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Oct 20, 2021
"Schoolhouse Sunrise" shows an 1890s school on the plains of Northeast Colorado.
One image comes to mind when the word "Colorado" is spoken: an expansive Rocky Mountain vista. However, there is another side of the state, one that I learned recently is equally as beautiful in a completely different way.
I've been wanting to visit buddy and fellow photographer Matt Vincent in the northeast corner of Colorado for years. His photos of the eastern plains intrigued me, and my wife and I finally made the trip in early October for a week-long stay.
I have fallen in love with the stark beauty of the plains.
Matt and I spent several days zooming around the gravel county roads, shooting everything from old schoolhouses to derelict barns to agricultural photos to colorful cottonwoods and elms to mule deer and pronghorn antelope.
It was such a fun time of catching up and sharing our passion for nature photography.
My first trip to the Colorado plains began with this beautiful sunset showing an iconic western windmill.
Matt and his wife Robin live in the midst of the Sand Hills Region, a rich expanse of prairie broken by rolling hills; farms producing corn, sorghum and beets; and cattle ranches galore. The views go on forever, and the sunrises and sunsets are brilliant.
Most of the trees are confined to the river bottoms, with cottonwoods and elms proliferating. And there were still some of the trees in brilliant autumn dress during our visit.
What I loved most — if I had to pick — was working the old structures scattered across the plains. These buildings are remnants of communities abandoned during the Dust Bowl and severe droughts, and they offer amazing subject matter for photographs.
I think my favorite was an old adobe schoolhouse build in the 1890s. Matt took me there on my first morning, and we were treated to a wonderful sunrise.
There's just something about the light on the plains!
We also shot a number of windmills, which Matt told me are being abandoned in favor of solar panel-run water pumps.
We covered untold miles, visiting some of Matt's favorite shooting locations.
Our original plan was to head to Rocky Mountains National Park with our mini-camper after a week in the northeast plains, but an early winter storm dumped snow in the higher elevations. That meant the park was closed - and our camper isn't a sleep-in-the-snow kinda deal.
Well, at least that's what My Trusty Assistant (aka my wife) says.
So instead, we waved goodbye to Matt and Robin, and drove to the Comanche National Grasslands in the southeastern corner of Colorado.
The landscape changed as we drove south. Yes, it was still plains, but it began taking on a distinctly Southwest vibe. Buttes were visible by the time we set up our camper atop a valley bench overlooking the grasslands.
It was gorgeous!
"Comanche Sunrise," which shows the beauty of the Comanche National Grasslands, is just the first of the prints to be added to my gallery from Colorado's southeastern plains.
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