This photo was taken on the way to the Peace Valley School, in the middle of nowhere Colorado. I have been trying to do more black and white — this photo looks pretty cool in black and white in my opinion.
6 Questions You Must Ask Your Wedding Photographer
Choosing the right wedding photographer is important. After your wedding the only thing you’ll have other than memories will be the photos. With all the expenses of the day, this one is arguably the most important.
For my wedding, one of my tasks was to choose the photographer. I mostly decided based on photos I found online and really liked. There were several great photographers that had actually done weddings at our venue, so it was easy to see how ours might come out. After finding a few photographers that were available and within budget, I came up with the following list of questions:
1. Can I see a full wedding’s photos?
Photographers post only their best work online. A full set of wedding photos will not look exactly like the small set that were hand selected for a website or social sharing. Asking to see the whole wedding will show the total quality of the photos for an event. It may be that only two or three photos turned out well from the wedding. This is also a great time to see their technique in different scenarios. Will your wedding be at night? Ask to see a night wedding. Can this photographer handle low light situations? Mastering off camera flash isn’t easy for someone that normally shoots in natural light. Would you be happy if this set of wedding photos is what was delivered to you?
2. Are you insured?
You are going to want to make sure you are dealing with a professional, and that the professional is insured. Insurance covers a wide variety of scenarios that rarely occur, but do happen. Ask them about their contingency plans. What happens if they get sick, have car trouble, or get hit by a bus the day of the wedding? Pick someone that has an answer to these what-if scenarios.
3. How many weddings have you shot as the primary photographer?
Experience is important. A photographer may claim to have shot over 20 weddings, but this could have been done as a second shooter. This experience is good, but you want to make sure your photographer has a good sense of timing, knows the shots to take, has experienced some challenges, and can manage their own second shooter. The primary photographer is also generally in charge of the editing and handling the business/contract side. A person with greater experience will also likely be more expensive. If you’re looking to save money, choosing someone with less experience may be the way to go. I would make sure that they have done at least 15 weddings as the primary.
4. What are your deliverables?
You want to know what you are paying for. Are you going to receive physical prints or digital images or both? Can you make your own prints or do you need to buy them from the photographer? Will the package include an engagement session? These deliverables generally drive the price.
5. What is the turnaround time on a final product?
You want to know when you’re going to receive your wedding photos. A busy photographer can take a long time to go through and edit photos. Don’t be shocked if a busy photographer says it will take 30 days. You may prefer someone that can deliver them sooner, and will commit to two weeks instead of 4-6 for example. If you do not ask, the photographer may take their time, and deliver the photos months after the event.
6. Do you have backup equipment?
Backup equipment is required. Equipment fails all the time, you want to make sure your photographer and their secondary shooters are covered in these cases. Make sure they are going to bring multiple cameras, batteries, flashes, and memory cards. Are they prepared for bad weather if it occurs?
I shot this image of a Bald Eagle on the way to see the Abandoned Peace Valley School. This image isn’t too bad considering I was shooting with 23mm. Typically when I have my smaller compact X100F camera, I need a longer lens to capture Bald Eagles.
Peace Valley School
The Peace Valley School was built in 1911 by homesteaders and closed in 1946. The school sits abandoned just north of Fort Morgan, CO
Castlewood Canyon State Park Hike
We hiked around Castlewood Canyon State Park this year on my birthday. This is one of my favorite State parks in Colorado. There are nice mountain views, canyons, and a creek. This park has been called the best for accessibility in Colorado, since there is pretty extensive paved trail which goes through a good bit of the park.
The park has two separate entrances, on this day we arrived at the East entrance, and hiked from the farthest parking lot. We started on the Lake Gulch trail, which is a nice mostly declining walk that takes you from the top of the park down to the creek that goes through the entirety of the park. There are some cool views along the way of the Rocky Mountains. At the end of the trail you reach the creek, which as far as I can tell is only passible in the Winter time. I haven’t hiked this area any time other than winter because of my fear of rattlesnakes, which this place has a ton of.
The Lake Gulch trail eventually leads to the creek, which was one of the icier parts of the trip. Tommy and I both fell, and went sliding just short of the water. After crossing, there is an overlook on the other side of the creek, which has a nice view to watch others do the same fall you just did. It seems like every 4/5 people lost their footing in that area. Stacey and Lucy somehow managed to navigate the icy areas without falling all day.
Across the creek, the trail forks and you can choose to go visit the dam, or take the Inner Canyon trail. We opted for the dam trail, to go see the old Castlewood Canyon Dam. I wrote up some history behind the dam here. After the dam trail, we headed back towards the Inner Canyon trail. This trail goes up and down the canyon following the creek. There are a few nice cave-like rocks to explore along the way. This trail also conveniently brings you back to where we had parked. Overall it was great hike, icy at times, muddy at other times, but a very enjoyable way to start the year.
The trail info for what we hiked, from the Castlewood Canyon State Park website:
Inner Canyon and Lake Gulch Trail
- Overall:1.16 miles, moderate
- Lake Gulch trail: 0.80 miles, moderate
- Inner Canyon/Lake Gulch Loop
- Permitted uses: Foot only
- Miles paved: 0
- Miles non-paved: 1.96
- Total distance: 1.96
- Usage: High
- Degree of difficulty: Easy to Moderate
- Elevation: 6400
- ADA accessible: No
- Comments: Takes visitors into the canyon by the creek and back out for nice views
- Pets: Yes-on a leash
The Dam Trail
- Overall: 0.35 mile, moderate
- Permitted uses: Foot only
- Miles paved: 0
- Miles non-paved: 0.35
- Total distance: 0.35
- Usage: Medium
- Degree of difficulty: Moderate
- Elevation: 6400
- ADA accessible: No
- Comments: Takes visitors around the Castlewood Dam ruins.
- Pets: Yes-on a leash
Castlewood Canyon Dam
CRUMBLING AWAY IN A VERDANT state park, the ruins of the old Castlewood Canyon Dam hardly looks like the remains of a sturdy industrial water wall that released a torrential flood on the surrounding area when it finally broke. Built in 1890 and leaking for years after that, the Castlewood Canyon dam collapsed on August 3, 1933. A storm raged on that day, filling the dam’s reservoir to bursting. When the crumbling stone barrier finally failed, over a billion gallons of water were released, traveling over 40 miles of surrounding wilderness before eventually flooding Denver. Huge logs were floated through train stations, bridges were washed away, and by the end of the torrent, the whole city was sitting in four feet of water. Luckily (and tragically) only one person was killed, but the property damage of the catastrophe was immeasurable. While it was likely just age and a lack of maintenance that caused the dam to give way, some residents who still remember the disaster claim that it could have been the local muskrat population effecting the integrity of the dam. No matter the cause, the ruins of the dam remain in Castlewood Canyon State Park. Either side of the structure still remains and the track through which the water broke through is now a dry, grassy thoroughfare. Source: Atlas Obscura
One of the more constructive things I’ve done this year is learning a new language. After taking Spanish in high school years ago, I’ve started over using the free Duolingo app. The exercises are great in the way you can do as much or as little as you’d like.
At 5094 XP, that puts me in the top 8%. This is one of better accomplishments of last year.
I started at the beginning of the pandemic and haven’t missed a day. One of the cool stats they keep is your daily streak. I’m currently at 276, and it feels like I’ve learned a lot. You must complete at least one lesson daily to maintain your streak, that provides a lot of motivation.
The lessons are broken out into themes such as people, places, and family. In each lesson you are reading, listening, speaking, and writing. Once things go back to normal, I ought to be able to survive for at least a little while in a Spanish speaking country.
Roxborough State Park
As part of my time away from work, I’ve been able to do some exploring around the local state parks… here are a few pictures from Roxborough State Park. I’m starting to have a large collection of these, so I might create a new gallery.
These photos are from the Fountain Valley Trail — its a pretty easy trail, worth checking out if you’re in the area.
Here is some information on the Fountain Valley Trail from the Roxborough State Park website:
Fountain Valley Trail
The Fountain Valley Trail begins at the main trail head next to the Visitor Center. It is considered easy to moderate for hiking difficulty and consists of approximately 2.5 mile loop that winds through the Fountain and Lyons rock formations with a moderate change in elevation. ADA accessibility is minimal, though most wheelchairs can maneuver the Fountain Valley Trail with little or no difficulty during good weather conditions. The average hiking time is 1 hour to 1.5 hours.
The Trail includes 2 overlooks (Fountain Valley Overlook and Lyons Overlook), and a Historic Site (The Persse Place).
- Fountain Valley Overlook
- The Fountain Valley Overlook is only 100 yards from the Visitor Center and provides spectacular views of several beautiful rock formations, including the Fountain Formation, Lyons Formation, and the Dakota Hogback. The Fountain Valley Overlook features a viewing platform approximately 10’x8′,and includes 2 benches.
- Lyons Overlook
- The Lyons Overlook in approximately 1 mile from the trail head and sits on top of the Lyons Formation, providing a view of the Fountain Formation. Both Overlooks can be reserved for special events and are often reserved on weekends throughout the summer.
Tommy and I took a hike along the Chatfield Dam Trail at Chatfield State Park. Here is some trail info from the Chatfield State Park website:
- Permitted uses: Foot and bike
- Miles paved: 2.4
- Miles non-paved: .3
- Total distance: 2.7
- Usage: Low
- Degree of difficulty: Easy
- Elevation: 5,500
- ADA accessible: Yes – Asphalt
- Comments: Access trailhead at Dam Overlook parking lot. Connecting trail links include the Highline Canal Trail, Columbine Trail, and Centennial Trail.
- Pets: Yes, on leash
The trail overlooks the Chatfield Reservoir which is located just south of the town of Littleton, CO. The reservoir was built in 1967 as a way to provide water to the Denver area, and prevent large floods. The intake structure is one of the highlights of the trail, as it is massive, and seems to be high security. The Dam and surrounding area is a great place to get pictures of the Southwest metro area and concertina wire.
Portraits without Faces Part 3
Hiking with a toddler has presented itself many opportunities for portraits. I was able to get some good ones, to be posted later, and some others like this which fit the challenge described in my earlier post. You can read about part 2 here. Today’s is from the Fountain Valley hike at Roxborough State Park.
I just had the great feeling of signing off of work for the year. It has certainly been an interesting year at work, having been home for the last 9 months or so. Now that I’m off work, the first order of business was to turn off my alarms.
That will be a great feeling — sleeping in. During the break, I don’t really have any plans. No travel planned, nothing really at all planned. I might be able to get caught up on some reading, projects around the house, and a side programming project I’ve been working on.
The Great Conjunction
In an earlier post, I provided some tips on taking photos of a pretty rare celestial event, as viewed by the Earth. Perhaps one of the tips should have been to double check you’re taking the right gear out to record the event. I forgot my longer lens setup in my other car — and what I was left with was my X100F which has a built in 23mm.
This photo shows the conjunction, without a ton of detail, but it does have some other items of interest. On the right side of the photo, there is an owl — which I only noticed when I got home.
On the bottom left, there is a bright “star” which sits on Lockheed Martin’s Waterton Canyon campus. The star was first lit in the late 1950s to mark the holiday season. It turns on the day after Thanksgiving through to the New Year. The star sits at 6,687 feet on Warren Peak. It is about 148 feet wide, and 173 feet tall.
The two planets ought to still be close tomorrow night — I might try going back with the correct gear.