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COLORADO HIGH COUNTRY - by David Henderson

NOTE: this exhibit appeared in April 2001. Click here to visit the current showcase.

All other exhibits: Click here to access

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Aspens Near Potato Lake.

Old Lime Creek Road turns off the Million Dollar Highway south of Silverton and the decision to pass along it was whimsical, but we'd seen little to detain us in the drive north from Durango. Passing by a straggle of schoolkids who thumbed lifts in jest while their teachers disapproved, we stopped at this rare clear-cut with these nice trunks and just a hint of colour in the soft light.



Aspen Grove near Independence Pass

After two nearly fruitless dawns at Maroon Bells, we drove out of Aspen and recalled a promising grove we'd spotted a couple of days before in teeming rain. There was just enough light to produce a glow on the trees without excessive contrast, and this is one of my favourite shots from the trip.


Aspens near Ouray

After climbing steeply out of Ouray, the 550 levels off before tackling Red Mountain Pass. We thought we'd finished for the day, the sun had passed behind an inconsiderate cloud, but there was still sufficient light to model the aspen trunks on a steep slope facing the sunset.



Castle Creek Road

The road follows a river south of Aspen, eventually leading up to the Taylor Pass and on to Crested Butte, though it's not an easy drive. Reversing our tracks that evening the effect of the late, diffused sun through the still-green leaves of these aspens struck us. Exposure was difficult.


Last of the Storm, Crested Butte

Made early in the morning in the valley just south of Crested Butte, this was our reward from clearing four inches of snow from our vehicle and getting going just after the snowploughs

Had cleared the main roads. One minute there was just a solid grey, and then the sun peeped through and caught the flank of the mountain.



Dallas Divide

We spent two dawns on Dallas divide, between Placerville and Ridgeway, in a bitingly cold wind and some rain. The first morning saw only a little direct light ; the second was much more what we thought we wanted with a mostly blue sky and sun which lit the mountains in the far distance. Only on editing did I recognise that the images taken that first morning had more interest, with only just enough light to bring out softly the infinite colours of a glorious landscape.


East Fork, Dallas Creek

The light this day had a bright glare that made photography difficult which was frustrating because there was a wealth of subjects. This view, looking southwest, and photographed late in the morning,, attracted us because of the contrast between the very bright aspens against the dark green and blue of the forest behind.


From Kebler Pass 2

I found the combination of snow and distant fall foliage colour captivating. Taken from just below the summit of the pass, the snow acts as a giant reflector to push gentle light into the depths of the conifers that would most times be too contrasty to photograph.



Garden of the Gods

I must admit that my expectations from photography in what is in essence a city park weren't terribly high, but this early morning generated two nice red-rock images before the sun got high enough to make the scenes too contrasty. At least we didn't have to drive far for breakfast.


Kebler Pass  

I think that of the images I enjoy most from this trip, at least a quarter were made on this morning with unexpected snow, which softens the outlines of the trees in the distance to create a gentle surreal impression. The middle ground here is just how a watercolourist would portray it with damp paper, and I like the way that the tops of the foreground conifer are accentuated by the snow behind.


Near Aspen

There's another, quite different image in this showcase from this same grove at the foot of the Independence Pass just as it climbs away from Aspen. A few minutes later; a different angle through the trees, permits a high-key, though still soft, image.



Near Crested Butte

As the sun rises, inevitably contrast increases and accentuates colour. Note how the snow has clung to the conifers but has already disappeared from the aspens on this sunny morning just west of Crested Buttel.



Near Kebler Pass

A mile or two short of the pass, the clearing through which the road runs broadens, to contain this little house and the "S" of the track leading to it. We had a short debate about the tyre-track. I liked it because of what it adds to the shape of what is virtually a monochromatic image.



Ophir Pass

This is the view from close to the summit , looking northwest, and the ribbon you see towards the bottom of the image is our road out, which is rated an easy 4wd route. Well it might be easy but fast it isn't, though it's a good view and the vista down the valley to the San Miguels is impressive too, though sadly with too much glare to photograph well on this occasion.



Rabbit Ears Pass

We'd crossed over here a couple of evenings previously, too late to photograph, and promised ourselves a return trip. The thing that had struck us before hit us again- these trees, with not a shred of sunlight on them , were just implausibly bright. This photograph was made with no direct sun at all on the scene.



Red Mountain

We'd spotted the position earlier in the day and arrived in good time for sunset, but whilst this image was pleasing because of the clouds, the sun sank below a bank of cloud to the west and we never did get to photograph these mountains as they turn fire-red in the last of the sun.


Lime Creek Road 2  

As well as landscapes, we spent some time trying to capture the tapestry of trees at different stages of seasonal development. Interestingly here one aspen has completely lost its leaves whilst most of its neighbours haven't yet turned.

Dallas Divide 2

Our second morning at Dallas Divide met our expectations more fully, with lots of sun but enough hints of cloud in the sky to create interest. Controlling the sheer brightness of the scene was a major preoccupation, trying always to capture the scene with some parts of it still in shadow.

Note: For best viewing, set your monitor to High Color or True Color (Thousands or Millions of Colors on MacOS) and 1024x768 pixels. These images have been carefully prepared with a Gamma of 2.2 using the Adobe1998RGB color space. This should work well with high-quality Windows monitors. If you are a MacOS user, set your Adobe Gamma control panel to "Windows Default" or, at the last resort, choose the sRGB calibrated profile in the Color section of your Monitors control panel.

 Please note: All images featured in the "COLORADO HIGH COUNTRY" showcase are Copyright © David Henderson, with all rights reserved. These images are protected by U.S. and international copyright laws and may not be used or reproduced without permission. For questions, licensing and usage information, to order prints, or information about photo workshops, please contact David at


The photographs shown here were made during a two-week visit to Colorado in late September 2000, with a photographer colleague. We came, I guess, in search of autumn colour, with a carefully planned itinerary that took us from the Rocky Mountain National Park, via Steamboat, Aspen, and Crested Butte, to the San Juans by late in the month. We travelled the by-roads, sometimes very slowly, as driving on narrow loose-rock roads at up to 12 000 feet captures quite a lot of your attention! Thankfully my colleague volunteered to drive. My job was looking for photographs.

I've been lucky enough to photograph in many parts of the world, but I'd never seen quite so much colour - some of it almost outrageous - in one area before. It's impossible not to be seduced by this seasonal display, to the point that it takes a little time to stop being entranced by the sheer brightness of it all and allow the normal photographic brain that searches for form and structure as well as simply colour, to re-establish itself.

A wonderful trip, with some memories I'll keep forever; Dallas Divide on two consecutive mornings in entirely different light. Coming to the top of Ophir Pass and realising that the tiny ribbon on the side of the mountain over there was the road we had to use to get down! The sheer yellowness of the trees behind Cushman Lake, near Telluride; and the luminescent orange of Rabbit Ears Pass near Steamboat. Most of all though the one day we spent in unexpected snow after driving up Kebler Pass when any sane person would have stayed in bed. This photography has a strange effect on me. I hope a fragment of this comes across to you too. 

David Henderson

About the Photographer: DAVID HENDERSON

David lives in Datchet, a village on the River Thames west of London, UK, with his wife Jane and three daughters. After a career in senior marketing roles with large multinationals, and a spell as a Director and part owner of a successful Direct Marketing agency, he gave up full-time work in 1997 to photograph and write.

He aims to create distinctive, strong vibrant colour images which are comfortable to look at because they are well-balanced in terms of structure, colour and form. The result should express itself as a complete, harmonious yet interesting image which will stand the test of time.

David works only outdoors, using natural light. Each subject is photographed in light conditions which realise its pictorial potential. He aims to display a strong graphic quality, and simplicity is an overt goal, trying consciously to omit elements from his work unless they can contribute positively to its success. He believes that the ultimate expression of his work is the fine print, and claims to spend as much time communicating with his printers in London and California as he does making images. His work hangs in the meeting rooms, boardrooms and reception areas of a number of major organisations.

Elected an associate of the Royal Photographic Society at the first attempt in 1997, David has had several works accepted for their key annual exhibitions. He has participated successfully in several London exhibitions.

Most of the photographs in this showcase were made with Bronica SQAi cameras and a selection of prime lenses, on Fuji's Velvia film. He also uses a more recently-acquired Mamiya 7 rangefinder. All exposures are made with the aid of a hand-held spotmeter.

David can be contacted by email on or by telephone on 44(0)1753 541319. More of his images can be seen on the Robert White site at in the gallery section.

Find photos of the Colorado Plateau in Land of the Canyons, the Photo Trip USA landscape photography guide book.

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