Fishing Tips

Today I was thumbing through my library copy of Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, and came across this list:

Fishing Tips for Parents from Matthew Louv (age 12):

  1. Fish with your kid.

  2. Let your kids go fishing, even if you don’t want to take them.

  3. Let your kids buy supplies and tackle. That’s half the fun of fishing.

  4. If your kids are young, take them to a place where fish are easy to catch and are small.

  5. Let kids fish as long as they want. Let them get obsessed.

  6. Let the kids go off and do their own thing. It can get to be incredibly annoying and/or frustrating if there’s an adult standing over them barking orders.

  7. At least pretend to act excited when your kid catches a fish. It can quickly ruin a day of fishing if the kid feels you don’t want to be there, and he’s just dragging you down.

  8. If you know how to fish, don’t give your kid too much unsolicited advice, although it can be helpful if the kid is young.

  9. Let your kid teach you how to fish; participate in the fishing. This can be quality bonding time.

  10. Remember that fishing and spending time with family is just as, or more important than, homework.

  11. Have fun; that’s the entire point of going fishing in the first place.

  12. And whatever you do, DON’T LET YOUR KID THROW ROCKS IN THE WATER!

I’m including this list for two reasons: 1) I simply think it’s great advice, and 2) I think it’s relevant information to my project with Tommy. Though, it’s going to be hard to teach Tommy that last rule. If there’s water and a single rock to found, no matter the size, he’s going to throw it in.



I'm reading Beauty in Photography by Robert Adams again. It's one of my go-tos when I need to figure things out, whether it be where to go with an entire project, or help me clarify my      thoughts on things. Adams' book, Why People Photograph is another resource I turn to often.

In the essay, "Making Art New," Adams tackles that gremlin artists face to keep their work fresh, keep improving, and perhaps even reinventing themselves.

A section of the essay begins, "The question, 'what is new?' implies a more hopeful question, 'what is better?'" (WPP 79) Then goes on to ask by what mark we measure progress, and offers "more Truth and/or Beauty" as a measure, but then points out the challenge this can be, and says he is "unacquainted with any first-rate painter or photographers who believe that their pictures will be more beautiful than those of Rembrandt." But Adams acknowledges that sometimes our predecessors were wrong, or at least viewed to be wrong, by those influenced by them. Though seen to be wrong, we are never free from their influence: " long as we respond to our forebears, they are with us." 

It is my belief that we are influenced by our predecessors always, whether we respond directly to them or not, for it is that response to an influence or denial or divorce from it that shapes us, informs our current work, and guides us in our quest to improve.

“Isn’t it necessary for [art] to be…different from what has gone before?” Adams asks. Then begins to answer with this gem:

...All art comes out of a background of convention established by one's predecessors. Every serious artist borrows not only from those conventions, but from the particular insights of individuals he admires. This is unavoidable because, as the painter Mark Tobey observed, "No young artist can grow unless he emulates someone bigger than himself"—we all start small. Thus, Cézanne, for example, borrowed from Delacroix, and Matisse from Cézanne and Delacroix. It sometimes even seems as if the greatest artists borrow most. Certainly none of those just mentioned ever tried to hide his dependence on his sources; each, great as he was, understood that creations out of nothing are possible only for God. We seem in the end to be left with a series of revivals. (WPP 81)

In order for us to grow, in order for us to even begin learning, it is necessary to emulate and borrow. But, as Adams later states, “No serious artist would…ever set out simply to repeat another.” Sooner or later, we must be as Matisse who said “I have accepted influences but I think I have always known how to dominate them.”


Last night I stumbled upon my original Departures Blog that I had hosted on Blogger that I started in 2005. It’s been both good and a little depressing going through those old posts (most of which I’ve transferred here to this Squarespace hosted blog). Those posts from 2005 and 2006 were right at the end of my BFA project on public parks and right at the inception of my lumens. There are some musings on where to take both projects as well as explorations into other projects that never really became of anything. It’s saddening that I let things die, but I’m glad I found those posts. Now I can use them to inform my current work as well as pick up now where I left off 11-12 years ago.

So, with that in mind, I thought I’d list some projects that I’m most interested in taking on:

  • Resuming the Parks Project. I’d really like to follow through on an idea I had way back when to obtain historical photographs of the older/oldest parks in certain cities and incorporate them into the overall body of work, including but not limited to rephotographs.
  • Fire pits. There’s a lot of ground to explore with this one. 
  • Lumens. I’ve not yet said what I need to say with the lumens. 
  • Construction photographs. These were excellent exercises in seeing and design.
  • The 10,000 steps idea I’ve had since my stint in grad school. I think this one occupies my thoughts most of any potential project. 
  • Weaves/collages. There’s so much potential in this project and I haven’t even scratched the surface. 
  • Through Tommy’s Eyes. Not the official title, but it’s what I’m calling it right now. I still feel I have to make this work. 

I also want to be more active on this blog, and I’ve got a few ideas to help me do that. It basically just comes down to prioritizing the right things.

Restoring a Kodak Eastman D2

Several weeks ago I went out to Hyrum Reservoir to photograph, and in addition to my digital camera, I wanted to bring the 5x7 with me. I parked my car, gathered my gear, put the 5x7 on the tripod, which I then hoisted on my shoulder and started walking. After a few steps down the trail, I felt a sudden lightening of the load on my shoulder  followed by a crash. I knew immediately that it was the camera that had fallen, but I didn’t know how or why. Turns out I’d pushed the limits of my tripod head too and the weight of the camera popped the plate right out of the head.

I whipped around, expecting to see bits of shattered ground glass, the lens to be in pieces, and the wood reduced to splinters, but was utterly surprised and relieved to see that everything was still in tact. Though it hadn’t exploded on the rocks, it had still sustained enough damage that it wouldn’t be usable until some repairs had been made.

   Not   Hyrum Reservoir, but the Buffalo River in Island Park, over a year ago. This will have to do for a “before” picture.

 Not  Hyrum Reservoir, but the Buffalo River in Island Park, over a year ago. This will have to do for a “before” picture.

Once I got home, I was able to survey the damage a bit better. Some of the wood did get scratched and dented, and the brackets connecting the front standard to the bed got bent, which took quite a lot of force.


I had it in my mind to restore the camera sometime, and this just accelerated and necessitated those plans. So I got down to work disassembling the camera.

 I’m pretty sure this was where the camera landed. The grooves for the rails of the two standards got pretty bashed in.

I’m pretty sure this was where the camera landed. The grooves for the rails of the two standards got pretty bashed in.


After hours and hours of sanding and several sheets of sandpaper, I finally finished.


Then came the stain, then the clear coat. 

 After staining and just about to get the first coat of finish.

After staining and just about to get the first coat of finish.

After four coats of clear coat, with light sanding in between each coat, I was finally able to start reassembling. 


A few hours of turning a screwdriver and referring back to reference photos, I’d got it all back together! Here it is with freshly polished brass. 


Now that this project is done, maybe I can turn my attention back to making all the pinhole cameras I want to make.

Hyrum Reservoir

I’ve lived in Cache Valley for 10 years now, and I’ve never made an effort to go photograph Hyrum Reservoir. Until tonight. I feel like I’ve got a lot of images that have a lot of potential. 

Here’s one I’m much more pleased with than I thought I’d be: 


It was one of the last photographs I made of the evening, and I just happened to glance over as I walked past on my way back to my car. 

Going Over

 “I love things that are beautiful, clearly seen and highly realized, but I value the realm of mystery even more than the beauty of appearances. Art, it seems to me, has to invite participants into another realm if it is going to be of real value to them. Kafka used this wonderful term ‘going over,’ where the world [in his stories] is depicted in its recognizable aspect—except that in one single and fundamental way the logic of reality is overthrown—is shown to be drastically altered. Going over. If you’re attempting to transport someone through the experience of art to somewhere new, the tactile affirmation of the real can make that experience more convincing.”

—Alan Magee

Some New Work

It's been far too long since I've posted anything here. 2018 has been a busy year so far. Our little boy has been keeping us on our toes. I haven't been focused on my photography as much as I would like to have been these past four or five months, but hopefully that can change soon. My attention has had to be placed on other things. But I have been able to get out and make some new work on occasion, included making several lumen prints and venturing into making chemigrams, which I will post sometime in the future. I just need to figure out a way to flatten them all—that fiber based paper sure likes to curl a lot. So none of them are included in this post, but look for them in a future post! Meanwhile, here are some new photographs:

Little Bear River, Cache Valley, Utah 2018

Melting Ice, Bear River, Benson, Utah 2018

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Utah 2018

Cement Forms, Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Utah 2018

Drained Canal, Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Utah 2018

Blacksmith Fork River, Utah 2018

I've been venturing into a new area oh photography for me. For those who know me personally, I've never really been interested in making photographs of people. I haven't really been interested in taking family snapshots. But after getting married, I began changing, and then changed even more when Thomas was born. My phone is full of photos of our little boy, and selfies of Gina and I from all of our various trips and adventures.

As Tommy has grown, and especially as he's moved into Toddlerhood, I've been fascinated by and interested in how he views the world. He's such an inquisitive and busy and active little fellow, and he is always getting into things, and now climbing up anything his little arms and legs can get up. He loves to go for walks; in fact, any time he hears the words "out" or "outside" he bolts to the front door and starts knocking or pounding on it as if he's asking us "you said 'outside,' why aren't we leaving right now?" He loves picking up rocks along the trails we hike, and he often has to have a rock in each hand. If there's any running water nearby, he claws his way out (or tries to) of our arms to go to it and play in it, or throw rocks in it.

But, as I watch him grow, as I watch him walk/run (mostly run), as he talks in his little baby gibberish (that isn't gibberish to him—in his mind, I know he's telling us very important things, and I love his intensity), I find questions swarm my mind: What draws him to certain things? Why did he pick up that particular rock, only to drop it 5 feet down the trail to pick up a new one? What is going on in that little mind of his? What is it like to be in that little body, and want to do so many big things in a big world? Why is repeatedly doing one thing for several minutes so captivating? What is it like to understand what those around you are saying to you, but not be able to express yourself or talk back?

This wonderment on my part has driven me to start taking more serious photographs of Tommy, and the things he sees. Photographs that are more serious and intentional than the snapshot of him doing something cute. The photographs that follow are some preliminary photographs in my own exploration into what being a toddler is like, and what being a parent to such an active and intense boy is like.

This boy feels everything right down to the core.

52 Photographers is Back!

I began the 52 Photographers Blog circa 2007-2008 as a way to expand my photographic/artistic vocabulary and get to know many more photographers than I already knew and share the work of artists that I enjoyed looking at and who were currently influencing my own work.

I don't think—actually I'm pretty sure—I actually ever made 52 posts, as I got super busy with other things. Posts became spaced out, and clustered, and then it finally died off, and I let the domain expire.

Then in 2016, I thought of resurrecting the idea, but instead, decided to just write blog posts here on Departures with no set schedule or plan. For 2018, I debated with myself whether or not I would fully resurrect 52 Photographers or not, and I ultimately decided to take the plunge, and here we are!

While 52 Photographers will be heavily photography-oriented, I've come across artists working in other media that I am going to want to share with you! I can't wait to share the work of so many really great photographers! Head on over to and follow along! Posts will come in every Sunday evening.

SPE Southwest/West Tahoe CoLab

Back in college, I attended the National Society for Photographic Education conference in Newport, Rhode Island. I don't remember much about it, except that Frank Gohlke, one of my favorite photographers, was the Keynote Speaker, and that the portfolio reviews helped me grow a lot.

I have since attended a few other National and Regional (now Chapter) conferences, but until this last Chapter conference in Tahoe City, it had been 9 years since the National one in Denver since I had been to a conference. Even though I'm not in Academia at all, I started wanting to go to a conference last year. The National conference this year was in Orlando, and it would have been too expensive for me to go out, but I decided to just plan on going to the Chapter conference, wherever it was going to be held in the Fall. Once the details were announced for the Southwest Chapter and registration opened up several months before the conference was to be held, I was quick to register.

At that moment, it seemed like the dates for the conference were so far off. But the day finally came, and we three loaded up the car—well, Gina and I did; Tommy didn't do anything to help pack the car, the little freeloader—and headed out West. We planned on going as far as Elko, Nevada, which is about half way between Logan and Tahoe, to give our little guy a break from his car seat, since he doesn't like being contained for long periods of time (read: periods longer than 15 minutes). But, to his credit, he actually travelled really well both on the trip out and the return trip.

After a night of terrible sleep for all three of us in a Casino Hotel, due to the cigarette smoke that had permeated throughout the entire building, we hit the road again. We made a couple of pit stops, one of them at a rest stop in western-ish Nevada, where Tommy got to crawl and play in (and eat) the gravel:

 Tommy playing in the gravel at a rest stop

Tommy playing in the gravel at a rest stop

We finally arrived at the Granlibakken Resort at around 3 on Friday. We checked in to our room and got settled in a bit, and then I went and made a few photographs of the Truckee River, and Lake Tahoe before the conference got underway.

 William B. Layton Park, Lake Tahoe, California 2017

William B. Layton Park, Lake Tahoe, California 2017

Harrell Fletcher was the main speaker at the conference, and he gave a great speech, covering all of the collaborative work that he's done throughout his career.

Saturday morning was full of short presentations by a number of artists, including one by a friend, Bryon Darby, who presented his New Farmers project, a collaborative body of work on contemporary farmers in Kansas.

 Bryon Darby presenting New Farmers

Bryon Darby presenting New Farmers

That afternoon Gina, Tommy and I went out and played tourist, and I took advantage of the nice light and made a few photographs.

 Lake Tahoe at Commons Beach

Lake Tahoe at Commons Beach

 Commons Beach, Lake Tahoe, California 2017

Commons Beach, Lake Tahoe, California 2017

As all the attendees were gathering together for dinner on Saturday evening, Gina, Tommy and I ran into Robert Dawson, one of my favorite photographers, and Ellen Manchester, Robert's wife, one of the photographers of the Rephotographic Survey. They invited us to sit with them, and I was a little giddy to sit with two photographers who have had such great influence on my work. We had a wonderful conversation, mostly about parenthood, and the joys of watching children grow and develop. Robert and Ellen have been working on a project involving children's education in Stockton, California, and another project on libraries around the U.S., and has expanded to libraries in Europe. They're both fantastic bodies of work.

Robert was the Honored Educator for the West Chapter, and he gave a wonderful presentation chronicling his many books he's published, as well as his latest work that he is doing, some of which is a collaboration with Ellen.

 Robert Dawson

Robert Dawson

 Sunday morning portfolio sharing

Sunday morning portfolio sharing

Being at the conference felt a lot rather like coming home, like I was with "my people." It felt so good to be amongst so many other passionate artists, and I'm looking forward to my next conference!

New Pieces

In my last blog post, I said I've been out photographing a lot this year. These are all the pieces I've been working on that's kept me busy enough to neglect the blog:

Two Hours at Newton Creek, May 24, 2017

Sunrise and Sunset on Buffalo River, June 17, 2017

March 2017 and September 2017 on Clay Slough

Three Hours on the Bear River, July 27, 2017

You can see more of these here

New Lumen #1

It's been pretty quiet here on the Departures blog a lot this year. It's not because I haven't been photographing. Quite the contrary. I've been out quite a lot. And I cranked out a lot of lumens this summer, and finally started scanning them in, and wanted to post this one quick, since I'm particularly pleased with it. I hope you will be too!

A Day on the Buffalo River

I've been waiting to post this until I had finished the other photographs from a recent family camping trip in Island Park, but my excitement to share this one has finally taken over!

I spent one of the days there making photographs from the same spot as the lighting and weather conditions changed throughout the day. The photograph below is the result:

This is just a digital rendering of what I have envisioned in my mind. The finished physical piece is intended to be an installation piece that will measure about 7.8 feet by about 4 feet, with each "bubble" being mounted directly to a wall. This is the direction I see these pieces going.

I need to spend a lot more time with the other photographs I made on our trip before I decide which ones to publish, but keep checking back for them!

David Shannon-Lier Interview

Last weekend I posted some photographs by David Shannon-Lier. I emailed him and asked some questions about the body of work, and he was kind enough to answer.

Andy Duncan: How long have you been working on this project, and do you think there will ever be an "end" to it, or point at which it will be considered finished?

David Shannon-Lier: I have been working on this project for a little over 5 years now, though the first year and a half to two years of that was spent figuring out how to make the pictures and refining my methodology. I hope to put a book of this work together and I am actually working on including long exposures of the movement of the sun. This is a little trickier as days tend to be a bit windier than nights. I am now building a folding wind break to bring with me on my trips after this last outing.

 AD: What was your inspiration for this work?

DS-L: The inspiration for the work came when I was driving from Massachusetts to Arizona for graduate school. I began to think about our old home and how as we drove west it was slowly setting below the horizon. It occurred to me that I rarely thing about the larger world in three dimensions. I wanted to make work that would point to that gap in our thinking. Now I see that gap as a metaphor for the gap in our conception of our own lives: we know we are small, ephemeral beings, but we can't shake the notion that the things we do every day carry some sort of weight.

 AD: How did it begin, and how has it evolved?

DS-L: The work began as mostly technical problems and solutions. How to plot the motion of heavenly bodies? How to do it accurately enough to where the pictures didn't fall apart? How to nail down the exposure, especially considering small apertures and reciprocity failure? These problems took the better part of a year an a half, most of the experiments taking place in my back yard. As I solved those problems, I began to travel in concentric circles around our home in Arizona, at which point I had to solve other problems to do with travel and how to do this out of a car and away from the support of a home base. Now all that is behind me, which makes the work easier, but in some ways less exciting in the execution. The concepts have developed a bit and I now see the work as about that particularly vexing mix we have as a species of being mortal, conscious and aware that we are both.

 AD: Do you have any thoughts or ideas of what comes next for your photography?

DS-L: I am always taking pictures of things that fascinate me. I am interested in the landscape and the sublime, particularly that aspect of the sublime that is closest to fear or dread. It seems to me in these moments we can begin to get at that human knot I mentioned above.

 AD: Who is a favorite photographer of yours?

DS-L: There are a lot. I find the best persona to embody as a visual artist is a compulsive thief. It does no good to steal from one artist or movement, or even one medium. But if you can constantly be taking in new information, and stealing a bit from here, a bit from there, from other artists as well as science, philosophy, theology, culture the work will end up being rather more interesting. This is all to say that sometimes (as is the case with compulsive thieves) I am unaware that I am borrowing from some area until long after and I could spend entirely too long listing all of them. All that being said I will mention Bill Burke and Mark Klett, who I worked closely with and who have influenced me by osmosis. Also, someone who is working now and really gets at the ideas of the landscape and the sublime is Michael Lundgren.

 AD: Because I'm a bit of a tech junkie, what programs or software do you use to project or predict the positioning of the sun and the moon?

DS-L: The solution to that technical problem was to use very accurate data and a very accurate tool for measuring the data. I started getting my data from the U.S. Naval Observatory, but I now use an app called stellarium. It has the same data, but is a little easier to access on the road. From that I can get the precise location for any heavenly body at present or in the future. I use a surveyor's tool called a transit, or a theodolite to plot the points that I get from the data, and then place my camera in the spot where the transit made its measurements. It's a bit more complicated than that and a lot more tedious, but that's the gist of it.

Man, I loved the part about stealing from everywhere!  I've heard the quote that's often attributed to Pablo Picasso: "good artists borrow, great artists steal." But for all the times I've heard it, I never really thought to apply the stealing to all facets of life, not just to steal from other artists.

Thanks for your time David! I can't wait to see more of your work!

David Shannon-Lier

Clear back in October, Lenscratch had an article in their Art + Science series on the body of work by David Shannon-Lier titled Of Heaven and Earth. The first image in the article, Chalk Moonrise, Muley Point, Utah, pulled me in, since I love long exposures of the moon and sun, but also, there was more to the image than just the long white arc of the moon as it traveled across the sky: on the rocks in the foreground is a light line that matches the radius of the moon's path. 

 Chalk Moonrise, Muley Point, Utah

Chalk Moonrise, Muley Point, Utah

Not only are these absolutely gorgeous photographs, but the concept behind them is so fun and interesting! 

In a LensCulture article, Lier says this about his work:

To produce each photograph, I leave open the shutter for a very long exposure. The result is an image of the moon or sun playing off of an altered landscape. In this way, the heavenly meets with the human, the immense with the intimate and one of the most constant forces in our world—the movement of the solar bodies—interacts with a line of rocks or grass: a mark that is small and completely fleeting in meaning and form.
 Badlands Moonset, Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Badlands Moonset, Badlands National Park, South Dakota

To see more of Lier's work, which I highly recommend, you can visit his website. Also, he's been featured on LensCulture, Fraction Magazine, and Hoctok.



Just about everywhere I go to photograph, hike, fish, or camp, there's always some sort of litter, and almost always, there's a beer can or bottle to be found. I try to practice what I learned as a Scout to "pack it in, pack it out," and "leave a place better than I found it." Lately, I've been using the litter I see as visual exercises to make found still life photographs before I pick it up. I don't know if anything major will come of all these photographs but I feel they're still important in my image making.

 Mountain Dew

Mountain Dew

 Michelob Ultra

Michelob Ultra

 Corona Extra

Corona Extra