Colorado Fall 2020

This fall I focused on one of my favorite elements of nature photography: contrast. Not “contrast” in the sense we generally apply that word in photography, but almost more as a synonym to “contradiction.” I absolutely love an image’s impact when there are two opposing forces at play. In my favorite images, as I look at and kind of dissect the picture, there’s usually some component of contradiction within it: textures, warm vs. soft colors, motion vs stillness, or maybe the popular bokeh (intentional blur) effect in the background of otherwise impeccably-sharp portraits.


This first image represents a project that I’d worked on for several months; I wanted to capture the smooth motion of flowing water with bright, vibrant, and serenely still foreground foliage. Finding the right combination of color, motion, and of course the overall composition was a headache to say the least- I literally scoured the landscapes of Colorado searching for it.


Bushwhacking off-trail in Colorado’s Gore Range, this spot stopped me in my tracks. I knew I’d stumbled across something special. This scene contains all the special elements I was looking for. Beyond the aesthetics, it is a very serene place, despite the mountain runoff cascading some 400’ over the edge of a cliff just a few hundred feet upstream! Even with the cacophony of the falls nearby, it felt pleasant, serene, and inviting. I wasn’t happy with my first shot here; the slower shutter I used to blur the water in the background was a tough workaround with the foreground foliage, which seemed to constantly wave in the breeze created by the falls. I packed a lunch and returned and found the same location a few days later, and enjoyed the afternoon until the light was perfect, and the breeze subsided as I hit my shutter and finally had “Delicate Approach.”

Delicate Approach

I also visited Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley a few of times in the late summer and fall, this is truly a special place with magical morning and evening light, plenty of scenery, and home to some of Colorado’s sort-of best-kept secrets. I have to apply a strategy in Aspen though which I have learned from years of snowboarding at busy ski resorts: to avoid crowds, and in this case photographic redundancy, think of what most people would do, turn around 180 and start looking from over there. Finding the heart of Aspen, what I wanted to capture, would require significant nosing around the area.

Once I arrived to shoot after scouting locations 2 weeks prior, the light was a bit harsh, there was a high pressure system in Colorado for basically the entire month of September which created sunny and warm weather. This created unfortunate conditions for the several wildfires that raged on, which scientists say are a good thing, but I think forest fires suck!

My best regards to all those affected by the wildfires, and I know every last one of them were cursing the high-pressure system as well. But with a goal in mind, I set out to work with the light I had.

Up Castle Creek a few miles is a ghost town: a shell of a silver-mining boomtown that grew almost overnight (after the prospectors discovered silver there, they returned with 23 helpers and built the courthouse, and had all the streets laid out in 2 weeks.) The deposits of silver were as shallow as they were rich and within 5 years, the town had only $5.60 in its coffers as the town’s residents called it a day.

Time Passage

The next day I went hiking at a spot that I’d scouted before, filled with gorgeous Aspens. When the sun is out, and there’s no chance of getting light that’s filtered before it hits the trees, well, use the trees to filter the light! The colors in Aspen are insane! I love how “Peak Display” illustrates unique feeling of autumn in Colorado, using the harsh light to create contrast on the forest floor.

Peak Display

Thanks for reading, I am headed next to the Pacific Northwest and hope to capture a lot of great images of the impressively diverse landscape. Feel free to comment below, or just stop by the gallery to see what’s new! Email me clark@wildernessexclusives.com to order prints, a Price List is located here. Cheers!

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