The “big” moral question of the day is: Is it OK to feature color images on what is mainly a black-and-white photography blog? I just have this sneaking feeling that I’m cheating in some way.
But here’s why I can’t resist. Normally we’re quite dry here, but as I mentioned in yesterday’s posting, we’re in Monsoon Season. That means that the plants jump to life, including what’s growing in my garden. I just stand there and look at the patterns in the leaves. I love it. It’s mystical to me. It’s miraculous and I drink it in. So, OF COURSE when I come back down to Earth, I just have to take a picture of it. And the colors are intoxicating. Maybe we’re not used to it. The “palette” here is usually rather soft and pastel-like. So, these plants with their saturated greens and yellows just beg me to have their picture taken. Plants are like that. They can be quite vain you know.
Raw is the right word to describe the landscapes here in New Mexico…especially when the weather is changing and the skies become very dramatic. These were taken just a few minutes before sunset. Because we’re at altitude (7000′) the air is crystal clear. Of course another reason for that is because there aren’t many people here! We’re in a rural area, so there are even fewer people and the air and the skies are even more clear than in town (Santa Fe). These low light situations with high contrast clouds as the sun catches them, “asks” a lot of the camera. I shoot RAW so I could lighten these quite easily, but I’m going for the mood of the scene and how it impressed me as I stood there. I should say, “how it captured me!” So there you have some silhouettes, solid inky black with little or no detail. The modern cameras are amazing for preserving detail and tone; and I know that I could have pulled that out of those areas.
These were taken, quite recently, with the Sony A7Riii. I’m pretty much in love with the camera. I love the size, the lightness, the fluidity in using it. It seems to read my mind, and who knows, with AI, maybe it is! I read a review of it by Ken Rockwell in which he referred to the A7Riii as “clairvoyant”. That’s really the perfect choice of words, so I’ll just lift that description from his article.
I used the very basic Sony FE 50mm f1.8 lens which “serious” photographers would probably scoff at. Well, I’m amazed by it and I am serious! And unless I were printing images one acre large, I bet that most of us would not be able to tell the difference between it and one of the breath-takingly expensive Sony G or Master lenses. Its clarity and performance are astounding.
Sometimes, not only is it a lazy day, it’s a “why bother to go anywhere else to shoot day.” That describes my backyard out here in the wilds of New Mexico. Sometimes an amazing scene appears out of nowhere and I’ll just grab the nearest camera. That may not be the best one, but light changes so fast around here that I can’t get particular. Since most of the focus is on sky and clouds, that creates a big problem when crunching these down as small JPEGs. Because there is so much subtlety and gradation in those clouds, they tend to become blotchy as they are compressed. So I have to compromise.
Sometimes I say to myself, “Just step outside your own front door. Don’t go more than 20 meters in any direction, and see what’s there.” That is amazingly difficult. We had a nice blizzard the other day, but now it’s starting to melt. It was late afternoon when I went out, but it didn’t take long to become attracted to the strong light-play of pattern and design that was right under my feet.
Once again, I’m using a fairly “simple” camera by today’s standards. Well, not really. But it’s an older one, probably considered a “dinosaur” these days—and probably out of production. I think it does a great job with only a 1″ sensor. I love that the original Sony RX-10 (first edition) is weather-sealed, has a good Zeiss lens on it and a constant 2.8 aperture throughout the 24-200mm range. Macro is outstanding as well. I’ve kept it all these years because I still enjoy using it and I’m still impressed with the quality of the images. And remember, these images are crunched way down as JPEGs. The originals are RAW.
Earth and Sky. I never tire of these two as subjects. To some it might seem repetitive, but to me it’s always fresh and new. Some of these are from my backyard. But all of them are within just a few miles of home. Finding the “new” and “interesting” in your own, well-worn, backyard and town, might seem daunting; but I’m still enjoying.
We’re not having the greatest Winter for skiing. But we have enough to go up and have some fun. Of course we’re known for our Wintersun. It’s true. We normally ski in bright sunlight with blue-black skies. I love that for black and white shots.
I get up there early and this time of year, the shadows are long and dark. It makes for some wonderful designs and patterns. I just visited Marcus’ website and read about how he feels like a kid in a sandbox when the light plays across some strong architectural features and he has camera in hand. I understand completely. And that’s how I see things when I get up into the mountains early. This is the best time of year to be up there and shooting. These strong dark and light patterns are seductive.
Don’t laugh too hard, but I like to carry the Sony HX-99 for these excursions. Purists might not take it seriously, but it makes carrying a camera into that environment possible. It does shoot RAW and that’s important, particularly for a camera that only has a 1/2″ sensor. But I am always amazed at what a good job it does. I don’t know how well the images would look if they were enlarged a lot. But for smaller prints, I bet they’d be fine. Considering that I was in motion on the ski lift for these pictures, I’m pleased with the results. I expected blurs! The HX-99 has all of the adjustments that I need and want and the layout of the controls is almost identical to the A6500 and the A7R3. It fits in the front of my ski jacket. If this camera were any smaller, I wouldn’t be able to operate it. It’s a miracle of miniaturization. Nice job Sony.
Sometimes when we get a good snowfall, I put on the xcountry skis and go out to take shots of the interesting and prickly plant population; but “Lines and Critters” pretty much says it all.
People are often surprised to hear that Santa Fe, New Mexico gets any snow at all. We do! It’s fluffy-light-weight, low-density snow, just the kind that skiers love! We are at 7000 feet and that changes things a lot. The surrounding mountains top 12,000 feet and our ski area is excellent. Plenty of good tree skiing even at 12,000 feet, due to our southern latitude.
The railroad pictures are from several different locations in the Santa Fe area—that being either the Lamy Stop or the old station in downtown Santa Fe. The photo with the two young people standing out on a flat car, is from a July 4th train trip that would depart the Lamy Station, after a barbecue, and then wind its way to downtown, where it would stop on the tracks just in time to get a superb view of the fireworks display put on by the City of Santa Fe. The ride started in downtown Santa Fe and ended there about 5 hours later. A really fun trip.
Sometimes the simplest and most unexpected experiences and images are the most revelatory. I mean that sincerely. Something breaks through that really grabs you.
Here’s an image that exemplifies that. I was walking around in the kitchen taking care of chores, when I looked up and noticed the sun shining through and illuminating these Angel Wing Begonias that I keep near the window—mountains peeking through beyond. The play of light was entrancing, and I not only felt entranced, I felt grateful. Strange how that works when we’re least expecting it, right? The camera was nearby, so here it is. It won’t win any contests, but it took me somewhere amazing.
You gotta love that it’s an ANGEL WING Begonia, right?
I was almost immediately reminded of an old Shaker Song called “Simple Gifts”, one of my favorites. I never planned for video to EVER be part of this site; but I always loved the way Judy Collins interpreted it. Here she is as a kid! 1963.
Enjoy your day, and be sure to enjoy simple gifts. They really are all around us.
Yesterday I decided it was time to take a bike (motorcycle-vroom) ride over to The Randall Davis Audubon Center in Santa Fe. This is one of my favorite rides and destinations. The winding road, by name of Canyon Road, which leads to it, always makes me feel like I’m in Southern Spain or Provence. It has that kind of “look and feel”. And, just as an aside, Santa Fe does have a relatively large number of French nationals living here—close to three thousand. I often wonder if their impression is the same.
You gotta love the juxtaposition of motorcycle and hummingbird, right?
Back to the story. ( I don’t just meander on my motorcycle.) I made a couple of stops along the way and then headed up there. I’ve been trying to hone my technique for photographing hummingbirds. They love New Mexico and we have many varieties. Who doesn’t feel the allure of, and the fascination with, these seasonal visitors?
But “Why?” you ask, would I want to photograph those guys in black and white? Doesn’t that seem like a travesty of some kind? Here’s why: I hoped to show some of their delicacy, their grace and their amazing aerobatics. Most of the time they’re just a blur! I thought, that by deleting color, I could better communicate those characteristics. Plus, my “pull” is to black and white photography. So there. That was the challenge.
More than that, I wanted to convey their tinyness, almost invisibleness, in the environment. You could mistake them for a bug zinging by!
Smoke has been a real issue around here for over a week. We have fires in New Mexico, just north of my home. But we are mainly getting smoke brought in by the prevailing Westerly winds out of California. Just about the time that clears up, the winds shift and we get smoke from the fires in Colorado and locally.
At times the mountains are completely obscured by smoke. Unusual. New Mexico is known for its pristine-sharp skies.
The one photo up there attempts to show just how much the view has been obscured from the back of my home which usually provides a glorious, sharp, panorama of the mountains—The Sangre de Cristos to be precise. Macro and close-up photography is moving along. I really don’t know where the dividing line between “macro” and “close-up” is exactly. If there’s a “rule”, I am unaware of it, and probably wouldn’t care anyway!
Don’t know why, just felt like publishing more photos than usual. Such is the artistic temperament I guess.
Macro photography is something new to me. It’s very difficult. First of all, you have no depth of field and any movement of the camera results in a blur. Tripod use is a must. But, despite the fussiness, I love it, so I’ll be adding that to the other photographic interests of mine. “Street Photography” simply must remain high on my priorities’ list. Santa Fe is full of interesting people, but I guess that’s true everywhere.
What makes New Mexico so special is the light. The place is luminous.
Every year I start a garden inside. Sometimes I use seeds that I have collected from the previous season. When I do buy them, I like to get heirloom or organic non GMO. I’m far from being a Hippie, but these things matter to me.
Since I take a lot pride in this agricultural accomplishment, I thought a photograph of this lovely Patty Pan all by itself was in order. Nice shapes, great flavor, easy to grow, although the Squash Beetles think it’s pretty tasty too.
Too bad that the nature of the internet is to reduce the quality of the photographs. The originals have a bit more pop!
This is my website so if I want to do something sentimental, I will. And if anyone doesn’t like it, they should hesitate to tell me. I’m in no frame of mind for a critic. A long time friend of mine and trusted counselor died last night, around midnight, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
I can hardly think back to a time when the name “Gerry Weber” was not part of my everyday consciousness—from earliest childhood onward .
Gerry, fare well and say “hi” to everyone over there, just the way you said you would in our last conversation—and God, I had so hoped that it would not be the last one—of how many thousands in my lifetime? And who knows?—maybe this message, cast out there into the ether and the everlasting, will find its way.
Most of these were taken with a Macro lens on the full frame camera. There’s a whole new world awaiting for us when we decide to get close. The first time I took a macro shot, I was astounded at the amount of detail in something as mundane as a dried leaf—details that were completely unavailable to my sight. FYI: You can leave a comment for an individual photograph when you are in the slideshow. Click on one image above to launch that.
Sometimes the things right beneath my feet are the most interesting. I love plants anyway, so maybe these guys “call” to me. I just like the shapes and the never ending new compositions they make just for me. 🙂