Stabilizing Adobe

Stabilizing Adobe – easier said than done!

Adobe has been a long-used building material in New Mexico. As noted before, many adobe structures are weathering away, because lifestyles have changed and people no longer have the time to spend on the required maintenance.

Adobe is beautiful, and many ways have been and are being tried to create more stable adobe. This adobe wall shows two things – the adobe bricks are not placed on the ground, but instead on top of a cement foundation, and the wall is “capped” with something other than plain adobe. The goal of the former is to prevent absorption of water from the ground. The goal of the latter is help slow down the weathering of adobe from rain, wind, etc.

stabilizing adobe
Modern Adobe Wall

When we take a close look at that stabilized wall, however, we see that the adobe bricks are gradually weathering away, in spite of stabilization efforts.

stabilizing adobe
Modern Adobe Wall

As I have noted many times before, weathering adobe walls are commonplace in the New Mexico landscape. In spite of my awareness of this, I was surprised a couple of weekends ago when I turned a corner at the Biopark and saw this image:

stabilizing adobe
Wall with Supports

Those are some major supports being used to keep a wall standing! Here is another view of those supports:

stabilizing adobe
Wall with Supports

This close up view of what was covering the wall looks like stucco with cement and/or asphalt, the kind of covering that possibly kept the underlying material from breathing. I suspect the wall supports were added after this covering failed to stop the “melting” of the underlying wall, although at this time I do not know that for a fact.

stabilizing adobe
Patched wall cracking

Adobe is beautiful. It is “natural.” It blends into the landscape. It is “dirt cheap.” Those are just some of the reasons to love adobe as a construction material. But, and this is major, adobe requires constant maintenance.

Thanks to the Worldwide Photography Gala Awards

Thanks to Julio Hardy and his staff at the Worldwide Photography Gala Awards for selecting me as one of their Photographers of the Week for last week. Beginning April 10, and running for a year, I will have work in the Gallery of Photographers at that site. This is a wonderful photography award for exposure of my work.

The selection was based on the images in the last two posts here: “Spirits of the Old Adobes” and “Jellyfish Series.” “Spirits of the Old Adobes” is a personal fun project that I did mainly for myself, that combined in a fun way for me work I have done over the last 8 months. It goes beyond that, however. Every time I look at an old adobe, I wonder about the people who built it, the people who lived in it, perhaps for generations, and wonder where their descendants are now. I wonder what they believed, what rituals they observed, what were the important events in their lives, and on and on. Populating the abandoned adobes with Day of the Dead figures somehow made them feel “complete” to me at one level. I am really happy that the “Spirits of the Old Adobes” was selected for inclusion.

photography award susan brandt graham
Spirits of the Old Adobes

The other series selected is “Jellyfish in the Desert,” the jellyfish I photographed at the Albuquerque Aquarium just a little over a week ago. That also was a personal project I had wanted to do for some time. I finally went out and did it. There is a great deal of personal satisfaction in having those images recognized as well.

Pacific Sea Nettle jellyfish
Pacific Sea Nettle jellyfish

I’ll post a link to the Photographers Gallery when the gallery goes up on April 10. I am really pleased to have my work selected at this time, and to have it included alongside photographers such as Bobbie Goodrich (also in New Mexico), Dianne Yudelson, and Marguerite Garth, among others.

Once again, my thanks go to Julio Hardy, Alex, and the staff at WPGA for recognizing my work with this photography award. The WPGA has been supportive of my work for the last three years.

Spirits of the Old Adobes

Spirits of the Old Adobes

Every now and then it is fun to play with images that were taken at different times, for different reasons, and to combine them for a new purpose.

Regular readers here, as well as my friends, know that I have been working on collecting images of adobes, especially old and/or abandoned ones, or those being demolished. I also have some images showing “mudding,” in an attempt to preserve some of structures. These adobes, in various states of repair and disrepair, are an integral part of the New Mexico landscape.

Those of you who know New Mexico are also aware that commonly seen here are celebrations that are uncommon in other parts of the United States. El Dia de los Muertos (“Day of the Dead”) is observed throughout parts of New Mexico, both through decorations and the large Muertos y Marigolds parade in Albuquerque’s South Valley.

The following images are composites made from photographs from both the Adobe Project and the Border Celebrations projects. I did them for fun. I hope you enjoy them, also.

These images are available for purchase here.

composited image
Spirits of the Old Adobes
composited image
Spirits of the Old Adobes
composited images
Spirits of the Old Adobes
composited image
Lord of the Manor

Jellyfish in the Desert

The Albuquerque Biopark has a small, but very nice, aquarium. For years I have been intrigued by the jellyfish. However, I was not sure I would ever be able to photograph the ones at the Biopark, because they are in a dark room. Additionally, the moon jellyfish are in a very dark tank. The Pacific sea nettles are in a dark room but are in a brightly lit tank. So, until yesterday, I would go, look at, and enjoy the jellyfish, but I never tried to photograph them. Yesterday I had time to think and to play, and for a Sunday there were surprisingly few people there, so I was comfortable taking my time. These are some of the images I was able to create yesterday.

Moon Jellyfish

Moon Jellyfish
Moon Jellyfish

Pacific Sea Nettle

Pacific Sea Nettle
Pacific Sea Nettle
Pacific Sea Nettle
Pacific Sea Nettle

More Moon Jellyfish

Moon jellyfish
Moon jellyfish

The Albuquerque Biopark is really a gem in the desert. For those of you who live in the area, it is a great place to visit at any time. For visitors, it is something to put on your list of things to do when you are in New Mexico.

Color at the Albuquerque Biopark

The Albuquerque Biopark is celebrating its blooming bulbs in March. A few crocus and daffodils are beginning to bloom on the grounds, but the show at present consists of calla lilies and a few other assorted flowers in the Mediterranean Conservatory.

Over the years I have grown a few calla lilies. Somehow, I had expected the ones at the Biopark to be larger. Most were either the size I had grown, or even a little smaller. On the one hand, I did not feel like such a failure as a gardener of calla lilies. On the other hand, I was a bit disappointed as a photographer that there were no “giant” calla lilies on display. What I can say, however, is that the calla lilies (and other flowers) blooming today were quite colorful!

Flowers
Flowers at the Biopark
Calla Lily
Calla Lily at the Biopark
Calla Lily
Calla Lily at the Biopark
Calla Lily
Calla Lily at the Biopark
Calla Lily
Calla Lily at the Biopark

The Mediterranean Conservatory at the Albuquerque Biopark

The Albuquerque Biopark is a wonderful place to visit at any time of the year.

I went today to see some of the bulbs that were blooming in the Mediterranean Conservatory. Until today, I had never paid much attention to the building itself. That may be because when the trees and other plants have leaves, the building does not stand out so much. But today I found the building itself an interesting photographic subject.

Albuquerque Biopark
Mediterranean Conservatory at the Albuquerque Biopark

Another post will show some of the beautiful bulbs that were blooming within the Mediterranean Conservatory today. This images in this post, however, are of the outside of the Mediterranean Conservatory itself. The sun was out when I first arrived, but clouds had moved in by the time I was making the last images.

Mediterranean Conservatory
Mediterranean Conservatory at the Albuquerque Biopark
Mediterranean Conservatory
Mediterranean Conservatory at Albuquerque Biopark

I would encourage everyone to consider visiting the Biopark. As spring arrives, it will begin to change almost daily. The Biopark is one of Albuquerque’s jewels.