303.895.8107   markwoolcott@mac.com

A Hidden Benefit

February 14, 2011

Last Sunday, a fresh blanket of snow covered Denver and the temperature dipped below the zero mark. We rose to grey skies and a city silent under eight inches of powdery white fluff. It was Super Bowl Sunday, but we had more on our minds that watching two teams collide for a treasured trophy and bragging rights.

Over the last two months, Angela has been collecting coats for the homeless. Her newly formed charity is called Jackets That Jingle and last Sunday was the day to hand out all of the wonderful coats that she collected. Inside the right hand pocket of each coat was a bag of quarters that would serve as a welcome surprise to the recipient. Each jacket jingled with nearly two dollars in quarters and the 100 coats that she collected warmed many a welcoming soul that chilly day.

We brewed a fresh pot of coffee and hopped into the AWD Subaru. We were scheduled to meet at Civic Center park at 8am. The Friends of Capitol Hill meet every other Sunday and graciously allowed Jackets that Jingle to team up with them. We drove through the empty streets excited about how many people we were going to directly help out. Turning onto Bannock street, the line of men was already 30 or so long. From each corner of the park others came looking for a bit of respite from fresh food and hot coffee. Angie and I were very humbled that we (with jackets from the community) could provide such a basic necessity on this wintery Sunday.

Of course we had a great time handing out the coats. The men were all gracious, cheerful and full of thanks for the great gifts and jingle surprises in the pocket. But, what struck me was the graphic nature of the park. The flat light, brilliant white show and dark shadows of the capitol created a striking winter scene. Construction cranes lined the south end of the park and scaffolding framed the dome of the Capitol adding to the transitional and classic feeling of the image. All facets felt like a classic scene from the Farm Security Administration photos that I have poured over. I snapped a few shots of the City and County building and a few more of the majestic domed Capitol before we handed out coats.

When we arrived home, Angie wanted me to process a few images for FaceBook so that she could show everybody how much their donation helped. The first few photos were the ones I just described. I love happy surprises and fun pictures of unexpected subjects.

Pin-Up #2

December 29, 2010

This is the second shoot of a little project that I have been working on for the last year.  Every couple of months I look for new models who are willing to participate in my Pin-Up project.

We set the date for a Sunday afternoon and rendezvoused at a secret location in Highlands Ranch.  It is secret simply because nobody can know that this kind of cool photography was taking place down in the hinter-lands.  Otherwise, the entire Ranch would be up in arms and all of the husbands down there would want a similar shoot with their wives or girlfriends.  And really we don’t want any riots taking place in “The Ranch”.

In any case.  We set up Sunday afternoon and began working through a bunch of “vignettes”.  I was looking for three stories each.  Every photograph should tell a tale and give you a bit of a story.  With these shots I was looking for that old-time feel of the girl at the beach or maybe the sassy traffic cop.  But they all had to have a modern flair.  I wanted color and punch.  We ran through a bunch of old school books that I had and came up with ideas and went to town.  One of my favorite reproductions in the Keyhole shot.  We saw it in a book and had to have one like it.

That night we ended up shooting for quite a while.  We through out ideas, grabbed snacks, poured drinks and simply had a great time with some killer music. One point that can’t be over looked is a huge thanks to my hair queen, Jennifer and my make up diva Jes. Without their skills we wouldn’t have gotten nearly the killer shots we did.

Episode #10 – Brady Kappius

December 5, 2010

Every year I shoot thousands of bike racers.  Some race mountain bikes.  Others are die hard roadies.  Some like to mix it up a little and dabble in a mountain bike race here and a road race there.  And then, there are the Cross racers.  Outside of the Northwest, Boulder seems to have the most died-in-the-wool, true-blue, hard-core cross racers in the nation.  And every year I get to shoot a bunch of these loony birds.

Cross racers are an entirely different breed.  They love a race that is so muddy and miserable that it becomes a necessity to change bikes every single lap.  In fact, it it isn’t raining or snowing or sleeting or hailing… it isn’t even considered a race.  It is merely a fast training ride.  Cross racers are also built differently than other cyclists.  In general (excluding the revered clydesdale category) cyclists are of average hight and below average weight.  A classic cyclocross rider is usually WAY taller than the average cyclist and weighs WAY less. Their lanky build comes in mighty handy when then need to dismount, sprint through sand or water and then hurdle those awful barriers that make up a well designed cross course.

Over the past years , I have gotten some of may favorite pictures of people I never meet.  One in particular is from Brecktobercross two years ago.  Come to find out it was the legendary Brady Kappius.  A year after I shot the image I met Brady through a great mechanic buddy of mine named Steve.  Steve and Brady work at the same shop in Boulder.  Steve and I were joking around one day when Brady sauntered over.  Steve started off with “Mark, do you know this guy?  He is the fastest man in Colorado.”  Being the wise-ass I am, I start cracking on him and suggested that if he trained hard like me,  maybe he could get a clif bar sponsorship.  Well, come to find out, he already had one.

Needless to say, Brady was a great sport and jabbed me right back.  We chatted a bit about cross and mountain bike racing.  Eventually we talked about photography and he said that he would be game to shoot some photos and be featured on the blog.

So, just a few days ago, Brady and I met up at the Boulder Res. for an hour of great shooting.  The weather was absolutely perfect and the shots are everything I was looking for.  Enjoy, and don’t forget to ring a cowbell for a Boulder local next weekend.

  1. With what team do you ride? Team Clif Bar
  2. How long have you been racing? Ohh man, lets see.  Since I was 4, so 19 years.
  3. How did you get started racing? As soon as I could ride I bike, I was racing.  My dad has been racing forever (and stil is) and I started by doing the kid’s races at the mountain bike races he went to in the early 90’s
  4. What is your all-time favorite race? Diegem Superprestige – Diegem, Belgium.  In addition to the crazy Belgian crowds amounting to 10,000+, the course is run in the middle of town.  Cobbled climb, narrow alley passages, and greasy mud. Simply awesome.
  5. What is your strongest discipline? Tough to say right now.  I’m equally at home on a cross or mountain bike.  Mostly ride road for training with the occasional training race thrown in.  I did more when I was younger but just have more fun on the dirt.  I did a dual slalom this year too and had a blast.  Can’t count anything out yet.
  6. What part of bike racing do you absolutely loathe? Pushing myself and seeing what I can achieve.  I love the satisfaction after having a great race.
  7. Tell me a little about your bikes and gear.  What are they, what cool little gizmos do you use to train, what is your favorite piece of equipment? I’m a mechanical engineer so I’m a pretty tech oriented guy.  This season I’m running Spooky cross bikes.  They are out of Massachusetts, sweet, small builder.  The frames are fully custom for me (because I’m a giant) but their stock ones sweet too.  Running a full SRAM Red gruppo with the pro only steel cage front derailleur.  Easton EA90 cockpit, TRP Magnesium brakes.  Mavic wheels – either R-SYS Premium SL or Cosmic Carbone Ultimates depending on the conditions/tire choice.  One cool little thing is I have a custom rear brake cable routing.  Right through the seat tube and seat post.  Something I saw on Sven Nys’ bike a few years back.  Doubles as a seat post lock too.  Favorite piece of equipment? Tough call, I like it all. I guess I would have to say my set of FMB tubular tires.  They can make a huge difference in ride quality and traction out there.
  8. Do you have any superstitions about racing or any pre-race rituals? What are they and how did they start? I’m not a very superstitious person.  That just leaves you vulnerable for getting your head messed with when something doesn’t go right.  I have a tried and true pre-race routine of course inspection, bike prep and warm-up.  I like to do all of my bike building, tuning and tire gluing.  Just one less thing to worry about and then I can’t blame anyone but myself.
  9. If money was absolutely no object, what bike would you ride and how would it be painted? That’s a tough one.  People get too sucked into the newest technology these days.  I’d like to go back and ride some of the first mountain bikes, say Ned Overend’s from the first UCI World Championships in Durango just so I could appreciate how far technology has come in two decades.
  10. If you could race with any pro, from any time in history who would it be? John Tomac.  That guy could win anything.  XC, downhill, cross.  I admire his wide range of abilities.
  11. You are granted a riding session with one current pro team.  This session includes as many hours of riding as you would like, lunch at any location you choose and the ability to ride any place in the world.  How do you fulfill this dream?  Please be specific with details about lunch conversations with riders and any pertinent gossip that is applicable. Any ProTour team during a stage of the tour.  Lunch on the bike.  I’m not picky about which stage, any would be an experience.  Conversation would include talking into my race radio and being told what to do for the team.  Now making this happen would be quite a task.  I’d have to become a pure roadie and get a lot faster!
  12. Who would you absolutely love to beat by the end of this year, and why? Jamey Driscoll.  He is only a year older than I am and has some very impressive results.  He is a super nice guy too.

Episode #9 – Angela des Cognets

November 16, 2010

It seems that every year there is an up-and-coming rider who puts a serious hurt on the field.  In fact, I have featured a few of these riders and they seem to just take off after their first year.  The next racer has been competitive athlete all of her life.  Gymnastics was her sport of choice for a long time, but she actually dabbled in bike racing years ago.

She creates a new definition for the word powerful.  Her time trial is something to watch.  Hanging around bike shops and races, I have heard the term “wattage cottage” thrown around a few times for various parts of the anatomy.  Well in this case, Angela’s entire body is  ”wattage cottage”.  She produces power that begins in her little toe and excellerates all the way through her helmet.  And she is fun to watch.

She joined the Primal Rocky Mountain Colovita team early last season and ascended the ranks from a Cat 4 to a Cat 2 in one year.  Angela and her family decided to attend the team’s annual skills camp in Palisades Co.  Quickly she was taken in by all the ladies and became a favorite.  Her friendly attitude and “go-get’em” style of riding has blossomed, making her a well rounded competitor. Keep an eye out for her on the steep climbs of the Mt. Evans race or the rolling hills of the state TT championships.  She will be crushing it no matter what.

  1. With what team do you ride? Rocky Mountain Primal
  2. How long have you been racing? 2010 was my first year of serious racing.  Previously, I would do a few races each summer, but from 2003-2009 my cycling consisted of winter bike tires (in Canada) and a Burley.
  3. How did you get started racing? Susannah Gordon contacted me when she was putting together a new team.  After hearing about the amazing group of women I’d be racing with, I couldn’t resist.
  4. What is your all-time favorite race? Iron Horse, 2001
  5. What is your strongest discipline? Surprisingly, it’s Time Trialing.  I love that it’s just the bike, me, and all the suffering I can endure.
  6. What part of bike racing do you absolutely loathe? I loathe the races when my heart and mind say “go hard” and my body says “no”.
  7. Tell me a little about your bikes and gear.  What are they, what cool little gizmos do you use to train, what is your favorite piece of equipment? My road bike is a Jamis Xenith Team Bike with SRAM Red components.  For Time Trialing I have a Cervélo P3.  I love my bikes.  It’s really important I feel connected and trust them.  Otherwise, it messes with my confidence.  My favorite equipment is my Zipp 303’s.  They are so light and responsive and corner like a dream.
  8. Do you have any superstitions about racing or any pre-race rituals? What are they and how did they start? I’m not superstitious, but I am all about pre-race rituals.  Always the Tom Petty song, “Don’t Come Around Here No More” during my warm up.  And most importantly, I say a prayer of thanks for my healthy body and another for the safety and well-being of all the riders.  I started doing this when I realized nothing can be taken for granted.
  9. If money was absolutely no object, what bike would you ride and how would it be painted? I’m so happy with my bikes.  However, a really fun, green paint job would be cool.  At this moment I would rather splurge on wheel sets-  One for every type of terrain and race.
  10. If you could race with any pro, from any time in history who would it be? Honestly, I’d rather ride with my friends.
  11. You are granted a riding session with one current pro team.  This session includes as many hours of riding as you would like, lunch at any location you choose and the ability to ride any place in the world.  How do you fulfill this dream?  Please be specific with details about lunch conversations with riders and any pertinent gossip that is applicable.  Team Radio Shack.  A leisurely ride through Tuscany in the fall.   Lunch would be outside at an organic farm with bruschetta, local Percorino Romano Cheese, Shrimp Fra Diavolo with fresh pasta, and Brunello di Montepulciano wine.  For dessert, a chocolate ice cream cone. (Food is very important to me)  The discussions would be serious.  No gossiping.  What I’m really interested in is the emotional stuff each of the riders face- motivations, fears, passions, heartbreaks, regrets, dreams, etc.
  12. Who would you absolutely love to beat by the end of this year, and why? My doubting alter ego that says “I’m not good enough.”  She MUST be defeated!

Changing of the Season

September 22, 2010

This week a chilly nip crept into the air.  At night, the city finally cooled down and the long-sleeve shirt or the sweater wasn’t out of the question. Fall, or Autumn (as my British buddy Jon, likes to call it) is the most enchanting of seasons.  Life takes a decidedly slower pace, the light gets softer and the leaves begin to change.

Jon (the same British buddy) called the other day,  asking if I wanted to ride some of the trails off of West Magnolia, above Boulder.  Sitting at nearly 9000 feet above sea level, West Mag. is a great location for early season color and cool riding temps.  Twisting and turning trails, wind an endless maze of tight treelined lines that can keep you busy all day. I couldn’t wait to check out this new spot and get some images of the trees.

On top of the excellent trails, Jon was rocking the new Alchemist Threadworks kit, so we had to get some shots.  Really, could you ask for a better combo? New kit and newly turned leaves….pretty tough to beat.  Needless to say, we had a killer time.  We snaked in and out of the pine trees, spitting dust in each corner and then pedaled over to the section called Aspen Alley.  To our surprise, all of the leaves were already down, so we headed off to another section that promised great fall color.  Golden aspen leaves are one of the great gifts of riding in the fall but Jon and I agreed that two other benefits rival the color. Those would be the smell and the sounds of Autumn.

The crunch of a fall leaf plays second fiddle only to the crunch newly fallen snow (way to early for that).  We rolled over the coated trails listening to the song each turn made.  And the smell; that cool, loamy, winter is just around the corner smell, topped off the day.  We road on until the light faded and the rain came in adding a classic Autumn touch to the end of the ride.  Enjoy the pics, and have fun with all of the great fall riding and shooting to be had.

Episode #8 – Ingrid Alongi

September 16, 2010

I have been fortunate to see quite a bit of bike racing in my career as a photographer.  There are always new people to meet and new disciplines to experience. In the biking world, all genres seem completely different and unique.  Each has it’s own lingo, it’s own special gear, and it’s own funny sayings and snobbish eccentricities.

The downhillers have the “Mine has more travel than yours”. The roadies have “mine is lighter than yours”, the cross folks have the “I can drink more than you while running through sand at 10am”.  And the track-sters…well, the track people have the “I can push a larger gear than you”.

What does all of this have to do with anything?  Nothing really, except that Ingrid Alongi  is solidly based in the latter group.  And, she truly can push a harder gear than you.  To put it plainly, she knows how to kick some ass on an oval.

I met Ingrid in boulder at the Boulder Velodrome.  In classic Ingrid style, she was scorching that wooden oval and putting a serious hurt on the other racers.  After the training session was over, I showed her some of the images and we talked about setting up another shoot in the future.  Little did I know that the future would not really happen for almost a year.  In that time, she has started her own company and moved from bubble of Boulder to the rubble of  5 points.

Finally, we were able to make it work.  A few Sundays ago we headed down to the metro station in 5 points and snapped off some frames. It was great light and the people watching on Sunday morning speaks for itself.  And, some might say we made for pretty good people watching ourselves.

  1. With what team do you ride? Houndstooth/Panache Cycling Team
  2. How long have you been racing? I started in 1986 when I was 12, eventually making it to the Jr. Natioanl Team. In those days, there was no women’s pro category and there wasn’t a u23 program. Once I graduated from the Jr. National Team to the Senior B team in 1993, I got completely crushed. I was cleaning houses part time (more $ per hour than a coffee shop job, but physically demanding) and trying to make it. I recall going to a big stage race on my own dime in Bisbee, Arizona in 1993. One of my National Team mates was on the Kahlua team, one of the biggest women’s teams at the time. I asked if they’d hand me a water bottle during the road race and they said no. Here I am, completely unsupported at 19, driving to the big races, sleeping on couches. It was discouraging, I couldn’t hack it so I decided to give full time college a go instead where my life took me away from cycling for many years.                                                                                                Fast forward to 2008, I started riding my bike again to combat the stress of working at a tech start up in Boulder. The first time I rode to Jamestown, I could barely function the rest of the day, but I rediscovered my love for the sport. I got the racing bug in 2009 when the Boulder Velodrome opened. At 2009 Master’s Nationals, I silvered in the Individual Pursuit and won the Team Pursuit, in which I am still the national record holder. Now that I have my own company (www.quickleft.com) my goal is to continue to have fun with riding and racing.
  3. How did you get started racing? My dad started racing when we were kids, when my parents split. My brother and I used to accompany him to the races. I remember him racing on a yellow Schwinn Varsity… One day, we were walking around the Pearl St. Mall and saw kids our age racing a crit around the mall. This was the 1995 Red Zinger Mini Classic. We begged our dad for bikes, and we entered our first race in 1996.
  4. What is your all-time favorite race? Hmm, probably the 1992 Casper Classic. I was 18 at the time racing with the Women’s 1, 2, 3s and had a breakthrough getting up the first hill with the leaders. It was on a long road race where I knew if I was dropped, the entire day would be spent riding alone or with a very small group losing time in the overall gc. I was so proud of myself for having made it up that first hill in the lead pack!
  5. What is your strongest discipline? Individual Pursuit and Team Pursuit
  6. What part of bike racing do you absolutely loathe? The port – o -lets before the race. You’re in your cleats, you are nervous, you are trying to balance in there, it smells like everyone else’s nervousness. Ugh! The worst part of racing by far.
  7. Tell me a little about your bikes and gear.  What are they, what cool little gizmos do you use to train, what is your favorite piece of equipment? The coolest thing on my bike is probably my Oval Jetstream fork. It just looks cool and is fast.  Gears in track cycling are also quite fine tuned. When I ride at Boulder Indoor Cycling, I usually roll a 47×15 (84.6”) in the winter, and then put on a 48×15 (86.4”) for the summer. These gears are pretty small for racing, so it’s good to get to Colorado Springs and put on the real gears so that you don’t have the unpleasant surprise of doing a standing start or a jump with a larger gear.  I tend to feel more comfortable in an 88” gear when I ride pursuits, but may try again with a 90”. I’ll use 90” gears for points races, unless the pack is really small or it’s really windy, in which case, I’ll go back to the 88”.  I may even venture to a 92” for a Kieran (riders are paced behind a motorcycle to get up to speed. The motor pulls off at 2 laps to go on a 333 meter track, and the riders have 2 laps to sprint. Since you are already up to speed by being motorpaced, you don’t have to worry about trying to jump in a gear that’s too large).
  8. Do you have any superstitions about racing or any pre-race rituals? What are they and how did they start?  I just like to fill my iPod (or walkman back in those days) with good music to warm up to and get focused with.
  9. If money was absolutely no object, what bike would you ride and how would it be painted? I pretty much have the bike of my dreams, but if I had all kinds of money, I’d get a really nice Zipp disk for the rear and Corima four-spoke for the front.
  10. If you could race with any pro, from any time in history who would it be? Hmm, It would be cool to ride with one of the first ever women’s racers. I don’t even know who that would be, but it would be cool to ask her why she got into racing, etc.
  11. You are granted a riding session with one current pro team.  This session includes as many hours of riding as you would like, lunch at any location you choose and the ability to ride any place in the world.  How do you fulfill this dream?  Please be specific with details about lunch conversations with riders and any pertinent gossip that is applicable. You should revise your instructions that you can ask them whatever questions you want and they have to answer honestly. But, your instructions should also say that you are required not to divulge what they said…                                                                                                                          Peanut Butter and Co, of course! They have a some amazing track riders, including Cari Higgins and Corine Rivera. I would like to ride with them at the velodrome in Manchester, England because it’s a really sweet track. I would get all of the gossip. Who are the pack princesses? Who are the hard workers? Who do they think has the most potential? Who does and doesn’t eat (and how do they manage)? Who’s cheated?
  12. Who would you absolutely love to beat by the end of this year, and why? I don’t have anyone in particular that I want to beat, but I do want to better my 2 kilometer individual pursuit time. Although I did lose the 2009 Master’s National Pursuit title to Renee Eastman by .25 seconds, so if I had to pick one person… (but she was also my team pursuit mate).

Racing is Black and White

September 1, 2010

There isn’t a single person who hasn’t seen the old images from the Tour de France and thought “man, those are some cool shots”.

Race photography comes at us these days with such hyper-real clarity, and amazing color that, at times, it can be a little overwhelming.  And this is coming from a photographer that LOVES to make life look hyper-real.  Long gone is the simplicity of the black and white image in bike racing.  The colors jump off the page and the rider’s eyes burn holes through the screen with fierce intensity rarely seen.  These images work.  They are beautiful and portray the venues beautifully.

But, there is still something to be said for a solid black and white image.  It has no color…only tonal range.  In reality, this is the way the image is first seen.  Either on film or through a digital processor, the camera sees only tonal ranges.  The range of light runs the gamut from intense white to absolute black.  Within each extreme there is no detail, no information.  But, if a photographer can create and image that spans the entire length of the tonal histogram (from absolute white to absolute black) and catch all of the tones in between a beautiful picture can be had.

This last weekend, I shot a race on the eastern plains of Colorado.  It started in a town famous for the world’s first rodeo.  Realistically not much has probably happened there since.  Granted, they do have a great rodeo every year.  In any case, the race started in Deer Trail  Colorado and ventured into the plains to the east of town.  The race flyer warned of high winds and high heat.  Not a great combo.  Mix those two elements in with rolling hills, no trees and a bunch of fallow wheat fields and the photography turns to be fairly monochromatic.  What a great opportunity to shoot in black and white.  In reality it was a relief.  Normally I am shooting with mounds of extra light.  I will remotely trigger one or even two speedlights and drop the exposure of the back ground down a bit.  But this day was different.  Nothing but me and my camera.  Just the landscape and a mind that was thinking in terms of tones instead of color.

Life becomes very simple when a photographer thinks this way.  Color is washed out.  All that remains are shades of gray, and values of light and dark.  Contrast creates the drama in the photo.  There are no blue skies to stare into. No green trees to contrast with the blue sky. No colorful kit of the road cyclist.  Instead you get dark eyes crying out in pain and sun bleached faces that contort from extreme effort.  Roads revert back to “black top” and cloudless blue skies go white.  What a wonderful way to view the world.

I had my day of shooting, and it was glorious.  No frills, no strobes, no fancy techniques….it was me, my long lens and the world.  When I got home and looked at the images I thought to myself  ”are they as cool as those Tour de France images?”  The answer?  NO way in hell.  But it was a ton of fun and it shows what racing in Deer Trail Colorado is like.

Episode #7- Chris Winn

July 9, 2010

The Hugo Road Race is one of the classic races in the Denver area that ALWAYS comes with a story.  This year brought temperatures that scorched every single rider and winds that steadily howled.  It seemed to be a day that was destined to last for ever.  The sun beat down every single racer.  The skin of each rider was drawn tight by the constant battering of 60mph winds.  And the volunteers worked to exhaustion to keep water bottles full and trash contained.  It truly was an epic ride.  Only about half of the riders finished that day.  For those that did finish the end was bittersweet.  For those that didn’t finish, the end was also bittersweet.

One of the racers I met was a Rio Grande rider who snapped a shifter half way through the race.  At the time, he was in the lead group with two teammates. . . looking for a win.  Chris Winn was poised for the podium but it would have to wait.  For the rest of the afternoon, Chris rode around with me as I shot images of the other categories.  We chatted about his home country of Australia and his desire to sign with an international pro team.  Just a couple of months later he won the best young rider Jersey at the Nature Valley Race.  The stars are lining up for him, so keep and eye out for this awesome rider from Down Under.

  1. With what team do you ride? This year I’m racing with the Fort Collins based Team Rio Grande.  First year on the squad and I’m happy they’ve allowed a foreigner to invade their program.  Great bunch of blokes and can’t be happier how everything is going in 2010.
  2. How long have you been racing? I first zip tied a number to my handlebars at the age of 14, spending the next 9 years picking dirt out of my teeth as a cross country mountain biker.  At the end of 2007 I flipped the switch and turned to the dark side….I mean became a roadie.
  3. How did you get started racing? Like most things growing up I followed my older brother into the sport.  At the time I was a tennis player but as soon as the cycling bug bit, it turned into a nasty rash that I still haven’t been able to get rid of yet.
  4. What is your all-time favorite race? The race to the fridge post training ride.  Especially when there is decent left over’s from the night before so preparation time before consumption is kept to a minimum.  I do enjoy watching the classics with a soft spot for Flanders.  The one’s I’ve personally tackled in the USA would be Nature Valle Grand Prix and the Tour of Utah as favorites.
  5. What is your strongest discipline? I tend to do better on the hillier stuff, one day and stage races that sort of thing.  Being a smaller guy I don’t have too much in the sprint department, so big game crits aren’t usually where you’ll find me at the pointy end of things.
  6. What part of bike racing do you absolutely loathe? The safety pinning of numbers onto your jersey.  Coming from a mountain bike background it was a couple of zip ties for a plate on the handlebars and you were away.  Recently I got back from a stage race where for the first 4 days the number placement changed on the jersey each day and it was cracking me big time.
  7. Tell me a little about your bikes and gear.  What are they, what cool little gizmos do you use to train, what is your favorite piece of equipment? I really like my set up this year. I am riding on an Orbea Opal decked out with SRAM and rolling on some Reynolds 46mm tubulars on race day.  The bike is super stiff and stable at high speeds which is perfect for our stage race schedule.  For training I have an SRM which works a treat and is nice to collect some data while racing being the nerd kid that I am.  As for my favorite piece of equipment I’d have to say my white SRAM hoods make things look pretty trick and tie the graphics of the bike together.
  8. Do you have any superstitions about racing or any pre-race rituals? What are they and how did they start? Being an Aussie the pre race meal is always a lightly roasted platypus smothered in Vegemite.  Anything less and the legs just don’t turn.  No, to be honest I don’t have any superstitions outside of just trying to be organized before racing and therefore stress free.  Actually, you’ll never see me with those shorty ankle socks……bad news right there.  And the sunglasses always go on the outside of the helmet straps….and they have to be spotless…….hmmm so maybe I do have a few then!
  9. If money was absolutely no object, what bike would you ride and how would it be painted? You know I’m pretty happy with my Orbea right now, and I just saw the 2011 Orbea Orca released so I’d love to throw my leg over one of those.  Deck it out with SRAM Red parts and a green and gold paint job and I’d be happy as a clam.  Does it come with a mechanic to keep it clean???
  10. If you could race with any pro, from any time in history who would it be? Good question there. It would have been cool to race alongside Phil Anderson in the 80′s.  Phil was one of our many Aussie cycling pioneers to break into the European scene and put us on the map.  Plus at that time I could get away with a worse hair cut than I do now.
  11. You are granted a riding session with one current pro team.  This session includes as many hours of riding as you would like, lunch at any location you choose and the ability to ride any place in the world.  How do you fulfill this dream?  Please be specific with details about lunch conversations with riders and any pertinent gossip that is applicable. I would say a long (6hr +) blue sky day in the mountains of Northern Italy with Saxo Bank would be perfect.  Throw in the Gavia, Mortirolo and the Stelvio passes and that should take care of the climbing aspect alongside some sweet descending action.  Lunch would be burritos at a random Chipotle found midway through the ride, and consequently all conversations and gossip would be about how on earth this Mexican chain restaurant ended up in a small village in Italy.  Needless to say I’d think Spartacus would enjoy a steak fajita though.
  12. Who would you absolutely love to beat by the end of this year, and why? Any current professional….the more the better!  It’s no secret my aim is to gain a contract for 2011 so the further up the results sheet I can ride the better.

When it Rains…..

June 21, 2010

Last week I was sitting in the car waiting for a client to show up.  All week it had been sunny and the early morning light was perfect for a shooting.  Today however, as I sat in my car, the clouds opened up, the fog rolled in like a lumbering old man and a steady drizzle threatened to end the entire thing.

Even though it wasn’t the exact lighting I was hoping for, the light was beautiful and wrapped serenely around the landscape.  With time to kill, I pulled out the I phone took a shot, tweaked it with Tilt Shift and sent it off to FaceBook with the caption, “not sure the photo shoot is going to happen.”

Within minutes a response was posted from my good friend Dug Gordin.  That is not his name of course, I had to change it to protect his innocence. So, Doug (oops,) Dug posted a quick little response that said… and I quote “A real photog would find a way…”   so true.

Seconds later, the client pulled up completely excited about the shoot.  ”These clouds are perfect” he said, “they totally fit the theme”.  With that we were off.

15 minutes later, we pulled into the parking lot of the highest trail head around.  By now the clouds sat even lower but the drizzle had eased up.  The shoot was to take place on a rock outcropping that rested 100 yards down a drainage.  I loaded up the light stands, got the extra batteries and heaved my 50 pound pack onto my back.  I was ready to descend.

It only took a couple of minutes to get to our secret location and it was well worth the scramble.  The model edged out onto the giant boulders that hung 500ft off the ground.  This was going to be tricky.  Everything around was slick with the fresh rain.  Every boulder was glossy and the light bounced off the granite like kaleidoscope of colors.

Working with the fading sun, we noticed two things had changed.  First of all, the rain was back. Second was the LIGHTNING.  The low hanging clouds randomly exploded. On and off they went with increased frequency.  But, in the words of my buddy Dug, “A real photog would find a way…”.  So we kept shooting.

Within minutes the conditions deteriorated.  Water was pouring off the rocks, the sun had almost completely set and suddenly the lighting was lower and firing off every couple of seconds.  Without any warning, (that’s the way lightning works you know) my entire head started to tingle and a burst of light thundered just feet above.  But with Dug’s words of wisdom “A real photog would find a way…”, we pressed on.

Soon it was too dark to shoot and time to begin the now treacherous hike back up the the ravine.  I wish I had some harrowing tale of near death, but that is not the case.  Soon, we were at the car and headed back to town.

In the end, Doug (oops) I mean Dug had great advise “A real photog would find a way…”

Out In the Oil Fields

May 14, 2010

Growing up in Wyoming, the lights from the glowing oil derrik seemed to be the western version of the Northern Lights.  They were untouchable and mysterious.  They represented a world I knew nothing about.

I remember driving through the vast empty space between Green River and Laramie, lost in thought. Pondering what life must be like on a rig.  After all, the derrik ran 24 hours a day, rain or shine, in extreme heat and extreme cold.  At times the only lights in the world during the dark windy winter months would be the luminous glow from a distant drilling rig. That was part of the allure of the drilling rig.

A month ago, I was commissioned by a wellhead company to document the work of installing wellheads, BOPs and the maintenance needed to keep it all running.  Before I knew it, I found myself sitting on a 12 passenger turbo-prop headed to the distant plains for North Dakota.  The Bakken Oil field is one of the largest and most active formations in the lower 48 states.  The discovery of oil in North Dakota has turned sleepy cow towns into busting oil stations.

Watford, North Dakota is such a town.  Just recently it was written up in the New York times.  The author discussed the challenges the city faces and the struggle with housing the men working the Bakken field.  This town would be my home for the next 5 days.  For 14 hours a day, I followed a group of men around to the various rigs while they installed BOPs, lubed  wellheads and performed general up keep.  Finally I got to see the inside, or rather all around the mystical drilling rig.

The men that work these rigs are made of movie stuff.  They have their own language. They have their own hand signals.  They even have their own names for the specific jobs on the derrik, and unless you have proven yourself, they have their own name for you.  These men are hard.  Working 12-14 hour shifts in the dead of winter, exposed to the elements with some of the most dangerous equipment in the world, makes a person tough.  The work is wet and thick with muddy oil that bubbles form the hole.  The tools are enormous and one misstep or a slip in attention and life becomes very serious very quickly.

As I was shooting pictures of the men installing a BOP, one of the guys said to me, “hey, don’t step there.”  I looked at him with my usual “yea, no shit” look since he was pointing to a large pool of watery mud, that had the consistency of thick chocolate milk.  What did he think, I would just step in a pool of water with my camera strapped to me?  So, I looked at him, with that same look and said, “yea, ok”.   Then he looked back and said it again; I must have been getting closer to the pool.  With the same look I said, “So, it isn’t just a pool of water?”  ”Nope,” he said ” ya step in there and we’ll never see y’again.  That goes down 150 feet and there is no way to get ya out.”  Needless to say, I didn’t get any closer to the hole.

In the end, I got some great shots for the company.  But the shots that truly stand out in my mind are the images of the men on the rig.  One of my favorite photographers did an entire series on oil rig workers.  Richard Avedon, in the mid 1980′s produced the most vivid and striking images I have ever seen.  My images are not the same in any stretch of the imagination, but they do capture what the work is like.  Oh, and for the record, the guy with the sledge hammer is the one who told me where NOT to step.

Another Day at the Office

April 14, 2010

One of the areas that I have been totally getting into this year is….making movies from still photography.  This type of work is blowing up right now.  And, there is not set form or structure.  These shorts are on the internet all over the place. Most recently photographers are being nabbed up by companies such as At&t and major insurance giants to produce low cost movies with a very unique look.

Most of the time, the videos don’t have the look of a classically composed “stop motion” movie.  Instead they are shot with the camera set to high-speed shutter and shooting images between 2-8 frames a second with low res. jpegs.  The look of the video can vary greatly. This is what makes this type of shooting so much fun.  All of the same techniques used in a still shot can be employed when shooting at multiple frames a second.  Blur can become very effective. Short depth of field often brings with it a mystical quality and all of the cool special processing techniques just add a little extra boost to the final product.

This video was created with the intent of using it during the grand opening for an advertising company in Denver called Amélie Company.  They are a specialty firm that produces some great work for international companies.  We shot early in the morning, trying to capture the feeling of coming into work.  The milling around, getting coffee, checking emails, all became the focus of the shoot.  Along with the morning activity I tried to give the viewer a sense of the building.  I wanted them to see the work space and the great character of the office.

Take a look and let me know what you think.

Monday Night Lights

April 5, 2010

Sitting in the first corner, I try to get myself as small as possible (eternally a challenge) so that the cyclists don’t clip me as they race by.

Bike racing is always a challenging sport to shoot.  It’s not like you can simply stand in front of the competitors and ask “hey can you hold that pose for just a second longer?”  No way, most of the time these athletes scream by at mach 3, totally oblivious to the world.  Their heart rates are through the roof and every thing goes black except for the person they are following.  My job is to catch the essence of the moment.  What is it like to slam your bike into a corner at 25 mph? How does it feel to be in “the drops” pedaling as fast as possible down an 8% grade on 1/2 inch tires wearing only lycra.

This night a good buddy of mine, Jerry Olson, and I ventured into the world of track cycling.  We headed out of town for the bubble of Boulder in search of some fast paced track action.  Half an hour later, we landed at the hub of all Boulder track racing. . . Boulder Indoor Cycling.  On any given night, cyclists clip into the pedals to warp around this 142 m. oval.  The 45˚ corners hold each racer in place and drop them into incredible angles that make great pictures.

On this particular eveningt a group of locals had gathered to train.  Chris, Ingrid and Erika were  great sports.  They rocked some new Tiemeyer bikes and buzzed me every every chance they got. Each time I asked if they would “go again”, they were absolutely in. They  hammered around the oval time after time so that I could get a couple of shots.

My favorite aspect of cycling is the speed.  It doesn’t matter if it is uphill, downhill, on the flats or around a banked corner; I love the speed.  And, I try to show this through my imagery.  Motion blur is one way to show the great velocity that these athletes carry.  Tonight crafting that “blur” was my goal.

It really isn’t very tough to shoot a static cycling shot. Modern digital cameras have an amazing ISO range and current lens technology can stop the fastest moving object.  So tonight I was looking to combine the use of flash with a slower shutter to generate the feeling of the velodrome .  Every 8-10 seconds a rider blew through my view, focussed on the black line.  This focus and speed is hard to explain to someone who isn’t there at that instant.  The wood against carbon wheels creates that muted thunder, and heightens the rush of the race.  This isn’t a stagnant moment, it is intense as well as instantaneous.  What better way to capture the feelings of rider and spectator than blur?  Warp that image.  Make it scream.  Show the intense concentration, the sweat…the pain.  Show the speed.  Enjoy.

Cleaning out the Closet

March 29, 2010

Every so often I sit down at the computer and start wandering back through old photos.  I used to do this when I was in grade school.  In fact, I used to do it in high school, and college too.  The old memories return, flooding my mind with emotion and seemingly lost events.  I find it refreshing to reflect on those times, trying to remember old friends, certain moments…trying to recall even the smells at the time.  With the advent of digital photography the ability to dig out those old photos is endless.  Years and years of images, stored on hard drive after hard drive provide literally hundreds of thousands of events to recall.

Most recently I found my self plunging back through a week I spent at the Marine Recruit Depot (MCRD) in SanDiego California.  For an entire week I was part of a group that was granted an insider’s view of the recruiting process and basic training.  Each year the Marines ask various groups to visit the depots with the intent of dispelling any myths the general public might have about this particular branch of our military.  During the week, I was exposed to some of the basic training techniques the Marines use, shown around the entire base including a great trip to Miramar (famed TopGun School) and shown what life is like for recruits as they proceed through the grueling steps of basic training.

As I said before, letting my eyes pour over older photos always brings back memories but it also allows me to have a fresh perspective on the shots I took.  I find that with some images, I am much more critical and don’t like the composition or processing.  But with others, a new appreciation comes from a second glance.  Looking at photos after an extended time away freshens the eye and removes some of the emotional attachment that once may have lingered.  This “fresh” look drives a new creativity and re-energizes the need to create distinctive images.

The series below is the second kind of image.  At first glance I wasn’t crazy about them.  Today, they capture the hard work, the exhaustion and the sleep-derpived blur these soldiers must have endured.  This is the final day or their basic training.  Today, they will be called Marines for the first time.  They are no longer recruits.  For the last three days they have been functioning on 2-4 hours of sleep coupled with endless physical, mental and tactical challenges.  These shots were taken just as they hiked back into base from running the Gauntlet.

All Terrain Shoes – A.T.S’s

March 16, 2010

I am drawn to cool short movies that are shot using “Stop Motion” techniques and/or by shooting with high-speed shutter option of still cameras.  One of the coolest videos that has caught my eye is by a German photographer/producer, Roman Kuhn.  He produced a five minute short that tells the tale of the new Mercedes Mclaren and a sneaking paparazzo.  The entire video was produced using two Canon 1Ds shooting at 10fps.

A few weeks after viewing this cool short film I headed to Wyoming to visit my parents.  As with most visits, we did the usual go out for breakfast, take walks, play with the dogs, eat lunch, take naps….repeat.  One afternoon, as my dad and I were futzing around in the garage. We were both bored so I suggested we head down to the river to make a movie.  He was in.  My pop loves this stuff.  He is the type of guy who is game for any new adventure, especially if he gets to play with cool new gear.  Quickly, we decided to shoot a video featuring his cool new all terrain shoes.  (I am not sure if that is the official name of these brogans, but for the purpose of this story they are.)  We jumped into the truck headed to the river and looked for rocks, fences, dirt trails, sand and of course water, to start making our movie. We brainstormed some scenes and talked about all of the cool qualities of his shoes.  We had to cover the vents, the velcro fasteners, the super cool slip-cord-tightner (another technical term) and of course, we had to shoot the super-duper-no-slip-rubber that keeps it all together.

Over the next two hours we shot 1,000 frames or so… the coolest part of this whole undertaking is shooting tons of images.  I don’t know a single photographer who doesn’t like to fire off 10 frames a second.  It is the machine gun of camera stuff.  Clicking off frames as fast as they go.  And, with digital, it doesn’t cost $12 a minute for film.

Since the end-use was web, I was able to shoot with low resolution  jpeg image.  This allowed each card to hold 2,000 or so images.  I just shot away.  One thing I forgot to keep in mind was, duh, keep the camera horizontal.  That is actually a big change from shooting only stills.  The format for video is completely horizontal.  Any crazy tilts or going completely verticle renders the frame useless.

At the end of the day, my dad and I had spent some quality time together.  Once again we were out in the wilds, tinkering with gadgets, toys and gear trying to produce something cool.  True QT.

Take a look and let me know what you think.  It is pretty bare bones and I still have to figure out the after effects.  Drop me a line if you have any suggestions or questions.

Celebrations in Denver

March 11, 2010

In 1965 Rachel B. Noel was elected to the Denver Public Schools Board of Education.  This successful election made  Mrs. Noel the first African American Woman elected to public office in the State of Colorado.  In 2008 Mrs. Noel passed away leaving a living legacy of hope, tolerance, and inspiration that thousands of people benefit from today.

A month ago I was asked to cover the Rachel B. Noel Awards Ceremony that took place at the Shorter A.M.E. church in Denver.  I arrived early, not knowing the grand scope of the ceremony and was soon to learn that I was asked to cover one of the most glorious awards presentations/celebrations in Denver.

Over the next four hours I photographed local community leaders, educators and honorees as they came together and received recognition. During the ceremony, the audience learned of the great accomplishments of Rachel Noel and joined together to commemorate her life.  This night brought the songs and voices of various church choirs together as well as members of the community who have made great changes in our city.  Together we learned of the people and groups that have helped create a stronger and healthier Denver.

Our lives were enriched with the stories of triumph and struggle that brought so many people to Denver. The choirs rejoiced with soloists praising the work through song. The program flowed seamlessly for two full hours of vocal melodies, tribal drums and dedications.

Following in the legacy of Rachel Noel, five awards were given and one Distinguished Visiting Professorship was granted.  Each was presented to people who fought against racial discrimination and inequality.  Each was presented to people who, like Rachel, make a difference.

This night, the following awards were given:

Distinguished Visiting Professorship
Julius E. Coles

Academic Excellence
Metro State African and African American Studies Department

Community Engagement
Jeff S. “Brother Jeff” Fard

Community Service
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Denver Alumnae Chapter

Spiritual Leadership
Shorter Community African Methodist Episcopal Church

Community Activism through the Faith Community
Lost Found Members of The Nation of Islam in North American Universal -African Improvement Association

Congratulations to all who earned awards.  Your work is truly outstanding and is making a difference in this world.

Riding In the High Desert

March 4, 2010

Almost 5 months ago, my long-time buddy, Phil McIntosh and I headed back to the small town in Southwestern Wyoming where we grew up.  We both had a bunch of work to finish up so we didn’t begin our six hour trip until early evening. But, in our heads that was perfect.  It was the first time in a LONG while we had taken a road trip together and we had been looking forward to it for quite some time.

Pointing the car north we sailed up the I25 corridor, everything synched.  The music pulled memories from distant trips and adventures long past.  The night sky darkened and millions of stars peeked through the fading glow of a fall sunset. Our chat circled around family, lost adventures, jobs, cars and biking.  After all, cycling was the draw to head home.

When we lived in Green River Wyoming, not much was going on. It was the mid 80′s. We liked alternative music in a town that thrived on country. Things like skateboarding, snowboarding and mountain biking were not looked to highly upon.  But in the 20 years since, much has changed. And that is why we came back to our old haunt.  Over the last two decades, Phil’s dad Tom, and a group of his buddies have worked tirelessly to make this sleepy western town a mountain bike mecca.  The cool thing is that for the most part, they have succeeded.

Over 40 miles of trails now surround the town.  There are smooth rolling runs with banked corners and great rollers.  And then, there are the uber technical lines that feature six foot drops and narrow ladder bridges.  There is great climbing and even greater descents waiting to test your luck.  All of these trails were the back drop for my camera.

My assignment was to shoot images for a feature article appearing in Mountain Flyer Magazine.  In every issue, the magazine covers a certain biking destination. Many of the spots are new or developing. The March issue will spotlight the history of mountain biking in Green River. My job for the weekend was to get the images that would supplement the story.

As it turned out, we didn’t have the classic October weather I was hoping for.  The high only reached 40˚ and the wind worked its hardest to be a classic Wyoming howl.  Our shoot, scheduled for Friday and Saturday, was to cover five different trails and a newly built skills park.  Nat and Rachel Lopes, of HilRide, created the layout for the park and the Tom and his gang of bike fanatics moved tons of dirt to create an amazing bike park. I stood in awe the first time I saw their creation.  Green River now had the coolest bike park around.  That’s something to be proud of.

So, for two days I followed the group of ten riders around, scoping out the best places to shoot.  We all shared stories of great trails and wipe-outs and injuries and geeked out on the coolest gear and newest parts.  What more could you ask?  True to Wyoming style, the skies shone crystal blue with lofty clouds adding to the contrast.  I shot mostly with off camera flash, but kept the light harsh so it would balance out the look of the sun.  Over the weekend I took over 1,000 images.  And from that, about 15 will be used for the story.  In the end, the coolest shots were the ones that reminded me of my buddies and biking in Wyoming.  It is a classic tale, two guys head out on a road trip to mountain bike for the weekend.  This time we have pictures to prove how much fun it was.  Thanks to all the folks in Green River for being such sports with the photo shoot.  Nice work with the trails.

Urban Assault

February 21, 2010

Earlier this week my friend Paige Eden and I took a short trip east of town in search of an abandoned airfield. We had heard about many different airfields but most of them no longer exist. Paige turned me on to this cool photography site that explores urban ruins.  These folks have it down, they check out old asylums, empty hospitals and cool detention centers. We wanted to see something similar.

With this in mind we searched for anything that was no longer inhabited in the Denver area.  Sure enough, Paige stumbled on this cool old airfield.  The runways are barely visible but two main buildings remain.  During operation, there were a series of hangars, a fuel station and even a restaurant.  All that remains are, what appeared to be, the restaurant and the traffic tower.

When we arrived it was snowing pretty hard.  We hoped to find the landing markings on the tarmac; those would make cool pictures.  Instead we found  quite a bit of old furniture that had accumulated  around the concrete pads of the old hangars and office buildings.  The decaying sofas proved to be cool subjects in their own right.  I took out the camera and decided to shoot the entire day with a wide open shutter.  I was looking for a super short depth of field and hoped it would add to the mystique of the area.

After getting everything we wanted from the airfield we moved to the buildings.  One of the things I find funny about this type of location is all of the gang graffiti. We are no where near the city and still the structures are rife with all different gang tags.  How do they get all the way out here?  The building looked like it had been used as temporary shelter, party house, teen-age get away and shooting range for the last decade.  Unfortunately a mismanaged fire destroyed a solid third of the building and made for very treacherous exploration.

We were able shoot from the windows of the first floor and then ventured into the basement.  Inside was a hodgepodge of leftover chairs, old televisions and random clothing.  The charred remains mixed well with the trashed insides and the silently falling snow added to the eerie mood.

After an hour or so of exploring, we packed up our gear and headed home. When the weather warms up, we are both excited to head back for a cool fashion shoot.  Make sure to check out Paige’s Blog to see the images she took.

Wandering 2/7/10

February 7, 2010

It’s 9am Sunday morning and the city feels sleepy under the lightly falling snow.  The silence is strange since it is Super Bowl Sunday.  People should be hustling from one place to another.  But they’re not.  The snow has made everyone a little sluggish, a little slow.

This morning inspired me to wander through my neighborhood.  I wanted to talk to people.  I wanted to see what was happening on this Super Bowl Sunday.  Stepping from the warmth of my house, I shuffled south listening to the silence that only a sky full of falling flakes can make.  The city was subdued.  Every sound and every color muted.

At first my lens focussed on lines and curious angles.  My eyes liked the places where the snow started to gather. They moved to rocks and fences, steps and tree branches.  Everything was silent and my images seemed to respond to the stillness.  I found withered thistle in the neighbors yard.  I cast my gaze on empty allies and lonely churches. And slowly life began to change.

Meandering toward Federal Blvd, the city seemed a little more awake.  Even so, the bus stop, which normally hums with activity, silently loaded and unloaded it’s contents. The liquor slumbered behind its shuttered windows and locked door.

Down the block a lone man swished away the morning snow with a push broom.  The gentle sweeping of the snow fit in perfectly. And soon others joined him, helping clear the sidewalk for morning worship. A silent lot, clearing the walkway, dressed for service.

Further along Federal, past the hushed doorways of the dispensaries and hair salons, the empty school yard rested from its weekly toil.  Every piece of equipment sat silent. Every slide was empty.  The playground slept under the still winter blanket.

Turning west onto the less busy side streets, a man and woman exhanged goods.  I paused, simply watching.  I was drawn to the scene. Eventually they turned around and noticed my camera and me staring at them. Introducing myself,  my curiosity was piqued.  For the next couple of minutes we talked. Quietly we shared bits about our lives as the snow continued to fall.  They explained to me how they distributed food to the elderly.  Rolland pulled away the tarp, opening of his trailer and showed me the food he had collected from grocery stores earlier in the week.  He would spend his day dropping off donated goods to people who were struggling.  It seemed fitting to meet him here. He was off the beaten path. Rolland silently worked as the snow drifted to earth around him.

Wandering the streets of Denver this morning I met half a dozen people.  Some of them wanted their pictures taken.  Some of them simply didn’t care and allowed me to snap off a quick shot.  It was all give and take.  We talked.  A young man, on his way to a friends house, told me the two teams in the big game. Others chatted about the neighborhood and how it had changed.  We all shared. We all listened.

Rolland however, made me think. His humble self-confidence was pure. He made me think and my mind settled into the walk back home.  Again the lens found leaves clinging to trees and lonely pinecones resting on barren sidewalks.My morning of wandering drew to a close much the way it started.  I turned the corner as the snow piled up and crunched beneath my shoes, and my street sat completely empty.


January 25, 2010

I love photographing people.

A couple of months ago, I was talking with a good friend of mine and she happened to mention how she thought 1950′s style pin-ups were some of the coolest images of women ever made.  She pulled out some old Betty Paige calendars, that her father had given her, and we wasted the better part of an evening talking about the aesthetics of this bygone genre.

We poured over the poses and commented on the sex appeal.  The eyes. The facial-expressions. The outfits.  Everything seemed to say “sex” without really saying it.  That is what turned us on the most.  They were “hot” but not slutty.

We dissected more images looking at the specifics of each pose and the subtleties of each shot.  Soon the talk rambled toward the idea of producing images like these. But, with a modern twist.

We should do a pin-up shoot.

A short list of possible people sprouted.  To be included were hair stylists, make-up artists and models (of course).

We were onto something.  Over the next month our team gradually assembled the needed accoutrements.

Sassy outfits, check.

Stylist, check.

Models, check.

Make-up artist…..check.  Now all we needed was a day to make it all work.

My idea was to shoot all of the ladies against a “green screen”.  After the shoot was over, each image would be digitally extracted and placed on whatever background seemed to fit.  From the get go, I wanted crazy color.  It was 1950 meets a Deee-Lite video.  It was my crazy dream that I hoped would work.

Each image needed to tell a story; a little vignette. There is one behind any good pin-up.  There is the librarian who, during story time, happens to show a little leg.  Or maybe the tale is about a housewife/baker who just happens to forget the majority of her clothing for the day.  Maybe, just maybe, the story goes something like this.  A lady starts giving her cute dog a bath and is interrupted by the doorbell.

The endings are all the same.  When someone catches their little indecency, their tincy-wincy indiscretion … the reply is always … “Ooops”.

So that is where we start.

Chile – A Catharsis

January 15, 2010

2009 was a DOOZY.

When I think over the past year, I can’t count the number of people that feel the same way.  Personally it was one for the record books.

I am a firm believer in marking significant events.  Keeping them in mind. Honoring them.  Our recent trip to Santiago, Chile was such a marker. It designated an end as well as a beginning.

We began the trip on December 21st and spent Christmas and New Years in Chile.  During our stay in South America, we scoured the country. Vineyards, local markets, Chilean Starbucks, and taking in bits of history filled two solid weeks.

Santiago rests between the majesty of the Andes and the  sweeping hills of the Coastal Range.  Within the hour it is possible to find oneself swimming in the crisp Pacific waters or hiking the the steep and rugged terrain of the Andes.  Sitting at 33˚ South latitude, the summer temperature seldom varies more than 5 or 10 degrees.  (Keep in mind that when I speak of summer I am speaking of December.  This fact still confounds the Wyoming part of my brain.) Having such predictable weather is a true blessing when trying to escape the wintery world of Colorado.

The last year helped me realize just how fragile life truly is.  Looking back, the statement “life is fragile” seems quite trite and very cliche.  And, maybe fragile isn’t the correct word.  But, in the same breath, it is correct.  Our journey is fragile.  In any single moment, we each have stories of hardship. But, nestled within each tale of struggle there lies success and triumph.

These are the stories I wanted to capture and  this is the difficult job of the photographer. Wandering around a town that is completely new and expecting insight into a complete stranger’s life seems unrealistic.  But, looking into the eyes of any human, stories are told.  And somehow they are no longer strangers.

I wanted to catch a glimpse, or rather, capture a glimpse of each tale.  How was I supposed to do this in a city of 5 million people, with broken Spanish and a camera?  Something wonderful happens with a camera…people let you in.

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The last year has helped me to tune in to the struggles that other people face.  Each challenge is like reading a chapter in a new book.  And, I just can’t put the book down. It is the stuff that makes up life.  These are the experiences that make us real, that make us human.  It is the pain…the joy…the drunken nights…the nights alone.  It is loss.  It is near loss.  These vignettes are told through the gaze of a stranger. And I wanted to hear the tales.

It was my catharsis.  It was my way of sharing my story.

By capturing a look, a moment of reality, I too was able to share my story.  Maybe I found some of myself in each person.  The young family sitting at a cafe.  Two boys, one mischievous, and one somber sat with their father enjoying summer break.  The men in the market, selling the fruit they had grown over the last few months.  How many years had they been there? What stories had they heard sitting in that booth, year after year?

Armed with my I-phone translator app. I traveled around looking for stories.  I found one sitting in a doorway.  Again with my broken spanish, I pointed to my camera and asked if I could take his picture.  ”Yes, my friend” was his response.  If I had taken all afternoon to speak with him, I can’t even imagine the adventures I would have heard.  I am sure there would have been tales of hard work, women and wine.

My favorite picture happened without words and was finished in the blink of an eye.  I saw an old man sitting in the window of a train. He seemed both solemn and serene. Without speaking, I pointed to my camera.  He nodded.  I took three shots and showed him the viewer.  A slight smile graced his lips and with a glow in his eyes he nodded again.  That was it.  What stories does he have?  Did he survive a corrupt government?  Was he alone?   His eyes told generations of tales.

And this is how I was able to remember the last year.  I honored it by searching out the librettos of life, captured in the blink of an eye.

Episode#5-Alison Powers

November 23, 2009

Alison PowersAbout two years ago, I met Alison while working at a local bike shop.  At the time I had no idea she was such and incredible racer.  What struck me was how kind and genuine she was.  Well to tell you the truth, I was really taken by her awesome curly hair and her amazing smile…..who isn’t?  I soon changed jobs,  but kept in touch while she traveled the world exploring her racing career with various pro teams.  She seemed to be everywhere and kicking butt all over Italy and France.  Then in 2008 she became the National Time Trial Champion.  Even with all of the wins and international travel she is still the same Alison.  Every time I see her at a race, whether it is CX or road, she smiles and takes time to talk.  So, here is one of the nicest and most successful cyclists the metro area.

1. With what team do you ride? Team Fuji for CX. Team Type 1 on the road.

2. How long have you been racing? 5 years on the road. This is my first real year of racing CX.

3. How did you get started racing? I missed being an athlete (I used to ski race until 2004).

4. What is your all-time favorite race? Good question!  I don’t know. There are so many great races and, of course, it always depends on how you do at that race.

5. What is your strongest discipline? Time Trialing

6. What part of bike racing do you absolutely loathe? Road rash is a major bummer.

7. Tell me a little about your bikes and gear. What are they, what cool little gizmos do you use to train, what is your favorite piece of equiptment? This year, I used Orbea bikes.  Ordu TT bike, Opal road bike and Occam mtn bike.  For CX, I am using a Fuji Cross RC.  I use an SRM when training and that is amazingly helpful.  My favorite piece of equipement is my singlespeed CX bike.  I love it!

8. Do you have any superstitions about racing or any pre-race rituals? What are they and how did they start? No, I don’t have any spuerstitions.

9. If money was absolutely no object, what bike would you ride and how would it be painted? I’d have a Cervelo TT bike painted blue (that’s my favorite color).

10. If you could race with any pro, from any time in history who would it be?No idea.

11. You are granted a riding session with one current (international) pro team. This session includes as many hours of riding as you would like, lunch at any location you choose and the ability to ride any place in the world. How do you fulfill this dream? Please be specific with details about lunch conversations with riders and any pertinent gossip that is applicable. I’d ride with Team Luna to learn some mtn bike and CX skills/secrets.  Riding with the new team Radio Shack wouldn’t be bad either.  Learn from Lance…

12. Who would you absolutely love to beat by the end of this year, and why? Alison Dunlap.  She’s an amazing bike rider, and a true inspiration to the sport.  Plus, then I could talk smack to her.

Episode#4 – Eszter Horanyi

November 2, 2009

Eszter HoranyiEszter Horanyi,  what can I say……..THIS GIRL FEELS NO PAIN.  Any person that can win a 24 hour race is someone to reckoned with.  Not to mention, she won it all alone!  I was fortunate enough to meet Eszter a couple of weeks ago while on a shoot for an article posted on MTB Race News.  We spent the morning around Marshal Mesa, just south of Boulder.  The sun was coming up and it was just after our first snow storm, what an amazing time to be outside.  Eszter rode up to the shoot and had grand plans of going home right away to study or do some work or something crazy like that, but….after we were done, she decided to pedal off for a ride.  I don’t know too many people who compete in 24 hour races, let alone win 24 hour races, so it was quite a please to meet Eszter and chat with her about her training, riding and life.

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1.With what team do you ride? Waltworks/Fuentes Design
2. How long have you been racing? 6 years total, 3 on a mountain bike.
Through the CU Cycling Team, I raced road for two years then switched over to mountain bikes.
3. What is your all-time favorite race? Gunnison Growler…no, Crested Butte Classic…no, Breck 100. I don’t know, I like them all.
4. What is your strongest discipline? Unfortunately, it seems that I’m pretty good at 24-hour racing.
5. What part of bike racing do you absolutely loathe? The logistics. Getting myself properly dressed with a functional bike to the start line.
6.  Tell me about your bikes and gear. I ride a Waltworks steel 29er hardtail. The frame is made by a good friend in a Boulder garage and rides like a dream. American Classic helps me out with some of the lightest and strongest 29er wheels out there and Ergon hooked me up with some awesome grips, but everything else on there is pretty standard. Anytime I have anything fancy, I tend to break it.
7.  Do you have any superstitions about racing or any pre-race rituals? I have a pair of socks that I refuse to wear because I had a really bad race in them. Unfortunately, they’re really nice socks.
8.  If money was no object, what bike would you ride and how would it be painted? I’d pay Walt off to build me a Ti Waltworks hardtail. Then I’d pay him extra not to grumble about it.
9. I you could race with any pro, from any time in history, who would it be? I’m a total idol-worshiper bike racer. Alison Dunlap, Kelli Emmett, Katie Compton…oh wait, I could show up to any cross race in Colorado and get beat down by all of them.
11. You are granted  a riding session with one current pro team.  This session includes as many hours of riding as you like, lunch at any location and the ability to ride anwhere in the world.  How do you fulfill this wish? I’d take the Waltworks Dream Team down to central Colorado. I’d get Dave Wiens to come out and show us around Hartmans Rocks in Gunnison early in the morning, get a late breakfast/lunch in Crested Butte at Izzys and then go out and ride Crested Butte trails with the Crested Butte crew. Then I’d eat dinner at either the Brick Oven or Secret Stash…or both, I’d probably be pretty hungry by that time.

We’d make fun of Walt the whole time and then he’d kick me off the team.

I really can’t think of any one else who I’d rather hang out with than the people I already ride with, and the riding in Colorado is pretty darn good.

11.  Who would you absolutely love to beat by the end of this year, and why? I train a lot with a Brit and a West Virginian. Like most boys, they talk nonstop smack both in the email exchanges setting up a ride and during. I’d like to drop their sorry asses.

Episode #3-Jon Pulley

September 15, 2009

Episode three takes us across the ocean to “The Mother Land”.  This short story starts out some years ago in England….I am not sure where in England it started, but I am sure it all started in England.  Fast forward some 40 odd years, move from England to the thriving suburb of Westminster and you are now up to speed with my latest blog subject, Jon Pulley.

I met Jon about 8 years ago.  At the time, he was working in an alternative school in Aurora, teaching math and mountain biking or climbing every weekend.  He would rush off to the mountains Friday,  and return home totally “knackered” every Sunday night.  Not much has changed, really.  He still rocks a mountain bike, he still rushes off each weekend and he is still a good “mate”.

1.  With what team do you ride and why? Boulder Cycle Sport. Brandon and the crew got me racing ‘cross a couple of years ago as tried a few road races and didn’t really enjoy them that much. Saw that BCS had a ‘cross team so decided to give it a try. Got hooked that first season and raced nearly every w/e. Cut back last season as injured my back and this year I’ve been XC racing.

2.  How long have you been racing? First race was 15 years ago – Polaris Challenge in the UK. A two day self sufficient orienteering bike race. Then moved to Mexico and did only a couple of races over a four year period. I moved to Colorado and have only really raced for the last couple of years- mainly ‘cross and XC short track through endurance.

3. What is your all-time favorite race? Tried the Breck Epic this year. Enjoyed the multi day format, the camaraderie and racing sweet trails around Breckenridge

4.  What is your strongest discipline? Climbing

5. What part of bike racing do you absolutely loathe? Sandbaggers, pisses me that someone has the balls to win a race by so much time and be proud of their achievement. Grow up!

6.  Tell me a little about your bikes and gear. Cross bike is a Scott- nothing special there, ulterga stuff. XC is a Superlight that’s been around for a while. Love it, although I bought a Yeti 575 (love too) last fall which I now ride more. Both great machines. My road bike is a Lapierre X lite- nice ‘cos not too many here. Rode it in France 2 years ago and got loads of comments.

7.  Do you have any superstitions about racing or any pre-race rituals? What are they and how did they start? Try and drop the kids at the pool before any race.

8.  If money was absolutely no object, what bike would you ride and how would it be painted? Bike, bikes! Carbon Blur or ASR, spec’ed in the region of 21lbs. Custom Ti single speed and a sweet AM bike. Would have to get brother in-law to paint them as he does custom artwork.

9.  If you could race with any pro, from any time in history who would it be? Have to be Sean Kelly. Grew up following all his races in cycling weekly- even had full KAS and PDM team kits when I was 15!

10.        You are granted a riding session with one current pro team.  This session includes as many hours of riding as you would like, lunch at any location you choose and the ability to ride any place in the world. Would like to hang out in Girona for a spring with all the pro roadies. Would be a great place to ride, live and ride some more

11.  Who would you absolutely love to beat by the end of this year, and why? I think that I’ve beaten myself up this season, also crashed at the Dakota five O last w/e. So think that I’m just about done. May squeeze a couple of ‘cross races, but that’s all for the 2009 season

Episode #2 – Susannah Gordon

August 12, 2009

One of the first people I met in the cycling world of Colorado is still one of my favorites.  I bumped into (literally) Susannah Gordon 3 years ago at a coffee shop on Pennsylvania Street during the ColoBikeLaw beginning of the year mixer.  At that time she was just one of the ladies in the mix.  Now, fast-forward three years. She flat out rocks!  In any race she is one of the ladies pushing hard, blasting through corners and blowing up legs on any climb.  Let’s check in with the second rider of my cyclist blog adventures….Susannah Gordon.

  1. With what team do you ride? ColoBikeLaw.com
  2. How long have you been racing? 4 years
  3. How did you get started racing? I started with a church group just riding my bike, and found myself chasing people down on the road.  I would say, “I can catch that person!”.  The friends who got me started were all ex-pro’s and knew right away that I should start racing.  They encouraged me to find a team…
  4. What is your all-time favorite race? 2008 Tour of the Gila.  This was my first NRC level race and I placed 16th overall in the GC.  It was a thrill for me to ride at that level and finish amongst the strongest ladies in the nation.
  5. What is your strongest discipline? Climbing is my strongest suit, but I have really been working on my TT skills in the last year.
  6. What part of bike racing do you absolutely loathe? I absolutely hate someone who sits on a wheel and refuses to work in a race.  My theory is, get out and race your bike! I think you gain more respect from the peloton if your willing to work during a race and still have it in you to sprint for the finish.
  7. Tell me a little about your bikes and gear.  What are they, what cool little gizmos do you use to train, what is your favorite piece of equipment?  I was fortunate enough this year to have BMC sponsor me.  I ride the BMC Pro machine with SRAM red components for my road bike with a sweet set of 2009 Zipp 303’s for the road and Reynolds ROM’s for uphill finishes.  My TT bike is the BMC Time Machine with the 2009 SRAM red components.  I have often told people that if I don’t well at the races, it’s not because I didn’t have the right equipment!!  My SRM computer is probably my best friend and my worst enemy.  I live my daily life of training using that cycling computer and I am so thankful to have it, yet sometimes I want to throw it as far out of reach as I can get it!  Drives me crazy sometimes having all those numbers staring me down…especially when I’m having a bad workout.
  8. Do you have any superstitions about racing or any pre-race rituals? What are they and how did they start? No, no superstitions.  I just have always believed that my talent was God given and staying humble and focused on the task at hand is what helps me win races.  I always evaluate each race and the course and decided where it tactically suits me as a rider.  Knowing your competition is also really important to race tactics, who is good at what and understanding how they will race.
  9. If money was absolutely no object, what bike would you ride and how would it be painted? I love my road bike (however, I could go for the lime green, black and white colors!).  If I had my choice of TT bikes, I would own a Cervelo P-3.  Ultra sweet ride!
  10. If you could race with any pro, from any time in history who would it be? Funny that you ask that question, the last 2 years, we have had the privilege of riding with the best ladies in the world.  Jeannie Longo was living and racing in Colo. Until the 2008 Olympics, and used Colo. As her training ground.  At Mt. Evan’s last year, I stood on the podium with her (which was very surreal), I was thinking- “What I am doing up here with Jeannie Longo!”.  On the same note, this year at the 2009 Tour of the Gila, I rode along side of Kristin Armstrong and Alison Powers, our current Olympic and National TT champions.  I thought to myself “what I am doing here!”.  However, these ladies couldn’t be any more kind to the peloton…Great inspirations.
  11. You are granted a riding session with one current pro team.  This session includes as many hours of riding as you would like, lunch at any location you choose and the ability to ride any place in the world.  How do you fulfill this dream?  Please be specific with details about lunch conversations with riders and any pertinent gossip that is applicable.  Funny that you ask this question.  My coach just approached me the other day and asked about sending a few ladies over to Lucca, Italy next year with the Colavita Pro Team.  We would use it as a training camp and an opportunity to train and ride in Italy.  Spending a week with the Colavita team, riding daily and having great dinners and wine in Lucca is on my list of fun things to do next year!  I am hoping for long rides that involve lost of climbing and gorgeous views!  I would want to know all the low down of the domestic pro team riders, what their ambitions are and what they all have planned for next season.
  12. Who would you absolutely love to beat by the end of this year, and why?  I have been lucky enough this season to have had success in every avenue of racing.  I have won TT’s, Crits, Road Races and Hill climbs.  I guess my best answer would be that when a domestic pro lady shows up to our races, not to be intimidated, but know that I have the skills and training to beat them.  Have more confidence in my ability as a rider and know that I can be competitive even at the highest level!

CAF Cruiser Criterium

June 8, 2009

What a race!!!! So, in the midst of two tornados, hail, torrential down pour and some very upset road cyclists, the CAF Cruiser Criterium of 2009 was a smashing  success.  All of the volunteers made the silent auction run as smoothly as possible during the rain storm and ensured that the items for sale stayed dry and safely tucked inside the tents.  Trish Downing was on hand to speak about the CAF and all of  great opportunities they provide for athletes looking to overcome physical challenges. After a long day of meeting many new and crazy people, the final tally is in: 10 gallons of rain water, 8 soaked tents, 20 WONDERFUL volunteers, 5 thousand dollars in auction items, over twelve teams of cruiser racers, 75 outrageous costumes, 25 stylee cruiser bikes, thousands of dollars raised for CAF,  and MORE FUN THAN CAN EVER BE COUNTED.  To see all of the images, click the following link – CAF Cruiser Criterium 24 Minutes of City Park

Urban Runner

June 4, 2009

Two weeks ago, Dirk Ruge, Michael Mauro, Kari White and I took the morning to shoot some incredible images of an urban running scene.  We trained our lenses on an area that had great lines along with an unrivaled view of the city.  Both Mike and I were able to play with natural and artificial light to capture images that told our story.

Thankfully, Dirk Ruge came along to film and produce a great “behind the scenes” podcast of the entire morning.  In all we were able to create great images while Dirk captured some stunning footage.  Take a look at the images and click the link below to view the video.





Fishing In Fall

June 1, 2009

As the leaves turned to a golden hue, the stream was as clear as the Colorado sky and just about perfect for fly fishing.  I look forward to this season as it signals a slowing down of the life cycle, a resting time for all things.  It certainly is a time to reunite with friends and spend some quality time in the mountains.

A good friend of mine, Todd, was headed out to fish “a secret spot” up near….well I really can’t say.  But, it was in the mountains of Colorado.  He asked me to join him, and is there any better time to bring the camera?

I was bound and determined to use off camera flash, but without an assistant it was going to be a challenge.  The river would, most definitely, topple the strobe and we all know that is not a good thing.  So, I used the extension cable for the strobe and set my camera and flash to manual.  With the camera fastened around my neck, I held the body with my right hand and elevated the strobe with my left, giving me a similar feel to off camera lighting.  The shutter was set to sinc at 250 and I worked with the aperture to expose for the sky.  It took some futsing (technical term for messing around) with, to get the flash exposure just right; but after a couple of test shots I was ready to capture this beautiful day of fishing.

At The Hangar

May 30, 2009

This last week I had the opportunity to visit my buddy Steve at his office.  It just so happens that his office is an airplane hanger that houses two pretty awesome jets.  Steve was looking for a creative corporate portrait that he could use to document the last few years of work.  So, I met him for a 7am photo shoot.  The sun was just coming over the top of the building making for great morning light.  We shot for about an hour and a half and were able to get quite a few interesting images.  Once again I was working with off camera strobes that are controlled remotely from elinchrom slaves.  The light was powerful enough to balance out the sky so that we could get nice sun flare in a series of shots.  At the end of the shoot, Steve needed to start up the vintage fighter plane and I was able to get a couple shots of that also.  In all, it was a great morning, early shoot, a chance to hear the thunderous roar of a fighter jet  and time with a buddy


In the FootHills

May 27, 2009

Today we were fortunate enough to have one of those classic Colorado days, crystal blue skies and about 70 degrees.  Mike Mauro (www.mauromedia.com), Dirk Ruge, Kari White, Mike’s nephew Kolton, and I all headed into the foothills to shoot images around the theme of “trail running”.  It was quite a day, Kari soared back and forth over a ravine, giving Mike and I plenty of chances to catch “the shot” while Dirk recorded it all on video.  Keep an eye out for the “behind the scenes” podcast coming soon.