October 31, 2016 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Global Dance Festival 2016
There are a few places and events I’ve been to many times but never blogged about. Right now will manage to kill two of those birds with one post by telling you about Global Dance Festival at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado. Red Rocks is not your typical concert venue because it’s carved out of the side of a mountain and overlooks Denver. Many years ago a very good friend of mine said that standing in the bowl of the amphitheater feels like you are in the hand of God. Cup your hand and hold it in front of your face. The bottom of your palm is the stage and the top of your fingers are where I was standing when I took the photo you see above. Those lights on the horizon are Denver.
Dancing at Red Rocks During GDF 2016
I would guess this was my tenth time attending GDF since 2001 but it was my first time bringing my camera to the show. GDF is held in the middle of summer, which means the weather is perfect for tailgating, people watching, dancing and partying. My friends and I get there early and leave late.
People at Global Dance Fest 2016
The music plays nonstop for about six hours and you will be dancing, in one form or another for at least that long. Global Dance Fest is the world heavyweight champion festival of electronic dance music (EDM) and since it lasts for three days, just about anyone will be able to attend at least one day, no matter what your work schedule demands of you.
Peace Love Unity Respect
What it comes down to is love. In a world with where it can seem enemies and stress are always at the gates, GDF is an oasis of peace, love, unity and respect. PLUR. PLUR. Peace, love unity and respect. Those are all things we can use more of and they are all free. You can produce, receive and project all of those things with less than the flick of a wrist. Cheers!
May 13, 2016 by Rob Hurlbut ·
OSIRIS-REx Inside Lockheed Martin Clean Room
NASA Social is a program that invites the social media followers of NASA to get up close and personal with what is going on with our space program, learn about missions and meet the people that make a living from science. This particular event was a chance to see the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample-collecting spacecraft. This is a craft that will be blasted into space on an Atlas rocket, transit to a 540 yard wide asteroid named Bennu, collect a sample from the surface of the asteroid and them bring that sample back to Earth for analysis. Yeah, we have people right here in Denver that figured out how to do all that and I got to photograph their work and talk to them! The photo above shows the clean room where the craft is assembled and prepped for launch. The spacecraft is on the right, in the position it will be in when it is launched.
Lockheed Martin Scientists & Engineers
I’ll do my best to explain what the craft is, who’s building it and what it mean to us humans to get a look at a pristine sample of a 4.5 billion year old piece of matter. First, the name of the mission is: OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission. OSIRIS-REx is an acronym that incorporates the mission’s major concepts and goals.
O – Origins
SI – Spectral Interpretation
RI – Resource Identification
S – Security
REx – Regolith Explorer
Demonstration Of Asteroid Touch & Go Manuever
Lockheed Martin has built the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft and that includes the sampling system and the sample return capsule at their campus in Littleton, Colorado. The science instruments come from various space agencies and universities. While the timeline from launch to sample return will take 7 years, the actual sample collection will only take a few seconds. What you see on the photo above are 3D printed models of the craft and the asteroid (not to scale) as they will appear when the craft gets ready to collect the sample. The small arm you see extended from the craft is the only part that will touch the asteroid. It is called the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism or TAGSAM for short. It will touch down, a puff of inert gas will move surface material into the collection vessel and then the arm will deposit the vessel into the return capsule. All of that will happen in less time that it took you to read this sentence.
Up Close & Personal With TAGSAM
In the photo above there are a few cool things you’ll want to notice. In the foreground you see an actual size model of the sample return capsule. On the inside of the lid there are three clips around that small circle. It’s those clips that will grab and hold the sample recovery vessel as the TAGSAM presses it into place. The gentleman above is holding the hose that will puff the inert gas into the round recovery vessel that is sitting on the table. On game day, that small vessel will be maneuvered by the TAGSAM into that circle in the lid of the capsule. After that the capsule lid will close, detach from the craft and then make its way back to Earth, to the deserts of Utah to be exact. You may see that the part sitting on the table there, the part that will be touching the asteroid and collecting the sample looks like an air filter from a 1969 Pontiac GTO. That is because the basic principle of an automobile air filter is being used on this craft. Stones, pebbles and dust can enter one side of the filter but can’t get out on the other; simply brilliant. Notice how the wall back there is dark and rocky, kind of what you might think an asteroid might look like? I’ll explain that in a bit.
Sample Return Capsule
Here is a view of the actual sample return capsule atop the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. The craft will be in this orientation when it’s launched but it will be flipped around so the capsule and all the instruments are facing the asteroid while in orbit and as the sample is collected.
Spacecraft Testing Facility
There is a giant structure with a 45 foot tall mockup of what they believe the surface of Bennu will be like. They call it the asteroid wall and the tracks you see in the photo above are used to maneuver special machines that hold the spacecraft components while they are tested on the asteroid wall.
NASA Social Group Photo At The Asteroid Wall
We all posed for a NASA Social group shot in front of the asteroid wall. Of course I jumped out so I could get my own shot. I really have to hand it to The employees at Lockheed Martin that showed us around and kept us entertained for the entire day; they made all of us feel important a showed us things that most people will never see. OSIRIS-REx is going to track an asteroid that will be moving at 63,000 MPH, touch it, shoot a capsule full of asteroid back to Earth and show us just how far back our family tree goes. I found out about NASA Social and how to apply from Laura Keeney, an ex-journalist turned Lockheed Martin employee in Denver, Colorado. You should follow her on Twitter.
Full View Of The Clean Room
The first shot for this post and the one above were both taken from the observation deck that looks into the clean room were the spacecraft is assembled and scientific instrument are attached. While I was in there, the craft into launch position and that is shown in the video below. It took about three and a half minutes in real time but is compressed into 23 seconds, making it a little cooler. You love space, you love what NASA does and you want to own a spaceship right? Well, your foot in the door to seeing stuff you love and stuff you want to own is the NASA Social website. Look at the upcoming events and if you can travel to one of them do it! You will get to see things that will blow your mind and you’ll get to take pictures of things that most of the world will only know through YOUR photos. You write about your once in a lifetime experience and post photos on your blog and that how the rest of the world will know about it. Everything you blog about will be read and looked at for many many years.
OSIRIS-REx Rotating To Launch Position
Get in touch with and follow NASA Social and Lockheed Martin at the following places:
Apply for an event, travel somewhere cool, take photos and then post. We were made for this!
May 13, 2016 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Flowering Almond Pink Flower
Pear Tree Flower
May 13, 2016 by Rob Hurlbut ·
The Transit Of Mercury
The orbits of Mercury and Earth lined up in such a way on May 9, 2016 that Mercury swept directly between the sun and us. From sunrise until just after lunch, those of us with the optics and equipment were able to watch Mercury, as a small black spot, move from one side of the sun to the other. For you photographers out there my settings for shooting the sun were: 1/4000th of a second, f/32, 100 ISO with a 10 stop neutral density filter attached to a 200mm lens. The photo above has two images taken that day, separated by just over two hours of time. Mercury is the lower of the two black spots you see on the sun. For all you fact checkers and history loggers, the left one was taken at 8:20am and the other at 10:36am Mountain time, from just outside Denver, CO. Cheers!
April 15, 2016 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Ryan Shoots Millennium Bridge
Downtown Denver is a fun place for street photography. Yesterday I joined Ryan and a few other cats for a walk around the west edge of the 16th Street Mall, where the Millennium Bridge crosses over the light rail tracks.
Denver Police Millennium Bridge
There are steps to walk up and back down again to take you to a bridge that will cross the South Platte River right next to a massive flight of stone stairs.
The Steps At South Platte
The flat area above and the wide landing pad below make the 15 foot metal hand rail and it’s 10 foot vertical drop a location for skaters all over Denver.
Ryan and the Gang in Denver
The Cherry Creek bike path lead us back into downtown where we would all go our separate ways.
Denver Light Rail Over Cherry Creek
The light rail C Line crosses Cherry Creek on its way to Union Station right before we all headed out to whatever came next. I really do like being back in Denver.
April 3, 2016 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Firefly Box By Loot Crate
I am a fan of the 2002 TV show, Firefly as well as the follow up movie, Serenity. They are pieces of science fiction art created by Joss Whedon, the guy that bought us everything good on TV and cinema for the last 15 years. When I say I’m a fan, I mean that in the sense that I’ve watched the show and the movie dozens of times. It’s not quite the same as when I was a kid and the original Star Wars came out where I had lots of toys and literature from that trilogy. With Firefly and Serenity it has all been about studying the characters, dialogue and costumes. Until now, I didn’t have any stuff from the franchise except what is stored between my ears. That all changed when, back in February I came across a company called Loot Crate. I think it was via Twitter that I found out about them and in particular, a brand new cargo crate they were about to produce; Firefly. I’d never done a subscription box service before but I wanted in on this one. Exclusive Firefly stuff mailed to me seemed like a perfect way to try something new to get something I want so, fast forward to about a week ago when my shiny new gear arrived. I was not disappointed. In the photo above you can see the first few items peeking out of the box.
More Firefly Loot
A cool, custom box with a sticker on the side that read, “EXPORTED FROM PERSEPHONE” contained some shiny stuff that any Firefly fan would smile at. A plush Kaylee bear in coveralls that matches Kaylee’s, a small Jayne figure, a Kaylee figure with a removable parasol that matches the one she had on Persephone when she met Shepherd Book and a lapel pin the says, “Everything’s shiny Cap’n!” were among the first things I pulled out. In the photo above, that pin of Serenity was sent to me a few weeks prior to the box’s arrival as a thank you from the Firefly Cargo Crate crew for being a founding member of this new crate. How nice of them eh? The parasol you see in that photo is one of five cocktail decorations. The correct title of them is, “Kaylee’s Shindig Parasols.”
Jayne Cobb From Firefly
Other things in the box that are not pictured here are a couple playing cards from the Firefly board game, two concept art sketches from 2002 detailing what the reaver ship and claw should look like as well as a booklet containing interviews with Jewel Staite and a Kaylee cosplayer named Maya Dinerstein. There was also an “Exported from Persephone” sticker like the one on the outside of the box.
Kaylee And Her Bear
It’s the little things that make a difference. For example, Kaylee’s trademark green coveralls have a patch of a teddy bear on the left leg. Well, the Kaylee Bear’s coveralls have a patch of Kaylee on the left leg. How cool is that? It is very easy to see that this crate was put together with the fans in mind. It’s not some random assortment of stuff you can just buy anywhere; this is stuff that any fan of the show would love to have and can’t get anywhere else. This box had an obvious Kaylee flavor to it so I will make the assumption now that future crates will have a slant towards other crew members as well.
What are my final thoughts? I’m happy with this purchase and I’m happy I decided to do something new by agreeing to buy something over a month in advance, basically sight unseen. I do recommend this crate to my fellow Firefly fans, it has my full endorsement. You can sign yourself up for future Firefly crates from Loot Crate by going to their website, www.lootcrate.com/subscription-crates/firefly. They will send you a new crate every two months. You have a few options in terms of how many crates you want to prepay for in order to save a bit of money. I signed up for the two month recurring plan for the price of $39.99 per crate which includes shipping. On their website they say that it’s Comic-Con in a box.That’s about all can say about this, it’s as shiny as they come. So, on that note, I’m going to hurry up and post this and then binge watch Firefly, again. Cheers!
August 4, 2015 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Blue Moon on July 31, 2015
We all know the saying, “Once in a blue moon” but what does it mean? If the moon is full twice in a single month, that’s a blue moon. It happens a lot more often than the appearance of comets or eclipses but not so often that it doesn’t cause a stir among the stargazing and superstitions communities. The photo you see above was the blue moon that appeared over Denver on July 31, 2015. Of course, the color wasn’t blue on that night; I adjusted the white balance just so the photo of the blue moon would be, well, blue.
I’ve been blogging for over six years now and the frequency of my posting has been decreasing for the last one or two of those years. You could almost say that I have been posting once in a blue moon. I don’t like that so I am going to start posting more often. My lack of posting is directly related to me not taking as many photos as I used to as well as traveling a lot less. I haven’t been on a plane since 2013 and I rarely carry my camera around with me anymore. That has got to change so the way I figure it, taking more photos will lead to more posts which will lead more travel which will lead to more posts, just like I was doing back in the day. By publicly declaring this I’m hoping that you, my loyal readers will hold me to it. I give all of you permission to hold my feet to the fire and hassle me in a relentless fashion to POST MORE OFTEN! Cheers!
June 10, 2015 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Brown Palace Shower Door
The other night, I had the honor of photographing DJ Equalizor as he rocked the house at The Church in Downtown Denver. I knew from the start it would be a very late night so I asked a friend to arrange lodgings for me. She set me up at the Brown Palace. What? I was going to stay at the most luxurious hotel in Denver, located six blocks away from the venue I had a photo gig at? What?!?
Selfie In The Brown Palace
I rented a camera specifically for this gig and I had about 6 hours to practice with it before the show started. My regular camera is a beast and I have been denied entry into The Church for having it in the past so I rented the Fujifilm X100S just for the occasion. It is the best low light camera on the planet and it looks like something JFK would have carried so on this night, I made it in without any problems at all.
I got to The Brown Palace about two hours before the show so I spent that time taking photos and mentally preparing myself for what it would take to shoot a DJ in the most well known nightclub in Denver. The Brown Palace is very accommodating and allowed me ample opportunity to play with my new camera whilst basking in luxury. Make no mistake, The Brown Palace is the best hotel in Denver.
Robes In The Brown Palace
I’d like to talk about what I hope are complimentary robes provided by The Brown. They weigh at least five pounds and two of them are provided. I took one of them with me and gave it to my mom. Roman emperors never felt anything like this; these robes make you feel like royalty.
The Toilet In The Brown
The toilet was very normal, but the trash can next to it had The Brown logo on the bottom. That last sentence is NOT a euphemism.
Check out time is at noon so the day after the show I walked around the hotel and at one point found myself on the sky bridge of the hotel, looking directly at Trinity Baptist Church.
Art Deco Escalator
There was no such thing as escalators when The Brown was built so I would guess that the art deco feel of this area was installed in the 1920s. That’s just a guess, so don’t get all pissed off if I’m wrong.
Brunch At The Brown
Looking down from my room, I was able to see people having brunch.
Stained Glass Windows At The Brown Palace
I wandered around after checking out and came across these stained glass windows.
Ghost In The Brown Palace Hotel
Finally, I saw a ghost while I was at The Brown Palace. If you think I put on one of those awesome robes and then had someone take my picture whilst standing behind the sheer drapes in the window well then… You are totally wrong. Cheers!
June 9, 2015 by Rob Hurlbut ·
DJ Equalizor At The Church In Denver
This past Friday night I was at The Church, a Denver nightclub that has hosted more nights of debauchery for me than I can remember, let alone count. There is a genre of performer that has cut a swath of music so wide that I don’t know how to categorize it or explain it to those that have never heard it. In the beginning I generically referred to it as techno or electronic music. Since that time I’ve come to call it the most important recreational activity I’ve ever taken part in. When you are familiar with or personally know the disc jockey at a show, it adds to the recipe of fun that had already included the friends you spent time with before attending the show. There is a very good reason that what a DJ does is referred to as spinning; they blend music in a way that coalesces people together in a place for a certain amount of time that would never happen otherwise. On this night, DJ Equalizor did that for me.
DJ Equalizor Spinning At The Church
DJ Equalizor is a musician from Denver that was in The Church to show that he has what it takes to perform at the premier electronic dance event in the country; Global Dance Festival In Colorado. This is an annual, three day event held at Red Rocks amphitheater under the summer night skies of Denver, Colorado. In the same way that bowling balls cannot be compared to sailboats, GDF is something that can’t be compared to or measured against anything else.
Outside The Church
What was it like to walk on the moon, attend Woodstock, serve in the Navy or scuba dive on the wreck of a WWII submarine? The fact of the matter is, only people that have done those things know what it’s like and while some people might be able to describe what it was like to do it, what they describe is nothing like actually doing it. Attending a show in a Red Rocks, the most glorious concert venue on the face of the planet should be on the bucket list of everyone. Carved out of ancient rock and positioned in a way that all of the heavens and earth are viewable from the upper levels, it is the closest I have ever been to seeing and feeling joy the creator felt when he created all of us.
Preaching At The Church
I think I may have gotten a little off track. What was I talking about? Ah yes, DJ Equalizor and his path to performing at GDF. Here’s the thing, anyone can climb Mount Everest, be an astronaut or knock a homerun out of Coors Field but the simple fact of the matter is; not everyone does. Each and every one of those things has been experienced by a very small percentage of the human race. Let me tell you this; DJ Equalizor deserves to join the club that has said, “I performed at Global Dance Festival at Red Rocks.”
Full House At The Church
DJ Equalizor has a website and many free, downloadable mixes on Soundcloud. I personally recommend his GDF audition from last year which can be listened to here:
Yeah, I know DJ Equalizor and I think his music is the shit. He should be granted access into that exclusive club of people that have performed at Red Rocks for Global Dance Festival. I’ve had this blog for over six years so you loyal readers know that I don’t post about, let alone photograph anything that I don’t believe in. DJ Equalizor is from Denver and he is going to take the world by storm and that storm should be formed over Red Rocks at GDF this summer.
May 3, 2015 by Rob Hurlbut ·
A year ago I planted a bunch of flowers and trees around the house. It was a lot of hard work and believe me, when it comes to digging holes through rocks and clay; there is no clever way to go about doing it. Anyway, after spending the spring and summer of last year wondering if it was all worth it, things are blooming and growing so yes, it was all worth it.
At this early point in the spring, flowers are the first to show their colors but, the trees I planted last year are showing some very vigorous signs of life as well. The reason I haven’t shown any photos of the progress they’ve made is because this has been a very personal journey for me. Knowing how long this journey is going to be has allowed me the rare opportunity to sit back and enjoy the ride, rather than document every single step.
The two lilac photos in this post are, ironically enough, not plants that I planted last year. They are older than me and have endured more Colorado winters than most people I know. They were a bit unkempt as of last year but I trimmed them, causing them to have fewer flowers this year, but are now prepared to have twice as many next year.
So, there you go. There will be more photos of the garden as the spring and summer progress, showing you this labor intensive project I started last year. Oh what a difference a year makes.
March 26, 2015 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Tulips In The Sun
One constant thing about Colorado is that the weather is constantly changing. As a warm weather person, I look forward to spring and summer the way a surfer looks at the ocean; I just can’t wait to get into it. I want to be able to wear shorts and flip-flops and any time of the day or night and ride my bike everywhere. While Denver has had some very warm days this year, it’s not full on springtime yet and even the plants are being fooled into coming out of their winter dormancy early. Case in point, the photos of the flowers in this post they were taken less than 24 hours apart. It’s been so nice for the last few weeks that tulips are kicking things by blooming for me in late March and then, the very next day…
Tulips In The Snow
They got snowed on. Snow in March is not an unusual thing in Colorado but blooming flowers is a little out of the ordinary so on this day I got to see flowers covered in snow. I’m writing this the day after I took that snowy photo and the snow is already melted so spring and winter are really fighting it out. Anyway, this is just a quick post to show you what we go through in Colorado every year. Cheers!
January 25, 2015 by Rob Hurlbut ·
All My Monthly RTD Passes From 2014
As you may recall, I had a lot to say about San Diego’s public transportation system while I was living there. I’ve been back in Denver for over a year and aside from a couple of posts talking about the closure of Market Street Station and the remodeling of Union Station, I haven’t said a whole lot about Denver’s bus and Light Rail system. I wanted to wait for at least a year so that I would be able to use it through all four seasons in order to give it a very thorough assessment and review.
I was away from Denver from 2006 thru 2013 and the public transportation system has grown up a lot in that time. When I left there were only 2 Light Rail lines and they both ran from Littleton to Denver. Now there are 6 lines that run all over the metro area from Golden to Cherry Creek Reservoir to Lone Tree. Next year there will be 5 more lines added that will enable us to go to Denver International Airport, Arvada, Federal Heights and an extension to an existing line that will go right through Aurora. In 2018 there will be another line added that will go all the way out to Northglenn. These are just Light Rail lines; there are many regional and express busses that already exist and next year will see the addition of another that will run out to Westminster, Broomfield and Flatirons. It’s already a very extensive system and will only get better from here on out.
That’s what is and what it will be; now I’d like to tell you about what it’s like to actually travel and commute on Denver’s Light Rail and buses. Just to be clear, the acronym for the entire system is RTD, which stands for Regional Transportation District.
I use Light Rail for 95 percent of my travels around the city. I live in Littleton and I ride my bike as often as possible so I pedal to my neighborhood Light Rail station, lock it up and then proceed into downtown. Once there, if I need to move around I just rent a bike from B-Cycle. I am a big fan of using Light Rail and bicycles instead of the bus for a number of reasons but the main reason is time. Riding a bike to a station is faster and healthier than taking a bus. There are bike racks on buses so you do have that option but it’s just not as efficient and it adds a connection to your trip. As a veteran of public transportation I’m telling you right now that connections will make or break your trip; the fewer connections the better. If I ride my bike directly to a Light Rail station I just have to connect with the train and head directly to my destination. If I include a bus into the equation, then I have to connect with the bus and then hope the bus is on time so I can connect with the train. Since I live in the suburbs, my bike is an integral part of taking Light Rail because the buses out here stop running at 7 p.m. and don’t run at all on weekends or holidays. RTD is much more geared to get suburbanites to and from work during the week that it is to move them around late at night or on the weekends. That’s not a bad thing but if you’re returning home (to the suburbs) after seven at night and you don’t have your bike or car waiting for you, you’ll want to call someone to pick you up from the station. With my bike and a Light Rail trip I can get from my doorstep in Littleton to the 16th Street Mall in 45 minutes flat any day of the week, so it really is fast and convenient.
As for the process of buying a Light Rail or bus ticket and boarding a train, I do have a few things to say about that. For the bus it’s very straight forward; either insert exact change into the money taking machine next to the driver or show the driver your pass or transfer. For Light Rail it’s a little bit different and to be honest, a little convoluted. The good news is that the ticket vending machines will give back change and most of them take credit and debit cards but the bad news is that how, when, where and for how long your trip will be all need to be taken into account when you buy your ticket. This is a problem that RTD is aware of and is working on but until then, you really need to do a little homework so you can figure out how to get the proper fare. It really is beyond the scope of this post to explain it but it should be smoothed out by the time those new lines open next year. I purchase a monthly pass to simplify things but even those passes have three different options that are based solely on distance. At least with a proper pass you can just walk onto any bus or Light Rail without having to waste time at a ticket machine or carry exact change around with you. Also, the touch screens on the ticket machines are not as responsive as smartphones or tablets so they can be a little frustrating and hard to read sometimes. They can also break so a machine that is supposed to accept money and credit cards may not accept one or the other which is very frustrating because most of us only carry plastic OR money which is why I advocate buying a pass ahead of time. If you are straight up unable to buy a ticket and a transit guard asks to see your fare, politely tell the guard what happened and you’ll be fine.
The RTD transit guards are very nice and that is something we all need to appreciate. In San Diego, the guards are nothing more than thugs that I have personally witnessed tackling commuters to the ground and arresting people for smoking at a station. Here in Denver, they say please and thank you and will gladly give information to help you get where you need to go. Another big transit difference between San Diego and Denver is the way people board the train. In Denver, people line up at the marked door entrances for the train. When it arrives, people exit the train and then the line of people calmly boards the train. In San Diego, when a train pulls into a station it turns into a mob scene straight out of a horror movie. People push and shove and there are lots of people that bring wheeled carts onto the train too. Denver is certainly the more cosmopolitan of the two cities.
This review turned out to be much longer than I thought it would be so allow me to boil it down for you; Public transportation in Denver is very good. The trains and buses are clean and they run on time. I wish there was more shade and shelter at the stations but beyond that, they’re well lit and snow is shoveled constantly. The security guards are nice and the system is extensive enough to get you just about anywhere you need to go, as long as you do a little research first. Something I didn’t mention before is that you can take Light Rail to Broncos, Avalanche and Rockies games so remove yourself from some traffic and try out RTD. Cheers!
December 31, 2014 by Rob Hurlbut ·
I’m busting out a quick post to tell you that I have a bucket list. When I was a kid, the term “bucket list” did not exist. There were only things that we wanted to do and places we wanted to go before we died. Since then, Hollywood has told us to make a list of things we want to do before we kick the bucket; hence the term, bucket list.
As I write this, I have less than one hour until 2015 crashes in so I have to be quick.
This is a very short list of some things I want to do before I die. It is not the complete list, just a few of them:
1. Learn to use a bullwhip like Indiana Jones.
2. Learn Spanish. Something I should have done whilst living in San Diego for 8 years.
3. Go to Greece.
5. Learn to use a sword in the style of a light saber. Yeah, Star Wars is the greatest movie ever made.
6. Write a novel.
7. Write a screenplay.
8. Publish all the photos on my blog into a book with paper pages.
9. Get back on a motorcycle.
10. Learn to fly a helicopter.
11. Make a movie about my experience in Alaska.
That’s it. Eleven things I want to do that I’m sharing with the world before the new year. Cheers!
December 25, 2014 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Hudson Gardens At Christmas
Last night was Christmas Eve 2014 so I went to Hudson Gardens to check out their Christmas lights. After a few years photographing the lights at Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, freezing my ass off taking photos of lights in Historic Downtown Littleton and in Downtown Denver, I am a connoisseur of Christmas lights.
Christmas Lights On The Lake
This is the part where I ensure that Hudson Gardens will never retweet me or pay me to take photos of their place. I rode my bike along the South Platte River Trail to get there, locked it up on the west side of the gardens and then found myself unable to enter. I had a preprinted ticket in my pocket but the only way in was through the east side of the gardens, where the cars park. I wasn’t going to walk all the way around, so I just hopped the fence and went on about my business. I’m not saying you should sneak into Hudson Gardens in this manner, I’m just saying that I entered in this manner; with an $11 ticket in hand. I’m also saying that they should make their Christmas light show more bike trail accessible.
Reindeer At Hudson Gardens
After I made my semi illegal entry into a venue I legally paid to enter, I just started taking photos. I was just being myself, making one lap with my camera in hand and then doing a second lap with my camera on a tripod. I think I may have the show Californication on the brain because it seemed to me that is was being chatted up and flirted with by more than one woman whilst I was trying to do my business of taking photos.
Christmas Trees At Hudson Gardens
Before I get ahead of myself by saying that I was recognized from my website let me say one thing; I was recognized by people that know me from my website. That doesn’t happen all the time; usually it’s only colleagues that recognize me when I’m covering a convention or an event. On this night I was just walking around taking photos, trying to keep my hands from sticking to my aluminum tripod in the freezing cold so it was neat to be recognized by a few people.
The Lake At Hudson Gardens
After consorting with my fans and posing for a few pictures I turned my attention back to the lights and my freezing hands. My particular style of photography is very tactile; I need to be able to feel buttons and turn dials in an uninhibited way so I never wear gloves whilst shooting. This was much easier to do when I was living on the beach in San Diego.
Santa At Hudson Gardens
Anyway, I did a few laps and then headed home. As I write this, I’m enjoying Christmas Day with my family, waiting for an epic storm that will give Denver a white Christmas. It should be a blast. Cheers!
December 22, 2014 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Ice On The Door
Last week I took a road trip to Utah. I stayed in an area south of Salt Lake City and spent the bulk of my time right next to Salt Lake Temple, a glamorous Mormon Temple that was constructed over 120 years ago. I have no photos of the structure or the amazing Christmas lights that surround the area. I was working whilst there and the one night I had a chance to take photos I opted not to because, in my own words, it would have been too much of a bother. Over the six day span between Denver and Salt Lake City I took a total of 12 photos, two of which are in this post and neither of them were taken anywhere near Salt Lake City. I won’t lie; I am straight up ashamed of myself for not taking more photos or pressing myself to document a city I have never been to before. The two photos in this post are pathetic, mundane and ordinary. Above is a photo of the ice that formed on the door of the van I was in.
Sunset In Wyoming
In a nutshell, we drove north out of Denver on I25 and then hung a left on I80 once we reached Cheyenne. The photo above was taken sometime before we made the turn to the west. At least, I think it was. I wasn’t driving or navigating but I can say for sure that I took this photo by pointing my camera out of the left side of the van. So, to the best of my recollection, and reconciling that with what I know about the rising and setting of the sun, I was traveling north when I took this shot. After that, I put my camera in a bag and didn’t take it out again until I got back to Denver. Cheers!
December 4, 2014 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Sunspots Over Denver
Back in October I posted some photos of the partial solar eclipse the occurred over Denver. In that post I lamented not being able to capture the event very well because the sun is, duh, too damn bright. What I needed, and thus came to want(ed) was a neutral density filter; sunglasses for my camera. Guess what? I got one! Of course it’s been cloudy most days since I bought it but I’ve still managed to mess around with it a little.
My camera has a cropped sensor so my 200mm lens gives me the reach of a 300mm lens on an actual 35mm camera. For the laypeople out there, my camera’s sensor is smaller than a 35mm negative by a factor of 1.5 so that smaller size gives me 1.5 times more reach than if I had a full size (35mm) sensor. This can be a blessing or a curse depending on what I’m trying to do. My cool 8mm fish-eye lens is not as wide as it should be because with my camera it shoots at 12mm. When aiming at the sun or birds of in the distance, my 55-200mm zoom gives me 100 extra millimeters on the far end (300mm). Are you still awake? Well, even if you are not, I’m going to continue.
With the sun being so bright, even a neutral density filter needs help so the photo above was shot in a way that allowed the least amount of light to hit the sensor, whether the ND filter was in place or not. The same settings were used for the shot below during the eclipse; 1/4000th of a second, f/32 and an ISO of 100. Beyond that the only difference between the two is the ND filter, which lets less light pass through the lens and onto the sensor.
Solar Eclipse Over Denver
If you use your imagination, you can see where the moon is blocking the top portion of the sun but you might not see that if I didn’t tell you about it. At this point, the sun was very low in the sky which made for a very dramatic eclipse but still had me struggling to photograph it. The top photo was taken when the sun was a full two hours higher in the sky and yet you can see sun spots even a fleck of dust on my lens. The fleck I’m referring to is the big spot you see at the 8 o’clock position on the sun. Anyway, my point is that I’m pleased with this ND filter and once I’m done pointing it at the sky I’ll get to some slow shutter speed stuff of rivers and waterfalls. Bor-ing stuff. Cheers!
November 22, 2014 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Downy Woodpecker And Red Breasted Nut Hatch
A month ago I set up four bird feeders in the backyard. At this point I get to use a big word by telling you that ornithology is my newest hobby. Uh, ornithology is like, the study of birds. So far the biggest challenges have been keeping squirrels out of the feeders and finding a food source that doesn’t leave a gigantic mess. What I’ve done (after a month of trial and error) is rig up the feeders in a way that squirrels can’t reach them so they have to eat up what falls on the ground, helping me clean up the mess. I don’t have a problem with squirrels, but when they get to the feeders, they hog all the food.
Gilded Flickers Fighting
When I’m not languishing about having to clean up the mess I’m sitting, motionless as possible in a chair with my camera on the back porch. It is a little difficult to make out but the photo above shows two gilded flickers having a heated conversation. They were 50 yards away so my 200mm lens struggled to see them at all.
There are at least two blue jays that visit the yard. I always hear them before I see them and they are very skittish so being outside when they are around is a rare treat.
Another rare visitor has been the spotted towhee. They are not as skittish as the blue jays but they only come around once every couple of days. You can see their red eyes from a mile away and they are the only bird thus far that flies away to a point in the distance that is too far away to see. All the other birds grab some food and either stay in the feeder to eat or fly to a nearby tree to break open the husks. Not these guys, they grab some food and then take off into the wild blue yonder
Two House Finches
The house finches are around most days. The males have red plumage while the females do not.
The male downy woodpecker pictured above was taken by me back in September of this year. I was stalking a dragonfly on a gladiolus when I heard this little man pecking at the bark of an apple tree.
Birds Having A Meal
The above photo shows a red breasted nut hatch having dinner with some sparrows. The nut hatches are my favorite bird thus far because they seem to be the most fearless.
Red Breasted Nut Hatch
I’m serious, the nut hatches will stay perched on the feeders when I refill the seed and they don’t take any shit from the blue jays or the squirrels when they come around. They are able to cling to anything with an agility that puts Spiderman to shame and it is fun to watch them smash and store food all around the yard.
American Robin Eating A Juniper Berry
As a patriotic American and a veteran of the United States Navy I will end this post with a photo of an American robin eating a juniper berry. Cheers!
November 17, 2014 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Colorado State Capitol Building Model
For the first time in about 15 years, I went inside the Colorado Capitol building. The gold dome has gleamed over Denver for a hundred and ten years and it was just refurbished so it looks great. While I did walk all over the place I had one actual thing on my agenda; to get to the top of the dome.
Ground Floor – Colorado State Capitol Building
If you don’t work in the capitol, there are two options for visitors to enter; the north or the south side of the building. There are very polite security guards that will have you walk through a metal detector and place your bag in an x-ray machine. It’s similar to going through security at an airport but you can keep your shoes on and you only need to take metal objects out of your pockets. After that, you can walk all around the building.
The Grand Staircase
The place if filled with vintage art and stained glass windows that are worth spending time admiring and photographing. That being said, I didn’t admire a whole lot because, as I said before, I wanted to go to the top of the dome.
Emily Griffith Stained Glass Window
Normally, a stained glass window is an actual window. What I mean is that they are on the outer wall of a building in order to let light in and showcase the colors. There are a few of them in the capitol building that are on interior wall and lit from behind with electric lights. This likeness of Emily Griffith is one of them.
Colorado State Legislature Chambers
While the restoration of the dome is complete, there are still interior chambers getting a facelift. This is the part where I have to tell you that I don’t remember exactly what this room is but I think it is the state legislature chambers. I do remember that it was on the west side of the building and that it has some great stained glass windows. I also remember the information poster outside this room said that in the 1950s acoustic tiles were placed on the walls, covering the original gilded walls. Those tiles are now being removed and the original walls are being restored, which I think is awesome.
Looking Down From The Hall Of Presidents
Up and up I went, looking at the architecture whilst resisting the urge to open random doors. While the actual footprint of the building is rectangular, each floor under the dome is round; I think that would make these areas, if not the entire building itself a rotunda. This is perfect for a wide angle lens since it distorts straight lines into a curve.
Looking Up From The Hall Of Presidents
One of my last stops before finding the stairs that lead up to the gold dome is this room filled with portraits of every American president. Some of the portraits are missing because they are being cleaned off site but it was still a very easy way to put faces to names that haven’t made it on to our currency. I am a modest student of early American history so at this point I have to say that Benjamin Franklin should have his portrait up here because I think he should have been president.
After a hike up a final set of narrow stairs, I was right underneath the gold dome. The spiral staircase you see in the photo above is off limits to the public so where I was standing is the highest point a regular dude like me can go; the same place I stood 15 years earlier.
Civic Center Park
Once out on the veranda of the rotunda I set to work taking photos of my glorious Denver skyline. All these photos were taken on November 5th so the fall colors of Civic Center Park were on full display and there were just enough clouds to give some depth to the sky without blocking out the warmth of the sun.
The Skyline Of Denver
It was about four in the afternoon when I was up there; access to the dome is only granted during daylight so you will really have to get the timing right if you want some sunset shots. This is one of those instances where having a high placed friend would come in really handy. If there was a photographer with a friend that could grant him access to the top of this building after hours that would be awesome. Maybe there is someone that doesn’t personally know a photographer but after reading a post like this could arrange for a photographer to get some night shots from The Colorado Capitol. I’m just saying.
The Skyline Of Denver
For those of you that have been reading my blog over the last half decade, you know that I try to write the way that I talk. It’s not easy because I have no regard for punctuation or AP Style when I speak. I think, I speak, I type and then I read what I’ve typed aloud to myself. That’s how I do up a post, that’s my process. I love Denver and I love Colorado. Any sort of anything that has made me the man I am today has its roots in the centennial state. I was in this landlocked state when I enlisted in the Navy and it was Denver that I returned to after sailing around the world. Cheers!
November 6, 2014 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Anonymous In Front Of Denver Capitol Dome
Yesterday I went to the Capitol building in Denver, Colorado to take photos of the Million Mask March. This worldwide event, taking place for the second year in a row is organized by the hacktivist group, Anonymous. They are the group that has a cosmic connection to Guy Fawkes, an early 1600’s Englishman involved in what we know today as The Gunpowder Plot. In a nutshell, he was a catholic that wanted to oust the ruling protestant monarchy but the plot was discovered by means an anonymous letter delivered to King James. Over the next 400 years, Fawkes and his likeness in the form of a mask came to be seen as symbols of protest and by 2008 as a symbol for Anonymous. The first time it got onto my radar was when I was covering the 2011 Occupy movement in San Diego.
Anonymous Flag In Denver
Anonymous has their own flag which is specific to the group while the mask is a general symbol of protest. At a protest or march organized by Anonymous you’ll see both of them.
Protest Signs In Denver
So, what was this protest about and what does Anonymous stand for? If you ask a room full of people you will get a room full of different answers. As you’ll see from the signs and posters in this post, there are many different points of view and many statements being made.
Protest Signs On Broadway
The evil of money was a common theme for this march. Our current status quo allows for people with more money to garner more influence, protection and power via political contributions and lobbying. It is not uncommon to see the right thing be ignored in order to go with a more profitable option. The mere fact that a term like “personal political gain” exists in a democracy should be a very telling thing.
Political Protest Signs
Another issue at hand for the march is capitalism itself. The way money is made has become a problematic for a lot of people because of the way it is tied to politics and the way politics is tied to capitalism. I’m not an economist or a politician so I won’t try to give my uneducated take on the matter but as the reader, you should look into points being made by these protesters and make up your own mind. Spending a week getting your news from sources other than mainstream media will help you do this.
Aside from reading the posters, I listened to what many of the protesters had to say. A lot of them are unhappy that corporations have the same rights as a person, the way mainstream media only reports stories that promote an agenda, failure to report on dissent and as a rise in the police state.
Anti Police Poster At Million Mask March
I have never been roughed up by a cop or thrown in jail but I have had a few run-ins with police officers that didn’t like me recording them in public. In 2009 I was kicked out of a San Diego trolley station after recording them arrest a man for smoking. Usually its security guards that give me the most grief over taking photos or recording video in public but a lot of them are police officers moonlighting so the cop mentality really does show through. The fact of the matter is that police like to be obeyed and rarely admit when they do something wrong. That is why so many people turn on their cameras during an interaction with a police officer; video footage provides a record that may or may not contradict what a cop writes on a report. The point is that when a camera is present, police can’t lie their way out of bad behavior. There is an excellent website, “Photography Is Not A Crime” that collects instances of police being recorded and challenging photographers for doing so. Anyway, all this reading and listening took place before the march started. As the sun set, preparations and instructions for the march started to happen.
Million Mask March In Denver Group Photo
I was very impressed with how organized the march was. Anonymous may not have a leader but there were leaders for this march and they did a great job keeping the chaos organized and keeping the protesters on task. There was a core group that worked together to decide what the route for the march would be and whose job it was to keep the group together once the marching started. It was stressed many times that the group had to remain together; no one should ever be more than two feet away from anybody else. I made quick friends with another photographer covering the march so we agreed to be buddies during the march; just in case. A group photo was organized, the PA system was broken down and the march started at about 6pm. They headed out on Colfax and onto the 16th Street Mall.
Marching Through The Streets
It is worth noting that with the exception of a Spanish language news channel, there was no media or police at the capitol building the entire time. There were some bloggers and a few live streamers but for the most part, the documentation of the march fell on the shoulders of the protesters themselves.
Marching Down The 16th Street Mall
Again, I need to give mad props to the leaders of this particular rally. They had runners that would shout directions to the protesters, kept them on the sidewalk when necessary and made sure the route went through the most populated areas of LoDo. I would say that about 90 percent of the route stayed on the 16th Street Mall and it was while on the mall that a slight police presence started to form. Since the protesters were adamant on staying together, red lights and calls of, “Hold the line!” kept the group moving slower than a parade so the police (motorcycle and bicycle) held a respectable 1 block distance ahead of the protesters. When the march stopped, the police stopped, when the march started moving, so did the police. At this point there was very little tension and no words exchanged between them.
Million Mask March Aproaches Union Station
After a few zigs and zags, the march headed towards Denver’s iconic Union Station. As I mentioned before, there were not a lot of police so as a photographer I was running up and down and all around the protesters without much worry about being singled out by law enforcement. When I realized the group was heading towards Union Station, I ran up ahead to frame some shots. When I got there, I saw lots of police wearing riot gear.
Denver Riot Police At Union Station
I got to the station about 60 seconds ahead of the march so as the group got closer, the police walked forward about 10 feet so they were standing in the street, facing the protesters. The next few minutes for me were the tensest of the evening. The march stopped at the intersection of 17th Street and Wynkoop, where the police had gathered. At this point some chanting against the police started to happen and a few people walked out from the group to flip them off and draw invisible lines they dared the police to cross. The police did not interfere with the exception of shining a few lights into a few cameras. The police helicopter showed up as well, lighting the scene from above. The way the police were stationed made it very clear that if the march proceeded west of Wynkoop, things would get ugly.
Anonymous On The 16th Street Mall
Eventually, the protesters simply hung a left turn and went back to 16th Street. Now all the police were behind, following them up the mall. A couple times the entire group did an about face and walked towards the police but as before, the police stayed back by at least a block so there was no real confrontation. The group then walked to the Money Museum at The Federal Reserve Bank where there were some speeches and chanting. It was at this point that I left the march to head home.
My final thoughts on the evening were positive all around. The organizers kept people in line, even going so far as to make sure that trash was picked up from the gathering site at the capitol. I thought the police showed great professionalism and restraint. I did not personally see any altercations nor did I see any guns drawn or tears gas canisters fired. So, I’ll leave it at that. I do think you should do some independent research and question things that you have been taught are true yet in your heart you feel are wrong. Remember, the earth was flat for hundreds of years until free thinkers brought it around to its proper shape. Cheers!
October 27, 2014 by Rob Hurlbut ·
A Bird Flies Past A Solar Eclipse
Last week I photographed a partial solar eclipse in Denver, Colorado. That was something I had never done before so guess what happened. Never mind, don’t guess; I’ll just tell you: I didn’t do a very good job. I did the best I could with the equipment I had but believe it or not, pointing a camera at the sun, the brightest thing any human being has ever seen requires more than skill, it demands specialized equipment; a neutral density filter. Just attach the filter to the end of your lens and it functions just like sunglasses or a welder’s mask. They restrict the amount of light that passes through the lens so you can use low light techniques in broad daylight. Or, in the case a solar eclipse, prevent you from going blind whilst composing a shot that includes the sun.
Partial Solar Eclipse Through Colorado Blue Spruce
Since I don’t have one of these filters, I had to push my camera to its limits by using the fastest shutter, smallest aperture and lowest ISO available; 1/4000th of a second paired with f/32 and a film speed of 100. In addition to that, I did what I could in order to get some trees, leaves and branches between my camera and the eclipse to help act as a natural diffuser. So, technically I got some photos that show the moon partially blocking the sun but as you can see, just barely. There are cameras out there that can slap their shutters at 1/8000th of a second and that would’ve helped me out a lot but using a neutral density filter for an event like this is the better option because it would have given me more flexibility, including the option to directly view the sun through the viewfinder. This would have made it so much easier to compose the shots.
Partial Solar Eclipse And Spooky Trees
The eclipse itself was a very unique event for North American photographers because it happened right before or during sunset for the middle and eastern side of the continent. Just like when the harvest moon happens, it’s always nice to be able to place familiar objects in the foreground to enhance to apparent size of the celestial event by giving it some scale. There was a very light cloud cover the entire time so the sun looked like a very haunted moon and the foreground subjects looked like something from an evil garden.
Solar Eclipse Projected By Pinhole Camera
If you don’t have gear capable of being pointed directly at the sun, there is an old world way to see an eclipse and that is to construct a pinhole camera. You need a piece of white cardboard to poke a pinhole in and another white surface for the eclipse to be projected on. The smaller the pinhole, the closer together the two ends of the camera need to be. I poked a hole with a large paper clip so I was able project an image of the eclipse onto a white brick wall from more than three feet away. The image itself, visible on the left side of the photo above was about a half inch a cross and even showed the branches of the trees. I hadn’t messed around with old school optics like this for over 20 years so it was fun and even a little bit nostalgic. The good news in all this is that there will be a total solar eclipse visible across a large swath of the United States in August of 2017 as well as a total lunar eclipse in September of 2015. I know it seems like these are a long way off but having two events like this so close together is very special and doesn’t happen very often in the United States so, buy a neutral density filter and start practicing now. Cheers!
September 27, 2014 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Super Heroes At Planet Sub
Planet Sub has a sandwich that’s called, “Super Hero.” It has capicola, pepperoni, salami and provolone cheese that is all heated up and then it gets banana peppers, red onions, oregano and oil and vinegar on the cold side. It is the most Italian offering we have and people from the east coast in particular love that sandwich. I bring this up because Planet Sub in Denver recently had a super hero promotion that had employees and customers alike dressed as super heroes and having a little more fun than usual.
Batman On Batman
The deal was, dress up as a super hero or villain and get a free super hero sandwich. Think about that, this was an event where cosplaying and eating a sandwich are what you had to do. It was a lot of fun so the next time you hear about Planet Sub holding a promotional event like this you should attend.
Me As The Flash
If you came to the shop that day and your sandwich was given to you by The Flash then by golly that was me.
Captain Kansas City And Batman
We like to have fun and get into the spirit of things at the shop so an excuse to wear a costume means it will be a fun day at work. I’m from Denver but the Planet Sub franchise and most of my coworkers are from Kansas City, hence the Captain Kansas City costume. He is the patron saint of the Denver Broncos and his super power is geolocation; he knows where Peyton Manning is at any given time.
Batman And Boy Wonder
The photo above answers the question, “How do you make a super hero?”
The Super Heroes Of Planet Sub Denver
With or without a costume, you should come down to Planet Sub for a sandwich and to say hi to me. It’s at 16th St. and California right in the middle of the 16th Street Mall. The shop is open at 7 for breakfast during the week and 10 for lunch on the weekends. Cheers!
August 8, 2014 by Rob Hurlbut ·
A Booth At Denver Burger Battle
If ever there was an event tailored made for me, Denver Burger Battle has to be it; 12 local burger joints slugging it out in a competition of hamburgers in the middle of Sculpture Park in Downtown. It was a great time and I have a winner and two runners up that I’ll get to but before I do I want to tell you about my experience at the battle because it was a lot of fun and very well run.
Upon entry my badge was scanned and then I was issued a sturdy, red plastic plate with compartments, including a drink holder. Besides the burger booths there were desert stands, bars that poured wine and beer and ice filled tubs with cans of soda and bottles of water. You just walked up and took what you needed.
Corn Toss In Sculpture Park
There was a corn toss, a couple caricature artists, tables that had paper towels and lots of trash cans. It was just a fun atmosphere and I was eating hamburgers so after taking it all in, it was time to get down to business and do my personal battle with these burgers.
Night And Lights At Denver Burger Battle
I don’t like onions and almost every entry had onions so that was a bit of a problem. They are the one thing I can’t just scrape off because they contaminate what they touch and sometimes they’re so integral to the burger recipe that they contaminate it beyond where I can eat it. Other than that, I was game to try any new or progressive style of burger by biting right in, as served. They were all good and there were only a few that I straight out didn’t try because of the onion thing and one other one that was based on mushrooms. I don’t do mushrooms either. Or tomatoes.
Dancers In Sculpture Park
My second runner up is Ste. Ellie and their Ste. Ellie Burger which had fennel jam and amazing, crisp pickles. First runner up is Acorn and their Oak Grilled Double Cheeseburger with fried pickles and aioli. That little bit of garlic flavor was nice and the fried pickles were a brilliant idea. This is a classic recipe made with modern ingredients. If the cheeseburger had been invented today, it would look and taste like this one.
The Band At Denver Burger Battle
The winner of Rob’s Choice at the Denver Burger Battle for 2014 is Tag and their Colorado Proud. This was unexpected because I would never have just tried a burger with green chili on it. Spicy is something that I do not associate with burgers but it worked for me, probably because it was different. On a side note, Little Man Ice Cream was there and I had some lemon sorbet on a cone that was perfect for the occasion. Cheers!
August 7, 2014 by Rob Hurlbut ·
The Westward Seafoods Mafia
The time I spent in Dutch Harbor, Alaska last year was good and bad. The good was that I met some great people and got to see some wildlife and of course the bad was that I worked for Westward Seafoods while I was there. A year ago I was so pissed off about what I went through and what I saw in that seafood processing plant that I didn’t post much about the good times I had. The good times were spent checking out bald eagles, climbing hills to take photos and checking out the town of Unalaska. There were also a few good times that took place in my shitty bunkhouse. The photos for this post were taken on one of my last nights on the island. It was just one of those nights where, after working for 12 hours, one of my roommates and a couple other friends hung out for a few hours, talking about God knows what but having fun the entire time.
Alfonso is on the left, flipping me off. I forget exactly why, but whatever the reason was, it sure seemed to be funny. We were all poor in Dutch Harbor and alcohol is expensive so of course it makes sense that lots of people bought lots of alcohol up there. Nothing helps a poor person cope with a shitty job and lack of money like spending what you have on booze. Those of you that know me know that I don’t drink beer so there may or may not be a bottle of vodka just outside the frame. I may or may not have paid $30 for that fucking bottle.
Group Fist Bump
So, drinks start flowing, stories get told and things progress from flipping each other off to fist bumps. The other two guys in the photo standing next to Alfonso are Alex and E.J. I worked with E.J. in “D” section on the Surimi side of Westward Seafoods and I met Alex, probably through E.J. In wanting to maintain proper fist bump etiquette, I bumped with my right hand and held the camera with my left. Check out Alfonso being too cool for school by bumping with his left hand!
Showing Off Tattoos
Tattoos and scars will inevitably show up and be compared amongst a crowd like this. I have three tattoos, none of which have ever made an appearance on my blog. I got them all whilst serving in The Navy in the early nineties. I have a few scars too but most of them have to do with inline skating.
Pleasant nights like this didn’t happen very often during the three months I was in Alaska. We worked 12-18 hours a day every day of the week so sleep was the Holy Grail of free time up there. Being able to get four friends in a room at the same time for reasons other than sleep only happened during meals and rare nights like this one. I remember asking for a cigarette for this shot. I don’t smoke but I thought it would look cool for the shot we were trying to compose. The problem was that the smoke was killing me so of course I’m making a funny face in a photo that I otherwise think is pretty neat. Anyway, three or four days later I was off the island and headed back to San Diego. Six months after that, I moved back to Denver, ending my eight year vacation in sunny California. Cheers!
August 2, 2014 by Rob Hurlbut ·
A Spider Spins A Web
I’ve spent a lot of time in the yard this summer, planting lots of trees and doing general chores to help the place look like a lush and private paradise. I like getting back to and becoming one with nature so even though it’s hard work that entails digging holes and schlepping rocks, I enjoy it. Three months into this project I have reached a point where I’m spending more time looking at what I’ve done and less time on the physical labor aspect; I’ve planted more than 40 trees, 60 shrubs and vines and hundreds of flowers. Everything is growing nicely so every day it gets a little easier to visualize what the yard will look like in a couple years and how much people will enjoy it.
A Skyscraper Spiderweb
The insect and arachnid population of the yard is already reaping the benefits. The impetus for this post came from a spider that spun an interesting looking web. This little guy or gal lives in a small piece of white PVC pipe and spun itself a skyscraper web connecting to a purple leafed plant.
Now that I’ve mentioned my planting project, I suppose you’re wondering where the photos are. Surely I’m documenting the entire process from seed to tree right? Nope. I mean, I am taking pictures of the process but they are not for public consumption. I’m afraid that all of you, my loyal readers will have to wait until the stuff I’ve planted has reached an appreciable diameter and climbed to a dignified height. They’ll get there, just be patient.
July 15, 2014 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Amtrak Platform – Union Station In Denver, Colorado
Two months ago we all said, “Goodbye Market Street Station!” when our beloved cave, Denver’s only underground was closed. I was and remain all right with that because it forced me to examine my relationship with Union Station. Back in the day when the light rail opened I’d take the C line out of there and I partied Lotus a few times but I never used it as a train station. I never had to jump onto an Amtrak train as, “All aboard!” was shouted or watched my girlfriend chase my departing train down the platform, blowing kisses at me as she knocked people and stuff over in a way that made it seem like it was in a movie. As she ran along after me I would be smitten with her physically exhausting display of affection for me but as soon as I pulled my head back in the open window, I’d be laughing at whatever comical way she would have finally tripped and collided into something. Without a defining moment like that, do you even have a relationship at all?
I wasn’t sure so the other day I went to Union Station in order to explore this new hub of bus and rail. I was there to take pictures and to see what the station could offer me beyond the light rail. By the way, in San Diego they call it the trolley. As in, “I’m going to take the trolley downtown.” Saying I’m going to take the light rail downtown makes me think of beams of light like a light saber from Star Wars. There is no heavy rail or dark rail or whatever the competition of light rail is. It should be rebranded as The Denver Trolley.
Police On The Platform
For reference, the people you see in the first photo were waiting to board an incoming train so I walked down the platform and was politely stopped by the policeman you see above. He asked if I was catching the train so I said I was not; I was taking photos and was heading to the old looking Pullman in the background. He said I had to stay back past the bridge, also visible in the first photo. There are no signs to that effect but at least he was only concerned with where I was and not what I was doing, which was taking photos.
People Waiting For The Train
When the train arrived it backed into the station and people become to jostle about as the excitement of imminent travel began to take over.
The Timeless Train
Watching a train roll in to a station is a timeless experience because standing on a train platform today is exactly the same experience that it was 150 years ago. If you are in the vicinity of a station and you hear a train whistle you are drawn to it, if you are in a station and you see a train pulling in you are drawn to it. I was. My goal was to photograph the underground portion of Union Station but once I found out a train was arriving I headed over to the Amtrak platform.
Washing The Windows
When the train was parked, window washing caught my eye. I had never thought about train windows being washed before; you never see it happening in any Cary Grant movies from the golden age of rail, where I learned most of what I know about trains so this was a neat thing for me to see for the first time. Also, this is my favorite photo from the day.
People About To Board The Train
There are so many stories going on in the world at any given time and a train station helps bring a bunch of them together in a very small space. This is how I interpret the photo above:
The couple on the right is full of uncertainty; the woman on the phone is explaining to someone that she is literally about to step on a train and leave while the guy she is with is worried that whomever she is speaking to will talk her out of leaving.
The couple on the left have everything worked out so they don’t have a care in the world.
The guy in the peach colored shirt is just a photobomb.
A few minutes later an RTD transit guard and that same policeman from earlier came up to me. The transit guard did all the taking and asked if I was getting on the train, what kind of photos I was taking and told me they are concerned for everyone’s safety. Then he told me something unexpected. He said I could call RTD customer service at 303.299.6000 and get a permit to take photos around the station. He said it’s easy to get and it will allow the security and police personnel in the station to know I was there and what I was doing. I was in the station for just as long as the people waiting for the train so it was ultimately the amount of time I spent in the station that lead to our conversation, not my taking photos. He never said I couldn’t take photos or to put my camera down but getting a permit would just put everyone on the same page. Fair enough, I’ll check it out and report back.
In the meantime I do recommend you check out the station, with or without a camera. I’ll do an entirely separate post on the underground portion because it is rather grand so I need to spend some more time down there and take a few more photos before I present my assessment to the world. Cheers!
July 6, 2014 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Imperial Beach City Limits
I was in Imperial Beach, California for the last three of the eight years I lived in San Diego. It was during that trio of years that I experienced the best and worst of my time out west. Best because I lived near the beach, had constant sunny weather and a thermometer that always read 72 degrees and worst because it was the place where I had to say goodbye to that San Diego weather.
My Apartment In Imperial Beach
IB is the most southwesterly city in the United States so while I was there I had the Pacific Ocean on one side, Mexico behind me and Coronado in front of me. The two story building in the photo above is where I lived; my front door is right in the middle. I was facing south to take this photo so that is Tijuana, Mexico in the background while the setting sun and the beach are to the right. In the foreground is the southern edge of San Diego Bay, which is a protected wetlands and bird sanctuary, which is what I saw when I opened my front door.
A Woman On The Beach
On a bicycle, my place was five minutes from the beach and the endless Pacific Ocean. I grew up in Denver, Colorado and never got used to the winters so when I signed on to a four year hitch in the Navy and got stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii I became hooked on the weather, the beach, the ocean and travel. I sailed everywhere between Hawaii and the Persian Gulf during those four years and came to love the life of going places and seeing things. In particular, going places that were warm and seeing beaches with sapphire blue water.
Imperial Beach Pier
It took five years of living in La Mesa, in East County San Diego to realize I wasn’t close enough to the water so in 2011 I moved to the coastal town of Imperial Beach. After I moved there, I started traveling more, taking more photos and just generally enjoying life more than I had over the previous five years. I lived on San Diego Bay, I could walk to the beach and there was a farmers market on the pier every Friday. Life was good.
Imperial Beach Public Art
Imperial Beach is a great place to live and I enjoyed my time there. It’s a beach town and a border town but it doesn’t have the crowds that would normally be associated with those things. I visited Border Field State Park, had dental work done in Tijuana and biked up to Coronado whenever I wanted. Even with a foreign country two miles to the south and glorious Coronado to the north, I usually found myself heading west, to the beach and the ocean. The photo above is the place where I would lock up my bike and start walking along the beach. The darkness behind the palm trees and the art sculpture is the vastness of the Pacific Ocean.
IB Forum Bar In Imperial Beach
The photo above shows IB Forum, the most southwesterly bar in the continental United States. The art sculpture in the previous photo is just to the left and once again, Mexico is behind. This is a bar that I never set foot in. I’ve been drunk in enough foreign lands and American cities to last two lifetimes so adding more instances based solely on geographic location lost all appeal for me many years ago.
Christmas Tree In Imperial Beach
What is the point of this post? The catalyst was me going through old photos that I never published. The photos were a catalyst for me becoming nostalgic about living in Imperial Beach. This sentence is a catalyst for me to use the word catalyst in a way that has nothing to do with anything. I like taking and posting photos and I like writing about them so maybe it’s as simple as that. Maybe I miss living in Imperial Beach. Maybe I don’t know.
July 4, 2014 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Green Parasol On Imperial Beach Pier
A couple years ago I was photographing surfers in Imperial Beach, California when all of a sudden I saw a woman standing on the pier; she was holding a green parasol. This woman and the child she seemed to be in charge of were just enjoying a pleasant day on the beach. They looked like they were having fun so I decided to ditch the surfers and instead, follow these two around.
Walking On IB Pier
My original plan was to walk onto the pier and ask the lady if she would pose for some photos for me. It took a few minutes for me to get to the pier and walk out to where they were. Something happened in that interim because the lady was yelling at the kid and marching him off the pier. Ok, new plan; try to get some photos of this woman and her green parasol without getting yelled at myself. I don’t know why I wanted to but once I saw she had a green top on too, it just seemed like the natural thing to do.
Woman Walks Up Imperial Beach
The ironic thing is that when they walked off the pier, they turned to the north and walked right past where I had been standing to begin with. Whatever the kid did earlier seemed to be forgotten as they continued walking towards Coronado. Anyway, this was a pleasant little diversion in a pleasant day that I wanted to share. Cheers!
June 20, 2014 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Marina Sirtis And Jonathan Frakes At Denver Comic Con
Denver Comic Con was the site of a Star Trek: The Next Generation cast reunion that I managed to wheedle my way into. William Shatner was moderating so it was the hottest ticket in town; so hot that even with my media pass I was, until 20 minutes before the panel started, on the outside looking in. All the media seats were filled and the line for normal people was very obviously representing a capacity crowd. Shit. That’s what I was thinking about the situation and then all of a sudden I was directed to an area that held a half dozen other media personnel that were patiently waiting to be let in. Once I joined them it was a very motley crew of writers, bloggers, photographers, podcasters and me. We were let into the hall a few minutes before everyone else so even though we didn’t get media seats, we were able to get some awesome aisle seats just to the right of the stage. Photographers love aisle seats because it enables us to get up and move around whilst disturbing a minimum amount of people. It turned out to be a nonissue because once the panel started and the TNG gang started talking I realized that I didn’t want to leave my seat. For about the 4th or 5th time in my life, I just wanted to listen. I’m glad that I did because this panel was full of shenanigans, serious moments and some very worthwhile advice about being a better person. That being said, this will be a very introspective post; much more so than I would assume I’m known for.
Denise Crosby And The TNG Cast
This was a very different panel because it featured actors from a show that ended 20 years ago that was based on a show that ended 40 years ago. That made this panel especially unique because it wasn’t about trying to get spoilers or to get a hashtag to trend on Twitter; it was people involved in a project speaking to other people that love the project. This was not a TNG panel, it was a gathering of TNG actors and TNG fans talking about and asking about things that didn’t have a lot to do with TNG. No one had to ask the stupid and obvious questions about where the show was going or what the actors thought about miniscule details about their characters because the series has already come and gone. All parties involved have moved on since then and become infinitely smarter in that interim. “What have you done and how can you relate to me lately?” would have been a very apt title for this gathering of people. That question was aimed at the audience as often as was aimed at the actors so it was a very Even Steven event. I had the impression that the answers to some of the questions were news to everyone in the room. I don’t think these actors hang out with each other on a day to day basis so this reunion may have been as much a treat for them as it was for us. I also think they have not shared everything with each other so at times I saw the actors entranced by what their colleagues had to say, as evidenced by the photo above.
Blue Alien Asking A Question At TNG Panel
This turned out to be a very emotional event on both sides of the happy/sad spectrum. The dude above used his time on the microphone to tell everyone how his dad hit a rough spot in life, became an alcoholic and, unable to provide for his family, not-so-secretly contemplated suicide. Then, in 1966 his dad watched Star Trek and everything changed. His father saw something that gave him hope so his family grabbed onto that hope and together, as a family, they fought through his father’s troubles. Star Trek helped this man keep his father and enabled him to help all of us almost 50 years later.
At one point an audience member asked the panel if they had any advice for aspiring actors. Two of them spoke up; Jonathan Frakes and LeVar Burton. I’ll start with what Jonathan Frakes said. He said that if there is anything else you can do, you should do that instead. He used the words corrupt, unjust and unfair to describe the acting profession. He didn’t say a whole lot during the panel, but when it came to the world of acting, he sat straight up in his chair and told us that the real world of Hollywood is nothing like the cinematic world of Hollywood. He strongly advised the audience to find another way to project any creativity they may have. LeVar Burton said he always tries to talk people out of becoming an actor because if he is able to do so, they shouldn’t have tried to be an actor in the first place.
William Shatner, Michael Dorn And Gates McFadden
There was a lot of laughter and ribbing that went on as well. Over the course of the panel, I developed an opinion of each panelist that I’ll share at the end of the post. For the most part, they all seemed to be friends that don’t see each other that often so I think a lot of liberties were taken and given to one another. This was no Hall H at San Diego Comic Con, this was a very intimate setting with no more than two or three thousand people watching a panel of people that had no projects to plug so I think that intimacy helped the audience and the panelists loosen up.
William Shatner Flipping An English Bird
A case in point would be William Shatner making the gesture above. Marina Sirtis had mentioned that the middle finger gesture in America was displayed as a two finger gesture in England. Shatner wasted no time by displaying it and indicating a WTF look to all of us.
Star Trek TNG Cast And William Shatner
I had never seen any of these actors in person before so I was in the unique position to do two of my favorite things; rush to and pass judgment. As promised, here is my takeaway from each person:
William Shatner: He is a cult status celebrity and he knows it. He loves to be in the public eye and doing the Comic Con circuit keeps him there and he knows it. There is a unified theory of quantum mechanics and he knows it.
Michael Dorn: Uses his awesome voice to make great points but remains silent other than that.
Gates McFadden: Does not have much to say.
LeVar Burton: Has talent and is able to emote in a way the rest of us can barely dream of doing. I think he loves being able to use what TNG gave him to spread intelligence and learning to the world. If there is anyone that can tear the current Hollywood system down and rebuild it into something great, he’s the guy that will do it.
Denise Crosby: An angel that embodies all the good in Star Trek and its fans. She is the only member of any of the Starship Enterprises that I would like to have a drink with.
Jonathan Frakes: A stoic figure, a great man that has done well in an industry that he despises. I hope he helps LeVar Burton tear the Hollywood system apart.
Marina Sirtis: An enigma that cloaks herself in many layers of nothingness so no one will ever know who she really is. I think she is in love with William Shatner and insisted that we, as the audience refer to him as, “The Shat.” During the panel she claimed that she doesn’t care what anyone thinks about her yet she was very vocal about OTHER things that bothered her. I think she’s hiding something terrible from her past.
Introspective; I told you that’s what this post would be. Cheers.
June 17, 2014 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Star Wars Blasters
Here’s the thing about every Comic Con I’ve ever attended; I want most of the stuff there. That’s everything from the merchandise to the people to the random music that plays everywhere; I want to take them all home! A weekend hiking out in the Colorado Mountains with a “take only photographs and leave only footprints” mantra won’t exactly work during a weekend of walking through the Colorado Convention Center. When you’re done with a mountain hike, you want yourself to be a little changed but the mountains to be the same. When you’re done with a weekend at Comic Con, you want to be wrecked, broke and your jaw should be sore from so much smiling. What was my point here? I forget exactly but I think it had something to do with my attending Denver Comic Con for the first time being so amazing that I’ll take it as a sign that I made the right choice by moving back here.
Wait, no that wasn’t my original point, I just remembered now. I didn’t go broke buying a bunch of stuff, but I saw two things in particular that I wanted to buy, or have someone give to me. I’m posting photos of them in that hope that one or both of my loyal readers will do the right thing; and make me happy.
The first thing is pictured above. It is a wall of Star Wars blasters. Just take a look at them and then think about how good it would make you feel to remove them from that wall, put them in a burlap sack and give them to me. It doesn’t have to be a burlap sack either; you can use a hefty bag or a wheel barrow or just pile them on the ground somewhere and tell where they are.
KITT – Knight Rider
The second thing I want is the interior from KITT, the car from the TV show, Knight Rider. Everything you see in the photo above is what I’d like and I’ll tell what I’d do with it. I’d make so it would be my home computer terminal. The windshield will be my monitor and all the buttons and steering controls would serve the functions of the keyboard, mouse and other peripherals. That way, when I had to edit photos I could say, “I’m going to get into my Knight Rider car and edit some photos.”
It takes a little while for Comic Con to wind its way through the brain so you may see more lists like this in the comings days, but don’t let that deter you from working on getting these first two right away. Thank you. Cheers!
June 15, 2014 by Rob Hurlbut ·
Superman And Big Blue Bear At Denver Comic Con
I had a super time at Denver Comic Con today with the main focus for me being on the cosplay. I did go to two panels; Cosplay Photography In Colorado and The star Trek TNG cast reunion, hosted by William Shatner. Don’t you hate when people name drop to make it seem like they’re all important or something? I hate that. Today I also saw Lou Ferrigno, Bruce Campbell, Adam West and of course, Superman. I also got to meet and chat with photographer Heather Kant and writer Colleen Bement while we were penned into a corner with a few other members of the media waiting to be let in to the TNG panel. That’s another thing that’s so great about going to these cons; you get to meet people that you only know by reputation or online handle. Cons are gifts that keep on giving which is why people always come back and why the cons always get bigger; it’s good people that understand what peace, love understanding and respect are and more importantly, how to dole them out in droves.
The Grand Inquisitor
You don’t have to wear a costume or know anything about comics to go to a con. People go for many different reasons and there are many different levels of passion. Prior to going to cons I never had a desire to cosplay, but now I’d kind of like to, even on a day to day basis, not just at a con. Until that time I’ll just be like the Grand Inquisitor up there, watching, waiting, “IGNORE ME!”
I have a good 15 seasons of The Simpsons under my belt so I know Marge Simpson when I see her. Thor, Jane and a puzzle piece from Tetris are on the left.
I’m not sure what the thing above is supposed to be. It looks like a doorknob to me. Can anyone help me out?
Emperors Royal Guard
Check this guy out! That beard is awesome, two thumbs up for the Star Wars reference and how cool to still be in costume even when you are on a break. Massive props for the originality Denver cosplayers are bringing to the table. We seem to have been given respite from slave Leia and that should last until episode seven is released.
If his sign is a reference to this post, I think he may be right. I have some photos to go along with a very introspective post about the Star Trek panel going on in my head so stay tuned for more from Denver Comic Con. Cheers!