Artist-in-Residence at Caribou Ranch!

Sea of Cloud. From Twin Sisters Peak, RMNP, Colorado, 2016
Sea of Cloud. From Twin Sisters Peak, RMNP, Colorado, 2016

 

From 28 August through September 4, I will be staying in the red cabin up at Caribou Ranch Open Space as an “artist-in-residence”. My “job” for the week will be to capture what I find interesting with my lens and create a work to present to the fine Boulder County folks who sponsor this wonderful program.

And, since I am expected to interact with visitors…Why not come by and say “hi” if you are up in the mountains near Nederland, Colorado during that time!? (I will have a few of my prints and larger works up there for perusal as well.)

As a personal side note

There is an interesting personal connection to this particular landscape that makes the idea of making art there quite compelling. Click HERE to read the rest o’ the personal story, along with some rock-and-roll trivia!

Beauty In The Details

Look closely, the next time you find yourself wandering along a creekside, lakeside, seaside, pondside, or any other body o’ water for that matter. Even a mud puddle.

Slow down (you move to fast).

Look at the details.

See.

Notice the other-worlds and nether worlds…the macro fantasy universes hidden in plain view.

Zoom your hairy eyeball in to the small wonders that might otherwise escape your notice if you were to pass by in a modern blurry-hurry.

 

There are beautiful things to be found.

Boulder Creek, #1. Boulder, Colorado, 2016
Boulder Creek, #1. Boulder, Colorado, 2016

Colorado Summits: Twin Sisters at Sunrise

Dawn. Twin Sisters, Colorado, 2016
Dawn. Twin Sisters, Colorado, 2016

Yesterday, a look at the weather forecast, along with with casting my hairy eyeball out the window at the observable conditions, led me to some conclusions…

  1. The latest cold front (OK, cool front) storm was on its way out.
  2. With some good precipitation up in the high mountains over the past couple of days, there was the  possibility of a light snow dusting up in them thar hills.
  3. There was still plenty of humidity and a low cloud layer, that probably wasn’t too thick, blanketing the foothills and it looked to stay there overnight.
  4. The next day (which is now today) was to be “sunny”.
  5. There was a moon scheduled to hang high in the west at sunrise.

When I see these conditions align, I start thinking of what nearby summit I can zip off to so as to photograph the following imagined sunrise scene:

Some interesting mountain on the Continental Divide with a light dusting of snow, a moon above, and the rising sun turning an undercast of clouds into a sea of fiery orange.

It was with that objective in mind that I hoisted my fanny perpendicular at 1a.m. and headed off to the 11,428-foot Twin Sisters, up near Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park. Enroute entertainment was a BBC radio program about John Muir–amazingly apropos. By 2:40a.m. I was headed up the trail by the light of my headlamp through fog and a very light misty drizzle.

However…my imagined scene never really appeared–the low clouds started dissipating even before sunrise, there was no light dusting of snow on Longs, no lacy high cirrus to enhance the Colorado blue, and Mother Moon was too pie-high in the sky to work well in any composition.

Oh, well. You never really know unless you try…you can’t win the race unless you enter…and so on.

Still, a few images were worth recording… Click here to see the pictures!

14er Report #34: Capitol Peak via K2 (Summer Conditions, NE Ridge from Capitol Lake)

Sunrise on Capitol Peak. Colorado, 2016
Sunrise. Capitol Peak, Colorado, 2016
“Capitol, has been called Colorado’s hardest Fourteener. Many dispute that claim, but Capitol is certainly one of the hardest.”

 

Yep, I’d certainly agree with Mystic Mountain Master Gerry Roach! (Although I have yet to climb up the infamous bowling alley they call the “Hourglass” on Little Bear…)

And, yes, Capitol Peak was this last weekend’s (Sunday/Monday) big project.

For me personally, there are three aspects which make this mountain one of the most difficult of the 14er summits I have done so far:

  1. The long approach. You’ll need to backpack in to the foot of the peak (unless you are an incredibly fit marathoner/scrambler and can suffer the entire enchilada in one looong day).
  2. The difficulty of the route-finding and the rock scrambling from K2 to the summit and back to K2.
  3. The mental strain of staying laser-focused for 4-5 hours on sometimes sketchy and gravelly-loose rock, with some ultra-spicy exposure, at elevations above 13,000′.

So, save this one until you have honed your “cat feet” to an edge as sharp and fine as Capitol’s famous “Knife Edge”.

Even though I haven’t finished all the 14ers, I am still going to go out an a very narrow and exposed ledge and call this my all-time favorite of Colorado’s big mountains. But…since I still have 17 summits to go, I reserve the right to adjust that statement slightly. I have a hunch I probably won’t change my mind…

For this rather serious mountain, going solo didn’t seem to be particularly wise, so I teamed up with Brad, an experienced 14er climber, otherwise known as “Mountain Ninja” (and appropriately so!). He is currently only 18 summits away from finishing all 58 peaks for a second time and has done a fair number in winter, so my only worry was whether I could keep up with him!

Also, he had been up Capitol before, so his navigation skill through the talus and rock-snow gullies at black cat-dark 3a.m., and his navigation nose up the puzzling scree and exposed rock ledges on Capitol’s imposing southeast face, were to be be most welcome. Indeed, I found him to be a delightful and very positive-karma kind o’ companion–and extremely fit for such adventures. Thanks for a great trip, Brad!

For the full report, along with a mini-mountain montage of images…

…click on, fellow adventurer!

The Pearl Street Mile

Yesterday I thought it might be interesting to haul the old Nikon brick downtown to see what I could photograph at the 19th running of the Pearl Street Mile. This kind of “sport photography” is not something I usually do, so I was curious to see how I would “see” things and what images I would come away with. Would the pictures match the style and vision I seem to be developing in the rest of my art?

And…I also thought the event itself sounded quite intriguing and worth a visit (I had never been).

This might be something you could try as well–throw yourself at a minor little photo project that has nothing at all to do with the current direction of your art. You might find it a nice change of pace and you could even learn something while you are at it–I certainly did!

Things kicked off at 6p.m. with the kids racing with tremendous enthusiasm around a shortened (1/2 mile) course. Talk about the unleashed, unbridled, pent-up energy of youth as the starter pistol fired! The winner was 12-year-old Harrison Freis-Levy of Superior, CO at 2:45 (#90 below). In second place was the first girl–Ella Wolf of Ft. Collins, CO at 2:56:

The Kids Race, Pearl Street Mile. Boulder, Colorado, 2016
The Kids Race, Pearl Street Mile. Boulder, Colorado, 2016

 

A few of the kids got a little guiding hand or two (or a bit of levitation?) from their parents–as did two-year-old Valentine in this image. Watch for her in the 2036 Olympics in the 3000m steeplechase!

Future Olympian, Pearl Street Mile. Boulder, Colorado, 2016
Future Olympian, Pearl Street Mile. Boulder, Colorado, 2016

 

Who says these amateur runners in the “Open ” class aren’t damn serious about what they do! I loved the myriad different expressions in this image which was made just as the starting gun went off. Thirty-three-year-old Tyler Butterfield of Boulder, CO, a two-time Olympian in triathlon, was the winner at 4:47.

Expressions at the Gun, Pearl Street Mile. Boulder, Colorado, 2016
Expressions at the Gun, Pearl Street Mile. Boulder, Colorado, 2016

 

War stories after the race…

Legs and Shoes, Pearl Street Mile. Boulder, Colorado, 2016
Legs and Shoes, Pearl Street Mile. Boulder, Colorado, 2016

 

A door prize maybe??? I have no idea. You never know what you’ll see down on the Pearl Street Mall:

Pearl Street Mile Door Prize? Boulder, Colorado, 2016
Pearl Street Mile Door Prize? Boulder, Colorado, 2016

 

In the picture below, the small lead pack of Elite Women fly by the Boulder Theater. The race was close with first through third basically all together at the finish: 1st – Elise Cranny of Niwot, CO at 4:49. 2nd – Katie McMenamin of Lafayette, CO at 4:49, and Mara Olson of Boulder, CO at 4:51. Fourth place came in some ten seconds later.

And who is Pokey Lafarge you might ask? If you haven’t heard his unique music–or seen him perform with your own eyeballs–you are missing out on a real sweet and strange treat. For a short sample, try this link: Pokey Lafarge: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert.

Elite Women and Pokey Lafarge, Pearl Street Mile. Boulder, Colorado, 2016
Elite Women and Pokey Lafarge, Pearl Street Mile. Boulder, Colorado, 2016

 

The Elite Men blur their way past the Boulder Theater. Mirroring the women’s race, the top three elite men also finished nearly shoulder to shoulder: 1st – Blake Theroux of Boulder, CO at 4:11. 2nd – Kevin Kochei of Iten, Kenya at 4:12, and Stephen Pifer of Louisville, CO also at 4:12. Fourth place came in a full six seconds later.

As the course is ran on city streets, with corners, slight uphill and downhill grades, and usually a bit of wind, the times are not nearly as fast as you might see on the track. Still, 4:11 is a pretty fast mile! For the full 2016 results, see THIS LINK.

Elite Men and Pokey Lafarge, Pearl Street Mile. Boulder, Colorado, 2016
Elite Men and Pokey Lafarge, Pearl Street Mile. Boulder, Colorado, 2016

Classic Motor Hotels

Wyoming Motel and Cafe. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016
Wyoming Motel and Cafe. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016

 

Oh, how I would love to spend six months traveling the country and photographing these aging, classic, motels from the grand era of pre-interstate motor touring. Each has a unique personality…and, oh, the stories their proprietors (and walls) could tell!

Portraits that Lie? (An Interesting Video)

The camera can and does lie, of course, almost all the time whether we realize it or not. Nearly always, though, it is aided and abetted significantly by the very emotional and unconsciously-biased humanoid operator behind the viewfinder.

The video I have embedded below explores one angle on this phenomena of how the camera can be made to lie–or at least how it can construct parallel visions of reality depending on how certain preconceived notions mix with the personality of the photographer.

In this three-minute clip, six photographers are called in for a portrait session, the subject for all six being the same balding middle-aged man you see in the link. The twist: Each photog is separately told something different about the subject–the man is an ex-con, he is a millionaire, he just saved someone’s life, he is a recovering alcoholic, a psychic, and so on.

The final six prints–which couldn’t have been more different–reveal how each photographer made the camera “tell a lie” about the subject.

Are they really “lies”? Or simply differing perspectives? Food for thought…

For an ongoing online discussion of this video and the idea of cameras as liars, see THIS POST at photo.net.

 

The Alleyways of Downtown Cheyenne

Sometimes the alleyways are more interesting than the main streets. So it was on my recent visit to Cheyenne, Wyoming.

 

I would rank “The Buffalo” (2015?) as one of the two best urban street murals to be found in the City of Cheyenne (“The Cherub”–below–being the other). This one is a creation of Jordan Dean–his first, apparently–and can be found behind the Paramount Cafe. Spectacular…

The Buffalo Mural. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016
The Buffalo Mural. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016

 

On the left wing of the “Buffalo Mural” you’ll find this optical illusion done by Dan Toro (that link goes to an impressive video of yet another of Toro’s unique projects) in support of Dean’s big wall work…no, the band can’t really enter through that door…

Alley, The Paramount Cafe. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016
Alley, The Paramount Cafe. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016

 

You don’t need to look too closely to spot where Jordan Dean finally exits stage left…

Muralist's Signature. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016
Muralist’s Signature. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016

 

The Cherub” (2011), by Michael Cooper and just a block away from the Dean/Toro work, gets my vote as the other BEST urban mural in Cheyenne. Wonderful…

The Cherub at The Murray Building. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016
The Cherub at The Murray Building. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016

 

Ernie November is a music, T-shirt, and “other cool stuff” shop in the downtown area. You won’t see this unless you wander the alley…

Ernie November. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016
Ernie November. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016

 

Another one you won’t see unless you check out the back entrance–Legend Comics & Coffee

Legend Comics Mural. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016
Legend Comics Mural. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016

 

Now, to hark back to days of yore…These vertical billboards are now called “fading ads”, “brick ads”, or “ghost signs” and are an endangered species throughout the country, but a number can still be found throughout downtown Cheyenne. I wrote a short blog post about these old signs, with some background, history, and details, way back in 2013: See Henry George Cigars, December 8, 2013.

In the example below you can clearly read the “Drink Coca Cola” slogan above left, but the “Bull Durham Smoking Tobacco” paint is a bit more difficult to discern…

Ghost Ads. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016
Ghost Ads. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016

 

“Delicious and refreshing”–it must have been Cheyenne’s official soft drink…

Drink Coca Cola. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016
Drink Coca Cola. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016

 

When Cheyenne built the big Frontier Mall out north of the airport in 1981, it spelled the doom of many of the small (and even larger) businesses in the downtown area. A story repeated ad nauseam elsewhere throughout our fair land of enthusiastic real estate investors and moguls. Alas, the 2008 recession hasn’t helped things in the urban revitalization department and many city center storefronts here are still vacant.

However, the City of Cheyenne seems to be working in the right direction and there are plenty of signs that downtown life is stirring–theaters (the melodrama!), cafes, small specialty shops, many scheduled events and activities (Frontier Days!), music, and so on. The obvious centerpiece is the renovated Union Pacific Railroad Depot Museum and Plaza, but the Mural Project is certainly another essential part of the program.

Social Commentary on the Great Plains

A quick up and back to Cheyenne for a family-related matter, but I had some time to make a few images with which I am quite happy.

First, a pilot on his/her way to…? Or, is this a statement about the religious culture in this neck o’ the prairie? You decide. Without these skies, I don’t think the composition would have worked quite as nicely. Plus, it adds an additional element of Mother Nature, of forces out of our control, of perhaps even a sense of foreboding…

Heaven or Hell. Terry Bison Ranch, Wyoming, 2016
Heaven or Hell. Terry Bison Ranch, Wyoming, 2016

 

Second, an image that would feel quite “at home” (so to speak) in my Neo-Topographics portfolio. The road leads to a new future…a future of development, of course. The giant bison cutout on the hillside serves as a reminder of a previous phase of “development” on the Great Plains. And the flowers? Well, we seem to always go merrily, happily, gaily down the road without seriously considering the long-term consequences…

New Plans for The Plains. Terry Bison Ranch, Wyoming, 2016
New Plans for The Plains. Terry Bison Ranch, Wyoming, 2016

 

Finally, a few miles to the north, I found this interesting landscape. The campaign poster is for Liz Cheney, daughter of our controversial ex-Vice-President. She is running on a conservative platform for the lone seat Wyoming has in the U.S. House of Representatives. Wyoming, the least populated state with fewer than 600,000 souls, is heavily conservative–yes, the philosophy of individualism and the lifestyle of the frontier are still quite alive here, pardner. Of course, the juxtaposition of the political poster with the smaller (and seriously humorous) ranch poster was what made the picture…

Cheney's Wyoming. Happy Jack Road, near Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016
Cheney’s Wyoming. Happy Jack Road, near Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016