Matt Angiono found his calling as a photographer on a trip to Australia in 2006. His aunt Laura took him around the continent, backpacking and camping for two months. The adventure travel, combined with a camera Angiono borrowed from a friend, saw him fall instantly in love. Today, the combination influences almost every waking moment for the young artist.
Angiono was born and raised in Boulder. As a result, the vast majority of his fine art photography captures the beauty of his home state. Both this weekend and next, he will be spending his time in the Art on a Whim gallery in Breckenridge, regaling visitors with stories of his adventures and sharing his unique vision.
Finding an epic sunset
Angiono’s newest release, titled “Epic Isabelle Sunset Part II,” comes from the last evening of a journey the photographer took in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. As is often the case with Angiono’s backpacking trips, the plan was to hike as much as possible and stop any time the inspiration for another incredible photograph happened to strike. Brainard Lake was to be the starting point, with Lone Eagle Peak as the ultimate destination. This meant a three-day out and back over Pawnee Pass was in order. While difficult hiking and a 3,000-plus-foot vertical gain was a planned obstacle, a malfunctioning camera battery was certainly not anticipated. As a result, Angiono’s shot selection quickly became extremely limited, and his camera seemed to be nothing more than extra weight.
An unspectacular sunset and sunrise on the first day and night of the trip left much to be desired. Day two of his trip saw the weather turn for the worst, as it often can when traversing 12,000-plus-foot passes. Shortly after descending from the top of the pass, the sky opened up and hail began pouring down. Angiono rushed to find some semblance of shelter, eventually scaling a cliffside to take refuge under its overhang. Thoughts of climbing and shooting Lone Eagle Peak at sunset were quickly abandoned and replaced with ideas of keeping as warm and dry as possible. The storm hung around through the night, eventually forcing Angiono to pitch his tent in the dark and in the rain.
Waiting for light
When morning arrived the sun managed to burn its way through the clouds, albeit not in time for sunrise. A staple in Angiono’s work is capturing incredible light, making sunrise and sunset the most important times of day for the photographer. At this point, with 12 miles to go and nearly 50 pounds to carry on his back, the trip seemed to be a bust.
Sun beamed down throughout the afternoon. As Angiono climbed and descended Pawnee Pass for the second time in two days, it became clear that the sunset was going to present what he refers to as “epic light.”
Tired legs didn’t seem to matter anymore as he began running to position himself at the front of the beautiful Lake Isabelle. He waded in knee deep and carefully staged his tripod in the middle of the stream flowing from the lake, just on top of a nearly 100 foot waterfall, and asked his camera battery for one small moment of cooperation. The sunset to follow was incredible. The camera battery managed to work for just long enough to capture what Angiono describes as “the most incredible sunset I have ever seen.”
The resulting photographs exist as living proof that if you push yourself, work hard and remain patient, the sky can greet you with miracles. Fiery reds, hot pinks and glowing oranges danced across Navajo, Apache and Shoshone Peaks. All the while the colors were reflected in the glass like stillness of the lake.