Western Mural, Pocatello, ID

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Western mural, Pocatello Idaho 2013

As a new westerner and a photographer interested both the fantastic natural landscape and the urban setting, I am drawn to the work of a certain mural artist who was prolific in some of the areas I have visited. Initially I saw some humor in the real tree being contained and the mural, an imagined landscape, being available. Years later I noticed that the newer mural stops where the fence is and an older mural exists on the back part of the building. I photograph urban setting generally on Sundays when most business are closed. This helps me obtain a clean, clear view. As does picking pleasant weather. This spring I need to visit Pocatello again and will be sure to include a day when this bar is open so I can check out the older mural and maybe find out who the artist is.

Western Mural, Bancroft, ID

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Western Mural, Bancroft, Idaho 2014

In my travels north of Logan, Utah I come across the work of mural painters who had a good business of painting fantastic western landscape murals on various commercial buildings in Southern Idaho. Along the way I have started collecting them when I find them.

Bancroft, ID

140120_bancroft-idaho_135Commercial building, Bancroft, Idaho 2014

Intersting commercial building that has seen many years and various uses. Looks as if at one time it was an auto parts store with it’s interior walls painted in a yellow and blue scheme (NAPA?) and a Monroe shocks sold here sign. Currently looks to be someone’s workshop. Buildings like this are part of the reason I enjoy photographing small western towns. If you know anything about this or other building in Bancroft please leave a comment. Below is a detail of the doors and window.

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2013 in 10 photos

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This was a year of looking, learning and contemplating. If I had to choose just one image to represent 2013 it would be this image of a mountain goat on Willard Peak in Northern Utah. I took the photo on a drive to Inspiration Point with a photographer friend who shoots pictures of wildlife. Unlike earlier trips when I looked at animals through binoculars, this time we hiked to the mountain goats and saw them at close range. I look forward to doing more of this in 2014. Technical info: Willard Peak via National Forest Road (starts in Mantua) to Inspiration Point. Accessible in warm months by automobiles with high clearance. The last few turns are  at over 9000 feet elevation and exposed. Not for the faint of heart.

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Lone teenager at Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. Any year when you get to visit Moab six times is a good year. The area offers so much to explore and so many photographic possibilities that it boggles the mind. Now that I can go there frequently, I have the luxury of not feeling rushed or compelled to fill the day with a million must-see things.

Hunter Power Plant from Ghost Rock

Ghost Rocks viewpoint looking toward the Hunter Power Plant. This photo was taken on a solo winter trip to photograph the area. It was nice to experience Southern Utah at a slower pace and find new locations like this. The quickest way from Moab to SLC is through Price, but a winter storm made travel over Soldier Summit questionable so I took I-70 across the San Rafael Swell and saw a new part of the state.

Top of the World TrailPhone Home on the Range. Last spring I had the opportunity to travel the Kokopelli Trail on a Cruise Moab pre-run. A friend was writing a review of an off-road trailer so I came along to document the run. This great trip gave me access to some amazing country that is not accessible with my stock 4-wd vehicle and I got to meet a group of off-road travel enthusiasts. The view from here to the East Tavaputs Plateau–the ridge line in the distance–is more than 40 miles.

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In 2012 I wrote about a grain elevator in Preston, Idaho that burned down and how it seemed to have changed the identity of the town. This year I explored this idea and created a series of images documenting grain silos in small towns within a few hours of Cache Valley, Utah. The image above is from Soda Springs, Idaho. More images from the series can be found on my website.

20130317_Ogden_Utah_094-EditThe series on grain elevators led me to industrial areas of towns and other sites like this at American Nutrition in Ogden, Utah. The dramatic light and shadow from the late afternoon sun bring out the structural beauty in this otherwise mundane industrial facility.

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My search for silos took me north to Pocatello, Idaho, where I came across Walts Scrap Metal. It may not speak to everyone, but it interests me because of the play of the flat surfaces depicting western scenes against the actual western landscape. Additionally, the compression of space and the illusions it creates is a kind of puzzle and you have to really look at the photo to pull the different elements apart and try to make sense of the image. Scenes like this make the hours of driving worth it to me.
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On a return trip to Utah from Denver I crossed the continental divide via Rocky Mountain National Park’s Trail Ridge Road. I had just completed a Phase One Capture One training event and was delighted to come upon this dramatic scene.
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As I mentioned, 2013 involved a lot of learning and looking. When not photographing I spend a lot of time looking at the world via Google Earth. Last year I took advantage the opportunity to look down from an airplane window in Iceland: the location is somewhere between Reykjavik and Akureyri.131020_Moab_138 1Shelf road leading out of Spring Canyon. From my sixth and final Moab trip of 2013. I hope you enjoyed this short review of my 2013 photographs and if you have a similar post about your past year’s adventures please share a link in the comments section.

Happy travels and pleasant photography for the coming year!

Looking at: Malad City Idaho

Grain Elevator, Malad, Idaho

My exploration of the west is not that of a grand vacation or sponsored trek to some exotic location but one of many small trips to locations starting close to home and moving gradually farther away. It starts out with an idea for a photography project or a curiosity about a certain area. Following that I spend some quality time with a paper atlas and then some snooping around on google earth. My visits to Malad City Idaho so far have been for two different projects. The first is my exploration of commercial blocks in small towns the second is a more focused project documenting grain silos in the area as the exist in 2013. Above: Profile view of grain silo’s in Malad, Idaho.

Malad, Idaho grain elevators

Above: Silo structures in Malad City, Idaho. The square silo building in the foreground is a wooden structure clad in tin. If you look closely you can read that at one time it was a part of General Mills. The tin siding takes a beating in the wind and a large section has been recently replaced. Notice the letter “M” on the hillside. A very small skunk crossed the road while I was photographing the scene above. Though not visible in this frame it was fun to watch.

Western mural painted on the side of a bowling alley in Malad, Idaho

In my exploration of small western towns I have taken notice of these really cool western murals. Many are fading badly and I hope someone out there is keeping the tradition alive.

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I love it when I find buildings like these. The Thomas Electric Furniture building looks majestic compared to the Hotpoint building. When I see building like the one on the left I can only wonder what they were like when they were first built. All those windows on the top floor must have let in so much light. Was it storage, a workshop a residence? If I am there on a day they are open I’ll have to ask.

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Department Store in Malad City. This is an interesting grouping of buildings. The building on the left is actually a wedge shape on the intersection. the building that says CO-OP BLOCK actually wraps around it with entrances on two different streets. Though now all connected notice the 3 different window dimensions. Also notice that when the original windows were replaced they used off the shelf solutions instead of keeping the curved top window. Lastly notice the faces at the top and the ornamental metalwork and the photographer (me) reflected in the window by the door.

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Bikers out on a Sunday drive pass through Malad City Idaho. Visible from this angle you can see the other side of the CO-OP BLOCK building and how it wraps around to the other street. The red building is the Oneida Pioneer Museum

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Lots of interesting (and gross) things can be found by walking a towns alleys. In Malad City I was fascinated by this small red building behind what was a ZCMI building. A classic low-road building that I am amazed is still standing.

20130512_Malad_Idaho_038Lastly another silo structure with a few features I am wondering about. The tanks have a coating or insulation that I have not seen on other silos and the head house on the two silos on the right is unlike ones I have seen before. Notice the letter “M” on the hillside on the right.