As many of you may have noticed, SW Colorado has been unseasonably wet for the past couple of months. And I’m not talking a nice and gentle Seattle-like drizzle. I mean full on thunder-hail, monsoon, wrath of the gods type of weather. Needless to say, I’ve been chased from the mountains as lightning ripped through savage clouds with my tail between my legs more than a few times this season.
It’s not like I’m not checking the weather reports before heading out on assignment. In fact, I’ve been studying over weather forecasts like it was my job. Well, because it kinda is I suppose. But at the end of the day, you just can’t predict mountain weather. So if they’re calling for 60% chance of thunderstorms, that’s a 40% chance to catch some amazingly dynamic light.
That’s exactly what Ben Clark, Sam Feuerborn and I were facing when we went out to shoot a video of the Osprey Packs Anti-Gravity™ series in the Telluride backcountry last week. As soon as we rolled into town, we found ourselves at the local dive bar, waiting for a glimmer of sunshine to pierce the gray curtain. Hunkered down by the plate glass window of The Buck, we watched our day’s plans wash down Main Street in the daily deluge.
‘Yet, another shutdown brought to you by Mother Nature’, I thought. Feeling obligated to be at least somewhat productive, I suggested that we head up to Imogene Pass and scout a little. We loaded up the truck, put it in four-wheel drive and headed up hill.
It did not take me long to discover that Imogene was not a path for the faint of heart. Imagine a very technical and frighteningly narrow road strewn with melon-sized boulders which occasionally fall from the crumbling San Juan cliff side. On your right is an unguarded 1500 foot drop to oblivion. On your left, cascading waterfalls crashing over your hood. White-knuckled, but grinning ear to ear, we continued on. And so did the rain.
At nearly 11,000 feet, we rolled into the ghost town of Tomboy. And within moments, the storm that had shrouded us in defeat began a hasty retreat. We all looked at one another, shrugged our shoulders and without a word, donned our gear.
We knew our window would be a brief one, so we focused on the task at hand and knocked out six scenes in less than an hour. When the rain clouds rushed back in, we charged back to the truck, loaded the gear and reveled on the fact on how lucky we were to have that window.
Closing the tailgate and about to head home, the clouds decided to part for us one last time. As they did, we found ourselves wrapped in the some of the most incredibly beautiful, golden light we had ever seen. Diving headfirst into the truck, Sam soon emerged with an Atmos AG pack. I grabbed my MKIII, locked on a 70-200mm lens and we sprinted up to an overlook, racing the light with every step. When we reached the top, we had just enough time to snap this frame before the magic was gone forever.
Right place, right people, right time.
Here’s the first video featuring our award-winning, innovative 2015 Anti-Gravity series:
My name is Dan Holz, and I have the good fortune of being the staff photographer for Osprey Packs. Photography has been a passion of mine since grade school and I’ve used it as a vehicle to take me everywhere from my backyard in Colorado to the lush jungles of Borneo and the glaciated landscapes of Patagonia. People often ask if I have a ‘specialty.’ It’s kind of a tough question, because while I specialize in active lifestyle and mountain sport photography, I find myself chasing the magic light more than anything else. If the face of a Nepali farmer is suddenly cast in the beautiful shadow of contrast, I become a portrait photographer in that moment. Or if a setting sun embraces a rice paddy outside of Chiang Mai, for an instant I’m a landscape photographer. As a photographer, I am always exploring self-expression and pushing the limits of what I – and my camera – can do. It’s a passion, it’s a job, it’s a lifestyle all wrapped up in a single package. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.