Breakfast options, assuming I wasn’t going to cook myself the standard 3 egg breakfast, are slim at 5am in Boulder, CO. My visits to the ‘McWorld’ are pretty limited, so I actually had to google where the nearest McDonald’s was after discovering Amante Coffee didn’t open until 530 (Amante serves Breggos, tasty little breakfast sandwich/panini things). Can’t lie, I was excited for McD’s breakfast, probably 1 out of the 4 or 5 times a year I have it.
I have been eyeing this spot for about 5 years – every time I ride by on my bike really, since I was in high school. It’s a place east of Boulder where a farmer plants his crops in strips that run north to south. The strips alternate between planted and wild (er, not sure the right terminology there) each year and they trace the rolling terrain in the foreground of the foothills…behind them, snowcapped peaks. Sounds pretty good for a photo, no?
Back to the morning. Arrived on site at 515am via a short walk with all my gear from somewhere appropriate to park. In the field, I dialed in the Nikon D700, coupled it with a 14-24mm wide angle lens and circular polarizer and went in to the menu to work on the other settings. I knew I was going to shoot at least a portion of the images with the intention of combining them into an HDR. Getting the dark soil rows and the vibrant sky all visible in the shot would require more tonal range than the camera could capture in a single shot. I setup the camera to shoot between 9 and 7 frames, half over and half under exposed, in continuous high speed mode – after a 2 second delay (so my hands on the camera wouldn’t add any minor blur).
Then the sun started to rise and the whole plan changed. Instead of shooting to the west as planned, I was now shooting to the east – as the heavy banks of clouds were getting lit up – acting like big soft reflectors of deep red light. The sunrise was incredible, but I knew I’d be skunked in terms of that early morning light I originally planned for.
At first I was concerned with the traffic from people commuting to Boulder, but in the end it added some extra interest to the shots. I ended up shooting in one place for about 3 minutes, then packing up the tripod and running, with a fully-loaded LARGE camera bag, across a frosted field to the next place I thought would make for an interesting shot. Probably 5 or 6 different locations over 30 minutes, and entirely different than what I had planned ahead of time.
I’ll be going back again soon, to try and capture the idea in my head.