Denver Union Station Revisited

You find some of the most historic buildings, right in the middle of downtown. Time seems to standstill for them, while the rest of the city marches on. Skyscrapers grow around them, yet they remain virtually unchanged. Such is the case for the Union Station in Denver, Colorado. Or at least from the outside. The station itself has been renovated and the is the center hub for train activity in the region. The black and white treatment here adds to the period feel of the station. Visit here for other photos of this building.


Union Station in Denver Colorado

Denver Union Station

It was our first full day in Colorado and our destination was downtown Denver. We started by taking the commuter train in from the suburbs into downtown and departed in an area full of construction. We soon found our first photo stop just a block away, the historic Denver Union Station.

In 1880, the owners of four different railroad lines agreed to build a central station at 17th and Wynkoop Streets. The station opened in May 1881. Throughout the years, it has been through numerous renovations, with a massive update completed just a few years ago. This blend of the modern architecture of the open air train hall, the historic Union Station and the Crawford Hotel make for a great visual experience.


Union Station, Denver, Co. Photo by Tim Stanley

Union Station, Denver, Co. Photo by Tim Stanley

On Golden Pond

Driving through the mountains of Colorado during the height of fall color is like no other time during the year. Yes, winter and spring are beautiful for their own reasons, but “color week” is special. The yellow-gold of the aspens last only a few weeks and at every turn, you are surprised by groups or fields of the bright color. They have different qualities depending on light or shade, but still very beautiful.

As we were driving on this morning, the clouds were low in the mountains, making you feel like you were even higher up than normal. This large pond sits in a small valley surrounded by golden aspens outside of, where else, Aspen, Colorado.


The Milky Way at Sprague Lake

It was a very cold, dark night, but we were determined. We had been at the crime scene earlier that day, but wanted, no needed to experience it at night. Okay, there was no crime. But it was cold and dark. Very dark.

Earlier that morning, Alex Santiago and I had experienced an incredible sunrise at Sprague Lake in the Rocky Mountain National Park. When we arrived in the dark, we saw some photographers Alex had met at the lake last year. What were the odds they would be out at the same location, on the same day and tim? Jim Doty and his friends were a great group to join up with too. As we took our sunrise images, they shared how they had been at the lake a previous night and how the conditions were perfect for shots of the Milky Way. Say no more.

However, later that evening, after a long day of shooting, I had secretly wanted us to stay in and rest, but I’m so glad we didn’t. We returned to the lake well after dark to a moonless, clear sky. The higher altitude in the mountains with no light pollution only helped. I remember getting out of the truck and immediately being able to see the Milky Way across the entire sky, and my eyes had not even adjusted to the dark yet. Wow, quite a sight to see for someone living in the suburbs!

The one downside is that it was so dark, that hardly anything would work for a foreground object.  We tried to “light paint” a few trees using flashlights with mixed success. My favorite image was this first image of the star reflections on the lake itself.


Milky Way at Sprague Lake. Photo by Tim Stanley



Milky Way at Sprague Lake. Photo by Tim Stanley

The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Pano

The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is a place like no other. When I first heard that we might stop there on our trip, I was very neutral. I figured it would be somewhere I would just check off my list of places I’ve been too. It turned out to be one of my favorites stops on our trip.

When you first view the dunes at a distance, they seem small and thin, but they quickly grow in size as you drive towards them. They appear as a mountain range of sand, lying alongside another mountain range. With heights of over 750 feet, it is a sight to behold. We arrived a few hours before sunset. When the low sun was still out, it offered great contrast and detail to the dunes. As fate would have it, the clouds got the better of the sun. The shaded light brought it’s own uniqueness to the landscape; not better or worse, just different.

We climbed to the top of one of the smaller and closer sand dunes, and just sat and soaked it all in. The quietness is what struck me as much as the serenity of it all. It makes you realize how small you really are, but in a good way.

I can truly say that I hope to return one day and take the time to hike in deeper and go “sand boarding” down a few dunes. Maybe camp the night and try some night astrophotography there too, as it is one of the darkest parks in the country.  It’s definitely on my return-trip list.

This is one of the panographs taken while there. It turned out to be 34,656 x 3,516 pixels. That is a 12 foot print at 240 dpi. The file is just too large to upload, so I split it into a 3 image series, shown below.



Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Pano - Part 1



Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Pano - Part 2



The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Pano - Part 3


Here is a “thumbnail” version of the entire pano.

Great Sand Dunes pano - lo res

Elk Alert

On my recent trip to Colorado, there were a few animals I was hoping to see. Though I didn’t see any moose or bear, I did have the opportunity to see a number of elk.

On our first day in Rocky Mountain National Park, we heard an elk bugling, then saw it from a distance. It walked out into an opening, which gave me a chance to grab these images. It would later walk behind our truck, but shooting out the window did not prove advantageous.  The following morning, we even drove pass a herd just outside of Estes Park, which apparently is the norm for this time of year. Until you see it in person though, you don’t realize how large and beautiful this animal really is.


An elk in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Tim Stanley.


An elk in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Tim Stanley.


An elk in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Tim Stanley.

Golden Valley

For a guy from the flat lands of the Gulf coast, it seems like everywhere you turn in Colorado, the view is breathtaking. One of the best views is a stretch on Highway 82 between Aspen and Twin Lakes, known as Independence Pass. Our trip took us almost three hours just to drive the 20 miles to the top; not because of traffic or anything, but because we were pulling over for photo opportunities. The day we went, the clouds were clinging to the top of the mountains, like a smokey veil. While the colors may not have been as vibrant as a sunny day, it had a peaceful sense of wonder, yet mystery.

This panoramic scene was taken just leaving Aspen on a small bridge just off of 82. It was a great way to start our trip up Independence Pass.


Golden Valley by Tim Stanley