Starry Nights and Other Thoughts

March, 2018

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Continental Divide – Milky Way Core
Rocky Mountain National Park, Loveland Pass, and Maroon Bells get an incredible amount of publicity, and its understandable why. But honestly, any place away from the excessive city light can create a gorgeous Milky Way setting, and adding in some snow, and trees, for me makes an even more compelling site. This is a single image that is part of the larger panorama, taken on the morning of March 26th, 2018. I hiked out the forest road on the west side of Hoosier Pass to capture the Milky Way before the morning light drowned it out. 

 

The winter shooting season is drawing to a close, and I have some beautiful images collected and shared, and even printed and sold, but more importantly I have gained valuable experience and connected with new friends who I’ll hopefully share even experiences with. The past few winters manic rush to run and ski and cycle have given way to some realities about what my knees and body can handle. Slowing down to see more, and maybe do less has certainly had its rewards, but to has not been easy.  The thing that is simultaneously beautiful and baffling about photography is all of the ways in which you can express yourself with it. While I will not give up my pursuit of the wide-open landscape, with the sun close to the horizon, I do intend on exploring all of the avenues that photography has to offer.

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Timing and fence posts…
I’ve been working on balancing patience and persistence while my photography unfolds. This shot was about both; being at the right place, at the right time, and having the sense to genuinely appreciate that.

 

One of these facets is of course night time imagery, and Milky Way compositions specifically. There are a variety of techniques, and a multitude of pieces of equipment if you like, but honestly a tripod, the ability to keep your shutter open for up to 30 seconds, and knowledge of where truly dark sky can be found is all one really needs. As my skills have progressed over the past year, I find that seeking out these challenges are equal parts rewarding and humbling. I’m humbled by how little I know and how beautiful the sky is, and rewarded because of the opportunity I have to grow and share, and to actually see these sites I’ve long wanted to.

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Into the Woods…
This composition took place above Alma, where I’ve spent a good portion of my time in Colorado. The image has multiple meanings as winter and Aspens create a monochromatic feast, and, the borrowed title is for my brother Steve, who shared with my so long ago his love of music and theater. Of course since his passing those shared experiences have greater meaning, and though I don’t ever see myself being the artist or creative individual that he was, there is a part of Steve in this picture, the deep, compassionate part that always nurtured quiet, that always nurtured beauty.

 

 

So, I’ve spent multiple nights outside so far in 2018, searching for compositions and clear skies, and occasionally glimpsing a meteor. I’ve been able to marvel at the trail the Milky Way makes across the open sky, and I’m working even more one my craft, hoping you see the beauty that I do. In those spaces that are often cold and dark I quiet, I know I am doing what I am supposed to be. It may seem ludicrous to stand out in sub-freezing weather, while worry about sleep, and equipment, and wondering if I’m going to get a ticket for some overlooked violation of the law, but the miles of driving, and walking in the snow, and hours of pouring over a computer to produce a final piece of work, all seem to be the best use of my time in the present. Yes, the back of my 4Runner becomes my home, my clothes certainly begin to be covered with multiple meals, and I my passenger seat is strewn with camera gear and charging cables, but I can’t image a better thing to be doing.

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Milky Way over the Paris Mill
The Rocky Mountains are synonymous with “boom and bust,” unfortunately so. The Paris Mill is just one of the many relics that dot the landscape. The rich loads of Buckskin Gulch fueled the economy and a like so many other mining regions, the population receded as quickly as it grew. The relic of the Paris Mill is in a preservation trust, and will hopefully stand for many more to see. But please, respect the signs and stay out of the structure.

 

Maybe as much as anything this is a metamorphosis. No longer is it just the push-pin on the map, but when I arrive at a destination I do want to take it all in. I want to capture what is there, and look at it in its own light. This is what I enjoy. Thinking, exploring, finding, framing. Photography boils down to subject, setting, light and composition, but the myriad of ways to “think” about that are what make this a timeless endeavor. And maybe, this is what “home” is, finding that place where you are most comfortable, that place where all thoughts and worry escape you. I like that idea, of finding “home.”

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Elk River, Waking Up…
10 degree temperatures, a river flowing under a still, and heavy blanket of ice and snow. High, and violent clouds playing in the morning light. The Elk is a favorite of mine. This image is far more than I could have imaged from this morning.

 

 

Here is a bonus image, for getting to the end. As always, thank you for the encouragement, thank you for traveling along. I have added many nighttime compositions to my webpage, under the Nightscape Gallery. Please follow this link to find more: Matthew Landon Images

 

 

 

 

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Hoosier Pass
The Milky Way can make nearly any roadside attraction more beautiful. It did this on Hoosier Pass, rising above the Continental Divide.

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