Sunday, January 30, 2022

Magic Light at Desert View

Desert View Watchtower at Sundown

Waiting for the sun to fall beneath the western horizon

Reflected Sky

Standing Tall

Marble Canyon from Desert View

As I noted last time, we entered Grand Canyon National Park at sundown on a Monday in January. We were treated to light show as only the Watchtower at Desert View can provide. It was an inspiring start to our short canyon sojourn. We departed the canyon early Wednesday and I wanted to get a long shot of the tower in order complete my series on Mary Colter’s magnificent creation. So, we spent half an hour at Navajo Point, the point just west of Desert View, where we had an unobstructed view of the tower. Just as we hoped the cylindrical atalaya probed the sky at the highest point of the South Rim. It's small from that distance but you can grasp the epic scale of the canyon and how perfectly the tower is sited.

Desert View Watchtower from Navajo Point

The watchtower is a magnet for visitors craving a quintessential sunset view of the canyon. And since it’s 23 miles east of Grand Canyon Village it isn’t overrun. Cozied into the depression made by the 70 foot tower and its 30 foot boulder base a dozen hardy souls in down parkas watched the sun fall behind Hermit’s Rest and basked in the golden light.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Cloud Cover

The view from the Kolb Studio

The Kolb Studio

I’ve visited the Grand Canyon on two occasions this year. And I’ve driven US 160 through the Navajo Nation thrice. When Peggy needed to pick up several paintings from the Celebration of Art exhibition the Grand Canyon’s Kolb Studio, she invited to join her for a quick out and back, in on Monday evening and out early Wednesday morning.

Mary Colter's Lookout Studio

The socked in Canyon from the Kolb Studio

As seen from Bright Angel Lodge

There were some notable holes in my compilation of photographs of Mary Colter’s extraordinary buildings and I reckoned I could complete the package and we’d enjoy a short vacation at the same time.

We entered the park through the east entrance just before sundown. And, as in 2017 when I visited the park at the golden hour with our son Garrett, we were treated to light show at Mary Colter’s Desert View Watchtower. That good fortune, I must admit, can be attributed to bad navigation on my part. I thought we’d be entering from the south. Mistake or not, a win is a win.

We checked in with just enough time to unload our gear and make it to the El Tovar for our 7:45 dinner reservation. Our expectations were modest to tell the truth, but the meal and service were north of adequate. The menu may have been from the early 1980s, but the salmon was properly broiled, and the company was aces.

The fun really started when we woke up Tuesday to gently falling snow. We were giddy at the prospect of photographing the gaping maw in a snowstorm. So, after picking up Peggy’s paintings we photographed the abyss from the Kolb Studio to Colter’s Lookout Studio and then the Bright Angel Lodge. Then, finding that the gate to the west rim was open and unmanned we stopped at Hopi Point and Pima Point before our terminus at Colter’s Hermit’s Rest and rich hot chocolate and cookies.

The snow was magical and let us appreciate the South Rim in the wintery silence. Low clouds cloaked the canyon and puffs reached deep into the canyon.

These images barely scrape the surface of January’s wonder. Brace yourself for more next week.

Monday, January 17, 2022


Casa Immel on New Years morning

Chamita Homestead

No stories to tell, really. This is a hodgepodge of images made since the first of the year. Number one of our back forty after a snowy night is all about shadows and textures. It’s busy sucker. Another in the same vein is from Hernandez, NM just past the junction of US 285 and NM 74 in the village of Chamita. Chamita was the home of Los Abeytas before they migrated to Colorado’s San Luis Valley after the Treaty of Guadalupe. The sheep ranching family was the subject of my five-year immersion in the rural Hispano culture of family, faith, and the land. Do not ask about the book should have come out of that enriching experience.

La capilla, El Guiche

And speaking of faith, the tiny chapel or capilla in this grouping seemed like a private family church in a tidy compound astride county road 582 in El Guiche, NM.

Remote tagging

Ranch View Motel with Giant Burgers

And I wind up with a couple of spot color numbers, one from the snowy llano south of Taos and the other from plains of central New Mexico.

Trees and sky. What more could a I guy ask for?

Monday, January 10, 2022

Welcome Snow

Taos Plaza in falling snow

Entering a glowing Ledoux Street

The Inger Jirby Gallery with shards of snow

New Years Eve we were blessed with six inches of glorious snow. At midnight the town was still and bright. As we drove through Downtown Taos and our historic plaza the snow darted down and the lights beamed in the dark night. The lights on Ledoux Street leant a caressing glow to the New Year. It was a magical welcome to 2022.

Leaving Casa Immel on New Years morning

Approaching the Rio Pueblo Gorge

The west rim of of the Rio Pueblo Gorge

Brush Strokes, La Morada de Nuestra SeƱora de Guadalupe, December 11, 2007

Brush Strokes Redux, January 1, 2022

The next morning, we left the Immel rancho for a photo jaunt to the junction of the Rio Grande and the Rio Pueblo. At the top of the Slide Trail that dips into a narrow canyon carrying the Rio Pueblo to the Big River I turned walked along the rim to get a grab bag of shots. One of them took me back fourteen years to the image that launched my Sketches of Winter series. It’s called Brush Strokes because, well, it looks like a drawing.  Another shows the west rim of the Rio Pueblo gorge with the epic sky we’ve come to expect in the Rio Grande Recreation Area ten miles southwest of Taos. The swath of high desert scrub is riddled with hiking and mountain biking trails. It’s become a favorite place for a hike though a leisurely stroll through the juniper and sage is a more apt description. Taxing it isn’t. Scenic it is.

Monday, January 03, 2022

Dream Dream Dream

Clouds over the west mesa, Los Cordobas, NM

It’s time for the well-worn look back at the year just ended. In the case of 2021 it’s a matter of good riddance for the most part. Yet, there were some photographic moments that gave me pleasure and this time instead of offering images that were the people’s choices these come a personal place. They make the short short list of photographs that reached deep into my chest for reasons I can’t effectively explain. They may not be the best of but they’re the ones that spoke to me loudest.

El Salto from Arroyo Seco, NM

Forlorn Ken Tingley said, "Photograph me. I'm getting married today."

Into the clouds Los Cordobas, NM

Grain elevators, Landergin, Texas

From thousands of photographs made during the year of our discontent rose maybe thirty contenders. Using a reductive process, I created five increasingly small sets of Selects. These are Selects 5 and I’m loath to cut any more of them. Plus each time I curate the choices they change.

The big empty of the Navajo Nation nurtures me. The sight of simple bent metal habitations beneath towering red rock walls speaks to the diminutive scale of humankind to Mother Earth's immensity. Near Monument Valley, Arizona.

I've long been a fan of Mary Colter's iconic structures in Arizona. Most impressive may her her Desert View Watchtower at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Based in form and proportions of the Round Tower at Mesa Verde and in materials and construction methods from Hovenweep her Watchtower pays tribute to the Ancestral Puebloans and their amazing architectural accomplishments.

Blue sky and clouds peak through the ruins of the Upper Oro Mine in what was once the Silver Boom town of Leadville, Colorado. Leadville's heyday was scarcely more than a decade and it all went bust when the US Treasury stopped buying silver to support the Silver Certificate.

2021 was the year that spot color, the process of preserving some of the color in an image while rendering the balance in toned black and white ignited my somnolent photographic career. For the first time I reached my long held objective of paying for my habit. And that habit included a whole new camera kit. I harbor no illusions that I will duplicate the feat in 2022 as I recognize that the pent- up demand caused by COVID spurred a year of record sales for every artist and gallerist I know.

I can dream can't I?