thanks be to stars, sunsets, hikes, and puppies

last fall, i went on a two-week road trip throughout Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and some other less entertaining places. this year, i went on another, albeit more modest, road trip. it started in late November with a trip home for Thanksgiving with my family and continued into Texas for an excursion into Big Bend National Park, catching up with friends, BBQ, and a wedding.

i took quite a few photographs during the week and a half, and i’ll be posting some of my favorites over the next couple weeks. this blog will focus on my time in Colorado, and i’ll post another one soon that covers Texas portion of the trip.

i left after work and drove through the night to get to Fort Collins the following morning. it’s about a 17 hour drive, and as much as i love driving i definitely needed to mix in a few breaks to keep my sanity. i bought a Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 lens for the trip in hopes of using it to capture the night skies in Big Bend, so i broke it out during one of my middle-of-the-night-and-middle-of-nowhere breaks to see what it could do. there was still a decent amount of light pollution on the horizon, but not so much that i wasn’t stunned by the brilliance of the stars. living in Chicago has admittedly lowered my threshold for being stunned by nature, but i have a hard time imagining anyone being completely immune to that “under the stars” feeling.

i’ve spent so many years in the humid midwest that the blues of the Colorado skies also trip that “stunned by nature” threshold. i was fortunate enough to see some pretty vibrant Colorado sunsets as well. i’ll never get tired of sunrises and sunsets complementing the Chicago skyline, but it’s great to mix up the foreground with mountains and trees and other bits of nature every so often.

my parents live right next to the Cache la Poudre River, and they take advantage of this proximity with frequent walks/rides along the river’s bike path. i tagged along for one of their walks, bringing my 6D with my 35mm f/1.4L prime attached. i absolutely love prime lenses, particularly 35 and 50mms, for the way they force me to interact with my environment to create my shots. they really do force you to see the world better than zooms. ever since i got my Fuji X100s (which has a 35mm-equivalent lens), though, i haven’t used the 35mm f/1.4L lens with my 6D much. if i want a 35mm prime i tend to go with my Fuji, and if i want anything else i grab my 6D. this duplication is a shame since the 35mm f/1.4L is such an amazing lens. i need to break it out more in 2015.

day two of Colorado sunsets didn’t disappoint, and i couldn’t resist snapping a few more shots. i’ve always loved silhouettes of bare deciduous trees, and contrasting their implied coldness with the warmth of a sunset or sunrise is particularly appealing to me for some reason.

on a day with a peculiar cloud formation over the front range (see the first shot above), we went on a hike in Lory State Park just behind Horsetooth Reservoir. it was a gorgeous 60-degree November day, and it had me wondering why i ever left Colorado. i wanted to be lightweight for the hike, so i left the 6D at home and grabbed my X100s instead. there were many more beautiful images to capture, but i had neglected to keep the Fuji’s batteries fully charged and ran out of juice shortly after reaching the summit. i was content to simply enjoy the rest of the hike, however. sometimes it’s good to just live the moments without worrying about trying to capture them.

the final, and certainly cutest, segment of this Colorado post features Cali, my aunt and uncle’s 12-week-old golden retriever puppy. she’s absolutely adorable, and as soft as she looks (incidentally, her teeth are also as sharp as they look…).

hope you all enjoyed the Colorado shots! for a sneak preview of the upcoming Texas post, check out my latest photo of the week, which was taken at Sotol Vista in Big Bend.

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