The Spanish Peaks of southern Colorado are simply stunning, especially when viewed from the southwest along one of the many dikes that radiate outward from the twin mountains. There
is was one location in particular that became my absolute favorite location for landscape photography from the first time my wife took me there.
As a photography location, this spot was perfect. The trees and shrubs provided a nice foreground, the dike wall was a perfect leading line, the West Spanish Peak was ever majestic, and the sky was always colorful and sometimes unbelievably beautiful whether I was there at sunrise or sunset. Unfortunately it is gone now-not the mountain of course, but this particular view is gone.
I consider the image above to be one of my best landscape photos. It is a time blend of two photos captured just before and at the moment of sunrise on the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2017. The scrub oaks should have been stripped of their fall foliage so late in autumn and the grasses matted down from snow but the snows never came that winter.
The following June, the Spring Fire burned through this area scorching everything in the foreground of the image. Fortunately, the firefighters held the fire from crossing Highway 12 so the area in the background, including the Spanish Peaks, was spared the devastation. The photo below, taken in August 2018, shows how this area was damaged by the fire. My photo spot had been on the side of the road at the bottom left of the image.
Fire, however, is not the only force that can change a beautiful landscape. The parcel of property that served as the foreground for my images should have been withheld from development because of its unique beauty-not only does it create this incredible view but it also includes a natural stone arch! Instead it has been purchased and the new owner has made some ”improvements” including adding a dirt road that has caused the little pond to turn muddy and some wooden storage sheds. Maybe it is a work in progress for something grander but regardless, the former view is now gone. The more I think about it, I seriously cannot understand what the developers and HOA members were thinking in not protecting this parcel.
Before the Spring Fire, I thought that I had visited this location too frequently in 2017 and that it had made me lazy as a photographer. I returned to this spot again and again because I was usually guaranteed to get a good photo and more often than not I got a stunning image. It was never the same twice, and as I started exploring long exposures and time blends, there were more creative possibilities. But after I captured the Thanksgiving photo, I decided not to go back in order to force myself to explore the area to find more unique locations. In the end, the Spring Fire made that decision for me.
Maybe I was right with my decision to stop going to this location, but I was definitely wrong in thinking that I had been there too often. This place is forever changed, and it may change yet again before too long, but my collection of images reflects the beauty of this place the way it was, at different times of day, in different weather, in different seasons.