It's not hard to find photographs of Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the most visited parks in the country. And it's not hard to take your own photos if you're lucky enough to visit. But let's face it: there's often a gap between what the pros shoot and what the rest of us come away with.
Erik Stensland's photographs stand out. The Estes Park resident regularly goes out late at night or very early in the morning to capture landscapes that show spring flowers, gushing waterfalls, or fleeting moments at sunrise. We talked to him about his work, and also asked for some simple pointers to help our own images match our memories.
He regularly gets requests for a hiking buddy, someone who wants to tag along to see the artist at work. Stensland always declines, though. He tells Colorado Matters, "I just need silence to rethink things. It keeps me whole and sane. I need that time of personal reflection." But the photographer is willing to offer some advice to those who want to take better photographs of the park. His three key pointers:
If there aren't clouds, it's not worth going out. "Clouds really create the emotion in the image," he says.
Be clear about what the subject of the image is. Is it the elk? Long's Peak? Focus on one clear subject.
Photograph when the light is "sweet and warm." "Most everything I shoot is within 15 minutes of sunrise or sunset," he says.
Stensland sells his image online and in galleries in Colorado and New Mexico, and shares them each day on Facebook and Twitter with messages like, "Mountains are things of wonder, breaking the horizon and encouraging us to see possibilities we never thought could exist."