Smoke from a Distant Fire

smoke distant fire

Smoke from a Distant Fire

Smoke from a distant fire, in this case, multiple fires in the west, has made its way into New Mexico and Albuquerque. The sky has been hazy for several days. My eyes have burned a bit. I knew the smoke was here, but had not paid too much attention. Until last evening, that is. When I went out to change the water in the hummingbird feeders, I caught a glimpse of the moon rising over the Sandias. The moon seemed huge, but rather than the bright silver I’m used to seeing, it was a muddy red. By the time I got my camera, the moon was already up, but the same color. When I plan to photograph the moon, I generally use a tripod. This wasn’t planned and I didn’t have time. Such is life.

From 7:30pm MDT:

smoke from a distant fire
Smoke From Fires in the West Has Reached Albuquerque

With thoughts for all the people affected by the fires burning in the west, the firefighters, other emergency responders, as well as those affected by Harvey and those facing the threat of Irma.

This old song always comes to mind when fires are burning and smoke is in the air:

Monsoon Rain and Roses

monsoon rains

Monsoon Rain and Roses

Monsoon rain and roses have been outstanding this year!

Monsoon Rain

In July, I showed the first real rain at my house of the 2017 monsoon season. It was unusual, dropping 2.5 inches of rain in 40 minutes. Overall, I’ve gotten almost 7 inches of rain this monsoon season. The transformational power of rain in the desert is remarkable.

July 17, 2017:

monsoon rain
Monsoon Rain and Pond

August 21, 2017:

monsoon rain
Back Yard, A Month Later

Roses

The roses have responded in like manner.

The hybrid tea ‘Gemini’ has put out many sprays, which will appear at a later time. The one-to-a-stem blooms have had the perfect form for which this particular rose is known. This image is from the other night, after a brief monsoon shower. The new ARS guidelines that will be coming out later this month strongly suggest avoiding images with water droplets on the petals. I agree with avoiding such images if the light is wrong and the droplets light up as blank, a real distraction. But raindrops on roses after a gentle life-giving rain in the desert? I will photograph and show such images, happily. ‘Gemini’ is one of my favorite hybrid tea roses to grow in Albuquerque. “Raindrops on roses…” The stucco of my house, against which most of my hybrid teas grow, is the background.

monsoon rain and roses
Raindrops on Roses – ‘Gemini’

Another of my favorite hybrid tea roses in the desert is ‘Veterans’ Honor.’ It has also responded to the monsoon rains. While I frequently get sprays on ‘Gemini,’ most ‘Veterans’ Honor’ blooms for me are one-to-a-stem. However, it produced a spray this year. This is not any kind of classic spray form by any stretch of the imagination. Nevertheless, I kind of like the almost ‘golden spiral’ effect of this spray, the always-gorgeous color, and healthy foliage seen here.

monsoon rain and roses
Spray of Hybrid Tea Rose, ‘Veterans’ Honor’

Although Albuquerque will see some additional rain this year, the monsoon season is rapidly drawing to a close. From my perspective, as well as that of my yard and flowers, this has been a great – and much needed – monsoon year!

2017 Eclipse Shadows and Bokeh

eclipse bokeh

2017 Eclipse Shadows and Bokeh

2017 Eclipse shadows and bokeh were what I photographed yesterday. Albuquerque had a partial eclipse, rather than the total eclipse seen in a large swath of this country. But, any eclipse is exciting. I photographed what I know how to photograph, and learned some new things and a better appreciation of light along the way. For beautiful images of the eclipse itself as seen in Albuquerque, do yourself a favor and visit and visit Tim Price’s blog, Off Center and Not Even

Eclipse Shadows

I photographed these eclipse shadows on the sidewalk at my mother’s house six minutes after the peak of the eclipse here. The light was filtered through her crab apple trees. Clouds rolled over the sun, then left a clear sun briefly, then rolled over again. You will see much sharper shadows of the eclipse from areas with clear skies Nevertheless, I find these an interesting phenomenon. It is a safe way to view an eclipse.

Eclipse Shadows and Bokeh
Eclipse Shadows on the Sidewalk
Eclipse Shadows and Bokeh
Eclipse Shadows on the Sidewalk

Eclipse Bokeh

I knew about the shadows, and have photographed them before. Until yesterday, I had never thought about eclipse bokeh. Yesterday I learned about it accidentally. Had I known, I would have spent more time photographing birds and sunflowers in my yard! Not until I was processing casually shot images did I realize what I was seeing.

This image of the floribunda rose ‘Fabulous!’ is from May. The bokeh, the light filtered through the tree, is clear and round. This is normal bokeh.

bokeh
Normal Bokeh

Look at the bokeh in this image, taken when the eclipse was about three-quarters over. Note the distortion, and how different it appears from the bokeh in the image above. The eclipse is present in the bokeh! Seeing that in processing the image was an “Ah, hah!” moment for me. While it makes perfect sense, I had just never thought about it before.

eclipse shadows bokeh
Eclipse Bokeh

This is a closer crop:

eclipse shadows and bokeh
Bird, Sunflowers, and Eclipse Bokeh

Albuquerque saw only a partial solar eclipse yesterday. Nevertheless, I had so much fun photographing eclipse shadows and learning that the eclipse appears in bokeh! Most of all, because I had never thought about bokeh during an eclipse, this was a very exciting learning experience about light for me! Finally, I hope you enjoy the images too! 🙂

Nature’s Simple Beauty

Nature's simple beauty

Nature’s Simple Beauty

Nature’s simple beauty is refreshing after a wonderful, colorful, noisy holiday. My neighbors, organic gardeners, grow many things. While they harvested their onions last week, they left these for a few days so I could photograph them. I thank them!

First of all, a relevant quote for this post:

“If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Nature's simple beauty
Onions – Intertwined Beauty
Nature's simple beauty
Intertwined Onions
Nature's simple beauty
Things Aren’t Always What They Seem – Onions

Although these are plants, I could not help thinking of two posts Tim Price did on his blog this spring: Lizard Love and Snakes in Love. Nature is so full of interwining, whether you interpret them as the same or opposite in plants and animals.

In addition to the two onions in the three images above, a small one especially caught my eye. Most of all, it seemed so elegant in its simplicity.

nature's simple beauty

Beautiful New Photography Book

Beautiful New Photography Book

This beautiful new photography book was a gift from a dear friend earlier this month. I have found it to be a source of inspiration for reassessing my own photography, as well as just a joy to view. I do not ordinarily use posts here to promote the work of others. However, I think some of you will enjoy this book as much as I have, and I wanted to let you know about it. This Land: An American Portrait by Jack Spencer with foreword by Jon Meacham:

photography book

My Amazon Review

This magnificent volume of some 140 photographic images spans thirteen years and the Lower 48 States. Begun in 2003, partially as a response to 9/11, this photographic essay, with intense and raw beauty, is a search for meaning by a photographic artist. The images as they came out of the camera were a starting point for creating images Spencer saw in his “mind’s eye.” This is not a glossy travel brochure with beautiful travel images designed to entice tourists to visit, jump out of the car, take a snapshot, and move on to the next spot. Indeed, it is the exact opposite. These are images over which to linger, to contemplate what the artist was thinking as he created each image and what he hoped to show us. These are images that open the mind and encourage the viewer to look deeply and differently at the world around him/herself. What is the meaning of each image, and, taken as a whole, what do they say about the meaning of America? There are probably as many answers as there are viewers of the book.

Jon Meacham, in his Foreword, writes of what he finds “surprising images” in the book. Those were not surprising images to me. I live in “The Land of Enchantment,” which, in some ways, is still a frontier. But Spencer’s treatment of images from places I know, such as Truchas and Cerrillos, New Mexico, made me see them in a different way. This is a book that will influence my photography going forward.

Spencer is saddened, appalled that the majority of people he encountered seemed to be unaware of the beauty around them: “I was constantly stunned by the sheer volume of sleepwalking masses.” And, “…a phrase from the Gnostic Gospels of Thomas does come to mind: ‘The kingdom of heaven is spread out across the earth but men do not see it.’” I was not surprised when he noted that sometimes the beauty was so great he knew no camera could capture it, and that he would watch a scene, with camera packed.

I was fortunate to receive the book as a gift from a friend who knew the images would speak to me. Photographers and artists will find much to enjoy here. People who have quietly enjoyed the beauty of this country, whether in their own back yards or along country back roads or in local, state, or National Parks, or anywhere, for that matter, will find the book and its images offer a chance for reflection about many facets of life. Those groups are a natural audience. But, a group to whom I would especially recommend this book are parents with children of all ages. Study the images and your responses to them. Show them to your children, and let them tell you what they see. Discuss the history of this country, and the magnificent beauty there for the seeing. Help them open their eyes, not just to look, but to see. Five stars.

If you have the time and interest, take a look at this beautiful landscape photography book, available at Amazon and elsewhere. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Pomegranates: Fruit of Myths

pomegranates fruit myths

Pomegranates: Fruit of Myths

Pomegranates: fruit of myths; regular readers here – thank you! – are familiar with the myth of Persephone. Enjoyable for eating today, they are also wonderful photographic subjects.

pomegranates fruit myths
Pomegranates: Fruit of Myths

Some quotes:

“And the pomegranates, like memories, are bittersweet as we huddle together, remembering just how good life used to be”
Author: Guadalupe Garcia McCall

“So where does the name Adam’s apple come from? Most people say that it is from the notion that this bump was caused by the forbidden fruit getting stuck in the throat of Adam in the Garden of Eden. There is a problem with this theory because some Hebrew scholars believe that the forbidden fruit was the pomegranate. The Koran claims that the forbidden fruit was a banana. So take your pick—Adam’s apple, Adam’s pomegranate, Adam’s banana. Eve clearly chewed before swallowing.”
Author: Mark Leyner

The pomegranate as a fruit and in myths and religion has a very long history throughout the world. With this image, I wanted to create a “feel” for its Middle Eastern origins as well as a sense of age.

A Note About Photography

As this is a photography blog, I want to mention something all serious photographers know well. That is, cameras do not create images, people do. The camera is but one tool for the creation of photographic images. When I hear, Öh, but so-and-so has a good camera,” I am reminded of an old joke loved by photographers.

A photographer is invited to dinner. During dinner the hostess says, “You do beautiful photography. You must have a great camera.” To which the photographer replies, “The dinner was delicious. You must have a great stove.”

Serious photographers do something with their images daily, most of which are never seen by the world. They learn something each day, be it about their camera, other equipment, or themselves. This affects every image created, going forward.

Life issues have temporarily decreased my blogging time, but not daily photography of some sort. Many thanks to everyone who continues to check in here periodically.

A Found Film Negative!

film negative Chaco Canyon

A Found Film Negative from Chaco Canyon, Many Years Ago!

A found film negative – one that I looked for over a couple of years – is something to celebrate! This image of Chaco Canyon was, for many years, the only one of my photographs hanging in the house. A 26×20 inch print remains a fixture in my dining room. Over the years, although long ago, I had given prints as gifts to friends who knew and appreciated the area. This image was taken when Chaco Canyon was just called “Chaco Canyon.” It is now “Chaco Culture National Historical Park” and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

film negative Chaco Canyon
Great Kiva, Chetro Ketl, Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Several years ago I thought it would be fun to obtain a scan of the 35mm film negative just to play with it in digital form, and perhaps make some smaller prints for other friends. I started going through all the film negatives I could find, which I had never filed in what I now would consider an appropriate manner. I looked everywhere. Film negatives were in multiple places. The negatives were sometimes with different prints. The dates on the folders did not always match the date of the negatives. I had finally given up on finding this particular one, although I found many that I probably should dispose of.

Regular readers here may have noticed I have been on an extended winter break, which will continue on for a bit after this post. (A slight digression – if you visited on January 8 or 9, you may have encountered “the white screen of death.” A Word Press plugin was broken, and I spent much of the evening of January 9 figuring out how to fix this when I could not login to the site, which had gone offline!) In my time off, I have been working hard on decluttering the house, which has taken me into closets and drawers which had not been looked at for some time. Last week – Eureka! – in a small envelope obviously placed in a very safe place, was the negative for this, and three others. The three others were unimportant, they were just attached to the strip that contained this image.

Conversion of a 35mm Film Negative to a Digital Image

I sent the film negative to one of the professional labs I use for large digital prints, not for printing but for scanning. In an email I saw a charge for “mask.” Reading about issues of color in scanning 35mm film to digital, and the use of color masks in the conversion process, interrupted my decluttering. I know a little something about color and digital processing, but this was the first time I really had to stop and think about color in the scanning process. It did make the time seem to go fast, the time I was waiting for the digital CD to arrive.

When the package arrived, I did not open it immediately. That is very unlike me. I set it where I could see it, and continued what I had been doing. After a couple of hours I opened it, and found the four negatives had been separated and placed in their own sturdy envelopes, along with their attached masks. This was all new and interesting to me.

Finally, I put the CD in the computer, and copied the images to a file on my hard drive. I then opened the images in Lightroom. That was the first time I was absolutely certain I had found the 35mm film negative I had been searching for for a couple of years. This is the image of Chaco Canyon that I carry in my head. The image that you are seeing here is one that I “color corrected” to my memory and to the print that has been hanging in my house for years. The color corrected one from the lab was too bright and shiny. 🙂

Working with the image on the computer, I noticed a lot of flaws. Only one can I blame on the age of the negative improperly stored for many years. I had to go look at the print, and I was more than a little surprised that all but one of the flaws I see now were there all the time on the print. I also had to learn at an emotional level something I knew at an intellectual level: film grain and digital noise are two very different things.

Do the flaws in this found film negative change how I feel about the image? Yes and no. I doubt I’ll be making large prints as gifts, and I won’t be entering it for jurying for shows. But this is how I see Chaco, a place I loved from the first time I was there, spring of 1966. It is a place where even people who are not particularly religious feel the spirituality and power of the land. I have been very fortunate to be there multiple times when there were not many other people around. This image reminds me of so much that is very personal to me. I am glad to have it now in a form in which I can work with it. Friends may get small prints, or I may use it on note cards. It represents a part of my life that shaped who I am now. Just a personal bias, but I also like this image as much as any of the images of Chetro Ketl posted on the Park Service site.

In Today’s World

If you have never been to Chaco Canyon, it may be hard to imagine the power that this place has, even to a casual visitor. I close with a link to an op-ed piece written by two young people with ancestral ties to the land.

Black and White Photography: Shades of Gray

black and white photography

Black and White Photography: ANMPAS Presents “Shades of Gray” December 4 – 27, 2016 at ExpoNM

Black and white photography as the sole focus for the December ANMPAS show is new this year. All of the ANMPAS (Annual New Mexico Photographic Arts Shows) shows feature New Mexico photographers. The December show has been a general show, with color and black and white images. The April show (Insight-NM) has featured women artists of New Mexico.

Organizer LeRoy Perea is changing things up a bit this year. December 2016 is “Shades of Gray.” April 2017 will be the standard ANMPAS show. December 2017 will be “Insight-NM.”

black and white photography
Shades of Gray Black and White Photography Show

The show is closed December 24 and 25. Otherwise, it is open from 10:00am – 5:00pm December 4 – 27. The show itself is free. ExpoNM may charge parking on weekends or during special activities. All images are framed gallery style and all are for sale.

Those of you who read here often (Thank You!) know that, as a photographer, I am basically a colorist. To my eye, the colors of New Mexico demand that of me. But, every now and then, I do see things in black and white. I have always seen these boots, handmade by my son, in monochromes. When I realized he planned to come for the holidays and might be able to see the show, I entered this image. I was very happy that it was juried in. Many thanks to the jurors.

black and white photography
“Beware Barbed Wire.” Custom handmade cowboy boots by Brandt Graham, with fancy stitching and inlaid silver leather.

If you are in the Albuquerque area in December, consider visiting this black and white photography show, “Shades of Gray.” I am very happy to be included in this show.

Persephone at Berlin Foto Biennale 2016

This entry is part 10 of 10 in the series Persephone's Choice

Persephone at Berlin Foto Biennale 2016 and 4th Biennial of Fine Art & Documentary Photography

Persephone at Berlin Foto Biennale 2016 is something those of you who also read on Face Book know about, but many of you who are loyal readers here may not know about. The show runs in Berlin, Germany from October 6 -30, 2016, at the Palazzo Italia

“My Fate, By Choice,” from the series, “Persephone’s Choice: Every Woman’s Dilemma” is my image for this large photography show. “Emotions and Commotions” is the show theme.

Persephone at Berlin Foto Biennale
My Fate, By Choice

I was surprised when I received an invitation right after Christmas to participate. I did not remember entering any competitions that would qualify for this exhibition. But, I checked my records and followed the links. I had indeed entered some things in January 2015, right after I got back from Texas to be with my son. Brain fog consumed me at that point. I am surprised I entered things at all.

Almost as surprising to me was the variety of the three images invited to be exhibited.

The Three Invited Images

Many of you here are familiar with “The Road Less Traveled.” This is in the Rio Grande Valley a little south of Albuquerque. It was a serendipitous view discovered when I missed the turn, and after driving for a bit, turned around to see if I could find the correct turn. This view appeared when I turned around. The trip was one of the “photographic excursions” on the birthday Tim Price and I share. The photograph has special meaning.

New Mexico
The Road Less Traveled

This floral is certainly typical of my florals. As such, I was very pleased to be invited to show it in Berlin.

Mexican Sunflower
Mexican Sunflower

The third invited image surprised me a lot! Photographers know their work, even when people take the images, cut off the watermarks, and try to cram them into nodes with different aspect ratios. We see it, we frame it, we snap it, we process it. When I saw the third invited image, I thought “oh, that must be mislabeled and belong to someone else.” It certainly is not typical for me. After looking at it for a bit, I realized I made the photograph as part of a workshop taught by LeRoy Perea and Dennis Chamberlain. I hope they are pleased that an image from that workshop was selected to be shown in Berlin.

marilyn  monroe
New Mexico Marilyn

This is a tee shirt display at a flea market. Most of the images are of Marilyn Monroe, with a distinct New Mexico twist. There is Day of the Dead Marilyn, a variety of Our Lady of Guadalupe Marilyns, and a couple of her famous poses not given New Mexico flavor. I think the choice of this image speaks to the universal appeal of Marilyn Monroe.

Choosing Persephone

In 2012, I had displayed three images at the 2nd Biennial of Fine Art & Documentary Photography, held that year in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I thought about that show, and I thought about these three new images chosen for the 2016 show. At the time the invitation came, I was still working on processing and interpreting the Persephone images. I knew that work was different from anything I had done before. That was the work I wanted to show in Berlin, and this was the one image I wanted to show: Persephone at Berlin Foto Biennale 2016.

The curators were very helpful when I explained what I would like to do. I’m really delighted and honored to have the opportunity to show this image in Berlin in the 4th Biennial of Fine Art and Documentary Photography.

By the end of May all the details that had to be taken care of at my end for Persephone at Berlin Foto Biennale 2016 were done.

The Steve McCurry Controversy

Some of you may know Steve McCurry as the photographer of “Afghan Girl,” a National Geographic cover. He is an extremely well known photographer. Kodak gave him the last roll of Kodachrome produced, because the company thought he would make good use of it.

In the spring of 2016, he became embroiled in something of a scandal when it was discovered he had photoshopped not only one but several images. Photographic artists make extensive use of photo editing and photo enhancing, photojournalists do not. Sometimes a thin line separates the two.

I did not know until sometime in August that part of this show would be a Retrospective by Steve McCurry. Additionally, he will be giving the dinner speech and participating in some of the press conferences. I personally doubt he would be participating to this extent without the controversy, but it works for me. It should be a well attended show.

The Exhibition Catalog

Press Release

Photographic Memories

Photographic Memories and the Joy in Finally Processing Old Files

Photographic memories are so wonderful. Maybe other people have photographic recall and never need old photographs to remind them of great times in their lives. I am really enjoying finding heretofore hidden treasures in photographs from the past that are just now getting processed.

Many of you who read here know that my mom and I have enjoyed many photographic outings with Tim and Laurie Price. I even met some of you through Tim’s blog. These images are from October 2014. I’m finally getting around to processing some of them. The images brought back memories of good times not only on this day, but of many other good times shared.

Tim, the Photographer

photographic memories
Tim as Photographer

The next three are of Tim and Laurie:

photographic memories
Tim and Laurie
photographic memories
At the ‘Magical Spot’
photographic memories
Thinking

Selfie reflection in a window:

photographic memories
Reflection in a Window

Traditional style Northern New Mexico Church:

photographic memories
Traditional Style Northern New Mexico Church

photographic memories
Traditional Style Northern New Mexico Church

Penitente style Northern New Mexico Church

photographic memories
Penitente Style Northern New Mexico Church

Beautiful horse and rider:

photographic memories
Beautiful Horse and Rider

Burro getting ready to work:

photographic memories
Preparing to Work

It was a wonderful October outing, and the photographs brought back so many memories of not only that day, but of so many days we have spent photographing together. The joy of photographic memories…