The joy of photography: Telling a story and evoking emotion

Greetings everyone! Sincere apologies for the lengthy span between blog posts. Between crazy weather conditions that preclude getting out where I want to do some image making (in a safe manner), a brief period of time where I was not feeling great and just allowing life to get in the way, I have not been out very much the last couple of months.

This past week, I was contacted on Instagram by someone who had liked a sunrise image I created last summer while up in Crested Butte. The image was titled “A Crested Butte Sunrise.” I had been on-location since about 1:30am, doing some night sky photography. As astro twilight and nautical twilight passed, civil twilight approached and the light was starting to show a lot of potential for sunrise!

The location is on Trail 403, about 3/4 of a mile from the trailhead at the summit of Washington Gulch Road (CR-811). Elaina & I enjoy this trail and have passed a particular landmark along the trail that was the main focal point of the sunrise shot. A two seat bench…”Bill’s Bench” to be specific.

Bill’s Bench - Front view

Bill’s Bench - Front view

Anyway…(rabbit trail. lol)

Morning twilight came and the light and character-giving clouds were slowly rolling in. There was little doubt in my mind that I was in for a treat; I could feel the energy and the emotion unfold. I took a short break, just relaxing in one of the two seats and waited for sunrise time to arrive.

When it was time, I got busy making sure my composition was set and everything would be ready for just the right moment to capture a gorgeous sunrise image.

A Crested Butte Sunrise

A Crested Butte Sunrise

The light, the clouds, the setting, the emotion that the scene presented, was absolutely spectacular!

After finishing up the sunrise shooting, I packed up my gear and trekked back to my 4Runner, so I could head down to Crested Butte and get some coffee at Camp4Coffee, make some breakfast before heading out to shoot wildflower images.

While in town, I did a quick edit of the image (yeah, I am that much of a nerd. Kept my laptop in the 4Runner, so I could edit the image(s) and post one or two) and posted it up to Instagram

A few months ago, my image was seen by the son of the person the bench is named after, but he had forgotten to DM me then. At any rate, he did DM me this past week and told me that he and his family had put the bench up as a memorial to his Dad, who passed away in 1999. He thanked me for sharing that sunrise picture as the bench was put in that location just for the purposes of taking in those crazy Crested Butte sunrises and the magnificent views that are seen.

That morning, from ~1:30am to a short while past sunrise, was so amazing! Knowing that my photography had evoked just the right emotion from people whom the bench and those views truly did mean everything, was a complete joy for me. As a photographer, our main job is to tell a story. I think this time, though, the story was told to me before I even knew what the story was to be told.

One thing I can be certain of is that my passion for the great outdoors, for photography and for telling a story with my images has been bolstered quite a bit my the events of this contact!

2018-2019 Glendale Glitters

Glendale Arizona puts on quite a show of lights over the holiday season. The 11th & 12th of January are the last two days of the 2018-2019 Glendale Glitters display, with 1.6 million LED lights and much more.

My Mom suggested that we check it out on Friday evening, since Saturday was going to be total chaos there, with everyone in the Phoenix metro wanting to be there for the last night of the display (bands, hot air balloons, vendors and such).

For a Friday evening, we were pleasantly surprised to find that only a handful of people were walking around looking at the light display.

Street photography is not a style that we do very often, but this is one of those times when you have to step outside of your comfort zone. I did infuse a little of my own style for a couple of the images, doing some “Intentional Camera Movement” just to see what it would look like. I also cleaned up a couple up a few of the images to remove waste bins that were a little overbearing within the image, using the new content-aware fill enhancement within Photoshop CC 2019.

Glendale Lights

Glendale Lights

Red Canopy

Red Canopy

Long Exposure ICM

Long Exposure ICM

Long Movement Lights

Long Movement Lights

Red Meet Blue

Red Meet Blue

Red Canopy

Red Canopy

Leaning Palms

Leaning Palms

Detail in the Tree

Detail in the Tree

A Library of Color

A Library of Color

Glitter Promenade

Glitter Promenade

Electric Snowflake

Electric Snowflake

Bisti Badlands: Alien [looking] Desert Landscape and Haboobs

While Archive Diving today, making sure my master image files were all good to go, I came across an image that I had forgotten about, from a crazy adventure trip to the Bisti Badlands in New Mexico.

The Bisti Badlands, located an hour South of Farmington, NM.  In May of 2013, a photographer friend and I decided to check out the Bisti Badlands for ourselves after hearing much talk about the unique landscape.

The day we arrived, we set up camp and did a little scouting before we crashed for the night.  We wanted to get up early enough to catch sunrise and be able to take in as much as we could since we had only allocated three days to explore and photograph.

When the alarm went off, we got up and enjoyed trekking around; sunrise was okay, but I will say that the blue hour just walking around Bisti Badlands and taking in all of the stellar and amazing landscape.

About 5:30pm, we looked to the West and saw one of those pesky Haboob’s and it was heading our way…fast!  We did have to head west to get to our sunset location, but this made is both consider our options.  Option 1 was to find a safe place to ride out the haboob and hope it did not last too long.  Option 2 was beat feet back to the camper back at the parking area (about 2.5 miles away).

During the 5 to 10 minutes we discussed our options and looked at my handheld GPS to see what it calculated as time it would take to get back…the haboob had made up our minds for us.  We had to find a place to hunker down where we could be safe, but also have a good view of the area as well.

Once we found a good place to hunker down, we set our packs down and then made three arrows using small rocks that pointed towards the parking area (a safety measureI felt was necessary).

From 5pm until almost 5pm, the haboob hammered the Bisti Badlands.  I’ve experienced some wild weather in my days, but that was truly an experience I’d like to forget!  I can say that I’m forever grateful that my sunglasses were meant for alpine climbing / hiking, so the side shields prevented quite a bit of the desert sand from sand-blasting my eyes.  I put my skull cap on in an attempt to keep as much of the sand out of my hair as I could (though I would later realize that the skull cap did little to really keep the sand away (lol).

After the haboob passed, we started working our way to the sunset location (Cracked Eggs area).  We were not out of the woods yet though.  Sunset was still 20 minutes away, so this shot was the best I could create before we both felt it was wise to pack up and beat feet back to the camper at the parking area.

Once we arrived at the camper, we were happy to see the first haboob had not affected the camper.  We get some dinner cooking along with some coffee, then we each took turns using up some water with a nice, hot shower.  My photography friend made sure the camper was secure and not going to go anywhere unless Toto’s tornado scooped us up (lol).  We had parked the camper such that it was in-line with the wind direction, so that one of us would get the queen size bed on the windy side and the other would get the queen size bed on the non-windy end.

While he was showering, the wind began to pick up and then the sand.  The second haboob lasted about three hours perhaps four.  By the time sunrise came the next morning, we both felt this trip was going to be cut short as the weather was just not cooperating.  We hiked around the badlands for about three hours, then retuned to the camper, closed things up and set out on our trip back to Denver.

Sadly, I have not yet returned to Bisti as the few times I have planned a trip there, the weather forecasts have been less than desirable!  If you choose to visit Bisti Badlands, there are couple things I would highly recommend.  1) Make sure you have plenty of water (double what you think you will need, just in case).  2) Check, double-check and triple-check the weather for Bisti and from Phoenix, AZ, Las Vegas, NV and Ely, NV for the time period slightly before you plan to be at Bisti Badlands and through the time you plan to be there.  Watch satellite loops to be sure the winds and other weather components are not going to hamper your trip.

Golden Hour Cracked Eggs