Ridgway photographer featured at ILO | Culture & Leisure


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The next time you grab a coffee and donut from Baked In Telluride (BIT), treat your senses to the photography adorning the walls of the popular bakery. Each image shines with color and fills the eye with incredibly spectacular views. From the grandeur of those San Juan Mountains to the magic and mystery of the southwest desert, Ridgway photographer Gary Ratliff has walked the trails and patiently waited in the sagebrush for the perfect shot. The results are glorious.

Professional photographer and founder of Ouray Image Photography, Ratliff resides in nearby Ridgway and specializes in landscape and wildlife photography. He prints and frames his images in his studio using a large format printer capable of making prints as large as 12 feet wide. His work has been exhibited in galleries throughout the area and has been featured on the covers of Telluride Magazine and the San Juan Skyway Visitor’s Guide.

“I backpack the backcountry with my camera gear to find new places to photograph, but I also take images of endearing landmarks that hold a place in people’s hearts,” Ratliff said. “I approach photography of iconic landmarks from a new perspective, like capturing Bridal Veil Falls with the Milky Way on it. I tend to include a significant amount of foreground in my images to make viewers feel like they are present in the place. “

His ILO show, which will run until June, features photos taken exclusively in San Miguel County. Print media include canvas envelopes and glass prints ranging from 20 to 58 inches wide. Images range from Dallas Divide in the east to Disappointment Valley in the west and include images of wild mustangs in the Spring Creek Basin.

“My favorite part of the show is the footage of the wild mustangs in the Deception Valley west of Norwood,” he said. “The interactions between the horses are fascinating to watch, and in the springtime the valley scenery and the sunlight are vast and majestic.”

His work reflects his constant love for his mountain home. No matter where he lives, Colorado has called him.

“I’m definitely a mountaineer,” Ratliff said. “I first moved to Colorado in the 1980s and worked at Colorado Mesa University and spent a lot of time hiking, kayaking and rock climbing. It was early in my career and I worked at several universities including the University of Montana and finally the University of California at San Diego. I was a cultural misfit there. All of the photos in our house were of the mountains, not of the beach. After I retired, my wife and I agreed to move back to western Colorado, where we have been for seven years.

Ratliff’s love for the medium erupted when he was young.

“Like a lot of photographers, a parent got me involved,” he said. “My dad had a darkroom in the basement, and we worked in black and white and color. I got my first ribbon in a photo contest when I was 12. As a child, I mostly enjoyed hiking in the woods with a camera and taking pictures of whatever caught my eye, whether it was a tree or a salamander or colorful rocks in the water. “

Ratliff recently opened Treehouse Studio at 549 Clinton Ave. at Ridgway, where he is hosting an opening reception for his work, Ouray Image Photography, June 4 from 5 to 9 p.m.

He is grateful to have the opportunity to have a show in Telluride, especially at the iconic bakery on South Fir Street.

“I would like to thank the owner of Baked in Telluride Neal McKinley and Sue Gustafson, the curator, for their support of emerging local artists,” he said. “I especially want to dedicate my show to the memory of Jerry Greene, former owner of Baked in Telluride and founder of KOTO, who loved the San Juan Mountains and the Southwest Desert.

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