Maroon Bells Scenic Area, Colorado, USA by Michael Thomas

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Picture Story

The Maroon Bells are said to be the most photographed spot in Colorado, and it’s easy to see why. As with all icons, there is a reason people flock to this view, but there is plenty to see and photograph in this area. The feeder stream to Maroon Lake is one such spot to photograph the Bells. Nearby is Castle Creek Road, and less than an hour away is Mt. Sopris, near Carbondale. It reminds me very much of Mt. St. Helens but surrounded by aspen forests.

But what I enjoy most is photographing the aspen forests because it gets me away from the crowds and provides an unending supply of unique compositions. I alternate between shooting the tree trunks with a short telephoto lens or the trees and forest floor with a focal length around 50 mm as with this image. This spot is only 50 -100 yards off of Maroon Creek Road just outside the boundaries of the Maroon Bells Scenic area.

If you want to photograph the Maroon Bells in autumn, the best time is late September through the first few days of October. The area is closed to private vehicles from 9 am till 5 pm, but at sunrise, you are free to drive in. The parking at the lake is limited, so get there very early and be prepared to share the view with several hundred other photographers. Several campgrounds here are run by the US Forest Service, reservations required. Otherwise you need to stay in Aspen (very close but pricey) or Basalt/Carbondale (less expensive but farther away).

This image was very minimally processed in Lightroom with only a change in white balance and a 0.2 stop increase in exposure. I cropped it to 4:3 to remove a dead tree form the left of frame.


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