Thursday, September 16, 2010

Of Moose and men...

I was apprehended by a momma moose and her calf the other day while mountain biking before work in Park City. The crux was not being late for work. I squeezed in my morning recreation like a dog snatches a steak from the table while his owner’s back is turned. It’s a game that starts just before the morning light with the finish bell of arriving at the Fatali Gallery at 10:30 to open. The standard variant allowed for any miscalculations in time was exactly fifteen minutes…no time for Starbucks or any other luxurious deviations.
The pre-dawn mornings of late have the chill of frost on the ground with the steam of my breath chugging up the trail like a locomotive churning up a mountain pass. I wandered up through the maples that shot skyward in crimson flames declaring that fall has arrived and winter is soon to come. The chokeberries, rosehips and aspen trees showed slight tinges of agreement but there time was still to come. The wildflowers that one would normally equate with spring are also in full bloom as the short warm season in the mountains blends spring into fall. As the warmth of the morning sun filters through the groves of aspen, pine and brush the sweet fragrance of fresh mountain air mixed with damp earthen soil fills my nostrils reminding me of the smell of wet hay after a summer rain.

After summiting the climbing trail I had turned downward onto a winding trail that snaked its way down through endless groves of aspen with a maze of inter-connecting roots woven like lace on the bed of the trail making it impossible to take my hands off the handlebars to blow the drizzle out of a dripping nostril. Some of the aspens hinted at a change in the season but mostly they just stood their guard with their green leaves dancing in the sunlight and sounding as many waters running.

As I rounded a corner she stood, six or seven feet tall on the trail fifty feet in front of me with her calf frozen in it’s track between us. She stood her ground and refused to move. I blended in with the nearby trees trying to figure out how to get her to move on. Being downwind she could smell me, but I’m not sure she could see me too well. After about 20 minutes she started to slowly graze on the surrounding low-lying leaves but remained in place cautiously aware of me. There was simply no way of passing her and I feared that if I retraced my route back up to the summit and down from where I had come, I would be horribly late for work.

Then I came up with a plan. She was no longer panicked at my presence but still standing her ground so I figured that if she knew that I was moving both towards her and away from her she might think it was time to high-tail it out of there with her calf. I started clapping and walking towards them slightly, then away. The idea was that she would clearly hear me approaching, then leaving and not being a threat. It worked. As soon as she could hear that I was going away from her she finally took off down the hill that my switchback trail threaded its way down.

My fear was that they would show up on a subsequent switchback but to my delight upon clearing each section below they had vanished. I rushed the remaining tangle of skinny trails, roots and rocks at a crazed pace in order to make up for lost time. After a blur of motion upon returning to my room, showering and throwing on clothes as I hastily readied myself for the day I arrived at work only a few minutes behind and still surging from the adrenaline slightly.

The grin on my face was most likely evident throughout the day like the chops of a dog lapping the grease off its muzzle having pulled off another score and thankful that our Master has provided such a fine banquet before us for the taking.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


The Vine and the Branch by Dave Diegelman


There’s an amazing song from 1974 composed by John Ambercrombie named Timeless. It starts out with a slow, hypnotic cadence that develops like a sunrise from a mountain top as the artist explores a sense of eternity in musical form. It progresses from calm to seemingly chaotic while maintaining the undertones of the sunrise in the background and then returning again to a serene flow. It’s one of those compositions that invoke feelings of the awe and majesty of the Creator and the canvas that He has put before our eyes upon this earth.

Although there are many places that have brought about that same sense of connection to the Creator, Antelope canyon in Arizona testifies of God’s artistry in nature. It is arguably the most photographed slot canyon in the world but each photographer’s interpretation and composition is unique. Like reading through the Bible, each visit is unique as the light is never the same twice. The experience awakens in me a sense of wonder that all too often lies dormant in my soul or is crushed by the business of day to day life.

Albert Einstein once said, “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.” In a sense these canyons are like slow earthen clocks. The flood debris in “The Vine and the Branch” tells a story of the cataclysmic forces that have shaped this canyon contrasted by the stillness and beauty of its surroundings. One doesn’t have to use much imagination to picture the torrents of water towering 30’-50’ during a flash-flood yet the experience on a day bathed in sunshine hides the turbulent forces that lurk behind every sensually sculpted stone. The experience is sensational.

To see my gallery of Creations in Time or to enroll in one of the photography workshops that I offer just click on the link(s).  If you enjoyed this please share it!

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Cactus Bllom by Dave Diegelman

Spring brings unusual surprises in the desert. Shortly after moving to Southern Utah a few years I was working a tedious office job that only gave me two days off every couple of weeks. Longing to make the best out of those days, I set out to obtain my Utah driver’s license, register my car and go mountain bike riding all on the same day. In my simply understanding I divided them up into two categories; one was a set of clerical pestilences and the other nourishment for my soul. Both were crucial.

My wife woke me up for an alpine start around 7am and reminded me how critical it was that I get my act in gear since my license was due to expire shortly. She’s really good at playing the drill sergeant and it reminded me of preparing to do what rock climbers call a grade V in a day. A grade V is a climb that normally takes two days but if your skills are moderately honed you can pull it off in a day with adequate preparation and skills. I knew it was possible especially since I hate to fail.

After gathering every possible document to accomplish the task, I set out totally focused. First stop, DMV for the vehicle registration. The first line granted me access to a receptionist who greeted all with a warm smile and calmly explained the procedure that each bewildered visitor would need to go to next. Her half glasses rested upon the tip of her nose as she gently pulled my pile towards her. She dipped her fingers into a little pink sponge and rifled through my papers. She took off her glasses and looked at me. “Um, you don’t seem to have your safety inspection here. Do you have any it with you?” She must have seen the blood drain from my face, because she quickly said, “There’s a Jiffy Lube on Sunset in Santa Clara. It also looks like you will need a more current copy of your insurance since this one expired yesterday.”

I sigh, knowing it’s about thirty minutes away but my mantra for the day was, “No big deal…I can do this.” “Thanks,” I said, managing a smile. “I won’t be long.”

I returned home and dug through every place I could think of. Finally, resorting to the help of my wife on the phone, I locate the current proof of insurance and gleefully set out for the inspection twenty miles away. Luckily, the Jiffy Lube is near a Starbucks, which are few and far between around these parts and I realized that I had forgotten perhaps the most important ingredient in a successful plan: caffeine.

An hour and a half later the receptionist at the DMV had changed guard and the new one asked if I was also going to license plates as well. “Yes” I replied, “that’s next on my list.” She informed me that I might want to take a number here and then head over to the office across the street and get a number there as well to speed things up so I didn’t have to wait as long. Great plan!

After a fifteen-minute wait (you know, where you’re watching all the clerks passively milling around with no client’s at their window shuffling through papers but never looking up to invite the next guest to their counter), it was my turn. “I just got back from lunch and the mou’ans over by Zions were so pretty today” she mentioned. The dropping of the “t” in mountains and the added “s” in Zion led me to believe that she grew up around these parts. After several false starts and a long personal call about what type of blouse she would be wearing at some upcoming social event, the clerk finally hands over my shiny new plates. It’s now about 1pm and I’ve got it made. One more quick stop with my pre-drawn ticket across the street and I’m up to Gooseberry Mesa for one of the most glorious rides on this planet. Upon entering the licensing building, I sadly note that my pre-drawn number has just passed. Again, no bid deal…“I can do this!” I draw my new number that’s only ten away from the current one. I count my blessings as this could be a California DMV with hundreds in front of me (It’s so bad there; they rent cots and offer weekly rates!).

Ten minutes go by, and no numbers get called. Then fifteen more go by, the same thing. Then after twenty minutes they slowly start creeping toward my number. Finally it’ my shot. We go through all the necessary paperwork only to be thwarted by one small detail. “Do you have your Social Security card?” she politely asks.

“Social…uh…security…uh…I know my number,” I pleaded, but it was no use. Before I could finish the sentence she handed me a study guide with the address of the Social Security office (again, just fifteen miles away).

It’s now 3 O’clock. I can do this, I can do this, I can do this… besides I can pick up a taco at Irmita’s on the way back and still have time for a ride. All I have to do is get back by 4pm when the office gives its last test.

Another short, but painful wait at the SS office. All goes smoothly (including the much-needed taco stop) and I’m back at 3:40. Again the wait, but victory is in the air: it’s 3:55 and my number is called. The woman at the counter is asking questions and this time I’m on it, producing document after document as requested. She clears her throat and adjusts the crooked bow holding together the top of her chartreuse blouse, and then looks through my papers for a second time. “I don’t see your proof of residency.” I feel a trickle of sweat go down my face. My stomach gurgles from the taco, which I now realize was way too spicy. I look down at the floor and shake my head slowly and then look back up at her. Her bow is crooked again but she smiles, looking as patient and polite as if she were welcoming me to a fine restaurant or offering me free food samples at Costco.

Now for those of you reading this I know what you’re thinking, “this guy’s an idiot…EVERYONE knows you have to bring a utility bill or two to show residency to get a driver’s license.” A small smirk comes over my face as I reach into my folder of utility bills and mortgage statements. In my brilliant planning I brought a triple redundancy of such documents just in case. Again the ever-so-polite-civil-servant-voice she informs me that they need to be current…within the past sixty days. Mine are…uh…slightly older. “Besides,” she says, “we don’t offer the test after 4pm and it’s now 4.”

I snatched the papers from her hands, scrapping my good manners and my mantra. Outside, thunderstorms are hovering over my riding areas. This pity party is a grand banquet in my brooding mind. The world is conspiring against me. I don’t have another shot for a day off for two weeks.

Soon my lovely wife calls full of cheer. “All done?” she asks. I instantly attempt to subdue her joy with my pouting as I recounted the day, “I give up! I’ve been at this all day and still I’m no closer to getting my license. What a waste of time, I should have just gone riding to start with because now it’s too stormy to ride.”

There was a short, but powerful silence. My own words of frustration were cutting through me like a knife through butter on a warm day. I didn’t mean to vent everything out and certainly not on her. She calmly replied, “well the light on Zion with the black thunderheads above is amazing. You should take Nokie (our Siberian Husky) for a walk around the neighborhood before it’s too late.”

As much as I wanted to continue my private pity-banquet, I reluctantly decide the walk would be best for Nokie. I grab my Nikon and head towards her with a leash. She’s dancing with joy, elated that we are going for a walk. Now I’m convinced that God put dogs in our lives just to show us how to love unconditionally. We strolled up the hills near our home and were treated to one of the finest display of Spring that I’ve ever witnessed. The burden of the day was gently swept away and soon I was like a kid in a candy store capturing the raw beauty around me with my camera.

Sometimes God has other plans for our lives than what we set out to accomplish. The images below were captured.  I was very grateful that day I failed.

Zion Evening by Dave Diegelman

Desert Blooms by Dave Diegelman

More flora and fauna images.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Midnight Lightning by Dave Diegelman

Midnight Lightning by Dave Diegelman

Nokie, our now departed Siberian Husky, used to get so scared when fireworks or electrical storms happened. She would loose all sense of direction and just try to escape often wandering to a neighbors house or even worse to one of the coyote-inhabited canyons nearby. The fear was so deep that one has to assume it’s a self-preservation instinct. I can relate having been out in the wilderness many times in terrifying electrical storms not really knowing where it’s going to strike and always questioning safety.

Viewing the same storm from the security of a porch near a warm house however, brings about a sense of awe and beauty that is hard to match. It stirs the senses into a frenzy of euphoria both to our eyes that get to watch the incredible show and also our nose that gets to take in the sweet fragrance of the rush of negative ions that fresh rain produces.

During our monsoon season I’m always on the prowl for a good storm to photograph. They are usually fleeting and distant at best. Getting “skunked” with no suitable images is most often the result of the elusive chase. My wife Cristina, having endured many such “chases” with me, doesn’t always share the same enthusiasm. Much like preparing a good meal, it takes a lot of time and patience but unlike the gratification of feasting, the crumbs of famine are often the only fruit until next season’s display.

Sometimes God unleashes His spectacular artistry just to let us know that it’s not about us nor our pursuits, rather it’s about His timing and kindness to usher us into box office seats. During the shooting of the Midnight Lightning series was one such occasion where I had to keep pinching myself just to know it was real. The images only represent a small glimpse of the display witnessed. To my wife’s delight we watched it from the comfort of our rear porch and as fate would have it, Nokie did not have to endure it…at least not from here. She may have even enjoyed it from Doggie Heaven.

To see this in sequence in my gallery click here: Midnight Lightning

PS  If you continue to the next image in the gallery you will notice a fire burning in the lower right-hand corner where the above strike hit.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Vanishing Point by Dave Diegelman

Vanishing Point by Dave Diegelman

Sometimes life just goes by way too fast… always catching up with the though of behind. And then suddenly you look back only to see a blur of motion masking the people, places and events that really define us. Relish the moment with thanksgiving being grateful always of the sacrifices others have bestowed upon you.

Happy “He is Risen” to all.

Vanishing Point

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Angels Landing Fun in the Wind 3-19-10

I’m still blown away at the number of folks who braved the elements for the “alpine conditions” ascents of Angel’s Landing yesterday. While the temperature was probably a mild high 40’s the wind at times was unrelenting…I’m guessing up to 60 mph gusts. Most of the folks were here on spring break and dressed like they were in Florida…running shorts & tees-shirts. There were even two young ladies that were barefoot! I was cold watching them go through the snow patches but they seemed really stoked to be in one of the most breathtaking places on earth. You can see some pictures of them on my website at: (barefoot in snow)  and another one (un-related parties) at:  (barefoot 2).

Friday, March 19, 2010

Angels Landing Fun in the Sun

Had a wonderful day shooting pictures up on Angel's Landing yesterday. Met lot of really cool folks from all over the world. One of the day's highlights was a pair of Condors riding the thermals just off of the saddle. It is so inspiring to see the recovery of these magnificent birds. It brought back memories of the early 80's when I helped the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Group bring back the Peregrine falcons off the endangered species list by swapping eggs from the wild hatch sites, replacing them with fake ones, then after the group hatched the chicks, replacing them in the nests.

Wish I had brought one of my bigger lenses, but there's always another day!

Angels Landing by Dave Diegelman