Fine Art Images from the American Southwest

Tag: Colorado

Zapata Ice Falls, Sandhill Cranes, Full Worm Moon.

Greetings from a blustery day in San Cristobal.

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.

Zapata falls way in
Zapata Ice Falls, Colorado, the way in!

Zapata falls, Colorado
Zapata falls, Colorado, looking up!

Zapata ice falls, Colorado
Zapata Ice Falls, Colorado.

Geraint, Zapata falls, Colorado
Yours truly at Zapata Falls, photo by my friend, John Williams.

Kiki at Zapata falls, Colorado
Kiki (Johns huskey) at Zapata falls, Colorado.

Zapata falls, the way out.
The way out. Easy does it at Zapata falls, Colorado.

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!

Sandhill Cranes, Monte Vista NWR, Colorado
Sandhill Cranes, over the Rocky Mountains, Monte Vista NWR, Colorado.

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!

Rocky Mountains, Great Sand Dunes NP, Colorado
Sunset on the Rocky Mountains and Great Sand Dunes NP, Colorado.

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.

Full "worm moon" rising
Full “Worm Moon” rising over Vallecito Mountain, Taos, NM.

Full "worm moon"
Full “Worm Moon” rising over the foothills, San Cristobal, NM.

As always, thank you for looking. G

Sandhill Cranes, Bald Eagle, Red Willow Winter, Crescent Moon.

Greetings from San Cristobal, NM

Well, we did make it to the Monte Vista NWR in southern Colorado last week, a couple of hours drive each way from home. There were plenty of Sandhill Cranes, not as many as there will be next week and the week after. My only complaint (not really a complaint) the cranes were quite far away from the accessible areas. I got this first image as they flew overhead from one marsh to another. I thank them for that! Hearing the primordial sounds the cranes make made the trip worthwhile.

Sandhill Cranes, Monte Vista NWR
Sandhill Cranes, Monte Vista NWR

Driving north from home we ran into these two creatures having a chat along the roadside. I should clarify, the raven was doing all the yacking. The eagle had nothing to say and was unperturbed by the raven or our presence. Incidentally, this is a very large raven.

Bald Eagle and a Raven
Bald Eagle and a Raven on the wire in the San Luis Valley.

It’s difficult to pass by this location on the drive to the grocery store. I whipped past this time but decided to turn around and make yet another image, (I have a lot of pictures from this location). One thing, certainly not the only thing about photography, it gets me outdoors and into nature. As cold and windy as it was, any time I am out in the environment it is a good thing.

Red Willows and Cottonwood, Arroyo Hondo, NM
Red Willows and Cottonwood, Arroyo Hondo, NM

Below is another favorite location, the “welcome tree” greeting visitors as they crest the hill rising from the Rio Grande Gorge. The tree accompanies the massive vista of the Gorge extending as far as the eye can see, that would be Colorado. I first saw this tree when I arrived in New Mexico in 1984. The tree, sadly, is on its last legs. I keep making images when I pass and I reckon I’ll be making images until it’s gone, that’s my way of honoring its presence after all these years.

Taos "Welcome Tree"
The Taos “Welcome Tree” at the gorge overlook.

Last week this crescent moon made an appearance the day after the new moon, (no moon). It was 1-2% and difficult to spot. I found it by looking through the lens in the general direction suggested by my TPE app on the phone. The clouds gave way just enough at the right time.

Crescent Moon
Waxing crescent moon setting, taken from our front steps in San Cristobal.

As always, thank you for looking. I really appreciate all the wonderful comments and compliments. Have a great week. I’m planning on it. G

Blanca Peak, Colorado, Black and Whites

Greetings from San Cristobal.

We’re on the road today, heading out to the Monte Vista NWR in Colorado. I’ll be looking for Sandhill Cranes on the migratory path north after wintering in the southern climates. Assuming I get what I’m looking for, I’ll post those photos next week.

The Monte Vista refuge is situated northwest in the San Luis Valley. This week’s images are of the Blanca Peak Massif visible from just about everywhere in the Valley. The mountain range can be seen from a hundred miles south at the Rio Grande Gorge rim when hiking a little south of the high bridge over the river. I’m posting three images of my favorite views today. One I shot in black and white. I liked it so much that I converted the two others into black and whites.

Click on images to enlarge.

Blanca Peak, Colorado
Blanca Peak with the Rio Grande, Colorado.

Blanca Peak, Colorado
Blanca Peak across the sage brush, Colorado.

Blanca Peak, Colorado
Blanca Peak Massif from highway 139, Colorado.

Driving north from Taos, this mountain range looms very large on the horizon for the whole drive, drawing one onwards to where the highway ends in Fort Garland, right at the foot of these spectacular mountains.

As always, thank you for looking and all the wonderful comments. G

Home on the Hill, Cerro Pedernal, Black and Whites

We had some snow last night, about three inches in our neighborhood. Not a huge amount but a very welcome amount. I went out early this morning to catch this scene of an old adobe home on the hill in the San Cristobal Valley.

Home on the Hill
Home on the hill, San Cristobal.

Last week I was on a Photo Tour/Workshop with two clients in the Rio Chama Valley. There was no wind and Abiquiu Lake was reflecting Cerro Pedernal very nicely. We wandered down to the rocks surrounding the lakeshore for the shot. I like the way his image looked in black and white, almost like a drawing. Cerro Pedernal means flint hill, the place where indigenous people collected obsidian for their weapons.

Cerro Pedernal reflections, Abiquiu Lake
Abiquiu Lake reflecting Cerro Pedernal, (flint peak).

While in Abiquiu, we visited the ruin of Santa Rosa de Lima, one of my favorite locations on the banks of Rio Chama. Like planets, the shadows aligned perfectly.

Santa Rosa de Lima ruin
Santa Rosa de Lima, gate and shadows.

There’s always time for a visit to the iconic Saint Francis Church in Ranchos de Taos, arguably the most photographed church in the world. Because I visit this place often I know where the shadows fall at different times of day and seasons. This was mid December at 8:33 in the morning.

Saint Francis Church Shadows
Saint Francis Church Shadows

I came across this photo of the red barn from last summer, it felt like yesterday, that’s probably because I’m in the San Luis Valley every couple of weeks. I liked the geometric composition of this image.

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

Last but not least, below is the full panorama of the wolfmoon rising. I wanted to take a few days to put it together and work up a print file. If you would like a print and have a large space to fill please get in touch.

Wolf Moon Sangre de Cristo mountains
Wolf Moon over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains full panorama.

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

Wolf Moon Rising, Taos Mountain, Abiquiu Lake.

It’s been a busy week, so I’m making a short blog post of an epic wolf moon rising in color and black and white, over the Sangre de Cristo section of the Rocky Mountains in southern Colorado. The moon was huge when it rose behind the snow-capped peaks. I was on a photo tour with my client at the time. I think we positioned ourselves just right. I had a good idea where the moon would rise drawing on my experience from my many trips throughout the area. That said, I used “The Photographer’s Ephemeris” to confirm the location. It’s a wonderful app. Click on the images to enlarge.

Wolf Moon Sangre de Cristo mountains
Wolf Moon, over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of southern Colorado.

Wolf Moon rising, black and white
Wolf Moon rising in black and white.

Of course, I can’t drive past this spot without stopping to take a photo, if it’s remotely nice. The forecast calls for snow on the peaks again this evening. I’m looking forward to it. We need it!

Pueblo Peak, Taos Mountain, El Prado, New Mexico.
Pueblo Peak, Taos Mountain from El Prado, (The Meadows).

A minimalist composition of a bench overlooking the boat dock at Abiquiu Lake. We were photographing the stark reflection of Cerro Pedernal in a glassy lake. I always remember to look in the opposite direction.

Bench and boat dock at Abiquiu Lake
Bench and boat dock at Abiquiu Lake, NM

As always, thank you for looking, for all the comments and compliments. Have a good week. G

San Luis Valley views, and Mountain Snows.

Greetings from the San Luis Valley.

Here’s the tree I promised in last week’s post. I headed north in a dust storm. Inclement weather could be my middle name. What the dust afforded me besides spots on my sensor was a slight separation of the tree and mountain. The sky in this image of the lone tree was unexpected. The tree had lost a small limb since my previous trip. I didn’t mind. It cleaned up the composition. (Click on images to enlarge).

Ute Mountain tree
Ute Mountain lone tree, San Luis Valley, CO.

The dust created a nice veil of diffuse light so the poles and trees stood out. I’d not seen them so prominent before.

Power poles with Ute Mountain
Ute Mountain with power poles and a big sky.

In the following photo, you can see the dust storm is more apparent. The trees really stood out against Ute Mountain like guardians.

Ute Mountain trees
Ute Mountain trees with San Luis Valley dust storm.

Heading home a little later the wind at Sanchez Reservoir was so strong. When I stopped to shoot the ice on the shoreline I could barely open the car door. I got out and made a few so-so images then had to jump back in the car and get my legs in fast before the door slammed shut on my ankles. Did I say how cold the wind chill was? I wish I’d looked. All I can say is it was cold!!!

I knew I wanted to catch the light on the fresh snow on the peaks in the Latir Peaks Wilderness, so I headed in that direction. I’ve done this shot before almost to the day. I wasn’t disappointed this time either. The wind had subsided but the cold remained. So I parked with a view and rested the camera on the open window. With the heat on and music playing, I was comfy and waited. The last bit of light through the clouds caught Cabresto Peak just right. In the second image below, I zoomed in for a close-up.

Wide view of Cabresto Peak, Latir Peaks Wilderness, NM
Wide view of snow on Cabresto Peak, in the Latir Peaks Wilderness, NM.

Cabresto Peak, Latir Peaks Wilderness, NM
A little closer in on Cabresto Peak..

… And a couple of my favorite images of Taos Mountain. The first shot is from the Ranchos Valley with an acequia (irrigation ditch), red willows, and snow-capped peaks of Taos Mountain.

Taos Mountain red willows
Taos Mountain red willows and snow, Ranchos de Taos, NM.

This image of Taos Mountain was when it was bathed in the last glow of sunlight through the letterbox opening in the clouds.

Taos Mountain winter light.
Taos Mountain with winter sunset light.

Phew, we made it another year. As always thanks for looking, happy new year. G

Winter Solstice Moments, Blue Heron, Bald Eagle, Bighorn Sheep, Mule Deer.

Greetings from San Cristobal on the Winter Solstice.

I’m back on track this week, after last week’s 55-hour power outage. Though not as badly hit as some areas in northern New Mexico that were out of power for a week, I’m really happy that it came back on when it did. I was due my weekly bath night. I’m British and we bathe once a week whether we need it or not! I’m kidding. I knew as soon as I stocked up on water, food, and propane for the camp stove things would return to normal, that’s Murphey’s law, right?

I found the scene below in our back forty, a little wooded area behind our house, and really nice to wander around in the mornings. It’s not a huge expanse of trees but I like to explore with the camera and find little vignettes such as this. I shot this on the winter solstice, an alignment at the moment of the solstice at 8:59 am MT yesterday. I’d had big plans to return to Chaco Canyon for the winter solstice this year but as I would be camping the freezing temps put me off. The last time I spent the winter solstice in Chaco was in 2010 on an assignment for AAA Magazine. It was fairly mild that year. This year I stayed home and wandered around the neighborhood.

Solstice moment
The Solstice moment and alignment in San Cristobal, NM.

We drove north later in the day yesterday to get this image of my favorite red barn in black and white. I’ve done this type of shot here before, but at a different time of year, so I had a clue what to expect though not the position of the sun and the alignment with the holes in the roof and walls. This is as far south as the sun reaches. As you can imagine the barn was in silhouette with not much color so I went for a black and white. I like it a lot.

Red Barn winter solstice in the San Luis Valley, Colorado
Red Barn in black and white, with Ute Mountain.

A few country blocks, about a mile up the road is a tree with Ute Mountain. I’m saving that particular image for another day. Over my shoulder was this picture. The two crosses are actually a fallen power pole. I’d not seen this before on many trips in the San Luis Valley so it may have occurred in a recent wind storm. I like the languishing nature of the pole.

Farm Buildings, Colorado
Farm buildings in the opposite direction from the red barn.

On a photo tour a week ago we came across a Bighorn Sheep crossing the Rio Grande, with this Great Blue Heron, and the Bald eagle below, all in the same vicinity. The bighorn was crossing away from us, showing us his best side! The blue heron took up a vantage point with a commanding view of the river. We waited for it to fly and strike a fish. That didn’t happen this time. We returned to the eagle also nearby. The eagle launched off and after chasing a raven who had food returned to this familiar tree. The bald eagles are opportunistic, to say the least, and will steal what they can rather than waste energy getting it for themselves. The raven got away with its catch, probably stolen too. I love nature, and the rams behind!

Great Blue Heron, Rio Grande del Norte National Monument
Great Blue Heron, Orilla Verde, Pilar, NM.

Bald Eagle, Orilla Verde
Bald Eagle, Orilla Verde, Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, NM.

Bighorn sheep Rio Grande
Bighorn Sheep, ram crossing the Rio Grande, NM.

And finally, the mule deer buck who visited our field last week during the full moon. Not a bad week after the blackout. Now it’s getting brighter from here on.

Mule Deer, San Cristobal
Mule Deer, a young buck.

Mule Deer, San Cristobal
Mule Deer in our field.

Coming to you from my warm office this week, as always, thank you for looking. G

A Cedar Waxwing, Wild Horses, A Tree along The Highway

Just three images this week. A Cedar Waxwing visited the crab apple tree in the garden yesterday and got well fed up before heading out. I was surprised it stayed around as long as it did, about thirty minutes. I got a lot of very similar images. I chose this image as it showed the bird’s bright yellow tail tips. If you expand the image you will see bits of crab apple on the wings. It was a messy eater. The second image is from the San Luis Valley on a late afternoon trip to Colorado. We live about half an hour from the state line and enjoyed watching these wild horses. A different band from last week’s photo. The third image caught my eye on the road to town. I shot it shortly before the sun dipped below the horizon. I’m saving my energy this week for the eclipse tomorrow night, the peak happens around 2 am, long after my bedtime, but I’m looking forward to a clear sky and a beautiful partial lunar eclipse.

Cedar Waxwing in a crab apple tree.
Cedar Waxwing in our crab apple tree, San Cristobal, NM

Wild horses, San Luis Valley, Colorado
Wild horses, San Luis Valley, Colorado.

Tree in the evening light, Highway 522 NM
Tree in evening light on Highway 522 NM.

Thanks for looking. Wish me a good night shooting the eclipse tomorrow. I hope you get to see it where you are. G

Something Solitary, Lonely, Bygone, A Sunset, An Intersection, And Bountiful.

We went looking for wild horses and found them! It wasn’t the most solitary moment because there were two of us watching these beauties, but… they looked rather solitary out there on the plateau with vast amounts of space to roam.

Wild Horses, San Luis, Colorado
Wild Horses, San Luis Valley, Colorado

These two chairs popped up in my archive from 2007. They had a view of the meadows and Taos Mountain. Had there been someone sitting in them they wouldn’t have exuded a lonely feeling, but… the desire to sit in them overcame me so I sat in one of them.

Two chairs, Taos New Mexico
Two chairs, Taos New Mexico

A cash register from days gone by at the Chile Line Depot (a cafe) in Tres Piedras, NM. I had fish and chips, my buddy David had beef and green chile quesadilla. He had apple pie a la mode for dessert and I had a pinon nut brownie. The cash register was a side attraction, but… the food, the main event, was most excellent. Check them out if you’re passing by on 285, in northern New Mexico.

Register, Chile Line Depot, Tres Piedras
Cash register at the Chile Line Depot, Tres Piedras, NM

West of Taos, west of the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, is a ranch where the ranch hands keep an ever-watchful eye at the ranch gate. I’ve shot this before. I like the illusion of the cowboys coming over the ridge. A sunset always adds a cinematic quality to the scene. But…..

Ranch Hands Sunset
The ranch hands at sunset, west of Taos, NM

…about 20 miles north of Taos and 8 miles from San Cristobal is the village of Questa. It is a thriving community of families and newcomers who take pride in their town. I shot this image out of the car windshield. I liked the old photo feeling it had.

Intersection of 522 and 38 in Questa, NM
At the intersection of highway 522 and 38 in Questa, NM

About 30 miles north and west of Questa is a halt on the San Luis & Rio Grande Railroad, named Bountiful. There’s not a lot happening here on most days, but.. on this day, a sweet sheepherder, her husband on an ATV asked for help in getting their sheep and a donkey across the enormously busy US Highway 285. Following the perilous road crossing by the sheep and a forlorn looking donkey, a woman, independent of the others, appeared out of nowhere and trundled up. Smoking a cigarette, she blessed the day, and thanked God for everyone in it. She was followed close on her heels by her husband, he took her gently by her arm. But… unlike the sheep and the donkey, the husband seemed impervious to the traffic whizzing past. As they made their way across the same busy highway, with his wife on his arm he revealed that she had dementia. He made sure to let me know, that I had an open invite for coffee. I’ll visit one day soon. On a side note, those grain elevators and nearby silos are full of Coors barley.

Bountiful, Colorado
Bountiful, Colorado.

As always, thank you for looking. Stay healthy happy and well. G

Around The Block This Week In New Mexico And Colorado.

I’ll start with this morning at 6:30 am and the waning crescent moon rising with Mercury over the Sangre de Cristo foothills outside our dining room window. I’d just set up the camera for the moon when Mercury popped up behind the trees. I was surprised. Sometimes it’s hard to observe Mercury so close to the sunrise. It worked for me and as is said, timing is everything! A few minutes later in the second photo a little to the south, I spotted Spica (Alpha Virginis) the brightest star in the constellation Virgo the Maiden. You can just about see it!

Crescent Moon, Mercury
Crescent Moon and Mercury rising from the dining room window.

Crescent Moon, Mercury and Spica
A waning crescent Moon, Mercury, and Spica.

Below is a window and crumbling adobe wall at the church of San Rafael in La Cueva, NM. The parishioners do a wonderful job on the upkeep of this building. This and the other walls will be repaired soon, probably by the time of my next visit.

San Rafael Church La Cueva, NM
Window, San Rafael, La Cueva, NM

The abandoned homestead in the San Luis Valley that I’ve visited many times over the years stood out in the field. The white walls were stark and glowing as if newly whitewashed by an unknown inhabitant. The powerline added an element of life to the abandoned building. There are a few “No Trespassing” signs so it’s not totally abandoned.

Whitehouse homestead, San Luis Valley
Abandoned homestead in the San Luis Valley, Colorado.

My latest favorite dead tree is along the Rio Chama, New Mexico. I’m making plans to revisit to document its ultimate demise. Interesting how it is very much dead but exudes so much life and character. Cerro Pedernal (Georgia O’Keeffe’s mountain) makes a nice backdrop. Georgia said that God told her that if she painted the mountain enough he would give it to her. Well, I’ve probably photographed it many more times than she painted it so under those rules, it’s now mine, so there!

Tree along the Rio Chama New Mexico
Lone tree along the Rio Chama, NM.

The crows spend the first hour of the day warming up in our old cottonwood tree. They aren’t in any hurry to leave so I often watch them through the lens and take a few shots of these fascinating birds. Sometimes there are five or six of them and at other times there are dozens, you know what I mean, “a murder of crows”.

American Crow, San Cristobal, NM
One of the American Crows in the old cottonwood tree.

Finally, one from a week ago in the courtyard at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos NM. It is always gorgeous and inviting at this location. Join me on a photo tour and we’ll stop in and visit.

Mabel Dodge Luhan House
The gatehouse at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos NM.

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