One Cloud Only. Comments? • 8/6/2022

This is one picture of a cloud posted yesterday. Only this time it is much higher resolution. My camera, shooting in uncompressed RAW, can capture amazing gradations of tone in the sky and clouds. Then I compress that image for the web and everything is lost. Instead, I thought I’d try posting just one image of higher resolution and see what happens.

You can click on this image to get the full size. If anyone notices any improvement, I’d sure like to hear about it. I think it looks better and all that banding in the previous Gallery photos from 8/5/22 is much improved.

It’s likely that these images are compressed twice: once by me and another time by the WordPress protocol (probably).

Cloudscapes • 8/5/2022

The ever changing cloud formations up here continue to hold my undivided attention. I can’t seem to get enough of it and I can’t seem to stop looking. Funny that I’m never bored by this vista. They form, then morph, then merge, then dissipate, like “thoughts”. I find that I can’t leave home without the camera around my neck….just in case one of them calls to me!

Too bad that some of these images break up after being crushed for the web. It’s always a trade-off between high quality and faster load times. I haven’t added or subtracted anything from these photos.

Sony A7r3

Oh Dogs • 7/31/2022

Dogs are one of my favorite subjects. My association with them has been a life-long love affair starting with the first one, a big fawn-colored boxer named Laird. He did not live long. It saddens me to write of it all these years later. He developed bone cancer shortly after he was 2 years old! My father was a physician and was absolutely devoted to this animal. He took him to every human oncologist in the city in a vain attempt to save him. After Laird came Cindy, a big, beautiful standard poodle. That kicked off the love affair with poodles, which has lasted a lifetime.

The photograph of the white poodle is “Lucky”…the latest permanent residence in my home. That’s a long story. And we all have long stories regarding our best-friend-pooches. Right? Lucky is now 18 months old and full of spunk and vinegar. He is the best friend and rough-house-buddy of Flicka, the German Shepherd mix rescue-dog that you see here from time to time. Both of them are smarter, and definitely more sensitive, than many human beings I know and have known. And that’s a fact.

That “dog” way out there, isolated in the vastness of this place is definitely NOT a dog, but rather a close relative. We have many coyotes here and they walk around and visit the yard from time to time. You can’t imagine how much I want to feed them, but I know that’s a bad idea. And I don’t. How they survive out there is a mystery to me.

Clouds to Astound • 7/23/22

Believe me, I’m not doing anything to these clouds. This is how they look. People just stop what they’re doing to gaze upward. At least I’m not the only one! It reminds me of the movie, “Independence Day”, if any of you saw that.

Shot these with the Sony A7r3. I like hearing reports from others about their experiences with the cameras and lenses they’re using. I learn a lot from that. What it comes down to, of course, is a personal choice. How does the camera feel in the hand? Does it fit? Does its position of controls and options work with the way my brain works? That’s what it comes down to because here’s what I’ve discovered: all of the modern cameras and lenses are excellent. I should know. I have a quite an assortment in my Photo Stable. We have to split hairs to make an argument for one brand or model over the other. At least that’s what I’ve discovered.

Having said all that: this Sony A7r3 (I hate the naming conventions) is an absolute winner for me. We’re just a good fit. It’s beautifully constructed (that matters to me) and it’s light weight and easy to carry around all day with the small FE f4, 28-60mm lens on it. And the whole kit is weather and dust sealed. The “dust” part matters a lot out here. Anyway….we’re a good match. And may we live happily ever after.

‘Tis the Season For Sky • 7/19/22

Skies like this leave me in awe and feeling very small.

On a technical note, adding a tint to some of these, does NOT translate well into the compressed version needed for the web. It bugs me, but as I have said before, a) I think I’ll live, and b) Life goes on!

Can’t Get Enough of… (7.14.22)

Well, I hope I’m not boring everyone who visits “santafeandme” these days. But we are in our Monsoon Season and that means epically amazing cloud formations and lots of storms.

When I’m driving, I have to remind myself to: “Keep your eyes on the road.” It’s really difficult and more often than not, I have to pull over and “click”. Some of these formations look positively nuclear or Biblical, or both! Others look like highways in the sky. I can’t stop myself, it’s worse than chocolate. So “clouds” may be the theme on this blog for a couple more weeks…

…Oh, that’s not true either. Clouds and Sky are just a major facet of the scenery in New Mexico’s high country all year.

New Mexico Raw: 7.9.22

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.

Backyard Treasure Trove 4.20.22

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.

Life goes on.

“Look Ma. Jesus is comin’.”

This is supposed to be a site dedicated to black and white photographs only. But I’m going to make an exception here. This was the “Biblical” event in our skies that I was awed by as I drove home yesterday. It filled the entire sky and here is the jpeg-compressed pale imitation of what I saw. I had to pull over and just watch as the light changed. Luckily I had the Olympus M5iii with me. For a small sensor, I’m always amazed at how able it is. I haven’t added any color or contrast.

Olympus 12-45mm Pro

Earth & Sky Santa Fe: 11.12.21

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.

New Mexico Light Show: 9.30.21

We never get tired of the dramatic play of light in New Mexico. Because we’re at 7000 feet, and higher, we get these deep blue skies. Well, that translates into a deep gray in these black and white photos.

The picture at the top and bottom right was taken with a new camera for me. It’s been around for awhile, but curiosity made me give it a try. That’s the Olympus OMD M5 M3. I had one of the earliest Olympus OMs a long time ago. It was called the OM-1, a film camera, and it was unique for its time…small and beautifully crafted. I think I wore it out. The Zuiko lenses were fantastic even then.

So that was part of the influence that moved me to try Olympus once more. I liked the possibility of “focus stacking” in camera and the 1:1 format which I love but cannot get with the Sony A6500 (which is another gem). That image was shot with the lens which Olympus is now packaging as a kit with the camera body, the weather-proof, 12-45mm f4. That’s the equivalent of a 24-90mm in full frame terms. I’ve shot many more pictures since, and I am impressed. Really impressed with it. That’s a micro 4/3rds sensor that honestly rivals the quality of the A6500. Of course the 6500 can see in the dark when paired up with the Sigma 56mm f1.4, but the IBIS on this camera is astounding and nothing like I’ve ever experienced. The lens is also astounding. The weather-proofing is probably second to none as well. And it’s small and light just like its great, great, great, grandparent the OM-1.

The pictures on the sand dunes were taken at White Sands National Park in southern New Mexico. If you don’t have a weather-sealed camera and lens in that environment when the winds kick up, your camera is done for!

I see quite a bit of color-banding and hazing in some of the images. That results from crunching these pictures into JPEGS that will load reasonably fast. The color is NOT part of the original RAW or PSD files. I don’t know why that happened this time since I’m using the same procedure as always. I increased the resolution and I’m still seeing it. I think it’s due to the amazing subtlety and gradation of the clouds and sky.

Others shots show first snow in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Maybe it will be an early ski season? The other pictures of people walking were taken in my neighborhood. There’s a lot of space out here. Not many people. I like that.

New Mexico Sky Show: 3.17.21

The light in this part of the country never ceases to amaze. You can be the worst photographer in the world and still come out lookin’ pretty good! I’m transfixed by it half the time. But, camera is always with me.

I just got the fairly new Sony 28-60mm “kit” lens. I like this lens because #1 it’s weather sealed. That’s important to me, and not just for moisture, but for dust. When it starts to blow out here in New Mexico, we end up with half of the Nevada desert settling on us. The winds do blow out of the West. I guess that’s why they refer to them as the “Prevailing Westerlies” huh?

The lens seems to be wonderful, but I am NOT a pixel-peeper. I just want it to work well in all conditions and be VERY easy to carry. That way I’m encouraged to always have it with me. It did great this morning with snow falling.

After all that bragging about New Mexico light: full disclosure: the photo in the upper left is from Sicily and the one in the upper right is from Florida. So there, we can all have good light and no one should get too stuck up about it, right?

I said that I might do this at some point just to see if anyone is paying attention. Oops…screaming color in a black and white website. That’s me on the chairlift and I hardly ever take a “Selfie”. But the Sony HX99 that I carry for skiing, makes it easy, so I couldn’t resist.

Landscape New Mexico: 2.25.21

The advantage of always having a camera with me is that I can capture light and scenes that sometimes only last for minutes. As I have mentioned before, my camera of first choice is the Sony A6500. But, when I am skiing and involved in other outdoor activities like that, I still use the Sony HX99. It’s SO small, yet has all the adjustments of the A6500 or nearly so. I hope everyone out there in the Ether is staying safe. Cheers.

Santa Fe Architecture: 12.28.20

These were all taken in my area, Santa Fe, New Mexico—with the exception of the picture of the tiled roof, which was taken in Sicily.

Sicily is truly a place of dreams.

Santa Fe Railroad Lamy: 10.6.20

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.

HummingBirds and Motorcycles Santa Fe: 8.30.20

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!

These guys are not easy to photograph!

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Botanical Southwest Images: 8.26.20

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.

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White Sands New Mexico, Bandelier NM: 8.13.20

Some of these are from Bandelier National Park, others are from White Sands. The one of the cat is out my front door. The lone skier is from a hike I took with my dog. For places like White Sands, it really helps to have a camera that has some weather sealing. It was blowing so hard that it hurt our skin. For sure the sand and dust would have gotten into the camera. The Moon would have been more hospitable.

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Cliffs, Water, Honda 500cc Motorcycle: 7.17.20

Rode up to the ski area today and looked at rocks and water. Most people would say “yawn”, but I liked it. The air smelled good. In retrospect, I seem to have been focusing on diagonals and abstract forms. I never think about it at the time. The Honda was running great…not at all bothered by the altitude. Me neither.

Not too many people up there and I always like that. I like the silence.

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