Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I had to post it. It was just too cool.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Kaimos Afosiosi

Some of my friends and family have seen this picture. It was taken at Southern Utah University, Upper Campus. This photograph is the capstone of the Sharsmith Project, and it reflects a small piece of my heart and soul. It is named Kaimos Afosiosi which is Greek.

See the Preface and Index for the Sharsmith Project here.

Probably no one will ever understand this photo, and that's okay.

Good Medicine.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

SUU campus - Into the Light...

There's not a lot to say here. The last photo of a long day shooting. I used to load up my camera bag with three cameras and start walking across campus at about 5:00 in the afternoon. I would usually finish at about 11:00.

My lesson learned today, and for the last couple of months, is that some things in life are worth fighting for. If we don't actually fight for them, we will quite possibly always regret it. So don't give in. Put yourself out there. If it seems to really matter then chances are there is a good reason why.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

SUU - Old Main

"...We younger fellows were loitering around and wondering what they might say or do that could make us face that deep snow and cold again, rather sure that they couldn't put it over. One and another of us drifted in and out, listening, arguing among ourselves. Who said it, when or how it was said I couldn't say, but something stirred us to a determination to go back, get to work and see the thing through.”

- Rob Will Bulloch, quoted in SUU: The First Hundred Years

The tremendous efforts of the citizens of Cedar City brought about the timely completion of the first building on campus, and it is loving dubbed "Old Main." It stands as a testament to a community that pulled together and sacrificed to complete a task that seemed impossible. They did it because they wanted better opportunities, and better lives for generations that would come. Most of them knew that they would not personally benefit from the school, but they took the opportunity to help others stand on their shoulders.

It makes me stop and think for minute to myself. What roads am I walking today that others may walk in the future? What am I doing so that others may stand on my shoulders? What am I doing to make better opportunities for those that may follow me? And in short, what difference am I making?

I have to add some creation data for this picture, because it was so nice the way it worked out. I was down at SUU for a late evening shoot and it was getting dark fast. I was shooting film. In shots like this where you are trying to balance artificial light with fading natural light, quite often my light meter is wrong and the shot requires overexposure. Long exposures also require exposure compensation when you are using film. This shot was about 20-30 seconds.

At the time, I really didn't know any of this. I had no clue how magical it can be to balance artificial and fading natural light. But I accidentally left my camera in a compensation mode so it was overexposing everything about two stops as I recall. I realized it later on that night as I was packing things up. I figured the shots would be wasted. Picture this: It's like 9:30 at night, the grass is wet so I don't want to kneel down. I'm doing 30 second exposures, which entails waiting patiently. I'm tired and I have to drive back to Salt Lake that night. And then my camera was set wrong. I just chucked everything in the truck and drove back to Salt Lake. A couple of days later when I got the film back from the lab, I was ecstatic with the results. So what I thought was a complete loss ended up teaching me new techniques that I used throughout the rest of the project and still use now. Interesting.

The next amazing thing about this photo is that I was back down at SUU the following weekend and they had set up construction barriers all around this building because they had started an extensive renovation project that lasted about two years. If I had not taken this shot and the others that I took the same weekend, I never would have gotten a good shot of Old Main for the Sharsmith Project. Sort of amazing really. If my camera hadn't been set wrong? Who knows...

Monday, June 9, 2008

Southern Utah University, The Founders Monument...

Southern Utah University has one of the most dramatic beginnings of perhaps any University in America. They received a charter from the State for the school, but then they were threatened with losing that charter if they didn't get a building built by a certain date. And it had to conform to the all of the standards of the buildings at the University of Utah. Because of the weather and the lack of funding, this seemed like an impossible task. The story that followed was one of an entire community pulling themselves together and doing whatever they could to see the task through. This included sending crews into the nearby mountains on an expedition to obtain lumber in the dead of winter, where they encountered serious difficulties with the cold and the snow. There arose a blizzard and the men were trapped out there in it. It was then that the story of this horse, now refereed to as "Old Sorrel", came into play. He would rise up and plunge into the snowbanks, breaking the trail for those that followed. The men later commented that they owed their lives to the horse. He is depicted here on campus in bronze, forever to be remembered as a part of SUU's history.

At one point in the lumbering expedition, the men were losing heart, and Cornelius Bladen, captain of the expedition told them: "We're not going to quit and don't get in into your heads that we are. We're going to go down and get bobsleds and then come back in here and get that lumber out!" He sounds like a determined soul. I would have liked to have met him.

The Founders Walkway extends from the Founders Monument across the campus to where Old Main stands on the east end.

I was about two months into the Sharsmith Project when I had to go to Phoenix for business. I had two of my younger sisters with me along for the ride, and we arrived in Cedar City at about 10:00 PM. There were snow drifts a couple of feet deep all over the city and it was still snowing that night when we arrived. I settled them into the hotel and I told them that I would not be back for a couple of hours. I took my camera, which was a Nikon N80 with Fuji Pro160S film, and wandered out into the night. I remember being filled with a sense of extreme awe at the beauty of it all. The lights and the falling snow. I never really made it to the upper campus, and I wish that I had, because it was probably beautiful. The footprints in this photograph are mine, after I had wandered in and then wandered back out. I looked back and I loved the way it all looked. The lights, the snow, the footprints. It definitely seemed magical to me. I had no idea if anything had worked until I got back to Salt Lake, and processed the film because I wasn't shooting digital yet. I was out there taking shots on the campus until about 2:00 am and I was totally soaked with snow by that point. I was freezing, but I had a certain warmth in my soul. This is really when the Sharsmith project began. I think that these images are the earliest images that actually made it into the final collection.

Preface and Index for the Sharsmith Project

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Preface to the The Sharsmith Project...

Last week the Father-of-the-groom of my last wedding shoot called and asked me to photograph an event for him on the 20th. A group of 22-44 people. I told him I'd have to think and let him know. Try as I might, and scared as I am about it, I didn't feel like I could say no. So, why not?

Up until now, everything I have posted has been taken in the last six months, but I am about to post some older stuff. I stumbled into the Sharsmith folder the other day and I started looking at all of those images. The Sharsmith project was a collection of photos that I took in the early part of 2006. They are of the Southern Utah University campus and buildings. I feel like posting some of them, and so I am going to over the next few days. I am also going to add some commentary about how each shot was taken.

These images were my best work at the time, and are still some of my best work. I was shooting well over my ability in the capture of these images. I was just barely experimenting with scanning film, I had never shot slides before, I had just barely started playing around with 4x5 view cameras, and I started shooting with digital midway through the project.

They are dedicated entirely to Camela Mckee Hall, because she inspired me to take them. When the final collection of fifty images was presented to her, she looked through them four of five times and then said, "Alma, you seriously should do this on the side." It was some of the last words that she spoke to me. I guess that's one reason why I accept side assignments today. I always remember those words when someone asks me to shoot something for them.

Some photos from this project:

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Wandering roads...

Last December when I went to California around my birthday, I was on my way back from Santa Barbara and decided that I would stop by the Sequoia National Forest. I had an extra day to spend and I figured what the heck. Anyway, the day before I took this photograph I was driving up the coast and it rained all day. I got to Springville very late and stayed there at the Springville Inn that night, which was a charming and very nostalgic feeling cozy country inn. The next morning it had cleared off and the morning was beautiful. Springville is at the south end of the forest and I decided to drive to the Northern end to see General Sherman, the largest tree.

I took a dirt road up over the mountains and at one point I stopped and took this photograph. There were light clouds which filtered the light and made things seem a bit mystical. It really was wonderful country, and as I drove along I was filled with a calm serenity. I wouldn't mind going back there someday.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Racing with the light...

Yeah, that's right. Yesterday evening I had a race with the light. I think the last time I did that was last May and I was in Italy. I was running through the streets of Rome at 4:00 in the morning trying to get to the Coliseum in time to catch the perfect light. I had overslept, and I was literally losing my chance at the right light. It turned out okay, and I might post that shot someday.

This time, I was running up the side of a mountain. The sad part is that I had been up there an hour before and I had looked at the clouds and the sun, and said to myself, "Self, if you go down and get the camera, hike back up and wait for an hour, there might be some magic here." I decided that I wouldn't. I was out to enjoy the woods and check out the Good Medicine area, not particularly to photograph anything. So I hiked down. At my car, I debated again with myself as I watched the sun lower. I even got out my camera and sat there on the curb for a minute looking at the sun. I took a quick picture of the church steeple next door and then I just left. About 15 minutes and five miles later I sat in the Arby's parking lot and the sun popped below the clouds. Suddenly, the light that I had suspected was coming was there hitting me right in the face and dancing off everything around me. The light was so pretty that I started to go nuts. I was stuck in the drive through lane wishing that I could get out. I simply could not resist, and I decided to go back. I drove back to the trail head, debated for a second what lens to take, decided by grabbing my whole camera bag and tripod, and proceeded to run up the trail. I quickly realized that I was not going to make it to where I wanted to be before the light was gone. So I stopped right there and took this shot. I almost missed it. I didn't have a tripod mount on my big lens, and when I tried to quickly put it on, I got the wrong hole and the the whole affair wouldn't mount on my tripod. In a moment of desperation I finally bagged the tripod and handheld this shot, which worked fine anyway.

The light didn't last long, but shooting over the tops of the trees made for an interesting shot. Two minutes completely changed the whole scene, and while sunset photos are a dime a dozen, I sort of like this one. I probably couldn't have timed it better if I had tried. It always amazes me how my mood bleeds into the photograph. I was in a most calm and serene state of mind, and I think it shows up here in this image.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

"...Long ago in a land very far away, there was a young man who was fond of travelling the countryside. He would often encounter different people in his travels, and he often sought to distill a bit of wisdom from the people that he met and the experiences that he had.

It so happened that one day, he met a beautiful lady that was enchanting. As he talked with her, he found out that she was a single mother, with a son that was six years old. Her husband had become an alcoholic and their divorce had ensued. The young man had often talked with divorced people, and he had also made a study of grief and loss. He often wondered what it was that enabled people to move past these things. So, as he talked with the lady, he asked her if it still hurt. She replied that it didn't so much, but that what made her angry was what her son's father was doing to her son by not being there for him. Then the lady said something like this, "If he would focus on making his sons life better, and not worry about himself, then he would have what he needed." She went on that day to talk more about this idea, that people need to look outside of themselves and take care of others.

When they parted ways, the young man thought a great deal about what the lady had said. As he wandered the hills and valleys, he wondered who he was more concerned about? Himself, or others? And why was he doing the things that he was doing? For himself? He wondered how to change that for the better..."

I think about this story a lot lately and I wonder how it fits in with this website, my photography, and my life in general. I take pictures because I love to, but what does it really do for other people? And do I really love to do it, or do I just think that I love it? Is it reasonable to continue in this direction or am I just being silly? I have spent a great deal of time thinking about this idea of not worrying so much about one's own self, and what they want to do. It is not a new concept to me, to be sure, but reading this story brings it to my mind in a new way. It makes me begin to question why I do the things that I do, who I really do them for, and why I may have certain goals and dreams.

Some time ago, I donated a framed copy of one of my finest photographs to a fund raiser that my niece was involved with. She asked me to, and I thought it might be interesting to see the public response. Towards the end of the event, I had a lady come up to me fighting back tears, and she said that if that photograph was in her house, it would change her life. I've wondered a lot about that. Could it really be true? Does, or can, fine art change peoples' lives? And if it does, is it worth pursuing it's creation? Or is it better to focus on something else that more directly affects a person's life?

I dunno...I really don't.