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Behind Ouzel Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park CO

Nini and I love Rocky Mountain National Park, and were happy to find out that the park's Southeastern most entrance was only a short drive from our campsite. So we decided to check it out on our last full day in the mountains. The area of the park is called Wild Basin, near Allenspark CO. We were greeted enthusiastically by a park ranger who claimed Wild Basin had the most beautiful lakes in the park. The only problem is that getting to many of these lakes requires a 10+ mile hike. The bonus is that many of the hikes follow beautiful streams up the mountain. The park ranger also mentioned that Wild Basin is home to a third of the park's bear population and at least one prominent mountain lioness. Oh, and a bear was spotted near the trailhead the day before.

I started from the Wild Basin trailhead (aka: Copeland Falls trailhead) planning to hike 2.7 miles to Ouzel falls by myself while Nini and Cheech took a day of rest hanging out at the trailhead. The trail follows the beautiful Ouzel Creek, which offers an infinite supply of scenes like this one. I liked this small falls behind Ouzel Falls more than the main attraction itself. In fact, I didn't even take any photos of Ouzel Falls. Instead I quickly shot this small falls and continued up the trail. More than anything, I wanted one last view of the mountains before our departure the next morning, and I knew this was my last chance. So I started off thinking that I would hike until I could get a good view of the mountains. About a mile and 1000 feet of elevation change later, and I had my view of the mountains again. But by that point I was only another mile from Ouzel Lake, and I thought back to the ranger's claim: "Wild Basin has the best lakes in the park." So I pushed on. The last mile is where it got interesting…

This is a single two second exposure. I used a circular polarizer to cut the glare off the water, allow the rocks below the water to be seen, and to saturate the colors. In processing, my standard preset reduces overall saturation quite a bit, and then I return the saturation in specific color channels as I see fit. I was lucky to have gray skies creating the perfect soft light for shooting waterfalls, so there wasn't much glare and the colors really popped. Less light also makes it possible to get longer exposures without having to use any neutral density filters. It's funny to be half way up a mountain in gray skies and be thinking "boy I'm lucky to have these gray skies!" Gray skies could come with flash flooding or even snow. But I hiked on, feeling lucky…

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