Friday, November 30, 2012


Balance is something my life is lacking at the moment. It's all school and all work and no play. It's getting up at 5 o'clock every morning to read, write, edit, take quizzes, complete labs. It's the mindless 9-5 at a job I don't like. It's a quick dinner and a quick conversation with my husband. It's homework until 9 every night. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I got a new camera yesterday. A friend of my husband's gave it to him to give to me. It's a near-pristine Polaroid 250. I've been looking online for one for years, always tempted to buy, never willing to give the asking price. And out of the blue, one falls in my lap. It's the nicest camera I've ever been given. I tinkered with it for about 20 minutes last night and added a 4.5-volt battery to my shopping list. It made me ache for film, for an afternoon of free time, and a few camera-wielding friends to wander with.

I love what I'm doing in school and I love where it's going to get me someday, but I'm ready for a break. I'm ready to sleep in and not have to worry about deadlines and polylines and points on a map. I'm ready stop thinking about environmental impacts of sustainable tourism. I'm ready for the end of this trying semester of Fall 2012. Just one more week.

...and in other news, Words to Shoot By was mentioned on Ozarks at Large today, the November 30 edition! Thanks for the mention, Laney! I'm so proud.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Stare at the Sawtooths

There is nothing I'd like more right now than to be back in this moment, back in August on Little Redfish Lake. It was the second morning of our trip and I got up just before sunrise and climbed into my kayak and paddled out to the center of the lake. I turned around to the east and closed my eyes. As the sun rose, the warm end-of-summer light inched up my face. A few minutes after the sun cleared the trees at the edge of the lake, I turned around to the west to stare at the Sawtooths. And that was the general theme for the week: Stare at the Sawtooths. It was impossible not to.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Little Prayers on the Wind

I bought this little string of prayer flags from a shop on Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado a few years ago and on a whim, I packed them for our camping trip at Little Redfish Lake in Idaho. We met Vanessa, Cal and Cal's son Josh there on a warm, end-of-summer day in August, and stayed four nights in the shadow of the rugged Sawtooth Range. We camped, kayaked, boated, swam, wasted a lot of film, told many a story around the campfire, built rock cairns, swapped cameras, stargazed, wandered Ketchum, inhaled a lot of wildfire smoke, and otherwise soaked up every bit of summer sun we could.  But back to the prayer flags. I never knew a $3 Colorado souvenir would bring me so much joy. Or subject matter. And how about that campsite? Isn't it the best? More later...

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Oktoberfest! Yet another reason October is the best month of the year. The cool days and chilly nights have taken over the heat of the summer, and leaves of every kind are changing to brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges. And beer and brats become a staple. It's fall, my favorite season.
It's been a few years since we went to Oktoberfest at Snowbird, but our friends Wendy and Troy invited us and we couldn't say no. The drive up the canyon is an event in and of itself. Beautiful golden aspens, red maples, and orange oaks line the road, which snakes up through Little Cottonwood Canyon. Towering granite walls are studded with silvery ropes of water streaming from upper glacial valleys. The icing on the German chocolate cake though is the view from the top of Hidden Peak, which we enjoyed after lunch of bratwurst, sauerkraut, German potato salad, pickles, and garlic fries.
After gorging ourselves on food from the motherland (mine and Troy's anyway), we hopped on the tram and were whisked to 10,992' Hidden Peak, where it was a brisk 52˚. We snapped some pictures and gawked at the views into Little Cottonwood to the north, Heber to the east, Salt Lake City to the west, and Mineral Basin to the south. We hiked down into Mineral Basin so we could walk through the tunnel to the Peruvian Chair, which we rode back down to the resort. My husband and I got more beer, this time a stein of Uinta Black Bier (earlier, we got Rooster's Oktoberfest), and we all enjoyed chocolate-drizzled Belgian waffles on sticks. So good.
Afterward, we drove further up the canyon to Alta and Albion Basin, one of my favorite little places in all of the Wasatch. We took a hike up toward Cecret Lake. I stopped below the lake to waste some Polaroid film, while the others went on to the lake. While I waited, a couple walked by with a remote control 4x4. We chatted for a few minutes and I snapped a photo. I kind of morphed into a 12-year old boy when I saw the Bronco (I think that's what it was). I wanted to play with it! I loved remote control cars when I was a kid. Maybe I should ask Santa for one this year. All in all, we spent about six hours up in the mountains and it was so perfect. Fall is such a wonderful time of the year here, even though Utahans joke that we only have two seasons: summer and winter. But fall has been incredibly lovely this year. And an Oktoberfest day made it even sweeter.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Just popping in to share a double exposure from a few weeks ago of the beautiful maple leaves up at our family cabin. I don't remember the leaves ever being so vibrant and long-lasting as they have been this year. 

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Nature vs. Nature



I should be running out the door, but instead, I'm sharing these, from the first half of the 12th roll of double exposures from Doubles, an ongoing project of mine and Vanessa's. This is one of my favorite rolls of all. We kind of put the project on hiatus over the summer, between work and vacations and typical summer stuff, but we got together in Idaho in late August for four days of camping, kayaking, photo-making, and just generally fun-having and we decided we needed to get going again. We've got another three rolls to share on the blog, plus two more that are being developed as I type. Check out our blog for more images, or to see some real life framed works, visit Two Creek Coffee House on Main Street in Bountiful, Utah, where 12 of our doubles are proudly displayed.

On another note, I made a Facebook page for my photography! Check it out. Like it. The 25th and 50th likes get a free print!

Saturday, September 29, 2012


It started as an unassuming group movie date in 1998 and turned into 11 years of marriage today. Happy Anniversary to my favorite man in a sherpa hat.

Monday, September 24, 2012


The first three weeks of August can be summed up in 16 photos. The last week needs its own post (which will be following soon) because it was just too amazing to not get its own post. The pics above, all posted to my Instagram account (@stephparke) show my last two field trips for the US Forest Service - to Mirror Lake Highway here in Utah and to Island Park, Idaho, a smoky day up at our family cabin, a few of my out-of-control zinnias from the front yard, and some of the bounty from my dad's garden. It was a fun but busy month with some great camping, and friend time.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

First Pack

I finally jumped on the Fuji peel-apart bandwagon. These images are from my first pack of FP-100C, which I shot in Idaho at Custer Ghost Town and along the Yankee Fork in the Salmon-Challis National Forest (the first six images above), in Lower Stanley of an abandoned cabin and the beautiful Sawtooth Range, and at Redfish Lake with Grand Mogul towering above. Little did I know at the time that I would be returning to Stanley and Redfish Lake the next month. (We just got home on Sunday from a blissful five days of camping and kayaking with Vanessa, Cal, and Josh.) The Stanley area has become my favorite place in Idaho, sorry Payette Lake and McCall. But you're still #2.

Friday, August 17, 2012

'Roid Week - Day 5



Today is Day 5. 'Roid Week is coming to a close. Say it isn't so! I love this week because it promotes such a wonderful sense of community, which can be hard to come by on the internet. I love seeing so many outstanding instant images and getting introduced to new Polaroid photogs. It's a wonderful week. 'Roid Week used to be held twice a year, in spring and fall, but now that it's only once a year, it makes it that much more special. Thank you to Cate and Lori for starting 'Roid Week in 2006 and keeping it going, The Impossible Project for giving all of us Polaroid lovers film to continue to shoot, and to Dr. Edwin Land, the visionary behind Polaroid. It's still just as magical as it the day it was invented in 1947.

For Day 5, I posted two images made with original 600 film. It's the Polaroid film that started it all for me, and I love it so much. I've still got 10 packs hanging around in my fridge. They all expired 09/09, and are starting to get just a little wonky, but that's ok. Polaroids are never perfect. That's part of the fun. The top image is from my wonderfully foggy morning at Redfish Lake near Stanley, Idaho in July. The second image is from this past weekend, made on a walk along the Henry's Fork of the Snake River in Island Park, Idaho. I almost feel like I've spent more time in Idaho this summer than at home.

Well, that's it from me for 'Roid Week 2012. Take some time to peruse the group pool over on Flickr. You'll be amazed. And check out this great interview with Cate and Lori by The Impossible Project to keep you going just a little longer. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

'Roid Week - Day 4



It's Day 4 of 'Roid Week. Today I posted two images from my Polaroid Automatic 104 Land Camera and Fuji FP-100C film. Just like yesterday's images with FP-3000B film, Fuji's color film is new to me too. I shot my first pack in Stanley, Idaho in July, and these two images came from my second pack, which I shot this past weekend. I peeled the film differently than I have in the past, just so I could hang on to the funky borders. I like them... for now.

The top image is from a Nez Perce Trail crossing on the Kilgore-Yale Road in Idaho, east of Island Park. We traveled to Island Park from the west via I-15, instead of the usual Highway 20. A 50-mile dirt road led us from Stoddard Creek to Steel Creek, Kilgore, then Island Park. It was my last field trip for the Forest Service. Ever. After four years of contracting, I finally completed my project! It's a bittersweet feeling, that's for sure. I'm happy to not be on the road 3-4 days a week, but I'm sad because it means I'm not out in the woods every day!

The second image is from a walk we took last Saturday night along the Henry's Fork of the Snake River in Island Park. We camped at Flat Rock Campground just off Highway 20 and the river flowed just down the hill from our site. We came upon a cabin with this red canoe out front, and the owners of both were fly-fishing in the river. We talked for a few minutes and then went on our way. The trip was the perfect ending to my project.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

'Roid Week - Day 3

timber sale


For Day 3 of 'Roid Week, I posted two images from my Polaroid Automatic 220 Land Camera. Both images are Fuji FP-3000B film, and both from the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming. I was out in the woods for the Forest Service, and was joined by Heather (thank you, friend!). She's a film wizard (she doesn't even own a digital camera!) and she is very familiar with pack film. She convinced me to toss the positive and scan the negative instead, then invert in in Photoshop.... and these are the results. I like them. Thanks girl!

The first image is from our long, dusty drive down the Greys River Road. We were only about 18 miles down the road when we came upon a timber sale, or the preparations for one, I should say. The second image, of the Fontanelle Fire burning near Big Piney, Wyoming, is from where the Greys meets La Barge Road and Smith's Fork Road at Tri-Basin Divide. In all, we traveled 82.3 miles of dirt road that day; some of it was very well-maintained, some of it was in terrible condition with large rocks and ruts. I even moved branches off the road at one point. It took us about 2.5 hours to pass through a 20-mile section. Oy. All in all, it was an awesome day though, and allowed me to cross #31 off my birthday list.

Come back tomorrow for Day 4!

'Roid Week - Day 2



On Day 2 of blessed 'Roid Week, I posted two Spectra images. The top image, made with TIP's PZ 600 UV+ film, is from a very unexpectedly foggy morning at Redfish Lake in Idaho about a month ago. The second image, made with TIP's PZ 680, is from a warm night at Jenny Lake in Wyoming at the end of July with my pal, Heather. Stay tuned for Day 3!

'Roid Week - Day 1


Spud Drive In

It's 'Roid Week! It's five days of Polaroid-filled bliss that I look so forward to each year. In years past, I have made special outings during 'Roid Week to shoot some instant film during the week, but this year, I have 72 Polaroids saved up since June that I still need to post to my Flickr photostream. They are all from my work in the field for the US Forest Service, and I've been out so much that I haven't had time to scan, edit, or post them, but thanks to 'Roid Week, I was inspired to sit down and scan and edit my brains out, then share some of my favorites here and on Flickr.

Each day of 'Roid Week over Flickr, we're allowed to post just two photos to the group pool, and let me tell you, people share incredible stuff. Many photographers save up their favorites and/or their best shots all year, just waiting for 'Roid Week to roll around. I decided to mix my 'Roid Week up a bit. Like I said, I usually shoot during the week, but I've got so many images already, it just makes sense to use what I've got.

Each day this week, I am posting a different format and film. On Day 1, I posted these two images, both from my SX-70 on PX-70 film from The Impossible Project. The first is from Panguitch, Utah in June, on my second outing for the Forest Service this summer. The second is from a fun trip with Heather to the Tetons and Bridger-Teton National Forest. The Spud Drive In can be found in lovely little Driggs, Idaho, and one day, I want to watch a double feature there.

Stay tuned for more instant filmy goodness!

PS: Thank you Vanessa for being so smart. Why didn't I think of posting my 'Roid Week entries on my blog? Instant blog posts! I need some of those now and then. Who am I kidding? I always need instant blog posts, given the rate I update this space lately.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

And just like that, it's August.

My lone blog post last month made me realize how many Instagram pics I've got (@stephparke). Hundreds. And it also made me realize that posting a quick collage of photos here in this space is better than no post at all. So, here I am with a July recap. It was a busy month again (story of all our lives, right?). I did some traveling, some cooking/baking, some garden-picking, some fireworks-watching, and some cabin-relaxing. 

The collage above contains favorite Instagram pics from home. Things like a cabin cleanup day - we were cleaning out brush and dead branches to create a defensive space in light of all the fires this summer; hanging tiny 3" square Instagram prints from; having a s'mores competition with friends (I won with my creation of a graham cracker, Nutella, vanilla ice cream, and eggless chocolate chip cookie dough.); hanging out at my dad's on a rainy Saturday, picking produce and playing with the kids; smoking up the neighborhood with my husband's brother's kids with smoke bombs, ground flowers, and cones; and enjoying a scoop of my favorite chocolate peanut butter ice cream at Farr's in Ogden, Utah. In all, it was a great month.

The collage above contains field day finds. I visited the Caribou, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache, Sawtooth, and Targhee National Forests, and saw so many beautiful places. My favorite place all summer has been the Sawtooth. I spent just two days on this forest, but it was wonderful. The first day started with rain and ended with a patchwork sky of blue and clouds. It was a tough day to shoot campgrounds - everything was soggy and lakes were gray and choppy, but I loved it nonetheless. I finished up my work for the day, checked into my hotel in Stanley, Idaho, and got back in the car for a drive up Yankee Fork. It's an amazing place full of history and scenic beauty, and I was so happy to be able to spend some leisure time there. I visited Yankee Fork a few years ago but was on a tight schedule and was in and out in 45 minutes. This time though, I stayed for about three hours - and it still wasn't enough.

The next morning, my alarm buzzed at 6:30. I wanted to get on the road quickly so I could spend time at Redfish Lake and in Ketchum before making the four-hour drive home. I showered, repacked my stuff, gathered my collection of new Polaroids I'd spread out on the table the night before, and opened the curtains. To my surprise, I couldn't see across the parking lot. It was July 17 and I was in pea-soup fog. I was shocked. Out loud, I said, "you're kidding me!" I closed the curtains, sat down on the bed for a split second, got up, opened the curtains, and stared. Change of plans.

I checked out of my room and made a beeline (at 30 mph in dense fog) for Redfish Lake Road four miles south of town. I slowly made my way to the lake, stopping at Redfish Lake Creek first. After a few minutes at the creek, the fog started to lift and pockets of blue appeared. I moved up the road to the North Shore area of the lake, and found the fog to be even more dense. I carried four cameras to the shore and proceeded to shoot through more film than I've used all summer. I was in heaven. I heard a duck quacking somewhere in the distance but never saw it. Campgrounds surrounded me, but the fog put a hush on the whole area. I didn't see or hear people for over an hour.

I headed toward Redfish Lake Lodge in hopes of kayaks on the water, and found exactly what I'd hoped for. Look at all those boats up there! I wandered the docks for about 45 minutes, shooting Polaroid after Polaroid, 35mm frame after 35mm frame. I can't wait to get my film developed! I've got four rolls to send to Photoworks SF. Exciting! I shot all that I could, then drove back to Stanley for breakfast at Stanley Baking Company, a wonderful little shop with great offerings. I enjoyed my breakfast burrito and hazelnut steamer over spotty internet service and friendly conversation from the tables surrounding me, and an hour later, the fog had lifted. I drove back to the lake, photographed my campgrounds, and stood knee-deep in chilly Redfish Lake, then headed home. I got in only an hour later than I thought I would, and I experienced something special at Redfish Lake. From the reactions of the locals, apparently fog is not too common in the summer, and I'm happy it graced me with its presence. July was good to me. Let's hope August is too.