Tagabandoned places

A Rocky Mountain Photo Expedition

Sometimes, I get jealous of photographers in the north-east. I am envious of the fact they have a ton of fellow photographers to talk to and be around. And while shooting street is not my thing, the ease of doing it astounds me if you live in a big city. Just go outside your apartment and photo walk. No real logistics needed. Not so much where I am and shooting what I like to shoot. It’s more of a photo expedition.

Still, I’m thinking about mounting an expedition and inviting folk to attend, a western equivalent of a photo walk.

Of course, nature of the beast being what it is, it will be a different sort of undertaking. Distances will be greater, logistics will be more difficult, and in some cases, it will require a lot more fitness on the part of the participants.

The way I see it, a photo expedition could be centered around three approaches. Either landscape oriented, ghost town oriented, or wilderness oriented.

shoot-559Of the three, ghost town oriented would be the easiest to pull off. The Front Range is lousy with ghost towns, and the majority of them can be reached by high clearance vehicle. Abandoned mines, stamp mills, log cabins, tramways, and even the ruins of the hull of a gold dredge can be seen close in to Denver. Large format guys would be able to get shots without knee damage or over-exertion.

Landscape would be the next level of complexity. There would be a bit more travel, of course, and timing would be more of an issue. We could visit Rocky Mountain National Park, The Great Sand Dunes, or the Colorado National Monument, in any combination. Crowds would be more of a concern, of course, and it would take longer. Covering ground in between locations would take up more time than anything else.

shoot-558Wilderness would lead to some unique opportunities, but would be the hardest to pull off. I know an overnight camp spot with an arch, abandoned buildings, a cave, and amazing rock formations, but it’s got some caveats. It’s at a bit of altitude (9,500 ft), and it involves a bit of hiking (5 or 6 miles) with camping gear. That may be hard on sea level attendees.

I still want to get a group together for the Rocky Mountain version of a photo walk. I’m curious if anyone would want to come along.

From a moving train

shoot-556There’s something about taking pictures from a train. You get to take shots you can not take any other way.

I always spend time looking at the window and shooting. West from Denver is the absolute best train ride in America. The tunnel district with thirty tunnels, leading to the seven mile long Moffat Tunnel. The Big Ten Curves climbing out of Denver. The steep granite sides of Glenwood Canyon. The vastness of the deserts of Utah and Nevada. There’s nothing like it I’ve ever seen. Only the trip to Machu Picchu on Peru Rail comes close.

shoot-555You pass through Ruby Canyon and see things you can only see from a train. You go through ghost towns like Cisco, Utah and Hazen, Nevada that you would probably never see otherwise. Small town America, rolling through back yards and road crossings and along rivers. It’s a part you can’t get to from the interstate off ramps, and it doesn’t even register from thirty thousand feet. These are opportunities you’d never know existed any other way.

shoot-553Oh sure, it has it’s faults. The windows are always dirty. The footing is never certain, and centrifugal force is always waiting to trip you up. Things are bouncing, rocking and rolling. The sun is always throwing reflection on the windows and trying to fool your meter in to a bad exposure. The deck is stacked against you, from the words “all aboard.”

shoot-554It’s always nice to get a shot when the deck is stacked against you. I never feel like I’ve won a confrontation or anything, I just feel like my skill has been tested and I was up to the task. It makes me smile. And the feeling of nailing the shot from a moving train just makes the discovery that much sweeter.

Photos taken on FPP Retrochrome in a Contax RTS II with a 45mm/f2.8 Tessar and Kodak Portra in an Olympus XA.