Monday, November 24, 2008

From Hunt to Home

My friend told me that his neighbor hunted elk and butchered it at home. I thought it would make a good photo essay so he called me when his neighbors came home with this year's hunt. I blew off all my Sunday plans and hung out with the butcher family all day. Then I decided to cover all bases of the story; writing and photos. It ran on the Sunday life page yesterday.

BOULDER — Once a year, Kelly Bacon, Bobby Hailey and Leon Palmer head to the mountains to hunt elk.

But once an elk is shot, it has to be processed.

“It always takes me a minute to put the knife in them the first time,” Bacon said.
“Pulling the trigger is pretty hard, too,” Hailey said.
“Yeah, especially if you have to pull it twice,” Bacon said.
“That is why the aim is always to get it done as quickly and painlessly as possible,” Hailey added.

This year, the three brought home three female elk, or cows, from their hunt at Hahn’s Peak near Steamboat Lake. Transported from the mountains in the back of a pickup to Palmer’s driveway in Boulder, the elk quarters now hang on hooks across a pipe in his garage, and a smell of raw game fills the air.

“There are times when the smell will start to get to me,” Hailey said. “So I’ll chew gum, and that seems to help ease the stomach.”

In the past, the men took their meat to Steve’s Meat Market in Arvada to be processed, which ended up costing them $365 to $450.

Now they have a cheaper alternative.

For about a week, Palmer’s house turns into a butcher shop. With the help of several loved ones, processing the large load of meat has become an annual family event, beginning the day after the hunt, lasting all day and carrying over into the week.

The men — Bacon is Palmer’s brother-in-law, Hailey his son-in-law — set up their station in the garage on a fold-out table, cutting meat off of the elk quarters and separating various cuts into different bins. The women take the bins upstairs into the kitchen, where they then process and package the meat into steaks, hamburgers, sausages and jerky.

“It’s actually really neat family time. I love it when the guys get to go out together to hunt, and it’s fun for us to hang out in here together,” Kina Palmer, Leon’s wife, said while grinding elk burger meat in the kitchen.

With each cow weighing 300 to 600 pounds, the group has to process nearly 600 pounds of meat. But the work is well worth it.

“Unfortunately for the elk, they taste pretty darn good,” Leon Palmer said.

According to Kina Palmer, the meat is of the highest quality, because it doesn’t have the fat and gristle of other meats.

For Bacon, who at one point suffered from high cholesterol, elk is indeed better to eat because of its lean nature.

However, for Palmer, Hailey and Bacon, hunting is less about filling their freezers up with a year’s supply of meat and more about the time they spend with each other in the wilderness.

Under a sky full of stars, they wake up at 4 a.m., have a cup of joe and a roll for breakfast, and race to their previously chosen hunting location.

The goal is to beat the sunrise, because as dawn breaks, the elk start to move and bugle.

“Hearing them bugle that early in the morning is pretty impressive,” Hailey said. “I’ll never forget the first time I heard them bugle. I was actually scared.”

But scaring the elk is what the men worry about.

The animals have excellent noses, so sitting downwind from them is critical.

If the elk smell the men, they will retreat immediately.

“You have to sit there and be quiet and use all of your senses,” Hailey said. “When you finally see one, your heart starts pounding and you can’t keep your gun steady at first.”

Although their adrenaline kicks in at that moment, this hunting trio takes no pleasure in actually shooting the elk.

Rather, the quality of the meat is what keeps them hunting year after year.

“Either you hunt it or you have a friend that gives it to you,” Palmer said of how to obtain elk. “Good luck doing the second.”

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Fiery Collision

Driving back to the office from an assignment that fell through, I saw a billow of smoke rise off of the side of the road about a mile ahead of me. Traffic slowed down and I tried to maneuver to see what was happening, but when that didn't work I put a call in to my boss to see if he had heard anything about it. He informed me that it was a big accident and that I needed to get to the front of the traffic by driving on the shoulder with my hazards on. I was afraid of getting in trouble, but he assured me I wouldn't so I did as I was told.

The cop that was re-directing traffic let me through and once I parked everything became a huge blur. I literally walked onto the scene without anybody noticing me. The car that had erupted into flames was under control and this point, the other car was completely totaled and a body lay on the street covered in a white sheet. After a few minutes I was approached by a police man who told me that I couldn't be there. I told him that this was my first accident (which it was), that I didn't know how this whole thing worked (which I didn't), and that I was the intern. At that he told me that if I had gotten some photos I would now have to wait on the perimeter and that somebody would be with the media in a little while. It didn't matter though, I already had the shots I needed.

Although the accident was really intense, seeing it all wasn't what bothered me. The strange thing about taking pictures of something tragic like this is that sometimes everything can seem so fake. There is something about looking through a view finder in a camera that takes me away from reality and drops me into a movie set. I'm not sure how I feel exactly about this, but I know that in a sense it bothers me that I am not bothered by what I saw. Maybe I haven't had the time to process anything or maybe that is just an effect of photojournalism. Either way it makes me think about the work that I do and the attachment I have to the pictures I make.

Firefighters extinguish a car fire following a fatal traffic accident on U.S. Highway 287 south of Plateau Road in Longmont on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008.





Eldora Opens

There's nothing better than getting sent to the mountains for work...two days in a row!



Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Soccer Player of the Year

To continue the Athlete of the Year saga, here is Mr. Cameron Tolooee, the soccer player of the year for the Times-Call.



Friday, November 14, 2008

Photo: The Old Fashioned Way

Although I really didn't enjoy the art school at CU, its louwsy photo department, or its less than average photo professors, I can admit that I really miss the ghetto photo lab. I miss film. I miss the dark room. And I miss watching my images magically appear on paper. In college, the photo lab was an escape for me. I loved going in there in the middle of the day, losing all sense of time (because it was so dark), listening to music, and actually producing something with my hands. I don't think I enjoy anything more than getting my hands dirty and actually making something. I like to see my work come to life in that way and connect with whatever it is I am working on. You just don't get the same experience nowadays with our fancy digital camera and a workflow in the computer. Plus, its much worse for your eyes to be staring at a computer screen all day than adjusting to the lack of light in a dark room.

Although with these photos, I wasn't able to do any of my own developing...having graduated...working with film was very enjoyable. When I am not playing photojournalist, I usually like to play tourist because when I am playing tourist everything is new and interesting to me. On the downside of the tourist game though, I take zero notes, so I have hardly any information about these pictures besides general location.

My goal for the future: To have my own personal photo lab at home.

Venice Beach, CA

Drum Circle. Venice Beach, CA

Slanted Buildings. San Francisco, CA

Nap in the park. San Francisco, CA

San Francisco, CA

Haight and Ashbury. San Francisco, CA

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco, CA

Waiting for TED. San Francisco, CA

Waiting for the bus on Halloween. Boulder, CO

Naked pumpkin run. Boulder, CO

Groucho Marx and Rita Hayworth. Boulder, CO

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cross Country Studs

This was a fun experiment I did tonight for the cross country athlete of the year portrait. I was hoping that as the two of them ran around with flashlights, their bodies would be a bit more exposed so it would look like moving figures not just moving lines of light. So my concept didn't exactly come out as I had hoped, but we had a good time figuring out how to tame the streams of light so that they wouldn't interfere with the subjects. I think I would have liked to see more of a connection between the runners and their "light speeds," as I like to call them now. But, in reality this was just an opportunity to challenge myself to make a more dynamic photo, having to handle more elements than I am used to.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Saving History

Welcome to my first ever multimedia project.
This is a story about a vintage aero museum in Ft. Lupton, Colo., how it began and the history that it preserves. Melanie Sidwell wrote the story, which can be found on the Times-Call website.

We drove out into the middle of the country to two airplane hangars, where "Aero Museum" was written in big bold lettering on the outside wall of one of them. This is the type of museum I might call grass roots. I've been to my fair share of museums and this one had a much different feel. There was no pristine or prestigious feel to it. The space was modest and so was the casing that held these amazing artifacts. The sense of modesty that occupied the museum made me feel more personally connected with the people the mannequins represented and the family history that built this collection. I highly recommend visiting the LaFayette Foundation if you live at all nearby. I thought I could have hung out in there all day long.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Democratic Victory


All of a sudden the crowd was in an uproar. Everywhere I looked people screamed, flailed their arms, cried, jumped for joy, and danced in circles. It took me a minute to figure out what was actually happening, but when I saw the big screen hanging in the front of the exhibit building, i realized that Obama had just been announced to be the next president of the United States. This is history in the making and I had the urgency to document as much of it as I could in that moment.

To think, 30 minutes earlier, the reporter had pretty much told me that I didn't have to go to the Democratic party. Nothing was going on, she said. Wrong. When I got there (what I estimate to be) 1,000 Obama supporters were hanging out to watch the election and party hardy with each other. Note 1: Listen to your photo editor. Note 2: Shoot for the web.

It has been a really cool experience to be a part of this whole election process, starting with the DNC and finishing with a new president. I totally appreciate the opportunities I have been given in this internship and I think that, being my first year in the PJ world, I have gotten to be a part of some really big news. Unfortunately, there was no dancing in the streets of Longmont like there was in Boulder until the early hours of the morning, but that's what you get for a small town local paper. Here is the photo staff slide show from the election activities. I think everyone did a really good job coming together and covering all ends of this historical election.


While I am on the topic of Democrats, here are some photos that I took at the DNC in Denver. I know they are pretty old at this point but I didn't have a blog at the time, so you get to see them now.

Thousands march from the Denver Coliseum, after a reuniting show by Rage Against the Machine, in an anti-war protest to the Pepsi Center in Denver, where the Democratic National Convention is being held on Wednesday, August 27, 2008.

"I am learning to live in the forest again," said Distance Climbing Eagle as she played her guitar and sang throughout the anti-war protest in downtown Denver on Wednesday, August 27, 2008. "Wherever there is forest that is my home," she said.

Gregory Delaurentiis left his kids, Giddy and Giani, with a babysitter while he went to the Rage Against the Machine concert at the Denver Coliseum, but later picked them up for the anti-war protest walk to the Pepsi Center on Wednesday, August 27, 2008.

Police are suited up in riot gear in the chance that the anti-war protest that initiated after the Rage Against The Machine concert at the Denver Coliseum takes a turn away from peace on Wednesday, August 27, 2008.

Three-year-old Mirella Chavez joins in protesting the "War on Morons" on 16th Street Mall in Denver on Thursday, August 28, 2008. "We're really just against morons," said fellow protester Carolyn Tedder. "We need to do better about the moron situation."

2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2008.

The anti-war protest walked down Arapahoe St. to Speer Blvd. and took a right turn towards the Pepsi Center in Denver on Wednesday, August 27, 2008.

A person dressed as an ostrich walks down the 16th Street Mall carrying a sign that reads "McCain's head is in sand on economy," at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2008.

Protester Sam Harper came to Denver from Eufaula, Okla. to participate in the Democratic National Convention. Wednesday, August 27, 2008.

Police on horseback at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2008.

At Lincoln Park in Denver, members of Grupo Tlaloc and other dancers perform two indigenous dances from Central Mexico which are characterized as Danza Azteca. "Danza Azteca existed before borders existed," said Lorenzo Ramirez, a resident of Denver. "I didn't cross the border, the border crossed me," he said on Thursday, August 28, 2008, after the "We are America: Immigrant Rights are Human Rights" march.

Margarita Castaneda started dancing seven years ago and recently moved to Denver where she joined Grupo Tlaloc, which lead the "We are America: Immigrant Rights are Human Rights" march to Lincoln Park in Denver on Thursday, August 28, 2008.

Alec Ounsworth from the band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah plays a harmonica during his set at the free indie rock concert Unconventional '08 on the corner of 30th and Larimer by the Manifest Hope Gallery in Denver on Wednesday, August 27, 2008.

Nathan Willett from the band Cold War Kids plays a free concert on the corner of 30th and Larimer in Denver by the Manifest Hope Gallery for Unconventional '08, an indie rock concert hosted by and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, on Wednesday, August 27, 2008. (Morgan Varon/ Times-Call)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Tennis Player of the Year

Stephen Lammers, a Niwot High School senior, and tennis player of the year...for his second year in a row. Way to go Stephen.