Rainbow Curve

After a nice lunch at Sprague Lake, we returned to Trail Ridge Road and continued through the park. The choice of our next stop was given to my wife, and she asked to pull over at Rainbow Curve, one of the most popular overlooks. The clouds were already gathering for an early afternoon thunderstorm.

Rainbow Connection

The standard view from Rainbow Curve looks down the valley of the Fall River, but it didn’t excite me as much as the interplay between mountain and cloud. I dodged the three bright spots into greater prominence and increased contrast in the clouds.

The Y

The Mummy Range is visible to the north, across the Fall River. Ypsilon Mountain is named for glaciers on the east face which form the shape of a Y; they are visible in part here to the right. What color there was, mostly in the sky, was beautiful, but it seemed to me to distract from the shapes and textures of snow, clouds, and rock.

I was thinking about trying a few more frames when a peal of thunder suggested it was time to move along. Trail Ridge Road goes above 12,000′ at its highest, and we hadn’t even broken the tree line yet….

Sprague Lake

Untitled

I have wanted to visit Rocky Mountain National Park since I was a child. When I was 13 my parents took me to Denver, and we had time for everything except the park. It seemed incredibly unfair; we made it to Mount Rainier on a trip to Seattle, so why couldn’t we do the shorter drive from Denver to RMNP? Twenty years later, I was determined to finally get there, and I succeeded.

We started out with one of the family-friendly trails, which circles Sprague Lake on the eastern side of the park. It was a nice day, not too hot, with a pleasing mix of clouds and sun.

Mountain Cheese

I found myself alternating cameras throughout the day. For this walk, the Fuji X100 was perfect, for two reasons: 1) it didn’t encumber me if I had to pick my kids up, and 2) the leaf shutter and fill flash made people shots a snap, as you see above.

But there was much, much more to see down the road….

Sisyphus

Sisyphus

A gentleman who passed us on the trail at the Garden of the Gods pointed out this climber to me. I didn’t have a long-enough lens to zoom in on the climber, so I did a little creative dodging to bring him out against the rockface.

ο κήπος των θεών

My wife and I spent our honeymoon in Colorado Springs, and we have long intended to go back there with our children, to show them the Garden of the Gods and take the train up Pikes Peak. The train had to wait for another trip, but we had a nice walk through the Garden on a sunny day.

Me and Mini-Me

The nice thing about the Garden of the Gods is that it’s not a tourist trap. Sure, there are gift shops and kitsch if you want them, but if you don’t, you can just park your car and walk around, along with the locals who enjoy doing the same thing.

Spire

The sky begged for a polarizer to bring out the color. (I also discovered just how dirty my sensor is. :) )

Skyline

Did the kids like it? They complained a lot, but I think they were glad in the end. Besides, we had another, longer nature trek already planned.

Bailey Yard

Big Yellow

Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard in North Platte, NE, is the world’s largest freight classification yard. Since my boys like trains, it seemed a logical place to stop and take in the view on our way through Nebraska. This is only the eastbound segment; out of frame right is the westbound “bowl” into which cars are sorted, and the receiving/departure tracks stretch for miles out of sight in either direction.

Nebraska

Flat Country

The Nebraska countryside as viewed from the westbound I-80 rest stop at York. This year’s summer vacation was a road trip to Denver, CO for a friend’s wedding.

Rocket Glare

The technical side of fireworks photography is easy and repeatable: low ISO, small aperture, infinity focus, bulb shutter, remote shutter release. The artistic side is much harder; one must find the right location and angle, and time the shutter to get the optimal part of the explosion. One also depends on the skill and imagination (or lack thereof) shown by the pyrotechnicists.

The fireworks people who do the annual Independence Day show in Champaign always seem to send their rockets up into exactly the same part of the sky, so I’ve begun shooting individual bursts and making composite images in post. Here’s July 4, 2011, viewed from the back patio of a friend’s house:

Pretty Boomy Things

In 2012 I was at the same friend’s house but didn’t get the composite I wanted out of that session, and in 2013 I had to stay home during the show.

This year, I was finally able to shoot from the east side of Assembly Hall:

Pretty Boomy Things II

Without the twilight behind to define Assembly Hall’s silhouette, I could not have made this picture. I haven’t given much thought to 2015 yet, but I know that I don’t want to repeat myself.

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