Category Archives: Personal Work

Wray, CO | The Other Half | Colorado’s Eastern Plains

The mountains of Colorado get a lot of love from photographers (for good reason). This is a really beautiful state, and the first subject that generally leaps to mind, is the mountains.

Having grown up spending a lot of time out on the Eastern Plains with relatives, when I think about cool places to shoot, this other half of the state really calls to me. Out on the plains, agriculture and open spaces rule. This gives photo opportunities that we rarely come across in the city. In the small towns, the pace of change is slower. Old buildings stick around longer. And history feels real, not like something that was made-up for the tourists.

Below I have a few pictures that were shot on a trip to Wray, CO (my Dad’s home town) last summer. They are all pictures of buildings, some in use, some abandoned. The images were all shot on a quick walk around town early on a Sunday morning. The streets were pretty much empty, so I had the place to myself. I was really happy with the textures and forms that I got with these pictures, also the detail visible in both highlights and shadows is really amazing – gotta love that black and white film.

Hopefully you will like these pictures, and if you are thinking about a quick photo trip, I would highly recommend taking a look at a map of Colorado, picking a small town out on the plains and pointing your car in that direction. You never know what beautiful pictures you will find along the state highways, county roads and small town streets.

You can click on any of the images to see them larger. Enjoy…




Tech Info:
Fuji GS645S
60mm f4 Fixed Fujinon Lens
Fuji Acros 100
Ilford Ilfotec DD-X Developer
Epson 4870 Scanner + VueScan + Adobe Camera Raw

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Glenwood Springs, CO | Photo School | Pretty Pictures

There are a few places that I tend to think of as my “home towns”. I have spent most of my life in the Denver metro area so that is the most obvious. But another town that holds special meaning for me is Glenwood Springs, CO.

When I was a sophomore in high school  my family and I passed through Glenwood on vacation. I loved it – the old buildings, the mountains, the river – it just seemed like such a nice place to live. A couple of years later, I got the opportunity to live in Glenwood when I started attending photo school at Colorado Mountain College.

At CMC (sometimes referred to as See Me Ski), I learned the techniques, history and craft of photography. Being isolated in the hills above town, provided a perfect environment for learning. There really wasn’t much to do besides sleep, eat, go to class,  and work in the labs. This was back in the days when labs housed enlargers and chemicals rather than Macs and inkjet printers. But I did have a couple of classes using some new software called Photoshop.

During my first week at CMC, I did manage to find time to meet Julie. Who, as it turned out, was from right there in Glenwood. About three years later, we were married at a large house that overlooks the CMC campus and Mount Sopris. Julie’s Dad still lives in Glenwood, and we try to get up there every chance we get.

Below are some pictures from a trip to Glenwood back in the fall of 2007. These were all shot over the course of a couple overcast days on black and white film using a yellow filter. The yellow filter rendered the autumn leaves a very light tone and provided great contrast with the dark tree limbs.

I’m not sure if these are great pictures, but I like them, and they remind me of “home”.

You can click on any of the images to see them larger. Enjoy…

Tech Info:
Nikon F3
Nikon 35mm f2.8
Yellow Filter
Ilford HP5 Plus
DR5 Process (B&W Slide)

Camera Scan
Sigma SD9
Sigma 50mm f2.8 Macro
Photosolve Xtend-a-Slide

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Wray, CO | A Portrait And A House | Goodbye Papa Paul

On Christmas day, we lost my Grandfather (My Dad’s Dad). He was over 90 years old, and his health had been rapidly declining, so it was not a surprise, but it was a shock. We waited until the following day to tell the kids, and then we had to get everything ready for the funeral. I printed up an 11X14 of this portrait of Grandpa Paul with Molly, to stand along side the casket at the funeral. The final print turned out really nice, and added a happy element to an otherwise sad occasion.

Along with this picture, Julie and my sister-in-law, Jess, put together a large presentation board showing a wide variety of pictures from Grandpa’s life. There were photos going all the way back to 1942. Seeing all of these images together really drove home the importance of protecting your memories. I know there are a lot of people out there who have pretty much stopped carrying a camera and are just using their cell phone cameras instead. If this sounds like you, please make a conscious effort to get those pictures off of your phone and on to your computer, and then make a conscious effort to make some prints.

To go along with the portrait above, I wanted to show some interesting pictures that I shot this summer. The three images below were shot in Grandpa Paul’s home town of Wray, CO. The house shown in the photos was actually my Grandpa Paul and Grandma Nondice’s first home. They moved in shortly after Grandpa returned home from World War II. As you can tell from the pictures, they very well could have been the last people to live in this house. It is almost completely overgrown with trees and bushes. This is probably an appropriate metaphor to end this post – my Grandfather’s house, being reclaimed by the Earth.

You can click on any of the images to see them larger. Enjoy…

Tech Info:

Portrait
Sigma SD9
Sigma 50mm f2.8 Macro
f4 | 1/90 | ISO 200

House
Fuji GS645S
60mm f4 Fixed Fujinon Lens
Fuji Acros 100
Ilford Ilfotec DD-X Developer
Epson 4870 Scanner + VueScan + Adobe Camera Raw

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Westminster, CO | Documentary Photos | WHS 2009 Las Posadas

With the Holidays upon us, I wanted to put up some documentary pictures that I shot last year at Westminster High School’s Las Posadas celebration/parade/march. The event was a lot of fun, it included Mary, Joseph and even a real donkey. There were candles, guitars and lots of singing. The large crowd moved from church to church through the old town area of Westminster and ended up back at the high school for refreshments after the march.

It was pretty cold, and very dark, so photography was a challenge. I wanted to document the event, but using flash would have been very intrusive and would have looked awful – red eyes and blown out faces with pure blackness in the background. Instead, I chose to shoot in the available light (err – darkness). I utilized the  highest ISO the camera would allow and then under exposed by about a stop, and I also used my fastest lens. It was too dark for the camera to auto-focus (without an annoying AF assist lamp) , so manual focus was the order of the day.

Even though these pictures are very grainy, I think they do a good job capturing the spirit of the event. They are authentic. They illustrate the setting of the event – the cold and dark of a December night, punctuated by the warmth and light of community and candlelight.

You can click on any of the images to see them larger and read a caption. Enjoy…

Tech Info:
Nikon D200
Nikon 50mm f1.8
ISO 3200 (underexposed, so more like 6400)
It was DARK!

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Westminster, CO | Documentary Photos | Friday Night Lights

This is a series of pictures from Westminster High School’s homecoming football game back in October. My goal was to go out and capture the atmosphere of a high school football game, rather than document the game itself.

To accomplish this, I decided to use my Canonet QL17 GIII. The little rangefinder with a fixed 40mm lens. Using this camera meant that I couldn’t get caught up in shooting typical photojounalistic football action shots. Instead, I would have to focus on the periphery of the game – coaches shouting, players celebrating, officials moving up and down the sideline – all the stuff that goes on during a football game that goes almost completely unnoticed by the crowd.

There are some things that I find really interesting in these images. First is the lens flare caused by having the bright stadium lights in the images. This really seems to capture the glare that you notice when down on the field. Another interesting aspect of these images is the contrast… black uniforms – white numbers, dark sky – bright lights. Finally, there are the relationships – players talking, coaches teaching. If you’ve never been on a football field these can be easily overlooked, but they are as essential to the game as touchdowns, helmets or big hits.

You can click on any of the images to see them larger and read the captions. Enjoy…

Tech Info:

Canonet QL17 GIII
Canon 40mm f1.7 lens (fixed)
Legacy Pro 400 (AKA – Fuji Neopan 400) – pushed one stop (ISO 800)
Ilford Ilfotec DD-X Developer (10min @ 20C)

Camera Scan
Sigma SD9
50mm f2.8 Macro
Photosolve Xtend-a-Slide

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Denver, CO | Follow Up | Quiznos Pro Challenge Press Conference

With today’s announcement of the route and host cities for next year’s Quiznos Pro Challenge, I thought it would be a good time to show a few more pictures from the announcement press conference back in August. My previous pictures from the event are over here.

I went downtown to hear the announcement and see if there would be anything interesting to photograph. To my surprise, thousands of cyclists showed up on their bikes to see the press conference and have a group ride with Lance Armstrong following the event. Needless to say, there was plenty to photograph.

I was mostly looking for interesting details and quirky situations, rather than traditional “news” or press conference images. The fact that I was shooting with a fixed 40mm lens certainly eliminated the possibility of getting close-ups of the speakers, but I do like the context provided by the crowd in the shots of Governor Ritter and Lance Armstrong speaking.

You can click on any of the images to see them larger and read the captions. Enjoy…

Tech Info:
Canonet QL17 GIII
Canon 40mm f1.7 lens (fixed)
Legacy Pro 400 (AKA – Fuji Neopan 400)
Ilford Ilfotec DD-X Developer (7min @ 20C)

Camera Scan
Sigma SD9
50mm f2.8 Macro
Photosolve Xtend-a-Slide

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Denver, CO | Byers-Evans House | Wet Plate Collodion Demo

Last weekend I went to a wet plate collodion demonstration at the Byers-Evans House Gallery here in Denver, CO. Leading the demo were Mark Sink & Kristen Hatgi. Mark is a well know photographer living in Denver, who currently has a show hanging at the Byers-Evans House (highly recommended). He and Kristen have been collaborating on fine art wet plate projects for a few years and they share their expertise through demonstrations and workshops.

Wet plate collodion is an antique photographic process that was in popular use at the time of the Civil War. If you have ever seen an old Tin Type, you have seen a wet-plate image. The process is pretty complicated and involves:

  • Setting up a portable darkroom
  • Coating a sheet of glass or tin (they now use aluminum with a black enamel coating) in gun cotton
  • Adding silver halides to the plate (in the dark)
  • Putting the plate in a “film” holder
  • Composing the portrait on a large format camera
  • Locking the camera down and inserting the “film” holder
  • Exposing the wet plate for a few seconds (the sitter has to remain motionless)
  • Processing the wet plate in the darkroom
  • Waiting for the plate to dry
  • Varnishing the plate to protect it

Why would anyone go to all this trouble? The number one reason is that the resulting images are beautiful, with great tonal range, swirly out of focus backgrounds, and interesting imperfections from the totally hand crafted process. Another aspect that makes these images interesting for fine artists, is that the resulting images are one-of-a-kind originals. They can sell this original image like a painting, it is totally unique. Of course it is possible to make a scan and create reproductions, but there is only one original.

It was really exciting to see the process unfold. I don’t know that it is something I would start shooting, it uses some potentially lethal chemicals – 100% pure grain alcohol, gun-cotton, ether, and cyanide – but it certainly inspired me to think about ways to improve and expand my own portrait work.

This week, I pulled my old 4X5 camera out of storage and started brainstorming ways to incorporate it into my arsenal. That led to thinking about the pinhole photography work that I did back in college. Now I have at least two new projects to explore. That is something I love about photography, there are always new things to learn and new paths to follow. I will put this new work up on the blog as I experiment and test.

Below, I have added a few documentary images from the demonstration. If you scroll all the way to the bottom, there are four cellphone snaps of the tin-types that Mark and Kristen created during the demo.

You can click on any of the images to see them larger and view captions that explain what is going on. Enjoy…

Tech Info:
Canon Canonet QL17 GIII
Fixed 40mm f1.7
Legacy Pro 400 (AKA Fuji Neopan 400)
Ilford Ilfotec DD-X Developer (7min @ 20C)

Camera Scans
Sigma SD9
Sigma 50mm f2.8 Macro
Photosolve Xtend-a-Slide


Tech Info:
Cell Phone snaps with my LG Dare
A lot of Photoshop work to make them presentable

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Westminster, CO | Documentary Photo | The Kids Are All Wet

Here is a fun documentary photograph to kick off the weekend. Back in September, the family and I went to a free concert at the Westminster Promenade in Westminster, CO. While following Emma around to make sure she didn’t cause too much trouble, I noticed the kids playing in this fountain.

As the sun got lower in the sky the light got better and the scene got more interesting. Also, most of the kids started to clear out, and I was able to get this one frame with a couple of kids in just the right spot. It was really an exercise in anticipation and patience.

Wait for the light to be low enough to back light the water and silhouette the kids – Wait for just a couple of kids doing something interesting – Make sure no one is walking through the background – Anticipate the moment when the water is shooting to its highest point – CLICK! One shot, one good frame is all I was able to get. In the next frame, the bright sunlight was gone and the kids had moved together to make one black blob instead of two distinct silhouettes.

I guess this was one of those times when a snap-shot wasn’t really a snap-shot.

You can click on the image to see it larger. Enjoy…

Tech Info:
Nikon F3
Nikon 50mm f1.4
Ilford HP5 Plus
Ilford Ilfotec DD-X (9min @ 20C)

Camera Scan
Sigma SD9
Sigma 50mm f2.8 Macro
Photosolve Xtend-a-Slide

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Denver, CO | Details | Quiznos Pro Challenge Press Conference

As you may have heard, Lance Armstrong was in Denver on August 4th to announce the Quiznos Pro Challenge with Colorado Governor Bill Ritter. I though it would be a great opportunity to shoot some interesting documentary photographs. As it turns out, I was right. There were thousands of cyclists at the capitol for the announcement. They probably set the world record for most lycra at a press conference. This made for great juxtapositions between the “freewheeling” cyclists and the staid atmosphere of the capitol steps. I have more pictures from the event, but will save them for another post.

Click on any of the pictures to see them larger. Enjoy…

I shot these using an old Canonet QL17 GIII rangefinder camera on Fuji Neopan 400 (Legacy Pro 400) film. This was also the first roll of film that I have processed by hand in about ten years. Luckily, it is kind of like riding a bike, once you’ve done it a few thousand times, you never forget how.

The “scans” were made using a Sigma SD9 camera and a light table. I am still working out the kinks in the camera scan workflow. These images  turned out pretty well but some of the other frames had focus problems. Looks like I will have to pick up some hardware specifically for making camera scans. Still, this is much faster and easier than using a dedicated film scanner. So I think it will be worth the effort.

Tech Info:
Canonet QL17 GIII
Canon 40mm f1.7 lens (fixed)
Legacy Pro 400 (AKA – Fuji Neopan 400)
Ilford Ilfotec DD-X Developer
Camera Scan – Sigma SD9 + 50mm f2.8 Macro + Light Table

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Documentary Portrait – Mother and Children


Here is a fun picture from our recent family vacation. The image has a lot of layers to pull you in. The obvious focal point is Molly’s face, but what is making her smile like that? Pull back just a bit, and you notice the puppet on Julie’s hand. If you look past Molly, you can see the boredom that usually accompanies air travel all over Emma’s face.

Finally, there is the light. You don’t usually associate airplanes with flattering light, but in this case the cabin lights were off and the strong back lighting from the windows gave me great rim light on the girls, and bounced around the cabin enough to fill in the shadows. Of course, the wide dynamic range of medium format black and white film was a major help.

Tech Info:
Fuji GS645S Medium Format Camera with a fixed 60mm f4 Fujinon Lens – Wide Open
Ilford HP5 Film

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