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Patriot Day 2017 – Remembering the fallen

It is hard to believe it has been sixteen years since that fateful day. September 11, 2001. That date is forever emblazoned in my memory and in the hearts of all good Americans.

Like few other dates in our history, we can all remember exactly where we were when we learned of the attacks and recall in vivid detail the horror that followed. 2,977 people were killed that day and thousands more have perished since then in the War on Terror as we sought justice across the globe and fought to ensure no one could ever harm our nation as they did that day.

While we shed tears for those that died that day and since, we should also remember the other, too easily forgotten scenes that day.

The firemen and police officers who rushed to the scene and helped those in need, many sacrificing their own lives in the process. The office workers who helped their friends and co-workers down dozens and dozens of flights of stairs. The steel workers who helped to search the rubble of the buildings their fathers had built. The heroes on United Flight 93 who with the simple words, “Let’s roll,” battled their hijackers and ultimately sacrificed their own lives to save countless others on the ground. The soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who dragged their compatriot’s bodies from the rubble of the Pentagon.

Certainly, September 11, 2001 will be remembered as one of the saddest days in our history but it is my sincerest wish that it will also be remembered as one of this country’s proudest. We stood together then, as the truly United States of America.

Perhaps now, when we seem so divided, it would be wise to step back and remember how on that day and the immediate days that follow, we were not left, not right, not black, not white. We were Americans. Indeed, we still are. Remember that and honor the fallen.

Remembering our fallen for Patriot Day 2017. Fort Logan National Cemetery. (© Tony’s Takes)

Remembering our fallen for Patriot Day 2017. Fort Logan National Cemetery. (© Tony’s Takes)

A smoky sunrise at high altitude

A lack of clouds typically doesn’t make for a nice sunrise but (for better and worse) smoke from wildfires in neighboring states helps. Below the 14,000 foot elevation I was at atop Mount Evans, Colorado, the smoke blanketed the landscape giving nice colors to the rising sun.

For these images I experimented with stacking three bracketed images for each one allowing for a wider dynamic range. This is my first attempt at doing this and think they didn’t come out too bad. Taken yesterday morning with my new Canon 6D Mark II.

Sunrise atop Colorado's Mount Evans with a smoky horizon in the distance. (© Tony’s Takes)

Sunrise atop Colorado’s Mount Evans with a smoky horizon in the distance. (© Tony’s Takes)

A gorgeous scene soon to repeat itself

Golden colored aspen trees tower over the forest on Guanella Pass during the fall of 2016. (© Tony’s Takes)

Golden colored aspen trees tower over the forest on Guanella Pass during the fall of 2016. (© Tony’s Takes)

I took a drive to the Colorado high country this morning and the leaves are just starting to hint at the change of seasons. In another couple of weeks, those trees will look like these aspen trees on Guanella Pass last year on September 24th. I can’t wait! I’ve already planned out at least one route that I will be taking.

High country mountain lake sunrise

Well, my photography this weekend didn’t work quite as planned. I had expected to have a healthy dose of moose but as it turns out, they were nowhere to be found. However, I did arrive at my destination yesterday morning in time to catch this glorious beginning to the day.

The colors were awesome, the sun’s crepuscular rays draw attention to the show and the reflection looked quite nice. Now if only there had been a moose walking in that water I would have been much happier with the capture. 😉

A glorious sunrise over Brainard Lake in Colorado's Roosevelt National Forest. (© Tony’s Takes)

A glorious sunrise over Brainard Lake in Colorado’s Roosevelt National Forest. (© Tony’s Takes)

Low clouds and fog at Shadow Mountain Lake

Heading into the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park a couple of weeks ago I was forced to make a fast stop as I saw this scene start to unfold. There had been a good bit of rain the previous evening so it was very moist which helped fog and low clouds develop at sunrise. That moisture in the atmosphere helped diffuse the light from the sun as it climbed over the mountains to the east. The golden orb shed its light on the landscape below creating this very beautiful, peaceful scene.

A golden sunrise over Shadow Mountain Lake in Grand County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A golden sunrise over Shadow Mountain Lake in Grand County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Soft sunrise colors along the Colorado Front Range

Looking to the east, sunrise this morning really wasn’t anything too extraordinary. Turning around though provided a rather pleasant view as the rising sun lit of the clouds in pastels. Below, the Rocky Mountains and a corn field. Taken in Boulder County.

Sunrise paints the clouds in pastel colors to the north and west along the Colorado Front Range. (© Tony’s Takes)

Sunrise paints the clouds in pastel colors to the north and west along the Colorado Front Range. (© Tony’s Takes)

Big, bright sunflower

It is that time of year when these monstrous flowers begin to bloom on the Great Plains. Most of the fields I found this morning weren’t quite ready for prime time but should be soon. Playing with a new camera and had some technical difficulty (okay, operator error) for most of my shots but this was a good closeup.

A sunflower in full bloom on Colorado's plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

A sunflower in full bloom on Colorado’s plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

Famous barn in the shadows of the Tetons

It is tough to get an original shot of the oft-photographed barns on Mormon Row in Grand Teton National Park. Flickr says that this particular one is the most photographed barn in America and given the amazing landscape surrounding it, you can see why.

On the day I visited, I missed the best light of the morning and was too early for the evening but some dramatic skies helped liven (and soften) things up.

Built by T.A. Moulton in the early part of the 20th century, the barn is one of two and took Thomas Alma nearly 30 years to build. The area was settled in the late 1890s by Mormon homesteaders creating the community called Grovont.

The T.A. Moulton barn in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.  (© Tony’s Takes)

The T.A. Moulton barn in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. (© Tony’s Takes)

Moody reflections of the forest

With overcast skies and light rain falling, it was tough to find photo opportunities on this morning in Colorado’s high country. While standing on the shores of a pond scanning for wildlife, I looked down and saw this scene and kind of liked it. Different but kind of neat I think.

A downed, bare tree is reflected in a pond's water in Rocky Mountain National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

A downed, bare tree is reflected in a pond’s water in Rocky Mountain National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

Happy birthday to the Centennial State

It was on this date in 1876 that Colorado was admitted to the union as the 38th state. A lot certainly has changed in the 141 years since then but, despite all of the progress, much of the natural beauty for which the state is known for remains.

In 1893, Katharine Lee Bates visited the state and soon after penned “America the Beautiful”. It is well known that the amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties she wrote about were a direct reflection of her time here.

In fact, it is said that a visit to the summit of Pikes Peak was indeed her primary inspiration. From the lower elevations of the Great Plains that cover the eastern half of this state to the rugged mountains in the west, this truly is an amazing place and I am blessed to have been born here.

This image taken back in April seems to me to do a nice job capturing this state.

The great state of Colorado in one picture - from the Great Plains to the snow-covered Rocky Mountains. (© Tony’s Takes)

The great state of Colorado in one picture – from the Great Plains to the snow-covered Rocky Mountains. (© Tony’s Takes)