Having lived out west for years now, we’ve gotten to know Rocky Mountain (RMNP) and Yellowstone. They are two very different parks with different landscapes and wildlife, but both are so very special. Everyone has seen recent articles of how busy the parks are, especially this past summer when so many families said they were traveling hell or high water! In 2019, approximately 4.67 MILLION people passed through the gates of RMNP to appreciate its beauty, majesty and wildlife. Currently parts of the park, especially the back country, remain closed due to the damage and instability caused by the summer’s destructive wildfires. The purpose of this blog is to share a little insight if you care to visit RMNP anytime soon.
Go early! The earlier you’re in the park the better. There are fewer people, the animals are more active and the light is amazing. When we travel we often get into the parks before 6 am, go back to our hotel about 10 am and relax while the people file in! Then, we head back in about 4 or 5 pm when everyone else (or most people) are heading out of the park to catch dinner!
Go off the beaten path! It doesn’t mean you have to take the worst roads but truly explore the parks in all their glory. Sure, there are the typical stops and lookouts that you’ll want to hit, especially on your first trip. But here are a couple of suggestions:
Bear Lake is a must see, but after you’ve taken in its panoramic view and walked around the lake, head to a trail called Bear Lake to Howell Park. You’ll join the rest of the summer crowd climbing a rather steep trail to the Bear Lake Trail, but instead of tuning left with the throngs, TURN RIGHT INSTEAD and head to Howell Park. It is about a 7 mile hike but the beauty is, in part, it is down hill. In the height of the summer season, we ran into one other couple and a bull elk the entire time on the trail. You’re surrounded by woods, babbling streams and exit into a beautiful meadow surrounded by peaks. It was such a pleasure! Be sure to check its availability and whether it is open to the public before heading out as there may be fire damage that restricts access.
The West Side of the Park
Many people travel through the park to the Alpine Visitors’ Center at the highest point, enjoy the view and turnaround and go back down to the heart of the park. As you’re leaving the center, you turn left to head back but TURN RIGHT INSTEAD! The west side of the park is wonderful and full of wildlife. Moose are notoriously recluse and are generally found in the marshy landscapes. The west side of the park has abundant wetlands and offers an opportunity to view moose that are elusive on the eastern park side.
However you choose to enjoy the park, whatever time of year, be sure your cameras are charged up and ready to go and enjoy the experience of photographing one of the most beautiful places in the world!
Talk about bad timing, I am about to write how to spice up your fireworks photography and it is about two weeks after the Fourth of July. Oh well, I am not in the practice of photographing fireworks so I didn’t have the photos to complement this article. This 4th of July a did a little photography during the fireworks show at Timnath, Colorado. Now I have photos to share. So lets see if I can give you some ideas for next years fireworks photos.
If you have been serious about photography for more than a month most likely you know the tried and true method to get pics like this one:
It is a pretty and standard fireworks photo. Here are the specs: ISO 100, F-Stop 9.0, Exposure 6.2 seconds, lens a 16 to 80mm at 22mm. Camera on a sturdy tripod with a cable release. Of course all these setting were set in manual mode and the focus was also set manually to infinity.
Nice pretty picture. Throw a bunch of them in Photoshop and you end up with a fantastic photo that you can make a poster of a fun remembrance. Like this:
That is all find and dandy. In fact such fireworks photos make fantastic images and prints. Still at the time of the shooting there is more that you can do that can create some visually stunning and different images; Like this one:
Or this one:
To get these effects I zoom the lens in on the first one and out on the second one. Also on the second one I continued the exposure after the zoom.
You can also wiggle the lens for an interesting effect or wiggle and zoom. Here are a few more examples of the zoom effect:
I think now you get the idea just how easy it is to be creative with your camera when photographing fireworks. Back in the day of film we would do this sort of things and then have to wait a few days for the film to be processed to see if we were successful. Sometimes we were really disappointed. With digital cameras you have instant review so you know right away if what you are doing is successful or not. So next time when at a fireworks show be creative with a couple of shutter releases. It could be very rewarding.
After five years living in Wyoming I am finally getting to really explore Colorado. Last weekend was beautiful, full of sunshine and temperatures in the mid-sixties. So my wife and I found our way to Eldorado Canyon State Park.
The snow was melting which made for muddy conditions when walking around. But the snowmelt had brought to life the small waterfalls and cascades that flowed throughout the park. I discovered over the winter just how much I had gotten myself out of shape. My bones were stiff and climbing around on slippery rocks with a tripod was an adventure. I am sticking to the story that all this stiffness in my body is a result of not enough winter activity and not because of my sixty years of age.
If your thing is watching people scale canyon walls then you should check this park out. There were rock climbers everywhere and they really made me ashamed of my current physical shape. I am going to take those pounds off in the next two weeks.
Sorry, I didn’t bring with me any telephoto lens, so no photos of the people climbing canyon walls. I have to admit rock climbers are truly amazing. For now I hope you enjoy the photo and short little video of the waterfalls and cascades.
Eldorado Canyon State Park is just fifteen minutes outside of Boulder by car. It is well worth the time to check it out. The downside is it cost eight dollars to drive into the park or three dollars to walk in. I will be back at the park later this spring once the foliage comes back to life.
Both the photo and video were taken with the Nikon D7000 and the lens was the Nikkor 17-55mm. – CLG