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Telluride 2.0

Editor's note: This post is a follow-up to an earlier Telluride post. You'll find more location and photo tech talk here - as well as more photographs. I'm revisiting Telluride now because it's peak leaf season in many parts of the country.

Why A Wonder: Sprawling forests, dramatic mountains and awe-inspiring lakes make the landscapes around Telluride, Colorado a nature photographer's paradise.

Where: Historic Telluride, a former Victorian mining town, is situated in a picturesque box canyon. It is about a 6 1/2-hour drive from Denver, Colorado and about a 2 1/2-hour drive from Durango, Colorado. Elevation is 8,750 feet, so give yourself some time to get acclimated to the thin air, especially if you plan on doing lots of hiking. What's more, the high altitude can cause a distribution in one's sleep, so don't be surprised if you wake a few times during the night.

When: October for photographers who like to capture autumn leaves; January and February for skiers.

Photography: "You snooze you lose" is my motto for photographing in Telluride. Get up early and stay out late to capture the best light of the day.

This is wide-angle lens country. When I was there in late September, I shot with my Canon 16-35mm and 24-105mm lenses.

Always keep your camera handy. You'll find photo opportunities everywhere, including along Silver Dollar Road, where I took the photograph above. Here's a quick composition tip: Place an interesting subject off center. In doing so, the viewer's eyes move throughout the image, as opposed to getting stuck on a dead-center subject.

To darken a blue sky and to reduce reflections on foliage, use a circular polarizing filter.

I took the photograph that opens this post early one morning from the parking lot that overlooks Ralph Lauren's ranch. When I was seeking the best possible composition (by walking back and forth in the parking lot) I noticed an "S" curve that was created by the beautiful aspen trees. Including "S" curves in landscape photographs is an effective way to make an image that causes the viewer's eye to look into the photograph, not just at the photograph . . . as Ansel Adams would say.

As an aside, I took the above photograph in the Conwy Valley in North Wales. Here, too, I composed my photograph to include an "S" curve.

Not far from downtown Telluride is Trout Lake. Have fun here working with reflections and varying where you place the horizon line in your photograph. You can get nice images throughout the day, but you'll get the best light in the late afternoon, which is when I took my photographs.

The two photographs above illustrate the effect of using/not using a foreground element. I took both photographs from basically the same position. Which one do you prefer? Let me know in the comments below.

Also, the photograph directly above breaks a basic composition rule: don't place the horizon line near the center of the frame. What are your thoughts on the so-called rules of composition?

If you like ghost towns, drive up to Tomboy (altitude 11,509 feet), an abandoned gold mine, where I took the photograph above.

In viewing the collapsed buildings of Tomboy, which started producing gold ore in 1894, I was taken back in time to the age of wet-plate photographs, so back in my hotel room I applied the Wet Plate filter in Nik Analog Efex Pro by DXO software.

Note: You'll need a 4-wheel-drive vehicle to get to Tomboy, and the road is very rough and rocky. If you just want to enjoy the scenery, seek out one of the tour operators in town.

On the way to Tomboy, you'll pass groves of beautiful aspen trees. Before your trip, ask the locals where you can find the "dancing" or "kneeling" aspens – because they are off the beaten path. For the photograph above I used my Canon 17-40mm lens set at 17mm and got down very low to ground to emphasize the curvature of these magnificent and unique trees. To capture detail in both the shadow are highlight areas of the scene, I set my camera on HDR: EV 0, EV +2 and EV -2.

As you can see in the photograph above, the drama of the "dancing" or "kneeling" aspens is not captured as well when the trees are photographed at eye level.

Want an authentic Old West cowboy adventure? Check out Telluride Horseback Adventures – Ride with Rowdy. This is an experience not to be missed. Rowdy, pictured above, is quite a character.

Learn more: Click here to get more info on this awesome destination. Get inspired with more landscape photographs in this post by Ian Plant.

© Rick Sammon

Do you have your own photos of this Photo Wonder? Feel free to share them in the comments below!

This post sponsored by Delkin Devices.

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