Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ypsilon lake

I am trying to catch up with many many months of backlog. The following images were taken September the 6th of last year. I went up to the park that day later in the afternoon to hike up to Spectacle Lakes (at least that was my plan). I never made it that far as it turned dark way before that and the last bit if that hike is scrambling. I still had a long hike back to the car in utter darkness so I turned around after photographing a waterfall above Ypsilon lake. This is a relatively unknown area in RMNP mostly because it is quite a ways from the trailhead. On the hike to the lakes you first climb a steep hill from the Lawn Lake trailhead and then at about 1.3 miles you cross the bridge over the Roaring Fork river. This looked like a nice location for fall shots where you can get some foliage and some good rapids. After this, you are in the forest for a long time before you reach the first little lake called Chipmunk lake (about 4 miles according to my GPS). When I got there the sun was already setting, so I realized I would not be going up to Spectacle Lakes. I did decide to press on to Ypsilon lake though. Chipmunk lake offers some photographic potential:

Chipmunk Lake at sunset
Nikon D300, Tokina 11-16 mmf2.8 at 11mm, f4.5, ISO 200, 1/60s handheld. I think I used a split ND here but I don't remember.

Rock and tree
Nikon D300, Tokina 11-16 mm f2.8 at 11mm, f4.5, ISO 200, 1/80s handheld. Split ND?

Fan of grass
Nikon D300, Tokina 11-16 mm f2.8 at 11mm, f4.5, ISO 200, 1/100s handheld. Split ND?

One nice advantage of small sensor DSLRs such as my D300 for landscape photography is that you can get very large depth of field even at quite wide apertures because the same field of view as on a full frame DSLR is reached at far shorter focal lengths. For the 11mm f4.5 images above for example, the hyperfocal distance is at 1.4 m or so which is more or less where I focussed. If you look at the images enlarged you will see that everything is in focus just fine and you really don't need f/22 or so, allowing me to handhold even at sunset.

After Chipmunk lakes I continued the trail to Ypsilon lake. I saw a camper at the Chipmunk Lake campsite that I waved hello to. He was probably surprised to see a hiker that late. Along the way I saw the first signs of fall. The forest was very dark already, so I had to boost ISO.

First sign of fall

Nikon D300, Tokina 11-16 mm f2.8 at 11mm, f5.6, ISO 1600, 1/50s handheld. 

Ypsilon lake itself is not very photogenic, but the waterfalls above it that lead up to Spectacle Lakes are spectacular (sorry for the pun). This is a very lush area. The flowers had mostly disappeared, but in high summer this is clearly an area to get images of water, flowers and lush vegetation and I will be sure to return for that. At this point in time, sun had already set and I did not even need ND filters to slow down the water.

Narrow Canyon, mossy rock, waterfall. Check out a black and white version.
Nikon D300, Tokina 11-16 mm f2.8 at 11mm, f11, ISO 200, 1s on tripod.

My favorite of that hike is this image

Lots of little falls on a big red rock. Check out a black and white version.
Nikon D300, Tokina 11-16 mm f2.8 at 11mm, f11, ISO 200, 2s on tripod. 

Absolutely a place to come back to when the flowers are out. Spectacle Lakes is on my wish list for sunrise.
Edit: Set of images is here. Flickr set here.

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