Sunday, September 17, 2023

Grand Skies

Grand Sky #1

Grand Sky #2

The Grand Canyon is marvelous, monumental, and magical. I could go on till I run out of adjectives that start with M. Still, I find it hard to photograph and it doesn’t move me all that much. Maybe it’s too pretty and pretty alone isn’t enough. I don’t know how to take it beyond its comely face and to make it more. The skies that bless the Canyon are something else again and they’re what’s featured today. I am a sky guy no matter how you slice it.

Grand Sky #3

Grand Sky #4

Grand Sky #5

Given our early morning departure on Sunday I’m writing these few words on Saturday afternoon so it’s not hanging over me at dark o’clock Sunday night when we get home. Hopefully, I’ll just press Publish and it’ll be on its way to you.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Fate and Circumstance

Eye to Eye

Lindsey Enderby and Pam Morgan were thrown together by circumstance and, so it seems, fate. Lindsey had already battled Parkinson’s Disease for twenty years when a year and a half ago he suffered two strokes and sepsis that landed him in the dreaded Taos Living Center. He hated every moment he was in the place that is often called the Taos Dying Center since half the population of the establishment is waiting to pass and another quarter are staring vacantly into space. The strokes caused Broca’s aphasia that limits his ability to communicate, to literally not to be able to find the words to express his thoughts. His good friend Sidney Bender, a retired Neurologist, believes Lindsey knows what he wants to say but can’t say it. That’s my take, too.

That's Pam reading Six Degrees of Separation from Lindsey Enderby 

And a doff of the hat

Pam in charge

When he was finally released from the Living Center, he required full time care. And that’s when Pam, a retired nurse, entered the scene. For a time, Lindsey had two caregivers each working a 12-hour shift. Then Lindsey and Pam connected on a deeper level and became a couple. Pam became his sole care giver and partner.

Leather tough

In one of my recent visits Pam expressed her interest in having portraits of them as a couple. I said, “Of course.” I photographed Lindsey at his western memorabilia store, Horse Feathers, eighteen years ago and the ones I took are among my favorites ever. I did a blog post “Six degrees of Separation from Lindsey Enderby” to memorialize the event and to suggest that he’s connected in some way to precisely two billion people. In 2005 he was a steely eyed movie hero, a strapping six-foot two hundred pounder. The dude was a god. Today there’s 50 pounds less of him but he’s still a specimen. Good bones.

So, we set up a portrait session which proved challenging. Lindsey wasn’t completely engaged, and his attention wandered. Neither Pam nor I could coax a smile and he often avoided looking into the camera. So I depended on candid shots and the smiles that happened naturally. I left the session feeling that I had failed to hit my mark. But later I found there were enough decent shots to save the day. My percentage of keepers was muy low but there were a handful of keepers. They are mix of natural light and a single 2’x4’ softbox.

As I’ve declared in the past, when I photograph someone, my goal is to show them as their perfect selves or better yet better than that. That’s what I’d want from my photographer. I fear I came up short with Lindsey and Pam. Serviceable is the term I'll use.

Sunday, September 03, 2023

After Thoughts

Blanket of Snow

As I stare down the rifle barrel of 82 years, I’m moved to take stock, to reevaluate and ponder my priorities in late middle age. It’s not that I’m dissatisfied. It’s that I’m not satisfied. That may be a distinction without a difference. But I know the difference. I plod ahead with the minor tasks which take so much time I don’t attempt the challenging difference makers like the book that’s become a punchline or the great adventures of my dreams. I told a friend recently that I live in my head instead of doing something of import or devoting the time to actually learn something.

This splash of blue is prompted by a handful of things not the least of which were my sales at Peggy’s and my Side by Side art opening Saturday night where I sold precisely one photograph. And it was a holdover from our two person show in 2021. I sold nary a one of my new images despite presenting what I thought was my strongest body of work so far. It was definitely a what’s the point? moment.

Steve and the proud owner of Blanket of Snow

 Steve, Jody and Peggy, the star of the show. 

A feel-good moment was a lovely woman who drove 12 hours from Dallas just to see the show and to buy Blanket of Snow which she’d seen earlier at the gallery. She agonized over the purchase and went to the bar around the corner to contemplate the purchase. She really struggled with the decision. Perhaps it was the price. She had a glass of wine and shared her quandary with the bartender who told her, “See this glass of wine? You won’t remember it tomorrow, but you’ll always have the photograph if you buy it.” She came back to the gallery as it was ready to close and bought the photograph. The image was wrapped, and Peggy and I drove Jody and the picture back to her hotel. To see that the photograph was so important to her and that she’d gone to the trouble and expense of the journey was touching.

Another gift was the friends that showed up to support us. I heard from several of them that it was the strongest body of work they’d ever seen from me. Some of them were excellent photographers so that was most rewarding. And among the supportive friends most own at least one of my images, and I there's.

Chief among those supportive friends were Nancy Silvia and Hiroshi Murata who asked if we’d like have dinner after the show. We agreed instantly. We love Nancy and Hiroshi. We picked the most expensive restaurant in Taos expecting to pick up the tab. But Hiroshi grabbed the check and would not be dissuaded despite my protestations. He said, “We’re paying because we're celebrating your excellent show.” And that was that. We insisted that when we visit Santa Fe next time we’re paying. At least we'll try.

Then there was the shock of the decline in friends I hadn’t seen in three years due to Covid. God, it was shocking. One had lost dozens of pounds and looked unwell. Another looked beautiful but was using a cane because of an injured hip. And the third with rheumatoid arthritis could no longer shake hands. His right hand was a claw. 

Sudden decline in your peers will get your attention fast. It tells you to take care of yourself and do what you want to do while you still can. You've heard that admonition from me about a thousand times, maybe more. My back’s a mess and I’m two inches shorter but I can still do almost everything I used to do. What’s a little discomfort?

Refer to “to take stock, to reevaluate, and ponder my priorities” up top. 

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Start to Finish Again

Nearing the junction the Rio Pueblo and Rio Grande an epic cloud appeared on a frigid January morning.

There's more drama to the toned black and white Alpha Cloud in this version according to me. Of course I am a black and white kind of guy. Mostly.
At day's end we hiked to the height of land in blissful Bargeme France where we encountered the ruins of a medieval castle.

It is called Sabron du Ponteves.

One shady afternoon in San Miguel I made half a dozen photographs of a facsimile of one of Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders.

A bit more pop in this iteration of the Rough Rider.

Continuing our examination of the wonders of spot color these are three more exemplars of the dark art. Immel + Immel Side by Side will open Saturday evening at Wilder Nightingale in Taos between 5 and 7 pm and we look forward to seeing you there. As was the case last week you’ll see the original unprocessed image side by side with the artfully altered finished photograph. It seemed clear to me last week that the finished image called Pozos Gold is a significantly better than the original file. That was my perception at until my dear friend the wonderful photographer Daryl Black told me she was torn between the drab, unfrittered with Pozos Gold and the glowing Pozos Gold of my dreams. To me the transformation was startling in a good way.

I told her “It goes to show that preferences in art are in the eye and heart of the of the beholder. It’s completely subjective.”

I wonder what Daryl will think about these three twosomes.

Here's hoping this post arrives Monday morning instead of Wednesday afternoon.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Start to Finish. A day late and a dollar short

As shot in the charming Mexican village Mineral de Pozos.

It became Pozos Gold.

When Peggy and I started to develop a theme for our September show at Wilder Nightingale we chose the title Side by Side. As detailed in previous posts the name refers to our long coupledom and to our artistic partnership. Beyond that I’m always looking for a new wrinkle. Two years ago the wrinkle was squares. Everything was in a square format. That was a first for me, for sure, and rare for Peggy. And further I featured spot color and used white frames, also firsts. The trifecta worked biggish time and I’ve been riding the spot color horse ever since. Then this year I proposed that Peggy display her original field study or preliminary sketch next to some of her finished paintings. And I, in turn, would display the original unprocessed file next to the finished photograph in some if not all of my work. That was this year’s wrinkle.

While photographing with photography master David Michael Kennedy last year this happened.

Now it's Windows to the Sky.

It's fine in color but....

But better when the Turn Signal dominates.

On Thursday I awoke to the reality of that premise. I’d have to find the original file. I worried first and mostly that I wouldn’t be able to find all the originals and, second, that the untouched file right out of the camera would be better the one that I massaged to death. I didn’t agonize over that prospect, but it concerned me a little.

I am happy to report that I was able to locate and print the original file of all the images. And I’m pleased with the journey the photograph made from gestation to adulthood.

Today you’ll see some of the before and afters. Maybe next week, too. I must acknowledge that all of these images began as rectangles. Only two landscapes in the show are horizontals. They were way stronger in their full frame glory.  

I didn’t crop for 60 years and have been entirely too boastful about composing in the view finder and printing full frame. Now I’m cropping like a man possessed. How far I’ve fallen.

If you've read this far you deserve to know that my mail burner, the enterprise that sends the email announcing the latest post, failed due to an expired credit card which I've tried to update for three weeks and counting. The issue, it seems, is with the mailburner's payment processor which wouldn't accept any cards though they're valid. Today I attempted a work-around using PayPal which accepted the card instantly. PayPal and its payment processor have sent receipts for my payment and my hope it that you'll get this post on the morrow or sooner.

Good luck to us all.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

The camera in my pocket, Part Two

The shadow of the tree across the street drapes over a sprawling adobe on Hinde Street in downtown Taos.

Continuing our journey through the forest of iphone images that have supplanted full frame photographs are these examples. Not to fret. I have three SD cards at the 10:00 o’clock position in my field of vision just waiting to be processed. So, the real photo dry spell referenced last week will have ended for the time being.

This is the gate to the historic Couse House on Kit  Carson Road in Taos.

Pioneer Title at nightfall after the quite incredible Robert Plant and Allisson Kraus concert in Kit Carson Park. Peggy was there for Plant's leather pants while I attended for the music.

The stoplights at the corner of Paseo de Pueblo Sur and CaƱon Road in Taos.

Hay bales and the obligatory Taos Clouds as seen at Casa Immel.

One card is of photographs I took at the recent opening of photographer Bill Davis’s show at the Barreis Gallery in El Prado, NM. The second is of the recently hayed Immel rancho. And the third is from a portrait session with my dear friend Lindsey Enderby and his companion and caregiver Pam Morgan. That one, I hope, will be worth the wait since Lindsey and Pam requested the session and formal portrait thingies are nervous making. The photographer, moi, feels considerable pressure to produce photographs make them happy; namely that they look better than they actually do. I know that’s what I want when I’m photographed. This portrait ordeal, I mean session, proved to be a test. I’m usually adept at getting subjects to relax and to give me a beaming smile. For the most part Lindsey wasn’t having that smile nonsense.

When I described the session and the lackluster results Peggy asked if I remembered the portraits I took of our elderly Minnesota neighbors Helen and Tom in 1972. I said that I did. She reminded me, “Those portraits were pretty severe. Tom and Helen didn’t smile at all but the portraits were really handsome.” I can only hope that history will repeat itself more than fifty years later. And handsome is better than happy anyway. Or is it the other way around?

But for now, you’re saddled with a handful of smart phone pics from the camera that resides next to the car keys in the right front pocket of my jeans.

I do wish I could find Helen and Tom’s portrait, the one made with a Kodak 2D 8”x10” view camera built in 1941. That’s when I was born, too.  I’m still here and I still have that handsome 82 year old camera.          

Sunday, August 06, 2023

Is that a camera in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

La Favorita Dance Hall, Ranchos de Taos, NM.

Sad to say I haven’t photographed much with a real camera this year. But for my four-night road trip to Lakes Powell and Mead in June it’s been a dry patch. My attention has been focused on what I’ve already done and what I need to do to get ready for an upcoming show, a submission to a show with an August 16 deadline and a magazine article due at the end of month. Please refer to Lakes Powell and Mead, the subjects of said article with the operating title of High and Dry.

Nightfall on La Loma Plaza, Taos, NM.

Master of All I Survey, a shadowy figure photographs his front pasture. Casa Immel or Ranchito Sin Vacas. Your choice.

A very abstract Umbrellas at Orlando's while lunching with my painter friend Damien Gonzales.

Even more abstract is Swirl, the crescent glow of a solar powered light at the entrance to Casa Immel.

So, to a too much too large extent my go-to device has been the at the ready iphone in my pocket. Or in my left hand if I’m running. That’s been five early mornings a week during this two-month run of 90-degree days. There was a time when I would have braved the 90s but the one time I tried that this summer I barely made it up the final hill to the hospital. Literally. That’s where I park for my favorite one hour out and back route. And you never know when an emergency room will come in handy.

Tuesday I was running on a different out and back route out NM 518 in Ranchos Taos. So, I passed Paul’s Bar twice. On the return leg I stopped for all of two minutes to photograph the long-closed dive bar. It has been closed for the twenty years we’ve lived in Taos. An Instagram follower commented that it’s been closed since she arrived on our shores 32 years ago. But photographer Geraint Smith, from Wales by way of Pasadena, commented that he and his comrades used to stock up on beer on Saturday nights at Paul’s in 1988 when Taos County was dry on the Sabbath. I know that I’m highly annoyed I didn’t have a chance to quaff a cold one at Paul’s. I do love dive bars.

But I prattle on. Turns out that the spiffy little number above which I call La Favorita Dance Hall was the most liked image I’ve ever posted to Instagram. And that’s after 1,200 something posts. So, by that metric, the “best” photograph I’ve posted was one from a smart phone while I was doing something quite unrelated to photography. It just seems wrong. 

That said, all of these pics are from the camera in my pocket. Are you happy?