Saturday, September 19, 2020

A Day of Photography

Finished some chores around the NM condo so I took off to see what interesting subjects the camera could find. 

Spotted an artist painting along the Rio Grande river between Taos and Embudo. She consented to my taking her photo as she worked.  The smoke in the distance is from the wildfires in California.

Those who know me know that my number one photography objective is to tell a story with a photo. 
So this one is titled "Can you see as I see?" 

I could not see the colors in the hills like she was seeing but that is what art is all about. 
And in many cases with photography too.

Next rode up into the mountains to the very small village of Las Trampas to visit the San Jose de Gracia Mission. Built in 1760, it is still in use today.

I admire this mission and the town folks who maintain it the best they can though the village is very poor.
Have visited and photographed this mission many times trying to capture it in the right light.  
Here is today's effort.

Next to this high dry desert mission  is a small cemetery for Priests or persons who have made personal contributions to the maintenance of the mission. Adobe buildings require constant work to repair and maintain in this harsh environment.

Then rode over the mountains down to Rancho de Taos. Many may not realize that Taos and Rancho de Taos are two different pueblos. The most photographed church in America is here in Rancho de Taos, the San Fransico de Asis Mission. Construction started in 1772, the mission was finished by 1815. 

In 1929, Ansel Adams took his famous photo of the backside of the mission.

Surrounding the mission are many old buildings and structures that are as old or older than the mission itself. Some are still occupied as residences, other converted to commercial use. 

This residence with the blue door and the dying sunflowers caught the camera's attention.

There is a horseshoe nailed above the entrance with heels pointing down. There are two different thoughts on this centuries old custom of hanging a horseshoe: heels up in order to catch the good luck falling your way, or heels down so that good fortune falls on all who enter.  How do you hang yours?

By now the sun was dropping in the west, leaving a warm kiss on the mission walls.

That concludes today's photo findings.  

Was able to practice my photography hobby, rode the BMW sidecar rig a couple hundred miles, 
so in all a great day.

Ride safe my friends, practice social distancing. 


Monday, September 14, 2020

September in the Southern Rockies

An unusual cold front channeled a snow storm down thru the Rockies, across Colorado and into northern New Mexico the week after Labor Day. Decided to delay the drive back to NM for a few days for the roads to dry.

Night time temperatures are now down into the 20's even though the snow is gone.  The aspens will not start turning yellow for a few more weeks, but they are still beautiful trees. Found a nice grove to snap a few photos of the BMW-EZS sidecar rig.

... then came across an aspen forest of young trees. Someone told me that aspens are all connected via roots underground. From the roots a new sucker spouts up, adding another tree to the forest.  Is that true?

Inspite of freezing nighttime temperatures, did venture out for a few more milky way shots. Did not see any shooting stars that were so prominent in August,  but the planets Jupiter and Saturn are still visible.

For the milky way shots, I get away from the lights in the village to avoid any light pollution.  My escape into darkness is the Valley of the Utes (Indian word for Elk). 

Later when I drove back down, the moon had risen. Too bad there wasn't a blanket of snow on the ground to reflect the moon's brightness.  Ah, well in a couple of months that will be the norm. 

Stay safe and healthy my friends


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Then the clouds

Being without s sidecar to ride here in New Mexico, I have focused on my photography hobby.  Out walking, was able to grab a few shots during the day.

Lying partially hidden in the sage brush, Grandma Doe guards the nursing area 
of the mule deer fawns while their mothers are off grazing. 

How do we know she is an older doe? The younger ones have the brown coloring up their necks and covering their faces. Grandma is showing her age with grey on the face and neck.
The fawns lie still, well hidden from the view of any predator... or photographer.

Grandma is content to protect her brood. 

Ever wonder why they call Angel Fire, Angel Fire? 

It's because of the occasional climate conditions that spawn a brillant sunset show. This is only the second time in six weeks we have seen the sky light up like this.

The first time I witnessed it years ago, my reaction was there was a severe forest fire on the mountain. 

Was able to grab a few more night sky shots before the clouds moved in last week blocking the stars from being visible at night.  With few clouds to deal with, made another venture out to capture the night sky. 

Why is the Milky Way more visible in the southern sky than the northern sky?  I do not know.  Anyone?

Why does it stretch from north to south and not east to west?

And why is it more colorful near the horizon than when looking straight up?
If you know the answers, please comment as I don't know.

Looking south from the pine forest, Saturn on the left and Jupiter, the larger brighter light on the right, are very visible in the southern sky next to the Milky Way.

Well... was lucky once more to capture a shooting star, the Milky Way and both planets in the same photo. The long dark hours and cold are now meaningless after capturing this image.

Was asked about a falling star versus a shooting star. From what I have observed, a falling star will drop more slowly toward the horizon with a fading glow, to disappear behind the tree line. 

 While a shooting star zips across the heavens in a burst of energy giving no indication it is heading toward earth. That's my amateur observation.

In googling the two events, many journal articles say they are the same thing... hmmm.  Scientific speaking, they may be correct. But that's not what I observed in the night sky. I'll stick with my definitions.

This week afternoon clouds move in, lingering around till early morning. 
So no more sky photo shoots, leaving me time for editing the shots I did capture.

With the tropical storm Marco and the hurricane Laura threatening the Houston area, 
Amparo and I delayed our return to Texas for another week. 

Am getting anxious to pull my sidecar rig out for a ride. 

Be safe my friends, mask up and keep your distance.


Sunday, August 16, 2020

Persistance Pays Off

Returned for a third try at night sky photography. With any luck, maybe getting a shooting star photo.  This time went out at 1:30 and stayed until 4 am. 

Jerry correctly identified the bright spot as the planet Jupiter with Saturn hovering over its shoulder. Is amazing how bright they both are. Clouds were drifting across the sky blocking portions then opening up new lights all night long.

Could not see anything in the darkness around me, suddenly a bark on my left was answered by another bark on my right. Then down front a high pitched snort followed by a meow behind me. A herd of elk had stumbled on to my location in the dark. They can see quite well in this pitch black.  But they were not happy this strange creator was standing in their feeding path. Finally they moved on in the night. My heart rate slowly returned to normal and I continued shooting. 

Around three thirty the event I was seeking happened. The only shot in the hundreds of photos taken over the last three nights was finally in the camera. A shooting star, or meteorite.
Was not skill but persistence to get the shot I wanted.

A small cloud drifted in to obscured Saturn from view, but Jupiter is as bright as ever and the milky way stood tall.

It's four am, 45 degrees, I'm cold, tired. Time to get some sleep. 

Stay safe and healthy ya'll.


Friday, August 14, 2020

Shooting the Night Sky

Well, running water photos has run its course.... I know, a poor pun. Learned what I wanted to learn on how best to capture silky water. Now on to another technique... dusk and night sky photography.

Here are a few samples of what I have learned so far. 

Cool Sunset
From the rains on the left to sun lit clouds on the right, blue sky in between... over the Rocky Mountains.

Blue Hour 
After the sun sets and before complete darkness, is called the blue hour.

Dead Pine
On to capturing the milky way rising from the pines a few hours later.

Taos Lights
Am guessing the bright spot is the sun reflecting off a satellite. It is there every night in the same location.

Really wanted to capture a shooting star, but that happens by chance. 
The ones I saw were a short streak then gone. Split seconds... 

How were these images captured? By a SONY RX10 III camera, lens set at 24 mm, f-stop 2.4, ISO 3200, exposures at 15, 20 and 30 seconds, with a two second delay.  Pulled out an old very heavy tripod to eliminate camera shake. 

And so the COVID-19 normal is avoiding others, learn something new, practice and sanitize. Now you know taking these photos I was far removed from the danger of meeting other people.  Though the danger of bears, cougars or other critters that go thump in the night, well... don't stray far from the vehicle. 

Stay healthy and safe my friends,


Tuesday, August 11, 2020

August Photo Competition

Though we're still in New Mexico, submitted online my three entries in the Photography Club's August Photo Competition.  Our Club Competition Officer is keeping the club together by continuing the monthly challenge inspite of not being able to meet in person. Is the only way we can see what each of the other members is working on. 

This month's challenge categories are:

1. FIREWORKS; a photo of fireworks or people and fireworks

2. OPEN: This can be any image a member wishes to submit for judging

3. OUT OF THE BOX: This is the wild card category for this month. The challenge is to create an image that does not look like a normal photograph or the subject matter is out of the usual. 

Here are the entires I submitted:

FIREWORKS: Street Fair
Took this photo in Barcelona, Spain during a nighttime street fair. The fireworks are mounted on long poles, showering the people standing underneath with sparks.

OPEN:  My Quiet Space
This photo was taken in Reykavik, Iceland. This lady found a nice quiet warm spot out of the harsh cold winds to enjoy her coffee and a good read. 

OUT OF THE BOX: Mariposa No. 9
Mariposa is Spanish for butterfly. 
Created this artwork image using several photos in a composite.  What do you see?

Next week we'll know how they did.

If you are wondering where are the sidecar riding photos, my sidecar rigs are back in Houston. We left Texas in a hurry to leave before the Stay At Home order was issued for our county. Now we are daily checking the Covid count numbers for Houston, then look at where they are here. Since we have been here, the positive covid count in our county has risen by over 20,000. Here, in the same time period,  it went up by seven. Easy decision, stay here for as long as we can.

Stay safe, stay healthy, mask up and sanitize.


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Rainy Day Editing

Experiencing rainy days this week so after doing the household chores, 
focused some energy on editing indoor photos. 

The more I use and experiment with Luminar for my photo editing the more I like it. 

Listening to the rain, sitting back with a book, a bowl of sorbet and a Texas drink.

A gap in the rain clouds allowed afternoon sunlight to stream in, highlighting
 the collection of Native American images

By evening the rain clouds have moved east, allowing us to sit around the fire pit 
enjoying a soft cool breeze and a Cuba Libre.

Each of these photos took a different approach in editing to get the right mood and feel. 
In all, a learning process.

Ride safe and mask up.


Thursday, July 30, 2020

New Mexico Rainbow

After returning to northern New Mexico to escape the Texas heat and growing COVID-19 infections, we have experienced a most unusual summer. 

While raining most days starting about noon, the mornings are for outings. When I get a chance, I slip out and snap a few photos, try some new techniques... after the rains move in, sit at the laptop, work on new editing techniques or cook up a new dish.

Played with a new fisheye lens here... looking west across the sage brush of Moreno Valley.

Using the fisheye lens, zoomed in to eliminate the black border.  Note the curvature of the horizon, still an interesting shot of clouds. Those far distant peaks are in Colorado.

Looking north across Black Lake at Wheeler Peak with a regular lens.
Black Lake is at the southern end of Moreno Valley in northern New Mexico. 
The lake is on private grazing land so one cannot actually go there. 

The bands of light and shadow across the valley floor contrasting with the evergreen trees, ridges and distant peaks attracted my attention. The rumbling clouds were icing on the cake.

Now looking west at a sunset peeking out from under the rain clouds, 
still near Black Lake.

Ventured out to take more flowing water shots using the iPhone and a Slow Shutter app. This smooths out the water for a more silky appearance. Is critical that you use a tripod so everything but the water comes out crisp and sharp. It helps that there is no wind too.

Am not sure when or if I'll ever use the slow shutter technique in competitive image work, 
 but wanted to experiment with it, practice a bit and learn.  

Below, I applied other editing steps to the slow shutter shot to sharpen the rocks and mute the colors. 
Makes you want to reach out and pick up a rock?

Sunday morning I walked downtown to Angel Fire's weekly Farmers Market.
This was the only produce vendor there. The other vendors were two bakery booths, one chicken/ duck egg farmer and two herbal scent ladies. Slim pickings... 
Bought a half dozen duck eggs, a peach scone and six gingerbread cookies.

Every one here wears their face mask and practices social distancing.

The produce vendor fires up his roaster with a fresh batch of the Hatch Green Chiles. Hatch is a small town in New Mexico famous for their green chiles. The harvest season is in full bloom.

This roaster looks like a cement mixer with mesh sides and a gas burner underneath.

As they roast, the chile skins soften, turning black, yellow and brown. The roasting process loosens the skin from the flavorful meat, making them easier to peel. This batch is not quite done yet.

That afternoon a thunderstorm moved into the valley. As it moved over us a rainbow appeared, dropping out of the rain clouds. 

I grew up hearing how you could find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. My South American wife grew up learning that a rainbow was a colorful ribbon mother nature uses to tie back her hair after washing it. Interesting how different cultures have different folklore.

Then a sight we have never experienced before, sunlight streamed in over the lower storm clouds, illuminating this cloud, creating an unworldly brilliant view.  

The valley floor is still in shadow from the rain clouds overhead while the mountain peaks are in sunlight. Note the rainbow is still evident on the left.

Every day here we see something new, learn something new, gather new experiences. Life is good.

Stay safe my friends, stay healthy, mask up and wash your hands.


Monday, June 15, 2020

Flowing Water Photos

It rained hard last night so the Red River near Questa was flowing higher and fast today. Here is the result of todays photography work with flowing water. 

Moved a mile downstream, climbed down a steep river bank to get this shot.

Went to another location, but by accident, took a double exposure.  Hmmm...
From that accident, created this moody 1800's looking 
mountain image with a watercolor painting feel.

An accidental double clicking produced a more interesting image than the straight photo.

Everyday we learn something new when we keep experimenting, 
be open to the unknown, pushing ourselves.
If given lemons, make lemonade!

Most of all, never stop learning and growing.

Ride safe and maskerize...?


p.s. Last night the normal sunset was not much to look at, 
but in the north were wonderful lights dancing around in the clouds.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Southern Rockies in June

June found me spending some time in the southern Rockies in northern New Mexico, working on a photography project, learning new techniques and exploring a few new roads.

Love the peaceful aspen meadows in the afternoon light.

The elk come out to eat at dusk after sleeping all day. She looks pregnant and this is calfing season. Soon, Mama, soon...

Rode down to Mora to revisit a rancher I met a few years ago, Don Patricio.
This is what a New Mexican native picket fence looks like

Stopped to talk with this roadside barber. He was combing one of his top donkeys. Suggested I not park downwind as he only does this "de-thatching" of their heavy winter coat on VERY windy days.  The field mice must love getting all this free donkey hair for their nesting material.

These are much larger donkeys than what I saw in Mexico. He said these were mammoth donkeys and would outlive him, even though they were already 20+ years old. Even had to designate who was to inherit them in their wills. 

Near Mora, road construction stopped everybody in the hot sun. Lucky me, got the last piece of shade to wait in. 

The next day rode thru Red River on way to the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.
Looking at down Main street Red River, a tourist destination summer and winter.

Doesn't look like much, as the gorge ahead drops off into a significant site. This is where the Red River flows from the tallest mountain in New Mexico, Wheeler Peak, to join the cold Rio Grande river rolling down from the San Juan Mountains in southern Colorado. 

In the deepest and widest spot of the 1,885 mile long Rio Grande gorge is La Junta (Spanish for the joining). Red River on the left and the Rio Grande on the right meet at the tip of what looks like a green rocky tail of a dragon.

Being a Monday and with the corona shutdown, not many people out here. All camping sites were closed.  The only security ranger on duty said he was as lonely as the Maytag repairman.

Remember the New Mexican picket fence above? This home owner ran out of native pickets but managed to round up enough discarded abandoned skies to complete his fence. Hmmm, not many pairs of ski there either.

A few days later, tackled Route 17 between Chama, NM and Antonito, CO, with two mountains passes of over 10,000 ft elevation in between. This loop has several great riding sections: Chama to Antonito, Rt 64 Tierra Amarilla to Tres Piedras, and Taos to Eagle Nest to Questa, but not the shorter Rt 522 from Taos to Questa.

Again stopped by road construction, traffic is reduced to one way only following the pilot car.

At Manga Pass, a mule deer photo bombed the shot. 

Cumbres Pass gives name to the Cumbres-Toltec Railroad that still runs today for tourists between Chama and Antonito with their antique coal powered (don't tell the evironmentalists) steam engines.

Stopped to click a photo of this hard working cowboy. 
Be it cattle or sheep, the cowboy's life is hard and lonely.

Toward dusk, the nighttime critters come out. Better to slow down and watch the road edges. If one deer crosses the road in front of you, cover the brakes and expect others to follow.

In case you thought this was a sidecar vacation, have also been working on several photography projects, learning new techniques.

For example, using slow shutter speed to capture moving water. The water is looking okay, but the leaves were fluttering in the wind so they also came out blurred, not okay. 

This shot is a little better. Lots of mountain streams around here with fast moving water 
to practice with.

Don Patricio, the high plains rancher in Mora, let me practice taking street portrait shots using the iPhone camera.

A different look

That's all for now.  Am here for another week, so more riding and practicing of photo techniques.

Ride safe and sanitize my friends.


Saturday, June 6, 2020

Color vs B&W

Am self-teaching this week, watching various instructional photo editing videos, 
then experimenting on which approach makes for a stronger image: 
Color    or    Black & White. 

Tell me what you think.

First image, Peruvian Pan Flute street musician

Flipped the image and reworked in B&W

Is interesting to note the viewer's points of focus shift from what they see in the color image to something different in the B&W image.

Image #2
Houston marathoner, Mile 23, Floating on Air.

The bright shoes contrast with the dull grey walls of the underpass. 
A person commented on the dark stripe/wall, it appears she is running into...

B&W image. the dark wall is removed along with the bright shoes. Now the focus is more on the runner and not the shoes.

Image #3

Solar Voyager is a B&W image previously displayed here, but not the original color print.

Stripped of color, the sky and background recede, the focus shifts 
to the various shades of grey standing figures.

Image #4
Skógafoss in Iceland

Lost the original color shot, but here is the finished B&W landscape image. There are three photographers standing close to the base of falls which gives you some idea 
of the fall's scale.

Not standing too close as the mist was freezing cold, quickly spotting the camera's lens. 
The fall's mist and spray created the spidery web of ice on the black rocks.

Working in B&W has its own set of challenges. Some original images easily convert to B&W, actually improving their impact for the viewer. Yet other color images do not convert well,
even with a lot of editing. 

Deciding which approach to use is the photographer's / artist's choice and challenge.

Will continue my studies here in New Mexico for another week before returning to Texas.

In case you think I have no time for play, I did bring the BMW sidecar rig with me. 

Ride safe, and sanitize