30 January 2012

Thunderbird (30/366)

1958 Thunderbird detail, Magdalena, NM, Jan. 2012
A warmish sunny day led me outside with the dogs for a walk around the neighborhood and a long-awaited photo shoot of this 1958 Thunderbird hardtop resting in an empty lot. It's a classic beauty despite the neglect and decay, and as I circled it and focused in on details I was amazed at how well the chrome has survived the elements. The headlights are intact, even, and the body shows some rust but hardly a single dent, a testament to the steel construction. What a sweet ride this must have been in its day.

29 January 2012

Horseplay (29/366)

Precita and the boys, Magdalena, NM, Jan. 2012
Damacio, being shy
Many thanks to all who commented on yesterday's post; your kind words and support helped me pull through kind of a rough day. I knew the photo stuff was bothering me, but there seemed to be something deeper, something more pervasive... Last night as I was journaling it occurred to me that yesterday marked 18 months since my mom passed away. I know anniversary reactions can be strong, but the 18-month mark? Well, as soon as I started thinking about it, a lot of feelings came up and within moments I was in tears; and a half hour later, I was feeling a bit better. I miss my mom. Most days I can deal with it, think about it and let it go; maybe lately I haven't really been letting myself think about it, which is how things build up. Oh, and I haven't been getting out for walks on the property or anywhere else lately... that's never good for morale, right? I finally got out there today to let the dogs burn off some energy, and as always I left feeling so much better. It was dusk, so I only got a few shots of the horses, but they seem used to my camera now and don't shy away as much as they used to... well, usually.

28 January 2012

Mundane (28/366)

Winter afternoon, Magdalena, NM, Jan. 2012
I'm linking up with Third Eye for Saturday Sareenity; today's photo definitely needed to show serenity because the day started off chaotically, both at home and in my head. Nothing major, just drama with my boy child, and I woke up feeling gloomy and out of sorts so nothing really seemed right today.

My photo mojo is also low these days; I submitted some pieces (several of the descanso images) to a small local show and received a tepid response: "the photos are pretty basic... easily accessible locations... not technically difficult..." Now every time I pick up the camera I think, oh, more pedestrian, mundane shots, no one wants to see these. No, I don't take criticism well, at least not that kind. They did accept three shots, but today I decided to withdraw because, really, who wants to show to a less-than-enthusiastic reception?

So I'll go back to photographing my world just for myself and forget about the Art Scene. Today's shot is about as mundane as they come, and actually I like that. Beauty isn't exotic or inaccessible or difficult; it is all around us for the taking if we can just see it. Head over to Third Eye to see some other beautiful photos -- I love these virtual gatherings.

Saturday Sareenity

27 January 2012

Cutie patootie (27/366)

Maggie at the Socorro County Courthouse, Socorro, NM, Jan. 2012
I love that my girl wears cowgirl boots with her dresses. I love that she cheers her brother on when he does things like today's county-wide spelling bee, and that she tries hard to cheer him up when he doesn't win. He did make it to the 5th round and was the shortest one still in it for a while, and he wasn't at all hard on himself for not winning because we kept telling him it was awesome just that he made it to county and had the courage to get up in front of all those people. So it was a good day.

26 January 2012

New Moon (26/366)

New moon on a telephone wire, Albuquerque, NM, Jan. 2012
No time for photography today, and not much inspiration either. I grabbed this shot before getting in my car to drive home from internship, and instead of pulling out and setting up my tripod I just rested my camera and long lens on the hood of my car and hoped for a good shot. That's not "good photography practice," but I'll cut myself a break because a person can only do so much in a day.

I'm very tired this week. I'm wishing I didn't have to commute to and from Albuquerque twice a week, 2000 miles per month, 22,000 miles by the time internship is over in June. I wish I could move up there and live a more normal life... maybe because the past six weeks have brought water outages and crippling snowfall and a long Internet outage, maybe because it's winter and Magdalena's charms aren't so apparent, maybe because I'm just tired. I'll keep going because I know it's worth it, and because when I'm with my clients, in the moment, I feel energized. For now, that is enough. It has to be.

25 January 2012

Juicy (25/366)

Pomegranate half, Magdalena, NM, Jan. 2012
We finally have Internet at home again! Eleven days after the outage started, our ISP got around to sending out a technician who fixed the problem in a little over an hour. So now I can get my 366 project back on track, not to mention my coursework and client documentation, and go back to my free-wheelin' surfing' 'round the InterWebz. Today's surfing took me to a Flickr 365 project that I really am enjoying, where I found some wonderful food photos by Andrew Potter. His photo stream inspired me to seek out something yummy to photograph, which led me to this pomegranate rolling around in the back of the fruit drawer. It looked beaten up on the outside, but the kernels (or whatever they're called -- pips?) were still juicy and sweet, and the kids and I devoured both halves of this beauty right after I finished shooting.

24 January 2012

Snow, again (24/366)

Surprise! Snowstorm, Magdalena, NM, Jan. 2012
Why does it always seem to snow on or just before my internship days? Luckily it was a wet, brief snow and I was able to make it to Albuquerque for my six clients... half of whom cancelled.... Oh well, it has been a good day, and I'm actually glad I got to go to work today! (Go figure...)

22 January 2012

Turbulence (21/366)

Descanso por dos, Highway 550 near mile marker 12 (Sandoval County), Jan. 2012
I finally got a weekend off from everything and was able to spend some good time hanging out with and roaming around with a particularly enjoyable travel buddy (he even drove!). Although yesterday's destination was Jemez Springs and beyond, this descanso along the road offered a compelling reason to stop, and the shifting light made for an especially emotional shoot. I'll need to start researching these, perhaps visiting local newspapers to comb through their archives, because each descanso embodies a deeply personal story that a photo can only hint at.

This one, for two people named Laura and Cordy, is clearly tended throughout the year but appears several years old; I find it visually interesting but also sad that the Madonna figure has had to be cabled and chained to one of the crosses. On the other hand, the presence of numerous figurines large and small suggests frequent tending and a good degree of respect for what this descanso embodies.

Edit, 1/29/12: Here's another version of the first photo, rendered in "Opalotype" filter of Topaz Labs' B&W Effects:

21 January 2012

Local Color (20/366)

Truck with a mission, Corrales, NM, Jan. 2012
Just a quick photo from my weekend ramblings. If I ever get home Internet access back (the ISP still can't figure out how to get us back online, and we have no other options except... satellite Internet... hmm) I'll be able to get my 366 blogging back on track. In the meantime, I'll just keep photographing whether I'm out and about or hibernating at home. I'm really liking the discipline of taking daily shots, and it might even be helping me "see" more photographically as well as sharpening my technical skills.

19 January 2012

Pastoral Breakfast (19/366)

Sandhill cranes, San Acacia, NM, Jan. 2012
Thanks to this 366 photo project I've been making an effort to incorporate photo shoots into my Albuquerque commute, and in most cases leaving home a half-hour earlier gives me plenty of time as long as I've planned where and what to shoot. Today my first two appointments cancelled, so I had plenty of time to stop in San Acacia (yes, the link goes to a commercial site; this is a great outfit!), an agricultural town 15 or so miles north of Socorro. San Acacia is at the southern edge of the Sevilleta NWR, and sandhill cranes seem to like grazing the dormant alfalfa and corn fields during the day. These birds migrate into the area in late autumn and leave in March, and although the most popular place to see them is the Bosque del Apache NWR you can find them in several other places along the middle Rio Grande.

I noticed them a few weeks ago during my morning commute and decided to make this a photo shoot, hoping the birds would cooperate and stay around the near side of this field so I could get some nice closeups. No, they replied indignantly (I would imagine), and before I could get set up they were off to the other side. I'll try again another time, with the camera pre-mounted on the tripod and ready to go, but in the meantime I got some okay shots, and I really enjoyed the spent standing at the edge of this pasture watching and listening to them.

Edit (1/29/12): Here's another, experimental version of the photo, rendered in the Opalotype filter of Topaz Labs' B&W Effects:

Local Color (18/366)

Mural by Eddie Tsosie, Bear Mountain Cafe, Magdalena, NM, Jan. 2012
Magdalena has a reputation as an artists' town, and although the art economy here hardly compares to, say, Santa Fe, there is no shortage of talent in our area. A local cafe/gallery owner commissioned this mural last year and it is a wonderful addition to our landscape. I'll go in soon to get more information about the artist, Eddie Tsosie, and about this beautiful painting.

The great Internet-outage-ocalypse at my house continues, but that has compelled me to hang out at another local cafe in the afternoons that I'm not in Albuquerque working, and (as long as I can lay off their cheesecake) getting out regularly is a good thing.

18 January 2012

Sobering (17/366)

Descansos, Socorro, NM, Jan. 2012

These descansos, located in the city of Socorro, NM, mark where five people -- a woman and four children -- were killed by a drunk driver in 1996. The smaller crosses are set in the median of Spring Street/Highway 60, which is where the accident happened; the larger memorial is on the road's left shoulder and was created by the family and local metalworkers. If there was ever a testament to the losses inflicted by drunk driving, this and the too many others along our highways are it.

Roadside memorial, Socorro, NM, Jan 2012
My 366 project will be back on track soon; the photos are here on my MacBook, safe from marauding malware, and I hope to be back up to speed by tomorrow or Friday.

Edit, 1/29/2012: I just had to add this image, a wider crop of the top photo, rendered in Topaz Labs' B&W Effects "Opalotype" filter:

13 January 2012

Home Is Where the Kitties Are (13/366)

"I'm not upside- down; you are."
What could have been a difficult, perhaps humiliating day turned out okay, and as a bonus I got to have lunch with a person I like very much and then ride home from Albuquerque with my dear stepdaughter, who goes back to college tomorrow. When I came into my bedroom (where I intend to camp out most of the weekend) both kitties were snuggling on my bed, as always, and Max rolled over playfully as I pulled out my camera. So today's 366 photo is unabashedly cute, not terribly artistic, but unless I impose it on myself there's no rule saying I have to make every photo artistic, right?

12 January 2012

Descanso de Belen (12/366)

Roadside memorial, Belen, NM, Jan. 2012
This roadside memorial is one of the more moving I've seen so far. I noticed it last week while driving up to ABQ for internship. The cross has been there for a long time but the teddy bears and Christmas decoration are new, I think. I can't imagine what might have happened here; the two bears suggest a memorial for two people, perhaps children. I want to do more research, which may call upon my ethnography as well as my archival research skills. I'm not happy with the photo editing yet, but my PC (with Photoshop and my Topaz plug-ins) has been invaded by malware so this will have to do for now.

11 January 2012

Rehab (11/266)

Home reconstruction project, Magdalena, NM, Jan. 2012
I felt too chilled to be outside much today, so (confession time) I snapped this photo from my car on my way to pick the kids up from school. I pass this house many times in a week and have not seen much progress -- exterior, anyway -- in a long time. I find it remarkable that the stained-glass window remains intact amid all the decay. This was surely once a beautiful home, in what was once a thriving village. Yet a certain, deeper beauty remains, perhaps simply because it is still standing.

This evening I heard from a dear friend who had a serious brain injury 18 or so months ago and became essentially unable to communicate. We dated and (afterwards) became very good friends in grad school, and he is one of the smartest, funniest people I know. I was devastated when I heard what happened, so to get a note from him tonight felt like a miracle. I don't know yet where he is in terms of recovery or rehabilitation but I'm sorely tempted to drop everything and go see him, to catch up on old times and see what lies ahead. Rehabilitation may take a long time, and may never be fully complete, but it would be so wonderful to talk to and maybe even see my friend again.

10 January 2012

Descanso 2 (10/366)

So many final resting places along the highway.... Descansos are not actual graves but rather memorials set up at or near where a loved one left this earth. This one looks to be several years old, judging by the faded photo under the rosary, but is clearly well tended. I noted the locations of many more on my drive up to Albuquerque today and will be photographing them when possible.

Descanso near mile marker 213, I-25 northbound, Albuquerque, NM, Jan. 2012

09 January 2012

Descanso 1 (9/366)

Descanso (1999), Socorro County, NM, Jan. 2012
Descanso is a Spanish word that means "resting place" and refers commonly to a roadside cross or other tribute set up to memorialize a loved one's untimely death. In most states personal roadside memorials are forbidden or regulated and standardized, but in New Mexico descansos are ubiquitous and highly personal. The tradition has deep roots here, arriving with the earliest Spanish settlers in the 1500s, and is respected as part of the local heritage. I pass a dozen or more descansos on my twice-weekly commute to Albuquerque for internship, and I keep thinking I should stop and photograph them to document this local tradition. Today I decided to start with this one about 20 miles from home, which I pass going down and back up the steep, winding hill between Magdalena and Socorro. It is a sobering reminder of life's fragility but also a tribute to the beauty of our love for each other.

The Creative Exchange: After the Holidays

In Memoriam, Magdalena, NM, Jan. 2012
For today's Creative Exchange I offer a photo and a confession: I don't really enjoy the winter holidays much anymore. The decorations are beautiful, and with two young kids I do my best to make a festive environment and build their anticipation and all that. But in addition to it being winter, which I just hate despite my best efforts to appreciate its quiet dormancy, I usually feel overwhelmed by the expectations, other people's and my own as well. I unexpectedly spent New Year's Eve alone this year (well, except for two big snoring dogs at my feet and two purring cats in my lap) because of a misunderstanding with the kids' dad; they were supposed to be with me but he took them to a gathering and didn't bring them back till after 1:30 a.m. As midnight approached, my Monkey Mind kind of freaked out because everyone knows you CANNOT be alone on New Year's Eve -- what happens at midnight sets the tone for the ENTIRE YEAR, right?? And there I was, all alone (except for my menagerie), and I was pissed off that not only were the kids not with me as expected but I could have made other plans, and really I was terrified because oh my GOD this means 2012 will be a huge disaster and I'll be alone forevermore, woe unto me.

Last year, I had a similarly quiet time; I was pretty deep in the process of mourning my mom, and the kids were with their dad, so I burrowed into my bed and watched movies all night. That part was okay, but it was very, very cold out and the water pipe from the village main to our house froze that night, so I had no running water for three days. That's definitely a sucky way to start a new year, and yet as 2011 unfolded some really amazing things began to happen, and I ended the year in a place far better than I could have imagined.

Expectations are rich fuel for Monkey Mind; as some people say, an expectation is a premeditated resentment, I think because it sets us up to be disappointed and to feel like we've been deprived of something. That said, I still hope my next New Year's Eve is a bit more exciting -- say, lounging in a tropical paradise with the love of my life -- just so I don't have to work quite so hard at convincing myself that it will all be okay. I am getting better at it... it only took me nine days to process all this and write it out so I could let it go and get on with the new year, a day at a time.

08 January 2012

Self-Reflection (8/366)

Self-portrait 1: Focused. Magdalena, NM, Jan. 2012
Today I joined another photo blogging project, {in the picture} (see the Flickr group here), to focus specifically on portraiture -- actually, self-portraiture, which... well, I much prefer being on the back side of the lens, so let's just call this a stretching exercise. It's a monthly thing, so not too much pressure, and God knows I don't need more than a dozen pictures of myself lying around. Really I see it as a chance to learn creative portraiture strategies, using myself as the subject so I can experiment more freely. And you only have to look at the few pictures that come out okay.... Of course, these might have been a tad clearer had I thought to wash my windows before photographing them.

Self-portrait 2: Distracted
This month's theme is "a piece of me," interpreted however we choose, and since none of the random body-parts images I took seemed remotely appealing I decided to go with these. The first, more obvious interpretation (to me): my camera is definitely a piece of me, all the more so since I started the 366 photo project. Perhaps a less obvious interpretation: our reflections are a major part of who we are: not only what (we think) others see but what we see in the mirror or the window or a photo. It's so subjective, really; some days we "look good," others not so much. I wasted way too many years not liking how I looked, and now I realize that how I "look" is shaped from within, through my internal lens. I can choose what to think and what to see. I'm hardly Julia Roberts, but for all I know she has her share of not-so-good days, too. So, yeah, choose to see beauty, all around you and within you, too.

I Heart Macro: Lichens

Lichens on sedimentary rock, Magdalena, NM, Jan. 2012

The winter landscape always seems bleak to me, but on yesterday's walk this lichen-covered rock jumped out at me with its splash of unexpected color. Lichens are a symbiotic union of fungi and algae, and can adapt to and thrive anywhere from the arctic tundra to the arid southwest. They survive extreme drought by going into a sort of dormancy (termed a "cryptobiotic state"), coming alive again when moisture becomes available. This likely explains the flourish of color on the lichens pictured here; the foot of snow we got two weeks ago lingered and melted slowly, giving everything a long, cool drink of water and reviving the hardy lichens scattered across our plentiful rock formations. A lichen crust makes a fine offering for today's I Heart Macro; be sure to stop over at Lori's site to see lots of other beautiful close-ups.

07 January 2012

Who's the Pack Leader? (7/366)

Riley's Treasure, Magdalena, NM, Jan. 2012
Here's a slightly gruesome set of images for you.... I wanted to take the dogs hiking in the mountains on this 58-degree day, but two weeks after our huge snowstorm the road up to Kelly is still muddy and even snow-packed in some places. So we went out to the property as usual, where the dogs kicked up two jackrabbits for a merry chase and Riley found what looks like part of a spine from some mid-sized creature. I'm thinking jackrabbit but it's hard to tell. He happily brought it to me and then lay down to devour it....
No, says Lucy, it's MY treasure now...
Then along came Lucy and the doggy dynamics got interesting. She challenged him -- no fighting, just asserting herself strongly as she nosed in on the catch. Riley snatched it up and tried to run away but Lucy challenged him again, halting him with a growl and easing up to him to carefully remove it from his jaws.
Riley tries to run away with his find, but Lucy stops him with a growl...
Despite being taller than Lucy and outweighing her by 10 to 15 pounds, Riley finally yielded. He sat as close as he dared and whined, and he had to be content with scraps after she finished. Lucy is definitely the pack leader here, mostly because she has been Top Dog since Riley showed up as a puppy last May. Dominance is a peculiar thing; it's not always lack of size or strength that makes us powerless, but simply the belief that we are.
...and then makes him watch her chew it up.

06 January 2012

Graveyard's Edge (6/366)

Graveyard Fence, Magdalena, NM, Jan. 2012
Not much to say today except that I'm grateful for a sunny, warmish day, my camera, and the beauty around me. Some stuff got triggered yesterday so I think I need to turn inward and deal with it. "Physician, heal thyself." My prescription for myself: rambling, photography, music, movies, sunshine, solitude. No better place to find solitude than a graveyard, unless you believe in ghosts. Which I don't, not as external manifestations, anyway.

05 January 2012

A candle in the window (5/366)

Still life with candle, bell, and mosaic, Magdalena, NM, Jan. 2012
Put a candle in the window
Cause I feel I've gotta move
Though I'm going, going
I'll be comin' home soon
Long as I can see the light
-John Fogerty, "Long As I Can See the Light"

This was a very, very long day. The agency was jammed with suicide assessments today so I had absolutely no time to sit, think, or even eat -- I had to eat an apple walking between sessions and ate my lunch at 6pm, just after my third client session and before my third assessment session of the day. I know I can't fix everything these kids and their families are going through in 90 minutes, but I do want to do more than simply "assess risk" so I've begun to try to make these sessions a place for people to pause, breathe, think... and gather enough support and energy and hope to keep going.

How timely, then, this Daily Om missive in my email tonight: "We cannot bring to the world what we do not have to offer. Peace starts in our own minds and hearts, not outside of ourselves, and until its roots are firmly entrenched in our own selves, we cannot manifest it externally. Once we have found it within, we can share it... we help the world most by practicing the art of choosing peace within."

04 January 2012

Sunset Song

Sunset in the Village, Magdalena, NM
The sky turns to fire
Against a telephone wire
Burns the last of the day down
And I'm the last one hanging 'round
I'm waiting on a train track
And the train never comes back
And even I'm getting tired
Of useless desire
-Patty Griffin, "Useless Desire"

Sort-of Spring (4/366)

Fresh Water, Magdalena, NM, Jan. 2012
I'm liking the discipline of picking up my camera every day for my 366 project. Today I had more time and the 50-degree weather begged for another run on the property. I felt drawn towards water: Dad and his friend Doc rigged up a spring of sorts, running a pipe from the well (which has a solar-powered pump) to a dirt tank so the horses and other animals would have water year-round. This photo shows the outlet at the pond's edge; the pipe is buried 18 inches so it runs even in cold weather.

Undeterred by the cold, the dogs strode right into the water to drink and play. I was happy to watch, and as I sat quietly and the dogs moved on, birds started gathering in the nearby trees and flitted back and forth to the water's edge to drink. No photos of them yet; soon I'll be a bit better equipped thanks to the recent Ebay sales of my D3100 and the 55-200mm lens...

03 January 2012

Winter Shadows (3/366)

Tree and shadows in sepia and selenium, Albuquerque, NM, Jan. 2012
I took all of three photos today, and none are very exciting so I tried to amp things up with some post-processing shenanigans including a Topaz B&W Effects filter called Sepia & Selenium 3 and a Topaz Detail filter called Soft Looking. It was my first day back to work (internship) in Albuquerque and despite four of six clients cancelling (they're apparently not as ready to jump back into work as I am) it was still a busy day and I only had a moment before sunset to grab a photo. I don't love being indoors all day, but I do love my work, and I love my colleagues for their great company and humor and insights and wisdom.

02 January 2012

Winter Coat (2/366)

Precita meditating on the mountains, Magdalena, NM, Jan. 2012

Today's 365 366 shoot took me out to the property, where the dogs got a much-needed run and I communed with our friend Doc's horses. They seem to be weathering our stormy weather just fine; I wish I could be as stoic, but then again I don't have a plush winter coat like they do.

Given how much snow we've had in the past month -- over two feet -- I wasn't surprised to see some major patches left despite several sunny days in the 40s and 50s. The ground is very muddy now, seemingly more so than after any of the summer's rains. This bodes well for spring growth, as long as the winter storms don't go away altogether.

01 January 2012

All your chewies are belong to me

"I'll be taking that stick now," says the 5-pound baby dachshund to the 95-pound toddler mastiff
I just had to share these pics from our puppy play date on Friday. The kids got a dachshund puppy, Blue, at their dad's house a few months ago, and she is a real character. The kids bring her to my house sometimes, and as mismatched in size as they are she and Riley are now BFFs after a few play dates. Watching them play is comical, all the more so since Blue constantly steals Riley's bones and sticks and chewies and Riley protests like a little kid whining for Mama, apparently not realizing he outweighs Blue by a factor of 20 or so. What a great lesson in dog play and behavior and dominance; it definitely is not just about size or strength.

"But that's MYYYY bone," whines Riley.

Happy New Year (Day 1 of 366 Photo Project)

Home fire (with ghost kitty?), Magdalena, NM, Jan. 2012

I'm going to try to do a 365 photo project this year (actually, it should be a 366 project since it's a Leap Year). I haven't in the past because my Inner Perfectionista gets upset when I don't do things exactly as they're "supposed" to be done. This year, I will just do my best, and I will also take my camera with me wherever I go, when possible. This is something I want to do anyway to expand my vision and shooting opportunities.

Today's theme (which I might try to spin into the week's theme): Keep the home fires burning. I love having a fireplace, as messy as it can be, and I work hard to keep it filled -- splitting, stacking, and hauling in wood, stocking a few days' worth in the garage for stormy weather, and cleaning out and dumping the endless ashes. It's worth the work both for the ambiance and the savings; while the fire is burning the heater almost never goes on unless it's 10F or colder outside. A wood stove would be much more efficient, so that might be one of next year's home improvements. In the meantime, the dogs and cats and kids and I get plenty of time together during the winter as we gather around the fire every evening. That is priceless.