Sunrise Over Rock Cut

While we just missed the sunset from Rock Cut as we raced back from Kawuneeche Valley the night before, something I discussed in the first post on this blog, we did not miss the sunrise the next morning. To ensure that we wouldn’t miss it, we got up at 3:30 am and began our trek into Rocky Mountain National Park, catching the waning stars as night gave way to the morning sun. It was well worth sacrificing some sleep.

The sunrise itself wasn’t all that photogenic in the mostly clear sky, but the experience was indescribable and unforgettable. There was something truly (to borrow a phrase that gets recklessly thrown around, but in this case couldn’t be any more accurate) magical about the experience of sitting up on those cut rocks, 12,110′ above sea level, with nature’s magnificent creations.

Please click the photo for best viewing (larger and in lightbox mode). From there, you can purchase prints by clicking the shopping cart at the top of the screen. You can also navigate to the 1,000+ other images in my photo galleries from there! 

A Fragile People?

It seems we as a society are becoming increasingly risk averse in a variety of ways. I see this on a daily basis as businesses and individuals avoid doing things that they probably legally could due to “liability concerns.” My own profession is guilty of perpetuating this kind of mentality more than any other, as we “err on the side of caution” and often encourage clients to steer clear not only of acts that would give rise to actually liability, but acts that could potentially give rise to litigation. Of course, anyone can be sued for anything, the mere fact of a lawsuit doesn’t establish liability. The mere fact does, however, carry costs of defense. In today’s hyper-litigious society, people try to do or not do things that might lessen the likelihood of even the most frivolous of suits.

This erring on the side of caution, in turn, makes us as a society more fragile. We come to view unnecessary “safety” precautions (that are little more than cost-increasing bureaucratic checks to paper a file) as an ordinary and even expected part of life. Given the direction we’re heading as a society, it’s almost amazing (and very refreshing!) that things like the formations at Rock Cut are open to the public. During the day, many tourists each hour scale some of the smaller formations at Rock Cut, carefully maneuvering jagged rocks. For decades, people have climbed these formations day in and day out without a single fatality. For a society that treats itself with such kid gloves, it’s amazing to see that we actually aren’t quite so fragile when we choose not to be.

It would be nice if we more often chose not to be so fragile.


I shot this with my Nikon D700 and and the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8. As you can see from the EXIF data, I used an aperture of f/16, which is what created the sunburst (for those wondering, this look is always achieved with the aperture in my photos, never by using a star filter). This is a single exposure with a smart object adjustment to bring some more light to the foreground rocks. Processing consisted of a curves adjustment and some noise reduction via a Gaussian blur layer. I finished the image by cropping it a tad to put the sunburst in the upper right intersecting point of the image.

Your Thoughts…

Are you glad that we’re an increasingly “safer” society, or do you think some things we do are merely playing it safe for the sake of playing it safe? Do you yearn for a society where people are free to climb on jagged rocks without a sign that says, “WARNING: JAGGED ROCKS ARE JAGGED”? Share your thoughts on this photo or this mostly irrelevant commentary…or on anything else…in the comments! One lucky commenter might have a street named after them in Randolph, Maine!

4 replies
  1. Annie
    Annie says:

    Have you ever been to Natural Bridge in Kentucky? You should definitely take a trip if not. It always amazes me that you can walk around it with no railing or anything! That’s actually where my husband proposed. I told him he was really lucky that I didn’t faint!

  2. Doug McClentic
    Doug McClentic says:

    Today many of us get so caught up in just trying to survive that we end up not being able to step outside the small “safe” world we create for ourselves. We forget how to go out, we convince ourselves that we do not have the money or the time. We just get plain lazy and think that sitting at home in front of our computer or TV is actually living a life. What we see presented to us about the world around us is seldom good. We see violence, mayhem and drama of all sorts. Then when we see or hear about things that seem interesting and we want to do we tell ourselves we can that later yet we don’t. We make bucker lists instead. The days tick by, we get older, more worn out by the stresses in life and why? We never step out and do the things to change the pace and destress out lives. It is much easier to stay at home.

    I also have a question. You capture some pictures with the D600 and the D700 for others. Why is this? Are there qualities of the chosen camera that you like for different types of photography?

    • Tom Bricker
      Tom Bricker says:

      Your sentiment in your first paragraph describe what my wife and I are rallying against in our personal lives. We don’t want to wake up at 50 and realize why haven’t done any of the things that we’d “do someday.”

      There’s no reason to the D600 v. D700 usage. I prefer using the D600, but the D700 is my backup and I sometimes have to use it for various reasons (dead batteries, full memory cards, etc.).

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *