San Juan Mountains Autumn Twilight


On a cold but amazing autumn morning last fall, I rolled out of my tent and was able to photograph this amazing scene. This was a long exposure before actual sunrise.

Specific Feedback Requested:

Pretty happy with this image and have sold quite a few prints of it, but feedback is always appreciated for sure!

Pertinent technical details or techniques:



Wow, Matt! So, that is what a 20-sec long exposure does. If I had woken up to that scene, I would have thought I was dreaming. This is beautiful. I like the color explosion from greens to oranges to blues and more. It is also very nice how the colors flow from one to the next. My eyes travel left to right and left again just soaking in the beauty of the scene and your image. Thanks for sharing it.

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Thanks! Yeah normally a 20s exposure would be totally impossible w/ fall colors but it was SUPER still this morning - no wind! So rare!

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Gorgeous scene and photo Matt! I’d be very happy to roll out of bed and see this on my wall every morning :slight_smile:

I think I might try and reduce the brightness on the wedge of sky between the mountains and clouds on the left side. On one hand, I like the wedge as-is - it feels like the window through which the light is shining through the scene. On the other hand, I feel like it is grabbing my attention a little more than I’d want it to. I tried a small crop in from the left to make the wedge smaller but the adjusted position of the highest peak after the crop feels “off” so I don’t think that’s the answer.


Wonderful image Matt. Those colours are amazing. Love all the details you were able to capture in the 20sec window. This must make a gorgeous print.

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The warm colors in the foreground and sky really pop and nicely contrast with the cool colors of the mountains. I like how there are subtle swooping lines (to my eyes anyway) in the foreground that lead me to the mountains.

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Great light brightness and great details. Beautiful autumn colors and a great depth effect. Maybe the lower right corner is a bit “orphaned” when the trees run out. I don’t know, maybe I would cut the sky a bit

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Yeah I noticed that too but decided to leave it in =)

Thanks! I think the typical move would be to add some glow there but that’s how the scene was so I left it like that. Appreciate the feedback!

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Wow, those colors are amazing! What’s not to love about fall colors and pointy mountains. That bit of light sky on the left does draw the eye just a bit, but the rest of the scene is so colorful it’s not that distracting. As a matted print it would be even less noticeable.

I’ll be going on David and Jennifer’s fall workshop next month in the San Juans. It will be cool if there’s color like this, but no matter what it will be fun.

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Matt, the layers of colors and the long sweeping view are excellent. Easy to see why folks like this.

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Have a good time! I should see them the week after in Oregon =)

The layers of colour are awesome for sure. This must have been something to witness and to photograph. Beautiful work!

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Nicely done Matt! I love the range of colors and the depth created by the successive layers from front to back.

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Thanks Patrick! Hopefully I can return to this area again this year =)

So many beautiful elements in this image, it’s hard to start somewhere. Great composition, exposure and skilful, subtle processing. It is all so very pleasing to the eye. For my part, I particularly enjoy looking at the dark green trees that are interspersed with the yellow and light green ones in the lower third of the image. This alone is a gorgeous scene worthy of a Master’s painting (that light!), and the interplay between it and the mountain+sky is extremely successful in eliciting a vivid vision of the scene. Mega congrats for capturing and crafting such a beautiful image!

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Thank you so much Laura, it was indeed one of the most exciting sunrises I’ve ever photographed. Appreciate you taking the time to look and comment!

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Can’t believe it didn’t make it as an Editor’s Pick before. Oversight corrected now :slight_smile: