There are iconic places that are just magnets for photographers. Some of them are year round challenges such as Mesa Arch in Arches National Park, where maybe 15 people can fit to get "the" shot. Maroon Bells, pictured here, is another, especially during foliage season. The number of people that can shoot there at one time is much greater than Mesa Arch, but to secure a spot, you have to get there really early. For this shot, we left the hotel at 3:30am, and that got us to Maroon Bells about two hours before sunrise. Even with this early start, there were still plenty of people there already set up. The good news was that we still had some really good spots to shoot from. As the time passed, the lakeshore was lined up with photographers, probably numbering in excess of 200. It is quite the scene. Tripod legs are positioned in such a way that if you try to move, you might knock over someone else's camera into the water.
I normally work the scene, shooting from different locations by scurrying from place to place to get different angles. After all, the great light in most cases only last about 10-15 minutes. That wasn't going to happen on this shoot. Instead, I played around with different focal lengths, aperture settings, camera heights and orientation. Even shooting with a wide-angle lens was challenging, as all of the photographers on either side of me would be in the photo. On this portrait orientation, I wanted to get the rock in the foreground to anchor the scene. Do I wish that I was the only one there along with my friends? Sure, but I am sure that everyone else there was thinking the same thing. The subject, light and fall foliage was still worth the experience.