Chimney Rock, Colorado, USA by Damon Shaw

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The rock spire known as Chimney Rock at Owl Creek Pass east of Ridgway, Colorado is a popular subject when the aspens turn yellow each fall. However, instead of the usual roadside shot, I wanted a higher perspective different than the composition most people photograph. I believe that resources such as Google Earth and topographic maps allow each of us to create new compositions. So I utilized Google Earth and topography maps to scope out a unique location and attempted to photograph from this point during the evening of October 2nd. From the dirt road on the west side of the pass, I followed a faint unmarked trail north that soon faded into the woods. Even though there was no longer a trail, I was determined to continue up the mountain and bushwhack my way to an overlook.

At this point, the grove of golden aspen trees became my foreground subject. Once the sun set on the western horizon, there was a soft, even light on Chimney Rock and Courthouse Mountain. The last sunlight of the day hit the bottom of the clouds in the distance, creating an appealing pink tone in the clouds. Using a polarizer, I was able to enhance the blue sky and the pink within these patchy clouds above the San Juan Mountains. Thankfully, the wind was light enough to where I could capture the leaves without much movement, even at an exposure of over 1 second. The peak fall color here is typically at the end of September or the start of October.

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