Finally, I’m in Boulder for a Big Snow

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If you’re familiar with Colorado, you probably know it for its world-class skiing. Aspen, Vail, Telluride (or if you’re a local, Copper Mountain, Winter Park, and the struggling parent’s favorite, Eldora). Which naturally leads people to think of Colorado as two things: mountains and snow.

Truth be told, nearly a third of the state is mountainous and the mountains have snow. (Which is good news for the rest of the country, because otherwise you wouldn’t have potable water, babies!)  But the areas where the actual day-to-day people live—Denver, Colorado Springs, all the way northwest to my home town, Boulder—most commonly experience little more than occasional dustings. What we get is sun, 300+ days a year of brilliantly clear skies that make Waikiki look positively gloomy by comparison. As evidence, I submit this image that I shot a few feet beyond my backyard just a few days ago.

So when you hear tales of Colorado’s highways and airports shutting down on account of snow, you’re witnessing a rare occurrence: a deluge of snow hitting the Front Range. So rare that out of the handful of big Front Range snowstorms since the year 2000, I (a full-time resident of my beloved state) have experienced exactly zero of them. For whatever reason, I’ve always been on the road.

Today was the first exception.

We all knew this was supposed to be a Big One. But they’re always supposed to be Big Ones and they rarely are. Fortunately, I awoke this morning to the Real Thing: a late Spring storm with gloriously wet snowflakes the size of pancakes. And so densely packed, the world dropped away at 50 feet. This was the view off my deck. (That’s my banister topped by a foot of snow at bottom. Click the image for a 3x view.)

I shot this next image at high-noon from a bridge that passes over the nearby Viele Lake. See those slightly dark blobs in the sky? Those are big, fat, lick-‘em-off-your-lips snowflakes. The size of ice cream sandwiches, I tell you! (Again, click the image for a 3x view.)

But this next one’s my favorite: The view from the crest of Greenbriar Blvd., Boulder’s southernmost border, looking westward beyond the lake, directly at the city’s trademark Flatirons, among the most beautiful Late Cretaceous platonic outcroppings on the face of the planet. Why can’t you see them? Because snowflakes the size of lunar moths are heading straight at me and landing like bugs on a windshield all over my camera lens. (Please click the image to get a better sense of what the hell I’m talking about.)

All images were captured with an Olympus E-30 and sewn into panoramas with Photoshop CS4’s Photomerge filter. Why the sepia effect? (Created using the Black & White command, in case you’re curious.) Because the last time I saw weather like this, I was a boy. And as my own boys like to remind me, we only had black-and-white back then.

Oh, and by the way, that was this morning. Now it’s too dark to show you, but the snow is up to my earlobes. And the snowflakes have grown so large, they have their own atmospheres.

In which, it is snowing.

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Comments

  • hehehe ;)

    I think you might have made the ‘snow effect’ all in Photoshop, don’t you think?

    :D

  • It’s all real

    Beyond Photomerge and Black & White, there is no Photoshop work at work.

    The snow you see is the snow that was. I’m telling you, on those rare occasions we get it, we really get it.

    (Of course, it’ll all be melted off by Monday.)

  • I believe it is :)

    I meant it to be a little joke smile You can’t possibly made ALL the snow in PS, but as I’m not perfectly fluent in English (nor in PS) I might have not made it entirely obvious wink
    Panoramas are great, I like the second picture best.

    In my place we also had two weeks ago a tone of snow for 2 days. I even made a two-meter-high snowman in my backyard!

  • Love your blog

    And love your panoramas. I got hooked on panoramas a couple of years ago. Some of mine are at:

    http://www.hang-out.co.uk/index.php/photographs/panoramas/

    Having made the panorama with the PS Photomerge command, I usually use File > Export > Zoomify to create a clickable, zoomable version that I can upload to my blog.

    BTW, are you happy with the E-30? Might be my next upgrade…

    Best Regards,

    Chris


    http://www.hang-out.co.uk/potd/

  • teardrops the size of pancakes

    Deke your killing me here. I grew up in Colorado and spent a lot of time in Boulder but currently pound the pavement in Japan. With every seasonal change, especially spring and autumn, I battle a flood of homesickness even the little Dutch Boy would have difficulty holding back. This post brought back a lot of memories about late storms both good (as in a sudden chance to get more cash shoveling driveways as a kid) and bad (early morning commute as an adult). Hope you’re boys enjoyed it.

    Time to slap another CD in the spinner, whip up another vodka martini and dream of finer, if not wetter days.

    Thanks for the kickstart.

  • You can have it ;)

    Hi Deke,

    Nice pictures. Nothing but rain here. Heard some mountain locations got 43 inches.Yikes!

    Thankfully, 70’s by Tuesday.

    Danno


    Loveland, CO

  • Living in Loveland and all we got was wet.

    Driving home last night from a class I taught in Fort Collins (north of Denver and Boulder) I drove though rain, snow, really big wet snow, snow and rain before getting home. Welcome to spring in Colorado.

  • need advices

    Dear Deke,

    I am new to DSLR ,and just wondering which chapter I should focus on your training videos of PS if I want to make photos like the following.

    Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

    Thanks.


    Yours,
    Mark


  • Not sure what about this image

    You’re trying to emulate. The angle, the framing, the depth-of-field, the color.

    Let me know and I’m confident we can help.

  • To give you a sense how quickly things change

    Here’s the same westerly view, over the lake and toward the foothills and the Flatirons, a mere two days later. Next weekend, there won’t be any snow on the ground. And thanks to the moisture, everything will start greening up and it’ll look beautiful. Reminds me why I live here.


  • Sounds so familiar

    Deke, over here in Nevada just east of Tahoe we sometimes get the same sort of snow. I’ve gotten the same pictures of “blob’s” when I’ve tried to take a photo while snow is falling.

    The snow is gorgeous when the sun finally comes out after a night of continuous falling flakes, but it is usually totally melted and gone by noon where I’m located. The sparkles of the snow on the sagebrush in the morning sun are breathtaking but I’ve never tried to capture that with a camera and don’t even know if it can be done.

    Maybe someday, if and when I ever get to retire, I may visit Colorado. Sounds beautiful!

  • Colorado Boy

    I have lived in a small town in Southern Colorado my whole life, and these storms hit us pretty hard too.  Glad to hear you are a Colorado boy yourself Deke, I am a new visitor to your site and find it fun and very informative.  Thank you for all your videos!

  • Great

    Thank you, Dake, your pictures remind me of something beautiful.

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