2014 Wilderness Forever Smithsonian Exhibit

   I’m really proud to announce that my image End of the Gold Rush is being displayed on the walls of the Smithsonian...


 I’m really proud to announce that my image End of the Gold Rush is being displayed on the walls of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Through photography, the exhibit celebrates the 50th anniversary of the signing of the wilderness act. It’s a real personal achievement and a huge honor for my image be on display in the most visited natural history museum in the world. It is also amazing to be a part of the celebration of the Wilderness Act’s 50th birthday. 


The Wilderness Forever exhibit was organized by Wilderness 50, a coalition of government agencies, non profit groups, foundations and other supporters along with Nature’s Best Photography Magazine and the Smithsonian Museum. Of the thousands of images submitted 63 are on display. I can’t think of a better way to showcase the pristine wilderness areas of our country than through photography. The Wilderness Forever exhibit will give millions the chance to see our wild places through the eyes and lenses of many talented photographers. 


 Judged by photography, science and conservation professionals I was lucky enough to have three images chosen as highly honored winners in the professional division. Two in the scenic landscape category and one for wildlife. 


  My photo End of the Gold Rush is one of my favorite autumn landscape images. The mountain in the photo is Capitol...
Capitol peak


My photo End of the Gold Rush is one of my favorite autumn landscape images. The mountain in the photo is Capitol Peak. At 14'130 feet, Capitol is the 29th highest peak in Colorado and one of 53 "fourteeners" found in the state. This view is amazing any time of year, but its absolutely stunning in the fall. One thing I really love about this scene is the massiveness of the scale. The tall aspen trees in the foreground are the exact same trees that make up the tiny spots of yellow in the distant valley. 

I've visited this spot many times over the years hoping to make this image. With landscape photography it's really a persistence game. You go in the fall when the leaves are golden and you make your best predictions for weather and you show up. Aside from that it's just a waiting game. If you're stubborn enough to be a nature photographer you know that eventually mother nature will pay you back for all those days you put in that turned out to be a bust, and all the elements will come together.

I had actually made some images I really liked of this same view in previous years but not quite the exact shot I had envisioned. In 2012, well into October, I went here on a whim after the forecast for the Elk Mountains was for a fresh dusting of snow. This is very late for this area of Colorado for good color. I still decided to give it a try as the weather conditions looked optimal and those first dustings of snow on the mountains in fall really makes a photo come together. There's a 4 wheel drive trail that gets you near this spot. A short hike down a steep mountain slope will bring you to where I shot this photo. I was happily surprised when I got there to see that the aspens in the foreground that are so crucial to this photo were still clinging on to their golden yellow leaves. The scrub oak below was a really nice shade of orange as well. Most of the valley was grey and void of any color but there were just enough trees left with color to add splotches of yellow to the midground. At sunset the clouds release their grip on the summit of Capitol Peak revealing a freshly blanketed mountain. The low setting sun cast a pink glow on the mountain and the clouds above. What was even better was that the clouds over my head which aren't in the composition were also glowing bright. This cast a lot of warm ambient light onto the whole scene which helped even out the exposure and added a bit of glow to the landscape. 


The Wilderness Forever exhibit runs from Sept 3rd through the summer of 2015. If you would like to learn more about the exhibit and America’s wilderness areas please click any of the links below.