A few years ago, after working exclusively in the digital photography realm since I began shooting, I decided to finally try my hand (and eye and fingers) with a little film. I found a late 1960’s Canon FT QL 35mm film camera on Ebay for $45. After it arrived, I discovered that my grandfather once owned this exact model – adding a very special significance to the purchase.
Digital photography has this spray-and-pray mentality where you just shoot and shoot and shoot, until your image turns out mostly right – and then you make it perfect in post. Film is different. It’s very deliberate. You only have 24 frames and you better make each one worthy of a shutter click. It also adds this serendipitous, unpredictability that can’t be easily manufactured.
My first roll developed into blanks (turns out loading these guys isn’t exactly plug-and-play) but what you see here is my first round of successful test prints.
Tree branches in Boulder, CO.
Snowboard gear in the parking lot at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area near Dillon, CO.
Shower curtain at home in Boulder, CO.
Shadows on the ceiling at home in Boulder, CO.
BJo and his 7D in Boulder, CO.
Call it fate, serendipity, or simply call it chance – as the universe would have it, I was born on the very same day as a good friend’s girlfriend – albeit several years apart. To celebrate one more revolution around the sun, every year the two of us join forces to plan an adventure with our closest compatriots. This year it was decided that an end of the summer camping/hiking/wine-tasting excursion to Colorado’s oasis-like western slope would be the experience of choice. Little did she know there were much bigger plans on tap for this trip.
On Saturday, October 5th, 2013 the Wandering Natives played “The Genre Wars Anticompetition” at the ultra-crunchy Shine Restaurant and Gathering Place in downtown Boulder, CO. The hour and a half long set featured many of the bands signature tunes including “Battle of Blair Mountain”, “Around the Bend“, a lively rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” and a show-stealing surprise encore featuring Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”. The band’s excitement and energy were contagious and stirred the crowd into a frenzy unlike anything seen at any recent Wandering Natives shows. It was seriously an awesome night.
My parents always thought my primary motive for moving to Colorado was to pursue my college education. Ha. College was a distance second place excuse when I learned this magical place has one of the longest snowboard seasons of any state in the union. Resort riding nine months out of the year? Sorry mom and dad. See ya Illinois. And then it got even better. After I had made the move during the summer of 2005, we heard rumors of a large snowfield near Idaho Springs – one that was impervious to the dry summer heat and the sun’s scorching rays – managing to stay intact all year long. Saint Mary’s Glacier it was called.
That August we made the trek – t-shirts and shorts, boots and boards. After a quick but rocky 3/4 mile hike through the pine trees, the trail suddenly open up to reveal a large lake – complete with several rock perches for the adventurous cliff diver. And then I saw it – off to the east, up the mountain several hundred yards, there it was – the glacier itself.
We rode hard that day – lapping a makeshift box near the top of the 1,000ft snowfield in sun-filled, 60 degree, mountain weather. After a long, hot afternoon of snowboards and smiles, we elected to cool off in the pristine glacier-fed lake we had seen earlier in the day. Flipping off a small cliff into ice cold water was the perfect end to my first summer snowboard experience. For a few dudes from Illinois, this was all it took – we were officially sold on Colorado.
8 years later, I traveled back to the glacier for another session. This time armed with a heavy crew, a small but versatile skateboard rail, our backpacks loaded with camping gear, and of course the whiskey. And again, I was reminded of exactly why I moved to this state so long ago and why I still choose to call Colorado home.
Some serious photographers would scoff at the idea shooting legitimate images with a smartphone. iPhone-ography is not real photography I can picture them saying. The reality is you can’t always have your DSLR, your bag full of lenses, and all your peripheral equipment on your person at all times – it simply is not practical. However, nearly all of us keep our mobile phones in our pockets or purses every single day from the moment we stir out of bed.
With the advent of the smartphone and vast improvements in camera and mobile editing technology in recent years, it has become all too easy to capture random, otherwise fleeting moments with these devices – before they fade into the volatile memory bank of our minds. Not having your DSLR is no longer a valid excuse for not documenting a potentially beautiful, remarkable moment in time.
All of us could do well to remember that a camera is still a camera, and fun is still fun.
(All image below were captured and edited on an Apple iPhone 4)
Sad Clown – Tucker, our 4-year old Old English Bulldog loves to sit in chairs, he climbed up here by himself one afternoon. I think he sees us humans doing it and assumes that’s what he is supposed to do to.
Fake Fat – I discovered “Fat Booth” about a year ago. It’s an iPhone application that turns your friends into human blobs of chins and cheeks. This is my friend Kayla Hall, in reality she’s probably one of the most petite girls I’ve ever known.
The Best of the Midwest – This summer on our trip back home to Illinois I got to shred some dirt bikes with Jordyn Minnaert. In all fairness she got this shot and I did the editing – she really deserves the photo credit here.
I’ll Be Right Here – Ok, you busted me, I take a lot of photos of our dogs, like one of those obsessive parents. I know I’m guilty, they just do the funniest stuff. Tucker crawed under the covers one morning, crossed his arms, and posed like ET. I had to grab my phone.
Chestnut Mountain Resort in Galena, IL has been putting on their annual ski/snowboard event – The Big Nut Open – for the past four years. My good friend Brandon Huttenlocher and his team have been organizing and running this contest for it’s duration, making it one of the premiere shred competitions in the Midwest. Since I grew up riding Chestnut, I had always wanted to do my part to help the cause, but it became obvious early on that since I was living in Colorado, there was little I could do.
This past fall I went to Brandon and said there must be something I could do remotely to help bring this event to life. He suggested that I come up with the promotional poster to be displayed on the lift pole “billboards” and inside the lodges leading up to the contest. Not having much graphic design experience but still knowing my way around Photoshop, I thought it could be a fun challenge. After talking with a graphic designer friend of mine, I decided that I wanted a simple, clean, photo-focused graphic. Brandon sent me some images he shot the previous season and I came up with the layout and some of other design elements. Then with Brandon’s finishing touches, we landed on the final poster below.
Thanks to Brandon, his team, and the amazing terrain park crew, the contest was extremely successful and went on to win the “Best Event” category in a Ski Area Management Magazine contest.