Yes, it’s that time again – a review of my personal favorite images from the past year.  Let’s get right to it!

#10 - Lime Creek Waterfall

My cousin has a summer home near the Durango/Silverton area, and we made it down to visit her this summer in mid July, the perfect time for wildflowers and waterfalls!  She showed me this awesome fall on a rather short trail on Lime Creek somewhere near Molass Pass.  She’s a photo nut too, and we spent quite a bit of time shooting this fall from different angles and perspectives.
 

#9 - Claret Cup

I was pleasantly surprised when spring rolled around – the desert actually has a lot of blooms!  Here in the Grand Valley, we were blessed with some early spring moisture which seemed to create a bounty of wildflowers.  I shot this on the Rustler’s Loop, a part of the Kokopelli mountain bike trail system near Fruita.  This trail has numerous claret cup cactus, some of them getting quite large.  I used my fold-up diffuser with this one to soften the light.  Claret cup are my absolute favorite cactus, both because of the incredibly, intensely colored blooms, and because of their growing habit (they grow into rounded mounds) and are quite fun to shoot even when not blooming.

#8 - Monument Canyon sunset

One of my favorite perches in Colorado National Monument (or simply “the Monument” as we locals call it) is on the Canyon Rim Trail which starts at the Visitor’s Center and follows the rim of Monument Canyon all the way out to the Window Rock overlook.  Incredible, unobstructed views abound on this trail, and close to sunset is the best time to photograph the rocky monoliths rising from the canyon floor.  This year, I found this wonderful juniper to use as a foreground element.

#7 - Pink Sego Lilly

Until this spring, I had only seen photographs of sego lillies.  I was thrilled to finally find some blooming on part of Mary’s Loop, another trail in the Kokopelli trail system.  Trying to think artistically, I thought the dried stems behind the bloom were reminiscent of baby’s breath.  Sego lillies are beautiful, but a bit difficult to photograph as their stems don’t leave you much to work with because they are so small and lacking in number of leaves.  They are a very delicate flower.

#6 - Rough Canyon

I discovered Rough Canyon late this spring and hiked at the optimum time: when water was rushing down the creek.  I was astounded to see so many beautiful little cascades in the middle of the desert!  This is an awesome hike, especially at that time of year.  A ways down the canyon (when runoff is still going), there is another nice little waterfall that spills over a beautiful sandstone ledge.  It’s a little tough to get to, and I banged my knee up pretty good trying to get back up.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t there at the right time to get good light on that waterfall, but I sure do love the image I got of this little cascade!

#5 - Sneezeweed & Lupine

The Grand Mesa is not considered a wildflower mecca by photographers, but I was again pleasantly surprised this summer to see the variety of blooms it offered.  The only drawback:  bazillions of mosquitoes!  I’ve never seen so many hungry little bloodsuckers in one place.  It was all I could do to stop, set up, and get three or four shots before being forced to MOVE to keep the skeeters at bay, even after literally bathing in DEET.  Nope, Minnesota has NOTHING on Mesa skeeters!  My husband wanted to mountain bike on the Flowing Park Trail, so I just followed in his wake for a while and hiked out a couple miles and came back.  The prevailing wildflowers on this hike were by far sneezeweed and lupine.  I had a great time trying to pair the two brightly contrasting colors and love the result of this one.

#4 - Mixed Bag

My husband and I made a short trip to the Ouray/Telluride area the first weekend of October.  While he biked, I drove around and shot fall images.  My favorite roads were County Roads 5 & 7.  Gorgeous, gorgeous country down there and I must say, probably the best scenery in the entire state.  I also drove a short portion of the Last Dollar Road near Telluride, which is where I found this exotic mixture of aspens which spanned the color spectrum from green to yellow to red to almost purple.  The colors really, really grabbed me.

#3 - Rifle Falls

I ventured over to Glenwood Springs in June to hike the Hanging Lake Trail, only to discover there were NO parking spots available! What to do?!  I had just driven an hour an half.  Was I to come away with nothing to show for it, except an emptier gas tank? As an alternative, I headed back west to Rifle Falls, and didn’t regret the decision.  Rifle Falls is an incredible triple waterfall that you can walk right up to and don’t have to endure a long, painful hike to get to it.  In fact, it’s literally right off the road.  There are also some really cool caves and rock formations above the falls which are worth exploring, and a trail takes you to the edge where you can look down on the waterfall, a rather unusual experience.  I loved the composition of this one, but wasn’t prepared to be drenched from the mist coming off the fall.  I did go back a second time this summer, armed with some cloths to wipe down my camera. 

#2 - Double RL Divide

As I mentioned with photo #4 above, County Road 7 was beautiful.  Part of it goes over designer Ralph Lauren’s Double RL Ranch.  Not only is he a fabulous designer, he has impeccible taste in scenery!  This was taken somewhere on County Road 7 though I’m not sure if this was actually on his ranch or not.  This is the uber famous “Dallas Divide” which you can see from the classic pulloff on the main highway.  Fall is my favorite season, and with the gorgeous colors in this, it’s no wonder it’s close to the top of my list of favorite images.

#1 - Collared Lizard

Finally, down to #1!  Hands down, this little collared lizard is my favorite image of the year.  I love these brightly colored, small critters, and was so excited when this one let me approach and get really close.  In fact, he seems to be hamming it up a bit for the camera, don’t you think?  This was a handheld shot as I didn’t have time to set up the tripod, and the little critter would have probably scurried away had I tried.

Usually I go over the goals I had set the year before.  I think this year I’ll just skip that part!  Due to my job, which requires a fair amount of overtime, I find my fun time playing with Photoshop, sifting through and processing images, and trying to market myself has all but disappeared.  I guess my goal for the next year is simply to make more time to get out and shoot, and play with the images afterwards.  I’m also considering approaching a couple of small, local galleries to see if there’s any interest in displaying some of my images.  I just need to work up the courage!

My photographic year was not totally without accomplishment.  I submitted seven images to the Colorado National Monument Association for consideration in their annual calendar, and one of my images was selected for use as a grid photo.  I’m definitely going to try again next year.

Colorado National Monument Association 2012 Calendar

 In addition, one of my images of the inside of the roof structure of the “round” barn at Mullinville, Kansas was published in the Summer 2011 issue of “Kansas!” Magazine.

Page spread from Summer 2011 "Kansas!" Magazine

 Feel free to share your photographic goals for the year – I’d love to hear them, since I’m such a slacker these days.  Maybe you can motivate me!  Also feel free to comment on the photos as well.  I’d love to hear from you!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Desert Friend

Several months ago, I submitted 7 horizontal format images to the Colorado National Monument Association for consideration for their 2012 calendar.  Months went by, and I heard nothing.  Honestly, I had given up hope. A couple weeks ago, I received an e-mail that I was on the contributor list.  It didn’t list which image(s) they chose or what size, so the anticipation built as I headed up to the Visitor’s Center the next day to pick up my submissions and my complimentary calendars.  The above image was selected as a teeny-tiny “grid” photo featured on the month of August.

I shot this photo a few short weeks after we moved here in late August of last year.  Early one morning, I headed out on the Devil’s Kitchen/No Thoroughfare Canyon/Echo Canyon trail.  Less than 150 yards from the parking lot, I spied this rabbit chowing down on desert four o’clocks for his early morning meal.  I kept firing off shots as I crept closer, hoping I could get close enough to get something decent.  Out of all the images I snapped, this was the best of the bunch.

I did not receive any compensation for use of the photo, but did receive photo credit next to the photo and also on a contributor’s list on the opening spread of the calendar.  The committee advised that “hundreds of high quality images” were submitted, so I guess I feel lucky that I was one of  36 photographers selected.  The CNMA runs the gift shop at the Visitor’s Center with volunteers, and purchases there help to fund the CNMA’s mission to assist the National Park Service in educational, interpretive and scientific programs at CNM.   You can learn more about CNMA here.

The calendars retail for $12.95 and are available in the Visitor’s Center and many, many locations in the Grand Valley (including my aunt’s downtown store, Alida’s Fruits.) 

Since I spend a lot of time up in the Monument, I’m sure I’ll have more images to submit next year.