San Luis Valley, Colorado, USA by Ryan W Curley

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Having just purchased a newly released Nikon Z 6 mirrorless and a new 70-200 f/4 lens I was anxious to put them through their paces. However, bitter cold had discouraged me from wandering no further than my living room to take some test shots. Nevertheless, I needed to leave the cozy den of my home to run some errands on this cold December morning in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado. As I left the house, I glanced up at the cottonwood trees that surrounded me. Simultaneously blurting out “wow!” and running back into the house I quickly found my new equipment. I darted back outside in time to catch a slight breeze lifting the delicate frost off of the branches as if to make new little clouds in an otherwise cloudless sky.

This photo captures so many different contrasts. There is the network of bright white frost covered branches overlaid on the deep blue sky. Then there is the almost sharp, cutting appearance of the frost on the branches surrounded by fluffy plumes of frost just hanging in the air. The 200mm lens really helped to zoom in close to capture the sharpness of the frost. At that focal length it allowed for a nice compression of the branches and floating frost off in the distance. Even with a relatively small aperture it allowed for nice depth of field. No matter how often I view this photo, it always soothes me…until I remember how cold it was that morning!

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