Sunday, December 31, 2017

Parting Shots

School kids in Albuquerque's Old Town

There are so many directions to go in photography. And going off on tangents can be its own reward for the ADHD among us. Seems that my photographic impulses are just that, impulses. I’ve got a high key thing in its infancy on Instagram, for example. The first, an intentionally blown out tree on the Vista Verde Trail above the Rio Grande got my juices flowing in the bleached midday sun sort of way. We’ll see where that goes.

Today, however, are a smattering of street shots. Street photography being another continuing passion. I’m more drawn to urban downtowns than villages, to be honest, but you gotta go with what you’ve got.

Sisters I'm guessing on the bandstand of Kit Carson Park in Taos.

I met this angular dude at Troy Brown's wake last summer. He's Kevin Somethingorother from Jamaica, Queens, NY. Supposed to play a mean jazz piano.

And a friendly reminder that I usually post more than one image. The way to see the whole shebang is to click on the title of the post that appears at the top of the email you received ("Parting Shots" in this case. That'll take you to the actual blog where you can view screen size images by clicking on one of them. 

Next week will be 2017 in review; kind of a highlight reel of captured moments throughout the year.  Seeing those gems, I hope you agree, will be worth the extra step.

Have healthy and joyous New Year.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Russians are coming. The Russians are Coming.

Inside the stockade where the Russian born leaders of the expedition worked and lived.

The Czarist explorers from Alaska recognized prime oceanfront property when they saw it. The year was 1812. Their contingent arrived on the northern Sonoma Coast where green pastures slope to the Pacific and towering Redwoods climb the hillside toward Cazadero and down the other side to what is now Guerneville and the aptly named Russian River Valley. They named their settlement, Fort Ross. The original manifest lists 25 Russian craftsmen and 80 native (mostly) Aleut sea hunters; natives of the Aleutian Islands that are strewn for 1,100 miles along the Bering Strait between Alaska and Siberia.

A window to the Pacific.

At Fort Ross the settlers were greeted by another first nations community, the Kashaya Pomo.  The Kashaya called the Aleut hunters “Underwater People” because their boats sat so low in the water. The Alaskan sea mammal hunters traveled great distances across rough open water in their tiny boats to hunt for sea otters and fur seals. 

As in Alaska, many colonists were mixed race or “creole.” Mixed Russian/Alaska Native or Russian/Californian boys were apprenticed in trades or sent to Russian for their education. In return the boys pledged 10 years of work with Russian American Company at Fort Ross and elsewhere.

On a bluff between the fort and the ocean a fence bends toward the surf 100 feet below.

In 1820, 53 percent of the adult population of 260 were Alaskan natives. Alaskan Native workers were initially marine mammal hunters but later became coopers, tanners, carpenters and sawyers. But at their core the Alaskan Natives were skilled hunters and it was those very talents that caused the eventual disruption of their native cultures. Unable to master these remarkable hunting skills themselves, the Russians captured, coerced and enslaved much of the native population for the procurement of seal skins and the highly prized pelt of the sea otter.

By 1839 the Russians had tired of their southern adventure. In 1841, Swiss pioneer, John Sutter, who had built Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento, bought the Russian enclave with a promissory note he never paid.

My first visit to Fort Ross came nearly 70 years ago when I was a camper at Camp Cazadero nestled in the redwoods some 13 miles to the east. At that time I would have lived in Oakland or San Leandro. More precision escapes me.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Afternoon Delight

I was standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona next to a flatbed Ford when I glanced up to see a liaison, or facsimile thereof, in the window above me. Was the subject girl, my lord, the owner of said vehicle? Was that real hanky panky on the second floor or a vestige of my aging but vivid imagination? It makes me remember being picked by a dish in a pick-up in Florence, Arizona when I was twenty. That led to absolutely nothing. Thank you very much. 

I was heading to El Paso for a gig at folk club there and to visit a lady friend, not necessarily in that order, I caught a lift in Tucson, dozed off shortly thereafter and woke up in the hospital in Lordsburg, New Mexico with 60 stitches being sewn into by scalp. Even today you'll see aftermath of the butchery on my forehead just above my right eye

My alleged doctor told me that my benefactor had rear ended a flatbed truck a few miles east of Tucson. 

Yes folks, there is one too many flatbed trucks in this tale.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Blue Blue Mood

Some years ago, the artist Ulrich Gleiter, of Saint Petersburg by way of Strasbourg and Munich asked me to take his passport photo. He was emphatic that he could not smile as the impudent act would render his pic unacceptable by his Russian watchers, I mean hosts. “Der vill be no smilink” or words to that effect. 

I think “Uli”, a diminutive he no longer welcomes since he's forty, looks a gulag bound deer in the headlights.

Gleiter was born in Germany in 1977. He studied at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts, the Suricov Art Academy in Moscow and the Repin Academy in Saint Petersburg from 2004-2010. The man speaks four languages fluently which means that, according to sworn testimony, he doesn't have to translate as he moves seamlessly between German, Russian, French and English. Oh, his physicist father helped discover the nanoparticle. There's some kind of gene pool thing going on.

This outtake was made with two Profoto flashes and matching 48 inch Chimera softboxes. The shutter sync lagged a tad which accounts for the pesky black stripe at the bottom.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Alta Vista

A stream wanders to the east between Tucumcari and Concha Lake

It’s not just the arrow straight roadway from Corazon Hill to Las Vegas that makes NM Highway 104 so magnetic. It’s how high desert becomes prairie at the height of land and tiny villages punctuate the landscape every dozen miles or so. Settlements with lyrical names like Trujillo, Trementina and Alta Vista appear ahead then disappear in the folds of memory. 

Be aware, the only gas between Tucumcari and Las Vegas is at Concha Lake 35 miles northwest of Tucumcari. That leaves 75 miles of empty between you and the known world.

A bare tree on the prairie near Trujillo