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.
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
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.
As always, thank you for looking. Have a great week. G
Greetings from San Cristobal, the swallowtail butterfly capital, this week. They seem to like the San Cristobal Valley.
Many thanks for checking in and asking how we are doing with covid. One of us is doing better than the other. I’m getting there. The symptoms are mostly fatigue. I’m feeling a lot better today. Onwards.
Technically known as a Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly, it is the western variety of Swallowtail. They have been hanging around since the blossoms opened in May. It’s beautiful to watch their playfulness and when they land on plants, get a photograph!
This tree, highlighted against a dark, red wall, caught my eye in the morning light in Santa Fe. I’m sure it’s all leafed out by now. I must go on another walkabout in Santa Fe soon or another urban area.
Years ago, I did a series of images that amounted to a small portfolio of pictures of how the west was wired up and divided. I called it “The Wired West.” I found the image below recently. From a distance, I thought I’d seen a tumbleweed on the fence, not altogether unusual, but it turned out to be this jumble of wire stuffed down on top of the post. I surmised it was a leftover pile of baling wire from someone repairing the fence line. I added this image to the wired west folder.
As always, thank you for looking, and all the comments, and compliments on my work. G
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 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.
The Wild Rivers Recreation Area of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument is a gem of a place that I like to visit throughout the year. This time I visited some of my favorite lone trees. I do like a solitary tree. A lone tree for me is like finding a friendly soul where one least expects it. These three trees are all still standing and were strong enough to withstand the high winds last December that flattened hillsides of trees in other areas. The thin layer of clouds gave an illuminated glow to the landscape like a big softbox light.
This old piñon pine is hanging in there and I anticipate a few more pictures until it succumbs to the elements. Its impending demise will also, no doubt, entice me to make images for years to come.
Pretty much the same predicament for this tree as for the other two. The dead needles clinging to the limbs of this tree gave a nice warmth to the scene. The overcast lighting and water on the needles saturated the colors. I could see the reds from a distance and moved in closer to get this shot.
You guessed it… Taos Mountain from the deck in San Cristobal, and a last glimmer of light on the mountain before the sun disappeared for the night.
I found the image below in the archives while searching for the crane image to print. I’d previously published this storm cloud in black and white. It impressed me in color so here it is.
Three new fine art prints went out of the studio this week. If a print interessts you click on the picture to go the pertinent purchase page. This first image of the Sandhill Cranes against the Rocky Mountains, I titled “Pas de Deux”.
Geology in the desert around Abiquiu.
And the Lone Tree, the “Welcome Tree” at the Taos overlook.
Ok… one last image of a young Sandhill Crane at the Monte Vista NWR coming in for a landing.
As always, thank you for looking. Have a great week. G
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
These birds watch and call to their family members as they fly in.
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.
The tree in the center is a popular roost for bald eagles. There’s one in the tree in this photo.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
This waterfall ran for a week fourteen years ago. I shot a number of images on February 14, 2008. I went back with a friend the next day after the sun came out. We had fun scrambling over the rocks. It was unusual that the temps reached 60º F that day. The snow melted and I was told by a BLM ranger that a small dam had broken above the falls. He said that the previous time he saw it flowing anywhere near to this force was twenty-six years earlier. It was a sight to behold. (Click to enlarge images).
I delved into the archives for this one. The tree held on for quite a while. It’s gone now. Of course, Cerro Pedernal is still looming large over the surrounding landscape. I shot this from the Rio Chama river road to the Desert Monastery.
Sitting in the same folder as the image above was this image from long ago. I think I recall the plant in a pot my daughter had on a windowsill.
It snowed a couple of times in the last month, so I got out and looked for an appropriate location. This building is in Costilla, New Mexico on the Colorado State Line.
Snow-capped Yarrow plant in the garden. All the yarrow lost their caps in the warm weather over the last couple of days. It was a pretty sight while it lasted.
One of my favorite portraits shot on Kodachrome 64, scanned and converted to black and white. I shot this on Christmas day at Taos Pueblo during the Matachines dance in the late 1980s.
I have a lot of fun making these blog posts. I hope you enjoy them. Thank you for all the comments and compliments. I really appreciate it. As always, thank you for looking. G