What it looks like most of the time....

PJ_View.jpg, originally uploaded by ©JL.

This is my cockpit. 100,000 miles in less than five years. Dozens of oil changes. Thousands of dollars in performance rubber. Countless "meals" at various fast food "restaurants." Ten states. Several road trips. Three accidents. Four tickets.

I sure love my German hardware and it's a good thing I like driving.

Thanks Santa!

Well, Santa came through on my Christmas wish for fresh snow to play on and in. Spent the day at Beaver Creek with a couple other journalists and a photog.

That makes two Christmases in-a-row that I've been able to play with lots of fresh powder. Can't wait until next year!

Thanks Rick!


Creativity lives and breathes...

So I was asked if I wanted to do a video on Tom's Tavern as part of an advancer for the burger-joint's closing. I was sent a link to a new audio slide show site that had a cool idea (see the Santiago show) of shooting in one direction for a long period of time and having the audio reflect the different aspects.

Well, there really wasn't any room for me to plop down my camera and scope out one booth for an hour. Plus the owner's son wasn't real sure he wanted me to be around at the busiest time of the day. So I decided to take a bit different approach for the video. I wasn't so worried about following a certain person or thing through an arc of time. I basically shot some video, and some stills, of what I thought looked cool. Then I was just trying to grab some audio that reflected the news of the place closing a little, but not so worried about who was saying it.

You see, there's a lot of folks that don't want the place to close, but the family has decided that since the owner, Tom Eldridge, passed away earlier this year from brain cancer that it was time to shut the pub down. It was his pride and joy of nearly 48 years and they wanted it to end that way. Not under someone else, even family. So I wanted it to be more about what the place stood for an not about the people going there. Not sure I pulled that off, but nonetheless...

It was a lot of fun and some interesting learning experience working in post production. I can't wait to take my next step in finding new edges to blur.


'Tis the season

N1217SANTA04.JPG, originally uploaded by ©JL.

Dear Santa,

I will argue that I've been a fairly good kid this year, save for a couple of my less than finer moments at the office. Having said all that I would like to ask for just a few things this Christmas. First of all I would like to be able to push through some of my own personal barriers and hurdles to continue to grow and advance in my life and career. Second on the short list would be continued health and happiness to my family and friends.

Now for the last couple things on my list. One of the greatest gifts I received last year was 10 inches of fresh, lovely, light snow blanketing China Bowl while having a great time with my brother, Steve. If I could get even half of that this year I would be very gracious. The last wish on my list is to be saved for January 8th at noon. If you could throw me a belated gift of having all the synapses in this twisted brain work in concert once again for about four hours. You see, I need all the help I can get to score much better on an exam that could decide the future of my career and other life events.

So you see Santa, there's not much there. I was thinking about asking for a mountain bike, but I'd rather ride road again this year. I know the elves may have a hard time building a couple of those things on my list, but I know you have some serious magic at your disposal up there in the Great North. Happy travels this year on your annual journey.

Merry Christmas,

Caption: Alexis Pollicita, 9, types up an e-mail to Santa from a wish list in her notebook in the dining area of her Louisville home on Friday, Dec. 14, 2007. Pollicita's top wants for Christmas this year are a Nintendo DS hand-held video game and the popular Webkins interactive animals.


Curious customer

N1203TREES05c.JPG, originally uploaded by ©JL.

Theo Pickens, 2, was about the most curious person at a fund raising event in Boulder earlier this week.

There were more than 50 donated and themed trees being raffled off for a couple local organizations. Most of those attending would meander through the forest of faux firs, dropping a little green number in a bucket in hopes of winning some interesting prizes. Little Theo wasn't as impressed with what the prizes were as he was with the actual trees.

It always helps to be curious.


It must be winter

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Looks like we're soon to be in the middle of one of my favorite times of year. Temperatures are falling and the mountains are hoping for the white fluff. Well, at least I'm hoping for the white fluff. It's time to link some turns.

That also means it's basketball season. Soon I'll be shooting basketball three or four nights a week. Soon they will all look the same. There's only so many armpits that are different. Some are shaved and some are not.

So here's one of the first multi-pit shots of the season. Until next time...


Back in the saddle again

falalalala.JPG, originally uploaded by ©JL.

No rest for the weary. I'm back at work and trying to remember how to use a camera again.

Have a juicy and delicious Turkey Day. I'll be shooting. PULL!


One more reason not to stress work so much....

Why have I been off the grid?
Been laying on a couch or in a hospital bed with an ulcer.

Should be back in working order in a week or so. Just won't be so easy to get me to work overtime. I've got some other things I need to do and enjoy.


A Call To Duty

The last week has been a video project on University of Colorado veterans. There are more veterans than you would think and for the most part are younger than you think. Sometimes I forget that we live in war time.

This was a ton of work, but not nearly enough compared to these four individuals that gave years of their lives. One plans to return to the Marines after graduation.

Take time to thank a veteran for their honor, their duty and their commitment.

Read the story


Free swinging

F1110RIVER11c.jpg, originally uploaded by ©JL.

To be young and free.

Soaking in the sun. Laughing as the wind blows through your hair. Twirling like a pinwheel. Scrambling across a rope with your bare feet. Getting filthy for the fun of it.

No preconceived notions of the world. Just giggling as you get dizzy from watching the clouds spin in the denim sky.

Remember it? If not go re-live it.


What a ride

So the Colorado Rockies made it to the World Series on a magic carpet winning 21 of 22 games. Then after nine days of hype and lack of real baseball they ran into the buzz saw that is the Boston Red Sox.

I was there to shoot every pitch I could while battling early deadlines, logistical hurdles and transmission problems. It was an absolute ton of work and a little stress covering a major sporting event like that for the first time. Not much time to really soak it all in. Just firing frames, thinking storylines and looking for moments.

Having to shoot every waking moment in case something is "the" moment of the game. Considering the shooting positions that the smaller papers were given, it's amazing we were able to cover the games as well as we did. Thanks to Nikon and the local rep Ron for the beloved D3 for the week, it was a touch easier and made for much better files to work with. Can't wait to get one permanently in my grubby hands.

All that being said, I tended to take a looser approach to shooting the games. I played with what was available. As I was not going to have a field-level shooting position I went for the scenic look in most of my photos. At times I was keyed on the action and just cropped the ever living hell out of a frame, but I wanted to shoot things that were not going to be typical shots.

I really wished the Rox had won at least one game to make it a little less bitter to swallow for the city, the fans and the organization. But like the loser Cubs fans always say, "there's always next year."



Put together a video about a tree that had to be cut down in downtown Boulder.

It's a one-sided video, so my journalism needs a bit of work. It would've helped if I had the chance to get something from the other side, but that's a long post and I'm destroyed.

Operating on a couple hours of work due to shooting some video of the last press run inside the Camera building. I'm hoping to get that put together in a day or two so check back. Unless Blogger uses the same servers as the Colorado Rockies' online ticket sales company.


Rockies win!! Holy Cow the Rockies win!!

Amazement, confusion, worry, awe, excitement, stressful, exhaustion, pressure, frustration, joy, anticipation.

Feelings and emotions coursing through the mind. Not the mind of a professional baseball player, but of a professional photographer. That photographer was me.

I have never been witness to such an event. It's already past deadline. There's so many things to think about. Is the camera set right? Is the other camera set right? Do I have enough room on the card? Or should I change it out and get confused later which has what frames? Is there enough charge in the batteries of the camera and the flash? What lenses am I going to go with onto the field? Where is the last out going to be? Who is going to react the most? Do I just shoot a couple frames and go transmit? Or should I stay and shoot the trophy presentation? Do I go into the clubhouse and get me and all the gear soaked with beer and champagne? How long will all this take?

Lots of things to think about, and those are just a few that ran through my grey matter. So when people ask if I enjoyed the game, I honestly don't get to pay all that much attention to the game like most people do. Luckily I love the game of baseball and know the game fairly well. That allows me to predict a little better, but you still guess wrong just like at the plate.

I missed a few shots that I would have liked to make. Be it a wrong guess, relying on auto-focus too much, having too long of a lens for plays on the near side, or just getting caught up in the play and watching through the viewfinder instead of laying down the hammer.

I was able to get shots of the key play again, Holliday's three-run blast, like Torrealba the night before but I wasn't able to get it transmitted in time to make the paper apparently. So the web galleries are looking good but Tweety only got to use the Associated Press versions for his business the following day.

The night was a learning experience to say the least. The good thing is now I get to have another go. Only catch is that it's the World Series. I've often thought that I would never have the chance to see a World Series game in person. Now I'll be at the game documenting the history of the game with a camera. There will be more pressure and more difficulties but it will still be a fun challenge and further learning experiences, plus most of my friends will be wishing they "had to go to work" for me those days. Instead of paying hundreds of dollars to watch the game I'll be getting paid to make photos.

That's rough. I guess I'll deal with it. They all will just have to have a beer for me and tell me what really happened during the game. My mind will be a little wrapped up dealing with all those thoughts and emotions once again, only this time they'll have a little less impact.


Wet and Wild

Had the pleasure of shooting game three of the National League Championship Series between the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks last night in Denver at Coors Field. I had never shot a Rockies game in my life at Coors Field, let alone a huge post season game.

It was cold and very rainy. There were hundreds of media folk there. The position I was given was on the third base side at field level. I was expecting to be shooting from the top of the Rockpile honestly. The paper covered the season opener and that was all this year. Luckily they didn't take that into consideration. Only catch was that I was going to be wetter than a koi fish. Took the garbage bags and as much wet gear as I had. Still was pretty soaked after three hours sitting on a plastic footstool.

After looking on the wire and at the other major papers including MLB.com, I felt a little better about my performance. I didn't feel like I had made many shots, but in the end I had the ones that mattered. I was lucky enough to get the game-wining homerun with a bat-on-ball. You can see it in the gallery below.

So the Rox are one win away from going to the World Series. They have won 20 of their last 21 games. The city is growing more and more purple everyday. Despite a Barney knock-off mascot.

We'll see what happens tomorrow. Should be interesting considering the Rox could sweep the Diamondbacks and the game doesn't start until after 8 p.m., games are at least three hours long and we have deadlines around 10.

All I want is for it to be a bit dryer. Cold is fine, wet is annoying. I'll let you know how it goes....


Hunting with a camera

It's been a while since I've been able to shoot some video for a very wide range of reasons. I was asked to go up to Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park to shoot some video and stills of the elk or wapiti for a story on the fall rut. Only problem was I didn't get up there early enough. I was busy using a fire extinguisher on some good sized office fires and didn't get to leave on time.

Despite all that I was able to put together a little ditty. The best part of the deal was getting to use a real program to produce the video. Wow! What a difference. Now I guess I'll have to get back on the wagon and see if I can start making some real magic.


Vancouver Slide Show

So here's a few of the photos from my trip to the northwest.

I was able to catch up with a friend that I met on my trip to Europe in 1999. It was fun to see Laura again after years of emails and short phone calls. Vancouver is a beautiful city full of color and cordial people. With the U.S. dollar falling apart, it was a bit more expensive than I thought it would be, considering the loonie is equal to the dollar now.

Well, until the next trip....

UPDATE: I fixed the slide show, but they aren't in the right order. Typical, right?


Distant levity

Distant levity, originally uploaded by ©JL.

I'm off in another country enjoying British Columbia. There's more to come, but I'm off to have some fun.


It's rough to be a Buff

S0916CU_FSU503.JPG, originally uploaded by ©JL.

Well I shot the Colorado versus Florida State game on Saturday. I didn't shoot so well in the first half because I was trying too hard to make photos on deadline. So after the half and deadline had passed I just started making some photos. I was able to make a few decent peak action frames for the first time this season. I guess like the players it takes a little practice and reps to get back into the groove.

It didn't seem like the Buffs were ever really in the game, but if they had made one or two plays they might have had a shot at winning. Thing is they didn't falling 16-6, which is much closer than it was. It's a very young team and coming off a 2-10 season it takes a while to learn how to win. Maybe next week.

Feel free to click on over to Buffzone for more photos from the game.

I'll have something different to post in a few days. I'm off to the Northwest for a mini vacation.


Living with mental illness

N0907LOU03A.JPG, originally uploaded by ©JL.

Lou Mullen has been cleaning the Norlin Library at the University of Colorado for over 10 years. The only time he doesn't make it to work is when the bus stops running because of weather.

Lou is a quiet man with a thick beard and long locks to his shoulders. He pauses once in a while to recount what he has done or still needs to do. Talking with slight hesitations, he says he is originally from New York. Wielding a broom he casually walks in and out of every restroom in the building, checking the fullness of trash bins and paper towel dispensers. Between his ventures into the toilets he pushes a small cart with an electric-yellow trash bag hanging empty. He moves straight through the halls of university students as they pass him almost unnoticed. It's as though he is in his own world.

Lou is a member of the Chinook Clubhouse. A program helping people with mental illness learn to manage their lives with the skills they need to work and live in the community. I didn't ask the history of his illness. How do you? I just decided to let him continue his direct focus on his job and be that fly on the wall. But I felt he was more aware of me and what I was doing than most people I photograph.

The following day I was shooting an assignment and Lou was walking up the sidewalk. I said hello and asked if he had seen his photo in the paper.

"I have a copy on me," he replied as though he was proud to have it yet willing to give it to me if I had asked for it.


Officially Fall

N0902CU_JL09.JPG, originally uploaded by ©JL.

It's Labor Day weekend and there's pigs flying. Well sort of, pigskin anyway.

And with that is the Rocky Mountain Showdown. The game between Colorado's largest universities is a culmination of drug-out hype, trash-talking, good fun, bad fun and a little football. The University of Colorado pulled out a victory in overtime to quiet the sea of green and gold, but that didn't stop either side from being absolutely rude at times in the parking lot and inside the stadium.

I have never really understood the obsession of a football rivalry, even though I take part in aspects of the craziness. There are rivalries in high school, junior high, college and even pro sports. Seems that everyone wants to be able to have satisfaction in the sense of self-worth knowing that their team is better than whoever down the way. I'm all about good fun in the competition of "my team is better than yours!" But when people turn to all out physical aggression it gets a little ridiculous. A photographer from another paper was in the parking lot before the game and was basically threatened and then had the luxury of getting yuked on by some underage drunk undergrad. An excellent way to show school spirit. Luckily I was in the lots earlier, before the hard liquor kicked in. The tailgaters were just playing some drinking games and chasing footballs around the blacktop. True fun in the spirit of school and fall.

The game, as it has been the last few years, was a tightly contested match that came down to two plays at the end of the game. Having only shot a few practices, where players move at half speed, I was a little out of the groove for many points in the game. I need practice just like the players do I guess. I'm sure shooting high school football in the darkness of Friday Night Lights will help for those gloriously bright and contrasty Saturday afternoons.

Click here for more pix on BuffZone.com


Random portions of seconds

I've been producing some videos lately, but for the most part they are just talking heads for BuffzoneTV. So I figured I'd post a few photos from the last week or so. Been shooting some fun stuff really. One day I was paid to hike 14,000-foot Grays Peak, another day I roamed around in the heat by the creek and most recently I shot photos of a national skateboard event.

It was a six hour hike to the top with all the stopping to shoot photos and talk with folks. It seems like there is a magic line on that mountain at about 12,500 feet above sea level that the air vanishes. Despite being a fairly active person I was sucking air. Chasing people up the rocky summit to get photos was good fun, but I didn't put on enough sunscreen. There's also no atmosphere to protect you at that altitude either.

There were folks from the entire range of experience climbing 14ers. Scott Otteman, top, has summited all of the recognized 14ers in Colorado and was teaching his seven-year-old son to climb some of those same peaks. It was their second 14er in as many days. Robert Vinopal, on the right in the bottom frame, has climbed Grays Peak every year for 21 years, and was hiking with a friend, George Kikel, who was making his first summit of a 14er. Along the path there were folks from more than seven states on a Thursday afternoon. So getting paid to do something that folks travel hundreds and even thousands of miles to spend the day doing made for a pretty good day. But the burger at Tommyknocker's in Idaho Springs was pretty good too.

It was pretty hot last week in Boulder. I was simply told to go find some "weather art." So with the mercury creeping towards 100, I started driving around and found several folks walking with tubes towards the creek. I know it's an easy route to go. Just going to one of the most popular free ways to cool off, but it's late in the summer, several students were back in town for the start of classes at the University of Colorado and we as a staff had used up just about every "hot weather" photo option already. In an effort to keep it fresh, I decided not to shoot people on tubes in the water so literally. I did shoot the literal photos, and one did run, but luckily my editor picked one of these to run as lede after sweating a ton hopping around from rock to rock.

This past Saturday I was assigned to shoot the Seismic US Nationals of Slalom Skateboarding dual slalom races in Longmont. In most respects, being a former junior high scrub skater, I was too busy watching the action instead of making photos. One of the most interesting races was a 14-year-old kid from Longmont, Joe McLaren in the first photo, racing a 43-year-old father of three from Atlanta. The racers start at the top of a four-foot tall wooden box with a ramp leading them onto a street lined with plastic cones spaced between six and 12 feet weaving left and right down an about a six degree pitch. They race head-to-head twice with the fastest total time and least number of cones knocked over winning. The "kid" screamed through both sides of the course and went on to win the Open Division and a cash prize. I wanted to shoot a video just to be able to show the level skill and speed, but most of the gear was being used already and I didn't feel like doing double duty on deadline. Been doing that a bit too much lately. It's too taxing at times. Maybe next year.


Shadow boxer

I've been busy shooting, of all things, still photos lately. I'm going to post some soon, just have to have some time to sit down and pick a couple to tell some stories. Be patient.

In the meantime.....I'm off to shoot more.


Pinky and the Cheeseburger

It's still fair time in Boulder County. So I was given time to go to the fair and do a video on a hog show. I arrived a little while before the show to get some footage of the preparation and get some audio. While observing the wash bay I decided to follow a young lady by the name of Jacquelin Rigali, 13 of Firestone. She has two hogs named Pinky and Cheeseburger. Jacquelin is a serious and well spoken 4-H member. I wasn't able to stick around long enough to see if she collected any ribbons, but she definitely knows how to work Pinky for the judge.


Real People

Reporter Zak Brown told me a week or so ago that he was going to do a story about a rodeo event that used to take place in Boulder called the Boulder Pow Wow. He had a folder full of historical photos in tow and said he wanted to find some people to interview that took part in the 50 year event and gather audio to accompany the story. I thought it would make for a fun audio slide show.

In a episode of serendipity a freelance history columnist for the Camera, Silvia Pettem, was waiting for her daughter near a restaurant I was to shoot an assignment later that day. I told her about the story and asked if she knew of anyone who would be willing to talk about the Pow Wow. She told me about an 80-year-old man named Stan Johnson. She said he was an announcer for the rodeo and she had just talked with him recently.

Zak was able to contact and set up a time to meet Mr. Johnson at the Boulder County Fairgrounds. We decided that considering the former Pow Wow grounds are littered with retail stores the fairgrounds would make for a better background to make a portrait of Mr. Johnson. Upon arrival I learned that another gentleman, Lee Peters, would be there to talk with also.

What ensued was one of the most enjoyable story sessions I had been able to listen to in a very long time. I don't know what it is, but older generations have a knack for talking and telling stories much better than anyone. I still wish I had been able to record just one of the hundreds of stories that my grandfather, Bob Campbell, would tell every day when I visited. Mr. Johnson and Mr. Peters stood for a couple photos and then with seamless ease the pair slid into their role as audible historians. I hit the record button an tried to hang on for the next 20 minutes of journeys through Boulder's history.

Growing up in a small Wyoming town you take for granted the richness and trueness of rodeo people. Sure, everyone knows everyone and everyone's business, but those folks are real. Rodeo folks don't have to put on an act. They celebrate the rodeo family and each other. Now living in a metropolitan landscape with people trying to be things they are not to fit in and be trendy, I have missed talking with genuine people. This was a fun project, despite having to franticly finish on deadline because of this whole deal.

I also put a much longer clip together of the interview that explains the event in detail. But the link is broken on the Camera's website, so if you want to listen go here.


It's not a feature video

Embattled University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill was dismissed today by the Board of Regents. I was told to shoot video of the events with fellow staffer Mark Leffingwell.

We tried not to step on each other too much while roaming about with hundreds of other media members. But I feel like it adds a little layer of difficulty to produce a video with someone else. You don't know what they are getting for footage and their style of shooting may be vastly different from yours. Then each one has different thoughts on how to assemble the story in editing.

It was a long wait for the decision to finally be made on Churchill's future and then all the typical media frenzies ensued, as is always the case with this story. So here's the end result of my first news video.

All this video work is a ton of work. I'm actually really wishing for a couple still assignments just to get to be a photographer again and not a videographer, video editor, web master and IT support member all at the same time. I'm missing the clicks....



Last week I was supposed to shoot a video on University of Colorado quarterback Bernard Jackson. They are doing 7-on-7 drills on their own in the evenings, so the plan was to go shoot some footage of him practicing and then do a bit of an interview with Camera reporter Kyle Ringo.

So I had all kinds of ideas for ways I could put the video together. Before I continue I'll explain a little...you see, Bernard has had an adventurous trip through the Buffalo football program. He was recruited as a quarterback but was asked to play wide receiver after learning the offense as a quarterback. Then after a season as a receiver they had him return kicks and other random jobs. I think he may have had to take the trash out once or twice when the grounds crew was hurt. Just kidding. So last season he was asked to play quarterback once again, but under a new coaching staff. He was about the only thing that somewhat worked on the Buffs offensive side of the ball last year. So for all his trouble in the first few years, his gift is that he is listed as a quarterback still, but there are at least two other guys in front of him on the depth chart. One just happens to be the head coach's son, but it's not what you are thinking on that front. This season he might even end up playing defense just to get on the field.

Bernard is a really good guy and a gifted athlete. I made photos last year of him and his son playing for a story that Kyle did when it was learned that Bernard was finally going to get his shot at quarterback. He just needs to learn a bit of time management.

Back to the story behind the story behind the story...so the players decide to cancel the 7-on-7 drills. I learn of this from Kyle the moment I'm setting up my gear in the parking lot.

"OK, no practice to shoot. Just going to do an interview?" I have a pain run through my conceptual mind, it's described as seemingly endless minutes of a collegiate athlete talking to a reporter about something I don't have any footage of and won't happen again for another few days. Like coach said in high school, "Sit on a fastball, but be ready to adjust for the curveball and change up."

So I adjusted and shot a few things here an there while waiting, but mostly just shot the interview. In order for it to not be super boring I tried to move the camera position a little once in a while during the two talking and figured I would just use still photos from other practices and games. It's not going to be a homerun, but if you keep your weight on the back foot you can adjust and at least hit a single or double to opposite field.

I'll keep swinging. This video gig is a constant learning experience. It's been a challenge to adapt to all the learning of video and still try to capture good moments in stills. Sometimes though, I do feel like Adam Anderson. You get a pretty easy opportunity to end the game with a simple flip to second but try to do too much and throw late to first and let the other team back in the game. Just learn from it, that's hopefully what we all do from mistakes.


Confusion on confusion

After being given a completely wrong storyline idea for a video about Lolita's Market & Deli in Boulder and shooting footage for about 30 minutes, I talked to the owner and learned that I needed to change my approach. After recording most of the interviews based on the old premise during the busy lunch period of the day, I was forced to start over and create a "day in the life" video on the market. Only problem is that it was not busy anymore and I was struggling to re-frame a storyline in my head to have something to build around for the video.

A storyline is key to any project be it a photo series or story as well as multimedia presentations. But video is very difficult to pull off at all without a storyline. Luckily I was able to pull out some of an early interview I did with a longtime customer of the market. There are a few goofy editing aspects that I wish I could have not had to do, but you know the saying about excuses. So take a look and check back in a day or so for another production that I hope will be quite a bit more fun, concise and informational.


A year older, more technology to learn

Well, I made it. I made it another year in life. But in that year things have changed drastically in my field. This blog is one example.

So for this post I'm trying something new. Only problem is that I should have posted this right after I got back from my morning ride. We're not in the land of publishing about the same time everyday. All this new technology allows us to publish at any minute of the day.

It will be interesting to try and stay on my surfboard with this continually growing wave of new forms of publishing and technology.

What will be happening a year from now? That will be figured out I'm sure, but I better still be pedaling.....

This player allows for tagging and commenting inside the video. This may not be a great video to comment on but in the future I hope that the player will allow for more participation from you all. Try it out.


Happy Birthday America

What does the Fourth of July mean? Is it a celebration of our country's start? Is it a celebration of what our country has become? What does it mean to be an American in 2007? These were all questions I wanted to ask people while making photos and shooting video. Only problem was that between shooting all those stills and video and just talking with people about various topics, I wasn't able to get real answers in digital form to use. So now I have a project for next year. Just not enough time in the day.

But there was Italian immigrant Emiliano Ruscitti, of Frederick, Colo., competing in the annual bocce tournament in Louisville. Reminding me that, with some exceptions, nearly everyone in this country is an immigrant. One-year-old Lucas Holmberg, of Louisville, Colo., has eyes that are as bright as the future of our country and blue as our flag.

There were also thousands of folks gathered to watch the annual festivities of streaking balls of black powder exploding over Folsom Field. After shooting the Fourth of July over the past several years, I tend to forget what the night truly means and how excited kids get to see those fireworks lighting up the night sky. Sometimes the veil of a camera blocks the ability to see the world. There are times that photographers get so absorbed with manipulating a chunk of technology and composing an interesting view, we loose sight of what is really there. Endless possibilities and wonder.


It's all about processor speed

I completed another video last night. This time on an annual girls softball tournament held in Boulder County around the Fourth of July. There are over 150 teams in the area playing from 28 states. You can read a story by Christine Reid here.

The original idea was to shoot a story about the little rituals, chants and superstitions that usually are associated with sports. I went to the 18U tournament in Boulder thinking it would be easy. Didn't happen.

Most of the teams there at the Stazio Complex in Boulder didn't do much along those lines. And since I feel like I am a first year intern again, trying to learn how to do this video gig, I basically froze up and tried to force the issue. The storyline changed to the scope of the tournament in the realm of girls softball nationally and for college coaches. What I should have done was go to the 16U brackets. Those girls, I learned from Christine, were more into the funky chants and rituals. Next year I guess.

It's been humbling to step back and learn how to be creative with video, yet make comprehensive videos that make sense. I could have ran around with a still camera and shot tons of photos, thrown together a gallery of 20-plus photos and it would have been a cake walk. I could have even gathered audio to make an audio slide show and felt a bit more comfortable to complete the project in a timely manner. Developing a storyline and backbone to hang a story on in video is still a challenge at this point. I know it will get easier. I just didn't think I was going to feel like an intern all over again. I mean, I was so confident with my still camera that, before I left the complex I found one situation to shoot. Nailed it in 15 or 20 frames and headed back to the office to begin the task of editing my video. The photo ended up being the 1A photo.

It took me a little more than three hours to shoot about 30 minutes of video to produce a 01:24 video. (Oh yeah, after a two hour detour to a Final Cut Users Group with video/web 2.0 guru Danny Holland, it took about four hours of editing and watching a processing bar creep across the screen.)

I just plan on producing more and more content so I can ditch the training wheels and upgrade to the race bike again....let me know what you think.


Sooner than usuall

While I was waiting at the Birds of Prey Foundation center in eastern Boulder County on Tuesday to shoot photos of an American bald eagle, I looked around for a while and spotted an opportunity to shoot an Emotion, as I call them. There are several more at my MySpace page and my Flickr page. This will be "White noise."

The concept is that they are purely visual photos in one of two visual styles I have developed and the emotion or thought that was in my head at the time. Adam, the eagle, was screaming in his flight cage while I was shooting this. Make sense?


Catch up time

It's been a while. How've you been?

Needless to say, I've been busy. But you've heard that before so I'll just leave it at that. This might be a bit longer than some of the other posts. I have a few things to share.

First off is an audio slide show I did on former CU quarterback John Hessler for a story about his progress.

I also worked on my second video production this week on Robb's Music in Boulder. Robb Candler is selling his business of 29 years. You can read about it and see stills from other photogs here.

I worked on those this week on top of running the Photo Dept. while my boss was on vacation. So when that happens other than being an e-mail wrangler you get to shoot quick hit assignments and breaking news.

Like University of Colorado researcher Hans Seelig who developed a chip that monitors the water stress of plants. It's always good to make use of a reporter that's just standing around. They make great light stands sometimes.

Then there's Mara Abbott. She's a local high school graduate that turned training for swimming on a bike into a possible full fledged career. She's tearing up the college ranks and finished second in a pro race in Canada. Since she's a swimmer, she's not a snobby roadie. I'm a roadie, but I'll be the first to admit there are several snobby cyclists out there. Speaking of, I sure need to get a few rides in considering I'm supposed to do the Triple Bypass in just a few weeks. It'll be grueling and torturous, maybe even evil but I still love that ride. This will be my fourth ride. Every one has been a journey of some sort. I can't wait for the 2007 edition. Alright, back to photos....

While sitting there wrangling e-mails, phone calls, reporters, editors, interns and trying to to get too distracted by my RSS feed the scanner sits right next to my computer. I usually hear most of the calls, but I was out shooting a really bad portrait. I won't even share it because I'm ashamed to put my name on it. One of those three minutes late and they don't really have the time to sit for you anyway deals. Anyway, there was a report of a "Code Black" in Boulder Creek. I get the phone call from the desk and race over there. Apparently three guys were tubing down the creek and one of them bumped into the body and they called 911. The police still haven't determined the cause of death, but he was identified. Not a fun way to try and beat the heat.

Then I was the camera in the courtroom goon again. This time for Ronald Swerlein. He's the guy in Longmont that has been accused of having enough chemicals to blow up his entire block. He says he's just making model rockets. If I keep up the pace I'm on I'll get on a first name basis with every sheriff and prisoner in Boulder County.

So that's what the last week's been like. Busy as usual. I've got a few more multimedia and videos in the works, so stay tuned......


A few more pix

I added a few more photos to the Brazil gallery. You can either look at them here in the window below or head over to Flickr and do a slideshow there that shows the captions.

I'm going to go back through and see if there are any other possible gems I overlooked this weekend, maybe.

Thanks for looking and all the responses on the Brazil photos as well as the Fishing Derby. I hope to do a couple other videos soon.


Personal Journey

Here's a gallery of some of my photos from the trip to Brazil to visit my friend Diana. We had a blast racing around trying to do everything we could in the time alotted. There's a ton of things we didn't get to do, but that gives me something to do the next time.

I will update this when I get a chance to tone the last batch of photos from the last couple days. So check back shortly. If you click on the photos in the gallery below it will take you to the group of photos on my Flickr page.


First Take

So here I go, down the new visual journalism highway....video. I had shot a couple of stories that were never produced to make a final piece in the last couple weeks. This story almost had the same fate. After having to put out a couple fires and shoot a few assignments other than the video assignment last Saturday, there just wasn't time for me to produce a video.

I took another crack at it today and after a few lumps from slamming my head on the desk, chasing a bear three times that seemed to never truly exist and learning that compressing HD takes longer than even a good Scotch. I'm talking the stuff with a plastic cap too by the way.

After all that here's my world premier. I sure hope I get better AND faster.


A new, old world

Leaving DIA was simple, arriving in Sao Paulo was difficult. A severe thunderstorm in Houston closed the airport leading to a four hour sit-and-wait at the Austin airport. That delay lead to me missing my connection to Brazil and to spending a night in a Houston hotel. I was given a flight from Houston to Panama to Sao Paulo. I would arrive a day later than expected but at 4:30 a.m.

So as I stared at the seats of an airplane for hours and hours, I wondered what Brazil would have in store for me. Later I would learn how many barriers I had rebuilt in my mind about people since my last escape from the United States.

Flying over Brazil at night there were several super bright epicenters illuminated in the darkness. Then there was Sao Paulo. Probably the biggest city I have ever seen. I have been told by a few that Sao Paulo would be like combining New York City and Los Angeles. Diana drove us to her hometown city from the giant metropolitan area and along the way there were slums (favelas) and people warming themselves near small fires on the roadside. It is the start of winter here and the locals are used to much warmer temperatures. When we arrived in Campina, Diana's city, I was surprised to see the size and scale of it. With a population of nearly two million, it is not a small community by any means. The road system is similar to the States, even more so to the horrid roads in the city of Boulder this time of year. Potholes and speed bumps abound.

After catching up on a bit of sleep, Saturday Diana took me to a park in the heart of the city called Taquaral. It is a park with a dirt path around the lake and a trolley. Various animals and plants thrive there as very athletic Brazilians race around the circuit.

For Mother's Day we traveled back into the heart of the city to visit a craft fair along with one of Diana's brothers. The diversity of this country is something that Americans really only talk about. I have been having to break down stereotypes of what a typical Brazilian should look like. There is not a typical Brazilian. This woman is a Japanese artisan that has lived in Brazil for 40 years. Speaks fairly fluent Portuguese and her native Japanese. She was only the first of many folks that did not fit my cookie-cutter concepts. I am still learning many things about this country and it's people.

More later. Have to run, litter ally. I've been eating way too much bread and cheese. It's a major staple of a meal here.


Sorry for the delay

It's been pretty busy the last couple weeks, but that is not a decent excuse to not post for more than two weeks. Anyone know a good time manager?

Today's post will be a photo fest. Just some random photos from those last couple weeks. I'm in the midst of finishing up the semester teaching Photojournalism I, trying to find my niche in my new role at the paper and preparing for my first personal journey out of the country in eight years. I'll be traveling to Sao Paulo, Brazil for about 10 days starting May 10th.

I'll try to post a few times while I'm on the opposite side of the planet. I'll be making pictures and mini videos of the home country of my friend Diana Marques (pronounced G-Anna Marx). Don't be too disapointed if there is little to no action here. Connecting to the world wide web will be once in a while and we may just be having too much fun. It should be a great experience and I already can't wait to get off the plane after traveling for 13 hours. Enjoy the month of May.


Reflection of times past

I made my annual trek to Glenwood Springs for my vision check-up again earlier this week. As I was starting my return to the east side of the divide I had a demanding urge to stop in Glenwood Canyon to visit a very personal area.

Grizzly Creek is an easy trail that winds north from the rust colored waters of the Colorado River. The canyon walls ascend nearly straight up in portions to the southern area called the Flat Tops. The at times rocky path flows alongside the creek filled with boulders, fallen trees and the clearest cool waters I have felt in a long time.

This place is very dear to my heart. I spent countless hours either hiking the trail for fun, for photographs, pedaling a bike, or for personal solace while a student at Colorado Mountain College. But the last time I was in this place I was shouting at the expense of my lungs and vocal chords in rage about the cycle of life. I had lost two souls very dear to me in a very short period of time. That was over 10 years ago.

So with cameras and fixed lenses in tow, I hiked. Wearing flip-flops that have bottoms as smooth as the sands of Cancun. I didn't care really. I knew there was a reason for the urge to walk through the canyon of memories. As I walked I felt lost, as though I had never been to this place. With the cool spring breeze blowing and cotton candy clouds drifting by I noticed a tree exploding with blossoms about 25 yards up the east side of the trail below a scree field. It's early in the spring season and the weather has not been very kind to plants. Staring at the electric white blossoms against the neutral browns of the canyon cliffs above I wanted to make a photo. But I had only brought two lenses. A 14mm and an 85mm. The flip-flops made footing a little dicey. But after a couple rocks rolling over my toes and ankles I made a handful of photos as best I could.

After surfing my way back down to the trail I continued wondering up the trail. Trying to think back to all those times I had been there. All the while just snapping photos of this and that. These were a style of photographs I had not made in many years. I've been shooting journalism, abstracts, promotional and industrial photos mostly the last few years. I nearly had forgotten how to approach nature with a camera. I didn't make many great photos, but I sure had a lot of fun and a lot of peace in my mind.

As I arrived back at my white land rocket I looked over to see a sign stuck between the monolithic canyon walls. It was a metaphor for the thoughts racing around in my mind just as the clear spring runoff was cascading near the trail. Life keeps on moving and you must as well. I have learned much since those naive days, but not nearly enough. It's good to touch base with your past and reflect in a way that allows you to learn and grow. Screaming at those walls 10 years earlier was mostly because I didn't understand the cycle of life.

Just like the cycle of seasons– things are born of spring, they grow to fruition in summer, age with the change of autumn and return to the earth with the weight of winter– we experience cycles of emotion and persona.

It’s spring again.


Roller coaster of life

It's been a wide gamut of events the last couple days.

After attempting to produce a couple videos for the paper that won't have the blessing of being viewed by the community, I had to regroup and bounce back on a personal level.

I had made some interesting footage, gathered some nice audio of people explaining the feelingof situations and felt confident about my future as a visual journalist. But when equipment and software revealed several shortcomings in my ability to tell stories, I felt a crushing blow of disappointment. Only then, having follow that up with having to cover the funeral for a fallen soldier. I'm not a big fan of funerals anymore after having to attend several on a personal level and as a professional. Learning about Cpl. Stephen Matthew Kowalczyk and his approach to life made the experience different than I had been anticipating. He was a man who lived a rich and simplistic life.

Members of his unit and family all had a common theme in remembering him: "He had life figured out."

He didn't judge people or try to change them, he had a very limited collection of personal items, he enjoyed outdoors and nature and many other sound principals of a simple life. I find it confusing that most of the wonderful people who figure out how to live and give are taken from the world so early.

After the long day of American flags flapping, Taps, tears and 21 shell casings hitting asphalt it was back to documenting everyday issues and life. A professor and a student having burgers and beers, ethnicity of all kinds marching in honor of equality, high school kids hanging out at a bowling alley and Easter Egg Hunts.

As I try to be a fly on the wall documenting people living their lives, I can't but wonder if they think about what it means to live or if they just live to live? I've always had several moments of a day where I wonder what the bigger picture is in life. I know there also is no one answer to the perplexing question, yet I continue to seek the right one out.

Maybe it's just a little three-year-old girl named Emma, walking across blades of grass encased in ice, wearing her father's coat, giddy from collecting a basket-full of toy-filled eggs. Or maybe it's that it takes all of that, Cpl. Kowalczyk's ability to embrace life in his way as I embrace mine and Emma enjoys hers, to add up to this roller coaster called life.