One of my fondest memories from childhood was receiving a birthday gift of a black box of magic paper.  This paper had to be carefully shielded from light and was additionally wrapped in black foil = “Mystery”.  Included with the magic kit was a contact glass and several negatives of clowns, elephants, giraffes, lions and monkeys.  These negatives were odd since they were backwards looking.  You can imagine the excitement created by my first attempt to place a negative on top of magic paper, under the contact glass and set it in the sun for 10 minutes.  Oh my goodness, the magic was real and the elephants appeared on the paper positive.  What a gift to my imagination from my parents.

Little did I know that many years later I would choose to change my college major from Forestry to Photography, build a darkroom in the garage or that photomicrography would play such a prominent roll in my minor studies in Marine Biology.  Then the dream of owning my own studio becoming a career reality.  A career that has spanned traditional techniques creating separation negatives with densitometer calibration on film – to the always changing cutting edge of this digital society.  The ever evolving technology from movie film to video tape to a full digital workflow.

How fortunate I have been to experience the evolving media of photography and filmmaking.  How fortunate I have been to know Ansel Adams, (he lent me keys to his darkroom in Yosemite), and Jerry Uelsmann (as president of Professional Photographers of Boulder County – we flew him in from University of Florida to lecture to our group).  Or to meet Philip Lathrop “Director of Cinematography” on the movie set of Sam Peckenpah’s “Killer Elite”.  Pictured on set in China Town, San Francisco:  Burt Young and Bo Hopkins waiting for crew to set up explosion, car crash scene.

Photo I shot of Burt Young and Bo Hopkin on set for Sam Peckinpaws “Killer Elite”

In our first departure from 16mm movie film venturing into the world of video, I collaborated with Erich von Stroheim on a treatment of the often revisited water controversy up the Cashe La Poudre Canyon.  We were attempting to provide an unbiased view of the advantages and disadvantages of a major dam and 2 hydroelectric generation plants.  The hydroelectric was being promoted as how the construction would be paid for.  This couple of month project turned into a couple of years of diligent research and interviews (including hydrologists, electric utility, humanists, Department of Wildlife, farmers, canyon property owners, dam proponents, and on… hmmm, come to find that only 7% of the year was there enough flow of water to turn the turbines.  At every turn we found every reason not to dam.  Our efforts turned to educating the legislature with playback for 3 days at the state capitol.  As I recall, Hank Brown was the only legislator who came and watched our findings, but it was clear that they all knew about us.  Judging from the tone coming from the state legislature regarding our film, we thought we had wasted our time. However, months later these efforts in addition to those of a dedicated group called Preserve Our Poudre, now know as Friends of the Poudre proved fruitful. (FOP works closely in common cause with Save the Poudre) Years of work by dozens of concerned citizens culminated in positive legislation in Washington, D.C.  These areas of the Poudre Canyon are now protected with the acclaimed designation, Wild and Scenic.  What seems odd to me is that, in our stunningly beautiful state of Colorado, the Poudre river remains the only river with wild and scenic status.


Pictured on location up the Poudre River:  Thomas Howard and Erich von Stroheim

Filming documentary about water controversy in the Poudre Canyon, CO

Opening segment

to be continued…