Dave, at work in the Caribbean. (Photo: Michelle Miller) I have been a nature photographer since I was first handed a 1970's vintage Vivitar point-and-shoot. According to my mom, it was a camera with a PhD ("Push here Dummy"). Despite its quality (ahem), I later migrated to a Pentax K1000, a wonderful little 35mm manual film camera that I'd still recommend for those with a learner's permit. Finding my favorite film is now an art in itself, and I have slowly transitioned to modern full-frame digital cameras, primarily Canon.
My formal training? Music (Interlochen), theoretical math (Harvard), and geophysics (University of Colorado). Informal training? Hard knocks, stand in the rain and fog, freeze your fingers in the arctic, dunk-your-camera-in-the-water kind of training. (Twice. Geez. You'd think I'd learn.)
I'm a pianist of sorts: jazz and classical. Ok, so don't look for me at Carnegie Hall, but I do perform now and then, and it's my favorite way to relax. My parents are musicians, I attended Interlochen Arts Academy for two years, played French horn for 20 years, and generally steeped myself in the musical scene.
|Self-portrait, 2012, With Guest Appearance by Odyneasaurus (aka, the ridiculously heavy camera-carrying "back pain lizard"). You can also see Odyneasaurus in His Natural Environment.|
I'm also a mountain climber, with (at one time anyway) an unofficial record for the coldest ascent of Mount Washington in New Hampshire. 125 degrees below zero with wind chill. (Ok, now I'm just convincing you that photographers have loose screws.) I've also climbed Kilimanjaro, and climbed and skied various peaks in the Chugach in Alaska. As a glaciologist studying climate change, I have skied across Greenland, spent a summer on the Agassiz Ice Cap (Ellesmere Island near the North Pole), and accumulated waaaay too much time (months) living in a tent on the Worthington Glacier near Valdez, Alaska. What can I say, I like snow.
If I'm not backpacking or lost in the wilderness, then I'm probably skiing. I'm a former extreme skier. Yeah, I was only stupid for a few years, and it was back in the days before big air was a requirement, but I used to drop the gnarliest couloirs I could find. Got hurt. Don't recommend it. So now I ski bumps, trees, summits, and not-quite-so-extreme couloirs whenever I can. It's a great way to get to those out-of-the-way shots.
More recently, I was on the faculty at Regis University in Denver as the chair of the Department of Physics and Computational Science. It's a great place, and I love teaching. But if all this music, math, and physics seems rather distant from photography, then think "fugues, f-stops, and diffraction" -- for me, the art of photography has always been a cross between musical-like creative expression and the paradox of capturing beautiful light with technological tools.
I am at my happiest when traveling remote corners of the globe. This desire to hike, climb, ski, and explore wild lands -- akin to wanting to move west -- fuels my larger landscapes and abstracts. Childhood walks in the woods with the Vivitar kindled my interest in the smaller more intimate side of nature, as seen in my close-ups of flowers, textures, and wildlife.