Last week I drove up to southwest Colorado for a couple of days.  I love the area – Ouray, Telluride, the San Juan and Uncompahgre National Forests – the land where the movie “True Grit” was filmed (the original John Wayne version).  High desert and higher mountains, water and woods.  I had a loose plan, a couple of things I specifically wanted to do, and a lot of time built in for just wandering down roads unknown.

One planned thing to do was catch a sunrise at Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park.  I’d been there before, twice, and done some shooting, but I hadn’t watched the sun rise there.  Catching sunrise meant a 4:30 A.M. wake-up and a thirty minute drive through the dark, but the payoff was worth it.  I made it to Tomichi Point in time to watch the sun rise, and what a nice sunrise it was.


I shot for about a half hour.  At one point I found this dead tree and worked it into several compositions.  In addition to the beautiful sunrise and setting, I had the place to myself.  Just the sounds of the high desert breezes and my camera shutter.


Once the morning light filled the sky, I made my way to another part of the park to shoot this tree.  That wasn’t in the “plan” but I was close by and decided to see how she was doing.  I shot this tree last summer and was immediately pulled in by the sweeping twist of its trunk, and this time I was able to get a different composition in the morning light.


On another day, while exploring Owl Creek Pass and the surrounding Uncompahgre National Forest, I found my way to this waterfall (to my knowledge it doesn’t have a name).  There were a couple of families there enjoying the same thing I was, but I managed to take a few photos and just relax a bit in the cool mist for the falls – which felt great on a 90 degree day.


While I was there I took a few detail shots too.


My last full day there I did a lot of driving down roads that I hadn’t travelled before.  I used to get frustrated if I didn’t see much that I wanted to shoot, but now I just think of it as scouting, and I make mental notes as I go (or sometimes even make a few notes on my iPhone).  Come back? Don’t go that way again?  Try again when the leaves turn?  It’s all good.

One of those side roads, outside of the small town of Delta, lead to what I could only call a “badlands” type of area that turned out to be crisscrossed with ATV and other kinds of tire tracks, everywhere.  It was late afternoon, the wind was whipping, and the thermometer on the Jeep read 104.  And then there was this discarded loveseat, sitting on the top of hill.  With a menacing thunderstorm rising in the background, it was a great seat for the show.


A couple of days of wandering around southwest Colorado.  New roads taken and old roads revisited.

If you’d like to see more of my work, my online portfolio (where my work can be purchased) is here.  I post photos daily on Facebook and Google+, share my photography journey on Twitter (@KSchafferPhoto), and share iPhone pics from the road and around the house on Instagram (kschafferphoto).


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