Colorado Fall Color Travel Guide – 2017

Mt. Sneffels from County Road 7 - Dallas Creek. October 3.

Mt. Sneffels and the Sneffels Range from County Road 7 (East Dallas Creek), Colorado. October 3, 2014.

Welcome to my Colorado fall color travel guide with 100 pages of information (if you print it all out), 109 photos, and 17 maps. I cover some of the best known fall color locations in Colorado, and one real gem of a road that is mostly unknown to photographers and leaf peepers. Spend anywhere from a few days to three weeks exploring the beautiful Colorado Rockies at a gorgeous time of year.

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The Best National Parks to Photograph in Spring

 Ocotillo. Big Bend National Park. Texas.

Ocotillo. Big Bend National Park, Texas.

If I could go on a fabulous spring photography trip to the national parks of my choice, with no time limit and all expenses paid, which ones would I pick? Here are my choices, grouped by state from west to east. This list includes the favorites I have been to and want to go back to again, plus the ones I haven’t seen and most want to photograph.

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Happy Birthday, John Muir!

John Muir

John Muir

John Muir was born April 21, 1838. He had a profound influence on how Americans viewed our wild lands and his influence led to the establishment of many of our National Parks and other protected lands. He was nicknamed The Father of our National Parks. This is National Parks week. Go explore somewhere this week, or make plans to visit sometime this year.

Here are photos from some of my favorite National Parks (and one state park) along with quotes from John Muir.

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GPS Variations in Google Earth’s Timed Satellite Images

The tripod is at the camera location for the GPS camera test. Buddhist Temple, Keller Texas.

The tripod is at the camera location for the four camera GPS test in the previous article. Buddhist Temple, Keller Texas.

Over a period of time Google Earth records multiple satellite images of the same area. You can cycle through those images. You would think the same identical GPS coordinates would show up on the same location in the images as you go back through time, but that is not the case.

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Total Immersion Nature Photography Weekend in Beautiful Northern Michigan

Michigan Photography Workshop

This is a much earlier date for this workshop than in prior years. We are only seven weeks away and this workshop is filling up fast. Register now and come spend a fun and exciting weekend learning how to take your nature photography to the next level. The weekend is May 26-28, 2017 at Park of the Pines on beautiful Lake Charlevoix in northern Michigan with an optional all day field trip to Michigan’s U.P. on Monday, May 29.

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Having Fun with Jeffrey Friedl’s Image Metadata Viewer

Wat Buddharatanaram, Buddhist Temple, Keller Texas

Wat Buddharatanaram, Buddhist Temple, Keller Texas

If you want to look at the metadata embedded in online photos, including GPS coordinates, this is an excellent online viewer. And it is simple. Just grab the URL for an online photo, drop it into the URL box on Jeffrey’s site, verify you aren’t a robot, and then check out the tons of metadata (check out the examples below). This is the most comprehensive metadata viewer I have found.

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How to Photograph Comet 45P

Comet Lovejoy

Comet Lovejoy. January 19, 2015. Cropped from a photo taken with a 24mm lens. Click for a larger version.

If you aren’t used to photographing faint objects in the night sky, this will be a challenge, but I suggest you try anyway. You have nothing to lose and a photo to gain.

Originally posted Feb. 9, 2017. Revised and expanded Feb. 10, 2017.

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Using Google Earth to Find the Name of a Mountain (and How to Get GPS Info into Google Earth)

"Mountain in Colorado"

“Mountain in Colorado”

What is the name of this mountain? Photo editors want to know. They like caption information. If you have a distinctive mountain in your photo, “Mountain in Colorado” won’t cut it with your friendly neighborhood photo editor. Here’s how to identify that mountain in Google Earth (and how to get GPS coordinates into Google Earth).

Originally posted Jan. 26, 2016. Updated and re-posted Feb. 5, 2017.

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“Where Were You When You Took Those Photos?”

Mount Rundle, Two Jack Lake

Mount Rundle, Two Jack Lake

Today (Mar 18, 2014) I was asked by a client where I was when I took some photos in Banff National Park. I was able to provide him with the exact locations, complete with marked satellite images. It is a good idea to known where you were when you created your most important images, and the more specific the information the better. It is good info to have for your own use and sometimes it can make the difference between whether or not one of your images is published.

Originally posted Mar. 18, 2014. Updated and re-posted Jan. 30, 2017.

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How To Focus Your Lens at Infinity for Night Photography

Photography workshop out at night. Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park.

Photography workshop at night. Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park.

The most important and difficult step in night photography is to focus your lens at infinity. If you have tried to focus on the stars at night you have already learned that it is an impossible task for the autofocus system and just about impossible for you to do manually. You just can’t see clearly enough through the viewfinder in the dark of night to manually focus on the stars. Fortunately, there are some ways to get the job done.

Originally posted Jan. 8, 2017. Revised and expanded Feb. 10, 2017.

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Testing Your Camera’s Snow Exposure Latitude

Cascade, Barry, and Coxe Glaciers

Cascade, Barry, and Coxe Glaciers, Prince William Sound, Alaska

The “snow exposure latitude” for every camera is different. You won’t find it in your camera’s manual but it is easy to determine with a do-it-yourself test. Why does it matter? If you don’t know the snow exposure latitude for your camera and how to apply apply it to your images, the color and quality of your winter photos will suffer.

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Metering Nighttime Winter Scenes

Twilight, Rocky Mountain National Park.

Twilight, Rocky Mountain National Park. Sirius, Canis Major, Orion, Taurus, the Hyades star cluster, and the Pleiades star cluster are all visible in the fading light. Click for a larger version.

You can photograph the night sky year around, but winter brings an added bonus: SNOW! When you don’t have the benefit of moonlight, most of the year land forms a dark to black  silhouetted skyline against the night sky. In winter you have the possibility of including the highly reflective snow. You can see both in this photo. Any place not covered with snow is very dark to black. Having reflective snow is why winter is the favorite time of year for a lot of photographers to go out and photograph the night sky.

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Metering Wildlife in the Snow, Part Two

Cougar

Cougar

Most wildlife are medium to dark in tone, making them a challenge to meter properly in the bright, white tones of winter. If you trust one of your camera’s automatic exposure modes, the odds are good you won’t get the best exposure. If you switch over to manual exposure and make the right decisions, you can get great exposures and better quality photos (more about that later).

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Metering Wildlife in the Snow, Part One

Elk in the Snow, Rocky Mountain National Park

Elk in the Snow, Horseshoe Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Metering dark toned wildlife in the snow is a major exposure challenge. It is usually best to avoid large “burned out” areas (washed out, featureless white) in a nature or landscape photograph, but with properly exposed snow, the wildlife can be so dark as to lose all texture. On other hand, metering for the wildlife can burn out the snow. So what do you do?

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Metering Daytime Winter Scenes

Mount Hunter from a Bush Plane. Denali National Park. Alaska.

Mount Hunter from a Bush Plane. Denali National Park. Alaska.

Metering for scenes with a lot of snow can be tricky since the bright snow fools the camera meter. I see a lot of winter photos with gray snow, which means the camera meter did exactly what it was designed to do and the camera owner didn’t know how to use exposure compensation. The solution is quite simple provided you know what to do.

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“How To” Series: Winter Photography

Last Light on El Capitan, Yosemite National Park

Last Light on El Capitan, Yosemite National Park

In addition to all of the usual photographic challenges, winter provides some extra complications, especially in terms of metering. So I began my series of articles on winter photography. I am in the process of revising and updating this series. I am also revising some related articles and adding new ones. Check out the links below. The articles will help you meet the unique challenges of winter photography. So get out there, have fun, and create some great winter images!

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