Sunday, December 31, 2023

And finally

This is the image that launched the ever lovely Sketches of Winter series more than fifteen years ago. I was photographing La Morada de Nuestra SeƱora de Guadalupe in Taos when I looked down to see these hardy numbers reach for the sky.

The blotches and darts of spitting snow adorn the buttresses of San Francisco de Asis in Ranchos de Taos. 

Tipi, Ranchos de Taos

It turns out I could have ridden the white horse of winter for another month. Man, I have a lot of snow pics. So, like last week, here are six more contenders for my as yet untitled article for Shadow and Light in January. And like last week, the prose has dwindled to a precious few words.

Inky Shadows, Valles Caldera

Into the Clouds, Los Cordobas

Adobe at Ranchos Plaza

I trust you had an extraordinary Christmas and that 2024 brings you health, happiness and unexpected delights.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Choices Choices

Latch, El Prado, NM

Duet, Brazos Pass, NM
Here Lies Bernardo Salazar, Valdez, NM

Wagon Wheel, Ranchos de Taos, NM

Tipis, Llano Quemado, NM

Stuck on you, San Francisco de Asis, Ranchos de Taos, NM

As threatened last time here are half a dozen more candidates for an article that may be titled Wonderland or might become Blanket of Snow. Or none of the above for all I know. It depends on my choice of images. Wonderland cuts a wider swath and could apply to any photograph that screams winter in New Mexico. Blanket of Snow, on the other hand, seems more descriptive of a layer of snow caressing an adobe wall, a roof, or the earth itself. Included here without much hoopla are some from both columns. 

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Wonderland Pending

Blanket of Snow, Ranchos Church

Canal and Ice, Martinez Hacienda

As I ponder my subject for the January-February issue of Shadow and Light Magazine I'm looking for something befitting the dead of winter. I’ve been toying with the title Wonderland which to me implies winter. As to this week’s post I had been planning to write about the Lighting of Ledoux, the quintessential launch of the Christmas season in Taos. We still remember our first Lighting of Ledoux some twenty years ago. That year heavy snow had just fallen, and Santa arrived in a horse drawn wagon with a bevy of curvy elves wearing patterned leotards and sporting gold wigs. We turned to each other and exclaimed, “This wouldn’t have happened in New Hampshire.” That was quite true, but I don’t have enough worthy shots to warrant a blog about Lighting Ledoux. Instead, today I offer the first tranche of candidates for Wonderland. I have fodder enough under that broad category to fill several blogs. So, the month of December is in "in the can" in movie speak.

Long Shadow, Brazos Pass

The cabin at Wind Mountain, Taos Plateau

Shrouded, Taos Mountain

Ventana Azul, Torreon Hacienda

In reviewing my cache of winter images, I saw that I could select photographs from at least three series: Adobe and Snow, Into the Clouds and Sketches of Winter. Here are photographs from those portfolios. Toward the end of the month, I’ll select ten or so for the article Wonderland.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Gutsy and Strong

Welcome to the Hitching Post


I crossed paths with Kristeena Smith for the first time last summer at the Taos Roundup, a western music extravaganza put on by Kristeena and other merchants on Paseo del Pueblo Norte in Taos. I was photographing the festivities, mostly the crowd, when she greeted our friend, Bob Dempsey. Bob, of course, knew Kristeena since he’s the most connected human in the western world. But that’s a story for another time.

Working Hands

Headshot One

Headshot Two

It was a brief encounter that led in two directions, one to have her cut my hair. She was named the Best Barber in Taos for 2023. And two, to take her portrait. Early in our shoot I told her that I favor headshots and prefer open shade like the ones in the doorway to her shop or a single softbox used for the rest. Both provide a soft caressing light. 

What I know about Kristeena is cobbled from what Bob has told me, what I heard while she gave me the best haircut in recent times and during our conversation when I shot her portrait. From Bob I learned that she's in her forties, dropped out of high school, later got her GED and is the single parent of a seventeen year old daughter.

Kristeena filled in some of the blanks for me. She grew up in Redondo Beach, a town I know well. I once lived two beach towns north. She left home when she was 16 and worked in the hospitality industry for many years as a server, bartender, and manager. She told me she made the most money in a dive bar. I can relate. I spent the most money in dive bars. Then at some juncture, she went to barber school where she learned nothing except that she was the only student not afraid to use a straight razor. The fearful ones were all guys. A barbershop chain with a comprehensive training program is where she really learned to barber. She cut hair in or near Redondo Beach and for five more years in wealthy Walnut Creek in Contra Costa County. She told me she couldn’t afford to live there. She relocated to Taos three years ago and opened the Hitching Post Shave Company which earned its Best Barbershop accolades this year. I recalled to Kristeena that ten years ago I wrote about my friend and barber the late Juma Archuletta whom I called The Good Cutter. When Kristeena gave me a most au courant haircut, Bob Dempsey’s French descriptor, she joined Juma in the pantheon of great barbers I have known.

My knowledge of Kristeena is completely superficial. And the arc of her story is drawn from my alleged memory. If the facts are sketchy, the gist, I think, is true. 

She is self-made, self-possessed, entrepreneurial, and brimming with style. And she has a clever game plan that will free her up to enjoy her horses sooner rather than later. I commend her for having a plan and sticking to it. That's rare in itself. In an earlier less enlightened time we’d have called her a helluva broad.

Sunday, December 03, 2023

Adobe and Snow

When the snow falls overnight Peggy and I head south to iconic San Francisco de Asis Church (above) in Ranchos de Taos because adobe and snow are a magical pairing. Last Saturday we got 10 inches of wet powder at Casa Immel and hoped the same would be true in Ranchos. Alas, the church received more like six inches which had been reduced to four by mid-morning. Still bands of snow adhered to the rough texture of the mud plaster so there was abundant fodder for my growing adobe and snow portfolio.

But before arriving at Ranchos Church, we stopped across the street to photograph Martinez Hall (above), a onetime movie theatre, bar, and a failed restaurant with the too clever by half moniker Old Martina’s Hall. That was the only clever thing about the failed endeavor which endured several iterations before the owner Martina Gebhardt from Bavaria finely pulled the plug. The old building clutched the fresh snow to its bosom while the nineteenth century wagon with turquoise wheels vied for my attention. The relic was made for the spot color treatment as you can readily see.

After photographing Ranchos Church, we treated ourselves to brunch at the old school Ranchos Plaza Grill which warranted the four- mile drive all by itself. I had Huevos Rancheros Green which came with a homemade sopaipilla and honey for the munificent sum of $9.00. That's the cheapest in greater Taos and among the best. Plus the staff led by our host Lester was warm, engaging, and hospitable. It was just plain fun. The venerable establishment hasn’t been on our radar for some reason but earned its place on our short list of breakfast favorites. And its Carne Adovada is the most scrumptious in Taos according to me.