Finding New Photographic Projects

The view from Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge.
Sandhill Cranes during the Spring migration in Monte Vista, Colorado. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the background.

It seems like a never ending task, keeping myself motivated with new and interesting photographic projects. Now I have several repetitive subjects and locations I go to each year, such as the annual Sand Hill Crane migration in Monte Vista, Colorado. Today’s photo was made there in March of 2012. Birds, mountains, marshy landscapes, nice painted sky. What more could there be to this that I haven’t already done?

Earlier this year, in an effort to come up with a new and interesting photographic project, I began analyzing my archived photographs to see what themes and subjects I may have captured but not necessarily with specific intent. I realized that I had accumulated a number of ghost town photographs over the years. Bing! A light went off in my head. Make photographing Colorado Ghost Towns a project, not just a haphazard result of doing something else. Bing! Another light went off in my head. Combine the Ghost Town subject with other subjects I have always been doing, such as Autumn foliage, or wildlife. Specific intent is what I need to use to broaden my photographic endeavors.

In my previous blog post, I talked about the iPhone APP, Peak Finder. While playing around on the Peak Finder website, it occurred to me. There are 58 fourteener mountain peaks in Colorado. How many of those fourteener peaks have I actually photographed? I’m not talking about shots from strange angles or at a distance that happen to have a fourteener peak in the scene, but more like, how many of these peaks do I actually have a very clear depictive or artistic view of in a photograph? Why not start a new project and find out. I’ve already done a little of this but it’s been haphazard. Coincidental. Without specific intent. Wildlife and fourteeners… Sandhill Cranes. Been doing it all along, why not combine the subjects and look for new ways of capturing them together? Living in Colorado, I’m well aware of the fact that there are a people out there who make it a personal goal to climb all the fourteener mountain peaks in the state. I’ve been to the top of a few, but old age and general health prevent me from doing all that. But, I can certainly photograph the fourteeners with more specific intent.

So, in today’s photo I have a very nice combination of wildlife and landscape which also includes a number of fourteener mountain peaks. I’ve always referred to this general scene of the southern Sangre de Cristo range as Blanca Peak, but lets get more specific. The main mountain peaks in this scene are from left to right, California Peak at 13,849 ft, Twin Peaks at 13,557 ft, Ellingwood Point at 14,049 ft, Blanca Peak at 14,351 ft, Little Bear Peak at 14,042 ft and Hamilton Peak on the far right at 13,629 ft. There are three fourteeners in this one photo. Pretty good if you ask me. If I look at this mountain range as it continues to the north (left), out of this frame, there are even more fourteeners. And I have photographed those peaks as well.

At some point, I’d like to be able to claim that I’ve photographed every fourteener peak in Colorado. I’ve already got a good start on it, so now I have a new project. Photograph those peaks and combine them with other subjects and themes I’ve already been doing. It’s going to be a great way to step outside my box and expand my compositional efforts in one of the most beautiful and interesting states in the country.