“Sheep Mountain & Wild Flowers”

Sheep Mountain & Wild Flowers, near Trout Lake, SW Colorado (c) Mike Utley

M10-1(S)—Sheep Mountain & Wild Flowers, near Trout Lake, SW Colorado
Sheep Mountain is located near Trout Lake, about ten miles from the small tourist town of Telluride in southwest Colorado. This image was made a couple of miles from the lake one summer evening. Due to the contrast in lighting between the sunlit mountain and the open shade of the meadow and distant forest, a soft-edged two-stop graduated neutral density filter was used to balance the exposure of the scene. This image was made before digital photography became mainstream, so all technical effects had to be made in-camera at the time of exposure without having any way to review the final image until the slides arrived in the mail later. Digital photography makes exposure-balancing effects such as this much easier with post-processing tools such as HDR (High Dynamic Range), which can balance the lighting in a scene by combining multiple exposures of the same subject. When this image was made in 1995, photographers had to know how to do all the tricks in-camera before pressing the shutter button. (Canon gear, Fuji Velvia ISO 50)

28 thoughts on ““Sheep Mountain & Wild Flowers”

  1. When this image was made in 1995, photographers had to know how to do all the tricks in-camera before pressing the shutter button.

    I think I’d still need to know how to do “a few tricks” to produce something so beautiful, Mike. This is gorgeous.


    David

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    1. Thanks, David. I remember going to the camera store to pick up this batch of slides and the resident photographer who worked there wanted to view the batch on the lightbox in the store. When he saw this image, he literally started jumping and down and yelled to another employee, “Jennifer! Come over here, you’ve got to see this!” It was hilarious. This shot won Best of Show in a photo contest later on. It’s one of my favorites. It perfectly depicts Colorado’s natural beauty and it brings back memories of when I first got into nature photography and the sense of wonder I experienced whenever I’d go out shooting. This location is about an hour from where I live. I love how the pale green false hellebore plants seem to glow, and the wide array of colors in the scene. Thanks again for your kind comment. I appreciate it. 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Grace. It was one of those special “magic hour” moments when the evening light was warm and all the elements of the scene came together. Most of the times I’ve visited this area there have been herds of elk in that meadow. This image is so peaceful to me. The color palette is so pleasing and the mood of the scene is so tranquil. I’m glad you like it. Much appreciated. 🙂

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  2. This is radiantly beautiful, Mike, still better than what digital photography would do. These manual photograph tricks seemed to work perfectly well then. I mean, look at this, isn’t it a great shot one would not love to wink at!! The close dazzling flowers, the further dark shade below the mountain and the glowing magma-like feature at the top… oh, so amazing! Thanks for always lighting up our faces and warming the cockles of our our hearts with these adorable pics.

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    1. Thanks, Lamittan. Your kind words are so welcomed. There are some good memories associated with this image. When this image was created, I had hope for the future and at that point I’d thought I’d finally found my purpose in life: photographing nature and advocating on behalf of our wild places. Of course, things rarely turn out the way we plan, and this was no exception. Life got in the way and I haven’t been able to do any photography for several years. Financial problems, mobility issues, lots of other things. At least I have these images and their memories. Thanks again for your constant support. 🙂

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      1. Oh Mike my friend, 🥲 I’m so sorry this happened so. It really pains that these issues had to baulk such a great dream. You have a real gift my friend. Your photographs speak to the heart in most irresistible way. Thank God you created this platform, at least your works won’t go unnoticed. I’m grateful to have you as a friend. 😊

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    2. Thanks, Lamittan. I really appreciate you concern and kindness. I’m trying to figure out what to do about things. I need to create to feel good about life. Hopefully things will improve and I can get back out there doing what I enjoy. We all have our crosses to bear. Thanks for your friendship. It means a lot to me. 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Terveen, for your ever-present kindness and cheer. What am I not good at? Oh boy, let me refer to my lengthy list here…cooking! I’m an awful cook, and the bad thing about that (aside from constant indigestion, hee hee) is I live alone so I’m stuck with eating my own cooking! 😀 Anyway, yes, the colors in this shot pull me in every time I view it. So many cool colors in the foreground and middle-ground, and a touch of warmth on the mountain. I remember making this image as though it happened yesterday instead of years ago. Like I mentioned to Lamittan above, I’ve been “out of the game” for a few years now due to various life events. Man, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I miss this stuff… I’m working on finding a way to get healthier (I have mobility problems with my legs) so I can get back out in nature and resume my photography. I’m not sure if it will happen, to tell you the truth. I hope it will. Anyway, thanks so much for your kind words, Terveen. So happy you like this image. 🙂

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      1. Hope can literally move mountains or make one believe that they are moveable. Haha! I wish that you find joy in whatever you do, Mike. Though cooking may not be one of them. But that’s okay. Take care and see ya around. 🙂

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    1. Thanks so much, Xenia! I’m so pleased you like this one. I remember my rather plodding, methodical approach to 35mm photography, taking time to make sure everything was right. I once had the opportunity to use a 5×7 view camera (accordion front lens element, hood, glass focusing plate and all the rest) and I found it fascinating (and very time-consuming). It gave me so much more respect for the old masters such as Ansel Adams and what they went through to produce their iconic images. There’s such a meditative aspect to nature photography, and I’m sure you understand exactly what I’m talking about because it shows in your own wonderful images. It slows us down and forces us to focus on details we may otherwise never notice. It really is a perfect method of being in the moment. Thanks for your kind comment! 🙂

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      1. You did it with great skill Mike and the meditative aspect of photography and nature photography is what always makes it extra special for me too – it’s so good to slow down and spend time in the moment! 😊

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Mark. The thing I loved about shooting Fujichrome Velvia 50 slide film was its color palette. The color saturation was beautiful, and along with the magic-hour lighting it really made the colors pop. Also, wild flowers are best photographed in open shade or overcast lighting as this enhances their colors and makes them almost seem to glow; and eliminates harsh shadows and contrast. I had the best of both worlds in this shot with the open shade of the foreground and middle-ground with the sunlit mountain. So many colors! 🙂

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    1. Thank you kindly for such a warm comment. I’m fascinated by the colors, too. So many shades of green! When I look at this image, my mind goes quiet and I’m transported back to that moment. I used to make photo greeting cards, calendars and fine-art prints of my photography. The greeting cards featuring this image were really gorgeous (I’m sort of biased, you could say!). 😀 The lighting was just right at that moment, too. I’m so glad you found this image pleasing to you and I’m so grateful for your kind support. 🙂

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    1. Thanks a bunch, Kirsten. I agree–the dark forest on the flanks of the mountain has a mysterious aura about it… The colors are really what drew me to this scene. Overcast and open shade cause wild flowers to glow and their colors are so vibrant when compared to the harsh shadows and contrast of direct sunlight. This image wouldn’t have its appeal if the entire scene had been evenly lit by the setting sun (or in midday sun, which would have been even worse). I was there at the right time, I reckon. I’m glad this one appeals to you. 🙂

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