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

three quarter moon BLOG

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.

treasure FB

michaelcreek

boys shooting

luke bushwacking

sneffels tele 2 BLOG

Mt. Sneffels

Colorado Pops FB

“Colorado Pops”

in the bank #2 FB

“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.

luke skywalker FB

Luke Skywalker

skywalker 2 FBclashing light BLOG

moonlight ridge BLOG

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.

boys BLOG

The Enduring Glow Of A Beautiful Life

The Enduring Glow Of A Beautiful Life 10" x 20"  Acrylic on canvas

“The Enduring Glow Of A Beautiful Life”
10″ x 20″ Acrylic on canvas

Monday evening, as I drove home I witnessed the most incredible sunset.  A glowing orange and yellow sky over the latent silhouette of the front range.  Too much traffic and visual obstruction to pull over and take a photo, I captured the image in my mind instead.  I had just left my folks at the Denver Hospice Care Center at Lowry where my Dad would undergo a procedure the next morning that would make him more comfortable as he suffered from the later stages of Parkinson’s Disease.  Before I said goodnight to my Father for the last time, we talked about how beautiful the facility was and I told him that Robin Williams had passed away (he loved Robin Williams).  One of the night nurses graciously brought them a tuna fish sandwich to share even though they had “checked in” too late for dinner and after I left I understand that Dad ate most of it.

Oh how much it hurts to loose someone you Love so much.  The grief might even cause a person to jump out of bed, start and finish a painting as the sun rises, which is exactly what I did this morning.  I am compelled to paint my Father’s setting sun and this small sketch will be used for a piece that is 20 times larger.   I want this memory to be larger than life.

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Me with my mind’s image

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Mom, Dad, Tammy(took pic) and Me at the Denver Art Museum three weeks ago

 

 

My Wonderful Father

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A Sunday at Denver’s Museum of History and Science (8/3/14)

My lengthy hiatus from this effort (my blogs) is attributed significantly to the long, long path that I was able to walk alongside my Father and Mother while in the Autumn of Dad’s life. For seven years, they had to endure difficult circumstances, one after another, all somehow related to the harm that Parkinson’s Disease can inflict. Yesterday Afternoon, Dad crossed over from this life to the next. It was the first completely cloudless day in Denver in as long as I can remember and he left this world so peacefully, so quickly that I am profoundly moved. For so long, I have wanted to write and be read; I have wanted to share the experiences that I have had in my own personal walk as an Artist and as a Son. Yet for so long, these experiences belonged in my heart and not on published pages.

My Father’s passing comes like the opening of a flood gate. I am ready to share once again and I hope to somehow kindle a flame of inspiration if even in just one person.

Even on his death bed, it would not have shocked me if my Father had awakened from his final sleep to recite word for word the following quote by William Shakespeare. “Cowards die many deaths, The Valiant never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, it seems to me most strange that men should fear; Seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.” Seriously, the man had a knack for reciting poetry and singing funny songs at the most inappropriate times. This time, he did not awaken from his slumber but his words are still with me.

Before I close this post, I want to share a few thoughts about Denver Hospice. Yesterday morning, before I understood that it would be Dad’s final sunrise, I wrote the following words. Mom and Dad finally found their way back to the “Hilton”. The Denver Hospice Inpatient Care Center at Lowry Field is a living masterpiece. Oddly, the kind of place that makes you want to live. As my Dad would say, it is a “castle on the hillside”. In some ways you might think that such a place would be cruel and unusual punishment for those who find themselves at the exit door of life. Not So, I say! The architectural marvel is more than matched by the compassion, dignity and understanding that permeates from its walls. The halls echo in celebration of all that is good in Mankind. For me personally, this place is an inspiration. The Exhibition of artwork on display is incredible. Much care was given to select original works that might trigger a warm memory; that might remind one how precious life is. And then the admirable culture that dwells in the care center goes completely over the top. So different than what you will find in a hospital, where the goal is physical healing and profit. Denver Hospice defines success much differently, to create comfort for the body and the spirit. Perhaps the ultimate goal of Hospice is to mirror what we hope for on the other side of death. These are the things that have touched me profoundly, that have nudged the trajectory of my life in the most beautiful way.

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One of the beautiful paintings that hangs in the Denver Hospice Care Center at Lowry