“Sometimes nature just gives you more than you ask for. The stars and the moon phases, you can plan that a year ahead of time—but the color in a sunrise—that’s a gift.”
Devin Roy Pool is an Aspen-based photographer from Texas. Pool’s work is founded on the power of the vista and capturing a unique perspective through geographic isolation, low light landscapes, or both. The ideas often start with a topographical map, study of the stars and seasons, low-light elements, and a multi-day journey into the wilderness.
Pool was invited to participate in an invitation-only Spring photo contest presented by Aspen Chamber of Commerce and Outside Magazine: 3-categories, 15-images, 14-days.
Starting with the new moon and ending with a full moon, contestants were challenged to capture the beauty within Pitkin County in three categories: Landscape, Light, and Motion. Emerging artist, Devin Roy Pool, represented by Ann Korologos Gallery in Basalt, took home the prize for the Landscape category as well as Peer Favorite.
We sat down with Devin and talked to him about the vision, thought, planning, and execution behind his favorite images.
What kind of distances were you covering to capture these remote locations?
“Snowmass by itself took 12 miles and 5000 vertical feet, and that was on the heels of bushwhacking into Capital Creek that night. I covered almost 20 miles in that one day and climbed 6500 vertical feet in 24 hours, which resulted in 4 photos.
Many of these photos were taken at sunset, sunrise, or in the middle of the night– when did you sleep?
“I got through these two weeks by sleeping during the middle of the day when the light was the harshest. As the contest was in the Spring, the leaves weren’t yet filled in. I chose to wait for the green to catch up because it wasn’t blooming in high country yet. By the end of the contest, it was suitable to shoot during the day, but for the most part, my rhythm was to take my sunset and night images, sleep for an hour of two, wake for sunrise, and then sleep during the day.”
What made your mountain images different from the rest?
“If we aren’t taking photos of something we’ve never seen, the what’s the point? When I set out, I have a clear vision in my mind. There have been times I have sat in the same place for 3 days waiting for the elements to come together to make it happen.
Experienced photographers and mountaineers kept asking me, ‘how and why did you get there?’ The people who knew the area really complimented the locations I found. I pride myself in taking images that capture the view and angle that no one has seen or done. It’s a unique challenge to spend an extra two days to get to a specific location to take a photo.”
What was the least glamorous moment of your two weeks?
When I captured Capitol Peak Light that was the evening after the hike up Snowmass, which preceded a hike up into Capital Creek. I had to spend the whole day eating eggs and recouping before heading out. I almost didn’t go—I was too tired—but my friend, Zach, pushed me. He told me “he didn’t want me to regret anything.” So, we hiked through the aspen groves in the moonlight without headlamps. I took Lone Conifer on the way.
Moon Bells: “To capture the moon in that location behind the bells only happens this time of year, and everything has to go right. Sometimes nature just gives you more than you ask for. The stars and the moon phases, you can plan that a year ahead of time—but the color in a sunrise—that’s a gift. I was hiking up the ridge of the Bowl and was probably 5 minutes later than I wanted to be—the sun was already rising, and the moon was perfect. I started running up the ridge, and the moon went behind a cloud, so I thought I blew it. But then the clouds cleared and made a yellow filter over the moon. Without the clouds you don’t see those colors. “
Bowl Sunrise: “I took this the same morning as Moonbells from Highlands Bowl. It was one of the most beautiful sunrises, but it was almost cloudy. I wasn’t deterred by the variable weather. As they say, “You don’t know if you don’t go.”
Ragged Elk Range: “Taken at 13,244 feet, this might have been the most painful image to capture. I wanted to get into this central point in the Elk Mountains where you can see all seven 14ers from a very, very unique perspective. I tried to get here four times this winter, but wind foiled the journey every time. It involved post-holing knee deep up Snowmass ski area in the middle of the night. When you are standing at Maroon Lake and look to the right, the red rock in the foreground of this image is the backside of those cliffs. It’s actually full on green in the valley floors beyond these peaks. Believe it or not, it’s not a winter photo.
Capitol Peak Light: “That was a dream photo, and took the most planning of all of the images. I had the photo in my head over a month ahead of time. It has to happen in the Spring because the Milky Way has to line up exactly where it is, and it only happens in May. I had two nights to choose from with the moon cycle, and that was the night I chose—It was perfect. Exactly how I planned it to be.
With the half moon setting, the Milky Way is only over Capital. The half moon provides enough light to illuminate the landscape, but is dark enough to let the Milky Way shine. John Muir’s quote comes to mind; “we travel the Milky Way together, Trees and Men.”
Be sure to see Devin’s work in person at AMERICA at HEART: Behind the Shutter, a group exhibition celebrating the colors, characters and contours of America’s West captured through photography by Michael Fain, Tom Korologos, Kathryn Rabinow, Gayle Waterman, and emerging artist Devin Pool.