As a special tribute to this month of awakening, we’ve asked legendary Steamboat Springs photographer Don Tudor to share the beauty of his June wildlife and landscape photos with you. For Don, the unique qualities of flora, fauna, light and landscape in the Elk River and Yampa Valleys in June, combine the perfect elements of color, light, and subject. This serendipity of season and place makes June the month for capturing the perfect photographic moment. We hope you enjoy the words and images Don has shared with us for this special month.
June Photo Essay By Don Tudor
As a professional nature photographer, I try to focus my attention on the very best times to capture the beauty of the Yampa and Elk River Valleys. Every season has its moments, but the Spring and early Summer “awakening” may just be my favorite time of year. The most impressive thing at that time is the nearly infinite shades of green and the explosion of wildflowers. This season of awakening normally begins around Memorial Day weekend and extends well into June. The new season works its way up the Elk River Valley week by week, North to Clark, and finally climbs up the higher elevation of Hahn’s Peak as the days lengthen into full summer. It is a time that showcases the many shades and hues of green. When the Aspen trees first leaf, their leaves are a brilliant lime green – the Cottonwoods along the river corridor another shade of green – the Scrub Oak yet another – and all of them contrast with the darker evergreens. To top it off – the Sarvisberries and Chokecherries are in bloom. “The Sleeping Giant” photo below contains all the elements of one of those perfect moments in photography, when the enchantment of June came together for the camera and me.
Every quality image that I have captured brings back a memory that will probably stay with me forever, but the Sleeping Giant Spring Sunrise just might trump all of the others. This shot was taken on June 1st from a piece of property that a friend of mine owned on County Road 44 below Mad Creek. Shots like this seldom happen spontaneously; there is a great deal of time, work and luck involved in having the pieces fall into place at the same time. First you have to pre-visualize the image in your mind. Second, you need to find the location that can give you the opportunity to satisfy your mind’s eye. Third, you need to put in the time to be lucky enough to be there when the natural light, the clouds, and the breeze are all favorable. Then, you get up in the dark every morning for 2 or 3 weeks, cross your fingers, and head out. Sometimes it all comes together- and most of the time it doesn’t- but I never regret doing it because sunrise, especially in late May and June, is never boring. On any given day I will see elk, deer, pronghorn (antelope), sandhill cranes, geese, and ducks, and all while listening to the song of the meadowlark or the fluttering wings of the Wilson’s snipe during its mating season display flight – and all of this while watching the first warm rays of light hitting the mountainsides and meadows. When that perfect light dissipates, I pack up my camera, get in my van, and head back feeling that I have already enjoyed a full and rewarding day, and most people are still in bed.
To view more of Don’s Photography, or to purchase one of his photographs, please visit his website: www.dontudorphotography.com If you are out walking the streets of Steamboat Springs, feel free to stop in his studio to see these photographs in their full splendor. The Sleeping Giant Gallery, which exclusively displays Don’s photography, is located in downtown Steamboat Springs. The address is 601 Lincoln Avenue, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487