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.
I was going downtown anyway to pick up some great olive oil at my favorite shop. I had already ordered it over the phone earlier in the day and they were holding it for me. So of course I just had to take advantage of another photo-op downtown. I had the “heavy-hitter” Sony AR7II with me, all hooked up with my favorite “nifty fifty” f 1.8 lens. Ready to rock-and-roll as the saying goes, but for one thing: mea culpa…I made a real beginner’s error and had not checked the battery before leaving. I must have been too preoccupied dreaming about all the interesting things that I could cook, bake or stir-fry with the oil I was picking up. So yeah, I got off one shot before seeing: “Battery Exhausted” flash onto the rear screen. That gets to happen once.
But, to the rescue, and always in my handbag, was the much-discussed Sony HX-99 with its tiny sensor, but huge zoom. Long story, but here are those photos. True, you don’t get the detail and dynamic range out of the smaller sensor, but somehow, for street shots, I don’t care. I almost prefer the softer image. So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
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.
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.
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.
This really is a case where “If Looks Could Kill”, I might not be here. I really don’t think this person was annoyed with me for the photograph. I was pretty discrete, just looking down at the camera. OK, I’ll admit it was stealthy, but the camera was NOT pointed in her face. (Such is the advantage of the flip-up screen on the A6500 as opposed to the swing-out variety.) So that leaves me with the conclusion that here we have a portrait of a human being having a bad day. She and her friend were wearing the same amulet. It appeared to be something from ancient Egypt. She could definitely use a little more of the Sun God in her life!
It was raining (finally) in Santa Fe, yesterday. I love to take photos in the rain and generally in inclement weather, so off I went to see what fortune had in store for me.
In Egyptian mythology, Ra was the god of the sun. He was the most important god in Ancient Egypt. He had many names, such as Amun-Ra, and Ra-Horakhty. It was said he was born each morning in the East, and died each night in the West.
This is a bit of architectural detail from a trip to Sicily. This recessed sculpture was quite far away, but the zoom did a good job. This comes from a time when people took time to beautify a building or any artifact. Any comparisons to the modern world will have to be made by the reader, we’ve come a long way?
These pictures were taken at a very rural train station called Lamy. The two people dancing were part of a celebration that took place out there in July. The old train would leave from downtown Santa Fe and chug along until we arrived in Lamy. I had the Fisheye with me at that time. It can be a fun lens once in a while and I think these shots made the most of it.
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?
Back to the main topic: I’m having such a good time visiting all the photo, art and graffiti sites that WordPress hosts. There is such great talent out there.
I’ve been taking a lot of shots of the graffiti found in New Mexico, specifically in the Santa Fe area. Those pictures are entirely different from what you see here. And they belong in their own dedicated site, which is where I have put them. But if you’re of a mind to, drop in. Do. It’s bright and colorful, a little off the wall, and you’ll find some surprisingly good artists.
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.
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 AR7II. 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.
Political opinion is not the purpose of this site. I document what I see when I am “street shooting“ and I do not care what the subject might happen to be.
I will simply document what I see.This was in fact a “first” for me because generally I stay far away from crowds. But this was too compelling and photographically rich not to explore it.
Heading downtown today, we were suddenly stuck in an enormous traffic jam, moving just inches at a time. And most of the time just standing still. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that this was a Trump Rally just getting ready to form up. Or call it a protest or however else you want to name it.
But it was in fact peaceful and disciplined.
The camera cannot convey how many people were jammed into the street on both sides—each one carrying a flag or banner.
As I have mentioned before, I always have the camera with me. Many days I don’t even get one shot. That’s ok. The 6500 is small enough that it’s never in my way and that encourages me to take it with.
This was not just one or two small groups of people. These shots above are just at the edge of it. There were people with bull horns and others shouting their message. No one gave me a hard time as I zipped around trying to get some good shots. There had to have been many thousands there.
Regarding “Jay” (if that was in fact his name I don’t know) who I reference in the photo above. He wore a logo identifying himself as a “Proud Boy”. I’d heard only bad things about this group. But I decided to approach him and try to chat anyway. I’m a shrimp and Jay is HUGE. He could not have been nicer or more respectful to this geek (me) with a camera in hand, trying to strike up a conversation. He condemns racism and all forms of hatred, but he loves this country and deeply values law and order. That’s why he was part of this rally. He impressed me. It would be hard not to like him.
As I mentioned, I’ve never seen anything quite like this. The passion and fervor were palpable, and yet they were all disciplined, respectful and made a big effort not to block traffic. I just thought that it deserved to be documented. And even though I’ve let some color sneak through here and there, I still believe that it has a place on this website.
Here we have one of my favorite and recurring “haunts”, i.e. the railyard. I’d gotten a fisheye lens and was really enjoying discovering what that’s all about. It’s not a lens I’d want to use all the time, but, as a spice, it’s a ball to work with.
A fisheye lens allows you to see more of everything, all scrunched together. It takes my breath away sometimes. It alters “reality” that much!
Then, Peru: As someone who loves to “work the earth”, I was naturally drawn to these farmers harvesting potatoes. As I watched them I was literally stuck with the realization that these people are not only interacting with their biosphere, they are part of it. They are it, in ways that modern people are not and who live with no sense of that—at least not like these people do.
In that moment I almost could not discern where human beings began and earth ended. I’m tempted to say that it was a kind of metaphysical breakthrough. It was that compelling. It’s a hard life, but a good one, utterly devoid of luxury. Is that, perhaps, what makes it good? I don’t know for sure.
It was an odd experience to feel envious of them though. It made no sense at all. But there it was. They were poor, very poor, but far from miserable—rather the opposite I would say. Isn’t it odd to say that I envied their simple but physically very demanding lives? One of them was about to celebrate his 93rd birthday.
Regarding the photos from Peru: I was there a few years ago. Coming from Santa Fe, I was glad to notice that I was not effected by the altitude. Flat-landers, on the other hand, struggled.
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.
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.
Sometimes, when I’m feeling lazy or preoccupied by something, I’ll take the point-and-shoot Sony and just sit on my back porch and watch the parade fly, flitter and soar by. I’m fascinated by flight and I never tire of watching these little guys. They are amazingly tame out here in the boonies where I live.
The tool I’m using for these shots, what is called a “Super Zoom” camera, is amazing for what it can do. It’s like having a telescope with a camera attached to it. The trade off is—not very high quality images. Some of the newer versions allow RAW capture, but the one I have does not.
I rarely use it, except for this. It might be time to get a telephoto for the “good” camera. But still, there is a place for these Super-Zooms and here are six examples. These feathered friends would never let me close enough otherwise.
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.
Of course in my lifetime I’ve owned many cameras. It can become an obsession. The current discussion is between mirrorless versus “traditional” DSLR. Everybody has their opinion. For street shots such as these, I like the smaller camera (which means mirrorless) with an equally unobtrusive lens on it. Nobody even knows that I’m carrying it. I’m just so stealthy that way! All of these were taken in Santa Fe, NM.
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.