Last month Golden, Colorado welcomed 29 RMOWPers who gathered to swap yarns and share meals. We enjoyed a fine mix of morning field trips and afternoon workshops, plus the usual presentation of all contest entries the first evening, and culminating in the banquet and awards ceremony three days later.
Bright and early Monday morning we headed up to Idaho Springs and the Argo Mill. Our excellent tour guide, Erin, was chock-full of facts and details about the mill and its history. Dry data? Nope – Erin was tops at engaging our imaginations and drawing us in.
One interesting detail concerned the early miners’ caps: similar to a train conductors, they were made of cloth, but with a candle perched atop (!) for light. If your candle suddenly went out you got out of there fast – it meant the oxygen had all but disappeared!
The Argo Mill processed over $100 million of gold ore (that’s 2.6 trillion in 2020 dollars) between 1893 and 1943. Much of the original equipment remains in place, giving visitors a good idea of the process and the noise it all generated.
Roxborough State Park was first up on Tuesday morning. It’s a beautiful birding park, and about half us – divided into two groups – Group A and Group 2 each enjoyed a guided walk on the Fountain Valley Trail.
Wednesday offered a choice: a visit to Dinosaur Ridge, for the guided tour of Dinosaur Freeways & Crustaceous Seaways; or a tour of the Colorado Railroad Museum with member Judy Lehmkuhl, who volunteers there.
Finally – drum roll please – the post conference jaunt up one of Colorado’s famed fourteeners: Mount Evans. Nine intrepid RMOWPers made the journey, enjoying mountain scenery punctuated by goats and big horn sheep, starting out in sunshine and winding up and up into chilly mist on top.
North American Nature Photography Association president Dawn Wilson explained her belief that we are more than simply photographers and writers, we are storytellers and content creators. She talked about how she uses her photography to inspire a story, and made suggestions for pitching a story.
Steve Cochrane, who joined RMOWP last year, is a wildlife, nature, and action sports photographer. He gave us pointers on capturing images of animals – know the critter well, his habitat and habits, and when’s the best time of year and best time of day to find him. And although visiting national parks, wildlife refuges, and the like offer tremendous opportunities for seeing wildlife and beautiful scenery, Steve suggests you can find great possibilities in your own back yard and city or town parks if you just get out there and look, keeping your eyes peeled for the unexpected.
Tuesday afternoon kicked off with a fascinating workshop about drones by David Nelson from the Evergreen (Colorado) Camera Club. He suggested thinking of a drone as a camera on a really long tripod. He is a recreational pilot – one who cannot make or have any intent to make any money from it, rather than a commercial pilot, which requires certification from the FAA. He explained the limitations imposed on recreational pilots, but added his own guidelines: Use common sense, do not disturb wildlife, ask permission, be polite and considerate at all times. Excellent guidelines for life generally I’d say.
Free-lance writer Dan England gave us his version of Writing with Voice. Specifically, your own voice. Telling a story with personalization and character gives it life. First you need to block out any negative thoughts, and write like you talk – don’t try to be someone else. Write like a Jedi – use the force and believe in yourself – and edit like a librarian.