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.

Horizons

Horizons

The choice of placement of the horizon line in a photograph certainly affects what the image conveys to the viewer. Last fall I took a photography class in which one of the assignments was to take 5 photographs which were the same in all respects except for moving the horizon line. I took multiple series for this assignment, but finally decided on one from the West Side Open Space, taken last November. All were shot at f8, 1/125 sec, 24 mm, ISO 100, on a full frame camera. I also used a circular polarizing filter.

Of the five, this image was my favorite:

horizon lines
Horizon Lines – West Side Open Space, November 2012

Although that particular one was my favorite just as a choice out of the five, which one would be “better” would depend entirely upon the uses to which the image was to be put, as well as individual taste. Further, this series of images was taken for a specific assignment. Had I been photographing for myself, I would have chosen a time closer to sunset when the light was on the trees and mountains in the distance.

The results of changing the horizon line can be seen in this very brief video containing the five images.

The assignment was certainly effective at showing how much difference in appearance a simple shift in horizons can make in an image.

A Beautiful Sunrise

A beautiful sunrise from February 20, 2013.

Susan Brandt Graham
A Beautiful Sunrise

Albuquerque, and the Desert Southwest, are known for beautiful light and amazing sunrises and sunsets.

This image is from the morning of February 20. In the afternoon, the wind really picked up and clouds rolled in. That night, and in to the following day, we had snow. Although it was not a large amount of snow, we were grateful for it. The Desert Southwest is in the grip of a severe drought, and any precipitation is welcome.

Colorful and beautiful sunrises and sunsets are quite common here, but they are short-lived. This particular sunrise was extremely short-lived. The dark cloud you see on the right in this image moved in quite rapidly, and the reds and oranges in the sky disappeared as quickly as they arrived.

But, no matter how short, a beautiful sunrise is always welcome.

“Oh, No! Is She Starting a ‘Save the Adobe Casita’ Campaign?”

“Save the Adobe Casita.”

I had known for some time that friends were planning to demolish two old adobes on their land. The process had actually been delayed for a couple of years by intervening life events that required attention first. Over the years I had taken some photos of the smaller adobe casita, but never one that I thought captured the essence of New Mexico adobes. At the beginning of summer of 2012, after some high winds had ripped parts of roofs off, creating a definite liability, friends Tim and Laurie made definite plans for the demolition of the old adobes on their land.

In June of 2012 I finally managed to make an image of the smaller adobe casita that captured what I wanted to show. The day lilies that had been lovingly planted were blooming, the wonderful light of sunset was falling on the adobe, and the beautiful old cottonwood that was both providing a foundation for the casita and at the same time threatening its walls was clearly seen. I posted this image on Facebook.

Adobe Casita
Adobe Casita

The image started a discussion that, on the one hand made me happy because people saw the charm of the adobe casita, and on the other hand made friends Tim and Laurie wonder if I were trying to “save the casita.” I began to worry I might lose a friendship over that one photo! 🙁 Images have power that sometimes we do not realize!

Not to worry, however. Tim and Laurie allowed me to spend a week in August 2012 photographing before, during, and after the demolition.

The little adobe casita was charming, even partway through demolition. This image shows the view from the front door, looking out on the brown-eyed Susans that were blooming in August, along with some of the door detail, and the adobe construction itself.

adobe casita
Partially demolished adobe casita

But, as charming as I found some things about the little casita, even I knew it either had to come down, or a lot of money spent to restore it.

These images inside the casita were taken 36 hours before the beginning of demolition:

Continue reading ““Oh, No! Is She Starting a ‘Save the Adobe Casita’ Campaign?””

The Adobe Project

The Adobe Project documents the gradual disappearance of adobe dwellings in New Mexico, as this building material for homes, typical of the area for centuries, loses its relevance in the 21st Century. I have taken well over 1200 photographs since June of 2012, and I am continuing to photograph buildings and remains of buildings made of this material.

adobe
Old adobe casita, June 2012

Adobe, made of earth and organic material such as straw, and then formed into bricks which are sun dried, is found worldwide and has been a typical construction material in the Southwest United States, including New Mexico, for centuries. Some of the well known landmarks in New Mexico include Coronado State Monument; the Palace of the Governors, the oldest continuously occupied public building in the United States; and many of the historic churches, such as the Old San Ysidro Church in Corrales. The structures recognized as historically important are being maintained through governmental support or by a community effort, such as the annual “mudding day” at some of the historic churches.

Adobe has been a “dirt cheap” construction material for homes as well as for public structures, and these dwellings have given New Mexico communities much of their character. But it is a high maintenance construction material. Because the bricks are sun dried and not fired, they are unstable, shrinking and swelling with changing water content. Adobe requires constant and time consuming maintenance and repair, if it is not to wash and/or blow away.
Regular maintenance was not a problem when daily activities of life were close to home; it was simply a part of life. With urbanization and the growth of jobs away from the home, maintenance becomes a chore for which there may be little time, energy, or money. Without constant and regular care, the adobe dwelling deteriorates, and is eventually abandoned.

Abandoned adobe dwellings dot the landscape. Either by natural forces or demolition, the dwellings are disappearing. Because builders are now using materials that simulate the old adobe, the casual observer may not be aware that the true adobe dwellings are disappearing. This project documents some of these dwellings before they disappear completely.
Continue reading “The Adobe Project”

El Dia de los Muertos

El Dia de los Muertos – literally, “Day of the Dead.” Celebrated widely throughout Latin America, New Mexico has its own way of celebrating. It is all about “Honoring the Dead, Loving the Living.”

El Dia de los Muertos
“Honoring the Dead, Loving the Living”

The Muertos y Marigold Parade in Albuquerque’s South Valley celebrated its 20th Anniversary this year on November 4th, which was made all the more interesting because this was 2 days before the US Presidential Election.

People have asked for prints of images from the Parade, and they are now available for purchase at El Dia de los Muertos Gallery at Susan Brandt Graham Photography.