Spring Bulbs

Spring bulbs – tulips, daffodils, and others were seen in colorful abundance at the Albuquerque Biopark on Saturday. I was really glad I made it out then, because all were just beginning to look a little worn. Today (Monday) we are having high winds, and I doubt photographing the spring bloom will be as good after today as it was on the weekend.

This is just a sampling of Saturday’s spring bulb beauty.

tulip - spring bulbs
spring bulbs - tulips
daffodils and tulips
Daffodils and Tulips
spring bulb - tulip

Pansies – a Sure Sign of Spring

Pansies – one of the early spring flowers here in Albuquerque seemed to be at their peak today at the Albuquerque Biopark. Actually, there were also glorious bulbs, flowering trees and shrubs, and color everywhere. This post will show you the pansies. They always make me smile, and I hope they brighten your day as well. Other images from today will be posted in subsequent posts.

Purple and blue pansies
Multicolored pansies
Pansies (or something in the pansy family)

And, finally, the pansy I call “the Rohrschach pansy.” 🙂

“Rohrschach pansy”



Warmer days of Spring have finally arrived in Albuquerque, and the trees are beginning to respond.

One of my favorite trees is the Japanese maple. Even in the best of years, Albuquerque is not the ideal spot to grow a Japanese maple – too hot and dry. By the middle of summer, mine definitely shows it does not belong here. But it is glorious in the spring. It is just now barely beginning to show tiny leaves.

Japanese maple trees
Japanese maple beginning to show tiny leaves

Another maple, a silver maple, is beginning to drop its seeds. I love these – they spin through the air as they fall, and kids of all ages love them! There is not much hope for this one, however. It fell on dry, parched, cracked earth from the several years of severe drought of which we remain in the midst. It is only early April, and the city has already announced that fines have been doubled this year for water violations. One month last year I got a whopping surcharge (not a water violation charge) for using more than I should have, and I can guarantee that this year I will not get a surcharge or a water violation charge!!!

maple tree seed
Maple seed on dry, parched earth

When we are not in the midst of severe drought, birch trees do pretty well in the Albuquerque area. Mine this year are producing a bumper crop of the male catkins, which I almost think of as a bad sign, almost a desperate attempt to reproduce before dying, which one of my birches seems to be considering. The catkins are quite attractive in the spring, as the female cones are later in the year.

Birch catkins
Birch catkins

Spring brings hope, and this year is no different as I see the trees in this part of the seasonal cycle. But all around me, I also see the effects of a severe drought we have been in for several years now, with no sign of relief in the near future. As water restrictions require me to cut back on watering, the trees will be the last thing I let go, because they are so important in providing shade, nesting spots for birds, and many other environmental factors. And I keep hoping for rain. . .

Spirits of the Old Adobes

Spirits of the Old Adobes

Every now and then it is fun to play with images that were taken at different times, for different reasons, and to combine them for a new purpose.

Regular readers here, as well as my friends, know that I have been working on collecting images of adobes, especially old and/or abandoned ones, or those being demolished. I also have some images showing “mudding,” in an attempt to preserve some of structures. These adobes, in various states of repair and disrepair, are an integral part of the New Mexico landscape.

Those of you who know New Mexico are also aware that commonly seen here are celebrations that are uncommon in other parts of the United States. El Dia de los Muertos (“Day of the Dead”) is observed throughout parts of New Mexico, both through decorations and the large Muertos y Marigolds parade in Albuquerque’s South Valley.

The following images are composites made from photographs from both the Adobe Project and the Border Celebrations projects. I did them for fun. I hope you enjoy them, also.

These images are available for purchase here.

composited image
Spirits of the Old Adobes
composited image
Spirits of the Old Adobes
composited images
Spirits of the Old Adobes
composited image
Lord of the Manor

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 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.



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.

Photography Masters Cup Nominations

I would like to thank the jury of the 6th Annual Photography Masters Cup for recognizing two of my images from the Adobe Project.

Photography Masters Cup
Photography Masters Cup Nominee 2013

“Abstract #10” and “Casita #1” were each nominated in their respective categories in this year’s competition. “Abstract #10 – Journey” was nominated in the category Abstracts, while “Casita #1” was nominated in the category Americana.

“Abstract #10 – Journey” is an image made from what had been siding on a mobile home attached to an abandoned adobe.

photography masters cup abstract nominee
Siding from mobile home attached to an old adobe, after both had been demolished, August 2012

This image shows the adobe and mobile home on August 13, 2012. The demolition took place on August 15 and 16, 2012. It may appear that the abstract comes from the old VW, but it does not. The VW is still intact. The abstract is from the siding of the mobile home.

Abandoned on the Bosque #2
Abandoned on the Bosque #2. In the background is a large adobe with attached mobile home. That adobe, as well as a smaller one, were scheduled for demolition in 36 hours.

“Casita #1” shows what had been the living room of an old adobe. At one time, this had been a charming structure. However, it did not have a proper foundation and its walls were being threatened by a large cottonwood tree. Demolition was the only real option for the owners.

photography masters cup americana nominee adobe casita
Living room of the casita

There are many images and many stories still to be told from the Adobe Project. This is the first announcement of results from a competition in which some of these images have been entered. I was very gratified to see these two images nominated by the jury of the Photography Masters Cup, and I thank them for their recognition.

Congratulations to all the categories of winners in the 6th Annual Photography Masters Cup Awards. I was very happy to find myself in the company of such marvelous photographers as Mel Brackstone,nominated in Fine Art Nude, Ben Goosens, nominated in Fine Art, and Peter Kemp, also nominated in Fine Art. Very special congratulations go to my dear friend, Patrizia Burra, for her Honorable Mention in Children of the World, and multiple Nominations in multiple categories.

Thanks to the 6th Annual Photography Masters Cup and this year’s jurors for their recognition of these images from the Adobe Project.

“Abstract #10 – Journey” is available for purchase here.

“Casita #1” is available for purchase here.

“Mudding” an Old Adobe House

Mudding an Adobe House

As I have said many times before, preservation of true adobe structures requires regular and time consuming maintenance, something for which many owners of adobes have neither the time nor money. I have also talked elsewhere about the community effort that goes into maintaining the Old San Ysidro Church in Corrales, New Mexico.

Corrales, New Mexico is geographically contiguous with Albuquerque, but it is its own Village with its own unique history, governance, and pride. Main Street, Corrales, is lined with adobes – businesses and homes – in various states of repair. It is charming, and the Village intends to keep it that way.

In 2012, the Corrales Historical Society and Corrales Main Street, with the hard work of volunteers, teamed up to “mud” or replaster with adobe the old Martinez House, which sits right on Main Street in Corrales. This house is not made of adobe bricks, but rather of terrones, which are essentially squares of sod. It is closely related to adobe. The traditional mud plastering is the same. The Martinez House Project is described in detail by Mary Davis in Corrales Historical Society Newsletter.

This is the north wall, and you can see the state of the adobe. For those of you not familiar with the use of color in New Mexico, blue is frequently used in the wood and other trim of adobe structures.

adobe house

This is the east wall of the Martinez House, and you can see that it sits right on the street. It has already had one coat of mud plaster applied, and Daniel Esparza is smoothing it and adding a little more plaster.

Martinez House
Daniel Esparza “Mudding” the east wall of the Martinez House

Before any “mudding” could begin, a formula for how much of what kind of earth and straw would be right had to be determined. Then, the ingredients had to be prepared and mixed.

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