Sunday, June 26, 2022

Seco Loop

El Rancho Grande

When I begin a local photo jaunt, I look for the best clouds and head toward them.  I’m searching for the most dramatic sky and something in the foreground to complement the heavens. In some images the foreground element carries the day. In others it’s all about the sky. Since it’s New Mexico there are epic clouds most days. But Friday’s sky began as blah and ended stormy. Monsoon Season is upon us. It's the answer to many a prayer and rain dance. Wildfires have devastated New Mexico over the last month and we hope the steady rain will help our heroic firefighters tame the flames and smoky skies that have hung over Taos since the first of June. 

Dos Caballos Uno

Dos Caballos Dos

I headed north from Taos to the picture postcard village of Arroyo Seco where I always find something worth capturing. I drove through charming Seco, passed Santísima Trinidad church and turned right toward Taos Ski Valley on State Road 150. At 11 o’clock was a classic western scene with a corral, horses, stacked hay bales and horse trailers. I parked at the Post Office across the street and walked toward the corral to photograph these handsome specimens.

Valdez Morada

Next, I drove along the rim and dropped down the steep hill into Valdez, a rural settlement in a verdant valley with a notable morada, a lay chapel built by Los Hermanos de Penitente. The Brothers of Penance practice a harsh faith that includes self-flagellation among its practices. The little morada, in contrast, was glowing and serene.

Brewed with Rocky Mountain Spring Water

And finally, there's a bar in Valdez, one I've been afraid to enter. Luckily for me the joint was closed.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Postcards from Chromo

Chromo School established in 1895

We’ve made the jaunt from Taos to Durango dozens of times over the past two decades. And since Peggy has been represented by Sorrel Sky Gallery in Durango for many years, she routinely delivers paintings, attends openings, and teaches workshops there. Durango is a nifty little college town with an eclectic restaurant scene and the best bread between Denver and San Francisco. So, any excuse to visit the place works for me. The bakery is fittingly named Bread.

Schoolhouse and horses

Roof and Clouds

This time we were attending the 20th Anniversary of the gallery. Kind of a big deal. Twenty years in the gallery business is no mean feat and Sorrel Sky has accomplished it with verve and style. The occasion was worthy of a gala celebration and gala it was. Beyond the wonderful art at the gallery owner Shanan Campbell had invited Ken Koshio and his three-man Japanese Taiko drumming troupe to kick off the fiesta. She told the audience that she had heard Ken’s group perform in Scottsdale and knew she had to invite them to headline her 20th anniversary fiesta. Their athletic, high-energy performance left us breathless, and the vibrating drums shook us to our boots. Learn about Ken Koshio at www.kenkoshio.com.

Old meets new

Little house on the prairie

But this post isn’t just about Sorrel Sky or the 20th anniversary splash. It’s about the gorgeous four-hour drive from Taos to Durango and more specifically about the tiny settlement of Chromo that’s sits on Highway 84 three miles north of the New Mexico-Colorado border. The setting of the village that sits beneath Chromo Mountain is magical. It’s classic cowboy movie country that could easily masquerade as Wyoming or Montana.

The star of the show in Chromo is a one room schoolhouse set in a pasture with an outhouse to the rear and a teacherie to the right as we faced the school. Teacherie, I’m left to deduce, is an arcane term for a teacher’s residence. Think infirmary or menagerie but for a spinster schoolmarm braving the wild and wooly west.  The bottom photographs are of the teacherie. According to the plaque on the front of the schoolhouse the facility dates to 1895 and Chromo School is an Approved Standard School whatever that means. And what were the standards in 1895 anyway? Today it's a community center for a prosperous ranching community.

A gaggle of horses grazing on the school’s lawn stopped us in our tracks. It was a first. We’ve driven by the school at least forty times in 18 years and I’ve photographed it on a dozen of those occasions but nary a horse till now. Peggy was driving this time since it was her gig. As we came abreast of the glorious scene passed I yelled, “Stop! Make a U-turn. We have to photograph that.”

And it’s a good thing we did. The horses were gone the next day.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Detritus

Closed bulk plant, Monticello, Utah

Gas Pumps, Monticello, Utah

Even when you have a photographic mission it’s often subjects that are incidental to the objective that command your attention. That was true in my trip to the Four Corners and the Navajo Nation three weeks back. Sure, I got some worthy shots of the vast Navajo Reservation. And some showed man’s insignificance against the sweep of the vast desert. But the evidence of our feeble efforts to tame a harsh wasteland captured my fancy as much as the otherworldly beauty of the Navajo homeland.

Standard Oil of Cow Springs, AZ

What's left of Tsegi, AZ, Population Zero

Depicting man's fleeting mark has been something of a calling since 2006 when I climbed out of Death Valley to behold the Sierra Nevada looming beyond Lone Pine. Just because it was there I took a left turn to a place called Keeler. Keeler, a withering burg of 66 souls with a median age of about the same sat on the alkaline shore of what had once been a lake. That was before LA stole the water or, more accurately, the citizens of the Owens Valley took LA’s money and were left with Keeler and other dusty remnants of a vibrant life under the Sierra’s gaze.

Good Luck, Keeler, CA. 2006
 
Today’s post is a blend of images, one old and the others as new as yesterday. They prove the premise that we can adapt to an unforgiving landscape, but Mother Earth has the last say. In the past and in a fraught present we are faced with that truth. We, in our stunning hubris, ignore the natural world’s power at our peril.

Adobe at Ranchos Plaza

Good Luck
 spawned a portfolio called At the Edge of What's Left. The first four images above join that growing series. Good Luck was my most successful photograph until last year when it was dethroned by Adobe at Ranchos Plaza. It was quite a run.

Thursday, June 09, 2022

Testing Testing Testing

Test Dummy

After a slew of sleepless nights and a chat from 1:37 am to 2:45am Wednesday night with my new best friend Efe in Turkey the kinks in my new email feed may have been ironed out. Of course, I’ve thought that before, like on Tuesday, when the whole enterprise went sideways. Efe and I agreed that the best way to prove we’ve righted the ship is to publish a new blog post as a test of our, mostly his, wizardry. To say my fingers are crossed doesn’t come close to describing my pins and needles. This is that test and I am the test dummy. BP 127/67, Pulse 47, O2 97, Temp 97.6. Not too shabby for an octogenarian.

This post serves to prove that:

1.      It will arrive in a clean white field from Steve Immel Photography.

2.    The title and the entire content of the post will reside within the email. You needn’t click on title to go to the actual blog. Though I wish you would since it’s a much better visual experience.

3.    There will be no advertising or commercial content and, especially, no Turkish text up top.

4.    You will receive the email as described at or about 7:00am Mountain Time on Friday June 10, that is 6am Pacific, 8am Central and 9am Eastern and so forth.

It’s that simple or difficult depending on your vantage point. Right now these simple goals are feeling mighty lofty.

I’ll leave you with these questions.

Do you prefer the whole post be included in the email, so you don’t have to go to the blog?

Would you like to receive the title and a snippet of the text, say 150 characters, and you decide if you want to click on the title to see the whole post?

Or how about the minimalist approach of title only and you’d always have click through to see the actual post.

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Transition Blues

We are not amused

The transition from Feedburner to follow.it as my blog’s email feed has been painful. I apologize for the late posts, ugly emails, and languages you don’t understand. At this anxious moment I think that I, with the steadfast guidance of Efe at follow.it, have remedied our problems. Think, I must emphasize, is well shy of believe. Please hang in there with me as I sort it out. Thank you.

In the interest of proving that all is right and ready, I’m publishing this short, contrite post that, if our adjustments work, will arrive on time from Steve Immel Photography without ads for Dr. Phil and fungus ointments.

Should that prove to be the case you’ll  be able to read the whole blog in the email you receive or can click on the title, in this case Transition Blues, to see a more polished version of the post. That’s how it’s been with Feedburner the last sixteen years. An alternative I’ve seriously considered is for the email to include the title and a snippet of the post, say the first 50 words, and you would click on the title to read the blog. What do you think about that permutation?

Sunday, June 05, 2022

Folded. Heavy Starch

Barrel Cuff and wrist

When I unfolded my heavy starched 100% Egyptian cotton dress shirt and put it on Friday night I was gripped with delight at the feel and look of the crisp white shirt and the cylinder of cloth that formed a barrel around my wrist. The actual name of the cuff is barrel cuff for obvious reasons. The moment took me on a journey from the deep past to the here and now.

A cuff within a cuff

It harkened back to the early sixties when a more worldly college friend, Duane Henry, sold me on the virtues of an Oxford cloth dress shirt that was professionally laundered, starched, pressed, and always folded. The look of a white Gant button down with the slightly rolled collar was a dash of savoir faire that made an impressionable youngster into a pretend Ivy Leaguer in his soft shouldered gray flannel suit, regimental stripe tie and glistening cordovan brogans. Later I graduated to the superior Sero buttondown with longer collar and more impressive roll. Both Gant and Sero hail from the Ivy League mecca of New Haven, Connecticut. For decades there was a billboard on I-95 announcing the city as the home of Gant shirts. Yale, too.

I’ve had my dress shirts laundered and prepared as described above since 1962 thanks to Duane’s sound advice. My handsome Linea Uomo shirt beneath my Italian Joseph Abboud Super 120s suit was a such a fine sight to see on Durango’s Main Avenue Friday. Or is the nostalgia clouding my sensibilities?

And speaking of a properly laundered, starched, ironed, and folded shirt, for our first sixteen years in Taos there was no such animal. There was just one laundry whose operators wouldn’t know a barrel cuff from a pickup truck. Nor, for that matter, would they care. Their idea of ironing a so-called barrel cuff is to iron a crease into the poor thing. I nearly left this burg more than once because I couldn’t get decent shirt. If we ever move again the town will have to provide a laundry that does a proper shirt and we can buy an authentic baguette.

Don’t get me started on bad bread.

I must credit a new addition to Taos’s pantheon of great services. Thanks to Clean Taos for the exemplar of fine shirt handling shown in these iphone shots by my bride Peggy. Manipulation of the images and conversion to black and white was accomplished by the wearer of said shirt.

This post, you should know, is the first using follow.it rather than Feedburner to feed or send the blog. It’d been a rocky road these last weeks, just getting my posts to you. I haven’t been able to choose the publishing time which has ranged from five to 72 hours after the time I’ve selected. Hence the change. I’ve spent the week making the switch and I’m on pins and needles about the change. I will not deactivate Feedburner until I know follow.it is working. Please tolerate the duplication if you get two emails with the post. And, if you’re up to it, let me know that you received it. Thanks for that.

Have a glorious week.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Navajo Visions

Though I didn’t knock it out of the park when I photographed the Four Corners and the Navajo Nation a couple of weeks ago there was a smattering of photographs that spoke to the vastness and solitude of the big empty.


South of Blanding on my way to Flagstaff at the junction of the roads to Montezuma Creek and Mexican Hat I encountered the abandoned headquarters of Wild Rivers Expeditions tucked into a red mesa. In the process I discovered Bluff Dwellings, a new high-end resort across Highway 191. It was only six months ago that I stayed in Bluff and pronounced it dead in the water despite its red mesas, Comb Ridge, and the San Juan River that flows through it. Somebody with deep pockets has greater vision than I do.



Heading south a few miles north of the Arizona border I spotted a Navajo homestead below a bluff and two mesas. It was a sweet habitation in charmed location, the kind of setting that fills my chest. Then a day later driving back to Taos through Thoreau and Crownpoint, NM I photographed an iconic Diné rancho replete with a Hogan and corrals. It dawned on me I had photographed that very scene at least ten years ago. I didn’t even remember I had driven the road till I saw the picturesque outfit. I drove dozens of mile without a dwelling half an hour at a stretch without another vehicle.


A few miles past the homestead I came upon a scattered community strewn along the hillside outside Torreon. A friend was a nurse practitioner at the Navajo Clinic in Torreon for 15 years after as many years doing the same in Nepal. She told us that the Navajo Nation was as close to a third world country as she could find in America. I wouldn't argue the point.


And, finally, a duel between two icons outside Shiprock.