Fine Art Images from the American Southwest

Zapata Falls, Colorado, Wild Horses. 04-03-2024

Zapata Falls in winter

Greetings from San Cristobal, NM. This week the Zapata Falls in winter with a lot of ice. I heard someone was ice-climbing in here a week ago, and some wild horses on the road home. I love it out here.

As you can see from the lack of photos, I didn’t make it to Chaco. I’ve camped at high altitudes in winter and never feared the cold or snow, however, I preferred to cancel this time and make a couple of local trips.

The Zapata Falls freeze heavily in winter, which makes for a slot canyon/ice cave experience. You’ll need microspikes if you go in winter or check out the falls in summer wearing your boat shoes! I was here two years ago with my friend, John, and his dog, Kiki. A dog in the shot gave scale to the place. Kiki is also on notecards at Cids, a local store.

Zapata Falls in winter
Zapata Falls, Colorado.
Zapata Falls in Winter
Zapata Falls in Winter.

As you can see in the entrance there is a dog who happily showed up to give the scene scale. Grateful for fortuitous moments.

Entrance and exit to the falls
Entrance and exit to the Zapata Falls with a dog for scale.

After checking out the ice falls we stopped in at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, but the wind was blowing sand and it didn’t look like this, so we left and went home to our dog and a warm fire.

On the way home, we spotted several bands of the somewhat elusive wild horses. Only one band was conveniently placed with the Blanca Massif as a background. This band remained static against the ferocious west wind gusts that carried my hat out into the sage brush.

Wild or feral horses, Colorado
Wild or feral horses, Colorado.

We also visited two of my favorite locations in the San Luis Valley, the old homestead, and the red barn. I’ve added two images from previous shoots. The buildings are a litle more decrepit, with bits missing, but still enduring.

San Luis Valley homestead
Old abandoned homestead and a fence ghost, San Luis Valley, Colorado.

Red Barn San Luis Valley
Red Barn in black and white, San Luis Valley, Colorado.

It’s Milky Way season. Here’s one from San Cristobal a few years ago. I’ll be out watching again from the deck this season.

Milky Way and Tipi, San Cristobal, NM
Milky Way and Tipi, San Cristobal, NM

As always, thank you for looking. Have a greta week. G

Dog And Pony, Winter Returns To Taos. 03-27-2024

Horse in Arroyo Hondo meadow

Greetings from San Cristobal, NM. This week a dog and pony in Arroyo Hono, NM, and a return of winter with three storms in a row that dropped 4 feet of snow on the mountains. You won’t see too much of the mountains in the following photos, as they were socked in for three days. Even today they are shrouded in clouds.

To begin with, it was just the pony in Arroyo Hondo a couple of days ago.

Horse in Arroyo Hondo meadow
Pony in Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico.

Shortly after, the dog appeared out of the blowing snow. Great! I thought, now we have a dog and pony show in the snow, although a little more bucolic than dog and pony shows I’ve seen over the years.

Dog and pony in Arroyo Hondo, NM
Dog and pony in the meadow Arroyo Hondo, NM.

The Bald Eagle sitting in this cottonwood tree a two weeks ago left the scene. A few Starlings and Magpies are currently hanging out there, but not on this day in blizzard conditions.

Dead cottonwood, Arroyo Hondo
Dead cottonwood, Arroyo Hondo, NM.

In El Prado, the meadows, I pulled over to the side of the road to get this scene. I’ve shot it a few times and watched it grow. Here’s one from fall in 2018.

Young cottonwood tree in El Prado, NM
Young cottonwood tree in El Prado, NM.

In the middle of these storms, we had a rainbow. Or was that a snowbow? It was snowing back there.

Spring rainbow, San Cristobal
Spring rainbow, out in the field in San Cristobal, NM.

Then, to end it all, our neighbor’s tree lit up, blazing against the sky. It always warms our views and hearts at the end of the day.

Sunset tree
Sunset tree.

As always, thank you for looking. I hope it’s beautiful where you are. Have a great week. G

Taos Mountain House, Bald Eagle, Sculpture. 03-20-2024

Taos mountain house

Greetings from San Cristobal, NM. This week, a Taos Mountain House in a spectacular location. It’s on Taos Pueblo land. Known as Taos Mountain, its true name in English is Pueblo Peak. A bald eagle has visited the area for the last couple of weeks. The ranch hands still guard the ranch gate on Highway 64 and the eternal fight between light and darkness continues in the shadows at the Saint Francis Church, Ranchos de Taos. My neighbor’s tree lights up at sunset during a mountain snowstorm. Click to enlarge pictures.

Taos mountain house
Taos Mountain House.

There must be a fabulous view from the back porch! Taos Mountain House is my name for this place. I made it up. Apologies in advance.

A visitor showed up in the Arroyo Hondo Valley a couple of weeks ago. A Bald Eagle usurped the Red-tailed Hawks roost. I watched it indulge in its morning ablutions after which it was ready for the hunt.

Bald eagle morning ablutions in Arroyo Hondo, NM
Bald Eagle morning ablutions in Arroyo Hondo, NM.

Eyes on the valley’s rodent population… please.

Bald eagle in Arroyo Hondo, NM
Bald Eagle, ready for the day and the hunt, Arroyo Hondo, NM.

The Ranch Hands (my name for it) sculpture at a ranch gate on Highway 64. You might recognize it from a previous post.

Ranch hands sculpture highway 64 NM
Ranch Hands sculpture Highway 64 NM.

Down at the church in Ranchos de Taos after last weekend’s snow.

Ranchos de Taos shadows and cross reflections.
Ranchos de Taos shadows and reflections.

My neighbor’s tree yesterday evening when the sun broke through the clouds just before setting. A fitting start to the beginning of Spring.

Dennis's tree at sunset
My neighbor’s tree at sunset.

As always, thanks for looking and for all the kind words, comments, and compliments. Have a great week. G

Wild Rivers, Bighorn Sheep, Wall Mural. 03-13-2024.

Wild and Scenic Rivers, New Mexico

Greetings from San Cristobal, NM. This week a trip to the Wild Rivers area of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.

The Wild Rivers Recreation Area lies north in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. Below is pictured a ‘small’ part of it. Come this Spring, there will be some class 5 rapids in this section. You can see how relatively low the river is right now. This was Sunday. You can also discern the level at which the river can rise from this image. That’s Ute Mountain in the clouds with snow falling.

If you want to experience solitude, Wild Rivers will give you just that. Step into the Monument for a walk in falling snow, where you can hear the silence.

Wild and Scenic Rivers, New Mexico
Wild Rivers, New Mexico.

“Adventuring out on a photography trip through the gorge and along the river during a winter storm, I am rewarded with images of large snowflakes alighting on cholla cactus, cottonwoods, and red willows, turning them into instant New Mexico-style Christmas ornaments. A great peace returns to the river at this time of year. The pace slows as the days grow shorter and life retreats within for what the Irish writer John O’Donohue refers to as “the secret work of winter” of restoration and rejuvenation as the river ecosystems prepare for the ecstasy of spring growth. In any season the beauty and pristine stillness of the Rio Grande del Norte is available to those who visit.” From my book, Rio Grande del Norte: An Intimate Portrait.

To the south lies the deepest section the the Rio Grande Gorge. This is where the Bighorn Sheep roam and sometimes play!

Bighorn sheep ram peekaboo.
Bighorn Sheep Ram… peekaboo.

Or rest up on a sunny ledge.

Bighorn sheep lamb on the Rio Grande Gorge Rim
Bighorn Sheep Lamb on the Rio Grande Gorge Rim.

It’s that time of year in the National Monument. Spring is sprung!

Bighorn sheep ram and ewe
Bighorn Sheep Ram and Ewe.

And above it all, another unique cloud formation.

Cloud formation over the Rio Grande Gorge
Cloud formation over the Rio Grande Gorge West Rim Trail.

I have to end this week with this sky-blue mural with sunflowers and an ornate window in Los Cerrillos that I forgot to post last week.

Mural Los Cerrillos, NM
Mural, Los Cerrillos, NM.

As always, thank you for looking. Have a great week. G

Fajada Butte, Chaco Canyon, Other Doors. 03-06-2024

Fajada Butte Chaco Canyon

Greetings from San Cristobal, NM. This week Fajada Butte. This iconic mesa is the focal point of Chaco Culture National Historical Park, typically abbreviated to Chaco Canyon.

Fajada Butte can be seen from many locations in the park. Have you been?

I’m returning after a few years of absence, and I’m looking forward to it later this month. It will be a treat after four years since my last trip. I’ll be camping but well prepared. Once, I spent a few days in Chaco Canyon on the winter solstice. Now that was cold. The largest great house is known as Pueblo Bonito. There’s a lot to see there and it can occupy your time, especially as a photographer.

Fajada Butte Chaco Canyon
Fajada Butte, Chaco Canyon, NM.
Sunset on the mesas in Chaco Canyon
Sunset in Chaco Canyon.

If you’d like to see some interior shots, keep scrolling.

Repeating doorways, Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Repeating doorways, Pueblo Bonito.
Room with a view of moon in Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Room with a view of the moon.
Doorways in Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Doorways in Pueblo Bonito, Chaco Canyon.

Below is one of my favorite shots of Pueblo Bonito taken on my last trip there. Confusion?

Building geometry in Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Building Geometry accented by the shadows and light.

If you go there at a time of year when the heat is almost unbearable, step inside one of the small rooms. You will soon realize what works to stay cool in the desert. Pause for a few moments, you may find a few ancient ones hanging around with you. You may or may not be joined by other travelers.

Moving on to more doors. I stopped in Los Cerrillos NM, on the Turquoise Trail last week. I stopped in other locations as well but was impressed with the following two doors/gates in Cerrillos.

You may recognize the town from a movie named “Young Guns” that was filmed there. On this day I was there purely for the pleasure of the place on my detour drive.

Blue door and red chilies, Cerrillos, NM
Blue door and red chilies, Los Cerrillos, NM.
Milagro door/gate Cerrillos, NM
Milagro door/gate Los Cerrillos, NM.

Join me on a photo tour/workshop, I’ll take you to this and many other locations.

Lastly, a little closer to home, another blue door with painted red chiles and snow falling. These chiles stay fresh all year long and beyond.

Blue door and painted chiles, Costilla
Blue door and painted red chiles, Costilla, NM

As always, thanks for looking. Have a great week. G

Full Moon, Mountain Light, Winter Flashback. 02-28-2024

Moonrise San Cristobal

Greetings from San Cristobal, NM. This week, under a full moon rise, as seen from our driveway. The dark shapes of the Sangre de Cristo foothills and the deep blue of a New Mexico crisp and clear sky made the full moon appear its brightest. Later that night the light from the moon kept me awake for a couple of hours from 1:30 to 3:30 am. So I played solitaire on the phone and eventually fell asleep from boredom!

Let’s call this “anatomy of a moon rise.” Click on images to enlarge.

Moon rise San Cristobal
Full Moon rising San Cristobal.
Moonrise San Cristobal
Moonrise San Cristobal.
Moonrise San Cristobal
Moonrise San Cristobal.

I love our commute to Taos from San Cristobal. I’ve said it many times, and I never tire of it. I shot the image below last night on the way home. There are more spectacular moments, but I enjoyed the way the tip of the peak was lit up.

El Salto, Arroyo Seco
Arroyo Seco, El Salto mountain light.

This image with the horses is from March 2014. We had lunch and a view similar to this yesterday, almost 2 years to the day.

Taos Mountain horses
Taos Mountain horses.

This is the view of Taos Mountain mid-winter shot in El Prado (the meadows), a flashback to 2013.

Taos Mountain El Prado
Taos Mountain winter from El Prado.

Below is a scene long gone. There’s a 12,000-foot mountain in the clouds beyond the trees.

As always, thank you for looking. G

Blue And White, Taos Mountain, Fences. 02-21-2024.

Saint Francis church, Ranchos de Taos, NM

Greetings from San Cristobal, NM. This week blue and white, another sky over Taos Mountain and one man’s fence.

We’ve had a lot of days recently with blue skies like this. The old adobe buildings especially, and this church, lend themselves to photography on blue-sky days.

Saint Francis church, Ranchos de Taos, NM
Blue and white at the Saint Francis church, Ranchos de Taos, NM.

Perhaps you prefer the black and white below.

Black and white Saint Francis church, Ranchos de Taos, NM
Saint Francis Church in black and white.

Driving to Taos a few days ago I saw this sight. I think that these were dispersed contrails from a couple of passing jets. It took three wide-angle shots stitched together to get this much of the scene. I didn’t get it all in as it continued and terminated on the horizon to the west over my shoulder. See below.

Clouds over Taos Mountain, Pueblo Peak
Clouds over Taos Mountain, Pueblo Peak.

Here’s a cellphone shot out the car window looking west to the horizon. Highways in the sky.

clouds, contrails
Clouds or contrails?

Robert Frost wrote, “Good fences make good neighbors” in his poem Mending Wall. Below are abstract shots of one man’s fence in Arroyo Hondo, NM. In order of appearance along the roadside, from west to east.

Chainlink fence #1, Arroyo Hondo, NM.
Chainlink fence #1, Arroyo Hondo, NM.
Chainlink fence #2, Arroyo Hondo, NM.
Chainlink fence #2.
Chainlink fence #3, Arroyo Hondo, NM.
Chainlink fence #3.
Chainlink fence #4, Arroyo Hondo, NM.
Chainlink fence #4.
Chainlink fence #5, Arroyo Hondo, NM.
Chainlink fence #5.

I’ve driven by this window many times but never noticed the thoughtful pattern of the blue and green window panes. There’s always a first time for everything.

Arroyo Hondo church window and wall
Church window and wall in Arroyo Hondo, NM.

As always, thank you for looking. Have a great week. G

Big Sky, Mountains, Shadows, And Gorge. 02-14-2024.

Big Sky, Taos Mountain, Pueblo Peak

Greetings from San Cristobal, NM. This week, a big sky over Taos Mountain (Pueblo Peak), shadows in Arroyo Hondo, and the high bridge spanning the Rio Grande Gorge in Taos, NM,

It isn’t hard to get a good shot of Taos Mountain. It’s more a matter of being there at the right time. I am very fortunate to have lived in this part of the world for the last 40 years. Here, I can watch the storms make their way across the plateau, morphing with the light, and arrive at any number of preplanned locations for that perfect moment.

Big Sky, Taos Mountain, Pueblo Peak
Big Sky, Taos Mountain, Pueblo Peak, El Prado.

Vallecito Mountain/Peak was covered in about a foot of fresh snow this week. I had wanted to catch a shot of the snow-covered trees barely discernable against the peaks. When the sun came out it was about an hour too late, but I did manage to capture a nice cloud. The new snow tends to melt fast when temperatures reach 40º F. I’ll do better next time.

Vallecito Mountain light with new snow
Vallecito Mountain with new snow.

Long shadows on Our Lady of Sorrows, Arroyo Hondo.

Arroyo Hondo church roof shadows
Arroyo Hondo Church roof shadows.

Shadows on the wall of the same church an hour later. I went back today. The sun has climbed high enough over the last five days that the cross shadow is close to the bottom of the wall at the same time of day.

Arroyo Hondo shadows on church wall
Arroyo Hondo shadows on the Church wall.

I got in a two-mile hike with my son Dylan, a couple of days ago. We hiked down the west rim of the Rio Grande Gorge which has numerous vistas like the one below. Often the canyon is buried in heavy shadows with contrasty light. This time it was flooded with light. Bighorn sheep were found in the rest area parking lot. I didn’t waste any pixels on them grazing amongst the gravel.

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge
Rio Grande Gorge Bridge spanning the Rio Grande Gorge.

As always, thank you for looking. Have a great week. G

Arroyo Seco, Arroyo Hondo, Winter Scenes. 02-07-2024.

Arroyo Seco Lane

Greetings from San Cristobal, NM. This week two sides of winter in Arroyo Seco and Arroyo Hondo.

As they say… “if you don’t like the weather, wait for five minutes”. The scene in the second image was shot a few days apart from the first image and about a 20º F warmer difference in temperature. Looking outside today we’ve had rain sleet, snow, hail, and blue skies. Tomorrow?… tee-shirt weather, who knows!

Arroyo Seco Lane
A winter scene in Arroyo Seco, NM.

The weather in the mountains continues to leave a lot of snow in its wake. I heard that the ski areas are doing well from the last three storms that moved through the area. That’s good for the spring run-off and the farmers. The skiers are enjoying it and apparently, it’s good powder skiing, but that part is lost on me. I’m looking forward to the peace and solitude of cross-country, and snowshoeing again.

If you look closely in the sky, upper right, in the following image you can see a flock of birds, commonly named Pinyon Jays. I waited for them to come closer but they had other intentions. Last year we had very large flocks of Pinyon Jays in the thousands in our San Cristobal Valley. I just counted 157 in this shot, a small number of the ones I saw.

Arroyo Hondo, winter
Cottonwood and Willows, Arroyo Hondo, NM.

On the day I shot the image above I drove with the windows down from Taos, across the mesa. When I got to this spot I made a U-turn to photograph one of my favorite locations.

Pinyon Jay
Pinyon Jay or as we like to spell it in New Mexico, “Piñon Jay”

The Pinyon Jay was outside the kitchen window feeding off seeds on the fence that the squirrels stole from the bird feeders and dropped. I was watching the bird through the iPhone wifi tether app on my camera with a 300mm lens.

As always, thank you for looking. I hope it’s a good week where you are. To all my friends in California, stay safe. G

Wolf Moon Rise, Truchas, Red Barn, Horses. 01-31-2024.

Wolf moon rising, Arroyo Seco

Greetings from San Cristobal, NM. This week, last week’s Wolf Moon rising over the Sangre de Cristo foothills, Truchas, the red barn, and snow horses.

As I mentioned last week, I was heading out to capture the wolf moon rising. The moon’s appearance lasted about ten minutes between the fast-moving clouds. I made several images during that time, and the scene below was fleeting as the sun came and went behind the clouds. I got lucky. I came away with three pictures where the elements came together. I’ll take what I can get from what presents itself.

Wolf moon rising, Arroyo Seco, NM
Wolf Moon rising, Arroyo Seco, NM

And a close-up of when I first spotted the moon from the highway heading home.

Wolf moon rising, Arroyo Seco, NM
A break in the clouds.

Read more about moons here.

I reworked this image for note cards and publication. Ansel Adams shot this scene in the 1950’s. A couple of months ago it was lit up with Xmas lights. You can still see some in this shat nailed to the crosses. It’s nice to its longevity at this location and longer still before Ansel made his iconic image.

Cross in Truchas New Mexico
Truchas, NM.

You know how attached I am to this location with the red barn. Every time I visit I see more dilapidation with new spaces for the wind to pass through. It’s beginning to corkscrew but I’m confident that the gaps will prevent the building from acting like a sail on the plain!

Red Barn in lack and white
Red barn in black and white.
Red Barn in in color
Red barn in color.

One more image I reworked this week for note cards, prints, and publication. This image has graced many a page in local magazines. Apples are the key to getting horses to come running.

Horses on the High Road to Taos
Horses on the High Road to Taos.

As always, thanks for looking. Have a great week. G