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. 🙂

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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.

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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.

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02/6/16

2016 Insight New Mexico

2016 Insight New Mexico

2016 Insight New Mexico, organized by LeRoy Perea and held in the Fine Arts Building at EXPO-NM, starts the 2016 photography show year for me. This is a juried show for women photographers in New Mexico. The Opening Reception will be held on Saturday, April 2, and then will be open to the public from April 3 through April 24, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, daily except closed Mondays. All exhibited images will be available for purchase.

I would like to thank the jurors for including the two images I submitted for the show, “My Fate, by Choice” and “I Choose Both, Free as a Bird,” both from the “Persephone’s Choice: Every Woman’s Dilemma” series.

2016 insight new mexico

My Fate, By Choice

2016 insight new mexico

I Choose Both, Free as a Bird

I would like, once again, to thank Jim Stallings for introducing me to such a compelling myth which served as the inspiration for “Persephone’s Choice: Every Woman’s Dilemma,” the series from which these two images come, and Kelly Angerosa, who provided both beauty and substance in the role of Persephone.

More images from the series may be seen in this Slideshow. They are also available in a Kindle e-book at Amazon.

I hope friends who are in the Albuquerque area in April will try to visit the show.

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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!

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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!

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12/21/15

Every Woman’s Dilemma

This entry is part 6 of 10 in the series Persephone's Choice

Every Woman’s Dilemma: The Mind/Body Dichotomy

Every woman’s dilemma is not what I thought it would be when I began thinking about how I would photographically present parts of the myth of Persephone that I found particularly interesting. Many of the binary oppositions found in the great literature of the world are certainly present, even on the surface, of the Persephone myth: male-female, light-dark, good-bad, under-over, and I could, but won’t, go on and on. I thought that these that I have mentioned would be the over-riding issues in this photo essay. I have long been interested in how in human society there is a curious division of labor by sex not found in other mammals, a division of labor that gives men such power over women. Years ago I published my conclusions about that in the American Anthropologist in two papers, one of which looks at anatomy and one of which looks at physiology. The actions of Hades and Zeus certainly reflect male dominance over females in this myth. At the beginning, I expected that, which really is part of every woman’s dilemma, to be the major focus. The mind-body dichotomy as viewed by a woman and not imposed from the outside was not something I had given much thought prior to this.

From the very first day I began to read about Persephone, I was fascinated by the two major interpretations of how she came to eat pomegranate seeds, an act which required her cyclic return to the Underworld as the wife of Hades, during which time her mother, Demeter, in her grief and rage, caused the Earth to go barren and Winter to fall. In some versions, Hades tricked her into eating the pomegranate seeds, while in other versions she chose to eat them. Even before I gave much thought about how I would photograph that portion of the story, I knew the Persephone in my photographic storytelling would decide, by free will, to consume the seeds. It seemed so simple at the time: I found the truly perfect model to play Persephone, fresh pomegranates were in season in the store, and I had the opportunity to photograph many split pomegranates on my mom’s pomegranate plant.

The simplicity had disintegrated long before the scheduled photo shoot. If Persephone chose to eat the seeds, what, exactly, was her choice? I had already ruled out being tricked into it, so that was not an option. If there was no alternative, then it was not really a choice, at least as I envision choice. That realization somehow brought to mind all the women in the course of human history blamed for many things: Persephone’s eating of the seeds brings the pain of Winter (with apologies to readers who actually like winter), Eve got us kicked out of the Garden of Eden by partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, often represented as an apple. By that time, I had read enough to understand that the pomegranate has had a very close connection throughout the world with fertility and sexuality, across major religions. Eve’s apple certainly has some degree of that, but even just on the face of it, I liked the contrast of fertility and implied sexuality versus knowledge. I realize that myth and literature purists may object to my combining Persephone and Eve in one photographic essay, but to me, it is almost like two faces of a coin, these two women blamed for so much misery in the world.

(Certainly other examples come to mind, such as widely found myths of vagina dentata, teeth in the vagina. I thought I would spare readers a photographic exploration of that one. Or how about the news report out of Kentucky this December, 2015, of a homeless shelter kicking out women and children because of the threat to men of “ungodly sex.” I couldn’t make that one up!!! A very powerful video, #Dear Daddy, begins with “Dear Daddy, I will be born a girl. Please do everything you can so that won’t stay the greatest danger of all.”)

At that point, the photo essay, although stimulated by the Persephone myth, morphed into something beyond that. I don’t apologize for that. That kind of thing happens with reading and thinking. The myth at the beginning grew into further exploration, exploration into what I came to see as every woman’s dilemma.

I did not have to explain anything to my wonderful model, Kelly Angerosa, about what I wanted to do. She saw the pomegranate and the apple on the table, and smiled. She knew instantly what I was asking of her. It was something that was there, an unspoken, unconscious recognition, a shared bond; it did not have to be explained.

It was not until I was well into processing the images and posting them here on the blog that I began to fully realize what I was doing and why I found it so exhausting. This photo essay is about a woman exploring her existence with both a mind and a body, a body not as defined by others (a topic for another time, and one I may never want to try to tackle), but as defined by her while still living in a world defined by others. And those two very important parts are compartmentalized in the myth, with her sexuality more or less confined to the Underworld in Winter in her role as wife of Hades, with her mind and knowledge not really important there. No wonder, really, I kept thinking of Georgia O’Keeffe’s marriage, with part of the time spent with Steiglitz and a great deal of the time spent in New Mexico doing as she pleased.

A question posed in a discussion on FB was, “Can a woman achieve fulfillment under the controlling mind of a dominant man?” The real question, of course, would be, “could anyone achieve fulfillment under the controlling mind of a dominant person?” and asked that way most people I know would answer, “NO! Of course not.” But, since human males feel entitled to be dominant, therein lies every woman’s dilemma. Georgia O’Keeffe found a solution, one which parallels that of Persephone: be with a partner part of the time, and free as a bird part of the time. That was the resolution of the dichotomy for O’Keeffe and Persephone.

It sounds so simple, once stated. But it took me a long time in working with the images to see exactly what I was saying with them, to see every woman’s dilemma as defining herself not only as a female body apart from society’s definition, which seems to be the overriding concern of human society, but also as a mind free to make choices not determined by a man (or, by another woman, for that matter!). That can be very difficult for many women; human society does not make that easy for women. In the end, this photo essay came to be about a woman making choices by her own free will.

I’ve really enjoyed working on what came out of this little segment of the Persephone myth. This post wraps up that segment. I am going to take a break from myth for awhile, and post on some less exhausting subjects. I hope you have enjoyed this photographic essay, my personal interpretation on a small part of the Persephone myth with many more plots and subplots.

Fire of Passion

Persephone

Fire of Passion

Light of Knowledge

every woman's dilemma

Light of Knowledge

I Need Knowledge, Too

every woman's dilemma

I Need Knowledge, Too

Why Must I Choose?

every woman's dilemma

Why Must I Choose?

I Choose Both

every woman's dilemma

I Choose Both!

Free as a Bird

every woman's dilemma

Free as a Bird

Postscript to the Persephone Series and Every Woman’s Dilemma

Although I had four years of Latin in high school, during which time we studied Roman and Greek mythology, among other things, that was a very long time ago and there has been a lot of water under the bridge since. I became aware of the myth of Persephone on September 15 of this year, through a brief mention of it in an email in a comment on the upcoming autumn and winter by friend Jim Stallings (oh, no. Does the annoying woman get killed off in this short story?). Something about Persephone and her cyclic descent into the darkness of the Underworld resonated with me immediately.

Within two weeks I had done a series of images stimulated by the Persephone myth, using some of my favorite subjects, sunflowers and butterflies. For those of you in the Albuquerque area, those images are currently hanging in the 2015 ANMPAS show, which runs through December 27.

Once that photographic series was done, the thought of telling a story with a model began to seep into my brain. I had worked once with a model on someone else’s project. But I had never thought of finding and hiring a model to tell a story as I wanted to tell it. As these things sometime happen, the perfect model appeared almost by chance. I surprised myself by asking her if she would be a photographic model. This is far out of my range of what I comfortably do. Much to my surprise, she said, “Yes.” That was the beginning of my work with the wonderful Kelly Angerosa, the woman you see in these images. We have plans to work together again in the spring.

This series is something I was driven to do. I have many distractions and duties in my life at the moment, but I “had” to do this series. I often stayed up past midnight working on images, and there were times I was up again at 4:00 am because a thought occurred to me that I wanted to add. When the totality of my life at the moment is considered, I have been working as hard and as long as I did when I was a resident in Obstetrics and Gynecology. But this work came from an inner drive; I had to do it. It has been a long time since I felt so passionately about something. It may be the first time I felt so passionately about something. It really became, at least to me, the story of every woman’s dilemma, something I saw visually as a whole for the first time, although I had thought about the issues before as an anthropologist and also as an obstetrician/gynecologist.

This small piece is nearing completion. Within a day or two I will post as a separate page on the blog all of the images used in this series, with very little verbiage, so that they may be seen in totality. We are now in the dark days of winter, with the holidays, cold, and football playoffs 😉 approaching. I need a break. I look forward to the appearance of new things come spring.

I appreciate everyone who has followed along on this journey with me.

I especially thank my amazing model, Kelly Angerosa, who was everything I could have asked for and more, and Jim, who introduced me to Persephone.

Link to the entire set of images in the Persephone Series.

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02/27/15
snow

Snow!

Snowfall Overnight in Albuquerque

Snow rarely falls in Albuquerque as often as it is forecast, especially in these drought years. While I certainly do not want as much all at one time as we received in December of 2006 (22 inches in my yard), this morning when I awakened to five inches (12.5 centimeters) of the beautiful white stuff in my yard, I was very happy! I do not yet know the snowfall amounts for the surrounding mountains, but I hope they are significant.

snow

Five inches/ 12.5 centimeters of snowfall overnight. This is the first time I have seen snow accumulate like this in my rain gauge.

Wind must not have been significant as the snow was falling. There must have been some wind later, though, because the accumulation on trees is not much this morning.

The white stuff can enhance the appearance of the ubiquitous block walls and stucco found in Albuquerque.

snow

Snow on the block wall

Even the gates seem enhanced this morning.

snow

Even the gate looks kind of pretty this morning

One really good thing is that the streets were warm enough that most seem clear, at least in my neighborhood, this morning.
(eta: FB friends are telling me the streets in some parts of town were terrible, at least earlier this morning!)

The snowfall overnight was really nice to wake up to this morning.

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01/11/15
snow sandias

Snow on the Sandias

Snow on the Sandias
snow sandias

Snow on the Sandia Mountains, Fog Below, Clouds Above, Lit by the Setting Sun, December 2013

Snow on the Sandia Mountains is predicted in the coming week. Albuquerque itself has the possibility of seeing some snowfall. Precipitation is desperately needed in the Southwest, and hopefully we will indeed see precipitation in some form.

Continuing with yesterday’s theme that sunrises and sunsets here are frequently very beautiful and awe inspiring, but unpredictable in what form they may take, this is from a sunset in December of 2013. This is the only time I can recall seeing the light of a setting sun on the mountains with snow on them not light in some fashion the clouds above, and it is one of the rare times I have seen fog below the mountains.

This image looks east to the mountains. The sunset to the west had the more usual sunset colors of orange, gold, and gray, and was quite beautiful. A memorable sunset in both directions, east and west.

The overall blue effect here, combined with the light of the setting sun on the snow, created an image that I’ll not soon forget.

I hope you enjoy this, more than a year after it appeared.

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12/20/14
Summer colors

Summer Colors

Summer Colors
Summer colors

From The Postcard Series,
Colors of Summer: Cosmos

On the eve of Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, and the beginning of Winter, a reminder of some of the colors of Summer.

This is cosmos, an easy-to-grow flower that brought brightness and joy all summer long, into fall.

The image is part of The Postcard Series.

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