Chris Brower Photography: Blog en-us (C)Chris Brower Photography 2024 (Chris Brower Photography) Wed, 07 Feb 2024 20:53:00 GMT Wed, 07 Feb 2024 20:53:00 GMT Chris Brower Photography: Blog 88 120 Going Fast      It's midwinter and the snow that was supposed to come last night didn't arrive just yet.  Oh to be a weatherman and have a success rate of 50% to be considered proficient at your job.  Yesterday's xc ski down at the Raven Golf Course was less than stellar, I had forgotten my skins and the kickwax I brought was for 10-20 degrees; it was 49!  Oh well, quite the upper body workout and lesson in frustration.  With the lack of new snow today has become a good day to edit photos, work on my website that is sorely in need of attention and attend to menial but important tasks.   The electrician is coming by for an inspection as the local insurance companies are getting very nervous about potential fire hazards given the increase in natural disasters around the globe and our persistent drought.  Guess I'd better change out of my PJ's as I hear him backing up his truck.

     This time of year I spend many an early morning getting my son's skis sharp and waxed for his upcoming alpine races.  Checking the weather for the next day to get the wax just right and taking the burrs out of the edges so he can go fasts as possible.  There have been a few deep cuts so at least the edges are getting sharp.  It's fun to travel to the races as well and see all the kids in various stages of skill and preparation and parents scrambling to get everything organized to get their racer ready.  Honestly the kids do a fantastic job getting ready for each race.  Sure there's the forgotten passes, broken equipment, etc, but for the most part they get after it and have a great time.  The support they show each other is also heartening to see.  Everyone's trying their best and ego's are kept in check, for the most part. That's the nature of competition and those are important lessons. 


     With my daughter just committing to college yesterday I'm trying to focus on the remaining time I have with the kids, as it all seems to go so fast.  One day your changing diapers and arranging play dates and the next your watching her go to prom.  Everyone tells you it'll be so but until you have the experience it doesn't really hit home.  Everyday is filled with so much to do that time really does fly and it takes a concerted effort to slow down and take it all in.  Another reason to get out and practice my photography.  Making photos of the racers is something fairly new to me as I have no experience with ski racing.  Using a long lens, at least 300mm, and a shutter speed above 2000th/sec, with the back button focus which I use with my thumb has gotten me some good shots, and the kids enjoy seeing themselves in action.  I've even had questions about gear and how to get started in photography from a few of the kids, which I really enjoy.  I've averaged about 3-5 images shot in bursts per kid per run, of which there are usually 2.  That ends up to be about 1000-1200 shots, which I then cull down to 1-2 selects of each kid.  My trust old 300mm f4 nails the focus nearly every time if I shoot at f5.6.  Honestly the hardest part is standing in one spot for hours on end as these old bones aren't as nimble as they used to be.  All in all it's been a fun experience.  It's now starting to snow so looks like the southern flow of moisture has moved far enough east and north to wrap around to us.  Time for a quick xc ski before the kids get home.  The Electrical inspection is going well, looks like they did everything correctly back in the day, on to the next project...

(Chris Brower Photography) beauty blog nature photography outside psychedelia summit county wildlife Wed, 07 Feb 2024 20:45:14 GMT
Showing up      Over the Thanksgiving weekend we decided to get out of town locally in Colorado for a type of stay-cation.  One in which we could drive too but be out of our lop of tourists that descend into our little county each weekend and holiday week.  We chose Pagosa Springs, to get some much needed soaking time, a little skiing in, and look at some schools along the way.  Having traveled through the area each spring on my way to southwestern Colorado for the last number of years I have had the great fortune of seeing a pair of swans, what I believe to be Trumpeter Swans, living and nesting in a pond just off the highway.  Usually I am traveling rather quickly through the area and don't have much time to stop for photos, but this time we were going to stay for a number of days so brought along my mid range (for me) zoom in case any opportunities popped up.  Overall it was a time to relax and spend time with family so I didn't bring the whole kit along as I didn't expect to have much free, wander around, time. 

     When I began making photos many years ago I would go out at sunset and sunrise looking for interesting scenes mostly.  I would have vague idea of what I was looking for but no set agenda, and oftentimes I would come back with very few "keepers".  I was shooting almost exclusively Fuji Velvia slide film and was on a tight budget as a ski bum and restaurant worker so to shoot more than a roll of film at a time was unusual. The learning curve was quite steep. Later on I moved to digital with a D70 and a Dell computer and the world of ripping off frames as fast as I could with that body was exhillarating and very liberating from a creative viewpoint.  I could now "++ck around and find out" as they say today.  And with digital files all the info was there recorded, I didn't have to rely on my crappy short term memory or less than passing note taking capabilities.  Plus I had the gift of a digital darkroom with photoshop, Which came with a cheap Macbook Pro that I'd occationally buy from a web developer friend who would pass it onto me when he upgraded.  I was off and running.  I'd sell a few prints and do the odd wedding for friends and family to pay for gear upgrades and travel expenses.  A semi-hobby kind of thing. 

   After realizing that I didn't particularly like shooting weddings I decided to stop doing those.  I learned along the say that if it didn't "do" it for me the amount of effort I would put into it wasn't satistfying personally.  I decided to shoot photos of what I enjoyed, I didn't want to make it a job.  Getting up at all hours of the day or night and putting up with and and all kinds of weather did do it for me and I continue to head in that direction to this day.  But one thing I did notice is that when I focused on looking for a subject to shoot before I went out I had much more "success" which gave me much more enjoyment, a kind of self fulfilling prophecy so to speak.  Oddly for me it's a very precarious balancing act though, as wild animals and scenes don't always show up in a timely manner.  But the hunt is a big part of the fun.   So what I've some to realize is that have an intention and loosely defined goal before I head out to make a photograph(s).  And be open to the muse as Steven Pressfieled mentions in his book "The War of Art".  By bringing my camera with this trip, and having the idea as loosely formed as it was, of possibly seeing the swans that I knew would be nearby, I was showing up.  The seed was planted and fed, now to see if the muse would show herself. Our first few days I potted one swan but not two, and it was out in the middle of a large pond.  Too far away for make anything interesting as far as an image goes.  So be it I thought.  A little soaking, some skiing, shopping, eating and relaxing  took up our time.  I would glance toward the pond each time we passed it as we were staying very close to it and Pagosa isn't very big, and for two days I didn't see the swan at all.  Bummer, I thought, it must've flown away for the season as the pond was just starting to freeze over each night and looked to be locked up in ice for the winter season soon.  The day after Thanksgiving we took a balloon flight across the street from the pond in which I had last seen the swan, and there he was!  "Cool", I thought, "he's still around".  Later that day as we were heading home,the kids were busy doing some homework and surfing the web for shopping ideas at the condo, and I saw the swan swimming around.  I sat at the table eating my 4th turkey sammy of the day, and thought, "you know, might as well go out with the camera, it"ll probably be my last chance before we leave."  I parked at the edge of the pond and put on the longest lense i brought with, my old 80-200mm, which for birds is usually not nearly long enough.  I thought "why the hell didn't i bring anything longer!"  but continued out to the pond anyway.  The swan was out in the middle of the pond and the sun was gong down, and while the light was great on the far edge, the nearby hotel and trees were blocking any good light from falling near where he was heading.  But oddly when i exited my truck he turned and headed my way!  Come on, this can't be a thing I thought. Having been around animals for bit I've learned that it's best not to be too ecitied around them and to control my energy.  So I calmly walked to the edge of the pond where the light and setting sun were shining.  While I've known geese an swans to be somewhat curious, I've seldom known them to approach very closely and in the odd time when that happens they're usually coming in for an attack, so I was very cautious to say the least.  I positioned myself near the edge and squatted down to present as small a sillouette as possible.  Lo and behold that swan swam up within full frame distance to me, and I was able to remain calm, although I was ready to back away if it showed any aggression.  I felt no such energy or saw any indication of it being hostile and as I ripped off frames, thinking to myself that it'll be great when I can afford a camera with a silent electronic shutter, my new friend began to feed on the bottom for about 20 minutes.  Gradually it lost interest in me and my exploits and swam away in the direction of it's nest and the encounter was over, but it sure was exhilarating while it lasted.  Just another one of the many times I've been reminded of the value of just showing up.  Because you never know, and if you don't show, you never will.

(Chris Brower Photography) Tue, 13 Dec 2022 18:38:01 GMT
Frozen 2016_06_26_untitled shoot_00024Frozen Cattails


Everything is frozen,

Wow, it seems like winter is definitely here, with nighttime temps in the single digits and below zero and darkness falling around 5pm.  It's a hard time for me to motivate as I just want to sleep, read and stay inside.  Until I actually get outside.  Especially in the morning when I go out to start the truck before the sun comes up and breath that first cold, clean, crisp air.  Then it feels good to be out.  Gather up the camera bag, check for a empty card in the camera, (It used to be forgetting film, now its gone to having a card with room on it and a charged battery), fill the coffee mug and head out to wherever I feel drawn to that day, after dropping the kids off school of course.  Today was cold, 10 with a steady 20 mph north wind coming off the hill behind the house.  And the truck didn't like it, seems like my #7 glow plug is out which according to the computer and messes with the system a little.  Tomorrow's project I guess.  Heading north I had forgotten that a new hunting season started today.  Horse packs were heading into the Gore Range and every other car had a hunters orange hat on the dashboard.  It was very low visibility and I headed up Ute pass to see if I could get above the cloud layer.  BAM! (think Emerill) a huge herd of elk were pushed off of Acorn Creek onto the adjacent ranch to the north where there was no public access.  Maybe 100 animals in all.  And in the blink of an eye they were gone.  No one but me had even seen them cross.  Magical.  I hadn't seen an elk in a week and a half and I almost ran into a hundred of them completely by accident.  Timing is everything. The rest of the morning I spent watching a few deer, some horses, many ravens and the inside of my clean windshield, just got a new one.  Back home to edit and warm up a but, chop some kindling for the weeks fire and clean up this website.  Now I'm off to get the studs put on the Honda, cant miss this appointment as they are 3 weeks out!  TGIF


(Chris Brower Photography) beauty cold elk elk hunt Frozen nature outside photography walkabout what I see Fri, 18 Nov 2022 21:53:05 GMT
Why Even Make photographs?! Why Make Photos

     Recently someone close to me asked me,"Why even make photographs anymore?". He was asking what I was going to do for work this winter as my summertime gig recently ended for the season. After working 7 days a week for 6 month I wasn't to eager to jump right in to the next thing.  I've begun doing pyschedelic pet portraits that has started out surprisingly well and have decided to focus on that for a bit. It really got me thinking to say the least as I sat and pondered the question.  I kept coming back to the question and couldn't let it go.  Something I do more than I like to admit  His reasoning had been that everyone has a camera in their pocket at all times now and he had thousands of photographs that he wouldn't even be able to look at.  Indeed why do I feel compelled to make photos, or put them up for sale on this site?  Billions of photos are made and uploaded to Google each day, what can it possible matter?  I certainly can't speak for everyone but a quick scroll through the GRAM seems to reinforce his line of thought.  I get numb to all the visual content that I see in just a matter for minutes.  Why indeed? 

     Friday, the day after the question was posed to me, I dropped the kids off at school (our bus system is sorely lacking on drivers again, where did everyone go?!) and headed up north of my house to look for animals, a scene, something to jump out at me to photograph.  Fist animals I saw was a pair of Bald Eagles heading south along the Blue River.  I sat and watched them  as they soared on the thermals for 15 minutes or so but they were too far out to get a shot.  Then the horses that I see in the winter were close to the road and looking a bit feisty so I pulled over.  I watched as they wrestled and sparred while waiting for their breakfast.  I was able to make some shots I thought would be good as they bit and pawed at each other, seemingly in play but being dominant/submissive herd animals I know there was more to it.  That got the photographic juices flowing.  I then decided to drive to a high alpine lake whose road was still open for the next few weeks before being closed for the winter season.  With the wind picking up as a storm front moved in and frigid temps, I was the only one there.  Oh yeah! I made few short video clips and a handful of photos in the hour or so I was there and really enjoyed the peace and quiet.  Afterwards as I drove home I detoured around the lake and ran into some cowboys wrangling up a wayward cow who had escaped being moved from summer pasture to one of the waiting semis rigged to haul cattle to market, or their winter pasture.  Although I didn't get any good shots I enjoyed to show.  They eventually got the cow going in the right direction and headed where they could get rope on him.  On the way home I looked for scenes to photograph but was preoccupied with the days news on the radio concerning the election and various other inane goings on around the world.  Which brings me back around to why I make photographs. 

I don't really knowwhy I feel compelled to make photos!  But when I do get out consistently and attempt to put down in 1's and 0's on a memory card the way in which I view some of the things I see it makes me feel good, or mostly good anyway.  Why does it make me feel good?  I'm not exactly sure, and I'm not really sure I even care all that much.  I do know that it creates inside of me a sense of appreciation for the scenes I'm able to experience.  I decided quite a while ago to focus on things that move me, like beauty, and I've learned over the years that I can easily go down that path of desperation and despair and get caught up in the bad news stations portrayal of all that is wrong with the world.  Maybe that's enough.  It certainly seem like enough most of the time, until someone asks me why I do it in the first place and I get all in my head about it.   I mean why do we do anything at all really?  Mostly of our time is spent making money so we can afford the life we chose to live.  But man there's got to be more to it than that.  I'm not interested in living to acquire stuff for some kind of social score.  Probably why I made the trip to Colorado in the first place instead of continuing with school at Michigan State.  It just wasn't doing it for me.  As cliche as it sounds, choosing to appreciate the beauty that I get to experience on an almost daily basis and attempting to put that into some form of expression, photographcially and videographically, seems to be worthwhile to me.  The only reason I decided to even share it with others is because of promptings by friends and family.  Others, not everyone mind you, have commented that they get some enjoyment from it too, so there it is.  Not a complete answer to that question but an answer non the less.  And on that note the daylight is fading and the light is looking good,  I'm heading out to see what there is to see. Look around.


(Chris Brower Photography) Mon, 14 Nov 2022 15:30:00 GMT