Fine Art Images from the American Southwest

Category: Photo of the Week

Foggy Morning, Moonrise, Rio Grande Cloud, Abiquiu Photo Tour.

From fog in the Arroyo Hondo Valley to a full moon rise over Taos Mountain. From a photo tour/workshop in Abiquiu and the Rio Chama Valley to a large cloud over the Taos Valley, Taos Mountain, and the Rio Grande Gorge.

It’s been all go for the last month with tours. I have a few more tours coming up and then a short break for a couple of days following up on some personal work. I’m grateful for the photography tours and workshops and the wonderful photography clients I get to work with.

In the first two photos, I got up and out early to shoot the moon setting. Well, it set, right into a big bank of fog. So I shot the fog lifting in the Arroyo Hondo Valley just south of where I intended to catch the moon. Fog is a rare occurrence in this area, but we’ve had so much rain recently that it was only a matter of time until it filled the valleys.

Fog in Arroyo Hondo, NM
A foggy morning in Arroyo Hondo, northern NM

Fog in Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico
A tree in the fog in Arroyo Hondo, northern NM

In the following shot, I sat out on the deck waiting for the nearly full moon to appear from behind Taos Mountain. When it did, it had a pinkish hue to it from the fire smoke in the atmosphere. It was still beautiful nonetheless.

Full Moon rise Taos Mountain
Nearly full moonrise over Taos Mountain from the deck in San Cristobal, NM

The cloud below formed very quickly and filled the sky from Taos to the west of the Rio Grande Gorge. I had to shoot three frames and stitch them together to capture the immense size. I liked the corkscrew-looking form. I’d not seen one like it before.

Rio Grande Gorge
Rio Grande Gorge, with Taos Mountain and the cloud that developed into more rain.

Lastly, a fun panorama shot at the Rio Chama overlook in Abiquiu with William, a client on a cross-country road trip who stopped in Taos and joined me for a three-day photo tour.

Abiquiu, Rio Chama
Fun on a photo tour/workshop in Abiquiu, Rio Chama, NM

As always, thank you for looking. G

Red-tailed Hawk family, San Luis Valley

On a photo workshop last week I took my client to visit the Hawks in my previous week’s post. My client is an accomplished bird photographer. Well.., I was expecting maybe mom, pop, and the chick I saw on my last visit, but to our surprise, we spotted a whole family of five. Fledglings were taking to the air from the treetops, encouraged in their maneuvers by the parents. What a treat it was to see the adult male, female and chicks perform this ancient summer ritual at this roadside location.


Red-tailed Hawk
Male Red-tailed Hawk, on the wing, San Luis Valley.

Female Red-tailed Hawk
Female Red-tailed Hawk, sits in tree top, San Luis Valley.

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk
Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk lands in a tree.

A Male Red-tailed Hawk
Male Red-tailed Hawk stands guard in tree top, San Luis Valley.

Three juvenile Red-tailed Hawks
Three juvenile Red-tailed Hawks sit in a tree top, San Luis Valley.

Male Red-tailed Hawk
Male Red-tailed Hawk, showing how it’s done and lands in a tree.

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk prepares to land.
Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk prepares to land on a tree branch near mom!.

As always, thanks for looking. I appreciate all the comments and compliments. Thank you. G

Down, at the Saint Francis Church. Up, with Red-tailed Hawks

I was on a photo tour last week demonstrating with a photography client the benefits of looking down and how it can often pay off with a rewarding image. In this case, looking down in a puddle on the flagstones, we captured a really nice reflection of the iconic San Francisco de Asis Church in Ranchos de Taos. Of course, it helped that one of the parishioners was hosing down the walkway, and I’ve shot this type of scene, many times.

Saint Francis church Ranchos de Taos

Yesterday, I went up north for a short drive scouting some locations for an upcoming workshop happening for the next three days. I drove on a back road I’m very familiar with and found a male and female Red-tailed Hawk with their juvenile fledgling. The male was off on a power line pole to the east, the female and the chick were on a pole further west with a half-eaten rabbit. In the second image, you can see the nictitating membrane in the eyes of the mama and the young one as they both blinked simultaneously. This membrane allows birds to blink and clean the eyeball while still being able to see what is afoot. Here is a link to the nictitating membrane or “third eyelid”.

Red-tailed hawks, San Luis Valley
Red-tailed hawks, adult and juvenile in the San Luis Valley, Colorado

Red-tailed hawks, San Luis Valley
Red-tailed hawks, adult and juvenile in the San Luis Valley showing the Nictitating membrane.

As always, thank you for looking. G

A little bit of This and That, this week.

A little bit of this and a little bit of that, from Ranchos de Taos, Taos Ski Valley, Ghost Ranch, Colorado and the deck in San Cristobal.

I made this image of the ubiquitous blue window and shutters with hollyhocks in Ranchos de Taos. Hollyhocks are in abundance all around Taos this summer including the grounds of the famous St. Francis Church across the street from this scene.

Hollyhocks, Ranchos de Taos

We made a hike to the waterfall and streams coursing through the Taos Ski Valley to check out the wildflowers. Not a very long hike either. This little grouping of columbine come back every year in the same spot. You can probably find a similar image from a previous year on my website.

Columbine, waterfall, Taos Ski Valley
Columbine with a waterfall in Taos Ski Valley, New Meico.

We stopped in Ghost Ranch last week and saw that bits and bobs of a movie set were still standing. They’d even moved a dead tree that had fallen down a few years ago elsewhere to the middle of the set. (Thank you Mark Collins for the inspiration). We opened the doors and went inside. The light streaming through the holes made it sort of magical in a way. Thanks to the movie makers also.

Movie set chapel, Ghost Ranch, NM
Movie set chapel window, Ghost Ranch, NM

Movie set chapel, Ghost Ranch, NM
Looking through the window at another window, Ghost Ranch, NM

Movie set chapel, Ghost Ranch
Movie set chapel, Ghost Ranch

Last week I spent three days working with a client from New York during his month long cross country road trip. One of the days was spent in Abiquiu and the Rio Chama Valley chasing storms, followed by a day in the Rio Grande Gorge and along the High Road to Taos. Our final day was spent criss-crossing the San Luis Valley photographing abandoned farmhouses, barns and this old bridge.

Lobatos Bridge, Colorado
Lobatos Bridge over the Rio Grande in the San Luis, Colorado.

The week ended back at home with a nice visual from the deck.

Rainbow, San Cristobal, New Mexico
Rainbow over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains San Cristobal, New Mexico

As always, thanks for looking. G

Around the Block, San Luis Valley, San Cristobal

A couple of days ago I headed north to Sanchez Lake, actually a stabilization reservoir, just south of San Luis, Colorado. I hadn’t visited in a while and as it was such a nice evening I wanted to go and check things out. There were some RV’s parked close to the lake on the east side just off the highway so I made my way around to the west side. To my surprise, I came across several American White Pelicans, I know not what the three on the left were up to, when a lone American Avocet strolled by, oblivious to me. I spotted some Grebes in the middle of the lake too far away for a decent shot, but a Killdeer came next wading in the mineral foam (not a pretty picture) on the edge of the lake. The winds picked up, the waders moseyed further down the shoreline foraging voraciously as they went. The pelicans swam to the middle of the lake. Later, when making a few images of the drying adobe mud in the dirt road ruts, I noticed an optical illusion. Is the mud concave or convex? Let me know what you see.
As the shadows lengthened I made my way home stopping off at my favorite location, the red barn. The red paint on the barn is now more of a muted coral color softened by the grey, weathered wood and the sky seemed to dominate the scene begging for a black and white image. Except for the lone raven who sits in our cottonwood tree every evening waiting to greet me, that was that. Enjoy, I did!
Stay cool if it’s too hot where you are. It’s been raining here for a week in northern New Mexico with more on the way.

American white Pelicans
American White Pelicans, San Luis Valley Lake, Colorado.

American Avocet, San Luis Valley
American Avocet San Luis Valley Lake, Colorado.

Killdeer, San Luis Valley Lake
A Killdeer wading along the shoreline, San Luis Valley Lake. Colorado.

Drying adobe mud, San Luis
Drying adobe mud along the dirt roads, San Luis Valley, Colorado.

Red Barn, San Luis Valley
Red Barn with Ute Mountain and tumbleweed, in the San Luis Valley, Colorado.

Raven, San Cristobal
Lone Raven in the cottonwood tree, San Cristobal, NM

As always, thanks for looking. G

American Kestrel, Dragonflies, Color in Madrid and La Cueva, Wild Iris in the Valle Vidal

An American Kestrel juxtaposed with a sign in a drive-by shooting!

American Kestrel
American Kestrel, drive by shooting, Sunshine Valley, NM

It’s the “Summer of Love” in the world of dragonflies (I think they are dragonflies) at the Shuree Ponds in the Valle Vidal, NM. There were thousands of them cavorting with one thing on their minds! Addendum, thanks to my friend Larry, these are Damselflies. There were dragonflies too!

Damselflies at the Shuree Ponds in the Valle Vidal, NM

Damselflies at the Shuree Ponds in the Valle Vidal, NM

Some color on a porch deck in Madrid, NM

Colors in Madrid NM
A splash of color in Madrid, NM

The church of San Rafael in La Cueva with blue sky and the coral tones of Negrita (Desert Globe-mallow).

San Rafael, La Cueva
The church of San Rafael in La Cueva, NM

Last but not least, if you’ll indulge me one more time, wild iris and mountain Golden Pea in a meadow in the Valle Vidal.

Wild Iris, Valle Vidal
Wild iris and mountain Golden Pea in a meadow in the Valle Vidal, NM

As always, thank you for looking. G

Taos Mountain Cloud, Mourning Doves, Wild Iris Meadow, Venus Moon

Another fun week in the field and a couple of instances from the deck! During one of the last snowstorms not long ago in memory but ages ago for the much-needed moisture. We can watch the storms build up over Taos Mountain from the deck. The mourning doves have been enjoying life and seem to be inseparable, hanging out side by side in the old cottonwood tree, also visible from the deck. We made a trip to join our friends Chris and Carla at their ranch in Black Lake, New Mexico a few days ago. The meadows were carpeted with millions of wild iris. I’ve seen similar fields of iris in the Valle Vidal but nothing like this. And this was only a square mile of it. On June 11, the waxing crescent moon swung by the planet Venus. I have a favorite parking spot to watch this particular sight when it occurs. Summer Solstice is coming up on Sunday, June 20th. Where to go for a Solstice moment photo? We shall see!

Taos Mountain cloud
Taos Mountain storm cloud building up, San Cristobal, NM

Mourning Doves
Mourning Doves in the old cottonwood tree, San Cristobal.

Wild iris, Black Lake, NM
Wild iris, Black Lake, NM, in Lonesome Dove country near where they filmed the TV movie.

Venus, Moon, sunset
Venus, Moon and sunset across the Taos Plateau.

Enjoy the summer where you are and as always, thanks for looking. G

Waterfall, Taos Ski Valley, Valle Vidal, Yellow-rumped Warbler

First time in these mountains since last year. The air is cool, refreshing and the light at this elevation, (10,000 feet) is pristine. This waterfall is just a few hundred yards from the parking area and a short uphill hike. In about two to three weeks the Columbine and other wildflowers should be gracing these slopes. If you get a chance to go here, you won’t be disappointed. Or join me on a photo trek and I’ll take you here.

Waterfall, Taos Ski Valley
Waterfall on the Williams Lake Trail in Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico.

The next four images are from the Valle Vidal. It was 84ºF in San Luis Valley and 45ºF in the mountains. We were surrounded by hail, sleet, and rain and these exquisite, Yellow-rumped Warblers flitting about everywhere.

Comanche Point, Valle Vidal, NM
Comanche Point in Valle Vidal unit of the Carson National Forest, New Mexico.

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler in the Valle Vidal, (Valley of Life), New Mexico.

Yellow-rumped Warbler in the Valle Vidal, New Mexico
Yellow-rumped Warbler at the Shuree Ponds in the Valle Vidal, New Mexico.

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler at the Shuree Ponds in the Valle Vidal, New Mexico

As always, thanks for looking and all your comments and compliments. G

Placita, Rainsville, and a Tree, New Mexico.

Three black and whites from a photo tour this week. In the first image, at Placita on the High Road to Taos, I happened to look up and there was the last quarter moon with the deep shadow from the church roofline running through the scene. The second image was taken at the church of the Sacred Heart in Rainsville, NM. I was drawn to the shapes and patterns of the shadows and light interacting with the white-trimmed window. The third image is east of the church in Rainsville looking toward the plains. We waited for the clouds to roll through with a little rain thrown in for good measure.

Placitas chapel and moon
Placita, Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion chapel and moon, High Road to Taos

Rainsville church New Mexico
Rainsville, Church of the Sacred Heart, New Mexico.

Tree and storm clouds Rainsville, NM
Tree with a backdrop of storm clouds Rainsville, NM.

As always thank you for looking. G

Full Moon, Eclipse, Fajada Butte, Chaco Canyon

The moon was nearly full when it rose over the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. I’m a proponent of as little travel as possible when the presentation is before me. Dewitt Jones said, “The banquet is spread constantly, with no thought of whether anyone will attend. If I were receptive enough, perhaps I would see it in everything. But I’m not, so photography is one of the tools I use to help me concentrate, to help me see deeply, to block out all that is extraneous and see that which is essential.” I shot the moon rise last night and the following two images looking out from our deck early this morning. The potential for a vibrant eclipse diminished through the night as clouds moved in. Around 3 am the moon vanished altogether. At 4:30 am, my alarm went off. There was a faint moon with clouds surrounding it. I nodded off. By 4:55 am I was dressed and standing outside with the camera set up. I surmised that the moon would perhaps emerge from and disappear behind intermittent banks of clouds. It did as I thought but not with the resounding determination I’d hoped for. It seemed to pulse faintly as it set and then it was gone. At 5:45 I was back in bed. I woke up at 7:15 am with a feeling that I had traveled miles. In effect, at that moment I had hitched a ride with the moon. I think I’ll also need a nap later.

Full moon rise over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, NM
Nearly full moon rising over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, NM

Lunar eclipse, NM
Lunar eclipse, this morning from San Cristobal, NM

Full moon Lunar eclipse, setting this morning over the Taos Plateau
Full moon, Lunar eclipse, setting this morning over the Taos Plateau.

Below is a new print I’m working on. It’s a very large panorama of the sacred Fajada Butte in Chaco Culture National Historical Park. I’ll have this image ready for purchase on my fine art prints landscape page this weekend.

Fajada Butte Chaco Canyon
Fajada Butte, Chaco Canyon, Chaco Culture National Historical Park

As always thanks for looking. G