Brush Creek Art Foundation
I have always dreamed of having the concentrated time in a place where I have the ability to study the light and to return to the same spot to photograph. In the past when shooting our west I was on a tight schedule and if lucky the light was right and I was able to produce a memorable photo. The Brush Creek Residency gave me the ability to return to the same places and get a feel for the different conditions allowing me to come up with entirely different approaches to the same location.
Please give me a Snowfall
The first two weeks of the residency gave me beautiful dramatic skies over trees and rock. I really wanted to shoot during a snowfall. I went out early one morning and drove into the mountains. In Wyoming there are two types of roads, paved highways and dirt. Whenever possible which out there is most of the time, I chose dirt. This day dirt was again my choice. I drove until the road dead-ended. I stopped and decided to hike and explore the area. On the way back to the car the snow began to flurry and then began to fall heavily. Check out the Brush Creek Portfolio to see more from that experience.
When shooting land-forms I often see faces, animals or other life forms. I have photographed rocks that remind me of my grandfather (check out the one above), famous politicians, important historical figures, fictional characters and a multitude of animals, a snakes mouth and even ET.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
I left Wyoming on the last day in February and drove to Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado (about 350 miles). The drive took the bulk of the day but I did arrive before sunset giving me enough time to venture out onto the dunes. I have been there a couple of times but always in the summer, this was my first winter trip. The park is about 150,000 acres of huge mountain sized mounds of sand. The weather and light change throughout the day and with that change the dunes seem to change form and shape.
Weather changes quickly so one should always be prepared for almost anything. This time when I arrived the temperature was in the 50’s but once I started climbing the temperature began to quickly drop and the winds began to gain more force. I love shooting during these weather events. I try not to allow weather to dictate what I shoot and actually prefer shooting in moody weather then on bright sunny days. Light and form dictate. It is those two things that make for the drama of the photo.
More of these photos are in the Sand Dunes Portfolio.
Bisti Badlands Wilderness Area, New Mexico
For years I have been reading mystery novels by Tony Hillerman that take place in Bisti Badlands. I am always intrigued by his descriptions of the area and the mysteries they behold. Finding the entrance to this wilderness area is not easy. My car has GPS but that was very little help since there was no listing for it when I tried to type in the location. I was able to locate Bloomfield New Mexico on Highway 550 which I knew from research was the closest town. The road is pretty much devoid of civilization, little traffic, almost no gas stations, fast food joints, cross road or even signs. The speed limit when posted was 70 mph. Any vehicles on the road were going substantially faster. Finally while driving up a fairly steep portion of the road I saw a small sign that said, “Bisti Badlands Wilderness 1/4 mile. When I reached that point I expected to see something, a sign pointing down a road, something that would alert me as to where to turn, I saw nothing and by now I was actually driving below the speed limit. I drove another mile and then seeing no turnoffs I made a u turn and creeped back until I reached where the 1/4mile should have been and noticed a very small dirt road with a cattle guard. I followed the dirt road for a few miles staying on the main part even though it forked 2 or 3 times. Finally I found a small unmarked area that looked like a good place to leave my car. Once I got out I saw a fence with a small 5x7 sign saying:
“Bisti Wilderness Area, Travel at your own risk, trails are not marked”
There was an opening in the fence for hikers to walk thru and I was off. At first I followed the footprints of other’s hiking boots and then I noticed that somone had built small rock piles called Cairns along the way to mark their path. I figured this was pretty cool and that I would be able to easily follow them back to the parking area when I was done my hike.
A few minutes later a couple of other
hikers came along my path and said that they had been following my foot
prints. We continued along together climbing a hill. I stayed on the
hill admiring the view and shooting photos for awhile but still wanted
to explore more of the area. We agreed to meet an hour later in order to
walk back to the cars together. I climbed down and began my walk.
The landscape was what I imagine the moon must look like except the colors were amazingly saturated.
When I returned to meet my new hiking buddies we all decided to stay to see the sunset. Had I been alone I would have headed back to the car before dark but with my hiking companions I decided to stay. It was an incredible sunset and even more magical moon rise. The moon came up over one of the hills and then 5 minutes later ducked behind a thick cloud cover and we were plunged into total darkness.
We started back in the dark with only the flashlights on our phones. Unfortunatel we walked right by the first rock Cairn. We were wandering around in the dark for about 30 minutes when on of the other guys remembered that he had marked the location on his telephone GPS. At that point it became easier to relocate the parking area. A couple of lessons were learned, be prepared, carry a good flashlight and you can only get the photo if you are there.