Best Of: Best Of 2014

2014 was a challenging year for me and one in which I took far fewer images than in previous years. I only managed to make one overnight trip into Rocky Mountain National Park and made very few hikes into the backcountry. Most of my photos were taken near the roads on quick trips into the park. Nonetheless, I still managed to capture a few images that I'm happy with and I'm looking forward to seeing what 2015 has in store. 

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Light and Shadow

Horseshoe Park, Rocky Mountain National Park

I found these trees in Horseshoe Park and waited until the first light just hit them. It still hadn't reached the hill and trees behind them, leaving them in the shadows. Their fresh green foliage glowed in the warm light as birds sang and flew from branch to branch, celebrating the new day. Just behind these trees, out of sight of the camera, elk with shiny fresh coats and velvet covered antlers were running through the meadow. Photo © copyright by Erik Stensland.

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Beauty from Ashes

Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park

Last night I ran up to the top of Trail Ridge Road for sunset. There was heavy smoke filling the skies from wildfires in the far north of Canada which had blown down. It was so thick that I couldn't even see Longs Peak from up there! However, smoke makes for colorful sunsets and so I made sure to watch the sun set behind the Never Summer Mountains as it lit up tundra wildflowers. Photo © copyright by Erik Stensland.

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Into the Mystery

Ute Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park

The path of life twists and turns. It is impossible to anticipate what lies around the next bend. In many ways we are walking into the fog. We know that steep climbs and dangerous descents lie somewhere ahead as well as sorrow and deep pain, yet these are not the end and they are not the meaning of our journey. That mysterious diffused light that calls us onward seems to hint that there is something hidden, something healing waiting for us at the end of it all. Encouraging us at almost every turn there is beauty and wonder. It cries out from the edges of the path, "Do not be afraid". Photo © copyright by Erik Stensland.

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Winter Waltz

Mummy Range, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Pastel colors fill the sky above the Mummy Range on a cold winter morning. 

This morning conditions were finally right to photograph a spot I found in April. I spent an hour standing around waiting for the light to get right and it was -11F. I realized about half way into that time that I didn't have the right boots on, so if anyone saw me they would have seen this strange man dancing by himself trying to keep feeling in his toes. It was definitely worth it though. Now, I just need to get into our crawl space and pull out the winter boots.

This image was taken with the Nikon D810 and is a composite of 6 vertical photographs, meaning that I can print this at extremely large sizes. Photo © copyright by Erik Stensland.

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Awe at Thunder

Thunder Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park

This was one of the most colorful and amazing sunrises I've ever seen. Other photographers who were elsewhere in the park that morning agreed that no one was going to believe the colors that we saw. It was simply amazing. I happened to be up at Thunder Lake for sunrise knowing that the clouds were setting up for something special this morning. It was truly awe inspiring and had me cheering out loud. Photo © copyright by Erik Stensland.

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October Dream

Dream Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park

In the mountains of Colorado snowstorms can visit almost any day of the year. When they do, they leave behind a world of stunning beauty. On this morning Dream Lake rested in such perfect stillness that Flattop Mountain looked down on the waters to admire her own beauty. The silence of this moment was so poignant that it felt like the world was holding its breath. Photo © copyright by Erik Stensland.

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Ypsilon's Majesty

Mirror Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park

Many of us who have been to Rocky Mountain National Park have seen Ypsilon Mountain towering over Horseshoe Park, but how many of us have seen it from the north side? This view is perhaps even more majestic. I think Ypsilon is one of the most beautiful mountains in Rocky and never more so than when bathed in the warm light of the morning or in this case evening. Photo © copyright by Erik Stensland.

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Winter Dreams

Hallett's Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park

Blowing snow and sunrise on the side of Flattop Mountain. Photo © copyright by Erik Stensland.

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Singing Sprague Pano

Sprague Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park

The skies light on fire above Sprague Lake on this cool October morning. Photo © copyright by Erik Stensland.

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Stars Over Bear

Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park

At about 2 am on this June morning the Milky Way could be seen stretching across the sky above Bear Lake. All was still as the world had not yet awoken, oblivious to the wonder happening just above them. Photo © copyright by Erik Stensland.

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