Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Big Mountains

The San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado are big mountains. They stretch for miles. They have many peaks over 13,000 feet and some that reach higher becoming a "14'er". They are also rather remote and sparsely populated.

Driving through the San Juans takes time, there is no Interstate here and even the highways are more often driven at 40 mph than 70. You travel among giants- around big peaks, over mountain passes, and along young rivers. The way is often long and winding, but it is always scenic and you always see more mountains.

One part of the range really stands out for me and that is the north face of the Sneffels Range. The wide flat valley of the Uncompaghre River runs north-south and at the north end of the valley stands the mighty peaks of the Sneffels Range. They form a chain that is visible for miles and they rise some 7,000 feet above Ridgway. There are several famous places to stop, such as the Dallas Divide, but I went to find a different view. I explored several forest service roads that take you to outstanding views. I explored many of those views and photographed in many locations.

This spot was something I found on an afternoon drive. From a small hill you could see across a large expanse of aspens to the line of peaks. It is not a location I had seen images from before so I filed it away as one to visit one evening. On a night with some hazy clouds, I ventured back, set up the tripod, and waited.

I framed up a view of the valley with many of the big peaks including the awe inspiring Mount Sneffels. If there ever was a mountain that fit the the picture perfect image of what a mountain should be-Mt Sneffels is it. It rises above it's neighbors and is over 14,000' tall. I recall reading that Georgia O'Keefe painted the same mountain in New Mexico many, many times. I think this is a mountain you could spend a lifetime photographing and never grow tired of.

The light in the sky faded and the color in the clouds got a slight tint of red. I worked through sheets slowly. I worked slow and I photographed long slow exposures. I was hoping the clouds were moving enough to give them a blurry reddish quality to contrast with the silent stillness of the peaks. I was not disappointed. The sky was perfect and the big mountains rose to meet it. What a great place, these big mountains.

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