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.
I think, as I’ve mentioned before, that I don’t really start out with any particular intent regarding what it is I want to photograph. It comes to me, or it doesn’t. Sometimes, it’s just “no picture” and that’s all there is to it. Other times it’s like a flood. This is a very rural state, not many people and lots of wide open spaces. Even downtown Santa Fe isn’t really very big compared to other cities. I like that aspect of living here. No pollution. No crowds. But the light is often times, magical.
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.
Every year, on December 24th, we look forward to the “Walk on Canyon Road“. This is a long and winding old street that is mostly filled with galleries, shops and restaurants. There are bonfires burning along the entire walk. In traditional New Mexico lore, the purpose of those fires is to light the way for the Christ child. All of the businesses decorate with lights and garlands. The galleries are open and often serve small sweets and sometimes hot drinks. It’s great to get inside, not just to look at the latest art, but to get warm! Santa Fe is cold on a December night. (Sadly, that Walk was cancelled this year.)
The picture up there of the kids in a tree house, is from one of the galleries. This is a life sized sculpture, nestled in the branches of a very old and very large tree.
This year, the entire Canyon Road Walk was cancelled due to you-know-what. I’m at the point of saying ENOUGH. It’s an outdoor event, in the bitter cold. No COVID would last for 2 seconds in that. We barely do. But, the event did not occur this year. So, last night I decided to go walk around anyway with a neighbor. There were some lights, hardly any people and no traffic. I still think it was worth it. Then we went over to the Plaza which was in fact brightly decorated as usual. We both agreed it was worth the effort.
I used the Sony A6500 with a Sigma 56mm f1.4 lens. That combination can literally see in the dark. I let the camera choose the ISO, and the highest number it “chose” was only 6400. I am amazed at how little grain there is. Cameras have come a long way since I started doing this. All this, in a very light and easy to carry package. The Sigma lens is also weather-protected as is the 6500. A very nice duo indeed!
Happy New Year to All! Here’s to a much better 2021.
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.
I went skiing for the first time this season. We have little snow in our mountains and we’re limited to three or four runs. I don’t care. The views there are amazing and the snow was fast.
At this time of the year, the shadows are long and dramatic and I love the way they print the snow with strong linear patterns. I’m always attracted to those strong black and white, figure/ground scenes. For mountain activities, I use the VERY small Sony HX-99 camera. It fits in the front of my jacket where it can stay nice and warm. This camera has a tiny sensor (1/2 inch) but it shoots RAW. It always amazes me. And for anyone who doesn’t need to make large prints, give it a try. It’s a lot of camera in a really small package.
It’s unusual for the weather to be gloomy here. We ski in bright sunshine most of the season. But when it snows, it snows! Our snow is feather-light most of the time. That’s great for powder skiing, but it takes a while to establish a base as a result.
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.
I’ve just started a new site which is dedicated solely to COLOR! In these dreary times, color just “hits the spot”. I could never give up on black and white, but color is a wonderful counterpoint. Visit “In Living Color.photos”.
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.
Above are pictures from Sicily and one of the Roman ruins. The city scenes are from, I don’t remember which Sicilian city exactly! And I didn’t take notes.
Below are street scenes from a city that I do remember, namely Santa Fe New Mexico. Good thing that I remember that since I live here. I just walk about with nothing particular in mind until something grabs me, or even just slowly presents itself. Sometimes I just perch myself somewhere and wait. This is a great hobby.
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.
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?
Rodeo is part of New Mexico culture, and there is a small one very close to my house. Of course the words “very close” out here means about 20 miles away. These shots are from one of my visits. We can all see rodeo events on TV, but you rarely see this part, the part where a man dies right on the hardpack ground. These men are tough, but they are not immortal. In the bottom photo is a young cowboy, 25 years old, being carried from the arena. He had a wife and new child. The paramedics were there quickly, but to no avail. It still upsets me to this day. That’s his hat laying on the ground.
I decided to include the “Junkyard Jesus” photo. This is another interesting site relatively nearby. I guess it’s called Outsider Art. Someone in the boonies has been collecting what other people would call “junk”, and he, or she, has arranged all of it into an enormous stretch of make-believe. It changes all the time. I find it rich.
The first shot was taken at one of our reservoirs. It’s a quite large expanse and people boat and swim there.
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.
An email just arrived today, September 29th 2020 telling me that a dear friend, a loyal friend, a mountaineering and skiing friend, a cooking and baking friend, a gardening and knew-how-to-grow-everything-friend, a teacher of Swiss dialects friend, a long-time-long-distance telephone friend—telling me that she had died peacefully in her beloved Canada, with her beloved family. That was on Wednesday, September 23rd 2020
And, as I have said before, this is my website, so if I want to get mushy, I will; and let no one interfere.
So Helene, you’re over there and I’m over here. You were always far more accepting of that fact of life than I ever was or probably ever will be. I know it’s a sign of maturity and “centered-ness”, but I’m not there yet.
I thought you’d like this picture of a Nasturtium held up high against the light of the New Mexico sky. And even though this site is dedicated to black and white photography ONLY, I decided to make an exception for you.
Just about a month ago we’d had a lengthy discussion about growing potatoes—something you excelled at—and knew so much about from your early childhood experiences on the farm in Canton Aargau. I’m so glad I got to see that place and know your parents. So there’s a green photograph of my potato plants. They are happy. It will be a good harvest this year—one which will be turned into a Raclette dinner for many guests.
And there’s a photo of the gate to my courtyard and front door. That door is open, and it’s that way for a reason, so whenever you feel like visiting, just walk right in.
Thank you for your support and hospitality when I was alone in a foreign place. Thank you for warmly welcoming me into your family. Thank you for always making me feel even more welcome in your home than I even was in my own. Thanks for all the great laughs. Thank you for all the great meals. Who can forget Choucroute Garni with beans from the farm? Thank you for Engelberg, and Villars, and Flaine and Montana-Crans and Les Grands Montets and so much more. You will be, you are, missed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here I’ve decided to mix several genres. So, we have street pix combined with what I refer to as “Abstract” and, as a hedge, sometimes refer to as “Almost Abstract”. The photo of “The Kids’ Tent” is from the Jazz Festival in Telluride, Colorado. As far as Jazz is concerned, I can take it or leave it. For some of my friends, that statement is tantamount to heresy!
And something else has happened since this epidemic got going—and this town has always been friendly—but now it’s even more so. I find people being extra polite and extra helpful. It’s funny, we have to stand in line to get into a grocery store because management wants to limit how many people are in there at a time. I think they’re right to do that, and everyone cooperates. So we stand in line, six feet apart. But surprisingly, we start chatting with each other, still maintaining distance. Below is a sequence showing you what’s going on in the Plaza in Downtown Santa Fe. Drag the vertical line to get the full effect.…..(I think you might have figured that out on your own. Right?)
Wasn’t it nice of the city of Santa Fe to have provided us with this not-so-little reminder? But, seriously, I’m OK with it.
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.
Everyone was disappointed to have the 4th of July celebrations cancelled in the Santa Fe Plaza. There’s the much awaited pancake breakfast and folkart show. The band is always very good too and everyone is always in a great mood. The mood was different today. Once again, eerily quiet. And I still cannot get used to seeing everyone wearing a mask.