Blake Gordon Photography

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The latest from the frontlines

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Emmy nomination / catching up

I'm back from another trip to Guyana and have plenty of catching up to do, but am incredibly flattered to receive an Emmy nomination for my contribution to a NPR/ProPublica piece on traumatic brain injuries in the military. The piece can be found here. The story was in the later stages when I was called in and so my contribution owes a lot to the investigative reporting from Daniel Zwerdling and T. Christian Miller at ProPublica, John Poole's video interview at NPR and photo editor, Coburn Dukehart's ability to weave it together into a well crafted multi-media story.

But of course, none of that work compares to Victor Medina and the other servicemen and women who have had to deal with TBI and have had the courage to try and change military practices for the better.

NPCA: Valles Caldera I shot a story for National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) on the Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico earlier this summer, capturing both stills and video/interview material. I enjoyed working on a larger, collaborative editorial project with a process that everyone was exploring. I worked with Jason Bosch at Aurora Novus, the multimedia production arm of my agency, Aurora Photos to produce the video under the guidance of Amy Marquis, associate editor at the magazine.

This parcel of land is, of course, quite stunning, but also has an interesting cultural history behind it. It's been logged and mined, though mostly used as ranch land for the past hundred or so years. It's mild summer climate and situation at the headwaters of the Jemez River make it an ideal summer habitat for many animals. It shifted from private to public ownership and has been in an interim management policy, though is now in the process of coming under National Park Service management, though is likely to remain under the 'preserve' model.

As serene as the caldera is, my time there was definitely focused on making work. I was fortunate enough to catch an incredible evening of weather. It always strikes me at how wonderful and amazing "bad" weather is.

50 miles through the Grand Canyon: Rim-to-Rim-Rim

On Sunday, I finished backpacking 50+ miles from rim-to-rim-to-rim in the Grand Canyon with Boy Scout Troop 65 from Wooddale, IL. The Grand Canyon trip is a staple for the troop and they've done the trip about 9 times - roughly every 5 years. It was a fantastic assignment from Boys' Life magazine, an official publication put out by the Boy Scouts of America.

I hiked with 6 fourteen year olds and 4 adults. We spend two nights in the canyon each way with a rest day in the middle on the north rim. I knew I would enjoy the terrain and challenge of the assignment, but spending some time with a group of 14 year old boys was both a challenge and reward. On the last night, the 6 boys slept on two adjoining picnic tables underneath a shelter, hoping that rain wouldn't punctuate our last night. I slept on the ground nearby listening to the rumors and stories coursing through their high school lives and for a moment stepped back to that age as a couple of shooting stars split the only clear patch of sky.

Thanks for the adventure Troop 65.

Smithsonian Magazine

I got an unexpected package in the mail today. It was a couple of copies of the April 2010 Smithsonian Magazine. I shot some work for them last summer, and though I knew it at the time, it's taken a while to go through to print. The story "All-American Monsters" is written by Richard Conniff and is on America's fascination with the mammoths. I didn't know it until meeting him at the Mammoth Site in South Dakota, but many Americans at the time of Thomas Jefferson were convinced that we would find these animals alive and roaming on this continent.

It was really great to get it in print from them in the mail. So few times do I get my first viewing of the layout in print. I really like the work that they do and am excited to shoot this assignment.

NPR: Houston's Third Ward

I shot a series of images of Houston's Third Ward for NPR's Morning Edition this past Monday. The photo editor at NPR, Coburn Dukehart, was great in that she gave me the freedom to shoot the story however I saw fit. It was quite a blessing that had me digging a bit deeper for engaging images.

I met the Steve Inskeep of the Morning Edition and state rep Garnet Coleman for a tour of the Third Ward. The piece was on gentrification in the Third Ward. Being an issue I muse on anyway, it was great to get a story that played into my training as a landscape architect. Following around the Morning Edition crew was a great insight on their process - very professional. I shot during the day, but ended up getting a lot of great material at night. The urban form really puts itself on display during those sleeping hours.

The story and online gallery can be found here.

Smithsonian Magazine: Mammoth Site

I shot some images at the Mammoth Site in South Dakota for SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE via Aurora Photos, my photo agency. The story will be published in April 2010, so it will be a while with images. It was the last week of the summer season for a volunteer team to assist with the perpetual dig. The sit is of a prehistoric sink hole where young (primarily male - read into this) mammoths ventured to the watering hole to riskily and never returned. Modern man thanks these young males for their sacrifice to our cultural and scientific knowledge machine.

The drive from Salt Lake City (from the Outdoor Retailer Convention) through Wyoming to the Badlands was long, but spectacular. On the return I camped in Ogalla National Grassland, a beautiful, beautiful place. The image above is from there.

Great Basin National Park

I shot out in Great Basin National Park for a star party organized by the National Parks Conservation Association via my agency, Aurora Photos. Great Basin is WAY out in eastern Nevada, which makes is ideal country for star gazing. The Great Basin landscape is also some pretty phenomenal terrain (basin and range topography) with alternating mountain ridges and separated by towering mountain ranges that occurred as the earth's surface was ripped apart from continental drift.

It was great to shoot and speak with folks that are really into the astronomical of the night. The range and craft of the telescopes they brought out was really fascinating as well.