#Monday Mantra ~ Week #2

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I woke up this morning feeling completely unprepared to meet a # Monday Mantra deadline. I apparently committed myself to a 52 week challenge a week ago and here I am on week #2 like a kid who didn’t study for the test. No worries, my Mantra materialized in the most organic way, through improvisation.  Lately, my life has been about as predictable as the wind and I’m just going with it.  I’m learning a lot of lessons about being flexible and looking for the positive things that I didn’t anticipate.

Ok, so I’m getting a bit of interest from others who like the idea and want to participate…this is exciting! I’m hoping that you will share your Monday Mantra in the comments below. It can be something that you have written or it can be a quote from another person, in which case credit should be given to the author. To give the other readers a little bit of context, I hope you will share a few words about the significance of the Mantra to you personally. Other than that, I’m a firm believer that rules are made to be broken. Hopefully, we will end up with a page full of interactive inspiration that all will benefit from.

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Big Dry Creek

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“As If It’s Your Last”

Autumn’s procession is finally moving along here in Denver and at a pretty good pace. The Flora is now shedding its summer sweater with apparent haste and the colors are not lingering like they do in a more average year. Is there a blanket of snow in our immediate future?

Yesterday morning, I left the house before sunrise, on foot and carrying my heavy equipment pack and tripod. My stride had purpose as I could see that there was a clearing in the cloud cover along the eastern horizon and I was anticipating a beautiful sunrise. I had to hurry to get to the spot that I envisioned, a walking path bridge along a small creek. At a busy street crossing, the “Walk” sign began flashing green and I stepped off the curb to resume my cadence, something was terribly wrong. The Driver of a pickup truck let his foot off the break and was slowly but surely pressing the accelerator, oblivious to my existence.  I found myself literally sprinting away from the oncoming hood and to any witnesses it probably looked something like the running of the bulls. At some point, the driver acknowledged his blunder slammed on his brakes. If I had been unable to get out of the way or if he had been any more hasty, I would have been run over.

The scene was pretty bizarre. I stood stunned in the middle of a busy intersection with my eyes locked on to the “bull”. He had rolled down his window and was yelling something to me. Was it an apology or was he claiming that I was in the wrong? I’ll never know. I turned away from confrontation and had to run to get out of the street before the light changed and the rest of the people had an opportunity to finish me off. I was soon walking down the tranquil foot path pondering how close I came to meeting a very unglamorous end.  I smiled uncontrollably and used the F word a number of times in my head as I coached myself back to my assignment, to capture a gorgeous sunrise as if it were my last.

Reflection of Big Dry Creek Pathway

Reflections of Big Dry Creek Pathway

Mantra Monday

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So…What do you think about a 52 week Mantra Monday Challenge?  Each Monday, I select a photo from the week before, add words of encouragement to it and send it off in cyberspace like a fortune cookie on steroids.  Let me know what you think?

Tammy and I ran up to Estes Park yesterday in search of fall colors.  Too far north and too high in elevation, we were obviously late to the party.  It was quite an effort to find meaningful images.  In comparison to the abundant material that I’ve recently been accustomed to, I found myself struggling to get excited about what I was shooting.  Then, Tammy spotted the tree that would not quit, the tree that holds fast to its brilliance long after the others have surrendered to the oncoming winter.

Alexander Supertramp And The Great Northwest ~ Final Chapter

Atnarko BLOG

We awoke to the music of the Atnarko River, its rhythm throbbing with life. It’s a wonderful joy to wake up so excited about exploring a beautiful place that you’ve never been before. At first light, I ducked through the small camper doorway and scampered down the steps, Camera in hand and bear spray on my hip. Bears before breakfast? We only had one neighbor in the campground, a couple who we had met the previous evening. They were in a hard sided truck camper and pulled a trailer with a canoe and what looked like every camping gadget imaginable. I had beat them to the punch and I stood all alone on the banks of the river. The low morning sun streamed through the forest, illuminating the mist that hovered the surface of the water and the Salmon that spawned below. All alone, I stood there and marveled at being in one of the worlds most beautiful places without throngs of tourists.

Salmon Run

Salmon Run

Tagging Salmon

Tagging Salmon

During our four day visit to the Bella Coola Valley, we quickly became acquainted with a cast of characters whom we would bump into repeatedly while searching for Grizzlies. In no time at all, we were on a first name basis with the couple I previously mentioned, then there was the young couple from Vancouver and a German Couple who had been there for a week and had not seen a bear. We also got to know the river guides, the forestry agent and few other locals who completed our network and steered us toward places to go and things to see. From everything we gathered, it was determined that we were a week to ten days early for the full swing Salmon feeding season.

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Our Bear Guide, Fraser

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“Root Bear Float”

Ultimately, I didn’t find in Bella Coola what my mind was expecting, it was better. While we didn’t find Grizzlies around every bend but we did have encounters that we will always remember. We had discovered the absolute magnificence of a very remote coastal rainforest that is filled with glaciers, waterfalls and old growth forests. A Valley that rivals Yosemite, Yellowstone or Rocky Mountain National Park, only here you have a highway almost all to yourself. This is one of those places that you just know you will go back to.

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The long, long, long drive home to Colorado took us through Jasper and Banff where the smoke from Washington State Wild Fires was so thick that photography became a waste of time. While not quite as thick, the smoke persisted almost all the way back to Denver. We had been gone for 20 nights and had driven almost exactly 5000 miles. The summer of 2015 will always be remembered as the summer of Alexander Supertramp and the Great Northwest.

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Ft. Mcleod in Southern Alberta

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Smokey Sunset in Southern Alberta

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Sunset over the Bighorn River in Montana

Re-Boot Your Life

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Re-Boot Your Life

I had the opportunity to re-visit the old haunt yesterday.  I was in Southern Colorado on assignment and ended up running head on into the most beautiful colors in the Cuchara and Weston areas.  We were fortunate to have lived in these Aspens and Pines for seven seasons and I shot a photo from this exact spot about 10 years ago.  I’ll have to dig it out and compare.

From time to time we become overwhelmed with the complexities of life and we get locked up, paralyzed, much like our computers do when we overwhelm the RAM memory.  When that happens to me, I look for a way to shock me out of the gridlock.  This photograph was exactly the Re-Boot that I needed yesterday, the right thing at the right time.

Inspiration Tuesday

What the mind of man can Conceive and Believe, It can Achieve. ~ Napoleon Hill

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Reflections And Refractions

If you have a dream that you wish to bring to fruition while you walk this earth you are not alone. Look around and you will see that the world is filled with people who have common ambitions. A person who takes great risks against heavy odds in order to transform a vision into a tangible creation is by their very nature an Artist. It really doesn’t matter whether we are looking at Michael Angelo, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs or perhaps Yourself, all Artists find that the road to success begins at the moment an original thought pops into the mind and sparks a flame that cannot be extinguished.

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“Water Colors”

For me, inspiration always occurs when I least expect it, when I see something plain in a new way that makes it extraordinary. I went for a walk along the banks of the Platte River on Saturday. It was a gorgeous fall afternoon, yet in comparison to some of the places I’ve found myself in recently, the setting was barely above mediocre. I had to literally, look below the surface of the big picture in order to find the excitement that I now feel when I look back at the images. These photographs are not an end result. They are the moment of conception of a new idea.

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“Platte River Afternoon”

Lamenting October

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South Platte River at Chatfield State Park near Denver, Colorado

If there was a pause button on the Wheel of Seasons, I’d be pressing it any time now. I’d hold off the falling of the leaves, the darkness of the shorter days and the coming of very cold nights. As life goes I have no choice other to embrace the moment, breathe it in so deep that it will sustain me until Spring. October always brings a heightened awareness of all of the beauty that surrounds me and that is a good thing. The anticipation of saying goodbye for a while to the abundant life of summer causes me to take notice of how much there is to appreciate just outside my door.

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A Selfie, A Grandson And A Skeleton Tree

"Skeleton Tree"

“Skeleton Tree”

There is a time to stay home and a time to hit the pavement and put on the miles. For me, staying home is an opportunity to finish things, to edit and post and promote the work that I’ve done and to check off items from the never ending task list of Life. The problem with staying home however is that I get too comfortable in my habits and routines and I flat out don’t exercise enough. Ultimately, I end up feeling uninspired and creatively unchallenged, an ailment that can only be remedied by going out and seeing a familiar thing in a new way or an unfamiliar thing in a curious way. I love coming home with images that never would have been captured without some pavement pounding.

Monday and Tuesday we travelled to Southern Colorado to visit our youngest Daughter, her husband and especially the newest addition to all of our Lives, my first Grandchild. We took Alexander Supertramp (camper) with us and parked it steps away from their front door. I have to tell you, my little Grandson is the cutest baby in the history of the world! Yes this is my Blog and yes, I am going to show you baby pictures.

First Selfie With My Grandson

First Selfie With My Grandson

Grandma is in Love

Grandma is in Love

Daddy's Touch

Daddy’s Touch

The "not fair look" starts young

The “not fair look” starts young

Mommy's Touch

Mommy’s Touch

Grandaddy's Hands

Grandaddy’s Hands

It was really hard to leave the little guy but we could only be gone one night so we headed back to Denver the long way in hope of catching brilliant colors along the Arkansas River. Too early, the leaves of the Cottonwoods were still quite green. As we hit the lower Valley, it occurred to me that My wife had never been to the edge of the Royal Gorge, despite passing within a mile or two a number of times. We grabbed the exit and drove up the hill to the north rim, a five minute drive at the most. After gawking at the precipitous vistas and taking note of how cool it would be to do the zip line across, we drove back down the hill. Thats where we saw the “Skeleton Tree”.

Tam and Gracie at the Royal  Gorge

Tam and Gracie at the Royal Gorge

My wife pointed the “Skeleton Tree” to me and said I should shoot it. She has a really good eye for design and I rely on that constantly. I hit the brakes hard, parked and jumped out, camera and tripod in hand. What a gift that tree was. Here we had gone all day not seeing what we thought we’d see, and now we were seeing something that we didn’t expect on a hillside recently ravaged by wildfire. The thing I really love about this image is that there is so much beauty in something that is dead, a needed reminder that the world will still be beautiful, even without leaves for the winter.

World Famous Royal Gorge

World Famous Royal Gorge

The First Annual Father/Son Photo Expedition

Sagebrush Symphony

Sagebrush Symphony

As you can tell from my posts, I’ve been bitten hard by the photography bug and am having a bit of a challenge keeping up with all the editing. I seriously haven’t forgotten to finish my story about the trip to see Grizzly Bears, I’m just putting it on hold, taking advantage of the season to bank images of Autumn in Colorado. Last weekend, my two grown Sons and myself loaded our gear into the camper and headed out in search of nature’s seasonal grand finale. We didn’t even know where the journey would lead us. We would drive as far west and south as necessary to find ourselves surrounded by peak colors.

Darkness fell just as we reached the summit of Monarch Pass and we pondered camping there for the night until we realized how frigid the air temperature was. Onward we pushed past Gunnison to the shore of Blue Mesa Reservoir, Colorado’s largest body of water. The air temperature was so much more tolerable and we were staged for a night of astral photography. Blue Mesa sits generally in the center of Colorado. Far enough from city lights, and with a low horizon in all directions, the night sky there is stunning. After a quick spaghetti dinner we went to work.

Midnight at Blue Mesa BLOG

Midnight At Blue Mesa

Approaching Storm

Approaching Storm

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Sagebrush Moonrise

Night photography is a genre made ever so much more interesting by the latest camera technology. The newest full sensor cameras have ISO sensitivities that enable the camera to see things in the dark that the human eye cannot see. As we stood on the shore of the lake, dialing in camera settings and experimenting with the low light conditions, a dark mass of lightning producing clouds slowly edged closer to us from the west. To the naked eye, the setting was strangely sirene. In the review monitor of my camera, the setting was ominous. At some point I realized that it had been a while since the last flash of lightning and the big dark blob was now blocking out the stars to the west. The Boys and I deduced simultaneously that we better head back for the camper and we scurried with no time to spare. A wall of water and wind hit the sides of Alexander Supertramp (camper) just as we closed ourselves in. We laughed about our close call and talked about the adventures of the day.

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boys shooting

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Mt. Sneffels

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“Colorado Pops”

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“In The Bank”

Michael, Luke and I resumed our quest for colorful leaves first thing in the morning. We drove west to Montrose, still disappointed by the post-peak fall foliage. We wondered if we were too late. Fortunately, not long after turning south once again, we began to notice ribbons and patches of yellow, gold, red and even a lot of green in the San Juan Mountains, we had arrived! Leaf Chasing is a lot like storm chasing. You never really know where you’ll end up. We followed the vivid luminous colors onto a dirt road on the Dallas Divide, climbing slowly but surely to the base of Mt. Sneffels. By the end of the day we had gathered images in the thousands and as the sun was setting, we found a high mountain meadow where we could set up camp.

campsite sunset BLOG

Dinner was incredible. Chopped garden vegetables, potatoes and apple sausage cooked in foil packets on the coals of the campfire. There were lots of smiles and laughs around the fire that night and we talked about making this trip the first of many, a new tradition. As the last light of the day vanished to the west, more stars than you can imagine appeared in the night sky. We doused the fire and went into the camper to get warm, prepare equipment and get bundled up for another night of Photography.

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Luke Skywalker

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I can’t handle the cold like I did when I was younger. I shivered in the October midnight air, even with three coats and a blanket over me. We were actually lucky that we weren’t dealing with snow on the ground, after all we were above 10,000 feet. By the time all was said and done, the first rays of the rising moon were hitting the tips of the mountain range in front of us and as the nocturnal golden hour progressed, the light of the Moon spilled down into the golden aspen forest. We were all snug in bed by 2am.

Sunday would lead us into the picturesque town of Ouray for a hearty breakfast, before making the five hour journey home to Denver.

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My Great Harvest Blood Moon Eclipse

Denver Eclipse Interior BLOG

Lunar Eclipse Over Denver

Thank You for being here, for taking the time to read my rambling. Writing is something I’m compelled to do I guess, for without it I would feel trapped in this life without a voice. Having somebody there on the other end completes the circuit and creates the spark that ignites purpose. In the same way I’m compelled to use visual images to speak for me when I cannot find the words. So Thank You, Thank You, Thank You for being such an important part of my life.

Do You get sidetracked as often as I do? On visits to local retailers, do you find yourself actually forgetting what you came to buy? Have you ever been focussed on a task with the pinpoint accuracy of a laser? When that beam is suddenly refracted in another direction, do you follow? For me, getting sidetracked is a common occurrence. Today’s post should have been part 6 of the Alexander Supertramp Adventure, yet I find myself putting that on hold in favor of a more current event. Don’t worry, I’m not a quitter, I’ll finish the story of our recent journey to see Grizzly Bears in Bella Coola, British Columbia, but today I want to share My Great Harvest Blood Moon Eclipse assignment!

A couple of weeks ago, I started hearing the news about an upcoming Lunar Eclipse that promised to be a once, or maybe twice in a lifetime celestial event. This is where I got sidetracked. All of the important things that I’m working on were set on the side shelf and the next thing I know, I’m researching, scouting viewing spots and feverishly using iPhone apps like the Photographers Ephemeris and Sky Guide. The race was on. All In all, I planned on catching three full moonrises in a row on Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights.

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Saturday Night,,Hmm..too early

Saturday night, the waxing moon came up over the eastern horizon while the strong setting sun lit up the foreground. Interesting results, but not the jaw dropping image that I had in mind.

Sunset Before Moonrise

Sunset Before Moonrise

Sunday night, my Wife and grown up Daughter joined me on the shore of Sloans Lake, just to the west of downtown. There was already one other photographer set and ready to go when we arrived. I felt validated for choosing a good spot yet strangely surprised. As the most incredible sunset lit the entire western sky and dipped beyond the Rockies, people began to show up in droves. Are there really this many people in this town that will pass on a Broncos game to watch the moon, I pondered. I have to say, my faith in humanity was bolstered somewhat and it was amazing to watch so many other people entranced by the spectacle. The stage was set and as the Giant Red and Orange Moon slipped above the eastern horizon, a hushing silence cast a spell on the crowd of witnesses. We stayed right there on the shore of the lake until the moon was well up into the sky, morphing into a fully shaded orb.

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Witness

Monday night, my Daughter and I found ourselves at the top of Lookout Mountain in Golden. The plan was simple, Capture the rising full moon above metro Denver while the lights of city streets an downtown dressed the foreground. As we positioned ourselves beyond the guardrail at a precipitous mountain switchback, we took in the view to the west, a vista that included Clear Creek Canyon and the Continental Divide. We hoped for an impressive sunset since the sky to the East was cloudy and my hopes for a dramatic moonrise began to wane. The sunset was just ok and I began to wonder if night number three was one too many. Just after sunset however, more people started showing up and the heavy haze to the East and began to subside. As the giant red and orange moon rose above the horizon there was just enough of an opening in the clouds on the eastern horizon to let the light through in dramatic fashion, just enough time to snap off a couple of sets of bracketed photos.

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My Gorgeous Daughter

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Clear Creek Canyon At Sunset

Bikes BLOG

getting busy

check out this Looney! I didn't even have time to focus

check out this Looney! I didn’t even have time to focus

Getting sidetracked turned out to be a really cool thing and I was able to share some memorable moments with a couple of my favorite people.

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Moon Over Denver