Haunted Woods – BTS

When I was visiting Brighton for my cousins wedding there was a bit of downtime before and I went on a hike around Silver Lake. The forest on the east side is quite old with tall trees and roots reaching for the waters edge.

The other duck got spooked

There were pockets and holes throughout that were probably made by badgers or other animals. I knew when I saw this spot I had to shoot some toys here. I had brought my small camera bag (the LowePro Flipside 200). It fits both my cameras (Canon M & Olympus OMD EM5), and a few lenses as well as a small pouch of Lego and some bigger figures.

I balanced my stormtrooper; but a small gust of wind unseated him and he fell deep into this particular badger hole. It was beyond arms length and the entrance was full of cobwebs. I was peeved for a bit but then went to work looking for a long stick.

When this happened I had bumped my bag and four of my OMD batteries fell out. I didn’t think much of it because of the emergency.

I reached with a long branch and was able to scrape the figure up to a more easily accessible position. I cleaned out the cobwebs best I could and reached my full length of arm and could barely touch the figure. It was all rather frustrating as I was in a hurry to get to back to the wedding.

Right before TeeKay fell into this trap

I finally grabbed him and luckily he had all his limbs and blaster. I packed up my things and raced back through the forest to the lodge where the wedding was being held. While shooting some shots of her wedding my camera died and I went to swap batteries… gone. No batteries!?

I love an intricate cobweb

I waited till after the wedding and festivities and when the music got loud and decided to drop out and go on a battery hunt. I traced my steps back to this awesome but treacherous spot being careful not to plant my leg into one of these hole traps. I got back to this exact hole and the batteries were nowhere to be seen. I’m guessing either somebody thought they were garbage and cleaned them up or some mischievous creature walked away with $60 in batteries. Maybe it was an R.O.U.S?

Many creatures watching

Needless to say I was not too happy. I had one other battery in my suitcase that I used sparingly the rest of the trip. I learned a good lesson though – do not keep all your batteries in one basket. Keep some spares somewhere out of your current gear.

Anyhow – I am very pleased with the shots I acquired and more batteries are on the way from Amazon.


Have you ever lost photography equipment? What’s the most dangerous shot you’ve done with toys? Would you reach your arm into a black hole? If you like my posts take a moment and leave me some of your thoughts. Thanks!

Rocket Boy discovers Limitless Cheetos and cheeses

Limitless Cheetos and cheeses galore; Rocketboy has claimed the moon - what a score! ? ? ? .
Limitless Cheetos and cheeses galore; Rocket Boy has claimed the moon – what a score! ? ? ? .

Rocket Boy discovers limitless cheetos and cheeses

I have been waiting to get my hands on a Rocket Boy from the new Lego Collectible Minifigures Series 17.  When contemplating what to do with the endless possibilities of a kid dreaming about space – I thought of cheese.

I love cheese and I love cheetos and I love space.  My obvious choice on moon landscape from a kid perspective equaled cheese.  In the past I have done real looking moon shots with the Lego astronauts; but I felt the rocket boy needed somethig more on the imaginitive side.  The scribble-colored space flag would have looked way out of place in a hyper-realistic shot.

I went to the store specifically for rare cheeses, but found out quickly that rare cheeses are quite expensive.  I wasn’t ready to drop $60 bucks on edible props.  Maybe it would’ve turned out better with goat cheese, Munster cheese, Gouda cheese, or some fancy aged cheeses from some obscure Italian countryside village; but I just couldn’t do it.  I wanted to taste all of them.  I realized I was shopping hungry and was getting a bit carried away. ?

Taking it all in
Taking it all in

I settled on a large family sized bag of crunchy cheetos that my kiddos could dig into after the shot.  Taking into account future meals, I selected cheeses including some sharp cheddar (block) cut into wedges. Feta cheese for some contrast. Shredded Mexican blend (we go through lots of quesadillas), and a crumbly cheese that didn’t make the cut.

Setting the flag
Rocket Boy setting the flag

Making the background

I made the background with just a white sheet of cardstock colored with various shades of orange crayon.  I wasn’t about to create the background with real cheese… too much waste of this golden amazingness.  Wallace and Gromits – “A Grand Day Out” was an inspiration for this shot and I thought of their rolling hills of cheese that the alien robot was able to ski down.  That’s the background I wanted.

At first the background was too close and didn’t lend to the depth I wanted – it looked flat and colored, which it was, but I wanted some depth.  I ended up moving the background further away and using a long lens (Jupiter 37a 135mm), to make the DoF shallow and blur the background totally.

Look at all the cheesiness!
Look at all the cheesiness!

I even tried taking a picture through an orange filter – but that idea canceled out all my wonderful crayon shading and it felt a bit too orange on everything.

Through orange colored glasses
Through orange colored glasses

Feta cheese “boulders” made for a perfect contrast in the endless orange landscape of the moon.  After I was done my kiddos made a quick job of cleaning up the cheetos – and I cleaned up the feta cheese!????

How many shots does it take you to get that perfect shot?

Just this morning I was going through all my shots and I took nearly 60 pictures just to get this one finished Rocket Boy moon shot that satisfied me.  I was thinking about this artistic process of coming up with an idea and the work that goes into that idea to make it a reality.

It really is quite fascinating – the image I had in my mind.  How come the first shot didn’t fit?  I had all the props, the tripod, the outdoor lighting… but still didn’t achieve what I wanted for another 60 shots in different poses and background depths.  Different exposures and lenses… maybe it was the vast amount of options that were at my disposal that made me take so many iterations?

Do you all have similar usage of space on your memory cards?  How many shots does it generally take to satisfy your creative ideas?

~ Joecow


Lenny rides the Red Bull Rampage!

Lenny rides the Red Bull Rampage
Lenny rides the Red Bull Rampage
The red rock of southern Utah makes for the perfect backdrop for extreme outdoor sports.  The Red Bull Rampage has been taking place in Virgin, UT since 2001 and has garnered some excellent live coverage of the area west of Zions National Park.

I have had the opportunity my whole life to live in this beautiful area.  I’ve explored countless dirt roads leading to so many interesting landscapes.

One such experience I remember was the Mesa road just east of Virgin.  The dirt road is very rough and narrow with foreboding cliffs all along the drive to the top.  What was strange was near the top of the Mesa, as you drive around the bend all of the sudden the road is brand new and paved.  You cannot see this change in the road anywhere on the way up.  Turns out there is an old military base at the top where they test fighter pilot ejection seats.

We didn’t know what it was the first time we came across it and we thought it was some secretive government base for researching aliens and ufos!  There is plenty of that in utah as well.

Riding rough rock with a view
Riding rough rock with a view

Back to the red rock.  The countless cliffs and canyons and formations that make the area beautiful are also the perfect setup for hiking and biking and pretty much anything else outdoors – including my Lego photography.  I have been busily capturing Lenny riding the redrock and have enjoyed all the close ups of the stone and red rock on a miniature scale.  Something that normal folk would easily pass by and dismiss – I see as the perfect setting for Lenny to participate in a crazy death defying stunt.

The joy of riding the grooves
The joy of riding the grooves
It reminds me of the movie, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.  The mundane of the backyard is transformed into an exotic jungle.  Seemingly harmless things turn into death traps.  Lenny had a few mishaps while on this shoot. Several times he fell off the minifigure equivalent of a 400 foot cliff (6 feet).  Luckily his plastic posterior bounced and landed unscathed.

The wind did not help on this shoot and Lenny weighing in at about an ounce it became difficult to peddle into.  In fact it lifted him off the front wheel a few times and deposited him elsewhere.  There is a spot near southern utah in Arizona on the rim of the Grand Canyon called Toroweap.  I have yet to take Lego out to this area because it takes nearly two hours to travel the 75 miles of tire eating dirt road.

Looking off Toroweap
This image was shot old school with my Nikon film camera before the digital age. The Colorado river 3500 feet below us!

Toroweap is the location of one of the largest shear cliff faces in the Grand Canyon at around 3500 feet above the raging waters of the Colorado.  That’s the equivalent of a 168,000 foot drop in minifigure scale. Craziness.  I bring up this location because of the wind.  At the cliff face the wind rushes up the face at nearly 60mph on some days.  We used to waddle close to the edge and put our arms out over the edge and catch the wind.

The beauty and diversity of southern Utah has made me a permenant resident with my family.  I have moved away at times and have lived in many different places, but the call of the Wild keeps bringing me back to this colorful country I consider home.


Where do you call home?  What are some of the unique aspects that keep you there?  Are there unique places to photograph Lego? 

Desert east of Leeds, UT

Redrock hills near Leeds, UT.
Redrock hills near Leeds, UT.

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Desert east of Leeds, UT.  Looking toward Zion National Park.

This view of the desert is from an old mine dump that my boys and I hiked up to. I had stopped to take the previous picture of the caveman Batman figure, so we didn’t find the mine shaft right away.  My kiddos found the opening right before me.  It had been closed off with a wall of mortar and rocks from the dump.  I wonder what they were after?

Silver Reef is only about 5 miles to the north of me from this spot.  Silver Reef is the only place in the world that they have found rich silver deposits in sandstone.  That may be what they were after over this way as well.  Silver Reef was once a booming mining town because of the silver.  At one time they even had a china town area.  Now it is a rather artistic community where people go to retire.  The famous sculptor, Jerry Anderson resides up there.  I am sure this desert is an inspiration for his many creations.

Frank Lloyd Wright designed a house near here.  I know the couple that live there.  They gave me a tour once and it has high shelves all over inside with plants hanging down.  The high windows and walls were inspired by the desert cliffs surrounding the area.  It is a beautiful home that is much more interesting to look at than your standard run-of-the-mill suburban stucco house.

The desert never ceases to amaze me.  The colorful landscapes are even more colorful up close.  The reds turn into many shades of red, orange, and white streaks.  The sandstone in areas is what they call picture sandstone because of all the beautiful striations that make it look like a desert scene itself.  I am glad I have the opportunity to live in such a beautiful part of the world and that I get to experience it with my boys on at least a weekly basis.  When my other kiddos get a little older we will be able to get out and enjoy this expansive place together as a family!

Lightrays break the dreariness

via Instagram http://ift.tt/2kFTWQ2 Rays of light pierce the winters clouds, Enterprise, UT

The morning had been cold and murky like the frothy, muckiness of a stagnant pond.  We drove out early in an old long bed Chevrolet, pulling our diamond plated two axle trailer.  We were finally picking up a load of our new premium Earthtone Brown Alabaster.  We would be loading the stone and sending my brother Nathan Cowlishaw on the road in the morning.  It was bitterly cold with a wind chill of about 10 degree F.  The wind was picking up and the forecast was snow.  As we neared our destination the sun cut through the dreariness and lit up the valley in patches of warm light.

We stopped, even in a hurry – and captured some of the beauty.  It really adds to my day when I get to not only experience and notice the beauty around me but also get to capture it to share with others.

I hope that this image finds you in a time when you may feel like life is a muddled pond;  just know that the light always breaks through and there is always beauty in our times of trial.

We got our truck loaded in the anticipated snowstorm.  The blizzard rushed in like someone had torn open a large beanbag chair.  The snow was little spherical icy balls that matched the Styrofoam innards perfectly.  It was a dry-cold snow that bounced off everything and everyone and quickly blanketed the ground.  We pulled out with our loaded and traversed the windy mountain pass on a meandering snow-packed highway.  The headlights almost made it more difficult to see and we had the opportunity to break the path as we had beat the snowplows to the area.

Our Chevy handled the load well and we arrived safely at a good steady pace.  New Mexico – here comes our new stone!  I hope you enjoy the work we put in to get this premium sculpting stone into your hands.

A Break in the Blizzard

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A break in the blizzard, New Castle, Iron County, UT.

Nabbed this shot out the window of the passenger side while driving at around 55 mph.  It had a nice dreamy feel to it.  The morning was cloudy and a slight snow flurry had been upon us until we crested the valley and dropped out of the small mountain range.  When we approached New Castle, UT, the sun broke through and the clouds parted into deep blue sky above.  It was just a small opening, about the size of the town but much smaller than the surrounding valley.  The blizzard raged on all around us – but we were in a split second haven from the storm.

I snapped this shot with my olympus EM5 out the window.  I used one of the artistic built in filters for a high contrast black and white.  It just matched the scene perfectly – the contrast of billowing clouds and an opening in the storm while the ground was covered in a blur of flurries.

Cow Abduction in Progress

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That cow is totally being abducted!????  Enterprise, UT
Seriously though.  Folks out in Southern Utah have had cows show up with missing eyes and lips and utters.  These don’t seem to be attacks from standard predators because of the way they are found and the markings found.

Utah has some very bizarre occurrences that are mostly unknown and unheard of because of the taboo that surrounds the topic of aliens and UFOs.

As founders of the Utah UFO Fest, my brother Nathan and I have been on many trips to investigate the unknown.  from a supposed UFO crash site in Garrison, UT, to the Dugway Proving Grounds near Delta, UT, there are many reasons why a Utah UFO Festival is long overdue.  Make sure to take some time a checkout our website.