Saturday, August 17, 2019


While in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho had the opportunity to attend the JULYAMSH Indian Pow Wow. 
Various tribes from the Northwest, including Idaho, Washington. Oregon, Montana, Alberta and British Colombia, Canada gather each summer for a dance, singing and drumming competition. Each tribe sends their best performers to represent their traditions, dress and customs. 

At first the visual impact is so overwhelming with over a hundred dancers in a small arena. So many bright modern colors, the decorative rapid movements, intense serious attitudes and the sheer beauty of it all.. seemed at first impossible to capture with a camera. 

The men dance aggressively, quick fast movements in rhythm with the multiple drums while competing for a judge's attention, attempting to out impress other tribal dancers.

Twisting turning stepping to rapid pounding of the drums...

Fast movement, dramatic gestures, flying feathers, 
ribbons of colorful flash fill the camera's lens. 

Visually overpowering the individual under all the regalia.

Tried toning down the colors so as to focus more on the participants. So many bright colors were too strong visually, distracting from seeing the real people involved.

The lady's dance is all foot work and attitude. Here an invited dancer from Oklahoma leads the procession of tribal princesses.  

This photo?  hmmm, with the color toned down, looks too stiff, no WOW factor... 
The fourth girl with the rainbow dress overpowered everyone else if at full color.

The male dancers invoked the unique tribal heritage from their ancestral origins.

Let's introduce more contrast...  better.

Whoops, by going straight B&W, has details but loses in attitude and excitement. 
Too dull. No focal point of interest.

Maybe try a different tint....   Hmmmm...  No, not quite right.

Participants were of all ages from infants to grandparents.

How about a close up...   No, too sharp, is modern looking, not the look or feel I seek.

Settling down, let's refocus of individuals, attempting to capture 
the native sense of attitude and the personalities. 

Here a young girl seriously studies the dance moves of teenagers performing. 
The competition between the tribes and among the individuals is intense. 
They are all battling for honor and tribal pride.

Note the square topknot in the girls's hair?

Let's try an old school type of photo editing, harking back to a long lost era 
of strong proud warriors, rich tribal heritage.  

Strong but too sharp, too crisp.

This is better. Has a 1920's grainy look, strong contrast, slightly out of focus.

The proud attitude is showing... good sense of warrior strong. 

Finally on the right track to capture and show the spirit of the individual 
honoring their heritage. 

This B&W image captures the beauty with a sense of power within.  
Strong, determined and proud of who she is. 

In the mist of swirling colors and frantic activity, 
she projects calmness, composure of a tribal princess.

And finally,  different princess from a different tribe...  what does her image say to you?

???????  Post your comments...

Being allowed to mingle among the PowWow participants 
as they competed was a fantastic experience.

I better appreciate now their tribal heritage and the impressive efforts they put into preserving and promoting their culture. The training and formal preparation for the intensity of their performances was on full display. 

Well, that was a walk-about in the photographer's mind as one attempts 
to achieve a certain look and feel for the images. From the several hundreds of photos taken, 
these are the few that survived the selection / editing process.

Thank you for taking the time to follow along.

See you on down the road,


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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Adobe Churches

Yesterday decided to ride a loop looking for country adobe churches in this part of New Mexico. These are not the famous historical structures as in the last posting, 
but what the locals have build for their daily worship services.

Near Peñasco Pueblo, a small boxy abode structure: Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion

Near Guadalupita with an active graveyard out front, 
a bright modern church: Nuestra Señora del Niño Jesus.

... a small modest church in Rio Lucio: no name posted.

Not all the churches I found are still used, some are abandoned. 

Found it interesting that the steeple cross is gone, yet the heavy bell is still hanging in the tower. Surprised it has not been moved to a church that could use it. It is very common for alters, railings, pews or other unique or sacred church artifacts be moved and incorporated in a replacement church. 

And some churches are beyond the point of rebuilding.

In Dixon, the old adobe San Antonio Mission church was abandoned, 

... in favor of it's replacement built next door. 
Note the cross has been moved from the old structure.

I did get off the sidecar rig to step inside a small old capilla in Mora, NM. This was the church before they build a big modern building next door. The simple capilla with its decorative alter is preferred for daily worship by the older members.

Outside on a hot dusty side street in Mora, I met Don Patricio. 
Born 87 years ago in Guadalupita to a farming family, now his declining health worries him.
Says he does not want to live much longer. The pains in his body are unbearable. 

Finished today's riding loop by taking the busy highway back to Taos,  
then the twisting winding road up to Angel Fire.

No photos of the sidecar today, just the adobe churches I found...   and Don Patricio.

Be safe y'all, God speed.


Friday, August 9, 2019

Taos Spanish Missions

The weather forecast was positive, so I decided I would get out very early in the morning
to gather fodder for my photo portfolio. 

The old Spanish Missions in and around Taos, New Mexico are well known. In fact the San Francisco de Asis Mission in Rancho de Taos is the most photographed mission in NM.  Ansel Adams, Paul Strand and Georgia O'Keefe all used the imposing structure as subject matter for some of their works.

Arrived in Rancho a little too early before the 6:15 sunrise. But still,
captured a few images I like.

Predawn in Rancho de Taos

With the unpaved streets around the imposing mission, the look is "Old Mexico"

Rancho Street Lights

Sunrise slowly peeked over the mountain ridge but was disappointing 
as the deep shadows and bright lighlights I had hoped for did not materialize. 

Drove over to a smaller, much lesser know Capilla of the same Spanish era, 
Nuestra Señora de Dolores.
Is still an active church located in a modest neighborhood, not surrounded by gift shops or cafes like the San Francisco Mission in Rancho. But the gate was chained. 

Peaceful Nuestra Señora

Then found my way to the newer cathedral of Taos, Our Lady of Guadalupe. Built in the older mission style but with modern construction materials and engineering. The walls are not the ten foot thick adobe mud and straw as seen in Rancho.

The deep shadows and highlights I was hoping for earlier are finally appearing, an hour or so after sunrise. 

Come unto me...

So I raced back to the San Francisco mission in Rancho de Taos to try my luck again.
Morning services had already begun, did not wish to disturb the parishioners inside.

Music Dwells Within

While running from one mission to another, caught a quiet deserted Taos Plaza just as the better light appeared. If you have never been to Taos, NM, this is exactly how the old town plaza appears today- before the tourist SUV's and minivans fill the parking spots, blocking your view of the adobe buildings. 

Old Town Taos

There are two more missions in the immediate Taos area. One is located inside the Taos Pueblo with restricted visiting hours and the other is a small non-descript building wedged in between other  adobe houses. Will try to capture images of those two soon.

On the trails between Taos and Albuquerque, there are twenty-three old Spanish Missions, most on Indian Pueblo land. Some open to the public, others are not. This will provide me with many photographic subjects for many years.

Returning to Angel Fire, was treated to a sight from our deck, a mule deer buck and doe feeding together. The rut has not started yet, so he is not chasing her. Maybe are brother and sister? 
The buck is still in 'velvet'. 


All in all was a great day. Now have new images to work with.

Be safe, y'all


Sunday, August 4, 2019

Riding the Rockies South

Before leaving Coeur d'Alene after the sidecar rally, popped in on a native American / First Nation PowWow. Snapped hundred of photos but will edit those for photo competition coming up later this year.

Two young dancers posed for a snapshot before heading over to the judging area where they will compete.

A young mother and her two daughters also posed for a snapshot.

South of CdA, spotted an unusual sight so swung the rig around to take this photo.

Eunice, who is in her early eighties, was atop a stepladder picking cherries from the top of the tree. To do that, she drove her old 1949 Chevrolet pickup that she bought new in 1951, under the tree branches, then placed a stepladder in the bed of the truck so she could climb up and reach the ripe cherries on top.

Stopping to talk, I met Eunice's husband, standing behind the truck, eating the cherries as fast as she could pick them. 
Eunice spun tales of her and that truck, hauling firewood so heavy the rear differential plowed the center of the road, stacking hay so high it listed to one side, sliding off the highway on an icy road one winter with a non-functioning heater... an interesting couple.

Crossing Wyoming I kept seeing signs for the Sand River. Curiosity got the better of me and at the first opportunity to ride across the river, I did. 

Yeah, all sand, no water in the river bed.

Crossing Wyoming is a hot dry experience for hundred of miles. Sunburn is a concern. After trying creams and blockers over the years, found the simplest and cleanest solution is a bandana soaked in water. When it dries, re-soak.

Riding the Wind River Canyon south of Thermopolis, WY is one of my favorite experiences. 
Is a short canyon but one of the prettiest. The canyon walls parallel the roadway, the Wind River and railroad tracks.

There are three short tunnels, one right after the other on the south end of the canyon. 

In color, the canyon walls themselves is stunning.

And in black and white too.

On the last day, riding from Rifle, CO thru Aspen to reach Independence Pass,  the morning rush hour traffic heading up to Aspen was as bad as any Houston rush hour.  Because housing is so expensive in Aspen, most who work there must commute from outside the village. 

Aspen build federally subsidized housing for the school teachers, firemen and policemen 
as they could not afford live within the city limits.

Finally reaching Independence Pass, stopped for a quick photo at the sign. 

Just when you think you have accomplished something, up pedals a retired gent who made his way up from Aspen to reach the 12,045 ft high Pass.  I shook his hand.

The last twenty miles of the ride south was visited with a mountain shower. 
The only real rain of more than a mile the whole trip.

Now to rest a few days, do laundry and plan another ride.

Ride safe and far, y'all.