VAIL — During the GoPro Mountain Games this past year, photographer Matt Angiono trekked straight up Vail Mountain, camera in hand, and was rewarded with a stunning shot of the Gore Range.
“There was a sunset rainbow over the range,” he remembered. “I hiked up and all of a sudden a huge rainbow appeared. The mountains were all orange. It was really cool.”
Angiono had his camera set on a time lapse, which means he got a pretty amazing sequence of photos.
“You can watch the rainbow form. I was getting rained on while I was taking it. I was covering the camera with my jacket and shirt to keep water off the lens. I was like ‘You can’t miss this shot.’”
That photo, along with plenty of other nature photography as well as action-sports oriented shots, is on display at Art on a Whim gallery on Bridge Street in Vail this weekend. In between shooting events such as slopestyle and freestyle kayaking at this years Games, Angiono will be in the gallery discussing his artwork.
This past year, Angiono took the top prize in two of the photography categories in the Mountain Games photography competition with one photo. The photograph features “Sketchy” Andy Lewis as he performs in the Slackline World Championships. It was the first time Angiono had ever photographed slacklining. Lewis is shown mid-air and mid-flip in front of an awe-struck crowd and the Water Tree sculpture in Vail Village. The sun seems to serve as a point of rotation for Lewis as he performs his gravity defying trick.
“I like to shoot into the sun, get that back lit shadow effect,” said Angiono, who is always hunting for what he calls “epic light.” He took the photo using his Go Pro and entered a color version and a black and white version of the same photo in two different categories.
“It won best Go Pro action shot and best Go Pro moment,” Angiono said.
The shot speaks to the focus, determination and daring all needed for athletes to perform at their highest level, on the highest stage.
Composing the canopy
Angiono has photographed events at the Mountain Games for the past five years, he said, but he’s primarily a nature photographer.
“I want people to look and have a connection with nature,” he said. “That’s a big part of my motivation — inspiring people to be outside, enjoy the outdoors, take care of them, all that good stuff.”
“Buena Vista Aspen Canopy,” perhaps Angiono’s signature piece to date, was taken while he spent a day lying on his back looking for the perfect combination of composition and light. The piece has the viewer staring straight up into a golden canopy of aspen leaves back dropped by a bluebird sky. An enormous 40-inch-by-50-inch version of the photo is on display at Art on a Whim.
“The piece is incredible,” said Art on a Whim gallery owner Brian Raitman who is good friends with Angiono. “You see a lot of photographers shoot similar compositions and, in all honesty, they are far from being on the same level. It is one of those pieces that instantly sucks you in. The colors exemplify that perfect bluebird, classic Colorado fall day and the piece is a wonderful mix of realism and abstraction, which I find is very hard to capture with photography.”
You never see Angiono without his camera, Raitman said, and he’s an expert at finding art in all of his surroundings.
“He has a way of capturing light that is very surreal and sublime at the same time,” Raitman said. “His depth of field is incredible. Details are always vivid in his work, to the point that you can pick out rock croppings on a distant mountain in a small print. You can tell he works hard for his shots too, as many of them come from hard to reach wilderness areas. Others come from the simplest of places, like his backyard.”