Kebler and Ohio Passes October 2021

Certainly, one of the best parts about living in the Rockies is witnessing the exciting and dramatic change between seasons! While there’s definitely a case to be made for them all, it is pretty tough to beat an autumn color change that goes off properly. For best results, the trees require ample summer rainfall, and as few surprises as possible as things cool down—an ill-timed heavy snow, for example, can cause the leaves to simply fall off of the trees prematurely.

Thankfully, 2021 was poised to deliver on these conditions, as I packed up my gear and headed to several locations I’d scouted the weeks prior. Of all the areas I’d looked at, from Gunnison to Steamboat Springs and everywhere in-between, the Anthrocite and Ragged Mountains were in my crosshairs—they’d gotten plenty of rain during the late summer months, and the temperatures slowly tapered off in lockstep with the shortening daylight hours— prepping the deciduous groves for rich color. 

Starting on Kebler Pass west of Crested Butte, I could barely believe my eyes! The colors were too good to be true. The lighting conditions were also perfect: cloudy enough to add moodiness to each scene, with patches of intense sunlight creeping through to really draw attention to specific areas.

After wandering around different trails and groves, I spotted this composition and still marvel every time I look at it. An area of dense clouds had just moved through the area, providing a dramatic backdrop, as the Sun lit up Ruby Peak, standing guard over these groves of Aspen and Pine, basking in pride below. I grabbed a telephoto lens and set up for the shot as quickly as I could, as to not give the Sun an opportunity to hide in the clouds again. I just can’t get over vibrance of these trees with the ocean-blue backdrop adorning “Ruby Peak.”

Backlit Aspen trees add even more joy to a scene. Hiking along nearby Ohio Pass, I came across these showoffs, glistening in the sun just begging to get their picture taken. I took a bold approach with “Woodland Paradise”, accentuating the leaves’ vibrance to give the image a fun, punchy feel. 

I encountered compelling, dynamic lighting conditions throughout the entire trip. I explored some other sections of 32-mile-long Kebler pass and had time to visit most of my favorite spots. I will forever cherish this moment when I stumbled upon this amazing perspective of the East Beckwith Mountains—the trees seem to guide my eyes upward to the majestic peaks of the Colorado Rockies hiding within these mystic-looking clouds. It was a complicated shot however: to include all of the elements needed to frame the scene, I hurried and set up my BIG lens and took three different exposures to blend into this vertical panoramic image, I love how it beautifully displays the marriage of these natural elements. A wide-angle lens would have distorted the size of the mountains in the background and taken the drama and majesty out of East Beckwith’s intimidating presence. 

I wish all my trips went like this! Great subjects to shoot, and almost perfect lighting throughout…it makes dinner taste a little better, the miles on the road go by more quickly, and my pillow at night a little softer, when a shoot goes like this.

If you’re interested in owning limited-edition artwork of any of these images, click on them to learn more on—or if you’re in Summit County come see them in person at the Gallery! I can’t wait to go out and chase down some ideas I have brewing for the next seasonal transition, so stay tuned for more on that. Feel free to leave your thoughts below, I love to hear feedback on my images, and this blog.