For those hoping for more soaring prose, I apologize. I’m all worded out for at least two weeks. You’ll just have to settle for photos instead.

Really, this is just a follow-up to my last post about the Manassa Pioneers Days celebration. While my goal was to get as many photos of the celebration as possible, I couldn’t help but take some more “artsy” photos along the way. This is a collection of photos I took in, around, and on the way to Manassa, Colorado. All of them are in Colorado except the lightning photo which I took at the Moab turnoff.

I will tell one story about the lightning photo. We decided to leave for Colorado in the evening and drive halfway so we could make it to Manassa several hours earlier than we had originally planned. This almost meant that the four hour drive to Grand Junction was in the dark. Just outside of Green River, Utah, we started seeing spectacular lightning and thunder. I had really, really wanted to get a lightning photo for a long time, but it’s been hard to come by a good storm in Utah this year. I was dying inside seeing all of this lightning going on and not being able to stop and take a picture of it (we were on a 75 mph highway).

As we were getting close to the Colorado border, we remembered that there was a really nice little scenic overview area at the Moab turnoff. As we reached the parking lot, I could feel the endorphins start skipping around in my brain. I had a perfect view of one of the most incredible thunder storms I have ever seen. I set my camera up and started taking really long exposures with the hope that somewhere in the 2-3 minutes that it was recording, lightning would flash.

The only problem was that it’s almost impossible to use auto-focus at night, and for some reason, the view finder on my camera has recently gone blurry making manual focus nearly impossible as well. So I set the manual focus to infinite and hoped for the best. After taking two photos (which took about 10 minutes since it was 2.5 minutes for the exposure and then an equal amount of time to process the data), I realized that they were just slightly out of focus, so I adjusted the focus just slightly and hoped for the best once again.

I waited for 165 seconds (f/3.5, 18mm, ISO 100 for you photography nerds) with the shutter open and the ran back to the car before it could process (there were creepy truckers in the parking lot, and I was a little worried about my wife). When my camera finally finished processing the image, I almost had to wipe away the tears with my manly fists. That one photo pretty much made the whole trip worth it.

San Luis Sky

Also, a brief note about two other photos. The photo directly above called “San Luis Sky” is the result of eight photos that I took on top of M Mountain in Manassa. I had to make sure my tripod and camera were perfectly level and then took photos of the entire sky one section at a time. The composite encompasses about 180 degrees.

Dramatic Skies Over the FoothillsThis photo is also a composite (one could technically call it an HDR composite), but consists of two photos of the exact same scene. One photo was over exposed to capture the detail of the foothills, and the other was under exposed to capture the color and detail of the clouds. I then placed the light exposure on top of the dark exposure in Photoshop, and using a layer mask, painted the mountains on. It took me an hour and half. Not that it’s that impressive, I just want your pity.