EAGLE – The thermometer registered minus 4 as the sun rose over Bellyache Mountain, casting soft winter light on the snow-draped rocks in the Eagle River. For the second consecutive morning, amateur photographer Steve Taylor of Eagle stands patiently in ankle-deep snow, his camera resting on a tripod. He watches the vapors rising off the cold water into the colder air. He’s determined to capture the rosy glow on the snow that lasts for only a few seconds, when conditions are just right. It doesn’t exactly happen. Maybe the wispy clouds tampered with the light. He can’t get the exact shot he’s visualized. Still, he snaps the camera shutter a few times. If the developed film fails to yield the image he’s after, he’ll be back again on another frosty morning.Taylor’s vision, patience and talent with a camera are paying off.Five years after he started getting serious with his photography, two of his nature photos – both beautiful shots of autumn leafs – have been selected for a monthlong display in the rotunda of the state Capitol Building in Denver. At the same time, he’s enjoying some healthy sales in his sideline business, Natures Details Photography. “I was so happy to have my pictures selected,” says Taylor, an unassuming sort of guy who makes a living as a tile-setter but dreams of the day when he can be a full-time photographer.
Becoming a shutterbugHe’s always had an interest in photography and for years toyed with a point-and-shoot camera. Then, about a dozen years ago, a friend gave him a 35-mm single-lens reflex camera. Taylor was excited about working with the different lenses and experimenting with different lighting conditions. He’s always liked getting out in the mountains. Landscape photography was a natural fit.Gradually, he developed a distinctive style for what he calls “intimate landscapes.” While he does do some general landscape photography, his specialty is zeroing in on an element of the landscape – such as a branch of golden aspen leaves or the purple petals of a wild geranium. Always, he’s looking for the right kind of light.”There’s a lot of getting up before the sun comes up. Morning light is warmer,” explains Taylor.Five years ago, after talking with other landscape photographers, he started using Fuji Velvia slide film. He likes it for its high degree of color saturation and clarity, and for the resulting high-quality prints.”I like bold colors,” says Taylor. His photos stand as proof. Many of his favorite shots are taken locally – East Brush Creek, and Sylvan Lake have yielded dozens of photos. He loves colors of the Colorado Plateau, and particularly enjoys shooting the red rocks at Moab and Lake Powell. He’s drawn by the scenery on the Flat Tops, and in Deep Creek Canyon.
His wife, Pattie, and teenage daughter, Tori, whom he calls his “apprentice,” travel with him in his quests for photos. They also help him man the booth when he sells photos at local bazaars and special events.He sees some connection between his work as a tile-setter, and his photography.”You have to pre-visualize what you’re going to get when you lay time. Photography is the same way – but it is a little easier work,” Taylor notes.A modest man, Taylor estimates that out of the hundreds of photos he has snapped, he has “15 – 20 really good ones.” “If I knew how to take a perfect picture, I would do it every time,” he says, quoting another (unknown) photographer. Taylor’s portfolio suggests that he’s underestimating the number of really good photos he’s taken. For the first time this year, he’s offered his photographs for sale at venues such as Flight Days and the Holiday Bazaar at the Jet Center; and the customer response was enthusiastic. Prints range in price from $35 to $225, depending on size.
Debbie Beard of Eagle is one of Taylor’s fans. She’s got his photos hanging throughout her house.Beard says she was drawn to the photos by the distinctive colors, and by the fact that the scenes are local.When someone comes in your house and says, ‘where’s that?’ you can say ‘Sylvan Lake,'” she noted.Although Taylor prefers film over digital photography, he does use a computer and Photoshop program for printing his photos, which he scans from slides. He notes that quality photos are as much a function of the printing of the image as of the actual shooting of the picture.Feedback from the Net
Taylor uses the Internet to test reaction to his photos. Photoblink is just one of several Web sites where aspiring photographers can post their photos, then await input from others. Taylor gets some great feedback, particularly to his autumn leaf photos. “Wow! Pure gold! Well done!” reads one comment. “Wonderful capture of the fall colors” reads another.”Family and friends always tell you your stuff is really good. When you start hearing from peers, it means a lot more,” notes Taylor.In fact, it was through the Internet that Taylor’s photos were selected for the annual show at the State Capitol.The event is hosted by Colorado Nature Photographers, a regional group of amateur and professional photographers dedicated to the art and technique of nature photography. The group’s website (colorado.naturephotographers) is a forum that offers organized activities such as workshops and field shoots, and shows.For the Capitol Show, photographers were invited to submit two photographs. Votes are then taken on-line. Out of the 55 photos submitted, both of Taylor’s made the top picks for the 25-photo display that will run next month in Denver.The winners of the contest will be introduced in the Colorado State House and Senate on Monday, Feb. 6. Taylor will miss that moment, because he’ll be working his tile-setting job.
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
But he looks forward to the day when he can be a full-time photographer.”I’m planning on sticking with this for a while,” he says.To contact Steve Taylor, call 328-6985; or visit his Web sites at firstname.lastname@example.org or hometown.aol.com/naturesdetails.Vail, Colorado