South Conejos Fall

Cottonwoods this time, from late September. This is the South Fork of the Conejos in Colorado’s South San Juan Wilderness.

Fall cottonwoods on the South Fork of the Conejos, South San Juan Wilderness, Colorado

The South Fork is a grand place, full of aspens and hemmed in by cliffs all around. After the evening shooting and dinner, I was sleeping soundly on the open ground (I went tent-free on this trip) when I was snapped instantly awake by a series of breathy coughs, disturbingly close, which suddenly broke into a hoarse shriek, echoing off the walls. I caught a glimpse of a coyote across the meadow in the moonlight. But this one’s song was no happy, drunk-on-the-moon yipping; it’s voice was disturbingly savage alone in a wilderness canyon at midnight. I kept feeding my little fire through the dark hours, the coyote kept barking and screaming, and I was happy to see the dawn.

There’s a lot that can be said about fall color photography, but one principle I find very useful is that the spectacular morning and evening light that makes so many photos work is often not the best for autumn leaves. That warm, low-angle light that can give such a beautiful glow to grand landscapes frequently turns fall foliage to a mess of muddy-looking orange. There are times when it works, but I generally prefer overcast, deep shade, reflected light or back-lighting. The blue cast you get in the shade can make a very nice complement to yellow leaves.

Another view of the South Fork; the composition’s to messy for it to make the A-list, but it shows the beauty of the place nicely:

Autumn in Colorado's South San Juan Wilderness

Two mornings later, looking down from the canyon rim on my previous campsite, with 13,000 foot Conejos Peak above:

South Fork Conejos canyon, Colorado


One thought on “South Conejos Fall

  1. Jackson friend… while you were up the south conejos… did you happen to get a photo of Canon Bonito waterfall…??? i’m seeking some of your waterfall photos for publishing. please contact me. THANX…!!!

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