the farmers’ plight

A couple of weeks ago, I photographed two farmers for a story about a water deal that left Weld County farmers with half of the irrigation water they used to have. The story only ran yesterday, so I couldn’t post these pictures earlier. The Post used two photographs for the article, but I wanted to show a couple more on here.

David Dechant, a Fort Lupton, Colo., farmer, takes samples from his new Alfalfa hay harvest for analysis Thursday, June 16, 2011.

David Dechant, a Fort Lupton, Colo., farmer, takes samples from his new Alfalfa hay harvest for analysis Thursday, June 16, 2011.

Len Pettinger takes a break from the heat of the day in the kitchen of his farm house in Brighton, Colo., Thursday, June 30, 2011.

Len Pettinger takes a break from the heat of the day in the kitchen of his farm house in Brighton, Colo., Thursday, June 30, 2011.

An abandoned center pivot stands in a dried-up field on David Dechant's Ford Lupton, Colo., farm Thursday, June 16, 2011. Dechant abandoned the pivot after thieves stole the copper wiring connecting the towers because the costs for the repair were too high and he needed the water elsewhere. "Rather than having two sprinklers with insufficient water, I figured it was better to turn this field into dryland and transfer my quota to the other field," Dechant said.

An abandoned center pivot stands in a dried-up field on David Dechant's Ford Lupton, Colo., farm Thursday, June 16, 2011. Dechant abandoned the pivot after thieves stole the copper wiring connecting the towers because the costs for the repair were too high and he needed the water elsewhere. "Rather than having two sprinklers with insufficient water, I figured it was better to turn this field into dryland and transfer my quota to the other field," Dechant said.

Len Pettinger and his farmhand Salvadore Simatal set up a dam in a gravity irrigation ditch to divert water onto one of the Alfalfa hay fields on Pettinger's farm in Brighton, Colo., Thursday, June 30, 2011. "We knew it wasn't gonna be good," Pettinger said. "Not only did we not get free water this year, but they also got double stingy about our charge water."

Len Pettinger and his farmhand Salvadore Simatal set up a dam in a gravity irrigation ditch to divert water onto one of the Alfalfa hay fields on Pettinger's farm in Brighton, Colo., Thursday, June 30, 2011. "We knew it wasn't gonna be good," Pettinger said. "Not only did we not get free water this year, but they also got double stingy about our charge water."

David Dechant turns on a center pivot sprinkler to irrigate an Alfalfa hay field on his Fort Lupton, Colo., farm, Thursday, June 16, 2011. Water has been a scarce commodity for generations of Colorado farmers. "If we had the water we would irrigate everything," Dechant says. "But water is not available. And it's been that way for a hundred years."

David Dechant turns on a center pivot sprinkler to irrigate an Alfalfa hay field on his Fort Lupton, Colo., farm, Thursday, June 16, 2011. Water has been a scarce commodity for generations of Colorado farmers. "If we had the water we would irrigate everything," Dechant says. "But water is not available. And it's been that way for a hundred years."

A water canon at the end of a center pivot sprinkler irrigates an Alfalfa field on David Dechant's farm in Fort Lupton, Colo., Thursday, June 16, 2011.

A water canon at the end of a center pivot sprinkler irrigates an Alfalfa field on David Dechant's farm in Fort Lupton, Colo., Thursday, June 16, 2011.

Larry Williams, left, owner of J&L Life Stock in Colorado Springs, and David Dechant adjust a load of Alfalfa hay bales on William's truck  Thursday, June 16, 2011. Williams bought the hay from Dechant's Fort Lupton farm as forage for his dairy cows.

Larry Williams, left, owner of J&L Life Stock in Colorado Springs, and David Dechant adjust a load of Alfalfa hay bales on William's truck Thursday, June 16, 2011. Williams bought the hay from Dechant's Fort Lupton farm as forage for his dairy cows.

Larry Williams, left, a dairy farmer of Colorado Springs, pays David Dechant for a truck load of Alfalfa hay he picked up for his farm Thursday, June 16, 2011. Alfalfa hay yields high prices this year due to the draught in southern Colorado and New Mexico.

Larry Williams, left, a dairy farmer of Colorado Springs, pays David Dechant for a truck load of Alfalfa hay he picked up for his farm Thursday, June 16, 2011. Alfalfa hay yields high prices this year due to the draught in southern Colorado and New Mexico.

David Dechant picks apart an Alfalfa bud on his farm in Fort Lupton, Colo., Thursday, June 16, 2011.

David Dechant picks apart an Alfalfa bud on his farm in Fort Lupton, Colo., Thursday, June 16, 2011.

Fort Lupton, Colo., based farmer David Dechant, right, picks up a part for one of his tractors from Glen Cantrell at B&G Equipment in Greeley, Colo., Thursday, June 16, 2011.

Fort Lupton, Colo., based farmer David Dechant, right, picks up a part for one of his tractors from Glen Cantrell at B&G Equipment in Greeley, Colo., Thursday, June 16, 2011.

Dryland wheat grows on David Dechant's farm in Fort Lupton, Colo., Thursday, June 16, 2011. Dryland wheat yields only a fraction of irrigated wheat and is dependent on rain. "If it weren't for that rain we got in May, [this wheat] would have looked pretty bleak," Dechant said. "The rain really saved it."

Dryland wheat grows on David Dechant's farm in Fort Lupton, Colo., Thursday, June 16, 2011. Dryland wheat yields only a fraction of irrigated wheat and is dependent on rain. "If it weren't for that rain we got in May, [this wheat] would have looked pretty bleak," Dechant said. "The rain really saved it."

Len Pettinger opens holes on the sides of a gravity irrigation ditch to divert water onto one of the Alfalfa hay fields on his farm in Brighton, Colo., Thursday, June 30, 2011. "It's a very sad, sad, sad, sad commentary," Pettinger said about the recent State Supreme Court ruling affecting the amount of water farmers in the area can use. "All I wanted to do is hang on to pass it on to the family. But what's there going to be to pass on now?"

Len Pettinger opens holes on the sides of a gravity irrigation ditch to divert water onto one of the Alfalfa hay fields on his farm in Brighton, Colo., Thursday, June 30, 2011. "It's a very sad, sad, sad, sad commentary," Pettinger said about the recent State Supreme Court ruling affecting the amount of water farmers in the area can use. "All I wanted to do is hang on to pass it on to the family. But what's there going to be to pass on now?"

1 Comment July 19, 2011

aspen food and wine classic

Three weeks ago, I lucked out and got assigned to shoot the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen, Colo. Organized by the Food and Wine magazine, this festival brings together celebrity chefs, gourmet producers and food aficionados from all over the world for a three-day celebration of gormandizing in Colorado’s capital of decadence. A weekend-ticket for the regular Joe Schmoe to get admitted here is a staggering $1,200. Think of it whatever you want, but the food I had during this weekend was great. Nevertheless, I was glad when I finally got to escape the craze and be among regular people again…

Surrounded by the mountains, the Food and Wine Classic takes place in downtown Aspen Friday, June 17, 2011.

Surrounded by the mountains, the Food and Wine Classic takes place in downtown Aspen.

Susan Feniger, co-owner of the Border Grill restaurants, prepares Peruvian Ceviche with Pickled Red Onions during her "Global Street Food" cooking demo at the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen, Colo., Friday, June 17, 2011.

Susan Feniger, co-owner of the Border Grill restaurants, prepares Peruvian Ceviche with Pickled Red Onions during her "Global Street Food" cooking demo Friday, June 17, 2011.

During a press lunch titled "Celebrating Singaporean Street Food" at the Baldwin Gallery on Saturday, the Singaporean Tourism Board served Carrot Sesame Pineapple ice cream among many other exotic dishes. Very delicious...

During a press lunch titled "Celebrating Singaporean Street Food" at the Baldwin Gallery on Saturday, the Singaporean Tourism Board served Carrot Sesame Pineapple ice cream among many other exotic dishes. Very delicious...

Howard Greenstone, right, the CEO of New York City-based Rosa Mexicano, relaxes with his employees Jason Berry and Grace Hu in the courtyard of the Grand Tasting Pavilion at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen Saturday morning, June 18, 2011. "This is hangover position," he said. "I'm sweating out some of last night's champagne."

Howard Greenstone, right, the CEO of New York City-based Rosa Mexicano, relaxes with his employees Jason Berry and Grace Hu in the courtyard of the Grand Tasting Pavilion Saturday morning. "This is hangover position," he said. "I'm sweating out some of last night's champagne."

José Andrés and daughter Lucia prepare ingredients for one of Andrés's recipes during his "Sexy Vegetable Dishes" demo cooking at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colo., Saturday, June 18, 2011.

José Andrés and daughter Lucia prepare ingredients for one of Andrés's recipes during his "Sexy Vegetable Dishes" demo cooking Saturday.

From left, Alexandra Steel, Elise McLean and Charlotte Steel, all of New York City, participate in a stretching exercise immediately before the "Sauce on the Side: Wine, Wieners and the Works" wine and hot dog tasting conducted by Danny Meyer at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen Saturday, June 18, 2011.

From left, Alexandra Steel, Elise McLean and Charlotte Steel, all of New York City, participate in a stretching exercise immediately before the "Sauce on the Side: Wine, Wieners and the Works" wine and hot dog tasting conducted by Danny Meyer Saturday.

Various wines and condiments along with a hotdog and a tasting matrix are laid out for participants of the "Sauce on the Side: Wine, Wieners and the Works" wine and hot dog tasting conducted by Danny Meyer at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen Saturday, June 18, 2011.

Various wines and condiments along with a hotdog and a tasting matrix are laid out for participants of Danny Meyer's wine and hot dog tasting.

Members of the media line up in front of Aspen Meadows Resort for the press preview of the 2011 Food & Wine Best New Chefs Dinner Saturday, June 18, 2011.

Members of the media line up in front of Aspen Meadows Resort for the press preview of the 2011 Food & Wine Best New Chefs Dinner Saturday.

Bowman Brown, center left, and Viet Pham, the owners of the Forage restaurant in Salt Lake City, Utah, serve their Heritage Valley Organic Terrine Scented with Spruce at the 2011 Food & Wine Best New Chefs Dinner at the Aspen Meadows Resort Saturday, June 18, 2011.

Bowman Brown, center left, and Viet Pham, the owners of the Forage restaurant in Salt Lake City, Utah, serve their Heritage Valley Organic Terrine Scented with Spruce at the 2011 Food & Wine Best New Chefs Dinner at the Aspen Meadows Resort Saturday.

Guests of the 2011 Food & Wine Best New Chefs Dinner at the Aspen Meadows Resort chat in one of the lounge rooms Saturday, June 18, 2011.

Guests of the 2011 Food & Wine Best New Chefs Dinner at the Aspen Meadows Resort chat in one of the lounge rooms Saturday.

July 7, 2011

more from the denver post

It’s about time to put up some more of the stuff I shot for the Denver Post so far. It has been a busy two weeks, but I’m about to have a couple of days off. That’ll give me time to edit some of my assignments and post them here. In the meantime, here’s two shots that I like from an assignment I shot a while back.

St. Anthony Hospital Interim CEO Dr. Ray Mencini stands in his empty office in Lakewood, Monday, June 13, 2011. St. Anthony is moving to a new campus and puts its existing campus up for sale.

St. Anthony Hospital Interim CEO Dr. Ray Mencini stands in his empty office in Lakewood, Monday, June 13, 2011. St. Anthony is moving to a new campus and puts its existing campus up for sale.

A Flight for Life helicopter takes off from the roof of St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood, Monday, June 13, 2011.

A Flight for Life helicopter takes off from the roof of St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood, Monday, June 13, 2011.

July 6, 2011

the big trip, chapter 4: yosemite

The Denver Post has – thankfully – kept me very busy lately, and so I haven’t had time to continue my series on our Big Trip. My apologies for that. Today, I got off a little earlier than usual, and so I made myself sit down and work some more. Finally, after weeks and weeks of waiting, here is the fourth chapter of our Big Trip: Yosemite!


On Saturday morning, we headed out from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park, the declared highlight of our trip. We had been anticipating it for months and put an enormous amount of planning into it. For several weeks, we studied trail descriptions, topo maps, weather forecasts and records, backpacker blogs, the National Park Service website (which is an amazing resource) and a lot of other material in order to prepare ourselves for the trip. We went on practice hikes with heavy backpacks to build up musculature and stamina, and we fired up our camping stove at home in order to figure out what best to bring for food. And now, finally, the day had come to put all this into practice and hike out into the breathtaking wilderness of Yosemite.

Since this was our first serious backpacking trip together, we decided to start small and raise the bar step by step. We split up the time we had at Yosemite into three hikes: a one-night trip down to Poopenaut Valley (which is a hike from hell, let me tell you!); a two-night hike to Rancheria Falls; and a three-night hike to Lake Eleanor. We finished all three hikes without any incidents and, what’s more, we had a perfect meal plan thanks to Beth. She spent weeks researching backpacking food, nutrition values and calorie charts and put together a well-rounded, healthy, nutritional, delicious and light-weight diet. After the amazing experience we had at Yosemite, we can’t wait to plan our next backpacking trip.

Orginally, I planned to post this leg of the road trip in several chapters, each dedicated to one of the three backpacking trips we did in the park. But when I edited my pictures, I found that this didn’t make much sense – I think it is more fitting to show the place as a whole rather than chopping it up into bite-sized pieces.

Also, I decided to go with a wider edit – well, actually, that’s not true. It wasn’t as much a conscious decision as not being able to let go of any more images. The place is just too beautiful to reduce it to five or so images. Please forgive me if my edit turned out to be rather extensive – blame it on the beauty of Yosemite!

Participants of a photography workshop wait for the right light in the Yosemite Valley at Tunnel View, May 29, 2011.

Participants of a photography workshop wait for the right light in the Yosemite Valley at Tunnel View, May 29, 2011.

A rainbow hangs over Yosemite Valley as the sun breaks through heavy rain couds, Yosemite National Park, May 29, 2011.

The wait was worth it...

Granite Gilia (Leptodactylon pungens) grow along the trail from Rancheria Falls to Tiltill Valley at Yosemite National Park, May 24, 2011.

Granite Gilia (Leptodactylon pungens) grow along the trail from Rancheria Falls to Tiltill Valley, May 24, 2011.

Hetch Hetchy Dome, center left, and Kolana Rock tower over the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir at Yosemite National Park, May 23, 2011.

Hetch Hetchy Dome, center left, and Kolana Rock tower over the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, May 23, 2011.

The early morning sun breaks through the clouds at Lake Eleanor at Yosemite National Park, May 29, 2011.

The early morning sun breaks through the clouds at Lake Eleanor, May 29, 2011.

One of countless streams fed by snow melt washes over a rock at Rancheria Falls trail at Yosemite National Park, May 23, 2011.

One of countless streams fed by snow melt washes over a rock at Rancheria Falls trail, May 23, 2011.

Clouds engulf the peaks over Hetch Hetchy Reservoir at Yosemite National Park, May 29, 2011.

Clouds engulf the peaks over Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, May 29, 2011.

The beauty of Yosemite lies not only in its breathtaking vistas and towering mountains, but also in the perfect little details, such as this small pool in a stream along Rancheria Falls trail, May 23, 2011.

The beauty of Yosemite lies not only in its breathtaking vistas and towering mountains, but also in the perfect little details, such as this small pool in a stream along Rancheria Falls trail, May 23, 2011.

Heavy clouds hang over the mountains surrounding Lake Eleanor at Yosemite National Park, May 27, 2011.

Heavy clouds hang over the mountains surrounding Lake Eleanor, May 27, 2011.

A snow plant (Sarcodes sanguinea) grows along the trail leading down from Miguel Meadows to Lake Eleanor. According to the U.S. Forest Service, this bizarre plant is a relative of the Manzanita shrub. Lacking own chlorophyll, it derives nutrition from a fungus that lives in symbiosis with conifers.

A snow plant (Sarcodes sanguinea) grows along the trail leading down from Miguel Meadows to Lake Eleanor. According to the U.S. Forest Service, this bizarre plant is a relative of the Manzanita shrub. Lacking own chlorophyll, it derives nutrition from a fungus that lives in symbiosis with conifers.

A sea of wildflowers grows above Hetch Hetchy Reservoir along the Rancheria Falls trail at Yosemite National Park, May 23, 2011.

A sea of wildflowers grows above Hetch Hetchy Reservoir along the Rancheria Falls trail, May 23, 2011.

The majestic Wapama Falls drop almost 1,600 feet and shower the hikers along Rancheria Falls trail at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir with their ice cold spray, May 23, 2011.

The majestic Wapama Falls drop almost 1,600 feet and shower the hikers along Rancheria Falls trail at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir with their ice cold spray, May 23, 2011.

Yellow lichen grows on a tree at Lake Eleanor, Yosemite National Park, May 27, 2011.

Yellow lichen grows on a tree at Lake Eleanor, Yosemite National Park, May 27, 2011.

Applegate's Paintbrush (Castilleja applegatei) blooms above Hetch Hetchy Reservoir with Kolana Rock in the background, Yosemite National Park, May 23, 2011.

Applegate's Paintbrush (Castilleja applegatei) blooms above Hetch Hetchy Reservoir with Kolana Rock in the background, May 23, 2011.

Yellow lichen grows on a dead Manzanita (Arctostaphylos) shrub near Rancheria Falls at Yosemite National Park, May 23, 2011.

Yellow lichen grows on a dead Manzanita (Arctostaphylos) shrub near Rancheria Falls, May 23, 2011.

The sun breaks through thick rain clouds in Wawona, Yosemite National Park, May 29, 2011. This was shortly after our breaks went up in smoke coming down from Chinquapin.

The sun breaks through thick rain clouds in Wawona, May 29, 2011. This was shortly after our breaks went up in smoke coming down from Chinquapin.

The sun sets behind Hetch Hetchy Dome at Rancheria Falls, Yosemite National Park, May 23, 2011.

The sun sets behind Hetch Hetchy Dome at Rancheria Falls, May 23, 2011.

1 Comment June 23, 2011

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