Symphony of Voices: Alpine Wildflowers in Bloom
Tundra in Bloom|
By Delphine T. Cuomo
High on alpine air
marmots whistle in play
on purple mountain majesties
Yellow clusters of alpine wildflowers
Wiggle in the wind
Crusty snow crystals lingering in patches
Cling to gray solemn peaks
While delicate purple white columbines
Raise voices in unison
Above fierce thawed ground
Forgiving frosty harsh foundations
Wisps of Forget me nots
Can only Dream of dancing
On tundra sky
Photographing wildflowers is like coming across a smorgasbord of tantalizing delights. Colors mesmerize, forms dance, voices beckon, smells intoxicate. The challenge: which ones to focus on.
This summer our photograph journey took us into Colorado's alpine tundra of Yankee Boy Basin, Crested Butte, Rocky Mountain National Park and Mt. Evans. Our main focus, having been wildlife, took an expansive but gentle turn when mother and son fulfilled a strong desire to see alpine flowers in bloom. This past spring, we have had record rain fall in the southwest, which has graced desert, high desert and alpine areas with exquisite wildflower blooms.
One of the main challenges in photographing alpine wildflowers in high altitude vistas is your mode of transportation.
You're best bet is a four wheel drive. Whether you rent a jeep, borrow your friend's or own your own, despite the raising price of fuel, it is the best way to get to these out of the way pristine places.
Our alpine journey took us to Yankee Boy Basin near Ouray, Colorado this July. We decided to take my 96 Land Rover up the narrow high gravel root up to the summit. Half way up, our Rover over heated. It turned out to be the best place to photograph an old mining ladder used for prospecting. Once the vehicle cooled off, we camped overnight and settled in for a peaceful sleep.
Early morning, we made way up the steep narrow path for Yankee Boy Basin. ATV'S jeeps and honeymooners keen on beauty and adventure zipped by us for their quick tourist shot.
Yankee Boy Basin is truly a gem. A symphony of voices reaching out from fields of multi-colored wildflowers delighted our senses.
If like myself, you have a passion for photographing pristine areas please be careful where you place your feet when venturing on sub alpine or alpine tundra. The tundra is a very fragile ecosystem, and negligent treks through bouquets of wildflower fields for the ideal photograph, can undo delicate work of conserving nature for future generations. We were astounded to see clumps of stamped upon columbines, crunched and torn aside for special effects by previous hikers when we photographed Yankee Basin near Ouray, Colorado.
The ideal time to photograph flowers is early morning or late afternoon.
This type of lighting adds depth and texture and creates a mood for the photographs. One of the most challenging times to photograph is in mid-day when the sun is high. Especially in alpine areas, where the sun blazes with high intensity, making photographs look harsh. Sometimes alpine areas are clouded and unexpected thunderstorms and cloud cover can happen anytime. It is important to be prepared for all types of weather. Make sure you have a cover for your photo equipment and your camera bag handy. Inspect your camera gear, making sure the camera is not wet.
While visiting alpine areas, not only is it important to hydrate yourself with water continuously, make sure you're wearing a hat, appropriate clothing and sunscreen to protect you from sun and wind exposure. We had taken only one hat, and one of us was rather baked without the protection of a wide brimmed hat.
At 12,400 feet engrossed in beauty, it was easy for us to forget about the elements. Watch for signs of altitude sickness, dehydration or sunstroke, especially if you are elderly or have breathing conditions.
One of the ways I like to photograph wildflowers is to focus a flower in the foreground at about f 18/20 aperture while including the natural landscape in the background, making the photo crisp but smooth. While photographing in direct sun, it is helpful to have a white umbrella to avoid white outs. If you don't have one, a white piece of paper will do. If you have an assistant, like I had you can create the needed lighting by having the person stand in front of the subject. This positioning creates a shadow and will give you the right amount of lighting for a crisp colorful photograph. My mother became the perfect lighting fixture
Another joy in photographing alpine areas is you don't know what will show up. It was a joy to behold when a couple of marmots made their appearance round a corner whistling in between the purple and red rock walls blooms. These particular marmots enjoyed being models by exhibiting natural modeling moves, which made my job as a photographer a delight. I'm sure this particular marmot was made to be in pictures.
At mid-day, we got out of the sun to have a picnic. Munching on trail mixes, we took out some bananas, tuna fish sandwiches and dark chocolate with strawberries for desert. We were careful to pack away our food, and not let any food fixings drop. Not only is it inadvisable and silly to feed wildlife, it is illegal to feed wildlife in our national parks.
Remember to take all trash out with you when you leave. Have fun and enjoy photographing wildflowers of our national parks and national forest areas.
About the Photographer
Jorel Cuomo was born in California in 1985. He spent his childhood years on the Pacific North West Coast of Canada and Hawaii where he developed an intimate love of nature.
In 2000, he moved to Colorado to pursue flying and nature photography. Recipient of a 2004 NANPA (North American Nature Photography Association) High School Photography Scholarship, he now engages in wildlife and landscape photography full time. Featured in ‘Nature's Best 2004 International Photography Showcase', his photograph of ‘Dancing Cormorants' taken at Ecola State Park, Oregon, earned him a ‘Highly Honored Award' in the Youth Category and was given 'Honorable Mention' in the 2005 July issue of Smithsonian Magazine's 2nd Annual Photo Contest.
In the fall of 2004, he was presented with a finalist award at the Young Americans Awards Celebration' for Young Entrepreneur of Colorado at the University of Denver and was featured on NBC's Morning News for the Young Entrepreneur Marketplace at the Young American Bank in Denver, Colorado.
His publication credits include: Smithsonian, Natures Best, Shutterbug NBC, and High Country NewsJorel R. Cuomo's
Photographs for Conservation
P.O. Box 1676
Jorel's amazing photography is now collected on four different continents!
Corporate orders now accepted!
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