Golden Happenings…

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.

Field Trips

Argo Mill tunnel. Idaho Springs, CO.
RMOWPers emerge from the Argo Tunnel. © Maryann Gaug

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. Colorado
Enjoying the view at Roxborough State Park. © Peter Kummerfeldt

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.

Mt. Evans. Colorado
Crest House shrouded in mist atop Mt. Evans. © Dan Bernskoetter


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.

2019 RMOWP Conference is Now History

By Don & Barb Laine 

RMOWP’s 2019 conference in Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park, Colorado is now just a memory – well, a memory and probably a lot of photos. Those pesky elk were everywhere, along with moose, bighorn sheep, pika, and marmots. About 40 people came to Estes Park, most braving the trip up above timberline to over 12,000-feet elevation on Trail Ridge Road. The promised great sunset turned out to be a dud, but the tour was still fun with ample photo opportunities. Early risers also went back into the park for sunrise at Sprague Lake.

Continue reading 2019 RMOWP Conference is Now History

Conference 2019 Revisited

Along Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. © Don Laine

RMOWP’s 2019 conference in Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park, Colorado is now just a memory – well, a memory and probably a lot of photos. Those pesky elk were everywhere, along with moose, bighorn sheep, pika, and marmots. About 40 people came to Estes Park, most braving the trip up above timberline to over 12,000-feet elevation on Trail Ridge Road. The promised great sunset turned out to be a dud, but the tour was still fun with ample photo opportunities. Early risers also went back into the park for sunrise at Sprague Lake.

Continue reading Conference 2019 Revisited

Farewell to Ouray

by Don Laine

Fall color around Ouray (c) Don Laine
Aspens come in all colors around Ouray © Don Laine

The fall colors were great, the weather mostly great albeit a bit cool, the road construction annoying, and the crowd a whole lot of fun at RMOWP’s 42nd annual conference, which took place in late September in Ouray, Colorado.

There was a record turnout – at least as far back as the 2003 conference – with 66 attendees from across the United States, including more than a dozen first-timers.

The highlight for many was the 4X4 trip into the high country – see Richard Holmes’ article, “Four-wheel Drive Adventure” – but there was also a lot to learn from good information and eager participation at the craft improvement workshops.

New President Kent Taylor (c) Don Laine
Newly-elected President Kent Taylor © Don Laine

Boulder, Colorado resident Bill Horton showed us how to turn our ho-hum photos into prize winners, thanks to the latest computer software, and Ken Papaleo of Evergreen, Colorado, told us of his journey from newspaper photographer to freelancer, with a side-trip hand-tinting black & white photos. We shared tips on the best writing and photography tips we had received or could give during a group discussion, got tips on how to improve our writing during the writer’s forum, and advice on how to improve our photos at the photo critique.

Ken Papaleo addressing the group © Diane McKinley
Ken Papaleo addressing the group © Diane McKinley

Would-be bloggers got the low-down on how to get started from Kit Horton of Boulder, Colorado. There were photo presentations by Beto Gutierrez, owner of Santa Clara Ranch, a wildlife sanctuary and photographers’ dream in south Texas; and from Stillwater, Oklahoma resident Jim Baker on his Sunday morning experience with a photogenic elk, a companion work to the article he presented at the writer’s forum.

We got to see the photos of several longtime members at the Showcase of Selected Members Photography, which this year featured former RMOWP President Tom Cummings of Cushing, Oklahoma; Stillwater, Oklahoma resident Merrillyn Hartman; and Jack Wendleton from Hermann, Missouri. Which brings up the question of who will be giving presentations at the 2016 conference. Those interested should contact Jack Olson, the showcase coordinator. And, to those who would rather not participate in the member’s showcase, don’t answer the phone when Jack calls!

Glacier National Park – Incredible!

Along Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. © by Don Laine

Fifty-five people – an unprecedented 18 of whom were new to the group – gathered in West Glacier, Montana to explore Glacier National Park with RMOWP’s local guru Tom Ulrich. It was unforgettable – Tom shared his phenomenal knowledge of the flora and fauna, his vast experience in the outdoors, and some very funny stories. His love of the park shown through all the time spent with him. One of the lucky people who snagged a spot in the all-day pre-conference tour of the park was amazed at how frequently Tom would say something like up ahead is a good place to see a moose (for instance), and sure enough, right after he stopped the car a moose stepped out of the trees – as though on command.

Tom Ulrich telling stories to captive audience at opening night barbecue. © Russ Bromby

To kick off the conference, Tom and LInda served up a terrific barbecue at their delightful cabin, complete with it’s own pond and myriad huckleberry bushes laden with ripe berries. It was the perfect opening to welcome the many first time conference attendees, and a very good time was had by all.

Our time was packed with field trips, workshops, and presentations. Al Perry shared some intriguing night photography, Tom Ulrich gave us insights into macro photography, while Hector Astorga showed us how he sets up some of his more intricate images. Kit Horton took us quickly through some of the ins and outs of online publishing, and Virginia Staat put us to work using words to paint a picture of place so clearly that one who might never see it could visualize and experience it through our prose.

Lake McDonald as sun sets
Playing at water’s edge as the sun goes down. © Don Laine

We thoroughly enjoyed seeing how three of our members express themselves photographically: Linda Bundren’s family takes center stage in many of her photos; pretty impressive sports photography is Jo Dodd’s love, and Dave Pecoraro captured the Kentucky Derby in a grand action-packed display.

Why photographer’s like the Red Busses. (c) Don Laine

A rainy boat ride on Lake McDonald (what’s a little more water, anyway?) preceded one of Jack Olson’s famous sunrise/sunset photo opportunities that wasn’t: heavy clouds blocked the sunset. But the next night, after a spectacular ride along Going-to-the-Sun Road in the historic open-topped Red Busses, the skies cooperated with a great balance of light and cloud at the south end of Lake McDonald. The morning’s tour of Hungry Horse dam just down the road from the park offered a change of pace with an important engineering feat plus scenic photo ops.

Beto Gutierrez’s auctioneering antics inspired both laughter and bids, raising over $6000 from the truly amazing donations by both RMOWPers and our corporate friends.

The Saturday night awards banquet was a fitting close to a wonderful conference. Thanks to everyone who attended and contributed. See you next year! In today’s digital age, it’s essential to provide children with activities that stimulate their imagination and encourage hands-on learning. Exploring Creative Hobbies for Kids not only offers them a break from screens but also helps in developing essential life skills, like patience, perseverance, and critical thinking, all while having fun.

Conference 2013 was grand!

Colorado National Monument
Colorado National Monument © Don Laine

Forty-plus persons descended on Fruita, Colorado, to explore and enjoy.

  • We came… we saw… we photographed.
  • We talked… we ate… we watched presentations… and we learned.
  • Workshops were informative and fun. Field trips were fascinating.
  • Weather was cooperative if a bit warm at times.

We are so pleased to announce that the auction raised more than $3000 for the scholarship fund. Read more about our scholarship program.

We are also pleased to announce that the writers’ critique has been renamed “The Anne Sullivan Writers’ Forum” in honor of the great lady who got us going with it a number of years ago.

Plan to join us in Glacier National Park for our 2014 conference.

2012 Conference Fades into History

Taos, New Mexico

Sunday – Thursday, June 10-14

Another conference has come and gone, and this year’s event in Taos, New Mexico offered several firsts, the most significant being RMOWP’s first all-day writing workshop, “Paint Your Prose with Pizzazz,” presented by RMOWP member and award-winning nature writer Mary Taylor Young. Offered as a pre-conference program, the workshop had eleven participants who delved into the art of creating text that readers can’t put down, learning to use all their senses to examine the world around them and make it come alive in their writing.

Pre-conference writing workshop participants learn how to become a camera lens. © Don Laine

During that workshop, Mary explained how we can improve our writing by imagining ourselves as a camera lens to really SEE a subject, and then describe it with words.

Ms. Taylor Young also led two shorter workshops during the conference, including a fascinating and somewhat scary look at how new technologies are changing the world of publishing, and what we as outdoor writers and photographers need to learn to avoid being left in the dust of yesterday.

San Francisco de Asis Church in Ranchos de Taos
San Francisco de Asis Church undergoing its annual mud plastering.
© Barb Laine

Taos is a well-known art colony, so naturally we had to visit an art museum, the Harwood, which has an excellent collection of the area’s early twentieth-century artists. Of course, every Taos visitor has to see the San Francisco de Asis Church in Ranchos de Taos, made famous in Ansel Adams’ photography and Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings. We just happened to time our field trip perfectly to catch the annual mudding — by parishioners and friends — of the historic church, which provided an opportunity for some unusual photos.

Other programs included a talk and photo show by Taos fishing guide and author Taylor Streit; the writing critique, this year moderated by Kenita Gibbins; and the photo critique, with tips from Jack Olson and Fred Lord.

Taos BLM Ranger Randy Roch along La Vista Verde Trail in the Orilla Verde Recreation Area south of Taos. © Don Laine

We enjoyed a field trip to the Orilla Verde Recreation Area in the Rio Grande Gorge south of Taos. (Since March 25, 2013, a part of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.) Taos BLM Ranger Randy Roch led a hike to a viewpoint above the river, detouring to point out the many ancient hard-to-find petroglyphs. The evening concluded with a picnic supper along the river.

There was also a half-day raft trip, shows of photos of what we can expect at future conferences, and a somewhat boisterous auction, in which auctioneers Jim Baker and John Catsis helped RMOWP members part with more than $1,500 for our scholarship fund.

2011 Conference in Capital Reef

Some 36 RMOWP members and friends gathered at the Sandstone Inn, Torrey, Utah just outside Capitol Reef National Park the 8-12th of June 2011.

Looks like Lee Carr & Jack Olson enjoyed photographing Cathedral Valley. © Don Laine
Cathedral Valley photo tour – Beto Gutierrez getting his shot. © Don Laine

Greeting old friends and meeting new, we explored Cathedral Valley in an all-day photo tour, visited the more regularly frequented parts of the park, attended informative workshops, and cheered when auctioneer Jim Baker sweet-talked RMOWPers out of more than $5000 for the scholarship fund — a record! A good time was had by all.

Jim Baker could sell almost anything at the auction. © Jack Olson
New student member and first time conference attendee Emily Harrington and friend Molly during a lull in the auction. © Jack Olson
President Al Perry and Tom Ulrich share a moment between the banquet and the awards ceremony. © Jack Olson