One of my favorite things to do whenever I can find the time is take mini roadtrips around Colorado to explore areas I’ve never seen before. Even though this is the process through which I create some of my best artwork, it is a relatively new hobby for me. After graduating from college and finding a lot more free time on my hands, I started honing in on my craft of landscape photography more, and I learned to pay attention to external factors, such as weather, to create better results. This photo is the product of that dedication. Knowing that one of my upcoming days off would bring warm weather for early February, I began reading weather forecasts daily and deciding where I might find the best colors at sunset. As everyone knows, weather forecasting is not an exact science, but my gut told me that I would get good results at the Great Sand Dunes. I drove down in the afternoon and began hiking through the sand to the top of High Dune. The wind was vicious and my legs were hurting with every step through the sand. A kind stranger helped carry my gear for the final stretch of the hike, and I eventually made it to the top of High Dune as the sun was setting. After some time alone, I noticed that the parking lot I had started from was empty except for my car. Realizing that I was now virtually alone in the middle of a national park, I excitedly set up my gear to enjoy the sunset by myself. Unfortunately, it was rather uneventful and lacking color as the sun dipped behind clouds on the horizon. I was disappointed, but thankful for the experience as I began to pack up and head back to my car. As I was running down the dunes, however, the sand around me began to take on a vibrant purple hue and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to my left blazed in amber light. I turned around and saw a burst of light filling the whole sky with bright orange and yellow, interspersed with the deep blue of twilight. I quickly pulled my gear out of my back and captured this photo. Editing it and seeing the final result was one of my greatest joys as a photographer, and I was thrilled to know that my studying and risk-taking had paid off for one of my favorite images.