Blog

Shooting your hometown

Feels good to get out and make some photos.  It's been cold here in Colorado and we've had a lot of snow.  We had a few nice days of sunlight and I decided to take advantage of that by going out and shooting.

Wellington Webb Building, Denver, Colorado

Wellington Webb Building, Denver, Colorado

Taking the time and shooting your hometown is a good way to stay sharp, testing your metering skills as well as perhaps some new equipment. I spent about an hour walking around downtown before sunset and came up with a few nice images.  I then went up to a favorite spot to shoot a cityscape.

Denver Public Library

Denver Public Library

Parking garage for the Denver Convention Center

Parking garage for the Denver Convention Center

Denver Center for the Performing Arts Complex

Denver Center for the Performing Arts Complex

Detail, Preforming Arts Complex

Detail, Preforming Arts Complex

The following cityscape involves an in camera double exposure.  The moon was rising out of the frame to the left, I first made the exposure for the moon and then the city.

In camera, double exposure.

In camera, double exposure.

Valley of Fire Mentor Series Trek

April 17-19, 2016

April 17-19, 2016

Join me this April for a fantastic Mentor Series Trek to the Valley of Fire.  Located in the Mojave Desert just about 60 miles from Las Vegas, NV. The Valley of Fire gets it name for the magnificent sandstone formations that appear to be on fire when reflecting in the sun rays. 

There is also a Pre-Trek Exclusive:  This is only open to 6 people the day before the trek actually starts. Join me for an evening photographing scenic stops along the Las Vegas strip.  We'll be shooting the Bellagio fountains, mega hotels, neon signs and its dramatic architecture. We'll be ending the evening at a special location which will provide panoramic views of this iconic location, it also includes welcome cocktail and a digital review session.  This extra "Pre-Trek" is only open to 6 persons and costs only $450.00 Contact the Mentor Series for more details.

Mentor Series, India 2015

Varanasi, India

Varanasi, India

I've recently returned from a fantastic Mentor Series Trek to India, what a fabulous adventure. We started off in Delhi, visiting Asia's largest mosque "Jama Masjid", took pedicab or rickshaw tour of Old Delhi visiting spice and silver markets. We also visited the beautiful Sikh Temple "Bangla Sahib Gurudwara", one of my favorite sites in Delhi.

Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, Delhi, India

Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, Delhi, India

Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, Delhi, India

Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, Delhi, India

Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, Delhi, India

Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, Delhi, India

Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, Delhi, India

Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, Delhi, India

From Delhi, we then flew to Varanasi, one of the holiest of all Indian sites. Varanasi is situated on the west bank of the Ganges or Ganga River.  Life on the banks of the Ganga begins before dawn when thousands of pilgrims, come down to the river to wait for the rising sun and immersion in the sacred river.

Morning at the Ghat

Morning at the Ghat

Offering prayers and floating tiny candles on the river

Offering prayers and floating tiny candles on the river

Candle offerings for the departed

Candle offerings for the departed

Immersion in the sacred river

Immersion in the sacred river

The Aarti Ceremony

The Aarti Ceremony

Varanasi Sadhu

Varanasi Sadhu

Varanasi Sadhu

Varanasi Sadhu

Varanasi is the most remarkable place I have ever been, I'm very thankful to have seen such a place. just amazing!

We next flew to Agra, home of the fabulous Taj Mahal.  This beautiful structure was completed in 1625, it's actually a mausoleum for the beloved queen and wife of Emperor Shah Jehan.

In camera double exposure

In camera double exposure

Taj Mahal, Agra

Taj Mahal, Agra

Taj Mahal, Agra

Taj Mahal, Agra

Taj Mahal, Agra

Taj Mahal, Agra

From Agra, we traveled by bus to Jaipur. This was about a 250 mile drive site seeing along the way, stopping at the Chand Baori Step Well. Towns used step wells to gather water and also to socialize with local town folks.

Chand Baori Step Well

Chand Baori Step Well

Chand Baori Step Well

Chand Baori Step Well

Chand Baori Step Well

Chand Baori Step Well

Jaipur is home to the Amer Fort, which use to be the capital for 6 centuries before Jaipur was built, Jaipur is only 9 miles south.

Amer Fort, Jaipur, India

Amer Fort, Jaipur, India

Amer Fort, Jaipur, India

Amer Fort, Jaipur, India

Amer Fort, Jaipur, India

Amer Fort, Jaipur, India

Amer Fort, Jaipur, India

Amer Fort, Jaipur, India

Amer Fort, Jaipur, India

Amer Fort, Jaipur, India

Another fun place we visited for Pushkar. Pushkar is world famous for Camel Fair, the largest in the world. Cattle traders from all over Rajasthan and neighboring states converge here to buy and ell camels and horses.

Pushkar Camel Fair

Pushkar Camel Fair

Pushkar Camel Fair

Pushkar Camel Fair

Pushkar Camel Fair

Pushkar Camel Fair

Pushkar Camel Fair

Pushkar Camel Fair

Jodhpur was next on our list of locations to visit.  Jodhpur is home to what is know as the Blue city which is just below the impressive Mehrangarh Fort. This fort was constructed sometime in the 1450's.  

Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, India

Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, India

Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, India

Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, India

The Blue City, Jodhpur, India

The Blue City, Jodhpur, India

The Blue City, Jodhpur, India

The Blue City, Jodhpur, India

The Blue City, Jodhpur, India

The Blue City, Jodhpur, India

Jaswant Thada, Jodhpur

Jaswant Thada, Jodhpur

Jaswant Thada, Jodhpur

Jaswant Thada, Jodhpur

Jaswant Thada, Jodhpur

Jaswant Thada, Jodhpur

Jaswant Thada, Jodhpur

Jaswant Thada, Jodhpur

Before leaving Jodhpur for Delhi for our return flight to the States, several of us on the trek went to a wedding.  Next to our hotel, a small town was holding a celebration of two couples getting married. You might say we were wedding crashers.... invited by them of course.

Wedding celebration, Jodhpur, India

Wedding celebration, Jodhpur, India

Wedding celebration, Jodhpur, India

Wedding celebration, Jodhpur, India

Wedding celebration, Jodhpur, India

Wedding celebration, Jodhpur, India

What a wonderful trip, truly a trip of a lifetime!  My next Mentor Series adventure is to Vietnam is coming March.  If you would like to join me, you can find more information at the Mentor Series Web Site.

Paragliding Portrait

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Recently my wife went out of town on a week long holiday, leaving me home to look after the house and pets. Knowing that I was grounded for the week, I wanted to do some personal shooting for my book.  I contacted a paragliding company and asked if I could do a portrait of one of their instructors.  As it turned out, Jason Ely, owner of Tandem Paragliding in Golden, Colorado agreed to model for me.

I scouted a location near where they fly using Google Maps and agreed to meet up with Jason at 7pm, about a half hour before sunset.  As it turned out, Jason was running late due to student flyers and arrived about 90 seconds before the sunset.  I was hoping to get a few shots with the sun over his shoulder.  I am the sort of shooter that likes to be well prepared, set and ready to go just in case something happens.

Jason's van pulled into the parking lot with only moments before sunset, I had never met Jason so thing were a bit rushed. I yelled down the hill to him to run his ass off and get up to my location.  We no proper greeting at this moment, we pulled out the parasail and had him position himself where I marked out a spot.  Looking at my metadata, I got 9 shots off in 90 seconds before the sun went behind the mountains.

Once the sun went behind the mountains, we shook hands and greeted each other properly.  Only then did I learn he had a helmet and other gear to use as props.  It was rushed at the start, and we were able to make several more shots like the one above.  I image below is the third shot of the nine I took before the sun set behind the mountains.

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I used a 48" FourSquare™ Softbox with 4 Nikon Speedlight inside the box. The power was set to about 1/8 power of each flash, which indicates that I could have achieved the same light with only one flash using a higher power.  Using several flashes at a lower power allows me faster recycle time. Here is the set up shot.

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With Love and Support

Life as a corporate photographer is interesting, exciting and most certainly challenging.  Over the past 30 years I have traveled the world shooting corporate annual reports for all sorts of industry.

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I was born in Southern California, and spent about 20 some odd years there.  When I joined the airlines in the mid 1970's as a flight attendant, I was based for a short time here in Denver.  I liked Denver for the quality of life aspects as well as the 4 seasons.  In California we had two seasons tourists and no tourists or parking spaces or no parking spaces. The seasonal changes were something new to me and I really came to enjoy them, more then today.  Now the winters seem longer, and the summers hotter.

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When I chose to start my business, Denver was my first and only choice.  I was less concerned about business opportunities and more interested in life style.  As it turned out, Denver had a pretty good business climate. Denver had and has, a strong Oil & Gas (energy sector), and Mining community with many Fortune 500 companies headquarters or had major office's here.

When I started in business in 1983, the economy was in the crapper, and intramuscular, the oil and gas sector tanked, which hurt a lot of shooters and other business. Most people would say that I choice a bad time to open a business, what did I know, I just wanted to shoot. Actually, I thought it was a perfect time to start, I had only one way to go, UP.  Other shooters in town had lost a lot of jobs, yet I had no jobs to lose.  Listen, I'm not saying that it was easy, it was damn hard starting a business. But when you are passionate about your "life's work" you will make it... you persevere.

Being a new business owner I had to wear a lot of hats, I had to do the marketing (cold calls), book keeping as well as the creative. You can spread yourself rather thin with so many things to look after. I could not have gotten to where I am today without the love and support of so many people.

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It started with the love and support of my parents, believing and trusting in me. My dad was a company man an engineer not an entrepreneur, being self employed seemed risky to him. It thrilled me as the year went on to see my dad shake his head with a smile on his face saying "I don't know how you do it" I know, I made him proud.

Not only was I lucky to have found my life's work, I was also was extremely fortunate to have met and married the most wonderful person on earth. Deb and I have been together for around 29 years, we'll be celebrating our 25th anniversary next year.  There is no way in hell I could have succeeded to the extent that I have, without the love and support of my dear wife.  While I was traveling the world on assignment, she was holding down the fort, raising our son and running the business in my absence.  I recall one year, being on the road around 170 days.  I was always worried about the time away from home, she on the other hand, worried about the places I was traveling. There were times in the Mid 1990's when traveling in South America, I did that a lot, where there were real risks. The Shining Path Guerrillas in Peru were kidnapping people, bombing buildings and causing all sorts of worries.  I often traveled with armed guards, supplied by clients while working assignments. As I mentioned, it was the time away not the locations that bothered me the most. Those worrisome assignment make for some great stories, exciting at the time, but just stories now.

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Please take a moment and think about and acknowledge the people in your life that have supported your efforts and pursuits. Make sure you provide that same commitment and support for their interests as well. I guess you know where I'm coming from, I am so internally greatful for all the support I've received over the years.

What Does the Future Hold?

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I'm turning 60 years old in a few days and I'm a bit taken back by that fact.  I usually don't pay attention to birthdays, but this one certainly has my attention.  I've been reflecting a lot these past several months about my career and the various choices I've made over the past 30 plus years as a professional photographer.

I'm very fortunate that I selected a profession that has been creatively satisfying and challenging to me.  After reading the last sentence, I'm not certain that I selected this profession rather photography selected me.

Back some 36 years ago, I was working as a flight attendant for a major airline. Back in the days when a complete meals were served on flights as short as 1 hour.  I use to pass out pillow, blankets and magazines and often recited the old saying "a smile in every window and an ass in every seat".  

It's strange how life works out, I would have never guessed that working a flight from Kansas City to Denver would change my life forever.  This is actually how I got into professional photography as a career.  On that flight seated in first class, was a very well know photographer named Joe Baraban.  I really didn't know him, but strangely I knew his work (more about that later).  The passenger load on that flight was very light and my fellow flight attendants saw that this was an important meeting for me and they suggested I not work the flight and continue my conversation with Joe.  Thank you!

I remember asking Joe what type of clients he shot for, he Budweiser, Dewar's Scotch, Exxon, Shell etc.  I knew he was a heavy weight shooter and that he must be a great shooter. He asked me if I had every seen a CA (Communications Arts) magazine before, I lied and told him that I had and that I read it all the time.  Where in fact, I actually only had seen one issue before, I actually bought it because of the photography featured in the issue.  Joe noted that CA had recently featured him in the magazine, I asked Joe what the cover photograph was on the issue he was featured in.  You see, back in the 1980's, CA used a photograph on the cover of the magazine from the photographer who was featured in the issue.

Joe described the photograph and I was floored!  The one and only issue of CA I had every seen & owned was Joe's work.  I bought that issue because, it was the first time I had seen "commercial photograph" as Art.  What are the chances that seated before me is that same artist "photographer" that impressed me so much as to buy this one CA magazine. Crazy!  Here is the CA magazine.

CA Cover.png

The day Joe was on my flight, I had my portfolio with me.  My portfolio at the time consisted of Rocks & Trees, I was an Ansel Adams fan and shot only black and white scenics.  I asked Joe about photography as a career, and weather or not you can make a living at it.  I didn't know.  He suggested that I work for a photographer to learn the business.  I asked if I could go on an assignment with him to watch him work, he said that would be fine and asked that I call the studio in Houston to make arrangements.

Long story short, after about 2 months of assisting Joe on various assignments he ask me to work for him full time.  I received a 3 month leave of absence from the airlines and moved to Houston. I worked for Joe for about a year and a half before leaving Houston and opening my business here in Denver back in 1983.

With my 60th birthday upon me, I wonder what future has in-store for me?  Be open at all times, you just don't know what might happen!  Peace out.