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2019 Annual Conference


March 07-10, 2019

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2019 SPE Annual Conference: The Myths of Photography and the American Dream / Major support by The Joy Family Legacy Foundation

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Todd Dobbs

SPE Member since 1998
Member Chapter: Southwest


As a transplant from the Midwest, the Colorado Front Range is a fascinating foreign landscape to me; and much like the explorers before me, I am drawn to discovering new places, and gaining a better understanding of my surroundings. In the process of this exploration I became very interested in how early settlers to the region made a significant and lasting impact to the scenery of the area in the process of making it more habitable. Namely in the creation and maintenance of the irrigation and reservoir system, which is essentially a complex network of man-made ditches. The ditches were often dug by hand or mule pulled plow; not until many years into the process would the steam engine help ease the intense labor of the process, but only slightly. The goal was simple, year round irrigation for farmers and protection from spring floods. As part of the ditch system, reservoirs were established to both save water for drier moths, and protect newly developing communities from the threat of a devastating flood. The water was diverted far into the eastern plains of Colorado using ditches to establish a large network of farming communities; to this day agriculture is one of the primary revenue sources for Colorado. While the goals of early settlers were a simple task of survival, the result visible over 170-years later is one of immense beauty. With this project I am attempting to reacquaint the viewer with the beauty possible in the everyday utilitarian systems that we have created. The subjects I use are the ditches and the control mechanisms for Colorado's most valuable resource, water. The camera I use is a simple box with a small hole, much like the crude tools of the settlers who first broke ground on the ditch system. I hope to do my small part in recognizing and preserving these spaces before they again evolve, as humans continue to alter the ecology of our landscape.

South Boulder Creek

Ominous Tree

Sluice Gate Control

Rock Lined Ditch

Sluice Gate at Sunrise

Drainage Ditch

Stepping Stones

Large Sluice Gate

Retention Wall

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