Colorado

Water Grass, Colorado

Water Grass, Colorado

Water Grass, Colorado

While I was in New Mexico this summer teaching at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, I took a pilgrimage to the Andrew Smith Gallery, which deals solely in photography by the likes of the Westons, Ansel Adams, Edward Curtis and Lee Friedlander. Paul Caponigro is also there, and while he is most certainly not afforded the fame given to Ansel Adams, he would be very deserving of such. An original Caponigro has deep, midnight blacks punctuated by staccato bursts of near-white that leave the viewer unsettled and contemplative, yet placated by the natural beauty so overlooked within daily life. They are poems of sublime quietness.

So after I had left the landscape of mystery behind, moving north to Colorado, I found in my travels a small lake in the wilds of the Sawatch range that moved me much like a Caponigro.

Pond Grass, Gunnison County

Pond Grass, Gunnison County

Pond Grass, Gunnison County

Is it odd that I find human and poetic forms in all manner of natural occurrences? I hope not. Or maybe I do.

Dunes and Winter Storm, Alamosa County

Dunes and Storm, Alamosa County

Dunes and Storm, Alamosa County

I returned from the great American Southwest late yesterday, over 3,000 miles and 11 days in my pocket. My students and I held communion with some of the most spiritual and visually stunning places imaginable, such as Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, Canyonlands, and Arches. It’s an excellent way to be reminded of what magical places sit at our doorstep here in the West.

The image above was one of the first I made: a winter storm beginning to clear over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in southern Colorado, the Great Sand Dunes shivering beneath the cold and wind of the clouds.

Cabin, St. Elmo

Cabin, St. Elmo

Cabin, St. Elmo

Well, my PhD work is done for the semester, and I’ve finished grading all my courses. Translation? I can resume my photography. It’ll be spotty yet for a while, since I need some time to build a new body of work around a theme or two, but I’m back in the saddle. Just to hold everyone over, here’s a new piece from 2013 featuring one of my muses: St. Elmo.

Dunes No. 2, Alamosa County

Dunes No 2, Alamosa County

Dunes No 2, Alamosa County

Sorry–it’s been a while. PhD students during the last month of the semester are akin to moles: squinty and pale from too little exposure to light.

I’ve always found the work of Brett Weston to be brilliant, and his influence can be seen in this image.

Detail, St. Elmo

Detail, St. Elmo

Detail, St. Elmo

The iconography of the ghost town is worth exploration; textures, objects, and reflections each take on new meaning in such circumstances. Renewal? Loss? Decay? Each has element in these places has the potential for making us consider the greater issues surrounding humankind’s relationship with nature, with time, with itself. This image is just such a treatise.

Stark Bros. Store, St. Elmo

Stark Bros. Store, St. Elmo

Stark Bros. Store, St. Elmo

The Stark Bros. Store has a long history in St. Elmo, and one of both prosperity, tenacity, and ultimate demise. As the town died out in the 1930s, Annabelle and her brother, Tony Stark (no, not Iron Man Tony Stark) eventually were the only residents of the near-ghost town. After she died in 1960, local legend says Annabelle returned to haunt the store and hotel in which she eked out a meager existence for so many years.

Either way, the iconography and composition of the hotel–regardless of what Anna may think–make a compelling photograph.

Moon, Clouds and Drifting Smoke, Chaffee County

Moon, Clouds and Drifting Smoke, Chaffee County

Moon, Clouds and Drifting Smoke, Chaffee County

Fires were vicious this summer in southern Colorado, and when that happens, many photographers go to the fire. I waited until a full moon rose and clouds passed by our cabin late one night, and in the deep dark light of the midnight sun, the smoke from the Three Forks fire made eerie waves as it moved in southwesterly wind.

Rapids, Chaffee County

Rapids, Chaffee County

Rapids, Chaffee County

Movement and conflict for the eye have always been an obsession for me. How does an image allow the eye to enter, to move, to stop and contemplate? I was strongly influenced in this long ago by the work of David Plowden (click the link to see), and ever since have sought to visually examine the ways in which we exercise our vision.