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.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The tower? The tower? Rapunzel! Rapunzel!

I was cordially invited to attend the wedding of Todd, a photographer freind, and his new bride Lisa (congratulations!) at a fantastic location (the historic D & F Tower in downtown Denver). A few days before the wedding, we frantically scrambled to find a couple girls to join Todd, Russell and I.

We had the giant clock faces, black chandeliers, a spiral staircase, a balcony, a bell tower, modern furniture, and even a bear skin rug to work with, and it did not disappoint. I only ended up shooting with model Trinity--which she said was only her second shoot. You'd never know if from the way she rocked this shoot. Here are the best 8 shots I got from the shoot (out of about 15 I edited).

We started off at the top of the building (21st floor) in the spiral staircase room:

We then had a wardrobe change and went into the clock face floor (18th):

After a break for lunch, with time before the wedding still, we had another wardrobe change and went back to the 21st floor for a few more ideas, which ended up being my favorite images of the shoot:

This shot made for a great silly pose the begged for something odd, so I played with it a bit for a bit of a morbid, cartoonish look:

Then I stuck around to do something I'd never done before - take wedding photos and video! I will say that by the end of the 11-hour day, my legs were burning from constant trips up and down five flights of stairs constantly, but it was a wonderful, once in a lifetime opportunity. Thanks again, Todd!