Photographer’s love of outdoors shows in art

Animals are frequent subject in images captured by longtime veterinarian

Sonya Ellingboe
sellingboe@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 2/9/21

“We could hear them, but could hardly see them,” said Judy (Spurling) Deist of a favorite photograph she shot of prairie chickens — in a blizzard on Colorado’s plains. “We went back to get …

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Photographer’s love of outdoors shows in art

Animals are frequent subject in images captured by longtime veterinarian

Posted

“We could hear them, but could hardly see them,” said Judy (Spurling) Deist of a favorite photograph she shot of prairie chickens — in a blizzard on Colorado’s plains. “We went back to get another shot ... I take whatever is there — not a good thing for a photographer, business-wise.” All of her photos are shot in color, “but sometimes they come out looking black and white” (as in her “Blizzard Tree” photo).

She fondly recalls photographing a flock of snow geese that “sounded like an airplane taking off ...”

“There are always animals included in my photos if they’re around,” said Deist, who has practiced veterinary medicine in Littleton as Dr. Judith H. Spurling since 1966. “I cared for ferrets and did surgery on a rat,” she recalls, in addition to the usual furry friends. She says she is “semi-retired” from that career and just doing photography now.

In the 1950s she inherited a “Brownie” box camera which had black and white film and “you had to look down into a lens to see what you were taking.”

“When I went off to college, my father gave me an Agfa Solina 35mm camera which was entirely manual. That meant you set the lens yourself and had to compensate for low light or bright light.”

Her mother was a professional artist who had space on Canyon Road in Santa Fe and also painted with the Douglas County Land Conservancy artists ...

Deist is an active member of the Littleton Fine Arts Guild and exhibits her work in the Depot Art Gallery in downtown Littleton.

“Always being an outdoor person, I loved the scenes of mountains, rainbows and clouds ... Subjects that are of special interest to me are horses, spectacular Colorado sunsets with colorful clouds, sparkling snow on a mountains, or on a fence, and of course, fall colored aspens in our mountains. Horses and cattle drives with the dust behind and cattle dogs supply lots of action shots. The landscape in Colorado and Utah offers scenes of geographic areas such as the Grand Canyon, majestic mountains, waterfalls and rivers.

“Ocean waves are mesmerizing and fun to get the right shot. Once it took me one hour and 45 minutes to get a wave in the correct position that I wanted with the spray and the curve of the wave just right.

“Watching birds and getting the right pose of a flamingo with the eye looking out of pink feathers is one way to connect with the animal.

“We moved three times in Littleton,” she recalls. “We had the first 24-hour veterinary hospital in Littleton, near the corner of Broadway and Belleview, built in the ‘70s. We invited other vets to share the 8,000-foot space. They declined. We would see people’s pets in the middle of the night and then encourage them to return to their original vets.” They built a smaller facility.

“With the veterinary career, I attended classes and meetings at scenic spots around the country ... I caught a pelican sitting on a power line, on Sanibel Island, tried to do wildlife. I have lots of shots that are not yet edited.”

She was born in Alaska, lived in New York, Montana ... her mom played in the Santa Fe Orchestra.

Deist has 20 feet of notebooks, she says, and more than 35 pounds of camera equipment, with tripods, etc. ... She doesn’t do digital photography or Photoshop ...

She is a longtime active member of the Littleton Fine Arts Guild and readers should be able to view her work as soon as the historic Depot Art Gallery is able to reopen.

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