My car's thermometer read 2°F when I got to Lake Dillon just before sunrise.
Over my thermal top, I put on a thin fleece, a fleece vest, the warmest down jacket I own, a neck gaiter, a ski mask, a beanie, snow boots, microspikes for traction, and drained the last of my hot coffee. It'd be overkill for skiing or snowshoeing, but hopefully warm enough for some landscape photography.
Driving in from Denver, I'd seen glimpses of fog over the lake, but in the dark it was hard to get a good feel for what the conditions might really be like. A few yards from the car, however, I saw the fog swirling above the lake below, just thick enough to be interesting without obscuring my view of the peaks in the distance.
Perfect! These are the conditions I always hope for on a shoot like this.
I down-climb a bit from the scenic overlook. It's nice, but the really scenic parts are often just above/below/near the actual viewing platform. Plus I see some rough boulders that will hopefully make for a good foreground element, giving the images an anchor.
The sun hasn't quite risen yet, but it's still light enough to see where I'm going and the lake below. The fog seems to be emanating from the (relatively) warm lake and swirling around. I needed to figure out how to capture this motion, either in photo or video.
My first thought: Time Lapse.
Okay, get the small tripod out, set up the Sony a6000 with the 16-70 f/4 lens zoomed all the way out and open up the crappy Sony time lapse app. As much as I adore their cameras, it's clear that Sony is a hardware, rather than a software, company. I need to figure out how to do these videos properly one of these days, but today's not the day to risk mistakes with this scene unfolding. I'll take a decent video over a likely overexposed disaster in conditions like this, so I just set it to "Sunrise" mode and let the camera do its thing.
Once that's set up, I start thinking about photos as the purple pre-dawn light reveals the scene unfolding below me. I promptly forget about the time lapse, and only later realize how good of a decision it was to get one running before I got thinking about photos. I think I'll do more of these in the future now that I have two tripods and the a6000 as a second camera body.
That off and running, it was time to get the big camera out and get to shooting. I won't go into much detail for each shot, other than some of the technical information, but suffice to say it was a productive morning. I'm really happy with several of the shots I came away with.
The sun up and the best of the fog and light gone, I started hiking back towards the car when I heard voices at the overlook above me. Looking up, I saw a guy in a gray suit and he tells me they're having a wedding.
"Yeah, she's, uh... walking down the aisle right now..."
Only in Colorado would anyone get married in the mountains in December when it's 9°F outside, but I quietly apologized, walked a big loop around the overlook back to the car, and headed off towards Keystone to hopefully get in a few ski runs before heading back to Denver.