Rocky Mountain Photography: Landscapes by Erik Stensland

Follow these tricks of the trade to make your Rocky Mountain photographs look like they were taken by a pro.

Mirror Mirror

Lake Nanita, Rocky Mountain National Park

Lake Nanita reflection in Rocky Mountain National Park
Erik Stensland

The walk from Bear Lake to this location at Lake Nanita is 14 miles. It was a little windy on the lake so I found a small tarn sheltered from the wind to capture the flowers and the reflection of the evening light on Andrews Peak. I shot this with a wide-angle lens (17mm) and used a graduated neutral density filter to balance the brighter sky with the darker foreground.

Tip-Top Light

North side of Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park

North side of Bear Lake in autumn in Rocky Mountain National Park
Erik Stensland

Most people have no idea just how hard it is to shoot some of these images. I’ve been trying to get a shot like this of Bear Lake and Longs Peak for six years. On this autumn trip, it was the first time I had no wind, a good reflection, warm light on Longs Peak, multicolored aspen, and at least a few clouds. Generally, one or more of these elements is missing.

River Dance

Off-trail creek in remote valley, Rocky Mountain National Park

Backcountry waterfall cascade in Rocky Mountain National Park
Erik Stensland

Far off the beaten path, I was exploring a remote area that I had never visited. There were dozens of small streams making their way down from the lakes above, leaping over the rocks as if in celebration. To capture the movement of the water, I used a 1⁄3-second shutter speed.

Cloud Crowd

Forest Canyon Overlook, Rocky Mountain National Park

Clouds at Forest Canyon Overlook on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park
Erik Stensland

People congregated on Trail Ridge Road as this scene unfolded. Massive clouds were continuously descending and lifting as the evening sun lit them. I climbed a hill to get a better view of the scene and show man’s smallness against the waltz of nature. A 200mm lens let me compress the scene.