Thursday, January 21, 2010

National Western Stock Show

The national Western Stock Show is a unique event that Denver hosts every year.  It shows a side of Denver that many people don't know about.  The event is, as I understand it, the super bowl for farm kids that raise livestock in FFA (Future Farmers of America), an auction and trading center for all things livestock (even very expensive sperm!!), a herding and flyball dog competition, and a world class rodeo.  I'm sure it is way more than that, but I am not very well versed in these types of things!!

So this Tuesday I went to try and capture the essence of the show with my camera.  The following is my account of the show:

FOOD: there is lots of it, and most of it will either satisfy your gluttonous sweet tooth or your macho side.

The first item is certainly only found in America.

Next we have a few manly meals:

LIVESTOCK: these are some of my favorites, but it is not a good representation of the diversity of animals there.  It is strange to see all the cattle completely clean.  They are being groomed constantly since they will either be judged or sold at auction.

This was my favorite cow, just bathed, wearing the bling and the hair all done up!

RODEO: Last but not least, here are some pictures from the rodeo.  The rodeo was incredibly entertaining and exciting!  What these guys (and girls) can do with ropes, while on a horse, is UNBELIEVABLE.  Some people don't like rodeo, and after watching this, I can see why.  I understand the arguments on both sides, and don't have a strong feeling for or against rodeo but I have to say there were a few times when I felt bad for the calves being tied up and/or drug around.  I also understand that I may have felt worse about it than the calf, who knows.  And then of course, the horses got to kick ass and give the cowboys a taste of their own medicine during the bareback riding competition.  So I guess in the animals vs humans competition, it kind of evened out.

This is my favorite rodeo pic and favorite of the day.  This is the part that made me feel bad for the calf, mentioned above.  It almost looks like the cowboy does too (I hope he doesn't read this).

The announcer was hilarious and quoted The Big Lebowski after one of the horses bucked a guy off, he said "This aggression will not stand...  man".  The horse won this one:

Rodeo is definitely a family affair. Here is a father and daughter enjoying the show:

This was a little different kind of photography than I normally do and I really enjoyed getting out and trying something different.  The stock show is a fun way to spend a day in Denver during January, there is a lot for kids to do and see as well as adults.  There is one more weekend left if you want to go check it out!

For more info:

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A little more post processing

I am currently trying to learn more photoshop skills with the intention of creating more artistic versions of some of my images.  I like a lot of the post processing I see photographers doing these days.  Some of it makes the image look like an old image from a film camera.

I decided to try out some of my newly learned tricks on my recently posted Snowy Farm image.  Love it? Hate it? Let me know!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Cold as ice, but not willing to sacrifice

I really wanted to get up for sunrise yesterday morning, but I also knew it was going to be around zero degrees. I managed to rise early enough to watch it out the window and it was spectacular.  It had snowed a few inches and the cold had created frost on everything.

Down on myself for not rising early enough, I went out for a drive anyway to see what photographs might present themselves.  I came across this little farm scene and am very happy with it:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


So I am currently unemployed, which sucks. However the silver lining is that I have time to do more photography related stuff. So when Chase Jarvis announced he was having a contest and the prize was a trip to hang at his studio for a day in Seattle, I was very excited! The contest involved taking a picture of his new photo book in some location and he would pick the most clever or interesting or whatever he decided.

So I decided to take a picture of my dog, Frisco, fetching the book. But I also wanted this to be another chance to learn new photoshop skills, so I decided to do a composite shot, merging a bunch of frames together to show the motion Frisco went through to catch the book. Chase and his crew do some amazing shots like this of skiers.

So I took Frisco out in the park to do his favorite thing, fetch frisbees, and mixed the book in for some of the tosses. I used a tripod and took all the shots from the same location to make the merge as easy as possible. Once I felt like I had enough shots, I came home and then spent 2 and a half hours merging them together using layers and masking in photoshop.

Below is the finished product, which actually WON! the week's contest!! Hopefully it will be good enough to win the trip to Seattle because that place is ridiculously cool and I'd love the chance to check out their studio and their workflow etc etc. But if not, I won a signed print and I had a great time doing it and learning new photoshop skills.

And thanks to "Anonymous" for the kick in the pants to start posting to my blog again! (I have the time!)

And thanks to Chase for selecting my photo and inspiring me to shoot!!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Did you Photoshop that?

Photographers often get asked whether they use Photoshop on their images. There are many blogs out there that have talked about this, but I am going to add my 2 cents. It is often pointed out that Ansel Adams had his own version of photoshop, the darkroom. He manipulated his images using advanced darkroom techniques and even has multiple versions of the same image out there. There is a great Ansel gallery in Santa Fe that has many original prints of same images he did over many years as he gained new darkroom skills. It is really neat to see the different prints hanging next to each other.

Back to today and digital imaging. Most serious photographers shoot in RAW format so that they can make adjustments in the computer later. When a RAW image is first opened in the software, it is often a very dull image because there is no saturation, white balance etc applied to it. SO it is necessary to make adjustments. In many cases, these adjustments are done in photoshop.

Below are 2 versions of the same image I took last fall. The first is the RAW image and the second is my finished version(processed with Aperture and Photoshop).

I look at it this way: the RAW image is the negative and the post-process software is the darkroom. Now, of course there is another question around all this and that is are you striving to present a realistic image or a manipulated piece of graphic art? In my case I am usually striving to present it as it looked when I shot the image (although I admit I sometimes try and make it "pop" a little). If I stuck a giraffe in the above image, and presented it as a picture of Crested Butte, that would be unethical... :)