The Buzzards. More Humor for Halloween!

Iron Buzzards. Cortez, Colorado, 2013
Iron Buzzards. Cortez, Colorado, 2013

I guess while I’m on a roll with humor (see yesterday’s blog post), now would be a good time to post this image of something I spied on the roof of a scrap metal yard in Cortez, Colorado a week or so ago.Genius. Pure artistic genius.

I wonder how many nights at the bar it took for the welder to come up with this idea. Next time I go through southwestern Colorado, I’ll have to stop and find out the story behind the creation of this horrifying scene of metallic disembowelment. (Yee, Gods! Young children could be traumatized!)

Oh, hey, but it’s Halloween. How ’bout them poisoned apples!

Photography Humor

A Farmer's Opinion. Near Salida, Colorado, 2013
A Farmer’s Opinion. Near Salida, Colorado, 2013

OK, after posting the above image I think it is time to pour on a hefty helping of photography humor. Here ya go…!

–How many Photoshop experts does it take to screw in a light bulb? Just one–plus 99 others to show you a different way of doing it.

–One blurry picture is a mistake. Twenty  blurry pictures is a style. (Actually, there could be a spark of wisdom in this one.)

–What is the best way to make money in photography? Sell all your gear!

–If you saw a person drowning in the ocean and you had to choose between saving her or taking a picture, what aperture, shutter speed and ISO would you use?

–What is the difference between a photographer and a large Dominos pizza? The pizza can feed a family of four.

–Did you hear about the photographer who bought a Labrador puppy and named him Kodak? Now she has a Kodak lab!

–How do you make a small fortune in photography? Start with a large one!

A Canon ad: “I gaze at the sunset with the woman I love and I think, ‘f/8 at 1/250’.”

And a couple of great links…

This one is a great parody of all those inane photography forum discussions about equipment: Lens Rentals Hammer Forum.

And this link goes to samples of a wonderful comic strip about the travails and undulations of a duck photographer–that is, a duck who just happens to be a photographer not so different from most of us: What the Duck. You’ll bust a  gut and snort up a booger reading through these. For a short interview with Aaron Johnson, the comic’s creator, click HERE. Once you have seen this comic, you’ll surely want the book for that special photographer friend (or more likely, for yourself–admit it!)…so, you can order it HERE.

Maybe all this will help you forget that lots of people seem to hate lots of other people these days.

Subtle Color

Hayden Ranch #12. Near Leadville, Colorado, 2013
Hayden Ranch #12. Near Leadville, Colorado, 2013

I tend toward monochrome with my images for personal reasons. But not always. If I feel like color is an important element in the scene I may elect to keep it in the final photograph.

Sometimes the color is striking and bold, but other times it is more subtle. The latter–color that sort of seeps into your conscientiousness–I find to be very attractive to the eye. It doesn’t yell and scream at you; it gently calls you, sometimes in sort of a nostalgic way.

Above, is an example of a Hayden Ranch scene with which I followed my typical post-processing conversion flow. Below, is the same scene, but leaving the subtle autumn colors that were there in the actual landscape. Which do you prefer? Is it simply a matter of taste, or is it possible that there is a real, qualitative difference? I suppose each person will react differently.

Hayden Ranch #12 (color). Near Leadville, Colorado, 2013
Hayden Ranch #12 (color). Near Leadville, Colorado, 2013

 

And another example from the same area. First, the monochrome:

Hayden Ranch #14. Near Leadville, Colorado, 2013
Hayden Ranch #14. Near Leadville, Colorado, 2013

 

Now, the color version of the same scene:

Hayden Ranch #14 (color). Near Leadville, Colorado, 2013
Hayden Ranch #14 (color). Near Leadville, Colorado, 2013

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado, An Overview

I didn’t have the best light for my day at the Great Sand Dunes but, calibrating the eye for the conditions, it was still possible to make some really nice images due to how strange the environment is. It seems quite out-of-place here in the mountainous region of Colorado. These are the highest sand dunes in North America and they are nestled right here, in among the high, snowy peaks of our state!

Some things to consider and a few factoids:

–Even though the Park seems small (only one big parking lot exists to access the main dunes) it is actually much bigger than what initially meets the eye. First, you have the main dune area of some 19,000 acres–this of a total of over 44,000 acres within the Park. Then you have an additional nearly 42,000 acres that form part of the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area and are deemed the Great Sand Dunes Preserve. Most visitors choose to play on the obvious dune piles by the parking lot (the kids love it!), but you can also explore grasslands, the riparian zone along Medano Creek, and the alpine trails to the east.

–The dunes reach up to 750-feet high. They are very sensuous and inviting, but–warning to would-be hippies–they can also burn the crap out of your bare feet in summer. The best footwear any time of the year? Something sturdy and closed so the sand doesn’t get into your socks.

–In a soundscape study by the National Park Service, the Dunes were found to be one of the quietest spots in any National Park in the lower 48. I can vouch for that–you can hear your pulse when you stop and stand motionless in the sandscape.

Mt. Herard, at 13, 297′, is that big peak to the northeast. It looks like a unique viewpoint from which to photograph the Dunes if you have the motivation to get your hiney and your gear up to the summit in good light.

–There is a 4WD road that goes behind the dunes and eventually up to Medano Pass. A nice journey. Try it in the fall before the first heavy snows and when the leaves are still changing as the water crossings won’t be too harrowing that time o’ year. There are great camp sites a bit over five miles in, just inside the Preserve boundary.

–Look at the weather forecast before you go. Try to catch the Park after a good rain or wind storm so the dunes will be untracked by others. If you can’t do that, just hike in beyond the first main ridge and you will find plenty of untracked territory. Or…just incorporate those tracks into your photography!

–If you go there for dune boarding or sledding, go when the sand is wet. Check at the Visitor’s Center for the best locations (likely in the Sand Pit area) and to purchase your lift ticket (just kidding).

–A local Boulder photographer, John Weller (now published by National Geographic…see his famous penguin image here), spent many a day and night camped out in the middle of the Dunes and his gorgeous book Great Sand Dunes National Park, Between Light and Shadow, might be of interest to you. I can’t imagine how he dealt with all those grains of sand mixing it up with his camping and camera gear, but his images are spectacular.

Here is what I came up with in just 6-8 hours in so-so light at the Dunes. (As usual, the larger prints look much better than these, sized-for-web, pocket pics.)

First, a crossing of Medano Creek at the base of the dunes:

Dunescape #1. Great Sand Dunes NP, Colorado, 2013
Dunescape #1. Great Sand Dunes NP, Colorado, 2013

 

The Mt. Herard avalanche chutes:

Dunescape #2. Great Sand Dunes NP, Colorado, 2013
Dunescape #2. Great Sand Dunes NP, Colorado, 2013

 

Textures:

Dunescape #5. Great Sand Dunes NP, Colorado, 2013
Dunescape #5. Great Sand Dunes NP, Colorado, 2013

 

Patterns:

Dunescape #6. Great Sand Dunes NP, Colorado, 2013
Dunescape #6. Great Sand Dunes NP, Colorado, 2013

 

A typical panorama:

Dunescape #8. Great Sand Dunes NP, Colorado, 2013
Dunescape #8. Great Sand Dunes NP, Colorado, 2013

 

An abstract:

Dunescape #10. Great Sand Dunes NP, Colorado, 2013
Dunescape #10. Great Sand Dunes NP, Colorado, 2013

 

The footprints of a “human bean”:

Dunescape #11. Great Sand Dunes NP, Colorado, 2013
Dunescape #11. Great Sand Dunes NP, Colorado, 2013

Catching up

Like this guy trudging his way up a steep sand dune, I am slowly working my way through a backlog of images in need of post-processing after a quick trip down to Tucson, Arizona and back. I’ll get a few sample images out over the next few days.

Yep, Great Sand Dune National Park was “la hostia“, i.e. pretty cool (even with mediocre light).

Dunescape #4. Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado, 2013
Dunescape #4. Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado, 2013

The world as it should be

C-DOT Gravel Pile Portrait. Somewhere in the mountains of Colorado, 2013
C-DOT Gravel Pile Portrait. Somewhere in the mountains of Colorado, 2013

I am sure we all ponder what the next paradigm of human existence will be, or should be. How can we make the world a better place for all of us? To that end, I thought I’d pass along two examples that serve as expressions of the world as it might be, if we weren’t all so narrow minded and intolerant.

There is a photography connection here, too. Think of what kind of photography you might do if you were to involve other people–complete strangers–in your imagery. Both artists I highlight today use this technique, but in very different ways.

Example #1. This is the street portrait work of Richard Renaldi. He introduces and poses together complete strangers on the busy sidewalks of New York City and finds there is a certain magic in it. Here is the link: Richard Renaldi’s Touching Strangers.

Example #2. There is nothing quite like watching people from all over the world dancing, that universal human expression of exuberance and passion. Matt Harding is the video artist here and he will make you smile and cry with hope and happiness. Here is the link: Where the hell is Matt? See an even better sequel of Matt’s vision at Happy People Dancing.

The Hayden Ranch on Colorado’s Arkansas River

Ranch, Arkansas River #1. Colorado, 2013
Ranch, Arkansas River #1. Colorado, 2013

Looks like they are working on saving and stabilizing these structures. This ranch was started in pre-Civil War days (1859) when this area must really have been the back of the back of beyond. You’ll find it about 8-10 miles south of Leadville, Colorado, by the side of the highway, although access is restricted.

Ranch, Arkansas River #3. Colorado, 2013
Ranch, Arkansas River #3. Colorado, 2013

High Altitude Living in Leadville, Colorado

Loving Leadville. Leadville, Colorado, 2013
Loving Leadville. Leadville, Colorado, 2013

Imagine living here, at over 10,000 feet above mean sea level. How long would it take to boil your spaghetti noodles to al dente? What would happen to your red blood cell count? How would you survive the winter months in this subarctic climate with only one decent liquor store to choose from? Would you become a mountain marathoner or ultra mountain cyclist or burro racer or hand steeler merely by osmosis? Would you grow a wooly-mammoth beard (women excepted) and learn to telemark down the double black diamond slopes at the local ski area?

I love this little town way up on the interior plateau surrounded by big peaks–the highest incorporated city in the USA.

Leadville Boom Days #2. Leadville, Colorado, 2013
Leadville Boom Days #2. Leadville, Colorado, 2013