and the East Troublesome wildfire were the two largest wildfires to hit Rocky Mountain National Park in years. The last large fire was the Fern Creek Fire in 2012, followed by the Ouzel Fire in 1978.

Many places in Rocky Mountain National Park have gone hundreds of years without being touched by wildfire and combine that with drought, beetle kill and low humidity and common high wind speeds it was only a matter of time before additional parts of RMNP were affected by wildfires.

While the East Troublesome Fire and Cameron Peak fires burned nearly 30,000 acres within the park, the actual impact of these fires wont be known for years. With the exception of part of a portion of the East Troublesome Fire burning through the Kawuneeche Valley and up the North Inlet and over into Spruce Canyon and the Fern Lake area, many of the more popular areas of Rocky Mountain Nation Park remained untouched.

Access to the burn areas is off limits at this time. The plan is for the NPS to get back into burn areas when the snow melts and clear downed timbers and rebuild the trail system where its been damaged so that visitors may return to these areas. The park service is optimistic that much of this can be done throughout this summer though it remains to be seen at this point when one will be able to safely visit areas where the Cameron Peak Fire and East Troublesome fires burned.

Snow falls on a downed tree in the forest along the edge of the meadow in Upper Beaver Meadows. The contrast of charred wood and freshly fallen snow crystals made for a new subject to photograph. Technical Details: Nikon Z7, Nikkor 24-70mm F4 S lens
One small area that was just recently reopened to access is Upper Beaver Meadows. While much of the area just west of Beaver Meadows remains closed, one can now hike into Upper Beaver Meadows along the closed road or trails and wander through a very small portion of the burn area.

I headed back into the area early this week to not only get out on the trail for a bit, but to get a better glimpse of some of the damage as well as to try and find some subjects to photograph that would convey the damage and destruction of the wildfire but also to document what is an important part of the natural cycle that forests experience.

The sub alpine area of Upper Beaver Meadows consists of sub alpine stands of Ponderosa Pines, some spruce and aspen trees. Many who follow my blog know the striking red trunks of the Ponderosa Pine is one of my favorite subjects to photograph in the park. Wandering through burned out husks of beautiful Ponderosa’s was unnerving but it was also proved to be therapeutic as well. While the damage is striking, the trees and forest will return healthier than before for generations long after I’m gone.

Only a small portion of red bark remains on this Ponderosa Pine tree in the burn area in Upper Beaver Meadows. The rest of the tree appears frozen in steel. Even amongst all of the damage of the East Troublesome Fire along the meadows edge in Upper Beaver Meadows, concentrating on the small details and beuaty found in those details allowed for some interesting subjects to photograph. Technical Details: Nikon Z7, Nikkor 24-70mm F4 S lens
the charred husks which looked like molten steel was enjoyable as well. I’ve spent time photographing in the Fern Creek burn area scar after the fires, and once you get past the destruction and loss, there are interesting patterns, shapes and colors to photograph that where not present prior to the fires.

Would I prefer that neither of the two fires that rolled over RMNP this summer hadn’t occurred?. Of course I would. The untold damages, damages to houses, personal property, wildlife and forest will most likely never be replaced. Documenting the damage and trying to find beauty in some of the natural destruction that took place is as much a part of the process of observing a place as is watching the transition from summer to fall. It’s not my most favorite subject to photograph currently in the park, but walking the burn zone gives photographers some new subjects to incorporate into their portfolios as well as something we hopefully don’t have to repeat for a long time.

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.