Tag Archives: Photograph

Holly and Amy’s Big Adventure

I got to do one of my favorite things on Friday:  talk about the ADA to a bunch of disability rights advocates.  Even better:  the advocates were with the Southwest Center for Independence, and were in Durango, Colorado.  I had the choice of six* hours of driving (each way) through the amazing Colorado countryside, or an hour (each way) bouncing over the mountains in a regional jet.  I chose the drive without a second thought.

Denver to Durango

So Friday morning early, I lit out for Durango and because Holly still isn’t fully house-trained, and thus can’t stay alone with Tim, I brought her along for the ride.



It’s almost as if I bought the CRV with the dogs in mind!  Oh, right.  Turns out it has an added feature I hadn’t even known about.  For those awkward moments when she poops in the middle of a scenic overlook that lacks a trashcan:


Always pack out your trash!

Anyway, I chose the southeastern route in the map above — down I25 and across Route 160 — because I’m not a big fan of pass driving.  Google Maps helpfully sets out various routes, and then lets you choose your mode of transportation:  car; bus; on foot.  To accurately calculate our time, however, they need another option:  traveling with puppy.


Google maps composite

We stopped every hour and a half to two hours to find Holly a grassy spot.  Besides that slight inconvenience, though, she was the perfect traveling companion.

Driving in Colorado:  breathtakingly beautiful.


Breathtakingly scary:



Breathtakingly . . . obvious?



Got to Durango without a minute to spare before the talk.  That is, though I didn’t have any minutes to spare, I spared a couple, and ended up about 5 minutes late.   It was my favorite kind of talk:  with interested advocates who had great ideas and great questions.

After the talk, Holly and I set out to explore Durango a bit, and found a path by the river that was perfect for a post-driving-trip stroll.




Obligatory “Holly Posing Because She Knows Just How Cute She Is” photo:


Dinner was yak stew — a first for me! — and lamb dumplings at The Himalayan Kitchen, then back to the hotel, where Holly checked out the accommodations.


For the drive back to Denver, I chose the more direct route — in blue in the map above — that took me on Route 160 as far as Del Norte, and then Route 285 northeast through the mountains.  There were a couple more passes, but either they were relatively easy passes or I’m finally getting use to pass driving.  Or possibly exchanging the 1988 Accord for a 2013 CRV just makes the whole thing feel safer.  But I also took the time to stop for photos.  These first four were processed in HDR:








AR056492_3_4_tonemapped b&w







Colorado life!





Uh oh!   Better behave myself!***



I arrived home, tired and happy, yesterday afternoon, very grateful to live in a state of overwhelming natural beauty and kick-ass disability advocates.


* Actually, I have to confess, when I first learned I would be going to Durango, I thought, “it’s in the same state; how far can that be?”  Having grown up out east**, I assumed that anywhere you had to go within a single state couldn’t be more than a couple of hours’ drive.  Soooooo it turns out they make states bigger out here.  So the six-hour drive was a bit of a surprise, but ultimately a pleasant one.

** I’ve been overthinking the phrases “back east” and “out west” recently.  I use the phrases mostly because they reflect my path.  I started life on the east coast, and I’ve migrated out west.  But it occurs to me that these common phrases are not only sort of east-coast-centric, but also reflect a European-American-centric path (my peeps mostly entered the U.S. from the east coast and headed west) as opposed to an Asian-American path, as many Asians entered the U.S. from the west coast.  So I thought I’d try “out east” for a while and see how it sounded.

*** Tim’s uncle Pete Palmer is sheriff!

My father’s photo archive, part one of many.

I have finally started on the project of archiving and (selectively) scanning my father’s photographs.  He was an avid photographer, if by “avid” you mean “relentless.”  In a pre-digital age, when developing photos was costly and time-consuming, he would take massive numbers of similar photos.  I can’t remotely imagine what his archive would look like had he lived to own a digital camera.

His photos span his own teenage years in the late 40s and 50s to the years just preceding his passing in 1997.  From skinny ties


to sideburns


to grandfatherhood


His equipment spanned the Minox to the Poloroid, but he really hit his stride in the disposable camera era.  I’m not sure he used a non-disposable camera after about 1990.

The organizing challenge is also more intense for more recent photos, that is, those taken after One Hour Photo began offering two-for-one prints.  Dad often got three- or even four-for-one, resulting in giant stacks of photos for each roll, or more frustrating, duplicate rolls scattered throughout the collection.

I should have taken a picture of the starting point:  three large (3’ x 3’ x 3’) boxes of unsorted photos — most stored in all of the variations on envelopes that developers used from the 40s to the 90s, but many loose photos and negatives as well.  I have now gone through all of the photos that remained in envelopes and more or less figured out their year or at least decade.  This process brought home the need for some sort of consistent way to organize them — and a search for what turns out to be a rare thing:  a no-frills way to store large numbers of photos.

Working hypothesis:  Damn you, scrapbookers!

A search for “photo envelopes” yielded sites willing to sell me heavy-duty envelopes just thick enough to mail one presumably very important photograph, but no envelopes sufficient to hold a roll of 36 (or 72 or 108) photos.  I moused around for a couple of days, and then hit our local Mike’s Camera to see if perhaps they sold in bulk the sort of envelopes you used to get your developed photos back in.*  They didn’t but the guy behind the counter recalled he’d purchased them in bulk back in the day when his store actually developed photos.  He had the name, no!, not the name, but he did have the 800 number.  And bless the internet, a search on the 800 number took me to the Mackay Mitchell Photopak company, which sells “print boxes,” 100 for $25.10, in two sizes.

Print box 1Print box 2

So, I figured, I had just been using the wrong term.  Clearly all I’d have to do would be to search on “print box” instead of “photo envelope” and I’d have a wide range of choices.  Not!  Here are typical results for “print box”:

Print box 3

print box 4

print box 5

And here’s where I blame scrapbookers:  it is apparently no longer acceptable to store photos in cheap, plain, buy-in-bulk envelopes or thin cardboard boxes.  They have to be archived — no, make that “curated”** — in something cute, expensive, and space-consuming.

I placed my bulk order with Mackay Mitchell.

This post took a sort of unexpected Andy Rooney turn, so I’ll wait til the next to start posting some of my Dad’s more remarkable photos.


* Yes, I did that grammar on purpose.  Grotesque but sorta cool, no?

** It will not surprise you to learn that I’m planning a post on the overuse of the word “curate,” which has escaped its home in the museum and wandered off to cover any set of two or more things that someone has chosen to put side by side for any reason in any medium.  For example, “I curated my eggs and toast this morning.”  See!  How awesome is that?!

A beautiful day in the neighborhood

Brought my camera along on the half-mile stroll that serves as the dogs’ inspiration twice a day.  If you know what I mean.

I know I’m supposed to edit myself out of the photo, but I thought the reflection was sort of cool.

I wanted to get a photo of this dog — thought the black fence against the black and white dog was cool …

. . . .but forgot momentarily I was attached to a dog or two myself:

All is well.  After a brief discussion of who was alpha, we proceeded along our way.

Random s**t photography

When I started my first photography class, the instructor asked us to state what style of photography we were interested in.  What was stunning to me is that the rest of the class (“Digital 101″) had answers.  That is, they each knew the name for the styles they were interested in and rattled it off for the class.  I thought to myself, “random shit and southwestern colors,” but those didn’t appear to be standard categories.  I listened to my classmates, chose two that sounded close, and replied, “landscape and architecture.”  Everyone nodded knowingly, that is, knowing more than I did about the styles of photography to which I had just randomly pledged my interest.  Well, not totally randomly because — as I think I’ve mentioned — I determined quickly that my photographic interests do not include “portrait.”

One of the other things I’ve found interesting and sort of unexpected is the question of when and how much to stage a photo.

Now obviously, Saguaro doesn’t wear glasses or read a Kindle,* so I do a bit of staging when I’m goofing around.

But I was a bit taken aback at how much the instructor seemed to assume that we would be rearranging the scene before us, and not just by asking the owner of the naked behind we** were photographing to clench.  When your preferred photographic genre is random shit, however, you can’t stage.  It’s right there in the rulebook.  It has to be random.

So when I found this excellent collection of randomness and color on Santa Fe Drive,

I knew it was a perfect shot for me.  And you have to trust me, that’s just how I found it.  Possibly TMI, but I don’t even own a bra in that color.   Nor does Tim.  Nor either of the dogs.  Herewith a couple of other random photos, with many more to follow, I’m sure.

* He reads e-books on his laptop.

** The editorial we.  I’ve never actually photographed a naked behind.***

*** Well, not a naked human behind.

OMG OMG I can make panoramic photos!

I know, I know:  2009 called … to congratulate me on discovering its Photoshop technology.  I just learned that Photoshop Elements will take a series of photos and create a panorama.  I started with . . . ok ok I have to fess up to something first.  We are supposed to prepare a photo essay for the class I’m taking and because I have no imagination, my essay is on . . . ramps.  I know, right?   Get over it.

My original concept was to photograph small, out of the way, unlikely ramps, like these two in rural Maine somewhere north of Portland.

I was clearly in need of some coaching in the technical and compositional departments, but you get the idea.  My concept was on some level to be able to say to large international chains that remain out of compliance in 2012, “you see!  Ralph’s Home Sales of Somewhere Off Rte 1 in Maine, managed to install a ramp; so can you!”

Since I don’t have the time to go anywhere out of the way, I’m left trying to tell a story through photographs of various ramps around Denver.  During the class session in which we critiqued one another’s first few essay photos, my classmates had lots of helpful advice like, “your theme could be dogs!” and “you could sit at a coffee shop for a day and photograph the people who patronize it.”  But I’m stubborn and don’t have time to sit at a coffee shop all day, so ramps it is.  And dammit, I think it’s kind of cool.  And!  It turns out that panoramic photography is sort of an interesting way to show how a ramp relates to the accessibility of the building it serves:

This was my first attempt at panoramic stitching.  (That term gives me the mild creeps, with a sort of Frankenstein vibe.)  It was so much fun, I spent today trying to dream up fun ways to use the technology.  Turns out graffiti walls make cool panoramic shots.

So does the dragon on Su Teatro’s building.  I was too close and trying to do too much, but it’s sort of cool.  I think I need to go back in the morning when there are no cars and photograph it from the middle of the street.

Here are three more ramp panos.  The first — on 17th at Curtis — is more an illustration of how several levels can come together in an almost imperceptible way.

The ramp below is on University Blvd just north of Asbury, and what I liked the most isn’t really visible from the pano:  The fact that the ramp starts low on the right, rises to the entrance and then the red wall keeps rising at the same angle — decoratively only, I believe — continuing the slash of red color from one side of the building to the other.

Finally, this is the west entrance to the DU aw school which is not visually very compelling, but lends itself nicely to panoramic treatment.

Since I was already wandering around the DU campus with a camera, I had to take the following photograph that to me poses a deep and unfathomable question: did anyone anywhere on the design team have an 8th Grader?  Access to an 8th Grader?  A friend’s 8th Grader to whom he or she could have shown this design?  Does anyone even think like an 8th Grader?  In other words, DOES ANYONE ELSE SNICKER WHEN THEY SEE BENCHES MADE OF LIPS?

Or is it just me?