Abstract mountain landscape

July 22, 2023  |  Collegiate Peaks in Colorado

Discovering a stunning mountain landscape uncovered on a backhoe

Finding a mountain landscape by digging with a backhoe? What are you up to, Ann?

Abstract photographer Ann Newman shooting a Bobcat backhoe

"When you see beauty all around you, beauty will seek and find you, even in the most unexpected places." -- Alberto Villoldo

Discovering a stunning mountain landscape uncovered on a backhoe.

Backhoes are grimy, dirty, and mud-crusted. What fine art photograph could possibly be hidden here?

You might be asking yourself, did you dig up this supposed mountain landscape, Ann?

Nah. I wouldn't know the first thing about operating a backhoe. But I can admire it.

I was visiting the heart of the Rockies during what might turn out to be one of the hottest summers on record in Phoenix. I counted myself beyond lucky. This was divine intervention.

Each morning, I walked in a neighborhood that was being developed. I could go out after the sun was up. You don't do that in Phoenix during the summer. Unless you enjoy heat stroke.

Each morning, I stopped and looked at this Bobcat backhoe. No one was using it for excavation at this point. It just sat. And I wasn't quite sure why I was attracted to the label on the side. Sure, it was bright orange like the Harley-Davidson logo. That'll catch your eye. But I'm a bit of a weirdo in what catches my attention, so I shrugged it off.

Until the morning I looked up from the backhoe to admire the Collegiate Peaks.

Tada...here she is, the stunning mountain landscape of the Collegiate Peaks.

Collegiate Peaks and Bobcat backhoe

The Collegiate Peaks are a cluster of fourteeners. That's Colorado-speak for peaks that rise to 14,000 feet or higher. The range is stunning for the vista they provide up and down the valley. They are joined to the south by the Sawatch Range, and a few of those peaks rise right behind the backhoe. In fact, the tallest peak in this picture above is Mt. Shavano at 14,231 feet. The smaller peaks to the left of Mt. Shavano are 12ers. No shame there.

Collegiate Peaks in Central Colorado

Do you see what I see? A mountain landscape? A carbon copy!

What attracted me to the orange label was the pattern that mimicked the mountains. See how the mountains above look a bit like the same pattern below? I planned out how to shoot this backhoe. More accurately, I obsessed about it all day.

I waited for the sun to go behind the backhoe so there wouldn't be any harsh light on the label. I carried my tripod and camera through this newly-forming subdivision. Right there, with neighbors walking their dogs and kids, I shot many photos of the backhoe label. Its comical to me that people didn't ask me what I was doing.

And the abstract mountain landscape hidden on the backhoe: revealed for the first time ever!

Prints available in Wabi Sabi Art gallery.

Well, that's a little dramatic. For all I know, the construction guys laughed about the mountain sketch on the side of the backhoe when they arrived at the building site each day. "Hey, Bob, remember when you scraped the corner of that house with the Bobcat? Look here, your boo boo created a mountain."

I named this "Bobcat Pass." The obvious part of the title is "Bobcat." I added "Pass" since I walked this route several times before the image clicked with me. And "Pass" also fits since we traveled over so many mountain passes to get to places in Colorado. Why is everything two hours away? But this close-up summit was a mere 5 minute walk, and thus, this is the discovery of "Bobcat Pass." Update those geology and geography books pronto.

For fun, I had to shoot this photo below too. Once I get going with a camera, there's just no stopping me. This pile of lumber next to the backhoe was dropped off as a cement foundation across the street cured.

I "found" another abstract photo -- the feared snake in the woods.

Lumber with a pattern in wood that looks like a snake

I call this "Pine Woods Snake." And the very next day, this "snake" was part of someone's new garage. Little do they know. Should I tell them they have a snake in their garage? Do they have to disclose that if they sell their property in the future?

The backhoe stayed put for another few days. We had friends visit, and I pointed out the Bobcat to them with great excitement. My excitement anyways. They just nodded politely.

Our friends departed on a Monday morning. That made me a little sad. We had a such a short visit. So I went for a walk by myself. I hadn't walked my normal route for a few days with their visit and all that we had on our agenda.

I was shocked when I saw that the overgrown field I had walked past each morning was being mowed down. That added to my sadness. I looked forward to seeing and hearing my friend the meadowlark on every walk. He greeted me as he hunted grasshoppers. You can hear and see him, his grasshopper trophy hanging like a stogie out of his beak.


Noticing other little wonders on my walk: "my" meadowlark and his most excellent hunting skills.

But now with no meadow, he wasn't there. I will miss his song.

And then I turned the corner. My jaw dropped. Someone had come and transported the Bobcat backhoe away. I felt like someone punched me in the stomach. It wasn't like I needed to re-shoot the image. I didn't own any claim on this piece of equipment. I just felt like there was too much change happening for one day. It definitely felt like a Monday to me.


Change just keeps rolling forward, no matter how much I want to dig in my heels.

I came back after the walk and looked at my "Bobcat Pass" abstract photo. It's in the Wabi Sabi Art gallery for good reason. Wabi Sabi is about embracing impermanence. Life doesn't stay put for long. Change just happens whether we like it or not. I had to accept the Bobcat being gone, the meadowlark moving to another field, and my fun time with friends being fleeting. Soon I'll be leaving the mountain peaks view behind too. Letting go is not easy.

I am relieved that I didn't put off taking the photo. Maybe I am the only one that sees the mountains in the scratches and scrapes. This little geography makes me smile. Certainly, I will never look at Bobcat construction equipment the same way again.

Harley-Davidson orange background with white scrapes and scratches that mimics the Rocky Mountain range.
Bobcat Pass

I am having visions. I keep seeing a mountain range. Can you believe this came from scratches and scrapes on the side of a Bobcat backhoe? Take a look at how "Bobcat Pass" could liven up your wall with a graphic statement of rough and tumble wildcat play. Oh, to be a fly on the wall at the conversations it will generate.



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