Saturday, September 27, 2008

Other Lights

My brother, Greg Sale, often joins me in journeys to places where special rewards await the attentive photographer. He will be arriving in Colorado Springs next week, and we will search for fall color in the Colorado Rockies.

We have spent many happy days creating images in Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Utah. We kayaked together down the Colorado River in that vicinity last year. Greg's rented kayak nearly sank after taking on water so slowly through a hole in the stern that we did not notice until it was almost too late. We should have been paying more attention to our paddling and less to our photography.

I invite you to visit Greg Sale Photography. This delightful look into the blossom of a flower is Greg's.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Many people influence the course of one's life. The people who have influenced mine cannot be named, not because I have forgotten them, but because they are numberless and in many cases entered and left before I could know a name.

Three people stand out in the niche where I developed as a graphic artist and, eventually, a photographer: They are Coni Grant, Charles Movalli, and Don Sahli. There were others, and I apologize for omitting their names here. These three, however, deserve special acknowledgement.

Coni Grant resides and maintains a studio in Alamosa, Colorado. Her paintings are delightful celebrations of color. I began my study with her. We still collaborate sometimes, she as a painter and I as a photographer--searching out places to paint and photograph in Colorado.

Charles Movalli is the second major influence. He taught tempo and spontaniety and joy in painting. He is famous for his wise counsel on art and life as well as for his fine paintings. My time as his student was brief, but the benefits from his teaching will last a lifetime.

Don Sahli lives and maintains a studio and school in Evergreen, Colorado. He took great pains to improve my skills as an oil painter, and he expanded my ability to see and interpret out of the ordinary. His fine work can be found in many prestigious art galleries.

People do not invent themselves. We are all collections of influences that we sculpt, hopefully, into something unique. I think it is important to acknowledge these influences as one might cite a source in a footnote. Until then the sculpting can be hesitant or distorted. Or it might not occur at all.

Chuck Sale
Chuck Sale Photography
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Monday, September 15, 2008


Colorado Springs, Colorado, where I live, offers many outdoor photography opportunities. Perhaps too many. Little thought or effort is required to find a beautiful setting to record, and the temptation is to shoot away, hoping for an artistic accident. Trouble is, everyone is shooting away at the same beautiful settings with the same hope. This glut of scenic beauty (and photographers recording it) presents a unique challenge to the Colorado landscape photographer: How does one create anything original in such an environment?

For example, not much original work is coming out of the Garden of the Gods. Particularly since the dawn of digital, the number of images produced in this Colorado Springs park must number in the millions. You cannot visit a drug store or supermarket or gift shop or any commercial establishment without being treated to a dozen pictures of the place--on postcards, greeting cards, mugs, you-name-it.

I do not lament this photographic commercialization of the park. In fact, the glut of park images presents a unique challenge to originality, one I welcome.

There are some who meet this challenge head-on. Colorado Springs photographer Charlie Lehman is one. I invite you to visit his web site, Travels with Charlie, to see for yourself. Charlie has not abandoned Garden of the Gods. He has gone into it at special times and under special conditions to produce uniquely evocative images of the place. See his photographs of winter in the Garden of the Gods, for example. This image in particular stands out for its originality.

You can see my own efforts in the Garden by clicking here or on the image at the beginning of this article.

Greg Sale, my brother, has found opportunities for some stunning wildlife work in the San Gabriel Valley of Southern California, a place not known as a hotbed of wildlife photography. He recently opened his online studio, Greg Sale Photography. Take particular note of his avian photography. You see ordinary birds photographed a million times by (probably) as many people. But Greg has applied his extraordinary skill as an observer and photographer to make his bird images extraordinary. This bird photograph in particular stands out. Likewise, this photograph of very un-bird-like creatures.

New Zealand is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Go there when you can. Take beautiful pictures. But in the meantime, carefully explore your own back yard. You might find some delightful surprises there.

Chuck Sale
Chuck Sale Photography
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


. Like all children, I was taught to substitute words for what they describe; images for what they depict; and numbers for what they quantify. It was impressed upon me that success, even survival, depended on my skill in making and interpreting these substitutions.

The camera seemed to perform all these substitutions with the click of a button. It does not really do this, but in my childhood understanding it seemed to, and in this seeming was born my fascination with photography.

My first camera was a simple black box. With it, I went about making photographic analogs of my mother and father, my friends, and out-of-focus bugs and ducks and dogs. That is how it began, without art or poetry.

Photography did not become my vocation. I went on to a career in law enforcement, and spent 30 years in the Los Angeles Police Department. Incidental to my duties as a police officer, I took occasional photographs of people and objects. For evidence. More substitution. No art, no poetry. Just the facts.

In 1975, I began mountaineering, and the camera seemed essential for capturing the beauty of high places. My tools were primitive by today's standards. My best work remained essentially accidental. But there was some art in it, a hint of poetry.

I later drifted into fine art, particularly watercolor and oil painting. And I learned to play the cello. Photography receded into the background as I practiced these more elemental forms of artistic expression.

The emergence of digital photography coincided with my development as a painter--
and with my mounting frustration over the relatively sedentary nature of work with brush, paint, canvas, and paper. Photography once more came into my artistic foreground.

My work in oil and watercolor turned out to be the best possible preparation for applying the digital tools that were becoming available to photographers. As I stepped away from the activity of painting, I sensed that the discipline of the brush had embedded something in me, something that caused me to see the camera in a new way. Fewer of my photographs were accidents. My photography was becoming intentional.

Particularly in the matter of composition, the camera had been too easy on me. It allowed me to get
something, some record of the beauty of a place, even when my composition and camera skills were weak. The painter's brush offers no such consolation. It gives the artist nothing at all, not even a coarse record, when its strict demands are not met.

John Stobart, a respected painter and teacher of fine art, admonishes his students that artistry lies
not in the hand, but in the eye. Without the "seeing" of the artist, the brush and the camera are worse than useless. I had to learn the rigorous simplicity of the brush to discover that the camera, despite its technological complexity, is no different. I was then no longer satisfied with photographic accidents, however beautiful they might be.

My wife and I form a creative team. Teri is skilled in mat-cutting and custom mounting and framing of fine art photography. She is also a master stain-glass worker and an excellent oil painter, designer, and colorist.

We are currently collaborating in the still-life arrangements described elsewhere in this blog. The project is her conception. We create still-life images; combine them to form a symbolic statement; and then mat, mount, and frame them. We sign the mat before mounting it behind glass in a sealed frame. Finally, we package and ship to the buyer. Contact Chuck Sale directly for information on prices, ordering, and delivery. See Contact Info.

Teri also does mounting and framing of the limited editions of my work, and consults with clients on custom mounting and framing issues.

. I began freelance writing during my 30-year career in the Los Angeles Police Department. Writing and editing skills opened doors to an uncommon diversity of special assignments, which were interspersed with work as a street cop, investigator, and field supervisor. These special assignments included hosting a weekly public-service program for KABC radio, speech writing for the chief of police, and writing or editing innumerable government publications.

I earned a bachelor’s degree in English from California State University at Los Angeles, and was a curriculum developer and instructor at the Los Angeles Police Academy, a teacher at Glendale College, a proofreader for the Los Angeles Times, and an editorial advisor to doctoral candidates at the California Institute of Technology and Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

Over the years, I authored, co-authored, or edited many books and articles, including, most recently, Catholic Roots, Mormon Harvest (Cedar Fort, 2009) and The Biblical Roots of Mormonism (to be released by Cedar Fort in June 2010). The Biblical Roots of Mormonism is available for pre-release discount ordering at

I am the father of five children and the grandfather of seven. My wife, Teri, and I make our home in Colorado Springs, Colorado.