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In her element

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Photos courtesy Sandy Wilt Photographer Sandy Wilt is shown in this portrait by Phil Berghauser doing one of the things she loves best -- being out in the rugged landscapes and under the expansive skies of western Colorado and eastern Utah capturing them

Sandy Wilt's near 30-year-long affection for the photographic hobby has filled her life with enjoyment, adventure and many friendships. She looks forward to a future of excitement from her avocation, a future which, perhaps surprisingly, she views as "a little bit scary, too."

Sandy says that her photography "is my stress reliever. I just go out and relax and throw my cares to the wind."

She got her start with photography by helping a college friend who was studying the subject in school. Sandy served as a model for her friend's class assignments

"Photography was more complicated back in those days," Sandy recalls. There were expensive films, developing equipment and chemicals," and complicated processing in the darkroom was needed to get good black and white prints.

Today Sandy uses a digital Canon 60D with an assortment of eight different lenses to get the shot she is after. In the digital age it's possible to shoot hundreds of frames at an annual Cedaredge AppleFest and never think about the cost of film or hours of labor in a stuffy, red-lighted photo lab with the acrid odor of photographic fixing chemicals hanging heavily in the air. It's all done now with computers -- clean, quick, efficient, and packed with features available if creative inspiration directs to enhance Sandy's considerable photographic artistry.

Though Sandy says she finds most of her photographic subjects "within a ten mile radius" of her Cedaredge home, she also likes to get away on photographic expeditions of her own.

"I wake up in the morning and say, 'I'm going to wherever the urge calls,' and I go." Sandy's ventures into the beautiful skyscapes and rugged landscapes of Western Colorado and Eastern Utah come from a wanderlust that is inherited from her father. "I'm a gypsy at heart. I got that from my dad. I just get behind the wheel. You never know what you'll find," she said.

One of her favorite tips on good landscape photography is that "clouds always make for dramatic pictures. Also, sometimes if it's raining."

Sandy is also teaching herself to make nighttime exposures of the Milky Way during early morning hours. She thanks Revé Photography of Cedaredge for help, for answered questions, and for classes on photographic technique.

Sometimes even the best photographers miss a shot. But even then, Sandy never misses the unique experience that is the heart and soul of every great photograph. She explains how a hawk she encountered one day while driving in her convertible flew long with her just five feet above. She reached for the camera but it wasn't set up right for a photo. She missed the shot, "But I got to see it," she recalls of the unforgettable experience when that hawk let her enter its world for a brief moment.

She sees her photographic specialities as wildlife, landscapes and music. "That is to say musicians," Sandy adds.

Sandy's high energy approach to life and friendships is attracting new photographic subjects and making new friends through her photography of local musicians and musical events. Musicians David Starr, Nathan McEuen, David Snyder, Shelly Rae, Bittersweet Highway and others have become favorite subjects and friends. Some have asked for her work to appear on their CD jacket covers.

"Musicians are fun," Sandy says. She explains that her home is becoming a three-dimensional scrap book of musician friends' photos, many of them with original autographs.

She photographs every AppleFest and all the musical performers. She then posts them on her Facebook page for the musicians and others to enjoy. "If musicians ask, I'll go out for a shoot and not charge them anything." In exchange, "They give me music," Sandy says.

Sandy's photography is so good that one could compare it with images seen in the pages of National Geographic. Actually, Sandy's photographs are on display at a National Geographic website for photographers called "Your Shot." She explains, "You put your pictures on the site and people from all across the world get to see them." Sharing her deep feelings for people and for beauty through her photographic art is important to Sandy.

One of Sandy's favorite photos of a blazing pink sunset viewed from Cedaredge Main Street was posted by a Grand Junction television station. "It got 800 likes and 400 shares," Sandy said.

A photo she took of the famous creekside mill at Marble has been selected for the June photo in Bank of Colorado's current calendar. "I'm Miss June," she remarked with a familiar smile.

Sandy's enthusiasm for photography has inspired her friend Phil Berghauser to take up the hobby. He has invested in some specialized print making equipment and Sandy said they are hoping to collaborate in a venture they call "Ginger Snaps." She explains they are both photographers and both have reddish, ginger colored hair; thus, ginger snaps.

With almost three decades of photography adventure to her credit, Sandy still looks forward to a future of "exciting" experiences as she follows inspiration to capture the unexpected nuance of an interesting personality, and to share the beauty of nature she sees with others through her insightful camera lens.

But Sandy also says that exciting future "is a little bit scary, too." There is risk of criticism and rejection in opening one's soul to others whether it be performing a song in public or sharing something so intimately personal as the idea of beauty.

"If I can put a picture on Facebook and it makes you smile, I've done my job. I mean that," Sandy says.

This shot of a sunset seen from downtown Cedaredge got 800 likes and 400 shares from an online posting.
“I like to get up close and personal,” Sandy says about the photographs she takes of performing musicians, and she did in this photo of recording artist David Starr.
A mood-evoking still life displays Sandy’s eye for the photographer’s art.
Sandy got the shot, but she says this sandhill crane lost the meal.
A favorite landscape of Sandy’s exhibits feeling and the artistic effect that clouds have on photographic lighting.
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