Lately my exercise on Friday is the hour and one-half that I do yoga. That morning class, however, can conflict with hiking opportunities.
This Friday morning was a good example. I woke up to the first snow of the season. But instead of going out to capture it with my camera, I had to get ready for class. And after class, the snow was gone.
This experience, however, left me with a pent up urge to hit the trail. As a budding landscape photographer I know that the hours just before and after sunrise and sunset have the most beautiful light. So I planned another sunset hike.
Deciding where to hike couldn’t have been easier. The first words I saw when I pulled out my Boulder Nederland Trail Map was “good views.” Those words were next to the the city of Boulder’s Barker Meadow Reservoir, just 20 miles from here and a mile before Nederland, a picturesque mountain town in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
Nederland is the Dutch name for The Netherlands, which includes Holland, and according to the book on Colorado place names, takes its name from the country. The town, at 8236 feet above sea level, is however about 8000 feet higher than the tallest peak in that country.
I decided to see if I could take one of those good views of the reservoir, the town, the mountains, and the sunset. The decision was easy, but I failed and not for want of trying.
At 3 p.m. I left here, noting that sunset would be at 4:45 p.m. Arriving in plenty of time, I drove by the reservoir and stopped at my favorite Nederland store, which sells crystals and rocks.
At the reservoir, for once I remembered all but one of the camera adjustments that I needed to make for shooting on a tripod. I needed to lock up the mirror, use the self-timer, and turn off image stabilization, all so that the camera could take tack sharp images. I set the ISO as low as possible — for the least noise — and the shutter for f/11, which is in the sharpest middle range and yet offers considerable depth of field. Focusing manually, I magnified the images 10 times to be sure that they were as sharp as possible.
I forget to change the white balance from daylight to sunset. But since I was shooting RAW, that’s just as easy to do in the computer.
Returning from Nederland to the reservoir, at 4 p.m. I stopped at its west end for the first time. I was early for sunset, and anyway the view from the west end of the reservoir faces the wrong way.
But in the warm evening light with the sun low on the horizon, the views from the west end are pretty good. This is, however, the only acceptable image that I captured.
But it doesn’t completely please me. The problem is the shadow that the tripod and camera cast. After pressing the self-timer, I ran out of the way. But the tripod and camera couldn’t move! I could see the shadow in the viewfinder when I took this picture and tried several other locations. But none of them captured the scene that I wanted.
I like the view of the ice on the meadow where the camera is standing. The ice gives a hint of how cold it was there. The temperature at 4 p.m. was 24 degrees and with the wind-chill factor the “real feel” was 17 degrees. That certainly did feel cold on my nose and on my hands whenever I took off my gloves and hand warmers to take pictures.
I took 49 pictures at both ends of the reservoir. From the scene in the photo above I noticed a trail along the left side of the reservoir. I never knew it was there. The trail runs for 1.9 miles to the other end. I know that the reservoir doesn’t look that big in my picture above, but it is!
Arriving at the other end of the trail before sunset, I had plenty of time to set up my camera and tripod. Since the wind was heavy, I anchored the tripod by attaching my camera bag to the bottom of the center post.
So I got lots of tack sharp images. To no avail. I was ready, the scene was ready, the clouds were in place. But the sun just faded away without lighting up the sky.
For once, I was unlucky. I reflected, however, how often I had lucked out before and know that I will again in the future. And besides, I got plenty of exercise.
Of course, I had to walk back the 1.9 miles to my SUV in the dark, being especially careful of a few patches of ice and snow. But this time I had a flashlight.