Tim and I share a birthday. For years we have done something on that day. Yesterday was no exception. This year we opted for a quiet day in the bosque and along the banks of the Rio Grande. It was a spectacular, cloudless afternoon. We saw a lot of crows, some geese, and a couple of cranes. Over the next couple of weeks many more cranes will be arriving. Yesterday, above all, colors took center stage.
Silver, one of the Price cats, seemed to be watching for his people’s return. As you can see, Tim had cameras with him.
Feeling winter? The weather in Albuquerque is still that beautiful autumn weather those of us who live here love so much. But, a change – hopefully brief – is coming. You know, the cold wind and significant drop in temperature. We know we are very lucky here. Even in the midst of true Winter, we will have sunny and often warm days. But I tend to turn inward in winter. I can feel winter coming.
Others’ Thoughts on Feeling Winter
“October extinguished itself in a rush of howling winds and driving rain and November arrived, cold as frozen iron, with hard frosts every morning and icy drafts that bit at exposed hands and faces.”
~ J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
“But if I was still alive, I’d have a damned fine day despite the rain, despite the depression, think of something you like doing and do it!…As for me, if I was still alive, I’d have a great cup of coffee, a nice breakfast, then I’d take a drive, walk around, smoke a cigar, eye the pretty ladies…hmmm, nice lunch, yes sir! Read a good book and listen to music, maybe hang out with friends, watch some baseball on TV, love good conversation…and maybe end the night with a little romance. You know what I mean? Live, live everyday, every night, then when you get over here on the ghosty side, you’ll say like me, hey, I did pretty damned good. I hardly moped around at all. I enjoyed my precious human life to the full! Yes sir, I sucked the marrow outta them ribs! ~ Jim Stallings, If I Was Still Alive
For me, I have stockpiled what seem like endless photographs I can edit, maybe composite, play with through the cold and dark days of winter. And before Winter truly sets in, I have more photography to get done.
Autumn roses seem especially sweet. Maybe that is because they will soon disappear until Spring. This past spring I had too many distractions and demands to take good care of the roses then. But, the monsoon season was good to my yard. That inspired me to get out and work to get a few things in better shape. I was happily surprised with the roses available to photograph this weekend. Also, I’m playing with a new program, so I feel a bit like a kid with a new set of finger paints. Thank you for indulging me.
We are supposed to get more rain in the middle of the week. I put a few pansies out this weekend, and rain would be good for them as well as for the long-standing roses.
ARS Rose Notes
For my rose friends who read here, the final ARS Guidelines for Judging Rose Photography includes a National Challenge Class that will first be offered at the ARS Spring 2018 Convention. This is a heads-up, because photographing bloom cycles requires some planning. I do think this is a worthy national challenge class.
Monday Morning Thoughts, a Long Digression
I’ve been watching Ken Burns’ The Viet Nam War. Throughout, I have thought about people I’ve known, and where they are in life and in their heads today (for those still alive). Last night was a little different. The episode covered the Tet Offensive to the assassination of Robert Kennedy. That is, Spring 1968, when Martin Luther King was also assassinated. I remember watching Lyndon Johnson’s speech, and many other things that had slipped into the deep recesses of my mind.
I was a student at the University of Chicago in the Spring of 1968. The University is on the south side of Chicago. I had come from a university that might consider tearing down a library if necessary to expand football. The University of Chicago had torn down the football field and was in the process of building a new library. I lived in a 12th floor apartment, that looked south. I could see Rockefeller Chapel, the Museum of Science and Industry, and a tiny glimpse of Lake Michigan. The university had its own bus for students, a bus that continually circled through Hyde Park to shuttle students to and from classes and back home. Most days I had the same bus driver.
Chicago When Martin Luther King Was Assassinated
Martin Luther King was assassinated on a Thursday. Friday morning was calm on the south side of Chicago. By the end of classes Friday afternoon, the tension was palpable. I caught the bus to go home. I was the last person off. The driver, who had gotten to know me over the year, said, “I’m going to drop you off at the door to your building today (instead of about 1/2 block away). Don’t go out tonight. Stay in your apartment.”
That weekend, first of all, and for days, I could look out and see the south side of Chicago burning. As a result, the heavily armed Military, not just police and National Guard, were patrolling the streets. Most of all, I remember looking out and seeing the Army camped on the grounds of the Museum of Science and Industry. Military tents completely covered those grounds. Maybe that is what I have remembered most of all.
I watched the helicopters hover over the meeting between the Blackstone Rangers and police, as they tried to work out a truce.
I have not thought about these things in a long time. What stood out to me from last night’s episode was the Marine, who had fought in Viet Nam, who was ordered to go to one of the cities with civil unrest. He refused an order to go, which essentially ended his military career. He said in essence, “I thought we would be sent for regular police work, protecting buildings, that kind of thing. Then they started issuing the same equipment we had had in Viet Nam: flak jackets, the same bullets, all the same things. I said I was not going.”
That was 49 years ago. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The first day of autumn in New Mexico is always exciting. Chile roasting and the State Fair are almost over, but the Balloon Fiesta, Marigold Parade, arrival of the cranes and other migratory birds, and gorgeous days with cool, crisp nights are still ahead. This is how the day began:
While I grew Mexican sunflowers many years ago in Arizona, this is the first year I have grown them in New Mexico. I had forgotten how much I liked them. Because I now know, I plan to grow them in subsequent years. In addition, the pollinators like them, too.
Other flowers that bloom well up until frost are cosmos. They come in a wide variety of shapes and colors. Pollinators like cosmos also.
The first day of fall 2017 began beautifully. I was reminded of this quote by Nathaniel Hawthorne:
“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.”
2015 ANMPAS – Annual New Mexico Photographic Arts Show
2015 ANMPAS, the Annual New Mexico Photographic Arts Show, will once again be held in the Fine Arts Building at EXPO NM. It is open to the public December 6 through December 27, 10:00am – 5:00pm, except December 24 and 25. The show is free to the public throughout. Some days, particularly the weekends, EXPO may charge a parking fee. The opening reception is December 5, from 2:00-4:00pm.
This is a juried show, and artists participating must be residents of New Mexico. All artwork is for sale, and may be taken by the buyer at the time of sale.
I have enjoyed participating in ANMPAS and the related InSight shows over the years. These are the brainchild of organizer LeRoy Perea, who has watched the submitted entries grow in both quantity and quality over the years.
I am thrilled that for 2015 ANMPAS, the jurors selected three images from my series, Persephone.
Those of you who have followed me very long know that sunflowers are frequent photographic subjects for me, as are butterflies. I grew these sunflowers, and they are from the second crop of 2015. I really liked the structure of the sunflower plant in the “Heart of the Matter.” My son appreciates structure, especially in black and white images, and I converted the image immediately.
My son liked it as much as I had hoped.
I showed that image to a friend, Jim Stallings, with whom I have corresponded over the past couple of years and whose input has influenced some other photographic work, such as “The Observer/The Observed,” which I decided to show after Jim wrote a short poem. He wrote in the context of activities of autumn, after seeing the sunflower image:
…it is that ancient mythic time for the daughter Persephone of the Earth Goddess Demeter to return to the Underworld and stay there until the return for Spring. So all that feeds into the unconscious…the separation of between life on the surface of the world of fall and winter and waning and yet returning light and another go at renewal and new life. It must be motivating in your photographic subjects as well.
It is true that my fall images, even of bright flowers, tend to be dark.
I had not read mythology in a long time. As I read some of the stories of Persephone, I was struck by the fact that she did not seem to be constantly miserable in her months in the dark Underworld with her husband, Hades, who had first abducted Persephone with the permission of her father, Zeus. Mythology is full of plots and subplots, but I decided to create this particular series using some of my favorite subjects – flowers and butterflies – around the theme of hope in a dark spot.
Butterflies have multiple meanings to me. They are a symbol for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus – “lupus” – an autoimmune chronic disease with multiple manifestations, with treatments but no known cure. One of the manifestations for some people is the so-called “butterfly rash,” and thus, the butterfly as a symbol.
The particular butterflies I chose to use in this series have special meaning to me. The butterfly in “Heart of the Matter” is a tiny hair streak butterfly photographed at the Corrales home of friends Tim and Laurie Price: special friends, special place, special day. People who have brought hope to some of my dark places… The butterfly in “Awakening” is a glass wing butterfly photographed at the Albuquerque BioPark. The butterfly in “Emerged” is a red lacewing photographed at the Tucson Botanical Gardens.
I was asked to write a brief description of “Heart of the Matter:”
Persephone, goddess of Spring, was abducted by Hades to become his wife in the Underworld. Her mother, Demeter, goddess of the Earth and of the Harvest, in her anger and grief, caused the earth to go barren in her daughter’s absence, our dark winter months, and to bloom again upon her return in spring. This series is about the annual descent into the underworld of the darkness of Winter and rebirth into the light of Spring. “Heart of the Matter” represents the potential for rebirth – from any dark situation – in the developing bud (the heart) of the sunflower, and in the butterfly (with its heart shape), showing the strength, delicacy, and light of hope.
I have been asked whether there will be more in this series. Persephone’s story is one full of plots and subplots, all very stimulating for this photographer. These particular three, tell one of the stories I wanted to tell. There are many more I look forward to telling visually, but I do not anticipate black and white sunflowers with colorful butterflies as the vehicles of the next set or sets.
The Persephone series that will be shown at 2015 ANMPAS means much to me on a very personal level, and I thank LeRoy Perea and the 2015 jurors for selecting these three images for the 2015 show. I hope those of you in the Albuquerque area will come out for the show in December.
Autumn Sunflower. Autumn in New Mexico is a magical time of year. Corresponding to events rather than calendar dates, its beginning is generally marked by the arrival of the season’s green chile crop, with the pungent smell of roasting chiles everywhere. Major events following in quick succession are the New Mexico State Fair (EXPO NM), the Corrales Harvest Festival and Pet Parade, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (accompanied by the Corrales Fine Arts Show at the Old San Ysidro Church, one of my favorites!), the Marigold Parade marking the Day of the Dead, and the the All American Thanksgiving Day celebration. For me, mixed in with that, are personal celebrations and activities with family and close friends. Autumn is my favorite time of the year in New Mexico! And, also, the busiest!
Autumn is, of course, ultimately followed by winter. (Reminder to self: buy a new snow shovel before winter’s arrival with a predicted strong El Nino!) Even early in the current season are little signs the glorious days of autumn cannot last forever. But, even these signs carry their own kind of beauty.
Mountains and light – ever changing and with the interplay being part of the magic of New Mexico, “Land of Enchantment.”
On a glorious day in October of 2014, friends Laurie and Tim, along with my mom, spent a day exploring parts of New Mexico we had not seen in some time. Tim and I were both celebrating a birthday, and the trip itself provided many wonderful birthday surprises.
All day long we saw clouds. Some were big, bright, white puffy clouds against a brilliant blue sky. Some were dark storm clouds. And then there were these clouds that produced some shadows but allowed (and created) rays of light at various points. It was late afternoon, and we were on the east side of these mountains on the journey back to Albuquerque. The mountains from our vantage point would have been in shade, even had there not been clouds.
As we rounded a curve, the rays appeared, ever-so-briefly. We stopped for photographs, and actually had a “rural New Mexico” moment when we met another couple.
Many images from that day had a special meaning to me from the moment they were created. Less than a month later my calm, routine life was shaken by a seismic event that has given some of those images an even more special meaning. This image is one of them.
The Valles Caldera National Preserve is a national treasure in the heart of the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico. The caldera itself is a 13.7 mile wide volcanic caldera. The area has had many uses over the years, including ranching, movie set, and year-round recreational use now.
In 2013 we were fortunate to be able to purchase a pass for one day, which turned out to be the Autumnal Equinox, to drive through the caldera on designated roads at our leisure.
The day before, we encountered a heavy rainstorm right at the entrance to the caldera. So, I was expecting mud the following day. That night, though, there was a spectacular sunset viewed in all directions from Los Alamos, which sits on the edge of a mesa. Silly photographer – I did not have my camera with me at that moment, because we had gone out to dinner and my companions were a bit tired of being dragged hither and yon by someone with a camera. It was my own fault. I’ve learned the best images appear when I don’t have a camera with me. But, I do remember the vivid and amazing views at sunset that evening.
The following morning, we encountered a lot of fog in Los Alamos itself. Once we got to the edge of the caldera, we could see that the entire caldera was filled with fog. At that point, my companions were yelling at me to pull over and take a picture. Nice thought, but the heavy rains had resulted in some mudslides onto the highway, and road clearing equipment and men were out working to clear the highway. There was no safe place to stop.
The caldera of course, remained shrouded in fog as we entered the preserve and drove to the staging area to wait our turn. The fog began to lift just as we began our journey through the caldera. We were rerouted at some points because the roads had washed out the night before, and because of all the mud, I was glad I had all wheel drive.
The day itself was beautiful!
Here in New Mexico, we do not see fog too often. It lifted quickly that morning.
But, I hope this image gives you some idea of the beauty of the caldera, and its beauty with fog (and, our gorgeous blue skies, even with fog).
Autumn is the most glorious time in New Mexico, for so many reasons.
As 2014 draws to an end, a winter storm is bearing down to ring in the New Year. This seemed a good day to revisit one of the spectacular autumn days on the Rio Grande.
The large trees are cottonwood trees. Cottonwoods are found along the Rio Grande, but not far out from it. They are some of the major trees of a southwest forest along the Rio Grande, a forest referred to as “the bosque.” New Mexicans love the bosque, and Albuquerque has miles of bike and walking trails through and along the bosque.
This particular image is from Corrales, New Mexico, and the Rio Grande is just out of the image to the east. The mountains you glimpse are the Sandias.