Monday, August 3, 2009

Mountain Rainbow

Rainbow over the ridge just east of Copper Mountain, CO. Another terrible day in the mountains. We were walking back to our camper and the rainbow just appeared in the clouds. For one moment it went all the way across the valley, then started to fade. By the time I got to the camera this is what it looked like.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Okey Dokey- so this posting regularly to the blog thing hasn't been going so well. As a result of some not-so-serious thinking, I am relieving myself of the burden of trying to come up with something to write. This is a photography blog. Henceforth that will be the emphasis. I am just going to post a photo with whatever commentary strikes my fancy. Or not. Its my blog and I'll do as I please.

With that- here is one of my recent faves. A hummingbird in the nest. She just happened to fly right by me on a recent backpacking trip here in Colorado, and landed in her nest right by the trail. A really unique moment.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rain, Sun, Mountains

Today is the official solstice (actually, the exact moment was at 5:45 GMT this am- but I wasn't awake). We have had an unusual amount of rain here in Colorado this spring, and things are feeling positively midwestern. It is green in places we don't expect green, my vegetable garden is going nuts, the wildflowers are blooming (and so are the bugs). Considering that we live in high desert (really- check the average rainfall), it isn't feeling very desert-like this year. But that does make for some nice images. 
The one above was taken at Cottonwood Lake last week. We were on a family camping trip. This lake is only a mile or so East and about 1000 feet below the continental divide. The trees have just turned green up there, and the flowers were just blooming. It rained almost every night. This shot was taken early in the morning after the clouds had almost burnt off.

All the rain has some things blooming that we don't normally see much of this time of year. As we drove home through South Park last Sunday (yes- its a real place with real people, though we didn't see Cartman), there were huge bunches of Columbine along the side of the road. I have never see the state flower in such concentration. 

The shot above is of a columbine just about to bloom, taken on a very damp morning up by Cottonwood Lake.
Oh yeah- today is also Father's Day. Thanks Dad. And thanks to all the fathers out there.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Lyons Outdoor Games!

I guess summer is really here, because it is time for the Lyons Outdoor Games. Click the link for a full schedule and all the details. This year's festival is bigger than ever- more fun, more crashes, more events... more of everything. Isn't that just what you wanted?

LOG (as its affectionately known around here), started as a small local whitewater event- but boy has it grown.  This year there will be competitions, classes and shows in kayaks, on bikes, with fishing rods- you name it, its here.

Of course there will be the whitewater events- the creek race on the South 
St. Vrain, Boatercross (wicked collisions), and the rodeo in the Black Bear Holes. There will also be booths, vendors and lots of activities along the river. The organizers have made a real effort to make sure that there is something for everyone at this year's festival. 

And the dogs! Who doesn't want to watch happy dogs hurl themselves into the pond in pursuit of a ball- come on, that's the best!

But the big news this year is probably the new and improved bike park and all the events that will happen there. With a lot of local support (especially Glen of Bitterbrush Cycles), the park has had a complete makeover. There is an awesome pump track, some really great landscaped obstacles, and the jumps are better than ever. 

Volunteers were out working over the last week to have the park buffed and shined for the events of the weekend, and some of the volunteers managed to take a few laps as well. The overall quality of the park is great, and there are jumps and moves for riders of all levels. Expect the competition this weekend to show off all the possibilities the new park has to offer. 

I caught Matt Radich of Lyons checking out the new jumps last night- nice moves there Matt. The ramps in the park have been completely reshaped, and there are some really great lines now. Hopefully we will see a lot of very cool action this weekend. 

Its already clear that the improved park is going to make Lyons an even better attraction for cyclists then it already is. With our awesome trails, the bike park, and the great hill climbing for road bikes, there really isn't anywhere else you need to go!

If you are looking for something to do come on out to Lyons this weekend- it will be a great show. 

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Lyons Market

There is a fun new weekly event here in Lyons- an outdoor market. Last weekend was the first weekend, and Marin and I went to check it out after soccer. 

Marin had a daisy painted on her face by Heather's Happy Facepainting, and we wandered around checking out all the other action.

There was wine tasting in the old dynamite shack- get blasted indeed! Lyons is an old mining town, and the dynamite shack is actually exactly what its name implies. I didn't personally sample the wares, but was assured that Ciatano Winery's quality was excellent. Plus the fun of the location can't be beat.

If you are driving through Lyons on a summer saturday, or need something to do that's easy to get to from just about anywhere on the Northern Front Range, come check out the market. They have music, food and some fun vendors including fresh vegetables, baked goods, yummy food from The Giggling Greek, handmade guitars by Jonas Guitars and many handcrafts. More information is on the Lyons Outdoor Market website, including a complete list of vendors.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Images from Wyoming.

More images from my Wyoming trip are now in a gallery at JG Stott Photography. 

View away!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wildlife Extravaganza!

Before I launch into this week's post- a reminder for my local readers. 
If you are interested in family portrait sessions, I am running a local's special right now. For $95 you receive an hour and a half of shooting time at a location of your choice in or around Lyons, and I'll throw in the first 8x10 for free! Add that together with standard pricing ($125 for the shoot and $35 for the 8x10), and you could save $65! Schedule your shoot before the end of May, complete the shoot by the end of June and you get a great deal.
Email me at to talk about how we can make some really great images of you and your family.

On to the main event!

I spent most of last week in Northwest Wyoming visiting an old friend and having fun. That's not really news- the news is that we had some of the most amazing wildlife viewing ever! 
We weren't sure which way to look we saw so many amazing things. So here are a few of the 
highlights for you.

Saturday morning we were driving up the North Fork of the Shoshone River to fish, came around a corner and a wolf crossed the road right in front of us. That is unusual enough (I had never seen a wolf in the lower 48 before), but this wolf put on a show for the next 45 minutes, wandering down the valley, hunting elk (and almost getting one right in front of us), and generally behaving like a wolf. Here he (or she) is standing still for a moment.  I cannot explain how beautiful and exciting it is to watch these animals. It really was a moment to remember.

Of course, what would a trip to the Yellowstone area be without a bison sighting? This one was hanging out right next to the road, as they are wont to do. If you have never seen one up close, well, they are really big. I wouldn't want to upset one. Yet I have never seen one upset (though I have heard some stories). I really like getting close-ups of their eyes. I always wonder what they are thinking. Eyes like that seem like they should be hiding some great mystery or some great wisdom (maybe both). 

One of the reasons for being in Wyoming this time of year is to
 see the Sage Grouse mating. I know, bird sex. How strange. But if you are a birder, and you know who you are, this is a sight that should not be missed. We spent two mornings watching approximately 100 birds doing their strange dance on a Lek (the official term for their mating grounds). Like many mating rituals, it is much like a middle school dance in several ways, but watching these birds strut and puff their chests was awesome. And the sound is other-worldly. It is a bit like falling water, and a bit like nothing you have ever heard. The Sage Grouse are also smart enough to live in a really beautiful landscape, which helps the ambiance a lot. 

Finally (as if all that wasn't enough), we were heading
 down a small county road on the way to the bottom end of the Clark's Fork Canyon, and we saw this on a road sign.
That is an Osprey, sometimes called a Fishhawk, and a close cousin to the eagle. For reference, that road sign is about three feet wide, and the fish in the bird's talons is about a foot or so. 
What an amazing chance encounter. He sat for maybe two minutes, then flew off with the fish grasped firmly in his talons. 

After all that, we even did some fishing. That is my friend Chip on the oars. He is the manager of North Fork Anglers in Cody, Wyoming, and knows about as much as anyone about fishing in the area. He and I have been friends since fifth grade, so its nice to know someone in this amazing part of the country. Another friend of ours, Tim, is the fisherman up front, and yes, that is an elk head attached to the front of the boat. Chip spotted it on the side of the river and we had to take it along. Our best guess is that it was killed by a bear (we could definitely tell that it had been eaten by a bear!)

And lest I forget, this really is one of the prettiest places to visit.  A quick shot of the mountains on the north side of the river, as we were heading home from a long day on the river.
Shooting over 1500 frames in three days was pretty unusual for me, but we just kept seeing things! I have included only a few here- if you want to see more, or would like a print of one or some of these, shoot me an email and we can talk.  It was one of the best trips I have had to that area ever. I hope you enjoyed hearing about it just a tiny bit as much as I enjoyed sharing it!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hooray for Earth Day!

Hooray for Earth Day!

We celebrated last Sunday with an Earth Day festival here in Lyons. 
This festival included a community garage sale of kid stuff supporting our local Montessori School-Lyons Community Montessori 
Across the street in Sandstone Park there was a play and singing by the kids, and there was entertainment at Oskar Blues as well. Many thanks to OB for providing space for the festival as the weather here in Colorado was looking pretty iffy on Saturday. 

The picture of the play at the top ran on the front page of the Lyons Recorder yesterday. Two weeks in a row. New York times here I come.

Tomorrow I am heading to Northern Wyoming for fishing, friends and if we are really lucky, some bird sex. Really- it's mating season for Sage Grouse, and we are hoping to have a chance to photograph them on their Leks (the technical term for the spot where they all gather and the boys duke it out with each other). Stay tuned for some pics- I hope.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Local Spring Special!

It's Spring- get your portraits now!

Book a portrait session for a group or individual by May 15 and receive the 1 hour photo session and an 8x10 print of the image of your choice for only $95.
That's a savings of $65 over the regular price!

Email me at Jay(at)
to book your portrait session now.

Photo session must be scheduled by May 15, 2009 and must be within 10 miles of Lyons.
Shoot must be completed by July 31, 2009

Man and Dog for Easter

My favorite shot of last week. It ran on the front page of the Lyons Recorder this week. 
Sam Tallent (minister of the day and co-owner, with his wife Mindy, of the Stone Cup) considers sharing his Easter Ham with a friend at the Lyons Community Easter Celebration. It's Easter Sam, give a dog a break.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Week in Photos...

...Okay, not really. But I did take some photos this week. How nice. 
A friend who used to work there (and hopefully will again when the project is done) told me to check out a local middle school that is being completely rebuilt. The facade is being saved, so right now there are only two walls standing. Quite a sight. I took a
 few shots on my way home from work, then stopped on my way in the next morning. 

I only had one flash, wish I had more with me. I also learned that
 rubber bands (one of the big ones) can be used to secure your flash to a post in a pinch. On full power the SB-600 lit up the plaque on the building a little bit. I might try to shoot this again next week if I can get a better sky and more flashes.

I also took some early morning shots on the way to work and from where I work. The scenery here always offers something worth shooting. The first is the view from where I work. Ironic, because I have no windows in my part of the building, but the view is great. 

The second is from my drive to work the next day. There is a hill along the road and I pulled over and hoofed up it for a few quick shots. The wind was blowing about 30 mph, so I didn't stay long. But I liked this image. 

I'll be taking pics at the Community Easter service this afternoon-hopefully that will fulfill the people portion of my photo week! 

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Back In Black

I though about adding the appropriate sound track to this post, but I didn't have time and it would be in violation of copyright. So best not. 

Spent most of Saturday afternoon in the basement with my new el-cheapo studio set up. Thank you to the unknown poster on Flickr who suggested this path. I went to the fabric store and bought three yards of black muslin and three yards of white- both 108 inched wide. With the coupons (one from the store flyer, and one from the nice lady with the kids next to me in line) the grand total in fabric was $29.32. Beat that on eBay for two 10x9 backgrounds. Then I headed across the street to the greatest hardware store on earth.
 No you idiot- I do not mean the big orange box. They have good prices and the people are nice, but if you really need to figure out something strange, you go to McGukin's

There I happily purchased 15ft. of light bungee cord, two small
 hooks and wall anchors, and two six packs of small alligator clips. All that for under $10. Total cost so far- less than $40. Got home and had the wall hooks up before anyone was the wiser. Bungee and alligator clips to hold the fabric and presto- we've got a ripping little home studio going in my basement. 

I really love the effect of the low-key background. It 
makes all the colors pop and adds some dramatic effect. For the portrait shots I had an SB-600 cam left with a homemade snoot on it, and an SB-26 cam right with an umbrella. The snoot was aimed across the models at about head level and  pretty tight. The umbrella was shooting fill on the other side. As you can see, I am the least attractive thing in the house (except maybe the cat), and the pictures improved considerably when I stayed behind the camera. The portraits were taken with a 50mm 1.8. When the dogs came in I switched the lens to a 24-120mm so I could keep pace with a moving kid and dogs, and took the snoot off the 600 on the left and aimed it at the ceiling for a high overhead light. I really like the way it turned out.

There were a few really great shots of my wife and daughter. My daughter just kept mugging like crazy, and my wife kept laughing, and I kept shooting. 
I was using my new iShoot PT-04 CNs as triggers for the two SBs, and I didn't have one problem over the course of two hundred shots. I am not sure I would try them at a hundred yards, but close in they work great. I also really like the electronic shutter release from Younguo. The remote really slows my synch speed (see previous post), but attached to the camera it was great to fire without worrying about my hands moving the camera/tripod. 
I can also see how it would help keep contact with the subject. I wasn't hiding behind the camera, and could make eye contact much easier. That remote also operates the auto focus on the Nikon, which is nice. 

Eventually we even got the dogs to pose for a few shots (even tougher than the five year old). We do have a matched set of labs, and if we can get them to sit still they are pretty darned good looking. As you can tell, I am surrounded by blonds. I know that would have sounded good a long time ago...

Of course, as soon as I have tried one thing I am thinking of another. I am looking forward to trying out some product type shots with a more high-key look in the upcoming weeks. I have several friends lined up to provide products, some large and some small, and as soon as things get a little greener around here I have a plan for a series of shots in my town featuring elements of local life. I am hoping to improve not only my lighting skills but also my post production skills with some of these ideas. 

In the meantime, keep an eye over your shoulder!
She really is a total ham. But she's got the model moves down. There are a few more of these in my Flickr stream. Click the new button on your right to see them.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Fast, like fireworks.

Just a quick hit after being out of town for spring break. Took the child to Disney in Orlando. If you haven't and you can, you should. Took lots of pictures in the 'snapshot' category. Love that cheap 18-55mm lens. Not fancy, but works great. 

At Disney World they have fireworks every night at 9pm. So if your shots didn't come out one night, you just wait for the next. I used a 50mm/1.8 for most of these and a Gorilla Pod to secure the camera to a chair in the absence of a tripod. Exposure time of about 2 seconds seemed to work pretty well.

These are a few of the good ones.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Generic Post

For a guy doing a photography blog, I seem to have a hard time taking pictures right now- so this post will be about gear. For the 'non-gear' thinking this week, see David duChemin's blog of the last few days (todays post was freakin' hilarious!)On to gear. I just received a set of iShoot PT-04 CN radio triggers. $55 on eBay for a transmitter and three receivers. This is the type of radio trigger often refereed to as "Poverty Wizards", as opposed to Pocket Wizards, which are the industry standard for pros. Of course a similar set of PW's would cost about $900.

Messing around with self-portraits in my basement, all the triggers worked great. I had a few unplanned triggers of flashes, but no failures. I haven't tested the maximum range, but they worked fine through a wall, and from over 30 feet.

The flash triggers synch up to 1/250, which is as advertised.
 Interestingly, when I was using the YN-128 as a remote trigger for the camera, I could only get 1/125 as a synch speed. If I used the YN-128 as an electronic, but not radio trigger, I got 1/1250 again. But for a total of $76.98 it is a pretty good outfit and has definitely increased my options.

Included below is one bad self portrait. Taken using all the gear mentioned above (the remote is really nice to have). 

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Messin' Around

My friend Cory and I spent the afternoon in his office building (shhhhhh...don't tell), playing with lighting setups. Way too much fun. Here are a few of the highlights.

That is a gaffer tape base holding up the Buddah. Love that tape! Used an SB-50 to blow out the wall behind. I am starting to appreciate a small flash with built in slave, even if it only fires at full power. We used it a bunch to turn white walls into high key backgrounds. I will keep that in mind for the future. I did have to remove a security device from the background in Aperture.

SB-25 camera right with umbrella, and a reflector panel camera left, just out of frame from the statue.

Cory mugging for the camera here.  I included this one without cropping so you can see the effect of SB-50 in the back lighting up the wall. Natural light through a blind from the left- SB-25 with umbrella to the right.

Your's truly. Same set up as above. Just cropped close in to get that high key effect. I really like how the white background just disappears when you blow it out. 

All these were shot with a 50mm f1.8. Love that lens. If I had to have only one- that would be it. Used a PC cable to connect the SB-25 on a light stand. SB-50 on slave mode. Poverty wizards on the way- hopefully arrive this week!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Gotta get a picture up!

In the little picture taking time I had this weekend I was mostly messing around in my office with some new gear. I took the following shot with a Nikon SB-25 mounted on a stand with a shoot-through umbrella camera right, connected to the camera with a PC cable.  To the left was a Nikon SB-50dx with home made softbox and a diffuser panel (the SB-50 only fires at full power in slave mode, so I needed to extra panel to get the light down to a reasonable level. The SB-50 in slave was triggering off the 25's flash. 

Worked pretty well. I got bored with just the pen and ink, so I wrote my name. Quill pens are totally impractical for actual use, but they sure do make your writing look purty. This is the best of the bunch.

I really liked using the 2 light set up. I can't wait for my 'poverty wizards' to arrive from China so I can run all my flashes in radio slave mode (I have an SB-600 as well, but the PC connection doesn't work if you use the pop-up flash as the commander on a D300, so to get two flashes I had to break out the totally obsolete SB-50). I just got the SB-25, BTW, and I love it. 
Very powerful.

Well, at least I got a post up. I have a portrait package in a fundraising auction this week- hopefully it will generate some new photo ops!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday project.

So- spending far too much time at Flickr reading the Strobist discussion threads while anxiously awaiting the arrival of new light stands, umbrellas and a used SB-25 picked up for an excellent price! ;-) In the meantime, I did a DIY project inspired by David Hobby, the Strobist himself.

There is a lot of discussion at the Strobist group on Flickr about Do-It-Yourself  (DIY) light modifiers and such. Inspired, I made my own. So for your viewing pleasure- a 10x8, foam packing material softbox, for about $4.
Cardboard and duct tape to start with.

Mmmmmmmm...time for spray paint. Fun outside (kids- always spraypaint in a well ventilated area. I prefer 'outside'). 

Gloss white goes on the inside for better light, black on the outside for that 'professional' look.

Here is the finished product. The piece of 2mm packing foam that inspired this project makes a GREAT diffuser, but wasn't big enough. I am getting a lot of light spilling out the sides. Tomorrow I will swing by a packing store and get a bigger sheet and cut it so its fastened all the way around. I am also looking forward to experimenting with different materials, as I used velcro around the rim- making 'quick changes' easy.

Given that its a totally home built rig- it fits on the SB-600 perfectly (had to re-enforce some of the key points with extra-duct tape). The light it produces is actually quite even. I am glad I used white paint inside and not tinfoil as I originally planned, I think the glossy paint is better.

And now that we are done...

 an homage to David Hobby. 
The original can be found here(scroll to the picture at the bottom of his post).

Monday, February 16, 2009

Finally taking pictures again!

After a bit of a hiatus- I'm  back on the shutter. I am really spending some time with off-camera flash right now, mostly just experimenting, so todays post includes some of the experiments (hopefully none in the Frankenstein mode!)

This is Marin and Lor in the basement. Strobe is camera right and up high, with a totally jury rigged diffuser (some foam clamped into the Justin Clamp that's holding the flash. I included this because you can see the flash and diffuser reflected in the TV. I just ordered new stands and some shoot through umbrellas, and I hope to add another flash soon, to really expand the options.

This was an experiment in color. Flash is gelled blue, with a home made snoot, and held directly over the glass. I was just messing around on this one. I tried a bunch of colors, liked this one the most. 

And last, a shot of Lor outside that I made today. We were trying to get some new images for her website ( It was breezy and we had hair control problems, so she wasn't happy with any of the shots for that purpose, but I really like this one. I also really liked shooting portraits with the bigger lens (Nikon 80-200 f2.8), which I hadn't done much of so far. I will do a lot more of it. The flash is on a stand camera right and just out of the frame. I do like the way the sun worked as a rim light/hair light- wish I had stopped it down a bit and I wish I had noticed that the snow on the hill was intersecting her hair. If we had moved there would have been a bit more separation.

I've also discovered Flickr recently, so some of these images are showing up in my photostream under JGstott.
Hopefully more experiments on the way.