Thursday, May 24, 2012

Taking on Monument Valley, Eerily Quiet BBQ Joints, and a Houseboat

As partly described in my previous entry about the nude models and their mini obsession with being photographed naked in front of a classically-decorated hippie VW bus in the middle of the desolate Utah desert, this is the rest of the story of my road trip with 2 nude models.

What originally was a large group photo event that included as many as 5-6 photographers and 5-6 models, the usual erosion rate whittled us down to a group of 5 (2 models, 3 photographers). The plan was to meet the other 2 photographers in Page, AZ before we boarded the houseboat. I took Lorayne, whom I've been lucky enough to work with on 3 other occasions over the past 3 years, and we were to pick up Skyler in Moab, UT as she wrapped up shooting with another photographer.

After picking up Skyler, we stopped off at Hole N the Rock (a 5000 sq. ft. home built into the mountain) and Wilson Arch, but shooting was slightly hampered by the road construction going on, which just happened to back up all traffic right in front of the roadside arch. We explored a little, and I managed to take a couple photos of Skyler obstructed from the cars below.


We eventually moved on to our night's stop in Blanding, UT. The name is an obvious one for jokes, so I don't need to say much else. But for dinner that night, we ventured next door to the hotel to Fattboyz Grillin for some BBQ. I'm pretty sure Elijah, our server, was checking out the ladies (can't blame him), but the place was so eerily quiet in there--like a library. Maybe someone on the Facebook page can give us some back story on that.

Anyway, the next morning, we left on our quest for fun, not to Wally World, but to Lake Powell. On the way, as a national park junkie, I took the girls to Natural Bridges National Monument for some sightseeing. That's where we first saw the VW bus!

We walked around, took some photos (including nudes - oh yeah!) and eventually left. Disappointed to not get a shot glass for my collection here, BTW! Since you can read all about the Valley of the Gods and the story of 2 girls from Colorado stripping completely in front of tourists at the link above, I'll just skip to the part I was looking most forward to on this trip - Monument Valley!

After some roadside pull-offs, I found what I thought to be the best spot to include the girls in photos of the iconic southwestern backdrop, which yielded these photos:

Aside from the guy sleeping in his car near where I pulled off the road, I don't think any other passers-by saw them scrambling over to the car to put clothes on between shots.

We headed out and made our way to Page, AZ in time for sunset at the infamous Horseshoe Bend:

Then it was off to the houseboat! We met Lester and Mark, the other photographers, loaded our gear, and we were on our way for 3 fun-filled nights! The first afternoon, we headed to Rock Creek Bay and anchored for the night. We explored the area with the girls to squeeze in what we could before it got too dark:

However, when it did get dark, Mark took Skyler off to experiment on some light painting, so Lorayne and I wandered to the beach to find a spot to try some random images, and ended up with this ethereal shot, composed from a long shutter release and a flashlight:

The next morning, I managed a couple of landscape photos, too. The water was almost glassy in the morning:


The next day, we motored further up the lake and anchored up in Oak Canyon, since it was near the Rainbow Bridge area, which we planned to visit the next morning.

Lorayne, Sky, and myself headed up towards what looked like little caves in the rocks and took a little respite from the heat. On the way, I snapped a few photos - our houseboat, and a flower and cactus:


Lorayne ended up going swimming in the chilled water (I think it was around 60 degrees):

By the way, this is what a freezing model looks like (and yes, that's another houseboat in the distance, not ours):

After we wandered around after shooting a little, we got back to the houseboat, where she decided to try the wedding dress shots we had talked about right before the trip. I probably shot about 100 images of her on the beach, then action shots of her wading into the water, splashing around, then walking out of the water. After all that, here's what we ended up with:

Before sunset, Lester, Mark, and Sky went off to go shoot, so Lorayne and I wandered off on a hike, not really expecting to shoot anything. We uncovered a very cool area and decided to try some shots. The sheer size of this cove is lost until you place a 5'8" nude model on the floor of it:

The next morning, we packed up and headed to Rainbow Bridge, which we were fortunate to get there before anyone else, including the tour boats and the ranger. In addition to some landscape shots, I got a nice little shot of Sky:

As we were leaving Rainbow Bridge, we greeted the park ranger, who had just arrived by boat. He asked us if we had been to the other side of Rainbow Bridge (which you're not supposed to go to because the trails are marked with signs asking people not to go there). I think it was a trick question. However, we said we hadn't, to which he replied he could take us there. We were tempted to take him up on it, because the light would have been better for photographing, but we decided to move on. We left the narrow canyon and headed to our last port of the night - the amazing Labyrinth Canyon!


This location was absolutely fantastic. The girls immediately wanted to explore, so I grabbed my camera, tagged along, and got these nice shots as a result:

When we got back, Lorayne decided it was time to test out the slide on the back of the houseboat. With 3 photographers there, we obviously had our cameras ready:

When the sun started to set, Lester and I went to another area we identified as a great spot. As the sun faded and the orange glow took over, I was lucky to snag some of these nice shots:

Needless to say, it was a great trip with 2 great girls that threw caution to the wind for the sake of art. I couldn't ask for more than that!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Nude Models That Make People's Day Are #1 In My Book!

As I work on editing photos from a group photo shoot to Lake Powell (Arizona/Utah), I thought first I should jot down the tale of how two young ladies were the talk of a lonely, scenic road in the middle of a desolate Utah desert.

On our way from the Denver area through Utah, myself, Lorayne, and Skyler stopped off at Natural Bridges National Monument. There we saw a cute little red VW bus with hippie stickers and license plates in all their glory. The girls wanted to get nude photos next to the bus, but the road was too populated and the owners didn't seem to be around, so we moved on and eventually left the park.

We traveled south along the scenic route and came upon the Valley of the Gods--an amazing cliff overlooking the valley and road 1,000 feet below. We shot for a bit on top of the mesa, then got on the switchback-laden road to work our way down the cliff. At the first pull-out, we all got out of the car to admire the view. There were a few motorcyclists there that seemed to be getting ready to leave. Seconds later, we look up the dirt road we had just come down, and who's coming? None other than the red VW bus! The girls immediately got excited and insisted that if the bus stopped at the pull-out, they would ask to pose nude, onlookers be damned.

Sure enough, the bus pulled over and as the owners got out, the girls walked over to them and bluntly said, "Hi, we're nude models and we were wondering if we could take pictures with your bus?" A double-take ensued from one of the bus' owners, Steve, followed by, "Is this a joke?" and wondering if there was a hidden camera around. He turned to his wife Wendi, who is a photographer herself, and they immediately obliged.

The girls quickly asked everyone else there (the bikers and another young couple) if they minded (and asked that they not call the police) while they stripped nude and started posing next to the bus. It wasn't soon after I fired off 3 photos that everyone else there started asking if they could also pose with the girls in front of the bus (which was affectionately named Pumper).


It turns out that Steve and Wendi are from Canada and traveling the U.S. southwest right now, with more adventures ahead with Pumper. As the excitement died down and the girls got dressed before the next batch of cars came by, we all exchanged information. Steve and Wendi have a great blog here where they describe the nude encounter in their May 14, 2012 post. Check them out!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Come for the abandoned buildings. Stay for Dave's Juicy Burgers.

So it's not quite an annual trip (yet), but it was a revisit of a fun shoot from two years ago - semi-aimlessly driving through southeastern Colorado's parts unknown with two fun models (Lorayne and Marcy) for a weekend.

We stopped off in La Junta for the first night and checked into our sketchy hotel, where the owner seemed to enjoy patrolling the parking lot and making sure his guests successfully checked into their rooms. I can say I at least chose a place this time where the bathrooms and showers were usable, so for that, I get a bonus star. The girls wanted to go check out the killer factory I had looked into online as a possible shoot location, so we all wandered over. Lorayne was nice enough to point out that her cell phone flashlight was brighter than mine, but we started scoping out some areas we could shoot at the next morning.

By the way--why are there so many liquor stores in La Junta? It's not a joke--I really want to know. And WTF is that smell?

We shot over to Wendy's for dinner (there wasn't much to choose from), where it looked like they weren't expecting anyone else for the night, therefore putting their most confused employee at the register, where it took her 5 tries to get Lorayne's drink order right. The decor in that place was odd, though. From signs about Dave's Juicy Burgers to shadowboxes showing weird humping zebra clowns or something, it was difficult to keep my appetite. I won't even comment on what Lorayne said her dark red raspberry lemonade drink looked like. :::shudder:::

Saturday morning we woke up and I took Marcy to Walmart for some things--can you believe Marcy doesn't shop at Walmart? So we checked out of the motel and ventured over to the factory we checked out the night before. After some public nudity, trespassing, and me inadvertantly, but not surprisingly panicking about the public nudity, we did manage a slew of fun photos to start the weekend off (the first which I can say are inspired by the line from the movie 'Spies Like Us' - "Won't you gentlemen have a Pepsi?" If they were standing like this by you, you'd be filling up on a shitload of Pepsi.

This was in an alley facing the factory, where people were working:

As we prepared to leave town and head off to our next spot, a train was rumbling through town carrying military transportation, and Lorayne (being in the military) wanted to check it our before we left:

A spot I really wanted to check out this time was Picket Wire Canyon--not just to shoot, but also to see the dinosaur tracks, because I'm a nerd and it's sort of mandatory for me. So we trailed off into the backroad-nothingness of southeastern Colorado and Marcy spotted the ruins I had seen in some photos of the area. This really was a perfect spot: far enough away from the road for privacy, and it was a perfect day outside.

Aside from the "serious" shots, the girls couldn't resist having a little fun, too:

As an idea how close we were to the road, I snapped this shot of Lorayne:

And then here she is just being rude!

And this is some sort of dance, I think. The White Man's Shuffle, perhaps.

Marcy even busted out her camera and started snapping shots. Here's proof - one naked girl taking pictures of another naked girl (yeah, as a photographer, I have to say this is kinda hot):

And here is Marcy planking - or based on where we were and what she did there, I call it ruining.

We ventured closer to Picket Wire Canyon and stumbled on a little windmill spread and stopped for some shots. Lorayne had the idea for this shot (both girls in different spots):

And we had snagged a broken pitchfork from our early morning shoot and wanted to do an updated version of Grant Wood's American Gothic, so here's our for comparison:

And I don't even know what the hell this is. Early 1930's photobombing?

We wrapped up and went off to the canyon area for a pit stop and see how far it was to hike to the dinosaur tracks. 10.6 miles.



So as we were back in the car heading towards our next stop (and Marcy catching a nap), we were officially in Bufu, CO as we passed a distant dilapidated building. We didn't let the closed gate deter us. Psh. Lorayne hopped out, opened the unlocked gate, and we drove up to the area, which was still far enough off from the road to get away with it.

I got some nice shots. I think I almost died right before I took this shot, as part of the roof structure fell down behind me (thanks to Lorayne jiggling this door!)...

...Marcy posed for me...

...and then again did some shooting (with her clothes on this time, for some reason).

With all our limbs intact and no nail holes anywhere on our bodies, we continued the drive east to a out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere shooting range for a little fun. I managed to find the place, and no one else was there, so we set up some Mtn. Dew cans and some melon-ish type object, and took turns shooting my pistol for about 20 minutes.

It was then off to Lamar (where we stayed the second night on our last trip). We did pass the wind farm on the way there, which is an interesting sight:

Once in Lamar, we stopped for dinner at the same place we ate at on our trip two years earlier. None us could remember if the food was good or bad. We were reminded it was forgettable (not bad, just forgettable), which is why we didn't remember. So we got checked in at a lesser chain hotel this time, where the girls were given the key to a room that was apparently already occupied. So they took my room and I had to go get a different room. If I didn't know any better, I'd say the girl working up front was the same one that couldn't get Lorayne's Wendy's drink order right.

As another reminder of the previous trip, Lorayne wanted some specific photos in the hotel room, but I hadn't brought my portable lights, so we turned all the rooms lights on, took off the shamp lades (yeah, that's right), and pulled up the bed sheet as a backdrop. I don't think these turned out too bad for improvising under those conditions:

Marcy wanted to start jumping on the bed and we had her do a Karate pose. As of this moment, I haven't edited this yet, but it was fun doing to see if she could successfully repeat this pose without cracking her head on the ceiling.

A couple serious ones of Marcy from the hotel room:

So Sunday morning, we slept in a little, and packed up, and the girls chose a quick McDonald's breakfast. And wow, what a spectacular customer base that place has. Lorayne tried to use her cell phone to get a picture of this one particular guest, but was unable to, as we didn't want to get our asses kicked by the sparkly, Mexican fashion cowboy. Imagine a guy wearing a nice cowboy hat, dark sunglasses (even inside), a nice, clean, fancy button-up cowboy shirt, jeans, with one of these belts...

...and these boots...

Yeah. Holy shit. This guy was the fucking pimp daddy of Lamar, CO. I'm sure the locals probably refer to him as El Brillantes Vaquero.

Anyway, we headed off back west towards home, in search of anything worth shooting. I had wanted to check out Bent's Old Fort, so we took a back road to get there. On the way, we passed some nice little spots, including a little dirt road next to a small river. We stopped to look around, and one of the girls noticed an emu on the property next to this road. I took some nature shots like this:

...and Lorayne posed for this shot by a tree that looked like it had been hit by lightning:

Out of curiosity we drove slowly by this property on the way out, and after passing it, couldn't help but notice they had zebras on the far end of their property. The gate to the property was open, so we drove in to check it out. We thought it might be some kind of petting zoo or something - they had chickens running around (with little baby chicks), donkeys, horses, goats, and peacocks in their front lawn. We wandered around to try and find someone home to ask WTF this place was, and finally an elderly woman came out from the house and let us know it was a private residence, but that we could see the zebras from the road by the fence.

So of course we pull off to the side, grabbed our cameras, and saw all of this, which seems to include impalas (African), elunds (African), emus (Australian; they creepily came right up to the fence to greet us/try to rip our faces off), zebras (African), a Black Buck Antelope (India), and a couple other animals we couldn't identify.

Lorayne notified Marcy and I of this, thanks to her bloodcurdling scream:

It's apparently an Argiope aurantia, more commonly known as the Black and Yellow Garden Spider, Writing Spider, or Corn Spider (thanks Wikipedia!).

We then went to Bent's Old Fort...sort of. First of all, why is the parking lot so far from the fort? Really? On the long walk to the fort, Lorayne picked some chili peppers for Marcy from a garden, which seemed really out of place. Oh, and she screamed again when she jumped through a spider web leaving the garden (see a screaming pattern here with her?). We get up to the entrance of the fort and find out two disturbing things: 1) it's not even the original fort--it's completely reconstructed to mimic the original, and 2) it costs $3 to get in (and no military discount, to Lorayne's dismay).



So we're back in the car....and passed by an interesting building in Swink, CO (next to Rocky Ford--yes, where the infamous listeria cantaloupes came from). I pulled off the side of the road and we noticed a woman on the property next to this building and asked her about the big building next to her. After first suspiciously wondering what the heck I was doing there (she thought I might be someone from the county looking at the building to say it needed to be torn down), she finally opened up and started talking quite a bit. It was an old schoolhouse that had burned down years earlier (she lost all of her possessions in it) and wasn't safe to go in (we wanted to go in and take photos). The roof was gone, and one of the walls had recently collapsed, and there was supposedly two feet of soot on the ground from the fire. She also told me why the Rocky Ford melons were so good (because of the unique irrigation system created just for them--which was being duplicated elsewhere and people were growing their own crops elsewhere now). Anyway, we swung around to the front of the building and I took this:

We worked our way to Pueblo and stopped for a late lunch/early dinner at Chili's. Lorayne ordered an adult beverage and had explained to our server (as she handed her ID) that she was in overseas in the military when she turned 21 a few months ago, and she was on leave and could finally order alcohol. Shortly before finishing our food, the server came back to ask Lorayne what he name was again. We all looked at each other wondering what that was all about...until we heard the clapping and saw the congregation of Chili's folk heading our way with a candlelit desert and some singing. Lorayne's face turned bright red as the server pointed out how she missed her actual 21st birthday because she was doing her military duty in the Middle East. There was a nice round of applause from the patrons (and deservedly so). I think Marcy ate most of her dessert, though.

All in all, it was another fun trip, and worth the reunion, other than the girls telling me I drove like a grandma (I do not!) and was old enough to be their dad....oh crap, I guess I am. :( Lorayne is apparently already starting to plan our trip for next year - renting a houseboat at Lake Powell. Hell yeah.