Saturday, November 15, 2008

Lower Tropospheric Visions?



While it has been a while since I have had time to devote to shooting much, I have picked up my camera once in a while. Mostly I've been engulfed in the sometimes overwhelming project of remodeling my new townhome. After a hectic three weeks of work, I finally have the place remodeled and ready to move in, and am starting to move my furniture, studio and office this weekend.

I believe that homes have certain energies - partially caused by their location and surrounding environment, partially by architectural features and design, and partially due to unexplainable conditions that cause certain living spaces to feel warm and inviting, while others convey a sense of cold discomfort and uneasiness, and even hostility. Fortunately my new home is the former; warm, comfortable, and inviting. Situated in Southeast Denver, it is one of the rare places in the city that is surrounded by a somewhat natural environment.

My first day in the new home, I noticed these wonderful trees along the trail behind the townhome. Also, the magnificent red-tailed hawks circling overhead, and overall lack of city-noise gave me a great feeling. At around sunset, I looked out of my bedroom window, and saw the first signs of iridescence in the clouds, and grabbed my camera.





While this vibrant and iridescent display of color only lasted for about 15 minutes, and then faded into darkness of night, I took it as a wonderful blessing upon my new home.

To learn more about iridescent clouds and other atmospheric phenomena, Les Cowley's "Atmospheric Optics" website is the definitive source of information.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Orphan Works Bill Legalizes Theft of Artistic Works


I have held my tongue long enough. I have tried to keep my blog free of politics, but I cannot remain silent any longer. The Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act was passed through senate in a sneaky maneuver of "hotlining" the bill through at the end of session last Friday (09/26/08), amidst the panic of the US banking system collapse.

This bill compromises every artists' works and right to self-copyright, and practically invites opportunistic thieves to steal it. If an artist was to catch a hypothetical thief who stole creative works, wording in the bill states that if the artist sues the thief, that the thief and artist would have to come to a "mutual agreement" about the value of the stolen creative work. Preposterous.

Rather than try to summarize many other problems with this bill, and try to say what others can express so well, please just read Ted Rall's recent article on the topic. Ted Rall is president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists.

This bill's next stop is in the House Judiciary Committee, and there is still time to stop this bill from going into law. If you are an artist working in any medium, please educate yourself on this issue. It effects all of us in some pretty frightening ways.

TAKE ACTION: EMAIL CONGRESS TONIGHT
Tell the House Judiciary Committee not to adopt the Senate version.

The Illustrator's Partnership of America has supplied a special letter for this purpose: http://capwiz.com/illustratorspartnership/issues/alert/?alertid=11980321

You can learn more at the Orphan Works blog here:
http://orphanworks.blogspot.com/

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saturday Morning Portrait


Life can be overwhelming sometimes.

So many new things to take in all at once. Adventures and interactions. New places, smells, creatures and people. Nature trails and creeks that demand to be explored. Squirrels that taunt, and snakes that slither. Mice that dart to the safety of their burrows upon my arrival. These are the things that must not be ignored.

After the adventure is over, sometimes a nap is in order.

Friday, September 5, 2008

"All Things Horses" Photography Exhibit at
The Center for Fine Art Photography


There's something about horses that

make them fascinating photography subjects.

Never having been much of a horse person, I was not holding my breath for the upcoming exhibition. I was greeted with a great surprise once I saw the final results of the juried photography exhibition. Juried by world-renowned equine photographer,
Christiane Slawik, this exhibit brings together wonderful visions of a great variety of horses, and the impressive power and beauty of these animals, together in a cohesive and impressive display of art by forty two different artists from four countries. If you are of the equestrian-persuasion, you are sure to enjoy this gallery, and if you are not, these photographs might just change your mind! Click here to see the web gallery.

The All Things Horses Exhibition runs from September 5 - 27, 2008, at The Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, CO. The artists and public reception is tonight, September 5th, from 6:00 - 9:00 pm.

___________________________
PS While it has been an incredibly busy and exciting summer, I have not posted any articles on my blog lately. To my faithful readers, rest assured that several of my personal photography adventures and themed galleries will be posted in the upcoming weeks.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Foggy Vision

I was born and raised here in Colorado, choosing to be in the Rocky Mountains or in Denver. Until recently, I never spent much time in the eastern plains and farmland. Once again, my camera and my curiosity got the best of me when I followed some thunderstorms out in that direction one evening in 2006. Since that time, it has become one of my favorite shooting locations. With sparse, open landscapes, farm relics, old trees, turbulent weather patterns, and abundance of wildlife, it now excites me to drive out on these dirt roads. After just a handful of songs from the stereo of my truck, I am out in the wide open spaces, away from the congestion of the city. Reminding myself how fast it is to get out of the metropolis provides me comfort. I suppose I might move to a less-populated area, but for the sake of my businesses, Denver is a good place to be, for a while anyway.

Earlier this week I took the drive out to eastern Colorado at dawn, on a wonderfully foggy Stephen King-esque (books, not movies) morning, with fog so thick that it seemed to be as tangible as the fields of earth it covered.



Driving was a very near-sighted journey, but I was really enjoying the eeriness of it all.

Every once in a while an object off the side of the road would break up the endless grey that blanketed my view. This old windmill caught my attention.




Gradually the fog lifted enough to actually see something, as the sun rose over the horizon. The trees, as usual, are my favorite shots from the morning.





These train photos will become part of a series I've been working on over the past two years. The body of work will be posted on my site sometime in the next few months.

All of this excitement, and I was back home by 8:30 in time to start my work day.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The New Generation of Photography Sites

Lately I have noticed a few photography sites that have some very creative photography. The two most notable are JPG Magazine and File Magazine. These sites are definitely edgier than what you might find on the mainstream photography sites such as BetterPhoto, although not quite as edgy (and tattooed) as DeviantArt.

JPG and File have very different models and genres, so I should not inadvertantly group them into any category other than that of "photography sites that make me happy". Both of them have a good mix of street photography, nature, studio, and abstract/experimental photography.

File Magazine allows photographer submissions, and selects the photos they want to publish and include in their collections and projects. No user comments, voting, rating, or any of that other community-oriented stuff. Just a website chock full of "unexpected photography". I encourage you to spend some time there, as there is some really fantastic and unique work.

JPG Magazine has grown tremendously popular since it's inception just a couple years ago, and follows more of a photography community model, with comments, friends, and votes to help persuade the editors in which photos to publish. A beautifully printed magazine is published bi-monthly with the selected photos and stories for the previously posted theme.

Without any sense of self-shame in cramming this one image down your blogosphere, I have submitted the photo below in the theme, "Favorite Hangouts". There's six days of voting left, so if you are already a website member of JPG magazine, and like the photo, please give me a vote! If you are not yet a member, it's a very non-committal type sign-up process with no small print, so if you are so compelled and actually sign up and vote for my photo, I will grant you three wishes. And, yes, one of them can be that I start posting different photos on my separate posts and site.

Right now my photo has 23 votes, and is listed as "HOT" so you never know, it may be selected, with your help. Thanks for putting up with my shameless self-promotion. We will return to our regularly scheduled shenanigans soon.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Difference between Night and Day

Over the last couple years,
I have occasionally been asked why I don't shoot more colorful subjects, like wildflowers, green meadows, and colorful mountain scenes. I've never really known what to say, as, truth be told, I just never
felt I was that good at it.


When I really became fixated with photography, my first instinct was to take pictures of the moon, the stars, the twilight glow; the Mysterious and the Fantastic. Night and low-light photography naturally became my muse. To me, night photography is the equivalent of a painter starting out with a blank canvas, and slowly applying layers upon layers of color with his/her brush. Similarly with night photography, you start with a pitch black frame, and slowly allow light in the camera over long periods, or force light in by painting objects with a spotlight. It seems much more controlled by virtue than shooting in daylight hours and being at the mercy of current sunlight and atmospheric conditions. Night photography does come with it's own set of unique challenges though, including camera noise, difficulty in getting the lens focused on my subject in the dark, and uneven light painting. Other external challenges with night photography include encounters with wildlife, encounters with (not-so) domestic farm dogs, wind, and a myriad of other predicaments that you might imagine wandering around in the wilderness at night may present.

During my photography journeys, I find myself sleeping for four hours around mid-night, waking up and shooting pre-sunrise and sunrise, and then sleeping another four hours at mid-day, to go out and shoot again at sunset and after the fall of night. More than once I've absent-mindedly greeted people with "Good Morning!" at 6:00 in the evening.

The photo of the old tree above, "Protection", is a 30-second exposure taken at about 4:00 am in the Utah desert a couple weeks ago, before the first glow of sunrise.

On to more important topics…


Today is Mother's Day
.
We owe a debt of gratitude to our Mothers for bringing us into the world, nurturing us, teaching us, consoling us, healing us, and loving us. I recently read on a blog a statement that rings so true:

"God could not be everywhere, and
therefore he made mothers."


In honor of Mother's Day, (and also in response to those who wondered if I'm truly nocturnal and envision me frantically clamoring through shadows to return to my coffin at the first hint of dawn), I give you this gallery:








"Unique Flora"
; in celebration of the vibrant color and
the miracle of life that Mother Nature provides.


Enjoy, and to all the Mothers of the world,
wishing you a most heartfelt


Happy Mother's Day!




Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Liquid Sky Beckoned Me

I woke up last Sunday morning at about 5:00am, which is not unusual for me, but I was compelled to get in my truck and drive about 30 miles east of my home to some farmland in eastern Colorado, to get photos of the sunrise.

The sky was clear, and after a day of light snow on Saturday, and the temperature sitting at right about freezing, this was not my typical morning to go shoot; usually under these conditions the sunrise is unremarkable (if there is such a thing).

For some reason, I was motivated to get out with my camera, and in hindsight, I am grateful that I did.


I was driving on a stretch of road in Watkins, CO that I frequent, before sunrise, when I saw what appeared to be a glowing UFO in the field ahead of my truck. It actually took me a few seconds to clearly rule out the possibility that: 1 - it might be a bright reflection off of some bizarre metallic object in the farmer's field, and, 2 - (for a split-second fleeting moment) the possibility of some unexplained craft. It was oval shaped, like a radiant pancake glowing in the meadow, and appeared to be even a bit below the horizon.

After a second (really, just a second), I realized that I was witnessing the first evidence of the sun coming up over the horizon, but in a distorted form.


A Sunrise Mirage.


I suppose I have spent my entire life with "my head in the clouds". I was constantly accused of daydreaming as a child, and was scorned over many a parent-teacher conference with my instructors concerned that, "Scott is intelligent, but it just seems like his attention is elsewhere, and we are concerned that his daydreaming may interfere with him becoming a productive member of society". I am fortunate to have been raised by open-minded parents, who do not necessarily believe that societal-convention is king, so to speak. They encouraged my artistic notions throughout my adolescence, and, as I grew into adulthood, they went from being my parents to being my parents and some of my best friends.


As an adult (term used loosely), I am fortunate that I have forged a life for myself where I am now permitted (by my own standards) to live with my head in the clouds; to take time to look up at the sky in wonder and marvel at our amazing universe, and I constantly and purposely give myself permission to do so. We are each an integral part of a mind-numbingly large universe, and in my own recognition and acceptance of that, there is a profound sense of peace, and oddly, a greater sense of purpose and place than when I am caught up in the details of life that society, civilization, and convention dictate. One might think that recognizing how small we each are in the universe might make us feel tiny and insignificant, but I have found the opposite - I am a tiny being in a massive universe, and recognizing how small I am seems to give me permission to do what I do, and freedom to follow my heart without worrying that I have strayed too far from convention. Within this freedom I feel more well-adjusted than ever.


A couple years ago, I became enthralled by a website called Atmospheric Optics. Headed up by Les Cowley in England, Atmospheric Optics is a website that catalogs and explains all of the wonders of the visual spectacles that the sky, the sun, the moon, and the earth's atmosphere provide us here on earth, from both a scientific and an ordinary perspective. I have spent many hours on Les' site, and had no idea how many things were happening in the sky while we are running around doing our thing, not unlike a busy ant colony.


What I witnessed the other morning is spectacular to me, and I don't know what compelled me to go out that morning, but I am glad I was there to witness it, and glad I could capture some moments of it, within the four borders of my photographs. As I see it, the only way photographs could be more remarkable would be to somehow remove the four borders of the photo, but that would only mean you would have to be there in person. Such is the conundrum that makes photography so exciting.















You can see the sequence of photos at

http://www.night-collection.com/sunrise. I will eventually be putting a timelapse video of it on there as well.

Les Cowley at Atmospheric Optics stated that although sunset mirages are somewhat frequent, sunrise mirages are quite rare. He will be featuring my experience as "Today's Feature" on the Atmospheric Optics website sometime next week, and I'm sure will shed a much more scientific light on the subject. Until then, feel free to explore Les' site. I think it is absolutely amazing.

As for me, I am off to Moab to go stare at (and photograph) the sky and desert landscape for the entire week. There's nothing I'd rather be doing right now, and I feel like the luckiest guy on earth. I'll share more of my inspiration and awe as it is presented to me.

Until then, look up at the sky more often; you never know what amazing things may be happening right above your head.

Follow-up - 04.20.08
The Sunrise mock mirage is "Today's Feature" at the Atmospheric Optics website
The permanent link to my photos of the Sunrise Mirage page is here: http://www.atoptics.co.uk/fz37.htm

Thanks Les!


Monday, March 31, 2008

Experience Central America with
Paradise Panama Photo Adventures

You may have read my older posts regarding my photography adventures with Jay Mills in the past, both in Utah in '06 and here in Colorado in '07. Jay is now a resident photographer in Volcan, Chiriqui Province, Panama, and is providing one-of-a-kind photography expeditions in Panama.

The Digital Photography Workshop
"Photo Adventures in
Western Panama"


Experience this unique photography expedition in the Western Panama Highlands. Whether you are an experienced amateur or seasoned travel photographer, this week long photography workshop will introduce you to the unique rainforests, geology, flora, fauna, and people of the Chiriqui province in the beautiful mountains of Western Panama. Led by resident professional and accomplished photographer, Jay D. Mills, in conjunction with Green Mountain Adventures for local guide service.

Open Sessions:

- July 17th - 24th, 2008
- January, 2009 - date to be determined
(I will be assisting Jay for this session)

Paradise Panama Workshops are adventures in small group settings, limited to eight photographers per workshop. Each workshop is tailored to the specific interests and needs of the group. Daily van excursions to diverse destinations will end with group photo reviews, relaxed conversation and leisure in comfortable accommodations in the evenings. Computers for downloading, viewing, editing and burning CD/DVDs will be provided. Internet access will also be available. Lodging options range from staying with a local host family and learning some of the culture and ways of Panamanian people, to tourist hotel, resort hotel, or Bed and Breakfast accommodations in Volcan, Panama.

Volcan, Panama is in the Chiriqui province in the western-most region of Panama, just ten miles from the border of Costa Rica and on the slopes of Volcan Baru, the highest point in Panama at 11,400 feet. This region is highlighted by mountain villages, rainforests, waterfalls, lush foliage, surreal canyons, flower gardens, and exotic wildlife in a warm, tropical climate. There are also pre-Columbian archeological sites nearby.



About Jay D. Mills:

In addition to his extensive photographic experience, Jay has formal training and several years of experience as an instructor working with adults. He says that the most memorable other photo workshop that he has participated in was the Pecos River Workshop of Bruce Dale, retired career photographer for National Geographic Magazine. Jay recalls, "I learned many new techniques and was reminded of several things that I had forgotten or neglected over the years. Bruce re-energized my interest in photography. Another of my great inspirations is Farrell Eaves, a great photographer and friend who, when his Nikon digital was 'ruined' in the Pecos River, made 'lemonade from lemons' by taking over 10,000 very unique and beautiful pictures with the 'ruined' camera."

For more information about Paradise Panama Photo Adventures,
visit the website here, or Contact Jay by email for more details.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Guarana and Me

Once in a while I like to drink those vitamin water bottles from the gas station. You know, the ones with the neon labels neatly wrapped around contoured plastic bottles, lined up in a perfect rainbow of freezer-case goodness; each color competing against the next for my attention and adoption, as if to say, "pick me, pick me"! Today yellow (Tropical Citrus) won over orange (some Mango nonsense) and some very unnatural looking cloudy-pink syrup.

I drank it at about 1:00 in the afternoon. I had a busy day about halfway taken care of, and it seemed to me that it was all smooth sailing from here on out. This morning I had completed a photo shoot of some construction products, met with a client, and then picked up the ill-fated jet-fuel on the way back to the studio.


I got back to my computer, did a couple website updates, checked my email, and made some phone calls. I was talking to a client when I noticed I was talking fast. Really fast. And wait, why is my right leg twitching? I looked up to see it was about 3:00. I awoke this morning at about 5:00 am, and the afternoon is normally the time of day when my eyelids start to feel a bit heavy, but today I was still going strong. I looked down at the plastic bottle of death next to my keyboard and saw, printed in trendy little letters running up the side of the empty bottle,
"ENERGY (B + GUARANA)".


It is now currently 11:00 pm, exactly 10 hours after drinking 20 ounces of this liquid-crack in a lemonade costume, and I'm still twitching like a frightened poodle.


I wish I knew yoga or something.

I know many of you are saying, "You shouldn't use those plastic bottles anyway, they don't break down for something like eight-bazillion years." I know, I know. I saw on Discovery Channel the other day that a company in Ouray, CO is using plastic bottles out of corn starch, so maybe we're not completely doomed just yet. I (all joking aside) am concerned about our environment. Earth Hour is in less than two days, and I've just destroyed my "green" image with this post
. I try to justify it to my conscience by re-filling the bottle with water from the tap a few times, but I haven't really fooled anyone - this bottle will still be resting on the surface of the earth long after even the cockroaches have been wiped out. Maybe through my consumption of this uninvited stimulant, I've learned a lesson. As far as the contents of the bottle, I'm fairly sure you could convert any automobile to run on this ridiculous concoction without too much trouble at all.

Energy crisis solved.


.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"Earth Hour 2008" Event brings Global Awareness to Global Warming

Earth Hour is a grassroots event that started in Sydney, Australia on March 31, 2007, to bring about awareness about energy conservation and global warming. Everyone participating is asked to turn off all un-necessary appliances, lights, and other consumers of electricity for one measly hour, to make a statement about how we, as global citizens, can help reduce our environmental challenges.

The 2007 event resulted in 2.2 million Sydney residents and 2,100 businesses participating. Although this may at first seem like somewhat of a trivial activity, the event resulted in a 10.2% decrease in energy consumption for Sydney that day.

Earth Hour is March 29th, 2008 8:00 PM

For 2008, this event has become a global movement, sponsored by the World Wildlife Federation, with close to a quarter million registered participants across the world. Several other organizations have formed events revolving around this main one, including the National Dark Sky Association, who has designated March 29-April 4, 2008 for the 2008 National Dark-Sky Week Celebration.

To take part in the Earth Hour event, no action is necessary, other than turning off electricity on March 29th, 2008 at 8:00 pm (in your local time zone), although if you would like to be official, simple registration is available at
http://www.earthhour.org.

You can read much more at http://www.earthhour.org, and read about the National Dark-sky Week Celebration at http://www.spaceref.com/calendar/calendar.html?pid=4848


Help make a significant global statement this year by participating!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Center for Fine Art Photography
Opens New Gallery

Photo Credit: The Center for Fine Art Photography

After many months of hard work, long hours, and coordinated efforts, The Center for Fine Art Photography opened it's doors for the Grand Opening of the new facility in The Poudre River Arts Center in Fort Collins, CO, on Friday, March 7th, 2008.

The opening was done in conjunction with the Artist's and Public Reception for the 2008 Macro World Exhibition. The First-Friday Opening event was met with great enthusiasm, with over 400 visitors as well as eleven exhibiting artists in attendance.

The new facility has a coffee shop, classroom, digital and wet darkrooms, an outdoor courtyard, and a larger gallery. Read more about it here.

The Art of Photography - Cole Thompson

I just came across another video of
the photography of Cole Thompson.


Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Night Photography in Denver


Happy New Year!

My Christmas present to myself this year was a Singh-Ray Vari-ND filter. Unfortunately it is back ordered for a while, so my instant gratification itch wasn't scratched. I suppose I'll appreciate it more once I do get it.

The last few weeks I've had the urge to get out and do some night photography. Unfortunately my extreme distaste for sub-freezing weather at 5am has kept me close to home. I've gone through a couple dozen of those little hand-warmers. I've never shot in the city at night, and it has been an interesting pastime, although a sad replacement for the mystery of remote nocturnal wilderness. I found some good compositions, and also have been toying with the combination of the natural light of dawn combined with the tungsten, incandescent, and flourescent glow of civilization. The combination makes for some interesting colors.


I did a timelapse movie of this scene on a 5 degree morning; of the sun rising and people shuffling down the stairs on their way to work that came out pretty interesting. I'll likely post it soon. I'm looking for some good electronic music to put with it before I post it. (suggestions?) I have always thought about art as having music with it; a soundtrack of sorts. Most of my night-nature photos I think I would set to Massive Attack or some Native American music. There's also a song by the late Joe Strummer called "Long Shadow" that puts me back in the middle of the Utah desert at night. Now, with the timelapse video, music is a necessity, and the city's soundtrack is most certainly electronic...

This one's soundtrack would have to be "Skyway" by The Replacements. The song is permanently engrained in my brain from the '80's.