Dive into the stories behind eye-catching photos | SteamboatToday.com

Dive into the stories behind eye-catching photos

Steamboat Pilot & Today

The Steamboat Pilot & Today is launching a new photo feature called Behind the Lens that will highlight the stories behind captivating images. Do you have a photo to share with the community? Send it to share@SteamboatToday.com.

— Only a few lucky people get to sit near John F. Russell in the newsroom and hear firsthand how he got that shot of moose licking salt off an animal control vehicle, or about how he's captured thousands of other moments of life in the Yampa Valley.

The same goes for Joel Reichenberger, who recently came back from Russia with a vast portfolio of stellar photos from the Olympics in Sochi.

And who doesn't want to talk to Matt Stensland about how he got that photo of a tranquilized black bear tumbling from a tree near Soda Creek Elementary School?

Sometimes, the stories behind photos are as interesting as the images themselves.

Here is a collection of stories behind some of our favorite images we've taken in recent months.

This will just be the start of a new feature we're launching that will showcase the stories behind the photos taken by staff, readers and professional photographers in our community.

Recommended Stories For You

On a regular basis, we'll reach out to readers who submit a photo that catches our eye and invite the photographer to tell us the story behind the photo to be featured in the paper and on ExploreSteamboat.com.

We hope the stories and the photos will be educational and inspiring.

How it works

The Steamboat Pilot & Today is launching a new photo feature called Behind the Lens that will highlight the stories behind captivating images.

Staff photographers will regularly tell the stories behind their images, but we'll also reach out to local photographers and readers whose work catches our eye.

Photographers will be invited to share some background about how they got a selected photo as well as what settings they used.

Do you have a photo to share with the community? Send it to share@SteamboatToday.com.

Football at the sand dunes

This picture captures the majesty of Colorado's Great Sand Dunes National Park more than any of the hundreds of other frames I brought back with me.

When I first set out to hike the dunes, I spotted this group of children playing a game of football.

They easily are dwarfed by the landscape, and the Sangre De Cristos loom behind snowstorms in the background.

With the weather, there really was no one else around, and the children had the vast edge of the dune fields all to themselves.

I imagine there are few other places in the world like this one, where such an isolated beachlike atmosphere quickly meets towering mountains.

The photo is simple, but it grows on me.

The timing also is right with a football frozen above the children and a break in the clouds revealing a fresh coat of snow on the peaks.

It's a photo that always tempts me to go back.

Shot with a Nikon D90 using an 80mm lens, manual exposure, 80mm at f/13, 1/800 second, ISO 400.

— Scott Franz, Steamboat Pilot & Today

Short track, long lens

Short-track speed skating has fascinated me since it was introduced into the Olympics in 1992. The speed, the strategy, the crashes … what's not to like? So, in Sochi, Russia, earlier this year covering the Olympics for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, I made a point to spend some of my free time photographing short track.

That task can be as complicated as you want it to be. I went to two short-track skating sessions. At the first, I had a bad position, high in the arena. The second time, I vowed to get a better seat, so I showed up about an hour early and parked at the end of a straightaway. I had a 400mm f2.8 Nikon lens, plus a teleconverter, making it effectively 560mm and f/4.

I needed all that length to get in tight on my subjects, too. I started with pretty standard shots and was happy with the action, but before long, I decided to get creative and opted to slow down the shutter speed. The slower the speed, the better I liked the effect, but the vast majority of shots were blurry.

I shot and shot and shot, and finally ended up with exactly what I was looking for: Chinese skater Dajing Wu leading the pack in the men's 1,000-meter quarterfinals at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Wu qualified in that race and the next but ended up just short of a medal, finishing fourth in the finals.

— Joel Reichenberger, Steamboat Pilot & Today

Illuminating a legend

This is a statue of Marshall Zhukov, near the Kremlin in Moscow. Zhukov was the Russian WWII army commander who oversaw Berlin's capture. This photo was taken at night with a light drizzle. What made the shot were the gray skies and the shadow behind the statue.

— Luke Graham, Steamboat Pilot & Today

Testing the waters

I got a few strange looks on this one, but I expected that when I walked through the doors of the Old Town Hot Springs with a camera in one hand and a 15-gallon fish tank in the other.

The idea was simple — I wanted to photograph a swimmer just under the surface of the water. The problem was I didn't want to get wet, and I don't own an underwater camera.

The fish tank proved to be a good solution.

I placed the tank in the water with the open end above water and the rest of the tank underwater. I then placed the camera inside the fish tank and used a wide-angle lens, in this case a 20mm, to get the action. The auto focus on my Nikon D3 helps me keep track of the swimmer as she approaches the tank. I shot this image at f/8, giving me enough depth of field to keep the swimmer in focus range without really knowing where she was. I also needed a decent shutter speed, so I bumped my ISO to 800 and was able to take this image at 1/400 of a second. It took several attempts to get the swimmer in the right position, capture the right light and make sure that everything was in focus.

It might sound crazy, and it might look crazy at the time, but it makes for a great image. Just be careful not to push the tank too far into the water, or it might be crazy expensive when that $5,000 camera ends up wet.

— John F. Russell, Steamboat Pilot & Today

Playing ‘good for free’

There is a Joni Mitchell lyric that comes into my head numerous times a year and virtually every time I find myself in a big city. This photo taken March 2014 in Tucson, Ariz., was inspired by Mitchell's song, "For Free," from the Blue album. It was released in June 1971, a month after I graduated from high school.

Mitchell writes about encountering a street musician and reflects upon how they aren't really so different from each other except that she "play(s) if you have the money," and arrives at her concerts in a big black limousine, while the clarinetist in the song "plays real good for free."

Nearing the end of another long Steamboat Springs winter, I always find myself aching to spend a little time in an urban environment, and when I finally get to New York, or San Francisco, or Portland, I can depend encountering a street musician who is open to being photographed.

I've photographed street musicians from Venice, Italy, to Paso Robles, Calif.

This image was captured on Fourth Street in Tucson, a funky shopping district that reminds me in some ways of one of my old haunts, State Street in Madison, Wis. The violinist's expressive face reminded me of Joe Cocker.

— Tom Ross, Steamboat Pilot & Today

Seeking a different perspective

When on assignment with a camera in tow, I do my best to hunt for a "different" shot. What "different" means, exactly, I haven't quite figured out. "You know it when you see it," you know?

I covered the Carl Ramunno Wrestling Invitational on Jan. 25 at Steamboat Springs High School's Kelly Meek Gymnasium. The unique thing about the Sailors' gym is the bordering track that rests above the bleachers. I've shot every sport held in the gym so far this school year from up there — or at least attempted to — and it proved to be beneficial at the wrestling tournament. I noticed the tournament-style format had the wrestling mats stretched from wall to wall, creating the opportunity for some straight-down shots should a pair of grapplers find their way there.

Sure enough, Steamboat's Ethan Labriola, right, got caught in a tough situation against Glenwood Springs' Miguel Mendoza in the opening-round match at 106 pounds. I captured the final moments with an 80 to 200mm lens before Labriola was pinned, and it wasn't until later that I noticed the extreme emotion on his face. Also, I thought the tattered wrestling mat in the top of the photo gave it a nice touch.

— Ben Ingersoll, Steamboat Pilot & Today

Young foxes getting into trouble

I love focusing my camera on wildlife, and I spend a lot of time driving across Routt County looking for it.

The funny thing is that I didn't spend a lot of time finding this shot. I got a tip from my wife, who had seen these fox kits playing near some old piping at Howelsen Hill. So one evening, I drove over to the parking lot by the ice arena and was treated to several lively babies playing.

It was cool because they really didn't have a fear of humans and were so busy playing that they really didn't pay attention to me. With the help of a 300mm lens mounted to my Nikon D3, I was able to capture this moment.

The 300mm lens allowed me to get close and clean up the background a bit. I wanted to make sure both of the foxes were in focus, but I didn't want a lot of detail in the background, so I went back and forth between f/8 and f/5.6. I pushed the ISO a bit to 800 because the sun was starting to set and I needed a fast shutter speed (in this case, 1/1600 of a second) to keep things in focus. Then I concentrated on the action and the kits, and the early evening light did the rest.

— John F. Russell, Steamboat Pilot & Today

Making tracks

One of the fun things about photography is no matter how many photographers you set in a certain spot, none will come away with the same photos. We each can look at the same scene and be transfixed by, then driven to capture, something different.

That was the case with this photograph of lines skied in Fish Creek Canyon. I took it April 5 while I was covering the Cody's Challenge randonee race for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, from atop the Rancid Tuna rocks in the hike-to section of Steamboat Ski Area.

The racers climb up through the rocks, so it's easily the best place on the course for dramatic photos. We all got there well before the racers, but I was the only one to get carried away snapping the lines cut into Fish Creek Canyon. Maybe the others didn't notice. Maybe they weren't intrigued. Maybe they've shot 100 other similar scenes. I hadn't, though, and I like it, so I fired away.

The scene kept changing, the light shifting with passing clouds, and as soon as I decided I had gotten what I wanted, everything would be different and I would decide I needed just a few more frames. I ended up with way too many, but also with a nice final product.

— Joel Reichenberger, Steamboat Pilot & Today

Harvest moon

To get some photos, you just have to drive around in circles.

That was the case when I was chasing a photograph of a harvest moon rising perfectly behind Thunderhead on Mount Werner.

The original idea was to get some pictures of the full moon peeking above trees, but I quickly realized everything was lining up for a much cooler picture.

I'm sure there are charts or some information I could have consulted online that would have helped me to gauge exactly where I needed to be at what time to get this shot, but that would have taken the fun out of driving around frantically and finally finding the sweet spot.

For this to line up, I found that I needed to be somewhere on Eagle Ridge Drive near the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

Then it was a matter of getting to a spot where the trees weren't blocking the view and firing away.

No need for a tripod here, as the bright moon perfectly silhouettes the top of the gondola building.

Shot with a Nikon D90 using a 300mm lens, manual exposure, 300mm at f/4, 1/3200 second, ISO 800.

— Scott Franz, Steamboat Pilot & Today

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