The Story Behind The Images - Cutthroat Lakes Sunset (1998)

During the process of creating this webpage I had the opportunity to revisit old images that at one time were my “best”.  Over the next few weeks, I will post a story behind each image as I remember it.  Please enjoy and share. 

The first image was taken in the summer of 1998 shortly after I had finished my master’s thesis field work - three months of geologic mapping and fracture data collection in Durango, Colorado.  My camera, a Nikon N70s, had been stolen from my truck while I was examining an outcrop at a road cut in Dolores, Colorado, and I had replaced it with a manual Nikon FM with a few used lenses that I could afford on my graduate school stipend.  

My sister met me at our Aunt’s cabin in Bondurant, Wyoming where we planned our backpacking trip into the Wind River Range.  We had decided on a rather aggressive loop starting at the New Fork Lakes Trailhead (7,800 ft elev.)  After the first days climb of close to 3,000 ft, we quickly amended the plan to a simple out and back with a few days of fishing, day hikes, and avoiding mosquitos from a basecamp at Cutthroat Lakes. 

Cutthroat Lakes lies above treeline with a number of small lakes and ephemeral pools, probably the reason for the mosquitos, and a nice view of surrounding peaks. The lakes and pools made for made for some great opportunities for sunrise and sunset reflection photographs. I think this is the first trip that I started to use professional slide film - Fuji Velvia 50, which is no longer sold in the United States. Velvia is an amazing transparency film that has limited dynamic range but is high saturated in color. This photograph is one of the first photographs that I felt truly brought almost everything together - composition and a definitive style, but in missed on exposure. When I took this photograph, I didn’t have any graduated neutral density filters that help control the dynamic range in scenes like this and would have really helped bring out the detail in the foreground. A few months after taking this photograph, I replaced the Nikon FM camera with a Nikon N90s and discovered the work of Galen Rowell, which resulted in the purchase of some Sing Ray Graduated ND filters that I still have today. If you enjoyed this post please share and visit me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Flickr (links on the left). Thanks again. Jason C. Ruf

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