Many of my favorite pix from 2008 wound up on a calendar, which I gave out to friends and family last Christmas. There were no actual friends or family in any of the pictures — just the usual collection of abandoned buildings, desert scenes and vacation photos — but people were properly ethusiastic all the same. I spent all year trying to figure out how to make decent pictures, and in end I struggled to find a dozen images I actually felt strongly about. But I stopped short of despair when I compared them to my favorites from the year before. I’m happy to say that few of those would have made the cut this time around, so I must be making some kind of progress. I only hope I can say the same thing about this current group when next year rolls around.
These Ron Paul supporters showed up at a poorly managed Hillary campaign stop in Phoenix. We never got near the actual event — it was drastically over capacity and no one appeared to be directing the crowd. But we did stand in line long enough for me to capture these two. Then we walked back to our cars, where it took over an hour to untangle ourselves from the parking lot jam.
Last year, my grandfather’s memory was honored by the school that bears his name, the Bostrom Alternative Center. This photo was taken afterward, during a visit to the nearby family plot. While my father and his siblings alternated between somber contemplation of my grandparents’ final resting place and enthusiastic discussion of arrangements to join them, I wandered the grounds, getting a better feel for shallow depth of field.
When my father-in-law visited us last year, my wife dragged him down to Bisbee and the surrounding area. I stayed behind, unable to free myself until later in the week. As my wife is quick to point out, it is she who holds the true creative talent in our relationship. It would be foolish, therefore, for me to omit her very nice composition from that trip.
Since my father-in-law likes to gamble and I like trips to the desert hinterlands, my wife decided that we’d kill two birds with one stone and visit Laughlin, Nevada. Along the route, we stopped at as many ghost towns and tourist traps as we could stand. This shot is from the underside of London Bridge in Lake Havasu City.
Late one night after a lively family get-together, I accompanied my nephew Lucas and his buddy Carbon to The Ice House, where they were preparing for a small exhibit of their work. Lucas’ triptych was stunning, but my photos of it sucked. But I liked this detail from Carbon’s piece.
I always wanted to visit Crown King, but neither of our little cars are worthy of the rough dirt road up into the Bradshaw Mountains. Last summer,we rented something large enough to take us there. Turns out Crown King is less a ghost town than a thriving community of off-road enthusiasts, bikers and folks otherwise disabused of city living. Even nearby Bumble Bee is more of an abandoned tourist exhibit than a bona fide ghost town. This shell looks to be barely a couple decades old.
A trip in the fall to Victoria, British Columbia on Vancouver Island gave us a nice break before the onslaught of holiday season. It also gave me the opportunity to to shoot in something other than my desert environment for a change.
These two shots are both from the gardens of Hatley Castle, a beautiful early 20th Century estate built by coal and railway magnate James Dunsmuir, and later used by the military for officer training. It now serves as grounds of Royal Roads University.
While in Victoria, we stayed in a very nice b&b right on the water. It was during this trip that I came to understand that vacations are not for sleeping late.
At some point during our trip to Canada, detail started creeping into my highlights and my shadows began to not block up so much. As I started to not mess up my technique, my composition started to improve and I started seeing greater rewards from my efforts.
I can only imagine what someone with actual skill could do with such a location, but I’m learning.
Eventually, we had to leave the island and prepare for re-absorption into our real lives. But I couldn’t leave without a quick tour of Vancouver’s historic Gastown district. I chose my wife’s point-and-shoot for the early morning photo walk, but what I lost in control I more than made up for in feelings of personal security.
A short afternoon rainstorm, rush-hour freeway traffic and someone else behind the wheel all contributed to this shot. As my wife cursed the other drivers, I scrambled around in the back seat getting this picture of a very lucky Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
Thanks to the recession, you can find smokin’ deals on some pretty swell digs. No sooner had we settled into our Pricelined room at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in the Tucson foothills, I grabbed my gear and went hunting for some long exposures. The night was overcast, and the lights of the city reflected an eerie brick red back up into the clouds. Afterward, I told my wife, “don’t ever let me leave the house again without my tripod.”
I don’t get out to my brother’s property in Pearce nearly as often as I’d like. Last fall, we decided to visit him for Thanksgiving. As luck would have it, the day was gorgeous. The sky was full of fat clouds which combined with the open terrain to charge the scene with magical hues of gold, blue and gray. The vegan feast wasn’t half bad either.
We took our final trip of the year around Christmastime, to visit family in Georgetown, Texas, north of Austin. Georgetown is home to Southwestern University. Founded in 1840, Southwestern is the oldest university in Texas. And as such, its surrounding neighborhoods are a treat for the eye, full of classic old homes.
The light was right for this one.
Salado College was built in 1860 in Salado, Texas, just north of Georgetown. One last ruin to round out the year.