Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs

For the past week, I’ve had a big debate in my mind, choosing a topic for September photography blogs.  September brings back so many fond memories of photography adventures in the past few years.  Is the same true for you?

Last year when I posted a September entry for this blog, I was photographing lighthouses in Maine and the Cape Cod bay seashore. Look back if you wish.

Then I thought of  celebrating my birthday (9/20) in Pula, Croatia in 2008 where we strolled some picturesque lanes and admired fresh vegetables in the market. We feasted and folk danced with family at lunchtime and blew out candles back on the cruise ship (Silversea) at night.

With Colorado in the news with record floods, I thought back to my first visit to Denver and Colorado Springs and I settled on this topic: September 2011 – when I treated myself to a walk through the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs on a crisp sunny morning.

Garden of the Gods is my favorite type of nature shoot. Why?  The red rock formations are glorious.  They are unique, and as you wander and observe them from all angles, you can absorb their abstract beauty.  As you lift the camera to frame, focus and shoot, you can exercise creativity ad infinitum. Look at the color, the texture, the lines, the background, the light, and the perspective.  Which lens will show the drama that I see and feel?  Which frame will be my favorite?

The following image is my first experiment with HDR photography (high dynamic range). I shot 5 images on the tripod, changing the shutter speed along a range of underexposed to overexposed, and then combined the tonality of all five images in a computer program. The final image is vibrant from the sky to the rocks and the trees (light to medium to dark tones), and it gives you an idea of what the whole park looks like.

I only wished that I had a friend or family member with me to share my excitement that morning.  I was very grateful that my Sewickley friend, Karen Fadzen, advised me to go there – to drive an hour or so south of Denver to discover Garden of the Gods. Heavy rain arrived right after lunch and continued all afternoon, underscoring my feeling of gratitude for the fruitful morning.

My next red rock shoot will be the first week in November when I will venture out to Bryce and Zion Canyons to attend a photography workshop with Don Smith. Don promised to teach us about using luminosity masks to create superior HDR images. We will also rise before dawn and practice exposure bracketing, polarizers, neutral density filters. Surely, I will have some favorites to share after that adventure.

Author: cathykellyphotography

Independent photographer based in Pittsburgh PA and Naples FL. Nature, landscape and portrait photography. Portfolio includes international work in USA, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Email to review work in your area of interest. Nature portfolio includes flowers and wildlife. Prints and digital files for sale. See website:

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