Escalator from Heaven

This past week, my Architectural Photography class took a field trip to the Denver Art Museum. It rained and rained all day, but luckily we were inside shooting the architecture and enjoying a couple new photography exhibits. On that trip, I noticed the traffic speeding past me beneath the 13th Street Bridge that connects the Hamilton Building to the North Building of the museum. I found a wonderful window that had a screen attached, and it was covered in rain. Then I started shooting. I found the spot I most enjoyed that day!

Rain, we don’t often get much of that in Colorado but it is beautiful when we do. It helps our drought issues, eliminates fire dangers in our state, and gives us that interesting light and air quality that transports us to other cities like Atlanta or San Francisco, where the residents experience this beauty more often.

Next time it rains, look at the quality of light as it reflects off the wet pavement, or any surface. Notice the headlight reflections on 13th Street. There is something quite exquisite in the shapes, and gradations of highlight to mid-tone values. In a moment of peace between red lights I noticed a single man, braving the rain, and he appeared to step down from the heavens. Then I noticed the chaos of the ghost cars turned in every direction behind him. I love reflections for all the surprises and stories you can find.

Speaking of rain, and atmosphere and snow and everything wonderful that Mother Nature provides, check out the work of one of my favorites, Alfred Stieglitz. Mr. Stieglitz was a giant in photography, someone who gets his very own lecture in my History of Photography class! His images of snow New York give you a real sense of how cold the city is in winter, and the adverse weather he ignored to make the most beautiful of images.

So next time it rains, or snows, don’t hide inside, grab your camera (and a handy trash bag to cover said camera), and go shoot! Or, find that nearest window and watch the magic happen. Capture some of that beautiful atmosphere in your own images!

Afternoon Rush
Afternoon Rush
Escalator from Heaven
Escalator from Heaven

The Picture Story

This week, and last, I am covering a subject that I really love in my history of photography class, photojournalism. The visual language that is photography often has the most impact with the viewer when we see images of current events, celebrations, far away places, and it gives us a greater power to connect. We feel emotion, oftentimes sadness and empathy for a crisis, or pure joy when we see something beautiful such as a happy reunion.

I’ve paid a lot of attention to numerous photo essays online, and continue to do so when reading the news online. These photo essays are collections of images that a photographer makes to tell a story, in the midst of crisis or calamity, or in times of happiness and prosperity. So many times, I find myself reviewing the images over and over, cycling from one to the next, and back again as I find these images so compelling. These are the images that touch us, make us think, move us to action, and effect change. These are the great photographers who put themselves in harms way to tell someone else’s story.

In my history discussion, I go back, way back, to the times before today’s modern convenience of instant images, transmitted instantly through the Internet. I enjoy discussing the early “picture stories” in publications such as Life magazine, and the efforts of Henry Luce who said, “In this new publication, words and pictures should be partners.” The first issue of Life magazine came out on November 23rd, 1936, and Margaret Bourke-White’s image of the Fort Peck Dam graced the cover. Check it out. It really is striking!

I remember this great class I took while in college, it was called The Picture Story. It was a photojournalism course that taught us how to tell stories in images, and all the ins and outs of magazine layout. I had this wonderful opportunity to make series of images of local events like the seafood festival, a jazz festival, and a Shakespeare in the Park event. Then, I got to visit a local nursing home, befriend an older woman who was a double amputee, and photograph her day – physical therapy, entertainment and company. She was a doll, and I remember her name, Thelma Grant. I also had this great opportunity to do some night shooting at a local youth fair. My mom recently reminded me of this image, so I dug it out and scanned it. This image was made on Kodak T-Max 3200 speed film with my old Nikon FM. What fun, and what joy and determination in the faces of these kids! Wow, this was over 20 years ago…these kids are probably grown with kids of their own!

Let the tough images that move you, move you to kindness, and let the joyful images give you a burst of out loud laughter!

Jaycee Youth Fair - SCAD Picture Story Project
Jaycee Youth Fair – SCAD Picture Story Project


“Specimen: An individual animal, plant, piece of a mineral, etc., used as an example of its species or type for scientific study or display.” – Oxford English Dictionary

An idea generates, inspiration is found, images are made, and more expansion on said idea begins to happen, more photos in the works! When did all this come to fruition? Last year, I learned that our local Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center would be hosting a Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition this year. I hope you all had the chance to see it before it wrapped on September 20th. As an instructor as Bemis School of Art, I started to work on developing some courses that would compliment the exhibit and dove into a bunch of research on Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz. During that time I was inspired to create images with skulls, so that led me to start looking for skulls anywhere I could find them. I searched antique shops, estate sales, and bought some of the best off Craigslist!

What are you looking at? Well, this a ram, and I bought this ram from a man in Lafayette, CO who told me he found it while elk hunting 20 years ago and hiked it out over 5 miles! It’s pretty darn heavy, so he must have really wanted it! Well, so did I. It is an interesting and beautiful specimen, and I am photographing this skull and all the other skulls I’ve collected in hopes that my images will help to revere these marvelous animals. I imagine them as ghosts, and each can tell a story of a life lived.

So, this is a project about skulls and the majestic animals they represent. However, it has expanded a bit to include the “plant” part of the specimen definition as well, so stay tuned. Plants, and animals, and even some other natural elements that represent both will round out this new body of work. It’s a lot of fun, and eventually, I’ll have a nice batch of work to add to this website as a new portfolio.

This image was made using a Cambo 4×5 studio camera, a Schneider/Kreuznach 210mm lens, and Ilford HP5 4×5 black and white film. My settings were f/16 at 1/250 at ISO 400. The HP5 was processed in Kodak HC-110 Dilution B. Stay tuned, as I have a lot of ideas for this portfolio.

Ram Skull/Studio shot - Specimens
Ram Skull/Studio shot – Specimens

Eggs, Glorious Eggs!

Sometimes it’s just the simplest things that create inspiration and necessitate the making of a photograph. How about eggs? These wonderfully curved, ovoid shaped delicacies are quite elegant to look at, however, even better to eat. But, before we do that, let’s photograph them! I took this opportunity to make some egg images the other day. A fun time in my studio with strobe lights and delicate little white and blue egg cups. Some time spent playing with composition, selective focus and lighting, then I had it. A shot I liked, so I decided to share it!

This shot also reminded me why I always – always – ask my students to bring in hard-boiled eggs if they plan to incorporate eggs into their studio shots. I didn’t take my own advice, and as a bounce card tipped over I watched one of my eggs slowing roll off my table and, SPLAT, onto my studio floor! I couldn’t react; it was slow motion at its best. I laughed and laughed, and said to myself, “You won’t be able to require hard boiled eggs from your students without fessing up this little mess!”

For those that might be interested, I shot this with my Nikon D810, 105mm, f/2.8 at 1/160 sec, ISO 100. I love the delicate feel and the glow behind my front egg! And, this has inspired me to take a little photo exploration into the organic! More food – pears, pumpkins, gourds and more! So, stay tuned as I explore all the nuances of the healthy side of eating!

All this talk about eggs gets me to thinking about my favorite, childhood book, Green Eggs and Ham, by none other than, Dr. Seuss. My mom tells me she read this book cover to cover, night after night, and still knows it by heart! What a wonderful book, and I still have my original, tattered copy. Now, maybe that might make an interesting abstract photo!

Until next week, eat healthy, enjoy your breakfast, and let your food be your inspiration!

Eggs, Glorious Eggs!
Eggs, Glorious Eggs!

The Changes in the Seasons

How beautiful it is to watch these purple and lavender flowers all summer, climbing the side of my backyard deck. This image is my last clematis flower of the season. Only my late summer roses are continuing to bloom in the backyard, as the evening temperatures begin to drop.

You know, there is something wonderful about watching the light change as we change seasons. It’s a fact, light is whiter in the summer, in photographic terms, and shadows are shorter. Conversely, light is redder in the winter months. The sun travels a greater distance through the atmosphere, and the light scatters more. But, this light has a positive effect on our photography, giving us beautiful golden shafts of light, and a greater richness too. Clear blue skies in winter mean it is colder and crisper outside. So, don those fingerless gloves and get the cameras out when the temperatures are 32 degrees!

Speaking of flowers, I have to share two of my favorite photographers from history who have beautiful flower portfolios. Imogene Cunningham, a female photographer whose counterparts were Edward Weston and Ansel Adams among other greats in the medium. And, Robert Mapplethorpe, a sometimes-controversial image-maker whose work often shocked the establishment. Take a look at their flowers and see the exquisite beauty in nature. Notice the symmetry and tiny details that their photography reveals. Their work is quite inspiring, and hopefully will inspire you, too, to take a closer look at those blooms in your own backyard!

My “Last of the Clematis Vine Blooms” was shot with a Nikkor 105mm macro lens at f/6.3, 1/250 sec., at 100 ISO. Always on a tripod for these types of shots, and mirror lock-up and a shutter release, for all my students out there who hear me harp on this often!

Last of the Clematis Vine Blooms Fall 2015

With the changes in this season, come the colors of autumn! It’s about that time to head into the hills for some vivid yellows, reds and oranges! Don’t forget to pack those fingerless gloves!

Trying Out the New D810 on a Big Backcountry Hike with the Girls

Welcome to my new website! I’m glad you decided to stop by and take a stroll through my portfolio of work. I enjoy teaching photography, so I thought I might use this blog as a way to showcase my new images and talk about photography, everything photography, from history to technical tips. Sometimes my images posted here will be meant for a new portfolio and fine art limited-edition prints, sometimes they are just plain fun shots, and occasionally, they may be inspired by someone in photo history, or a new, amazing technical tip I learn and want to pass along.

Since I do love dogs, and I have a dog portfolio on the website, and a constant image bank of dogs in the works, I thought I’d share a ‘just plain fun’ shot to begin with. I recently took a big backcountry hike up the Crags with my husband, and girls, Olive and Maggie. They were sporting their new ©Ruffwear backpacks, and lending a hand carrying their own treats, water and extra supplies up the climb! It was a beautiful, blue sky, Colorado day! Perfect for a hike and the great outdoors!

The Girls at the Crags
The Girls at the Crags

For all my gear-head photo friends out there, I took this shot with my Nikon D810, 70-300mm at 110mm, f/16 at 1/160 sec. maybe a bit slow, as I have a bit of joyful movement in their heads! Kind of looks like an ad for ©Ruffwear! Maybe I should give them a call?

For fun, I’ll also add in a bit of history of photography trivia, as anyone who knows me, knows I can talk an awful lot about that subject! So, today in photographic history, let’s see, today is September 21, 1953, oops 2015, but in 1953, Life Magazine published a cover story called “My Daughter Juanita” by W. Eugene Smith (amazing photojournalist!). This was considered a pretty major autobiographical effort by a photojournalist in this history of photography.

And, finally, my history of photography students know how much I love to talk about these guys, and their words of wisdom on photography! Here goes one of my favorites,

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”  – Ansel Adams (1902-1984)

Skip to content