08/19/17
sunrise/sunset

Sunrise/Sunset

Sunrise/Sunset

Sunrise/Sunset: how cliche are such images considered by many who have never seen the fiery skies of the Desert Southwest? Oh, but how much the skies speak to those who know and love them. While it is true the depth of beauty will never been seen in a photograph, sometimes the beauty is so overwhelming that just a hint is satisfying. I quote again D. H. Lawrence’s written description of sunrise in New Mexico:

I think New Mexico was the greatest experience from the outside world that I have ever had. It certainly changed me forever. . . . the moment I saw the brilliant, proud morning shine high up over the deserts of Santa Fe, something stood still in my soul, and I started to attend. . . . In the magnificent fierce morning of New Mexico one sprang awake, a new part of the soul woke up suddenly and the old world gave way to a new.
There are all kinds of beauty in the world, thank God, though ugliness is homogeneous. . . . But for a greatness of beauty I have never experienced anything like New Mexico.

Many of my photographer friends remember the magnificence of the skies of the 2009 monsoon season. Sometimes I wondered if I would ever see a prolonged season quite like that one again. Yesterday was almost like a whole season rolled into one.

Sunrise

Back Yard Sunrise 6:17-6:22am

I start each day looking out to assess the potential for a sunrise I would like to photograph. If any clouds at all are above the Sandia Mountains, I make sure my camera is by the door and with the appropriate lens. On this particular day, I did not expect much. However, I have learned over the years that you never know. When it was barely light I went out to water flowers in containers. And then, I saw the pink begin to show. Do I know I really need to use a tripod? Yes, of course. But that is another story. I grabbed my camera, which was in easy reach, and photographed this sunrise as seen from my back yard in the middle of Albuquerque. The first gif loops three times, for those who do not like constant movement on a blog. The second gif loops continuously, for those who like to watch a little more. This was a fairly long display of color over five minutes.

Sunrise/Sunset

Backyard Sunrise

sunrise/sunset

Backyard Sunrise

Front Yard Sunrise 6:25-6:39am

I would have been more than satisfied to start the day with that sunrise from my back yard. Although I can see a small part of the north end of the Sandia Mountains from my front yard, I rarely photograph from there. However, although the basic view is of houses, driveways, and vehicles, the surprise of that sunrise view made me grab my camera!

6:25am

sunrise/sunset

Amazing Clouds and Colors

6:36am

sunrise/sunset

Note You Can Tell Exactly Where the Sun Is Rising

6:37am

sunrise/sunset

Yes, Those Are Crepuscular Rays

6:40am

sunrise/sunset

The Morning Show Is Almost Over

Sunset

What more could one expect from the skies that day? I was more than happy with the offerings of sunrise.

But, I live in New Mexico!

Early sunset gave me this sky, looking west:

sunrise/sunset

The Beginning of Sunset

The day ended with a gently beautiful sunset:

sunrise/sunset

Gentle Sunset

What more could anyone ask from a day of monsoon skies?

07/13/17
stormy sunrise

Stormy Sunrise

Stormy Sunrise: Pink to Orange in Less Than Three Minutes

Stormy sunrise this morning, bringing at least the hope of rain. I did not get rain at my house, but I did enjoy photographing the sky. The gif is made with jpgs straight from the camera with no photo editing other than cropping.

stormy sunrise

Stormy Sunrise

stormy sunrise

Stormy Sunrise

This may not be as impressive as the crepuscular rays at sunset a few nights ago. Nevertheless, as we enter our monsoon season, I am looking forward to seeing – hopefully – many spectacular skies. Some actual rain would also be nice. 🙂

06/21/17
summer solstice

Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice, National Selfie Day, and a Day to Celebrate

Summer Solstice – the most amount of daylight in one day for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, and the official beginning of “Summer.” I never heard of National Selfie Day before, but the Twitterverse says it is so. For me, I do not have to see an eye doctor or a skin doctor again until November. I really have nothing to complain about, because my issues were minor and fixable, but the process seemed to drag on from last October until today.

In that time, I have learned a lot about sun protection for everything, including eyes and ears. I now have UPF hats, shirts, neck coverings, etc., etc., as well as UV A&B protective glasses with dark gray lenses and my favorite, amber lenses. I want to do a few more photographs, and then I’ll post those in a post at Southwest Desert Gardening. All gardeners everywhere need sun protection, some just more than others. 🙂

But today, for Solstice (and National Selfie Day 😉 ), I wanted to say “Hello,” dressed appropriately for summer: hat for ear and face protection; UPF 30+ shirt, and very dark glasses as UV protective as possible. I should have been dressed more or less like this all the time I have lived here.

summer solstic

Summer Solstice – Susan in Sun Protective Hat, Shirt, Glasses

What looks like a BandAid is a silicone pad designed to to help flatten the scar from where skin was taken for graft to cover part of my ear where a little skin lesion was removed. It is all healing up very well.

‘Mermaid’ is just about finished with its first bloom, but I thought this bloom this morning was really pretty. I hope you enjoy it, too.

summer solstice

A Beautiful ‘Mermaid’ Bloom on Summer Solstice

Happy Solstice, and may the summer not be as hot throughout as it is today.

04/14/17
spring garden

Spring Garden

Spring Garden

Spring garden – on a beautiful Albuquerque day like today being out in the garden is always pleasant. Today was an especially pleasant and interesting spring day. Friend and fellow photographer Tim Price, whom many of you know from his blog, TandL Photos, took me to an early morning appointment with the eye doctor. We then came back to the house and sat out on the patio, just enjoying the day, catching up on life, and looking for beautiful and interesting things to photograph.

This is the first part of a two part “tandem blog.” The second part is here, “Lizard Love.

spring garden

Sky Even More Beautiful than Usual

spring garden

Reliably Colorful Pansies

spring garden

More Reliably Colorful Pansies

spring garden

White Clematis Beginning to Bloom

Continue reading

02/21/17
signs of spring

Signs of Spring

Signs of Spring

Signs of spring are popping up and out everywhere. Here in the high desert, we could still experience winter, of course. But the days that speak of Spring are so glorious. I like the Ernest Hemingway quote:

“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest.”

This may be false spring, or, given climate change, may be the beginning of real spring. I’m going to enjoy these early signs.

The bright little crocus are one of the earliest, easily spotted, harbingers of Spring.

signs of spring

Crocus – One of the Signs of Spring

But, there are numerous, though subtle, signs that Spring is on the way.

Rose ‘Buffalo Gal,” a hybrid rugosa, beginning to leaf out.

signs of spring

Rose ‘Buffalo Gal’ Just Beginning to Leaf Out

This developing birch catkin says, “Spring is on the way.”

signs of spring

Developing Birch Catkin

Rosemary is known for the flavor it adds to food more than delicate blue flowers, but the flowers are pretty.

signs of spring

Tiny Bloom on Rosemary. Better Known for Flavorful Addition to Foods.

A dwarf peach, “Bonanza,” is one of my favorite specimen plants. I was surprised to see this little bud beginning to show just a touch a color. It really is too early, but it does speak to the hope of Spring.

signs of spring

Peach Bud Just Barely Showing Color

I hope you are enjoying beautiful weather wherever you are.

02/13/17
Albuquerque Winter

Albuquerque Winter

Albuquerque Winter

“Albuquerque Winter” may make some people laugh. Although we do see flashes of it here in town, they usually are neither long nor severe. The State of New Mexico depends on mountain snowpack for water.

The end of last week and Saturday saw spring-like temperatures, and sunny, brilliant days. Sunday morning’s wind hinted at change to come. Compare Sunday’s sunrise to that of Saturday’s (in the prior post). In addition to the clouds blowing along in the sky, note the cloud bank rolling over the top of the Sandias.

Albuquerque Winter

A Stormy and Windy Sunrise in Albuquerque

As the sun set Sunday night, the winds increased, and rain fell briefly. Within a matter of minutes, the rain turned to snow. Thankfully, the winds died down. I awoke this morning to a beautiful, soft snow.

Albuquerque Winter

Birch Tree with Snow

The snow is already melting, and the streets are clear. However, more snow is due tonight into tomorrow. We do need the moisture, and if it does not last too long, it will just be part of a typical Albuquerque winter.

01/24/17
sunset, snow, mountains

Sunset, Snow, Mountains

Sunset, Snow, Mountains: The Beauty of New Mexico

Sunset, snow, mountains: compare this sunset over the Sandia Mountains less than 36 hours after the very fiery sunrise in the previous post.

sunset, snow, mountains

Sunset over the Snow Capped Sandia Mountains (Looking East)

Late afternoon was cold and very windy. But the image appears calm – at least to me – compared to the fiery sunrise. The weather that morning was relatively calm (on the ground) and warm. I also watched this one as it developed, and had my camera and coat ready. I felt cold only when I was back in the house. This view, like most of those shown here, is from my back yard. 5:30pm. I see an old man with a Pinocchio nose in the cloud. Do you?

I rarely show photographs from the front yard, because the view is of a street of houses, driveways, and parked vehicles. Every now and then, though, I have to try because something special cannot be ignored. This is the same sunset looking east to the Sandias at sunset. This is toward the north end of the Sandias, with the collection of towers. 5:29pm.

sunset, snow, mountains

Sunset over the North End Sandia Mountains, Towers in View

This week is one of wind, along with cold compared to the winter we had had so far. But, I am not complaining, because the weather has brought the kind of sunrises and sunsets I love.

08/28/16
Fledgling Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay

Fledglings: Bad Hair Days

Fledglings: Bad Hair Days

Fledglings are abundant here in late summer. They aren’t the cute babies just hatched, and they aren’t the beautiful birds they will become. They are awkward teens, developing some adult feathers but still with some baby fluff and coloration. I enjoy watching them grow. The scrub jays (now Woodhouse’s scrub-jays) are among my favorite, because they are here year around, and will eat peanuts on the patio table while I’m sitting there.

This fledgling Woodhouse’s scrub jay in the early morning light shows some of the beauty it will develop as it becomes adult.

Fledglings Woodhouse's Scrub Jay

Fledgling Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay

These jays will come quite close for peanuts!

Fledgling Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay

Fledgling Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay – “I can grab that peanut before the woman sees me!”

You know how beautiful adult robins can be. I’m not sure I had ever paid much attention to fledgling robins, but I had a great deal of empathy for this one!

Fledgling Robin

Fledgling Robin

A few days later I saw this one. I appeared much more majestic in the tree top, lit by the morning sun. I do not know if this were the same fledgling or not.

Fledgling Robin

Fledgling Robin in Early Morning Light

This fledgling house finch managed to look quite regal – to me – atop a sunflower seed head. He had already eaten a fair amount. He looked quite pleased with himself.

Fledgling House Finch

Fledgling House Finch

01/24/16

Spring Will Come

Spring Will Come

Spring will eventually come. Although it may not seem like it this weekend, with the record-breaking blizzard on the East Coast, warm bright days with green trees and flowers are ahead. Here in New Mexico, the winter, so far, has not been bad, although who knows what will happen over the next couple of months. The increasing daylight hours can already be seen and felt.

Persephone Spring

Spring Will Come

In the fall of 2015, when I was introduced to the Persephone myth, I’m sure that I was initially attracted to its explanation of Winter, of which I am not fond and never have been, and its promise of Spring. After all, Persephone is the Greek Goddess of Spring. When she returns to Earth from the Underworld and her obligations as wife of Hades and Queen of the Underworld, she brings with her Spring and its glorious days.

This weekend I encountered an interesting article over at Digital Photography School that talks about photographing with meaning.

There comes a point, or a plateau, as in every photographer’s career (whether you are an intermediate or professional photographer) where you hit a wall. It’s a crisis of self that you are faced with when you have reached a certain point of technical proficiency. Well, basically you hit a plateau because you already know […]

Source: How To Photograph With Meaning

To be perfectly honest, I had not consciously thought about being in the winter of a “crisis of self” in terms of photography. At some level I knew that I was at a plateau and had been for some time, but I did not have time to worry about it because of so many family life crises I had to deal with in the past year and a half. I try to photograph something every day to keep up my skills, and almost every day I learn something new about photography. But, I did not sit down and plan to do something different; I did not think I had time to fit thinking about something like that into my life at the moment.

I’m not really certain exactly how a casual mention of the Persephone myth in an email from friend Jim Stallings set off the photography frenzy that followed, but it did. Within two weeks I had done a short series inspired by it, using my well known subjects of sunflowers and butterflies. Once that was done, however, I began to think of a series involving a model to tell a portion of the Persephone myth. Although I had worked with a model on someone else’s project in the past, and although at one time I did maternity portraiture, I had never hired a model I chose for a conceptual project. I wasn’t even sure how to go about it. But almost, as if by magic, the perfect model appeared. I shocked myself by walking up and asking her if she would be a photographer’s model and, almost as surprisingly, she agreed.

With Persephone, Greek Goddess of Spring and Queen of the Underworld as both a starting point and inspiration, this conceptual photographic series also became an exploration of the meaning of being female with both body and mind. What began as a small personal project for this photographer also became a search for meaning of self, reflecting back on life as a woman, anthropologist, and obstetrician-gynecologist. I didn’t consciously set out “to photograph with meaning,” but it is a series that came to have a lot of meaning to me personally, whether it does to anyone else or not. In the first month of 2016, I surprised myself again by publishing a small Kindle Book. (That added another surprise. While poking around on Amazon, I found a copy of a book, Anthropologists at Home in North America, in which I had published one of my early anthropology papers [1981]. That was a bit of shock, and definitely a pleasant reminder.)

I feel like a new spring has arrived for me in my work as a photographer. Today, I cannot say where things will go from here. Kelly Angerosa, my model for Persephone, and I will work together in the spring. I’m looking forward to that next adventure!

01/22/16

Persephone and Her Choice Now at Amazon

This entry is part 8 of 10 in the series Persephone's Choice

Persephone’s Choice: Every Woman’s Dilemma is now available as a Kindle ebook at Amazon

Click on the image below for a free preview:

Those of you who are regular readers here have seen this work from the time it was barely an idea, now up to its presentation as a Kindle ebook.It is important to note that you do not have to have a Kindle to be able to view the book. Amazon offers free Kindle apps for desktops (PC and Mac), laptops, tablets, and smartphones (iOS and Android). In fact, since this ebook features images in color, I can view it better with an app on any of my devices other than my Kindle Paperwhite, which shows the images in black and white.

If you have followed the Persephone series as it developed here, you have already seen most of twelve images that are featured in the ebook. New text has been added: a discussion of myth, meaning, and various approaches to interpretation; a look at the mind-body dichotomy in human society; and some autobiographical references. From the Preface:

Persephone, Goddess of Spring and Queen of the Underworld in Greek mythology, became a truly fascinating mythological figure to me in 2015. I became determined, almost obsessed, as a photographer, to interpret a portion of her story. A complex myth, the part that initially captured my imagination involved Persephone’s cyclic descent into the Underworld and return to Earth each Spring.

Now that this small portion of the story is completed as a photographic series, I realize I was so driven to do the work because it presented an unexpected opportunity for me to synthesize much of my adult life – as a woman, as an anthropologist (PhD University of Arizona), as an obstetrician and gynecologist (MD University of Kansas, residency training University of New Mexico), and photographer (University of New Mexico).

As I worked with the images from what was intended to be a simple photoshoot, I began to realize that in many ways I was telling a story of an archetypal Woman, through one woman’s learning what it is to be female, in both body and mind. This is not a story about a woman learning to accept society’s or other’s definitions, but rather it is about a woman defining herself to herself, in her many complexities. Twelve images from the series are presented in this volume.

Myth, “the repository of the collective unconscious” – I learned to say that as an anthropologist. I learned what it meant as a photographic artist well into my mature years.

It is fitting that the portion of the myth involving Persephone’s cyclic descent into the Underworld and return to Earth, bringing Spring with her, consumed so much of my time during fall and winter. I first became aware of the myth on September 15 in casual email correspondence with friend Jim Stallings. By the end of September I had submitted for jurying three images inspired by the myth, using subjects well known to me: sunflowers and butterflies. All three were juried into 2015 ANMPAS (Annual New Mexico Photographic Art Show) and shown there in December:

I spent much of October photographing beautiful split pomegranates from my mother’s dwarf tree. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with all of those images; I just knew I had to photograph them.

By the end of October I began thinking of doing a series with a model. As a photographer, at one time I had done maternity portraits. And, once I had worked with someone else’s model on that person’s project. But, I myself had never chosen and hired a model. I really had no idea how I was going to do that. But, on October 30, the perfect person just sort of appeared. The following day I surprised myself by walking up and asking her if she had ever been a photographer’s model or if she would ever consider being a photographer’s model. Almost as much to my surprise, she said that although she had not done that before, she would be willing to do it.

Kelly Angerosa and I did the photoshoot on November 12, 2015. I spent the next two months consumed with processing the images to say exactly what I wanted them to say, getting the images out for review, and then writing this explanation and meaning of the project as a Kindle ebook.

While there is still some work to do on this series, it seems fitting that, while we will still have some very wintry, cold, windy days, the lengthening light with its hope of spring can be both seen and felt. Work is winding down on this series as spring approaches. Thoughts are turning to a new photoshoot with Kelly and a new emphasis in the spring.

I hope you’ll take the time to click on the Preview (above) and consider sharing your thoughts. To those of you who have been through this saga with me, Thank You!