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.
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.
Every time I head downtown, I make it a point to stop in at The Monroe Gallery of Photography. There you’ll see the originals of great photographers, both contemporary and past. I stopped in there a few days ago and asked the director if I could take some photos at a discreet distance, of course. She was so glad that I had asked and immediately said, “Sure you may.” I told her that I would be posting them on my website and she was fine with that too.
But what I didn’t say to her, because it didn’t occur to me at the time, was that in “post” it might occur to me to play “make believe” or “make pretend” and insert one or two of my photos into these magnificent gallery displays. Wishful thinking maybe. I am NOT in this Gallery by a long shot. They don’t even know who I am. This is just me having some, I hope, innocent fun. I am NOT in any gallery anywhere. So there. Full disclosure on that score. Just a little photographic prankster-ism.
P.S. If there are any lawyers out there who know of any law I might be breaking, do let me know. I think I’ve given pretty blunt full disclosure.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
This is a rural part of New Mexico. Most of New Mexico is rural so that’s no surprise. The way we control weeds sometimes is to bring in a herd of goats (some sheep mixed in) and just let them graze. They do a great job. No pesticides needed. No one out here uses pesticides anyway. The place is still too pristine and pretty to allow that. And, we’re all fairly conscious about how that effects the bees. A lot of people out here like to grow their own food. I wish I had a greenhouse!
Here are some nice portraits of the kids I met today. They completely ignored me…too intent on what they were doing. Me too.
And, by the way…what’s the best camera? Ok, we all know the answer to that question…The one you have with you. I always have the little Sony HX99 tucked away in my hand bag. It does shoot RAW and has no anti-aliasing filter. That gives a boost to the small sensor. As I have mentioned before, if this camera were any smaller, I wouldn’t be able to operate it. It is a miracle of miniaturization.
Several years ago I was in a photo class at our local college. There were some very talented people in there. We all got along great and had a total ball posting our photographs to FaceBook. In response, we were supposed to post serious, highly intellectual commentary for each photo. That was too heavy for me and I wanted to have fun. Some “Sprite” possessed me and I spontaneously started writing very short stories for each photo.
These are selections from just one of the students who had to endure this—although, he loved it. Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously. GK Chesterton once said (paraphrasing) “The reason that angels can fly is because they take themselves lightly”. This is an odd posting for me, but I thought it had some comedic, and photographic merit. Any maybe someone out there will get a chuckle or two out of it. We sure could use more of that! So here they are…my Great Literary Responses to the wonderful work of Henry Aragoncillo, fellow photo student at the Santa Fe Community College. These are ALL his photographs.
We haven’t gotten a lot of snow this year. It keeps missing us, but all the surrounding areas are getting epic amounts. Oh well, January is typically a dry month in the local mountains. February and March are generally when we get most of our snow pack which is so important for the Spring run-off. The smoke in the lower right photograph is the result of what’s called a “Controlled Burn” around here. The Forest Service will start a fire to burn out dead leaves and logs that could ignite during the hot weather.
Today was bleak, very dark and moody up there, as my title suggests. We are skiing at 12,000 feet and mountain weather can change VERY quickly and dramatically. I always have the tiny Sony HX-99 with me because it fits in the front ski pocket and I hardly know it’s there. The sensor is small, but I continue to be amazed at what a good job it does…capturing a lot of detail with a pretty nice dynamic range. I used to try carrying the “real” camera with me, but it was just too much effort and it put an expensive camera in harm’s way. I couldn’t adequately protect it. By the way, I also would NOT want to fall on it! Ouch and Snap.
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.
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 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.
Just walking around, almost mindlessly, and yet on another plane, quite attentively, I can stumble upon some interesting scenes. These are from downtown Santa Fe and the Railyard area. I like moving around in bad weather. It’s helpful to have a camera and a lens that can tolerate these conditions. The Sony 6500, so far, has proven itself to be a Champ. Even so, I’m careful with it, sheltering it as much as possible. Maybe this is why equipment tends to last a long time with me. I use it hard, but treat it like gold.
This is my favorite photographic “haunt”—city streets. Most of these were taken in my home town of Santa Fe, New Mexico. But the two of them with the long shadows were taken in Telluride, Colorado. Telluride has EPIC skiing and is a wonderful village as well. The restaurants are also excellent.
Sometimes when I’m out shooting, all I can look at are patterns and shapes and textures. I seem to get captured by them. I’m supposed to be the one “capturing”, but most of the time, the tables get turned on me. I’m fascinated by things like “Figure/Ground” relationships, and maybe that’s why black and photography just seems to work for me. I keep thinking of another artist, Anselm Kiefer when I look at my abstract images of dirt, rocks, hay and brambles—not to insult Anselm. I like his work a lot.
The circle of rocks were just sitting there like that. It reminded me of one of my favorite artists, Andrew Goldsworthy. And maybe I like Andrew Goldsworthy because his work reminds me of the inherent patterns in nature—he just has a gift for amplifying them. Strong shadows also always pull me in—but then there’s that figure/ground thing going on—abstraction seems to be the result.
I guess there are different levels of “abstraction”. Sometimes I can’t even tell what the thing was or where it came from when I look at some abstract photographs. But these still have enough of the context within them, so maybe I should call them “Semi-Abstractions”. Who cares, right?
The visit to Sicily was one of the best of my life. I loved the place, the people, everything about it. Maybe it was the history of the place that kept getting to me. It’s unavoidable. It’s everywhere: Greeks, Phoenicians, Arabs, Romans and probably many others as well. Some of the other shots are taken here in Santa Fe, NM.
Then, of course, dog pictures. That’s a recurring theme for me. Well, animal pictures in general hold some special allure.
The Roman villas and artwork in the form of mosaics are stunning. The level of craftsmanship and artistry was overwhelming at times. Talk about an embarrassment of riches.