Lake Catamount is located on 3200 acres with a private, 530-acre lake south of Steamboat Springs, Routt County, Colorado. The lake was constructed in the 1970s when Colorado hosting the Winter Olympics in 1976 was a consideration. It's a beautiful area in the Blacktail Mountain Range, surrounded by Routt National Forest land. Today many outdoor activities are offered year-round. Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, and fat bikes are most popular in the winter.
This frequently visited area is rich with photographic opportunities year-round, but the all-white winter wonderland beauty of the area captures my attention the most. As a winter nature photographer, the first snowfall, powder snow on the nearby ski-resort mountains, the soft light of active snowfall, the virgin snow-dusted landscape, and the sun glistening on the snow are each magical. But I can't forget to mention the hoar-frosted trees that sometimes line the roadways into town.
Named after its hair-like or feathery appearance, hoar frost happens when needles of ice form in humid, sub-freezing air. Hoarfrost grows whenever it's cold outside on a clear, calm, cold night and there is ample water vapor nearby. The water vapor can sublimate, meaning it can transition immediately from a gaseous state to a solid state. The size of the frost that forms depends on how much water vapor is available to “feed” the ice crystals as they grow. Hoar frost dissipates once the temperature warms up a bit, so photographing in the early morning is best.
Photographing hoar-frosted trees on the other side of Lake Catamount was magical. The conditions were perfect. Carrying only my telephoto lens in my camera bag, I chose a focal length of 180mm to take this photo. When I go back to the area to photograph hoar-frosted trees, I plan to experiment with a variety of zoom lenses, focal lengths, and shutter speeds as well as see if I can find any hoar-frosted berries on other trees.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor