Winning a Leica M9 Monochrom & $20K!

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I did a crazy thing today and spent a measely $20 dollars on an incredible black and white photo contest in the hopes of winning an $8,000 dollar Leica M9 Monochrome and $20,000 in cash. This was a good deal. Mind you, this is the first time I have ever entered a photo contest of any sort, The fact that I love Leica so much is what pushed me over the edge. If there’s a snowballs chance in hell that I win, I would put some of that money towards a Leica Noctilux-m 50mm f/.95 lens. My brother tends to disagree on how good Leica is. He says they are a bunch of hype and I should know better but Leica isn’t just a Red Dot brand for rich yuppies, it is one of the oldest and most respected companies in the history of photography. I’ve done the research, frequented enough technical forums, and have always been impressed with the quality images that come from Leica users . So I plan on getting one someday. Until then, I’m stuck shooting the poor-man’s Leicas: My trusty Olympus E-P2 and OM-D E-M5.

The dead cow photo above is what I chose to submit, not in hopes of winning, but because it represents my vision. As an artist making an honest assessment, It’s my worldview when shooting Landscape Photography that not everything in nature is pristine. I’m chuckling as I write this because it’s a statement against some of the nature photographers in general that like everything untouched and undisturbed before they can compose a picture. It’s ludicrous when in reality, nothing is unscathed even in the national parks. What’s wrong with airplane trails and power-lines being apart of the intended wilderness? Embrace them. In my humble opinion human-kind is apart of the wild and cannot be removed from it. I wonder how this dead cow would have been rendered using Leica glass? Trust me, German glass is superior!

Of course, you don’t have to believe me. Everyone swears by certain brands but some are simply more endearing that others to use. Leica is my favorite company of choice because their whole system is dedicated to the advanced art of manual focusing and the red dot is simply amazing! I won’t go so far as to claim that only real photographers shoot Leica, but I will say some of the most serious street photographers and world famous photojournalists have used Leica since the early days. It’s a serious tradition. Life is short and you may as well go the whole nine yards! So cheers to my favorite brand.

 

Shooting for the Big Times: Kickstarter, Instagram and a Road Trip to New Mexico!

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This week, I travel to New Mexico with several opportunities to shoot photos of various landscapes using micro four thirds cameras. The photo above is one of my recent travels to Area 51 in the Nevada desert! Off in the distance is the little town of Rachel, Nevada on the border of a secret military base. The trip to New Mexico is one of many that I have planned for 2013 and this one will be a Kickstarter photo project that has yet to be made public. We are keeping it a secret because it is such a good idea! This is going to be great, because I’m taking nothing but a bunch of manual focus lenses and a few autofocus lenses for backup. I’ll clue you in, the photo project has something to do with zombies and their homeland. The bulk of the work will begin later this July. My brother, Joe already has a successful Kickstarter under his belt to mass produce indestructible ocarinas. They are also known as a flutes designed to fit perfectly into your pocket while withstanding the most rigorous abuse. A little over six months ago my brother, Joseph Cowlishaw quit his day job to follow this dream to become an entrepreneur and master flute-maker. He’s been doing clay and ceramics since high school but started making flutes back in 2003 and has never stopped. You can check out his startup company called Wowflutes.

For the last six months, we have been combining our creative efforts to form a collaborative. My company is Talking Tree Photo and we started networking and marketing on most of the major visual social networks. Instagram has worked very well for both of us, and my brother had one of his images featured on the main Instagram feed on Sunday, June 30th, 2013. Check out this last screen capture of his image at the Meteor Crater in Arizona.

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We were surprised that they chose his image and it gave him quite a bit exposure. We both have pretty good followings on there and we are working to reach out to those who have been showing support for our efforts. My feed got popular, because some of my photos reminded fellow instagrammers of the Coen Brother’s film; No Country for Old Men. Later, fans from the AMC TV shows; Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, began comparing my images to scenes from both shows. This prompted me to become familiar with both series and compare their styles with my own; the similarities were quite revealing. I really enjoy the specific cinematography of Breaking Bad by Michael Slovis.

New Mexico is definitely one of the most photogenic places in the Desert Southwest, and probably my favorite state right now. I’m looking forward to my trip there this week and will document the details of my trip here on the blog. My brother and I keep comparing notes about the Coen Brothers, and they are an inspiration to me. Their work has influenced my vision about the Desert Southwest as I create a portrait of what America is all about in the post-modern era. I look forward to the future and what these creative ventures will yield. Life is short but adventure is always out there, waiting. You’ve just gotta believe in yourself!

Some Dreams Die

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Some dreams are left unfulfilled and the people who built those dreams have passed on to the spirit world. This is all that’s left in the temporal world. So work hard to fulfill those goals because life is ever so short. Already, I’m caught in the bind of trying to figure out quickly what to do with my life because it passes by so fast. This is the abandoned dream house.

A Man’s Inner Strength is his Beauty

A man’s inner strength is what makes him beautiful and gives him the ability to believe in himself. This morning I was reminded of this skill and that it’s what attracts the good things in my life. My connection to the land and the people around me is very real and the power of that spirit manifests itself in many ways. It’s easy to get lost or wind up in the rut but that’s the purpose for trials and tribulations, because in the long run those struggles make us more powerful. Someday, when I look back at this picture, I want to remember what I looked like in my younger years. It will also serve as a reminder about where I’m going…

The Cyclic Change

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This is a cottonwood tree below a beautiful cloudscape a few years ago. Image was shot with one of my Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras. Later, I edited the raw image in Lightroom and just recently exported it to my iPhone 4S where I ran it through an iPhone app that creates the sepia, grain, dust and scratches.  It’s called Scratchcam! This may be an effect that some people don’t like, but for me it communicates how I feel about my art and the intuition that I share deep inside with my images. I think it’s awesome that digital technology has come such a long way that we can now edit images from an handheld device. I’m having a blast shooting images with my iPhone 4s as well and enjoying the art of what they call, iPhoneography. If these new changes to photography are revolutionizing the way we view and capture the world, then I want to be at the forefront of this photographic rennaisance instead of sitting on the sideline.

The Marriage Between Micro Four Thirds & iPhonography

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Okay… I’m being overwhelmed with technological advances in photography from using an iPhone 4s to capture and post-process landscape images to using the iPhone to edit and print my DSLR and mirror less camera shots… Okay! I’m not going to give up my regular camera equipment anytime soon, but the iPhone apps are causing me to fall in love with photography all over again. It’s like a rebirth! So stay tuned. This photoblog is going to undergo a lot of different types of photography. I’m trying to post to Flickr, Instagam, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Not an easy feat. Also, this image was shot on a micro four thirds camera then edited with photoshop CS5 and then further processed with the frame using Lo-Mob on my iPhone 4s. I’m integrating my computer and iPhone using Dropbox. It’s pretty crazy. Photo title: Haunted Hallway -Historic Overland Hotel – Pioche, Nevada.

Puebloan Ceremonial Kiva – Aztec National Monument

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This is an ancient Pueblo Kiva that was used for community gatherings and religious ceremony in the old days and is still considered to be sacred to modern Pueblo people. The site is located in the heart of Farmington, New Mexico.  This was a very hard image to capture with the low-light and all the traffic coming and going through the Kiva. In the old days, there were no stairs into the Kiva. You have to descend down a latter through an entrance in the ceiling or a window. The Kiva served as a church and I try to show respect when I visit such sites.

Sunrise at Toroweap in the Grand Canyon

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Beauty is all around out in the Grand Canyon south of the Utah Border. You take a dirt road from Colorado City, 67 miles across the rugged Arizona Strip before getting to this spot. The dirt road is so primitive that a lot of people are not willing to take the risk. This area is a hot sport for serious landscape photographers who are familiar with the Southwest. I photographed this with an emphasis on the porous sandstone bathed in early morning light.

Ears of Corn in the Hogan

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Corn is an important staple and somewhat of a backbone for the Navajo People. It’s considered to play an important role to the creation of humanity and is apart of the origin of the Navajo people who call themselves the Dineh people. This corn was photographed in a traditional Navajo Home (hogan) with permission.

iPhoneography: Landscape Photography with Iphone 4s

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Telling a story is simple… Who says you can’t do landscape photography with a mobile phone. Are photographers going to throw their prejudices around!? Don’t misunderstand me but understand my intentions. Most people taking photographs right now are doing so using a cell phone. Why not experiment. Recently, I sold my Micro Four Thirds equipment and will eventually update my camera gear but for now, I’m enjoying shooting images with an iPhone!

Iphoneography: Hotel Swimming Pool

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More exciting and seedy imagery from the grungy Desert Southwest. In late fall this hotel still has its swimming pool filled to the brim on a cold day. To protect the innocent and guilty, I will not say which hotel this is. The rust on the fence is what I was aiming for but the pool was the overall composition. I really like the fence shadow as well. This shot was taken with an iPhone 4s and was pretty reminiscent of the Coen Brother’s Film, No Country For Old Men. So whip out your trusty iPhone and start taking pics!

A Hopi Sunset at Work – For the Ultimate Desert Rat

Captured at work tonight on the iPhone 4S. I’m loving this portability in the camera. Learning the art of having a camera on me on the time since my phone is my camera that is with me all the time. This is what I call a Hopi Sunset when they are this intense. It reminds me of a Hopi story about a young man that always strayed to the edge of the mesa outside his village, wondering about the afterlife and what happened after this life.

Hipstamatic: Leafy Textures

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Okay, I saw this on the ground and picked it up because of the textures which were fascinating. I was at work and I had this deep thought. Oh, and the iPhone is a fun camera to shoot and yes, it’s going to dominate this blog for a while because it forces me to think outside the box and get to the very edge of technology and imagery that is enjoyed by the masses. I’m not going to be the elitist carrying around the ten grand Leica. I’m just want to enjoy what I do: take pictures!

Autumn in the Desert

The little CCD sensor and lens in the iPhone 4S has opened up photography to the masses in a portable device and it continues to scare a lot of traditional photographers but I would encourage artisans to embrace the latest and greatest technologies. It’s what Ansel Adams would do. Check out the detail in this leaf shot, taken hand-held and post-processed with Snapseed by Nik Software. The image was resized for this blog with a special Adobe Photoshop plugin that I love very much! It’s a secret but if you message me, I’ll probably reveal it!

Hipstamatic & Iphoneography

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I’m still at a loss for words about my newly acquired addiction to taking photos with a phone. I’ve got the iPhone 4S and it’s addicting. The apps from iTunes are great. Some of them over-process the images though but I’m really liking Hipstamatic. I’m just trying to figure out how to incorporate this photographic portability into my main workflow. This is something I’m taking seriously after hearing stories about photo-journalists using mobile devices to capture important moments. You’re going to start seeing mobile shots on here. It’s apart of the technological evolution of photography!

Marketing My Sunday Shoes

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In a faithful bid to transform my life goals and career I’m switching from a nature-loving wilderness guide to a car salesman. It’s quite the gut-wrenching experience but it has been met with many blessings. One of them, is the ability to stay home and have a social life and more opportunities for dating the opposite sex. So the good nature that made me a tour guide will be used in a more stationary and structured environment. The fact is, I love people and I think I can handle this. During this transition, I’m learning how to market and brand myself. It’s important to succeed in life, make friends, love people, and fight for the American Dream.

19th Century Steam Engine in Action

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A 19th century steam engine rolls out of Durango, Colorado, on it’s way to Silverton, Colorado. Both towns in the Southwest wing of the state are historic western mining camps. The billowing smoke is quite a site as the train slowly inches to speed. We live in the modern West. Much of it hasn’t changed, just our perception. One thing is for sure, an old steam engine is quite an impressive spectacle.

Evil Waters, Parowan Valley – Utah

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Parowan stands for Evil Waters according to the Southern Paiute. This is the Little Salt Lake in Parowan Valley of Southwestern Utah. Back in the long ago, it was said that a man-eating monster lived out there. Who knows? This is just what I heard. Every time I venture out across the Parowan Valley, there’s strange things to be found.

Old Horn Silver Mine, Frisco Ghost Town – Utah

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Old Horn Silver Mine in the San Francisco Mountains west of Milford, Utah. Below the mine here is the historic mining camp of Frisco, Utah. Back in the 19th century, Utah wasn’t much different than other western states like Nevada and Arizona. It had it’s fair share of wild mining camps, outlaws, gunslingers, prostitutes & saloons. You name it, Utah had it. Frisco was a dangerous town with the reputation of being a widow-maker. More information on this town can be found here: http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/ut/frisco.html