Fine Art Images from the American Southwest

Tag: Northern New Mexico

Llano de San Juan, Beautiful High Road to Taos, August 17, 2022

Greetings from San Cristobal and the High Road Village of Llano de San Juan, High Road to Taos.

I’m often on the High Road many times each year. It is a big favorite of my photo tour/workshops. If you want to take a trip back through time, take the High Road to Taos in New Mexico. It is not just a step back in time it’s a giant leap back in time. The villages and hamlets were settled many centuries ago. A lot of what one sees on the High Road to Taos is that old. The village of Las Trampas was settled as far back as the 1750s, and the church, along with an irrigation ditch was built shortly thereafter.

The images in this week’s post were made in Llano de San Juan, a slight detour off the main road. It’s out there with fabulous views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains extending north and south as a backdrop. The church of San Juan Nepomuceno in Llano de San Juan was photographed in the 1940s by Russell Lee for the Farm Services Administration.

I never tire of a trip on the High Road. It takes me back in time to my first visit there in 1984. Here’s what I wrote about my first impressions of this area in New Mexico.

“In Thanksgiving week 1984 I made my first of many trips to New Mexico. On this occasion, five of us friends set out on a foggy morning from Santa Fe and made our way north on the high road to Taos. The sites and sounds on the streets of Santa Fe soon opened up to the immense vistas of mesas, and beyond to the Taos Volcanic Plateau.

“We passed through the village of Chimayo climbing the hill to Truchas (Spanish for Trout). Rapidly gaining elevation the landscape changed to pristine hills of ponderosa pines and rust-colored tones of scrub oak in the undergrowth. The vast square miles of pine trees in the Carson National Forrest were punctuated by the bare, white highlights of lanky aspen. Through the misty veil of condensation on the window, we were afforded more than a subtle hint of what autumn in the high country of New Mexico might have looked like one month earlier.

“Leaving Truchas for Penasco, the fog set in. The temperature dropped in the sparsely populated, mountain communities of Las Trampas and Picuris. The colder air outside the car became magically enhanced by the aroma of piñon and juniper burning in the fireplaces of scattered homes. At this very moment… sometimes you just know it, the mystery of things unknown and northern New Mexico took a very palpable hold on me.

“Not more than four years later, in the spring of 1988 that hold tightened and I moved to a small adobe building, with two fireplaces, in Talpa, NM, and began stockpiling five cords of wood for what promised to be a cold winter that year…

Llano de San Juan catholic church
Llano de San Juan church and old homestead.

Llano de San Juan adobe home
Adobe “home” with the church belfry peaking over the roof.

Llano de San Juan post office
The former Post Office Zip Code 87543.

I extended to myself the liberty to create an old photographic look for the following image. I had an old piece of plexiglass lying around. I took it outside and scratched it up with a sheet of sandpaper, followed by a muddy water bath in the driveway. I took a photo of the plexiglass and inverted the image so that the whites became black, creating dark streaks. I like it and have used it on a few other occasions. Here is another photo I created in the Bosque del Apache.

Llano de San Juan old photo grunge
Old photo grunge technique.

And to end this week’s post is how my day ended last Wednesday with the almost full supermoon rising behind Taos Mountain as seen from the deck.

Full moonrise, Taos Mountain
Full moonrise with Taos Mountain from San Cristobal.

As always, Thank you for looking. G

Thunder and Lightning, Portrait, August 10, 2022.

Greetings from San Cristobal and beyond. We’ve had some violent thunder and lightning this last week. While we are grateful for the moisture here, there have been tremendous flash flooding and washouts. Particularly in the Mora Valley following the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak fire this spring.

I could see this thunder and lightning event building from our house. I had to go for a closer look. Not far, just a few miles south, there are wide open vistas of the Taos Valley Picuris, and the Truchas Peaks and beyond. I got lucky with one shot out of the car window. I wasn’t about to get out and set up a tripod. If you think about it, standing out in the rain, I’m the tallest feature in the landscape, hanging on to a metal tripod. Yes, I have a 40-year-old tripod, its metal. A man was struck by lightning during a previous storm this week in Taos. I wish him and his family well.

Here’s what I captured from the car window.

Thunder and lightning storm with lightning strike
Thunder and lightning storm, Taos, NM

Last week we visited my long-time friend and hiking partner I met when I moved to Taos in 1988. Harry and his wife Noreen invited us to their home for lunch. We hadn’t seen them since Harry’s art show in Taos. That was before covid. It was a delightful lunch and a great time visiting them at their home across the Rio Grande Gorge. Following lunch, we sat outside in the shade where the breezes came gently off the canyon rim. Harry sat next to one of his paintings, and we all noticed what a timely portrait it would make.

And the portrait. Harry is 92.

Harry Vedoe, artist and good friend.
Harry Vedoe, Danish/American artist and good friend, Carson, NM

Coming up in September and October!

If you are fortunate to be in Taos on the weekend of September 23-25, 2022, please visit the stables gallery, where I’ll be exhibiting my photography with a group of other artists. The show will consist primarily, of new black and white images, with some of my iconic images alongside.

The Stables Gallery is located at: 133 Paseo del Pueblo Norte Taos, NM 87571

On October 7-31, 2022, I will have a solo exhibition of my Sculpture and Photography, all new work, at the Bareiss Gallery here in Taos


Here’s the advertisement for the exhibit and the details.

Geraint Smith Exhibit at the Bareiss Galley Taos
Exhibition at Bareiss Gallery, Taos, NM

As always, thank you for your support, comments and compliments. Have a good week. G

Monsoon Rains, Fog, Rainbow, August 3, 2022

Greetings from San Cristobal and northern New Mexico, where the monsoon rains are abundant this year.

The monsoon season started early this season, and the forecast is for it to last through August. With a touch of shameless self-promotion, I can honestly say, now is the time to sign up for a photo tour/workshop.

Monsoon rains, northern New Mexico
Monsoon rains, over the Sangre de Cristo mountains, northern New Mexico.

I made a drive on a local backroad yesterday, and a pleasant drive it was. I shot some pictures of the dead and standing trees on the hillsides. The trees are remnants of the Hondo Fire that burned the area in May 1996. It’s a place of great solitude for me and a different kind of stark beauty. Despite the fire, the hillsides look very lush and green

Tree in fog, Lama NM
Tree in shrouded in fog, Lama NM

And a rainbow this week from our field in San Cristobal, NM, is my favorite view of rainbows, second only to Taos Mountain. I only have to step outside the door and look. Things got a little wet after this moment.

Rainbow San Cristobal NM
Rainbow from our field, San Cristobal, NM

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

Taos Mountain, Orilla Verde, Clouds, July 27, 2022

Taos Mountain beckoned across the meadows yesterday on my drive home. It always does! The lighting was intensely bright on the rocky outcroppings and peaks. It looked like snow had accumulated or, perhaps, hail.

Earlier, my son, Dylan, and I drove late afternoon along the Rio Grande south of Taos. The elusive wildlife was probably due to the number of paddlers on that stretch of the river. There were many areas of washouts along the roadside, evidenced in the very muddy river. Dylan spotted a Great Blue Heron who wasn’t having much luck fishing in the brown waters.

We drove on to the Taos Junction Bridge, where I shot the last image, in this post, of the headland that divides the confluence of the Rio Pueblo and the Rio Grande.

I’m beginning this blog at the end and winding up at the beginning.

I hope everyone is staying as hydrated and cool as possible where you are. If you enjoy the cool mountain air and a trip here appeals to you, join me on a photo tour/workshop in the high desert of northern New Mexico.

Taos Mountain storm in Black and white
Taos Mountain storm in black and white.

… and in color. I’m partial to the black and white myself.

Taos Mountain storm in color
Taos Mountain storm in color.

I shot the image below in the Orilla Verde Recreation Area The storm clouds were building. I suspect it looked like this yesterday before the deluge that washed out parts of the roads in the area. I exposed the image for the lighter areas of the clouds and picked up the little highlight on the green grasses of the bench. I lightened the shadow to bring out the other green hues on the hillsides and the rock faces. Moody, just like I experienced the scene.

Sky and Mesa, Orilla Verde, NM
The sky over, Orilla Verde Recreation Area, NM.

If you are interested in seeing more images of Taos Mountain or the Orilla Verde Recreation Area you can put these search terms in the search bar on the website.

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

Rainbows, Elk, Art Bus, July 6, 2022

Greetings from San Cristobal, the place for rainbows this week.

The skies turned almost black this week and brought more much-needed rain. We’ll take it! Being prepared for rainbows with one eye on the western sky, I saw a small opening in the clouds for the sun to work its magic on the landscape. It was still raining enough to get wet and just the right amount to make this rainbow happen. I thoroughly enjoyed standing out in the light and rain for ten minutes. Who doesn’t love rainbows?

Rainbows, Taos Mountain, New Mexico
Rainbows in San Cristobal with Taos Mountain lower center.

At the apex of the rainbow in the image, multiple ‘supernumerary rainbows’ or ‘supernumerary bands’s are visible. Below is the close-up.

Supernumerary rainbows or supernumerary bands, San Cristobal
Detail of ‘supernumerary rainbows’ or ‘supernumerary bands’ in the clouds.

Earlier this year, I met up with my friend Larry for a trip to Abiquiu. I hauled an elk skull and antlers in the back of my 4 Runner. It is large and just fitted in there. I wanted to share a photo opportunity with Larry and create a Georgia O’Keeffe-inspired image. I chose to make an image of what Georgia may have encountered when she came across the remains before she sketched and painted them.

Elk skull and antlers
A Georgia O’Keeffe-inspired image in Arroyo Blanco, Abiquiu, NM.

The artist who created this outdoor art installation has been parked for a couple of weeks along the roadside in El Prado. On this day, I noticed that the painting of Jesus featured prominently front and center. He is juxtaposed with an alien and spaceship, accompanied by artworks of native American icons, two more dead guys, musicians Jerry Garcia and Jim Morrison, and a bevy of buxom women. Hallelujah!

Art Bus in El Prado, Taos, NM
The ‘Art bus’ roadside vendor in El Prado, Taos, NM.

Here’s an image of the fox that visited a few weeks ago. He was moving quickly, and the picture is blurry though it does depict the fleeting moment it happened despite being unable to grab the camera more rapidly.

Fox, San Cristobal
Fox, (lock up your chickens), in the field, San Cristobal.

As always, I hope you enjoyed this week’s tour around the block, thank you for looking. G

Virga Rain, Pastures, and Buddha, June 29, 2022

Greetings from the beautiful San Cristobal and Arroyo Hondo Valleys this week. We have virga skies and verdant pastures following this year’s early monsoon season.

The rain stopped briefly after raining straight for 48 hours. The sun came out for a moment before it began again. I hadn’t been out very much over the last two weeks. Drawn by the light, I grabbed my camera and headed out. I shot this first image of the virga rain from the driveway of our house.

Virga, San Cristobal
Virga over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, San Cristobal.

Within a few minutes after the first image, I hopped in the car and drove south towards Taos, where I would have access to a turnout and views across the Taos Plateau and the walking rain. You won’t find much about walking rain online, but the rain here looks like it is out for a stroll as it passes across the plateau west of Taos.

Walking Rain, Taos Plateau
Walking rain across the Taos Plateau.

A little farther south is the beautiful Arroyo Hondo Valley. As I descended the hill and rounded the curve, this scene appeared. I stayed here for about fifteen minutes before heading home.

Arroyo Hondo pasture and cattle
Pastures in the Arroyo Hondo Valley.

Sometimes all it takes is a brief moment outside to clear my head, watch the storms pass, and nature putting on a beautiful show.

Arroyo Hondo pasture and cattle
A broader view of the verdant pastures in the village of Arroyo Hondo

Within an hour, it was raining again, a torrential downpour with hail hammering on the tin roof and skylights. Lightning and thunder pursued, giving our old dog the tremors. A cheese treat with a cracker cured it. We woke up this morning to clear skies and more rain in the forecast. I’m in no way complaining here about the moisture we need it. See how green the landscape is, compared to a week ago.

This week’s final image is of the garden Buddha surrounded by marigolds Pami planted. I made a double exposure, one of the buddha and the other to blur the marigolds. The garden is loving the rain. It reminds me of Wales. Except in Wales, it would be raining for three weeks.

Garden Budha with marigolds
Buddha statue features again in our garden in San Cristobal.

As always, thank you so much for looking. Stay well, and I’ll see you here next week. G

A Solstice Moment, Wonderful Rain, June 22, 2022

Greetings from a rain-soaked solstice and the first day of summer in Saan Cristobal, NM

A hike in Plaza Blanca is a great place to witness a solstice moment. This image is from a photo tour in 2018. The solstice this year found me asleep in bed. The clouds covered the sun, moon, and this week’s planetary alignments yesterday morning. I slept well all the same.

Summer solstice Plaza Blanca
Summer Solstice, Plaza Blanca, Abiquiu, NM

There is a 12,000 feet peak in those clouds. Those two ravens know it. It’s great to know that the mountain peaks are shrouded in rain, clouds, mist, and not the choking fire smoke we experienced over the last two months. Today it has been raining for five hours straight. It feels a lot like Wales, where I grew up. Although in Wales, it would have been raining for three weeks straight.

Two Ravens
Ravens, and the invisible mountain in the rain.

In the garden, the Apache Plume plant is bedraggled looking. However, the raindrops hang suspended like tiny jewels. Click here to see a picture of an apache plume plant growing from a rock in Plaza Blanca.

Apache Plume
Apache Plume.

Lastly, I wanted to add two bonus images from the High Raod to Taos. I often photograph throughout the day, well past the magic hours. The shadows in this image aren’t there any earlier. I find lots of subjects deserving almost any time of day.

Saint Francis Mission Church
Saint Francis Mission Church, Ranchos de Taos, NM

In this image of the big doors at the mission church San José de Gracia de Las Trampas, I lay on my back and took two photos. I stitched them together to create this different composition. Visiting places as often as I do, I like to inspire myself to find new and different angles. That’s the beauty of being able to make return trips to become familiar with the locations.

San Jose de Gracia de Las Trampas
Under the big doors at San José de Gracia de las Trampas, NM.

If you are inclined to travel this summer, join me here in northern New Mexico for a private one-on-one photography tour/workshop. I’ll look forward to seeing you.

As always thank you for looking. Enjoy the weather where you are. I’m going for a walk in the rain. G

High Road to Taos, New Mexico, June 15, 2022

Yesterday I went on a trip with friends on the High Road to Taos. It was a lovely relaxing day with no schedule or plans except to have fun and make images.

We began our day trip in Ranchos de Taos and photographed the iconic Saint Francis Church. It’s easy to lose track of time when photo opportunities abound. When we final regrouped, we headed south, winding our way through the Rio Grande Gorge to Dixon, picking up the High Road in Peñasco, traveling on to Las Trampas, Truchas, then back to Dixon for a late lunch at the Dixon Cooperative Market and Cafe.

Saint Francis Church on the High Road to Taos
Saint Francis Church, San Francisco de Asis.

South through the Rio Grande Gorge brought us to the town of Dixon, where we found these two benches waiting for us in more ways than one.

Benches in Dixon, NM
Benches in Dixon, NM.
Bench back, Dixon, NM
Bench back detail, Dixon, NM.

After an hour of wandering around Dixon, we headed to the Picuris Pueblo, (still closed to the public) and on to the church of San Jose de Gracia de Las Trampas in Las Trampas, the ‘place of traps.’

San Jose de Gracia de Loas Trampas
The church of San Jose de Gracia de Las Trampas, NM.

Truchas is a twenty-minute drive south on the High Road to Taos and abounds with fascinating and quirky visuals. Truchas was the setting for the movie of the John Nichols, book Milagro Beanfield War, filmed on location in the mid-1980s and directed by Robert Redford. Below is the Truchas Mission Church, Nuestra Señora del Sagrado Rosario.

Truchas Mission Church on the High Road to Taos
Truchas Mission Church, Nuestra Señora del Sagrado Rosario.

The following few images are also located in Truchas, a short walk from the mission church.

House with TV antenna, Truchas, NM
House with TV antenna, Truchas, NM.
Hobby Horse
Hobby Horse in the cool shade of a portal on the High Road to Taos.
Ford F100, Truchas
Ford F100 in Truchas, NM.
Mobile Home, with antenna, Truchas NM
Mobile home, with tv antenna, Truchas, NM.

Before we began our trip, we visited Floras Valley Store in San Cristobal, where my friends came to meet me. I just had to show this sight to them.

Floras Valley Store, San Cristobal, NM
Floras Valley Store, San Cristobal, NM.

We ended a fun day and said our farewells back in San Cristobal. I closed my day watching the “Strawberry Moon” rising over Taos Mountain.

Full "Strawberry Moon" with Taos Mountain
Full “Strawberry Moon” with Taos Mountain, NM.

As always, thank you for looking. G

Squirrel in the garden on a stone cross, June 01, 2022

Greetings from San Cristobal, NM. Coming down from a case of covid, we haven’t been very far in the last week. From our chairs, looking out the living room window, we can watch the immediate world unfold a few feet away on the other side of the glass.

Our cheeky squirrel is back taunting the dogs and looking for birdseed. I removed the birdseed then it took to eating some of the plants instead. We enjoy watching his crazy antics on the fence and climbing on the old Celtic cross we have in the garden. We draw the line at the plants though, and let the dogs out. They can’t catch him but get a little exercise in the chase. The squirrel and our aged dogs seem to enjoy the whole game. I’m sure if the dogs caught up with it, it wouldn’t be pretty.

Here’s a picture from a few years ago when the critter was much younger. Not much has changed including its bold behavior.

Squirrel on a stone cross
Squirrel on a stone cross, San Cristobal, NM
Squirrel on a stone cross, San Cristobal, NM
Saying its prayers, San Cristobal, NM

Getting better and better each day. Things should be back to normal soon, as normal as normal can be.

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

Bearded Iris, Arroyo Hondo, Ramada, May 25, 2022.

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.

Bearded Iris with raindrops San Cristobal
Bearded Iris in the rain in the garden, San Cristobal, NM

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.

Arroyo Hondo Cottonwood Willows Acequia
Cottonwood and willows along the Acequia in Arroyo Hondo, NM

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.

Ramada, Santa fe, NM
Ramada on the road in Galisteo, NM

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