Jessica Make Up Shoot

Jessica Make Up Shoot

I had the pleasure recently to collaborate with an up and coming MUA in Denver along with a model I’ve enjoyed working with on a previous occasion.  We wanted to get a few portfolio pieces for both Jessica (@jessicnaz) and Samatha (@Denvermakeup) highlighting Sam’s makeup.

 

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We worked our way around downtown Denver to get a few lifestyle looks for the shoot.

 

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Sam’s work can be found @denvermakeup on instagram and http://www.swmakeup.com

Jessica can be found @jessicanaz on instagram and is represented by Donna BaldwinDSC07881 DSC07885

Atop the Rabbit Ears

Atop the Rabbit Ears

“Nature, Cheaper than therapy”

Cue Steamboat Springs: The Quaint Ski Town to the North

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I never have met so many Colorado natives until these past 6-7 months.  Each one of them have been beneficial in this summer journey around the state.  A good friend of mine had mention a must see spot in Steamboat called Rabbit Ear Pass.  It was chosen.  Our trip for the week.  There were such amazing camping locations around the area.  Steamboat is somewhat of a tourist town being that it has world class skiing, but the surrounding areas are amazing.  The campsite location for the evening was Dumont Campground on the west side of the pass.  After venturing up to Rabbit Ear Mountain, I decided to climb around a bit and enjoy the view.

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Shameless product shots

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Sunset on Dumont Lake

There isn’t anything I enjoy more than the sunsets in Colorado.  There is just something about the colors that here that are so vibrant.

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The classic camp set up. Hammock along with a bunch of bags. Shameless photo #2

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 Views for days and days.

A Night Under the Stars

A Night Under the Stars

If people sat out and looked at the stars each night, I bet they would live differently”

After being so stoked on the shots and experience from the week before, I was set to head out again and spend the night sleeping on the ground under stars.  This weeks destination: Grand Lake and Rocky Mountain National Park.  I have always envied the shots from the front of a canoe with a calm lake and giant mountain behind so that was the ultimate goal from this trip.  We decided to try it out in the morning on Grand Lake so we set up camp in near by Rocky Mountain National Park.

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This is the only way to relax, hammock with beer in hand

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The day was spent in my new favorite location, my hammock.  I was turned on to the idea of getting a hammock from a friend of mine who used his strictly as shelter during his travels.  About a month prior I picked one up to use on a short back packing trip and fell in love with it.  I use a Eno Doublenest.  The best thing about this particular model is its lightweight and packs down to about the size of a grapefruit.  You can find them at REI for about 70 bucks.  Well worth it if you spend any time whatsoever outdoors.

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The next morning, the sunrise came quite early.  I didn’t make the effort to shoot it as we stayed on the west side of the park and there weren’t many exciting locations within a quick trip.  We headed over to Trail Ridge Marina to give this whole canoeing thing a shot.  After setting up everything and getting a two person Kayak we spent two hours out on the lake having an absolute blast.0717_249 copy

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Alright, so camping beneath the Milky Way followed up by canoeing on a mountain lake. Doesn’t get any better than this right?

Adventures In Camping

Adventures In Camping

“And so…The adventure begins”

I always had this attraction to the outdoors.  The fresh air, the smell of the trees, the clear blue sky. The soft breeze, the warmth of the sun and that stupid bug flying around you that you just can’t seem to get rid of… A lot these things are simple moments that most people never take advantage of.  I know I was guilty of that for the longest time.  Growing up I used to enjoy going to our cabin in Northern Minnesota on a semi weekly basis.  Getting out, jumping in the lake and catching lightning bugs.  Riding my bike through the woods and mud.  Then I “grew up” and got lost in the so called normality that is life.  I moved to Colorado roughly 7 years ago and had this laundry list of things I was going to do.  Camping on a regular basis was high on the list.  During my first maybe 5-6 years I went camping twice.  Way to take advantage of the opportunity Brandon.  Recently though I thought it’s time to change all of that. Put on your adventure hat, it’s time to get into this whole camping thing.

Around the beginning of July, I linked up with a friend of mine for a little off road adventure.  Being I drive a lowered car, I tend to network these trips out.  With minimal effort, adventure camping was became a thing.  We planned out a trip to check out the Colorado Famous spot: Crystal Mill.  We set out early and took the single lane road with caution.  This was my first time 4x4ing in a long, long time so I had an absolute blast.

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This place is unreal in person.  It’s another one of those, pictures don’t do me justice spots.

One of my favorite styled shots lately has been the anonymous person looking off into the distance being shot from behind.  I bounced the idea off of Kelly before we went and she loved it.  She came through with an “adventure” hat, low and behold; the girl in the adventure hat was born.File Aug 18, 11 47 58 PM

After trekking back in a rain storm, we ended up setting up camp on Independence Pass.  The next morning started at 4:45 sharp.  We sped on over to the world famous Maroon Bells to catch the sunrise.  Pulling up to the parking lot the sky was bland, grey and looked like there wasn’t going to be much of a sunrise.  I hustled over to the lake anyways, set up my shot and waited, hopeful for the Alpen Glow to start.  Fingers crossed that getting up so ungodly early pays off…

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Totally Worth it

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Crystal Mill…Check…Maroon Bells Sunrise…Check.  Two great Colorado Landmarks done in a 24hr span.  I could get used to this whole camping thing.  What’s on the agenda next week?!

Colorado Cliche: Sand Dunes Edition

Colorado Cliche: Sand Dunes Edition

“In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
And where you invest your love, you invest your life”

               Ever since I moved to Colorado in 2009, I wanted to see and photograph all these magical spots I saw for years and years.  This past year I made it a personal goal to hit all of the “cliche” Colorado landmarks that I was too lazy to before.  Last fall I finally did Hanging Lake and those infamous Maroon Bells everyone likes to line along the shore of.  This summer so far has been filled with the traditional Colorado Road Trip over to Moab and now I can finally check the Sand Dunes off the list. I’m really glad that I did.

After a couple weeks of talking about making the trip, I finally packed up the car on a Wednesday and headed out.  Leaving the city at about 6:30 set up an arrival time of about 10:45.  Taking our time on the drive Dereck and I made a couple stops along the way.

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Taking in the view in Colorado Springs. That shirt though…style points

 After a horrendously bad decision to get Chik-Fil-A for dinner, not because of the health factor but because a packet of honey mustard would ultimately be the demise/messiest thing ever from the weekend, we finally arrived at the park.  It was just after 11:30 when we finally got there.  With a storm to the east flashing lightning, clouds moving in and a full moon above, we knew night shots were going to be tricky.  Now being our first time there we had no idea that you apparently have to cross a creek to actually get to the dunes.  Maybe it was a high flowing night, or maybe we weren’t prepared but Medano Creek looked like the Mighty Mississippi in the middle of the night.  We decided not to forge the raging river but instead set up camp and try to catch the sunrise.

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We set up camp along the river bed behind a few trees, so we weren’t to be seen.  Later came to figure out we were in a spot that probably wouldn’t have gone over so well if a park ranger would have found us. Oh well, what can ya do?  It sure was tough to awake to the alarm going off at 5:00am but I am glad that I did.  Waking up to dusk and a few clouds above I had a good feeling I’d get some sort of sunrise.  Setting up along the creek bed I watched what felt like maybe a 3 minute burst of color that acted as a sunrise.  I came away with a couple photos I was happy with.

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Mountains, Great Plains, Rushing water, combined with this weird and random collection of giant sand piles. What is this place?  We finally forged the creek and made our way on to the dunes.  If you’ve never hiked on a sand dune before, let me tell you this…it’s rough.  After a hefty hike up a couple of the dunes we decided to chill out, relax and shoot a couple photos.

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After a quick nap atop one of the dunes we were awaken to a nice little sand storm.  Good morning.  The biggest challenge here was to keep dust out of all of my gear, let alone all of my clothes.  We decided to make a trip over to the visitor center and get a back country pass to setup camp for the evening.

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Once that was secured we made our way over to the picnic area, had a couple beers, some lunch and a quick nap to recharge.  At about 6:00pm we decided to make our way out and set up camp somewhere.  Oh joy, hiking up these damn dunes again.  The cool thing about back country camping here is that A. It’s free and B. You can go anywhere you want as long as you are out of sight of the visitor center.  As we made our way up in search of a spot to setup camp, it was getting close to sunset.  Once over our final dune, we set up camp and watched the sun set over the whole field of sand.

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I don’t know if nature was trying to make up for the quick sunrise or not, but this was probably one of the best sunsets I’ve seen in a long while.  It was one of those sunsets that only got better and better.  The sky lit up with vibrant oranges and reds, lighting the whole area in a nice warm tone to send off the day.

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After watching sunset and enjoying a traditional camping dinner (shout out to Chef Boyardee Beef-A-Roni) we made it a very somewhat early night.  There is something magical about waking up in the middle of no where to nothing but peace and quiet.  Being on top of a sand dune is no different.

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We made the trip back to Denver and stopped one last time along the way back to shoot the small but gorgeous mountain rage on the way out of the park.

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So here’s to another “cliche” spot crossed off the list.

Denver to Moab

Denver to Moab

“Adventure is a path.  Real adventure is self determined, self motivated, often risky and forces you to have first hand encounters with the world…”  -Mark Jenkins

This quote is a perfect representation of how my life has shaped itself out the past few months.  I made the decision to let my inhibitions down lately and force myself into uncomfortable situations.  From this I have had more life changing experiences lately than I could have ever imagined.  Most recently I set out on a week long road trip to Moab, Utah with one of my good friends.  We had no plan other than leave Denver on Sunday and be back by Friday.  Where we were staying, what we were doing and any other plans were left to the imagination.  We both agreed that the main goal was to enjoy the experience and take as many photos as we possibly could.  Check and Check.

We set out from Denver around 8pm.  The drive to Moab is about 5 hours from the city.  Along the way we encountered a bit of snow, lots of rain and some pretty random music choices.  At about 1:30 am we arrived in Moab, tired and a little loopy but determined to stay up all night and capture some Milky Way photos.  We made our decision to head to Arches National Park to shoot under the famous Delicate Arch.  There was no moon the whole time we were there so navigating the path on the rocks got a little dicey.  After a bit of navigating we finally ended at our destination.  Once there, there was another photographer shooting a time lapse of the evening sky until sunrise.  The good and the bad with this is he had a flood light set up to light the arch.  Good being it made a perfect fill light to balance with the Milky Way, bad being there was no chance of getting a silhouette and we had to work around his gear.  Spot jack.

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Delicate Arch. 14mm 30 seconds, iso 4000 f2.8

We some how made it through the whole night, minus the hour nap I took while shooting a time lapse.  Watching a sunrise is probably one of my favorite things in this world.  The calming feeling of watching the world transition from night to day is a perfect way to clear your mind.

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LaSalle Mountains. 14mm, 1/40, f4 iso 100

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After breakfast we decided to post up somewhere along the river and get in a few hours of sleep.  This photo sums it up perfectly:

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Apparently I was doing my best Walter White impersonation.

Few hours of sleep in the sun=perfect way to get recharged for the day. One problem with Utah and being in the desert is it gets hot during the day. Now even though its only April, the days were still in the mid 80s. So we indulged with a couple afternoon beers waiting for the temps to cool. We set out to explore Canyonlands National Park.  We had heard and seen photos of a spot called False Kiva.  It’s an unmarked trail, so finding it and navigating it without good directions can be tough.  Sadly we didn’t come across good directions on short notice. After wandering the desert for a couple hours we ended up at a cliff side (which turned out to be right on top of where we wanted to be) overlooking the whole valley.  Perfect opportunity to accept our defeat and take in the view.

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With the sun going down we wandered back to the car and decided to make our way over to the heavily photographed Mesa Arch for sunset.  It turned out to be a great view but honestly not exactly what I expected.  Every photo I have ever seen of it made it out to be a very big open rock formation.  This wasn’t the case. Damn you fisheye lenses!

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Mesa Arch. 14mm, 1/20, f4, iso 100

A local from the bar earlier helped us with a low key, back country camp spot and we decided to setup camp to get a full nights sleep.  After sleeping past an alarm, we missed sunset and knew it was going to be tough to shoot during mid day.  We agreed to head back to Arches to check out some new parts of the park. Dereck taught me a little trick about shooting black and white in camera. Boom! Ansel Adams day was born.  We wandered around Arches and shot in the mid day sun.  The angle that both of us wanted to capture on this trip was utilizing the human element in images.  Specifically tiny humans in the big world.

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The day ended with minimal sunburn and a lot of photos. So overall a win win in my opinion.  It was time for sunset so we wandered around the park and found a spot to set up and watch sunset. This spot was called The Great Wall.  There was a very hilariously shaped rock that I just had to have in my photo.  I’ll let you guess which one…

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White boy’s got hops.

As we were entering the park earlier in the day, Dereck and I both noticed a potential shot with the winding road.  We set back to check it out on how it would look with light streaks going down the curves.  I was pretty happy with the end result to say the least.

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28mm, 75 seconds, f6.3, iso 100

The day and sun had taken a toll on us but we were determined to shoot the Milky Way again.  We stayed in the park and headed back over to the Windows to hopefully capture some star trails. All nighter number two of the trip was in motion. I ended up sleeping underneath the North Window and it was one of the most relaxing evenings ever.

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North Window. 14mm, 60mins, f2.8, iso 100

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I did learn on this trip that my car is actually really comfortable to sleep in.  A couple hour power nap was good enough to get me set and ready for the next day.  I woke up to the sun coming up and ran into the middle of the road to snap a picture of sunrise.

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It took us a couple hours and lots of coffee to get our bearings/motivation for the day.

Back to Canyonlands it is.

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False Kiva was next on the list.  After being defeated a couple days before we were determined to find it.  A few different blogs on the internet had very good and detailed directions.  So I decided to screen shot at least 10 pages and we set out.  About an hour later we finally ended up at our destination.  Let me say this, the view and vibe from this place is unbelievable.  We hung out for a couple hours, signed the guest book and ended up meeting another photographer from Atlanta that was on vacation.

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14mm, 1/400, f7.1 iso 1000423_604 False Kiva
4 shot panoramic to show the whole area.

The hike is isn’t that tough at all, it is however a bit of a climb out of the area.  It definitely put my fitness level to the test.

Next stop on the tour was over to Dead Horse Point.  I had a buddy that I shoot with in Denver that was also in town so we decided to all meet up and catch the sunset.  The view from this spot can really make you feel small.  With the wide open skies, the jagged canyon formations and the winding river below, I think this became my favorite spot from the whole trip.

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Our final morning was spent back in Arches again to capture sunrise at Double Arch.  We were unsure of how it would look at sunrise and if there would be a first light that hits it or not.  Unfortunately we got a clear sky and no first light with this sunrise. I did however come away with a shot that I do really like.

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14mm, f7.1, 3 shot bracket, iso 100

With the trip coming to an end it was obvious before we made the trek back to Denver we needed to relax down by the river a bit and have a beer.

Cheers to Polygamy Porter. So Utah.

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This was my first road trip of the year and I must say its only sparked the Wanderlust that dwells inside me.  If there’s any advice I can offer it’s that take advantage of any opportunities that may arise in your life. Take that moment not to think and sit about the consequences of what could happen, but say yes and savor in the moment. You’ll make memories.

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Erica Denver Model

Erica Denver Model

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So much of my photography is inspired by music.  A lot of it revolves around rap and hip hop.  I grew up listening to a wide range of music and settled into the hip hop groove in my teenage years.  These days I’m influenced by so many different artists and photographers that I finally feel like I’m finding my style.  This shoot with Erica is a prime example of that. When we first started chatting about setting up a shoot, I knew I wanted to do something that involved street art and had more of a hip hop/street vibe.

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There is a revived neighborhood in Denver called the River North or RiNo district (Denver and their weird acronyms for neighborhoods AmIright?!) that is known to be a very art driven area.  This is where I wanted to set up the shoot.

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The back alleys around this area were filled with very colorful graffiti and a few interesting characters.

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I definitely had a blast shooting with Erica and she absolutely rocked it for how chilly it was this day.  You’d never be able to tell that it was in the low 50’s and windy.

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