Sunday, December 23, 2012

Garden of the Gods: December 2012

Ever since I visited Garden of the Gods in September with Zak, Ginny and my mom's husband Michael and realized it was only an hour drive from our house, I've been looking forward to going back for a more "serious" photo trip.  That itch got to the point where it had to be scratched this weekend, so I was up before 5:00 Saturday morning to get there in time for the sunrise.

Kissing Camels
I found an article with some terrific advice on good spots in the park for morning pictures, and decided to follow it pretty much to the letter.  First stop was the hogback just east of North Gateway Rock.  An owl's hoot greeted me at the parking lot as I chided myself for not bringing my headlamp.  But I eventually found a trail in the predawn darkness and got the elevation and perspective I needed to start getting shots before the sun even crested the horizon, like this one of the Kissing Camels through some junipers.

Garden of the Gods
As if the shapes of the formations aren't striking enough, the variety of colors in the rocks take the spectacle to yet another level.

Garden of the Gods
The hogback is fantastic to shoot from.  Every time I moved a few feet in just about any direction, I found myself setting down my tripod again.  Even though I was technically looking at the same scenery, the view was always different.

I was enjoying shooting the rocks so much I almost forgot to set up to shoot the actual sunrise.  I caught it just in time, through a lone juniper tree.

Garden of the Gods
The mix of rock faces already bathed in warm morning light and areas that had still yet to emerge from night's shadows provided an appealing contrast.

Siamese Twins formation at Garden of the Gods
Next stop was the Siamese Twins formation, which I'd never visited before.  I approached it from the northeast and again had a striking mix of light and shadows courtesy of the low sun.

Pikes Peak through the Siamese Twins formation at Garden of the Gods
An auspiciously placed keyhole frames Pikes Peak in the distance.

Balanced Rock and Steamboat Rock at Garden of the Gods
Last stop before the sun climbed too high and started to wash things out was Balanced Rock.  Choosing an angle that also included cross-street neighbor Steamboat Rock added a little extra interest.

Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods
I had already packed up and started heading for home when I noticed the opportunity to get a nice panoramic as I was about to pass the Visitor Center.  So I turned in to the parking lot and looked for the perfect spot, eventually deciding that involved setting up my tripod on a small decorative wall to get a little extra height.  My P90X yoga routines came in handy, allowing me to contort my body enough to see through the viewfinder and get the shot I was hoping for.

Back in the car and home by 10:15.  A little snow on the ground would have helped too add a little something extra to the scenery, but that's being just a bit greedy.  Besides, it's not like I can't come back!

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