Clearing Storm

Finally! I was beginning to think that Chicago had sent us their winter weather. But today, Colorado blue skies reappeared as the mists above began to part.

In this one, I cloned out a few hikers–and a small sign–that didn’t conform to my vision of the composition. I did leave one hiker on the trail to help with a sense of scale. (Yes, I certainly do manipulate my images–I am not a photojournalist, after all!)

Note the huge icicles hanging from the overhangs on the Second (middle) Flatiron.

Winter Stroll, Flatirons. Boulder, Colorado, 2015
Winter Stroll, Flatirons. Boulder, Colorado, 2015

 

OK, OK…a color version for the Black and White challenged…

The Flatirons, Fresh Snow. Boulder, Colorado, 2015
The Flatirons, Fresh Snow. Boulder, Colorado, 2015

An Icy Project

Inspired by a couple of beautiful and icy Sawhill Ponds images sent to me by friend and fellow photographer, Dana Bove (Photography for a Change and Exploring With Merlin), I decided to brave the elements this afternoon and see what I could see.

I often think that a series of images–a “photo essay”, if you will–does a better job of communicating what I want to say as opposed to a single image.

So, here is a nine-image collection of frozen abstracts from today’s walk:

Sawhill Ice, #1. Boulder, Colorado, 2015
Sawhill Ice, #1. Boulder, Colorado, 2015

 

Sawhill Ice, #2. Boulder, Colorado, 2015
Sawhill Ice, #2. Boulder, Colorado, 2015

 

Sawhill Ice, #3. Boulder, Colorado, 2015
Sawhill Ice, #3. Boulder, Colorado, 2015

 

Sawhill Ice, #4. Boulder, Colorado, 2015
Sawhill Ice, #4. Boulder, Colorado, 2015

 

Sawhill Ice, #5. Boulder, Colorado, 2015
Sawhill Ice, #5. Boulder, Colorado, 2015

 

Sawhill Ice, #6. Boulder, Colorado, 2015
Sawhill Ice, #6. Boulder, Colorado, 2015

 

Sawhill Ice, #7. Boulder, Colorado, 2015
Sawhill Ice, #7. Boulder, Colorado, 2015

 

Sawhill Ice, #8. Boulder, Colorado, 2015
Sawhill Ice, #8. Boulder, Colorado, 2015

 

Sawhill Ice, #9. Boulder, Colorado, 2015
Sawhill Ice, #9. Boulder, Colorado, 2015

Cold Weather Photo Duties

Third Flatiron, Winter Storm, #2. Boulder, Colorado, 2015
Third Flatiron, Winter Storm, #2. Boulder, Colorado, 2015 (Or maybe just “one third of the Third”.)

 

Socked in. Temps into the single digits. Snow fluttering down. Ice on the roads. Traction Law in effect on I-70.

Often that can be a good combination for some wonderful winter landscape images. Stormy weather is much more dramatic than plain-Jane, true-blue, skies.

It’s those single digits that have made me wimp out these past few days. I guess I’m still thinking with my Summer-Fall Brain and I haven’t yet adjusted my physiological-psychological thermostat to the reality that official winter is but three weeks away.

So, I turn to my cold weather photo duties:

–Rearranging, sorting, deleting files and images on the hard drive.

–Backing up image files.

–Printing out images that have been on my “To Print” list.

–Organizing my LLC paper files.

–Post-processing images that I had forgotten about.

–Combing through old files to see if I have overlooked possible good images.

–Preparing files and paperwork for contest/gallery submissions.

–And so on.

There always seems to be plenty of housekeeping to be done if the weather gods have made things miserable outside.

Soon, though, I’ll get accustomed to the new winter status quo and I’ll be back out there shooting. For me, it’s always much more fun to be behind the camera rather than behind the computer.

On the Roofs

Building, #61. NYC, 2015
Building, #61. NYC, 2015

 

Lots of folks are doing crazy things in the extreme sports these days…BASE jumping, extreme parcours, slacklining, cliff diving…whatever. You name it, someone is doing it.

Then there is the sport of sneaking into buildings–very, very tall buildings–and climbing to the tippy top of the highest point, even if it might be a construction crane.

Enter two young Russian adventurerers, Vadim Makhorov and Vitaliy Raskalov. What they do is mind-boggling.

What makes this interesting, and appropriate for a photography blog, is that these guys –beyond the unbelievable risk-taking involved–really do have an eye for a well-composed image. Their rooftop photographs and videos are often stunning works of art, and are perspectives you’ll not see elsewhere.

Talk about experimenting with a perspective other than the standard tripod height!

And another common photography maxim comes to mind: “If you want spectacular images, pick a spectacular subject!”

They have “summited”, legally and illegally, buildings all over the world: China, Hong Kong, Ukraine, Dubai, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Paris, Istanbul, and even the Cheops Pyramid in Egypt!

Yes, they have even been detained, arrested, and/or fined on a couple of unlucky occasions (but probably no surprise there).

Their imagery is definitely worth admiring.

For one example, here are some amazing photographs, some from the top of the cranes ABOVE the Sagrada Familia Temple in Barcelona. And then a Newsweek article about “skywalkers”.

That is just a tidbit warmup, though. For a real thrill, here is a video of the pair climbing to the highest light bulb on the second tallest building in the world, the 2,073-foot Shanghai Tower, while it was still under construction (but nearly complete):

 

Be sure to visit their website at ontheroofs.com.

Pink Dawn (Before the Storm)

Pink Over the Flatirons. Boulder, Colorado, 2015
Pink Over the Flatirons. Boulder, Colorado, 2015

 

This morning’s sunrise over Boulder, from Marshall Mesa. By evening, all of these peaks and mountains will be socked in by wind, sleet, snow, cold and cloud as a winter front moves through.

It will be a chilly Thanksgiving!

Crimson Waves. Boulder, Colorado, 2015
Crimson Waves. Boulder, Colorado, 2015

Aerial View of the Crestone Group, Sangre de Cristo Range

Last Light on Crestone Peak. Colorado, 2015
Last Light on Crestone Peak. Colorado, 2015

 

On a return flight from Tucson to Denver, we happened to be at the just the right place over Colorado (and I happened to have a window seat on the correct side of the plane!) to make the above image right at sunset. It’s not often you get good views like this of the big peaks. Usually, even if I do get the window seat and see the mountains through the clouds, I have a hard time picking out specific 14ers because of the more unusual perspective of 30,000+ feet.

In this photograph, the most obvious pyramid-shaped peak painted by the brightest bit of fading sunlight is Crestone Peak. Challenger Point and Kit Carson Peak are to the left of Crestone Peak, and Crestone Needle might be obscured just behind the Peak. Humboldt is in shadow now, just behind (left).

You’d think this would fire up the old 14er desire inside me since it has been a while, but…I have already climbed most of the easier 14ers, so a winter ascent of one that I haven’t yet summited will likely not happen. Too uncomfortably cold, and quite possibly too scary and dangerous–and very often the best/closest trailheads are inaccessible due to the snowpack. So, the ones I have remaining will probably have to wait until next spring-summer-fall.

Well…I might, however, get out to one of the easier 14ers I have already done–most likely Quandary due to the low avy hazard and short round trip hike–for a sunrise or sunset photo session. That is, as long as the temps aren’t below zero and the wind isn’t howling at 90 per!

NOTE: For a list of tips on how best to take pictures through an airliner window, see my blog post, Aconcagua (and shooting through airplane windows), April 16, 2014.

Tripod as Weapon

Hwy 36 to Boulder (First Light on the Divide). Boulder, Colorado, 2015
Hwy 36 to Boulder (And…First Light on the Divide). Boulder, Colorado, 2015

 

Well, now we have one more thing to worry about as photographers: that someone will call the local S.W.A.T. team on us after misidentifying our collapsed tripod as a machine gun. Yes, indeed. It just recently happened in the United Kingdom–here’s THE PetaPixel LINK to the story.

Luckily, it all ended well with the photographer and the police posing together for a smiling group picture.

The Deadly Tripod. Boulder, Colorado, 2015
Deadly Tripod. Boulder, CO, 2015

And luckily none of the Highway 36 Denver-Boulder commuters called the police on me as I checked out a potential sunrise photography site this morning in the freezing-ass cold (15 degrees Fahrenheit, with breeze) wee hours.

Still, the idea of tripod as weapon is not that outrageous of an idea. The notion is that the tripod could potentially be used as a sort of Grog-like club, especially with the legs just slightly extended. That ballhead and tripod platform at the top is pretty weighty and has some pretty sharp corners. For urban (humans) or wilderness (animals) defense it could come in handy. In both kinds of situations–but especially with an aggressive human–you’d want to be pretty sure you were going to be successful or you could actually make matters worse.

The Post-Golden Years

Assisted Living. Tucson, Arizona, 2015
Assisted Living. Tucson, Arizona, 2015

 

So, how many of you are caring for–or have cared for–an aging and infirm parent or relative?

It really makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

In the old days of the small town and village, the extended family and the community was the safety net–grand kids, nieces, nephews, sons and daughters, all banded together to care for the aging great-grandparent or the dying great uncle. Today, that job is often outsourced to assisted living, long term care, skilled nursing, and hospice facilities (that is, if you have insurance or are lucky enough to afford them!). Some of these places are marginal and reek of urine, others are excellent and remind you of a high-end resort…still, no matter the case, it is really impossible to duplicate the kind of loving care a relative would get in a true extended family-community environment.

The price of “progress” in our society, I suppose.

It also seems that we value quantity of life so highly that quality of life too often seems to be out the door and gone. In many, many cases, we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of our own money or of taxpayer money to keep our loved ones alive–often against their wishes, and often in pain–just so they can live a few weeks or a few months longer.

What’s the point? What are we trying to do? Are we doing all this for them, or for us?

And we all say the same thing: I don’t want the last months or years of my life to be like that!

I have even heard this: In terms of end-of-life and hospice-type care, we treat our cats and dogs much better.

Hopefully, as the years go by and it is my generation’s turn to move through the post-golden years and into the beyond, there will be new ways of thinking about the process of decay, pain, death, and dying. Perhaps, in the future, new morals, new ethics, and more humane attitudes (and new laws) will give each of us greater personal freedom to make those very, very difficult choices about the path we wish to take.