You never know what you are going to find on these photo walks.
I was pessimistic as Dana Bove and I set out on this short trail just outside of Boulder, Colorado. But, eventually I managed to start “seeing” a few nice images–largely thanks to the handful of unusual lenticular clouds that came and went throughout the evening.
Here, in an early attempt, I am playing with some compositional elements as best I can:
Looking for patterns in the cottonwoods, I came across a collection of nicely rhyming arches:
The two marshmallows were lovely, but the contrail in the lower left really helped make this one work even better than expected:
Finally, my favorite image in which three passing birds happened to come along at just the right time. Post-processing it with a high-key effect really helped make the high fliers stand out:
It is always a bit uncomfortable–but a good thing–to challenge yourself with completely different subject matter…like the amazingly agile skaters and bikers at the local park. We were out there today with the kids from our twice-monthly photography class.
My images are certainly not the kind you’ll find in the current, “raging and sick”, skate mags, but they definitely have the stamp of my personal style upon them.
Given the harsh sunlight, my idea was to work a bit with the shadows. Shadows. My eye likes the shadows.
See what you think…
The skater in the rest of the photographs is Ventus Koza Kisari, a guy with some amazing moves and getting results on the competition circuit:
That’s photographer Dana Bove getting up close as Ventus does his thing. I really like how the shadow worked out on this one as Ventus gets some air on the rebound:
With the weather threatening from various quarters, Dana Bove and I, along with Supervisor Shauna, headed out today on a nice photo walk with a couple of budding artists–kids from The Source (Attention Homes). The cloudy skies gave us a perfect celestial lightbox for some wonderful, even, lighting…perfect for shooting the famous iris varieties at Long’s Gardens, a Boulder icon since 1905.
It will be fun to go through the memory cards on the kids’ cameras to see what they came up with. Being young, creative, and uninhibited, they always seem to find unique perspectives or subjects. We will post-process and print off a few of their best and bring them to our next photo “class” at The Source. I think the kids like to see their work printed–something that doesn’t happen often these days in this world of Facebook, Instagram, 500pix, Flickr, Twizzler, Tweeter, and Twang (or whatever). [NOTE: Some of their better photographic work can usually be seen and purchased at the annual spring Attention Homes fundraiser, Kaleidoscope.]
Although the rows of irises at Long’s were quite attractive (that is what they are famous for, after all!), there were other oddities about the farm that pulled on my personal monochrome eyeballs.
All of the following images came from the tiny Sony RX100iv, an excellent mirrorless camera if you happen to be looking for something that is very pocket-portable, shoots RAW, has a bit of telephoto flexibility (24mm-70mm equivalent), surprisingly good low light capability, and enough megapixels (20mp, to be precise) to easily produce 13″ x 19″ prints.
First, there were the two Ford trucks, slowly being swallowed by the spring grasses and the passage of time. Oh, the stories they would tell if only their radiator grills could speak!
And, of course, the trucks needed their very own Texaco Sky Chief fuel pump, right?
Finally, a memorial to the many thousands of citizen gardeners who have passed this way over the decades to help work the fields or to harvest and purchase a unique variety of iris for their own backyard garden:
A big thanks to Catherine Long Gates and her husband Dennis for their conversation and fine hospitality at The Gardens!
Sawhill Ponds Wildlife Preserve (City of Boulder), an easy 15-minute drive from downtown Boulder, is a popular place for photographers, among many others. It borders the Walden Ponds Wildlife Habitat (Boulder County), so you get a two-for-one deal there. Both are easy to get to, casual to walk around (no mountains to climb!), and filled with plenty of little pathways and ponds to explore.
For my friend Dana Bove and I, one of these two places is often the default destination for an evening shoot when the sky and the light are looking to be building to a crescendo. I think more times than not, we have run in to other photographers out there doing the same–looking for that unique landscape or some close-ups of interesting raptor or water foul interaction.
You might keep the Sawhill-Walden area in your photo bag-o’-tricks if you live in the Boulder or northwest Denver area. It’s hard to go wrong no matter what season you visit.
Key tip: At sunset, don’t pack up your camera and fold up your tripod until everything finally goes completely gray–sometimes you’ll get an inspirational light show well after the sun has dipped behind the Continental Divide toward California. At dawn, be there well before official sunrise (say, 45 minutes before) as some of that early light is the best, you may see some wildlife, and the wind is often calm or at least calm-er!
Some recent reflections at Sawhill Ponds, right from the fishing pier by the parking lot…
To find this creek, you’ll need to walk to the back (west edge) of the area. I liked working on some abstract interpretations…
The contemplative photographer…
The great thing about photography is that anyone can do it!
Now, hold your horses there, Buckwheat!
No, I don’t mean that just anyone can go out and make powerful, mind-blowing, supremely-profound, images on Day One. You could be forgiven for thinking this given how easy it is to press the button on your mobile phone camera or on the latest point-and-shoot and get a well-exposed frame on your memory card…and the general uber-ubiquity of photographic images in today’s visually-saturated world.
No, I meant something a bit different.
To wit: Anyone has the potential to make wonderful images because each of us is a unique individual, with unique and very personal life experiences and, therefore, each of us has a one-of-a-kind way of seeing our surroundings. With a bit (years!?) of practice, and self-exploration (“the unexamined life is not worth living”), this personal vision can translate into photographs that no one else could possibly make–even if they were standing right next to you, with the exact same camera and lens.
This idea of individuality = unique personal vision is not new to those with even a tiny bit of background in art. After all, no one confuses a Dalí with a Goya, or a Picasso with a van Gogh…or even a Mozart with a Charles Ives. And the same applies to photography as art–you certainly won’t confuse an Ansel Adams with a Cindy Sherman.
As an example, take a recent outing I had into the foothills above Boulder with three other photographers: Kate Zari Roberts, Dana Bove, and María Rosa Fusté. The four of us carried different machines…Dana with a Canon full-frame DSLR and a macro lens, María with a Sony point-and-shoot, Kate, with her iPhone 6 Plus and various filters and apps, and me with my full frame Nikon DSLR and a telephoto lens.
But, we each carried something far more important–completely different life experiences as men and women in this strange and marvelous world. We all grew up differently, lived in different places, suffered different traumas and embraced different joys, and thus learned to see reality in different ways.
Here, then, is some of what we each saw on that short stroll in the woods:
First, Kate Zari Roberts. She does some incredible things with that iPhone Plus, and her personal style comes across quite clearly…
Then, María Rosa Fusté. Nature photography is not really her thing and she was more interested in the social aspect of our walk than the photography, as she herself will readily admit, but you can see an example of what caught her eye here….
Then, Dana Bove. He always does great flower work in color. Today, he also experimented with a monochrome version…
Finally, me and my B&W obsession…
So, all four of us walked the same path together that day, but we each experienced our surroundings very differently. And your photographs would have been just as different as well!
It is called “Le Cirque Magnifique” or, more formally, the 8th Annual Kaleidoscope Gala, and the proceeds will go to benefit Attention Homes, a Boulder non-profit dedicated to helping local homeless youth. (You would be sadly surprised at how many there are, even in this relatively affluent area.) Just hoist your fanny perpendicular and head on over to the University of Colorado’s Glenn Miller Ballroom (University Memorial Center) on May 16, fork over for a ticket, and peruse the many items up for auction. The cause is great.
Why do I mention it? Well, for somewhere around a year now Dana Bove, of Photography for a Change fame, has organized a weekly photography “class” for these kids at one of the in-town outreach centers. He was initially working with another Boulder photographer, Chris Carruth, then I joined the effort shortly thereafter.
The connection with the May 16 auction is this: There will be framed and matted work available for purchase–not our work, but work done by the kids themselves. It has been quite a refreshing learning experience for me to see how these young people see the world–each with a unique vision that often translates into some instinctively wonderful photographic images (as in the primo example above by a constantly cheerful young man named Chris).
So come on out to the grand gala and see for yourself what these budding visual artists have been up to–and brighten the future of these kids a bit by supporting Attention Homes!
Yes! I think there are.
Still, by looking–seeing–more intently and patiently, it was possible to make a few images that gave me a small bit of satisfaction. This, despite the relative lack of initial inspiration.
Today we spent a few hours up at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), above Boulder, setting up for our show that will be open to visitors and viewers tomorrow. As the freezing fog swirled around the stylish brick building at the foot of the Flatirons, we balanced and leveled framed photographs on the walls and nooks of the large, warm, dining area.
The show, as shown in the above announcement, involves four Photography for a Change (PFAC) photographers: Dana Bove (the PFAC founder), Bryce Bradford (a local, very talented, photog), María Rosa Fusté (my much better and more creative half), and lucky me.
Our art will hang from December 1, 2014 through January 31, 2015 and a portion of any sales proceeds will go to benefit Attention Homes and Western Resource Advocates (thus: “Photography for a Change”).
Cynthia Marsh, although not with the Photography for a Change group, will also be displaying her gorgeous abstract paintings in the same exhibit area. Her work is exceptional–some really wonderful explorations of mood and color–and well worth a look see and chat with the artist.
A big thanks to Audrey Lewis (and her husband volunteer!) for her work in running the Community Art Program at NCAR and making these exhibits possible.
So, here is your official invite…
Drop by NCAR this coming Saturday, December 6th, any time from 5p.m. to 8p.m., for the official Show Opening. We’ll have some snacks and some mood music in the background. We would love to see you there and talk a little art!
Action photo by María Rosa Fusté: