#7 Visit Colorado in the Summer

I have never taken two vacations in two months, but I think I could easily get use to this lifestyle.   Last month was Destin, Florida and this month is Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  Fortunately Steamboat is not close to any of the fires currently burning in Colorado so our vacation is proceeding as planned.

Steamboat Springs is a major winter ski destination and has actually produced more Olympic skiers than any other town in the United States.  Summer in Steamboat is a total blast.  For one thing, most of the lodging is 40-60% less than the winter rate.  To say our condo is nice is a total understatement.  Howelsen Place is an old building that was renovated about two years ago with condos on the second level and retail shops on the street level.  Here is a tour of our home for the week.

I loved that our condo was right in the middle of downtown making it so easy to stroll around the many galleries and stores.

Before we left home I had noticed that one of the downtown galleries was featuring a photography exhibit “A 50-Year Photography Retrospective” of Rod Hanna.  Since I am a little obsessed with anything photography related these days I definitely wanted to check this out.  When we entered the gallery we were greeted by a gallery docent who told us a little about the artist and much to our surprise mentioned that Rod Hanna was from Kansas City.  Additionally, in the late 60’s and early 70’s, Mr. Hanna was the official photographer of the Kansas City Chiefs.  Having a Kansas City connection to this amazing photographer was such a thrill.   I was totally in awe as I roamed the gallery looking at pictures of the beautiful Colorado landscape, documentary pictures taken when he was a newspaper photographer, pictures of the Chiefs during their Super Bowl win and even pictures of John Elway taken when he was the official photographer of the Denver Broncos.

To see Rod Hanna’s extraordinary photography, click here.  Next time I will be sharing some of the awesome activities available in the summer at Steamboat.  Until then I will be savoring my last night in Steamboat before heading to the real world.


It was a wonderful sunny day out today so I thought I would work on this week’s photo assignment which is simply “composition.”  The only thing I had on my mind was color.  I drove around our town a little yesterday trying to scout out some possible locations to shoot color but  all I could see were brown lawns, brown trees and beige houses.

Not very inspiring!

Then I remembered back a couple of years ago when I did a ride along with a Kansas City Police Sergeant during her overnight shift.   Officer R’s patrol area included downtown Kansas City along with Southwest Boulevard and the West Bottoms.  All of those areas are colorful in themselves in more ways than one.   As we were cruising along looking for unusual activity, (actually I think we were looking for Lucy the Skank, but that is a story in itself) Officer R had shown me some graffiti that was painted on some of the buildings in the area.  Of course, the building owners hated it, but the artistry was incredible.   With this thought in mind, I grabbed by faithful photo assistant and headed out of the safety of the ‘burbs for a more colorful part of town.  I briefly considered taking my friend the retired police captain with me (he has a gun) or at least Dakota,my daughter’s horse-dog, but I decided to be brave.  And for that bravery I was rewarded with color, lots of color.

I am certainly not condoning vandalism, but the detail around these elaborate works of art is stunning.  It was well worth a trip outside my comfort zone to get these photos.

A Man and his Harley

This week’s assignment in my photography class was to practice a technique called panning.  From a photography perspective, panning is a technique used to suggest fast motion and bring out the subject from other elements in the frame.   When I thought about a fast moving subject I could photograph the first thing that came to mind was Dave and his Harley.  I did not even need to ask twice for him to be part of this photo shoot!

To achieve this effect the photographer must move the camera along with the moving subject and the exposure must be relatively long to allow the background to blur.  The photo above was shot at a shutter speed of 1/60.  It also helps to use the continuous shooting mode on your camera which I had never used before trying this technique.   In high-speed continuous shooting mode my camera will take 8 shots per second….that is fast!  In the 30 minutes total that I spent shooting these photos over two different occasions, I took over 400 shots.  Boy am I glad we are in the digital photography age…..that would have been over 10 rolls of film to develop back in the old days.

Our instructor also wanted us to take some shots of the moving subject but keep the camera stationary so we could get a feel for the opposite effect of panning.    With the goal of panning to have your subject in focus and your background blurred, holding your camera stationary with the same type of shots will result in your subject blurred but your background in focus.  The photo below shows this type of shot.

This was a really fun assignment for me and one that I felt comfortable with since it was much more about the technical side than the creative side of photography.  Besides that, I ended up with some great shots of Dave and his motorcycle.  I think we might even have one or two (out of 400+) that is frame worthy!

While you are here, check out the new post on the ABC Dinner Club page….G is for Gaslight Grill.

Winter Walk

The weather was so nice today that Dave and I decided to take a quick walk before dinner.  Being the good student I am, I decided to bring my camera along just in case I saw anything picture worthy.  At the end of the block we decided to venture on to one of the several walking trails in our subdivision.  I have been on these trails several times over the fourteen years we have lived here, but not at all in the last two or three years due to my arthritis.   This particular trail is literally one block from our house and is probably my favorite.

This is what we saw as we walked.

I feel so fortunate to live in a subdivision that values nature and is willing to invest in the maintenance and upkeep of these areas.  Even with the starkness of winter, and the absence of color, the surrounding area was so peaceful and calming.

The trail is called Waterfall for a reason, there were no less than 6 places in the creek where the water was cascading over the large shale rock formations.  I wish I would have thought to take a short video so you could hear the rippling of the water.   I tried to take a picture of several of the falls but could not get a good vantage point as you can see in these next pictures.

Maybe when it is warmer outside I will wade into the creek, away from the brush and get a good waterfall picture.   Still a little too cold for that.

Possibly the best part of the outing was just the fact that I was able to go on this hour long walk.  The new hips worked perfectly.   The knees were yelling at me by the time I got home, and I am sure there is Aleve in my immediate future, but it was well worth getting back on the trails and being reminded of the natural beauty that is only a short block from my front door.

Creativity……or lack thereof

I am a left brained accountant who is logical and analytical.  I prefer structure and organization over randomness and unpredictability.  So why then, am I taking a creative photography class?

In my observation there are two types of photographers, the technical photographer and the artistic photographer.  The technical photographer will follow the rules they are taught and eventually learn how to make decent pictures.  The artistic photographer does not even think about the rules and creates incredible images.

As much as I long to be a creative photographer, I totally understand and have accepted my role.  I will learn the rules and attempt to make a decent picture.  I am ok with that…….Albert Einstein once said that the secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.   I have no problem aligning myself with Albert, another probable left brained human.

In our first class last week we were given two assignments:

  1.  Shots using depth of field – this is a technical task I can handle.  I understand the use of aperture to gain a shallow or long depth of field.
  2. Impressionistic shots – Say what?  One definition I have found of impressionism is “an art of immediacy and movement, of candid poses and compositions, of the play of light expressed in a bright and varied use of color.”   Huh?!?   Fortunately our instructor gave us some techniques to try or I would be at a total loss.

Here are a couple of my images with regard to a long depth of field.

Now two more illustrating a short depth of field.

Try not to laugh, here are the impressionistic shots.  My feeble attempt at “art.”

Right or wrong, left brained or right brained, I am loving this class.

MCP Project 12

One of my goals for 2012 is to grow my photography skills.  In an effort to put some structure into that goal,  I am taking a few classes, reading several books and I have also signed up for MCP Project 12.  This project is an on-line creation of MCP Actions and allows aspiring photographers an opportunity to improve their skills based on monthly assignments.  Each month MCP will post a theme and the participants will have a month to interpret and take photos to illustrate the theme.   This month’s theme is RESOLUTION.  That could mean a New Year’s resolution, or the resolution of a picture or many other things.

For me, RESOLUTION is related to my goals for the year.   I have developed some pretty lofty personal goals for 2012 and although I am not brave enough to specifically share those with the world (I know my track record in that area) I will share an overarching premise for those goals and that is to BELIEVE.

I believe I can achieve those goals by being mindful and put forth effort every day towards them.

I believe the quality of my life will be enriched by achieving those goals.

It is a little intimidating knowing my photographs will be looked at by others who know so much more about photography than I do, but I guess I need to start somewhere.  If you are also interested in growing your photography skills this year or just want to have some fun, check out the MCP site here and sign up for the project.

The Flood

Over the last two years I estimate that Dave and I have made the round-trip drive between home and Omaha about forty times.  This is what we would typically see in those northern Missouri fields, rows and rows of corn.

These are the images we have been seeing since June 15 when the Missouri river escaped its banks and flooded thousands of acres of farmland.  The next few pictures were taken driving south on I-29 at about 70 miles per hour just south of Rock Port.  (No, I was not driving and taking pictures.  Dave was driving, I was snapping photos.)  Have I mentioned how much I love my new camera?

It is very hard to get perspective on how wide spread the flooding actually is.  The next few pictures were taken on a bluff right at I-29 and highway 136.  This is the point where I-29 is shut down going north.   From as far as you can see, looking both south and north, water is everywhere.  It actually looks like you are viewing the ocean with the exception of the occasional tree, power pole and grain elevator sitting in the middle of the water.

It does appear the water is starting to recede some, but at the rate it is going they are predicting it could be next spring before the water is gone.  Life will not be back to normal for the folks who live there for a very long time due to the toll the flood has taken on the fields and the roads.  The next picture taken by the Iowa Department of Transportation shows what I-29 looks like now just north of Omaha.

This is not going to be any quick fix.  Repairs to the interstate and county roads currently under water could take years.  The next two pictures were passed on to me by a co-worker.  These fields in Iowa have been farmed by generations of one family.  The devastation is unbelievable.  Not sure you could recover from this.

The power of nature is breathtaking.

Pics with the new camera

I am having so much fun taking pictures with my new camera.   This is one of the first shots I took just hours after the camera was delivered.

Here are some other pictures I took over the course of the weekend.


Most everyone was a good sport about getting their pictures taken, however some were starting to get a little cranky.





Sorry Steve, I will try not to be so annoying in the future.

Check out the new post on the ABC Dinner Club page.  Talk with you all later!!!


My New Toy

I just ordered a new Canon EOS 7D camera along with an 18-135mm zoom and a 50mm f/1.4 lens and I cannot wait for it to be delivered.  This camera is well beyond my current ability as a photographer but I have always been a big believer in rising to the occasion.

For one short semester when I was in college I was a graphics art major with a large interest in photography.  My dad had an old 35mm camera that had been given to him and he said I could use it to take a photography class.   The first few weeks of the class the camera performed perfectly and I was able to complete my assignments.  On the week we learned to use the darkroom our instructor had us practice by opening our cameras, removing a practice roll of film, threading the film into the developing reel, then putting the reel into the air tight processing canister.  Once we felt comfortable doing this, he had us practice with our eyes shut.   The thought was that when we mastered this we would then be able to get our own exposed film into the developing canisters in the pitch black developing rooms.

(For you young’uns out there, back in the old days we had to develop our film into negatives by using a chemical process, then we made prints from the negatives by using an enlarger, printing paper and more chemicals. )

During our practice sessions I had no problems with this process, however the first time I was in the developing room by myself, where it was so dark I could not see my hand in front of my face, I did not fare as well.  I got the back of the camera opened, but when I attempted to get the film out, I was tugging on something I thought was the film but turned out to be part of the shutter.  Needless to say, I destroyed the camera’s ability to ever again take pictures.

I remember calling my dad in tears and wondering how I was  going to be able to finish my class because “this old camera” he had lent me had broken.  I am pretty sure I never mentioned that the “broken” part was totally my doing.  He said he would he would see if he could find another camera for me to borrow.

The next day my parents showed up at my sorority house.  I remember that it must have been close to Valentine’s Day because my mom was holding a heart shaped cake she had baked for me.  Food was always her way of making someone feel better.  I am pretty sure I am still paying for that philosophy today, but that is a story entirely in itself.  My dad had in his possession a brand new Canon AE-1 35mm camera that he had bought just for me.   In 1977 the AE-1 was very popular for the serious amateur photographer in the SLR market.    Owning a camera like this was well beyond any expectations I had up to this point in my life.  And yes, I was pretty spoiled growing up.

The AE-1 served me well through 2 more photography classes while in college, a couple of adult education photography classes and several years after that.   At some point we started collecting digital cameras in our household and used them for the obligatory picture taking situations.  Although we have a high end point and shoot camera that allows for manual settings, there is just no substitute for a true SLR with a fast lens.

Over the past several months I have been on a self education process to re-learn photography in the digital age.  There is so much technology to learn on the camera itself, let alone the post production possibilities with photoshop.   I hope this old brain can process all this new information.   So far I am having a blast.  Now if that new camera would just hurry up and arrive…….