Rainy September Colorado Colors

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Early aspen colors at Trout Lake.

Rain saturates colors. Far from being a deterrent to good nature photography, it creates opportunities.

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Trout Lake panorama, September 19.

Thus I drove into the San Juan Mountains in San Miguel County in southwest Colorado, in the Telluride area.

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Rainy mountains south of Telluride.

The aspen colors were coming on nicely, due to the recent warm sunny days and cool nights. It was raining lightly but it wasn’t very windy, allowing for some beautiful images of colorful foliage.

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Red-orange aspen colors on the San Juan National Forest.

Aspen fall colors are primarily bright yellow, as the tree stops producing chlorophyll, making the green color disappear and letting the other colors that were there all along become visible. So they don’t really “turn colors”, they just let summer’s green go.

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Aspen gold is highlighted by the dark greens of evergreen foliage in the background.

Some aspen stands, and even individual trees, exhibit a lovely orange or red instead of gold.

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There’s nothing like a peaceful country road in the Rockies in the fall.

On the way home I drove down the South Fork of the San Miguel River.

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South Fork of the San Miguel. 

The clouds were obscuring the high peaks, but I had plenty to interest me. I stopped for a Gambel oak sapling that had vibrant red colors, much more red than most oaks get.

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Gambel oak colors on the South Fork.

And the cherry red of wild rose hips.

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Wild rose hips. 

As I continued west, away from the San Miguels, west of Norwood the clouds opened and the nearly setting sun turned the distant La Sal Mountains and the sky a brilliant gold.

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Utah’s La Sal Mountains at sunset from Colorado.

And since it was still raining, directly opposite to the east the dark clouds formed the perfect backdrop for a full rainbow.

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Sunset rainbow at the San Miguel County – Montrose County line.

Photo location: San Miguel County, southwest Colorado.

See much more of my photography on my website: www.NaturalMoment.com.

© Copyright 2018 Stephen J. Krieg

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Bears Ears Super Rainbow Evening

Double Rainbow and storm clouds.

Double Rainbow and storm clouds.

It was one of the best rainbows ever. Why? Because the backdrop was awesome, and it occurred just before sunset, making the effect of the low angle of the sun more intense.

Rainbow in front of the Bears Ears Buttes. Quite a prism effect from left to right through the rain.

Rainbow in front of the Bears Ears Buttes. Quite a prism effect from left to right through the rain.

Oddly enough, the forecast had only been for a 20% chance of rain, and it had been dumping elsewhere all day, mainly to the north and east.

Panorama with sunlit wooden fence and road curves.

Panorama with sunlit wooden fence and road curves.

But then it was our turn, a real gully washer. Beautiful. I lay down for a nap…and almost missed the aftermath. It was a full rainbow on either end, kind of missing at the top, some of the double rainbow visible to the outside.

The full panoramic images of just the sky don’t do it justice. I prefer the tighter, more close in shots against the cliffs and the Bears Ears Buttes above. I took a number of variations, because it gives a fuller sense of the splendor of the evening. And of the wet road and puddles.

Then Ashley and Avery came by on an evening run. Perfect: a couple of people in the scene to lend some human scale to the magnificent scene. Though how anybody would want to be doing anything other than photographing in such conditions is beyond me. (They did like the print I made for them the next day.)

Ashley and Adrian running to the rainbow.

Ashley and Avery running to the rainbow.

Photo location: Natural Bridges National Monument, San Juan County, southeast Utah. As always, click on any image to see a much larger version.

© 2015 Stephen J. Krieg

Third Rainbow Of The Day

Evening rainbow over Bears Ears Buttes, Natural Bridges National Monument.

Evening rainbow over Bears Ears Buttes, Natural Bridges National Monument.

It has been a rare wet spring in the high desert of southeast Utah and the Four Corners region. On top of that, this week-end has brought a lot of extra moisture up from Baja, from a tropical storm down there. Straight up through Arizona to San Juan County, Utah.

We love the rain. All desert dwellers do. The tourists, though: not so much. Especially with the muddy roads around here, slick as grease when saturated. That makes sticking to paved and gravel surfaces a must for a time, greatly limiting where some people had planned to go into our amazing backcountry.

The international travelers are even more perplexed. This is high desert Utah? Where is the famous sunshine and heat? How am I supposed to get iconic pictures in this?

A young couple from Europe was in the Visitor Center yesterday afternoon. We were standing at the windows, watching the sweet smelling rain pour down. “In fifteen or twenty minutes this might well let up and we could see a rainbow” I said. They looked at me, uh, kindly. As in: okay, then we hope so, too, but you’re crazy.

Soon the sky started to brighten to the west. After a few more minutes a brilliant rainbow appeared just above the Pinyon pine and juniper trees, toward the Bears Ears Buttes above us to the east. The rainbow faded after just a few minutes, but the couple got to stand leaning up against each other, admiring it before it disappeared.

Not long after was a second rainbow, which another family got to enjoy. And I didn’t have my camera.

About an hour later, a third, partial rainbow appeared. This one I got some shots of.

Three separate rainbows from the same location in the same evening. Pretty rare. Way exceptional.

I drove out under the heavy skies, looking for water flowing. Several washes were running, though many had already drained.

Over at normally dry Comb Wash I got out to document the muddy stream flowing. It had already gone down by at least a foot. Soon it would become a dry wash again. “Never park your vehicle in a dry wash”. This flow was mild compared to what can happen with little warning.

Comb Wash flowing after rain.

Comb Wash flowing after rain.

Photo locations: Natural Bridges National Monument and Cedar Mesa, San Juan County, Utah.

© 2015 Stephen J. Krieg

Monsoon Evening, Bears Ears Buttes

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Sunset through rain curtain, Mossback Butte. Natural Bridges is on the valley floor at lower right; Navajo Mountain in far distance, upper left.

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Lightning and rain at dusk, from Bears Ears Buttes, Utah.

Near Natural Bridges National Monument in southeast Utah are the Bears Ears Buttes on the Manti-La Sal National Forest. On a recent excursion there I drove up Elk Ridge Road to check out the view.

As soon as I got up there a thunderstorm enveloped me, so I staying in my vehicle and listened to the radio while enjoying the spectacle. Too dangerous to get out with lightning so near me.

Afterward I enjoyed watching the rain continue down onto Natural Bridges far below, with Mossback Butte in the distance and Navajo Mountain on the far horizon. The low light of dusk even allowed for long exposures on tripod that caught these lightning strikes.

North Rim Double Rainbow

Double rainbow, Roaring Springs Canyon, Grand Canyon North Rim.

Double rainbow, Roaring Springs Canyon, Grand Canyon North Rim.

Monsoon season scattered thundershowers continue around Grand Canyon this week. For the patient photographer, it provides a lot of variety in clouds and sunrise and sunset colors.

And of course: rainbows, especially in the late afternoons.

Photo location: Roaring Springs Canyon and Walhalla Plateau, North Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.

Another Touch Of Rainbow

Storm cloud rainbow, Arizona

Early evening, late August. The late rains kiss the highlands. Here, there. Not everywhere. Not all at once.

The white far clouds cling to Woodchute Mountain’s summit. The grasslands below green, finally, with more gray rain hovering above.

I stand in reverence.

Photo location: Yavapai County, Arizona.

And The Rain Came Down

Arizona monsoon thunderstorm and rainbowAt least it came down in one very localized area, as seen in this photo. So typical of Arizona’s “monsoon” summer thunderstorms. You’re either in one, or not. No in between.

I wasn’t in this one, which afforded me a view of it to the east, as sunset time approached. With a rainbow, no less, courtesy of the low angle of the sun through the rain curtain.

Evening sunlight and shadow splashed across the grasslands of the Central Arizona Highlands between Prescott and Chino Valley. Blue sky and more white and blue clouds in the far distance.

Life at the speed of the moment.