Greetings from San Cristobal, a week when the rains came and the bearded iris opened in its striking glory.
Down in the Arroyo Hondo Valley, the rain clouds came and opened up not only here but on the fires bringing cooler temps and much-needed relief for the firefighters around the state. So I thought of a celebratory picture of one of our beautiful bearded iris with raindrops against a backdrop of rain and reflections on the windowpane.
I’ve photographed this scene many times in all seasons. You may remember it. It is fast becoming my equivalent of Monet’s “haystack” series.
The ramada below was something I came across many years ago and found it again digging in my archives this week. I like the minimalist simplicity, which was what caught my eye. The clouds and sky helped set the scene off.
I’m happy to post a couple of uplifting images this week after the doomsday-looking pictures of the fire over the past few weeks.
As always, thank you for looking. I look forward to seeing you here a gain next week. Have a great week. G
Greetings from San Cristobal under a full moon eclipse and what continues to be another fire smoke-filled week.
Last week’s lunar eclipse didn’t appear for me as we were socked in with extreme fire smoke conditions on Sunday. I kept checking throughout the evening to see if the moon was visible. At about 10:15 pm, I saw the moon after totality had ended. Although I’ve witnessed the eclipse many times over the years, it’s always fun to see it each time it occurs.
The fires in the area continue to threaten our beautiful mountains and communities. The damage to our friends and neighbors, wildlife, and landscape is incalculable. Of course, the government will put a price on the whole fiasco, but nothing can return the place to its original beauty only time.
When the fire flared up in tremendous winds last weekend, I took a drive to take in the current situation. In the images below, I came across the cattle standing in this particular posture, as they have done for several days now. I knew they would add context to the scene with Taos Valley and the Calf Canyon, Hermits Peak Fire raging in the mountains south of Taos.
Back home later in the day, I watched the fire rage on, destroying more of our beautiful landscape in its path, creating these pyrocumulus clouds.
Thick fire smoke at 6:30 am from the Calf Canyon, Hermits Peak fire, settled in and around our San Cristobal Valley and across the whole region. The mountains in the background, two miles away as the crow flies, appear and vanish throughout the days.
Ok… enough of that. I’ll move on to another subject next week.
Below is a shot of the Saint Francis Church I stopped to visit with a client on a photo tour/workshop last week. The morning was cold and crisp. The light was pristine with clear skies, at least until after lunch. A good thing we choose the half-day morning trip.
And before the wind came and disturbed my view of the lunar eclipse, it blew all the blossoms off the ornate crabapple tree in the garden. But not before this Swallowtail butterfly had its fill of the nectar. It was joined this day by thousands of honey bees.
As always, thank you for looking, and for the wonderful comments and compliments. Please send good thoughts to those affected by the fire and those fighting it. G
Greetings from New Mexico, a fire-ravaged part of our most beautiful state.
Currently, in New Mexico, fires are burning out of control, devastating humans and wildlife, landscape, property, and the environment. This week I want to share a few images of the awesomeness of nature and the power of the fires burning. The fires are on the east side of the mountains from where I live, here in San Cristobal, and have destroyed whole communities of people who have been living here long before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth. The area burning is a favorite place of mine to visit and photograph. I’ve met many people there, and all are open and friendly as any of my immediate neighbors are.
I just spoke with a friend who evacuated to Santa Fe, NM. He says he is safe and doing well but has no idea the extent of damage or lack thereof to his family’s home and property. We hear stories like these often, wherever fires and natural disasters occur. This time it’s a little closer to home. This fire driven by high winds is relentless and impervious to anyone or anything in its way.
I’ll leave you with these three images I shot yesterday. I shot many more pictures than these. It was an awful and yet awesome sight to behold. Perhaps it’s time to take care of the environment better than we have. Maybe, nature, the climate and the world can’t afford our bucket lists and indiscriminate consumption. I love where I live. I will tread a little lighter on the land day by day.
Click on the image to enlarge. The first image is made from 15 images stiched together. The image is 8 feet wide.
Greetings from San Cristobal in the presence of spring blossoms and under a crescent moon.
Sometimes everything is available in one’s backyard. These crab apple blossoms looked particularly beautiful after a drizzling rain. The ornate white blossoms were radiant in the morning light.
I’ve seen the following view during this phase of the moon most months here in the garden. I’ve created a few images like this in the past. Here is one and here is another one. The blossoms were so dark and the moon so bright and far away that I had to shoot two images to get them both in focus. The scene was easy to compute for the human eye. It required two images to create what my eye saw.
Farther afield but very much in my broader backyard are the Rio Chama and Abiquiu Lake. I was on a photo tour last Sunday with my friend, Larry. It was a good day and yielded a few good images despite the fire smoke from three raging wildfires in the vicinity.
Can you see the handprints? They’ve been there a long time, but they are more likely to be graffiti than authentic indigenous art. Cerro Pedernal is the mountain where native peoples went to collect obsidian for their tools. I have seen a lot of arrowheads and spearpoints in the area, particularly along the Chama River.
Greetings from San Cristobal, Fort Union, and beyond. The blossoms are bursting out, in perfect contrast to the dark grey clouds threatening rain. We can certainly use the rain, so no complaints from me.
This week I’m revisiting and re-editing some images. The first is from Fort Union National Monument on a trip there in 2006. I remember, unlike now, I was able to walk around the exhibits and make compositions quite freely.
There are signs now that say “stay on the footpath”, that’s where the rattlesnake in this picture was hanging out. The fort is on the last leg of the Santa Fe Trail. When the wagon trains got to Fort Union, it was still a couple of weeks of rutted roads tho Santa Fe. Don’t let the snakes put you off visiting. According to the ranger, this was the first rattlesnake he’d seen there in five years.
The mission church at Santa Cruz resembles many of the other adobe mission churches in the area with its two towers, cruciform floorplan with large adobe buttresses. I liked the shapes in the darkness on this one. There isn’t a plumb line in the architecture, at least not in this image.
Before making this picture in 2008 I had never walked around to the “back” of the building. It’s a smaller buttress but reminiscent of the massive buttress at the San Francisco de Asis Church in Ranchos de Taos. Re-editing this image I wanted to impart the feeling of the coolness and depth in the darkness of the shadows. Standing in the shade was a welcome relief from the hot sun that was bearing down on the southeast side of the building.
In 2007 I was captivated by the placement of these chairs. I embarked on a series of images over the ensuing months of the chairs and tables in this outdoor setting. I liked the unintentional randomness I found each time I visited. Today you will find the Farmhouse Cafe at this location.
A found object, and if I can remember where I shot it, I will be a happy camper!
And now for the dinosaur. Ok, this is an attempt at humor. There is so much gone but not forgotten just yet. We live in a rural area where cellphone service is spotty. We have considered getting a landline again. Who still has a landline? I shot this image in 2010 in a Santa Fe gallery. I thought at the time, “one day, this will look like a piece of art.”
As always thank you for looking. I appreciate all the kind comments and compliments. Stay well, happy and healthy. G
Greetings from northern New Mexico. A mobile home in our neighborhood (so New Mexico) with the moon rising over the San Cristobal Valley.
And the next night from the driveway as the moon slinked over the ridge.
The birds I’ve seen the most this winter are always American Kestrels, and this year joining them en masse are thousands of Pinyon Jays. I have never seen so many Pinyon Jays. They are raucous and over the top loud. They devoured the birdseed in the feeders in no time at all. Usually, there is a handful. I’ve added a picture below of one individual.
I couldn’t resist the juxtaposition in a window in the photo below. Everything is for sale. I just take the photo.
Drive-by shooting on the roadside. I do this a lot. Many scenes look like this here in New Mexico. Someone deposits the sofa making it someone else’s problem. If it’s in good condition, it will probably find a home. The fate of the couch is now left up to someone else. The original owner has absolved themselves of any further responsibility and saved themselves the trash dump fee. So New Mexico!
Let’s end with a tranquil scene at Williams Lake in the mountains close to where I live. Last year was the first time I didn’t hike to the lake. It is a favorite hike and will be on the hiking agenda again this year as soon as the snow melts.
Greetings, on a cold and windy day, in San Cristobal. If you bear with me, I’m revisiting a few images from my trip to Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley two weeks ago. I have a few personal favorites that remind me of the feeling of being in this magnificent landscape. Photography is not all about the visual. It’s about the feeling that I wish to convey in the image. When I’m standing out in gorgeous light in the landscape, I’m excited to capture an image that speaks to me. It’s also about all the other elements, heat, wind, rain, sleet, and snow that land on me, burning, tingling, and drenching me that I remember the most, the tangible that makes the place I’m in come alive for me.
In the image below, I’m in Valley of the Gods, Utah, kneeling under a big rock where the air radiates the coolness of the shadowed earth onto my face and skin. It’s a perfect spot on a hot day, and there is also a discovered, surprise view framed by the rock and shadow. Naturally, one has to pay attention and keep a lookout for rattlesnakes!
On a trip in 2019, the Valley is abundant with millions of Yucca plants, not just in Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods but also across southeastern Utah. The pale yellow of the yucca flowers stands out from the red of the monuments. The plants in this image are healthy and promising for another super bloom this year. Keep in mind the native people utilized the yucca for many things. The fibers of the leaves were stripped and used for making sandals, twine for sewing, weaving into baskets, and paintbrushes to paint the intricate designs on pottery. Not the least, the roots were pounded to make a pulp used as soap and shampoo, which is reputed to be a remedy for baldness!
Over the years, I’ve spent many nights camping on the Monument Valley rim at the original campground where the “View Hotel” now stands. I’ve stood and stared at the dark silhouettes of the monuments against the pale light of dawn and in the fading evening twilight. The monuments are dark, with an unbroken line between the rocks and the sky, a scene witnessed through time.
I’ve done this kind of shot before, double exposure on film, so I wanted to recreate it in a digital format. When you stare at a scene long enough and close your eyes, it leaves a photographic impression on the back of your eyelids. Photographing around Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley or anywhere else in this area, the images embedded in my eyes transpose to the next visual landmark that I see. It’s very trippy and is what motivated the image below.
I made the image above from two images similar to the ones below. So you get the idea, and I understand if one prefers either, I had a fun time playing with the image to create the vision I had. It’s important to me to play and make photography fun. On my photo tour/workshops, fun is one of the motivating aspects. If it isn’t fun, then it’s work!
This week I’m ending my blog post with one last picture from Valley of the Gods. The scene presented itself as I came over the ridge before things became technical when making last week’s image. This area has had a profound impact on me and will continue to do so. It feels like coming home every time I visit. Where I live in northern New Mexico also felt like this when I first set foot there in 1984.
I have lived in and traveled around the Southwest United States for 44 years. I’ve lived here longer than anywhere else. I’ll always enjoy trips to the old country, but my heart lives here in the great southwest.
I hope you enjoyed one more trip revisiting this area. I sure did, in memory, pictures, and words. As always thank you for looking. G
Greetings on a beautiful spring day in Monument Valley.
Last week I stated that I would post a few more images from the Monument Valley road trip with my friend David. I hope I don’t overdo it!
We went there for the “shadow event” as it is called. In last week’s photo, I told you that it had fizzled out at the prime moment, even so, the light on the landscape was magnificent. In the first two images below you can see that we were not disappointed with the second evening’s opportunity.
Dedicating a longer length of time to one place, allowed us to explore the area more extensively. Keeping an eye on the weather (one can see the changes coming far off) we were able to make a judgment call and go to where we thought the results would pay off for a photograph.
This lineman in the next photo has the best view of any job I know of. If I were him, I wouldn’t get any work done. I’d be constantly looking around at the view, and possibly electricute myself in the process. That is why I do what I do and he does what he does.
The lineman’s view, notwithstanding, check out his (were he to glance over) and our view in the other direction, over my shoulder. The vista point was a short walk from a turnout on Highway 163. We passed through a stretch gate, up and over a slight rise for a view of one of my most favorite places on the planet. Over the years, I’ve made many camping trips to Valley of the Gods. My preferred campsite is way in the back of this image, where the rain is falling. There are canyons to hike that seem to go on for almost an eternity. It’s a very special place. Can you imagine the night sky from in there with no light polution?
From Valley of the Gods, we drove up the Moki Dugway. If you have a phobia of heights and sheer drops better give it a miss. From the top, we went west on a well-traveled dirt road to the edge of those mesas on the left in the photograph below. The view from the edge was quite amazing. In the second photo, I’m looking down to the San Juan River as it meanders through the goosenecks of the canyon and beyond to Navajo Mountain.
Back to Monument Valley, the point of the whole trip.
Just because it was there, I had fun lining up this shot of the Mittens with a random chair…
…and this one!
One last look at the Monument Valley scenic drive from the iconic pair of rocks at the valley vista.
Then it was on to Shiprock, known to the Navajo as Tsé Bitʼaʼí – Rock with Wings, and the road home.
Incidentally, this is how our trip began in the early hours of Tuesday Morning on Highway 64 west of Taos, New Mexico.
I hope you enjoyed the tour. If you get a chance to head out there, I highly recommend it. If you need a tour guide let me know. Prints are available of all these images. Send me and email if you are interested.
I’m on the road for a few days to photograph the “shadow event” at Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park with my good friend R. David Marks. The shadow event occurs twice a year in March and in September. If the event happens tomorrow, weather permitting, I’ll post the final image next week along with more images from our road trip. In the meantime, here’s a teaser image from yesterday evening waiting for the shadow of the “west mitten” to pass over the “east mitten”. The clouds ultimately won out.
As always, thank you for looking and for all your wonderful comments and compliments. Have a great week. G
Last weekend saw us at the Zapata Falls campground for what turned out to be a frigidly cold night on the mountain. Fortunately, the visit to the falls made up for it. I’ve not visited the falls before, it was well worth it, and I can recommend it. Join me next winter, and I’ll take you there. Be sure to bring your crampons or your own Husky! My good friend John did just that.
Fifty miles to the west of the falls is the Monte Vista NWR, where the Sandhill Cranes were present in the thousands. I hope to post a video next week. I have to say that the Sandhill Cranes, coming in for a landing, look like amateur flyers, and all flaps down!
The sunset views from the Zapata Falls campground and parking area are incredible, as you can see in the photo below. The peaks from left to right are Challenger Point, Kit Carson Mountain, Columbia Point, Crestone Peak, and Crestone Needle. The dune field in the foreground is in continuous flux. If you feel like climbing the dunes, you will gain approximately 750 feet elevation. One step forward, two steps back, but you’ll get there! And running down is a lot of fun!
The Full “Worm Moon,” the “Sap Moon,” or “Crow Moon,” didn’t disappoint. The clouds thinned out in time, and the moon illuminated the night, keeping us awake, beaming through the windows as it traversed the night sky.