Fine Art Images from the American Southwest

Tag: Northern New Mexico

Lunar Eclipse, Fires, Photo Tour, May 18, 2022.

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.

Lunar Eclipse, May 15, 2022
The full moon Lunar Eclipse as seen from San Cristobal, NM, May 15, 2022

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.

Cattle in the Taos Valley with the Calf Canyon, Hermits Peak Fire
Cattle in the Taos Valley with the Calf Canyon, Hermits Peak Fire

Cattle in the Taos Valley with the Calf Canyon, Hermits Peak Fire
Cattle in the Taos Valley with the Calf Canyon, Hermits Peak Fire

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.

Pyrocumulus clouds from the Calf Canyon, Hermits Peak Fire
Pyrocumulus clouds from the Calf Canyon, Hermits Peak fire, NM

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.

Thick fire smoke from the Calf Canyon, Hermits Peak fire, NM
Thick fire smoke in the San Cristobal Valley, NM

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.

Saint Francis Church, Ranchos de Taos, NM
Morning at the Saint Francis Church, Ranchos de Taos, NM

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.

Swallowtail Butterfly and blossoms
Swallowtail Butterfly with blossoms.

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

Fire In New Mexico, May 11, 2022

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.

Calf Canyon, Hermits Peak Fire, NM
A view of the Calf Canyon, Hermits Peak Fire, shot overlooking the San Cristobal Valley, NM

Calf Canyon, Hermits Peak fire in New Mexico
Calf Canyon, Hermits Peak fire here in New Mexico.

Fire in New Mexico
Looking south from Highway 522 towards Taos, NM

As always thank you for looking. G

Spring Blossoms, Crescent Moon, Abiquiu, May 4, 2022

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.

Crab apple Blossoms with raindrops
Crab apple blossoms, San Cristobal, NM
White Blossoms, San Cristobal
Ornate white blossoms in the garden, San Cristobal, NM
White ornate spring blossoms
Spring blossoms are spotlighted by the sun, San Cristobal, NM

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.

Waxing Crescent moon with blossoms
Waxing Crescent Moon with silhouetted blossoms.

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.

Rio Chama, Abiquiu, New Mexico
Rio Chama, Abiquiu, New Mexico.

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.

Abiquiu Lake rocks
Under the big rock at Abiquiu Lake with Cerro Pedernal, (flint peak), NM

As always thank you for visiting and looking. G

Fort Union, Santa Cruz, Chairs, Bone Ball, Dinosaur.

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.

Mechanics Corral at Fort Union, NM
Mechanics Corral, Fort Union National Monument, NM.

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.

Santa Cruz Church, New Mexico
Building detail on the Santa Cruz Church, NM

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.

Outdoor dining table and chairs
Outdoor dining at the Overland Ranch, El Prado, NM

A found object, and if I can remember where I shot it, I will be a happy camper!

Bone ball whimsical find in New Mexico
Bone and Ball, somewhere in New Mexico.

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.”

Telephone with wire
Telephone with wire no longer ringing, in Santa Fe, NM

As always thank you for looking. I appreciate all the kind comments and compliments. Stay well, happy and healthy. G

Mobile Home, The Moon, The Birds, In a Window, On the Roadside

Greetings from northern New Mexico. A mobile home in our neighborhood (so New Mexico) with the moon rising over the San Cristobal Valley.

Mobile Home, moonrise
Mobile home full moonrise, San Cristobal, NM

And the next night from the driveway as the moon slinked over the ridge.

Full moon rise Sangre de Cristo foothills
Full moon rise over the Sangre de Cristo foothills, San Cristobal, NM

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.

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

I couldn’t resist the juxtaposition in a window in the photo below. Everything is for sale. I just take the photo.

Guadalupe Window
Guadalupe in a Window

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!

Roadside sofa, New Mexico Style
Roadside sofa, (so) New Mexico style.

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.

Williams Lake in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains
Williams Lake in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico.

I made a print of Valley of the Gods.

Valley of the Gods
New Print, Valley of the Gods

Click here to go to the purchase print page. The print is large but I can print it smaller than the sizes shown.

As always, thank you for looking and for all the kind comments and compliments over the last few weeks. Until next week, have a great week. G

Monument Valley, Valley of the Gods, March 30, 2022

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.

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park shadow event.
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park Shadow event.
Monument Valley, the “Mittens shadow event” at the prime moment.

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.

A line man for the county
A county lineman with the best view!

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?

Valley of the Gods, Utah
Valley of the Gods, Utah.
Valley of the Gods, Utah close up of rain storm
Valley of the Gods, a close-up of a fast-moving rainstorm.

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.

Muley Point and clouds from below in color.
Muley Point with clouds from below.
Navajo Mountain from Muley Point, Utah
San Juan River Goosenecks looking to the west and Navajo Mountain.

Back to Monument Valley, the point of the whole trip.

Tree with a view in Monument Valley
Tree and a view in Monument Valley.
A spectacular view in Monument Valley
Spectacular view in Monument Valley, sans the tree.

Just because it was there, I had fun lining up this shot of the Mittens with a random chair…

West and East Mittens framed
West and East Mittens are framed by a vendor’s tent structure.

…and this one!

West Mitten Framed
West Mitten is framed by a vendor’s tent structure.

One last look at the Monument Valley scenic drive from the iconic pair of rocks at the valley vista.

"The mittens", Monument Valley
“The Mittens”, Monument Valley, scenic drive.

Then it was on to Shiprock, known to the Navajo as Tsé Bitʼaʼí – Rock with Wings, and the road home.

Shiprock "Rock with Wings"
Shiprock, Tsé Bitʼaʼí (Rock with Wings), New Mexico.

Shiprock Tsé Bitʼaʼí (Rock with Wings) New Mexico
Shiprock, New Mexico.

Incidentally, this is how our trip began in the early hours of Tuesday Morning on Highway 64 west of Taos, New Mexico.

Highway 64, New Mexico
Driving in snow and ice on Highway 64, 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.

As always, thank you for looking. G

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

Riparian Habitats, Rio Chama, Bosque del Apache

Greetings from a blustery and chilly afternoon in San Cristobal, NM

We begin in Abiquiu along the banks of the Rio Chama underneath a cottonwood tree, its branches extending over the red willows to the river itself. Cerrito Blanco (butte) just north of the village of Abiquiu makes a natural focal point framed by a large tree limb.

Rio Chama Bosque, Abiquiu
Rio Chama bosque, Abiquiu, NM

The cottonwood trees (one with a heart shape) line the banks of the river upstream and downstream for many miles. If you want to get a faceful of fall color plan to visit in late September and October. Check out my photo tour/workshop page for info on my year-round trips.

Rio Chama Bosque, Abiquiu, NM
Cottonwoods on the Rio Chama, Abiquiu, NM

Approximately four hours south is the Bosque del Apache (Woods of the Apache) NWR. This world-renowned National Wildlife Refuge is the wintering grounds for thousands of Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese. Areas of the refuge are flooded to create marches which attract many more birds and waterfowl. The refuge is open year-round, but if you want to see it at its best then plan to visit between November and January.

Bosque del Apache, NM
Reflections in a marsh at the Bosque del Apache, NM

Besides the winged ones, the refuge is teeming with other wildlife. Bobcats, coyotes, elk, mountain lions, (I’ve yet to catch a glimpse of one), javelina, snakes, and this mule deer with many of its cousins!

Mule Deer Bosque del Apache, NM
Mule Deer, Bosque del Apache, NM

Below is one of numerous Great Blue Herons that frequent the area. Each bird seems almost territorial over its pond. I pretty much guarantee this bird will be here at this time, on this pond every morning, patiently waiting and watching. Patience and steadfastness are traits I like to aspire to. I think I’ve got the patience factor down.

Great Blue Heron, Bosque del Apache, NM
Great Blue Heron, morning in the Bosque del Apache, NM

Sandhill Cranes are the biggest attraction at the refuge. Here at sunset visitors wait for the fly-in when the cranes land in the marshes to settle in for the night, safe from predators. In the morning at sunrise, they lift off in small groups and take to the skies bound for the pastures and cornfields up and down the refuge and the nearby Rio Grande. It’s quite a spectacular sight. If you want to be truly amazed, be sure to catch the thousand upon thousands of snow geese lift off simultaneously at sunrise. Here’s a short video I shot a couple of years ago. Pardon the ad at the beginning. There are some more images from the Bosque del Apache here.

Sandhill cranes, Bosque del Apache
Sandhill cranes, sunset at the Bosque del Apache

These birds watch and call to their family members as they fly in.

Sandhill crane, Bosque del Apache
Sandhill crane, Bosque del Apache

Sandhill cranes, in flight, Bosque del Apache
Sandhill cranes, in-flight at the Bosque del Apache NWR, NM

Before dawn is the time I like best on one of the loop drives. While all the visitors are watching the snow geese and cranes fly out, I enjoy the rest of the refuge pretty much to myself. I’ve watched the lift-off many times. I also enjoy the refuge throughout other times of the day. When the many photographers and crowds are gone for lunch in nearby San Antonio and Socorro, again I enjoy the refuge mostly to myself. I prefer a picnic and solitude, in the presence of raptors perched high up looking for their lunch below.

Red-tailed Hawk, Bosque del Apache NWR
Red-tailed Hawk roosting, Bosque del Apache NWR

The tree in the center is a popular roost for bald eagles. There’s one in the tree in this photo.

Eagle roost tree, Bosque del Apache NWR
Eagle roosting tree, Bosque del Apache NWR, San Antonio, NM

As always, thank you for looking. G

Snow Moon Rising, Fallen Tree, That Old Homestead.

Greetings from San Cristobal, NM

Yesterday evening I made my monthly trip out to photograph the almost (98%) full snow moon. For all intents and purposes, the difference was barely noticeable unless you squint your eyes. Sometimes it’s a marked difference, but as you can see in the second photo imperceptible this month.

I prefer to photograph the moon in the evening before it is full because the sun is still up illuminating the landscape as the moon rises behind our mountains. This gives a nice balance of light on the moon and mountains. Here are some more moon images which happen to be available as fine art prints. If you click on the link you will get the idea.

Snow Moon Rising, Vallecito Mountain
“Snow Moon” rising, Vallecito Mountain

I began this particular evening west of Taos near the Rio Grande Gorge bridge. I saw the moon appear behind a southerly ridge and made a few hazy images. As I quickly headed back east toward the mountains the moon began to vanish again below the ridgeline. I turned north and was able to place the moon directly behind this peak and watch it rise again. The lighting now was crisp and clear, and the mountains were gently illuminated. Naturally, I know this approach as I’ve done it so many times before. TPE (The Photographers Ephemeris) phone app helped me pinpoint where precisely the moon would appear and at what time. I use the app as a backup. Sometimes I’m slightly off. But not this time. The app confirmed it.

Snow Moon Rising, Vallecito Mountain
“Snow Moon” rising, over Vallecito Mountain

The image below is from a few years back after a wind storm broke the trunk of an already weakened tree, weakened by the creation of a stabilization dam on the Rio Costilla in the Valle Vidal. Despite its demise, I think it made for a nice image.

Fallen Tree, Valle Vidal
Fallen Tree, Valle Vidal

Below is an image of one of my favorite abandoned homesteads in the San Luis Valley. I’ve met the owners of some of the empty buildings who have made me feel welcome. There are other homesteads sitting out there open to all the elements. I keep visiting this place and suspect just like the impermanence of many other things in this world, it will be gone soon. For now, it continues to live a long life giving great pleasure, at least to me and a few of my adventurous photography clients.

Old homestead, San Luis Valley
That favorite old homestead, San Luis Valley

Here’s to a great week ahead with the potential for snow here in northern New Mexico. Enjoy your week where you are. And, as always, thank you for looking. G