Backyard Treasure Trove

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.

Goats = Weed Control

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.

Photo Class Gone Awry!

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.

Bleak, Dark and Moody

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.

“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.

Animated • Mandala • Kaleidoscope: 4/2/21

Something new for In Black and White. Photos

Here I have taken one of my black and white photographs and converted it into an animated Mandala/Kaleidoscope.

However, Kaleidoscopes and Mandalas do share something in common, if only on a formal level.

tessellero series number one

Santa Fe Railyard: 2.5.21

Bad Weather. But I love 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.

test text

Santa Fe Street Scenes: 12.17.20

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.

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.


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”.

Abstract Photos, Sicily and Santa Fe NM: 10.26.20

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?

Dogs, Cats, Birds, Roman Ruins: 9.21.20

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.