June 30, 2013 Play
Since returning from my California vacation I've been swept up in work for magazines and The Chronicle-News, posting some of my activities on my arts blog, but I haven't had time to get far with my California photographs or to post anything here on the photography blog. Alas. With tomorrow turning over to July and a new blog page, let's close out June with this image of the Santa Monica Pier, one of my California favorites. Darcy and Christina were sunning and swimming at the beach while I walked the pier with my camera. As always, click the image to enlarge it. My July calendar is as full as last week, but I'll be setting up a new blog page and hoping to fill it with new images. See you soon! And thanks for visiting!
June 24, 2013 Play Ball
That's me at the left taking a photo of Matt Kemp batting for the Albuquerque Isotopes in a wonderful panorama photo taken by my wife, Christina Boyce, with her iPhone 5. It's amazing what that phone camera can do.
We were on our way home from a ten-day vacation, eight of them with my family in Rustic Canyon in my hometown of Pacific Palisades, California, a little slice of paradise. I'll have my own photos to post here but for now I'm already back to work on other writing and photography projects so my California shots are waiting in line.
June 9, 2013 Gassing Up
I spent most of the week in Lea County developing a "personal travel essay" for Ranch & Reata, with a primary area of focus being the presence of a strong ranching and rodeo tradition in the midst of what for nearly a century has been oil fields. The oil boom began at Maljamar, above, when oil was discovered there in 1926. I drove 45 miles northwest from Hobbs in the afternoon and decided I had to have this photo, but the photo had to be shot five hours later. I went back to Hobbs for the rest of the afternoon and came back to Maljamar to get the photo after sundown.
As I awaited the right light for the gas field panorama above, I turned and photographed this thunderhead forming toward Hobbs. I've learned to stay alert while awaiting the right light for a photo: a lot of times another shot pops up right behind you and you won't get it if you're not watching everything.
The panorama shows at least three dozen tall flames burning off gas that's vented from the wells; they go for as many miles as the eye can see. I framed Highway 82 curving in the right foreground so I could get passing car and truck headlights and taillights in a 13-second exposure, shot with the D4 on a tripod, f/16, the 14-24mm lens set at 16mm. Click the image see far more detail: it really needs to be seen big. You can't see them, but there are historic cattle ranches all over this area. I look forward to exploring in my essay this fascinating juxtaposition of ranching and oil.
June 2, 2013 Getting High
I had a wonderful opportunity yesterday, going aloft at sunrise in Tom Gardner's Ajuua Dreamer hot-air balloon to shoot pictures to help promote the International Santa Fe Trail Balloon Rally coming up July 5-7. Raton MainStreet is resurrecting the rally, which ran for many years but stopped when the Track Fire forced cancellation two summers ago. Yesterday was Media Day, designed to create promotion for the rally. Billy D and KRisTiNa were on the ground for KRTN and, as you'll see below, I got to spend an hour floating over Raton to get photos. Sublime.
Sublime except that I stayed busy shooting...which was another kind of sublime. Co-pilot Royce Miller (silhouetted above) suggested that I spend some time enjoying the view without looking through the lens, which of course I did plenty, but I told him the truth: I've learned to enjoy plays and rodeos and whatever I'm shooting while watching through the lens. That's how it works. When I thanked Royce afterward for the ride, he said, "Hey, you're the one that did all the work." I thanked him for keeping me aloft.
Based on past experience, I expected to float quickly south; instead we were able to hover over the south side of Raton for twenty minutes. Rather than take off at La Mesa Park out York Canyon Road, site of the rally, we simply went up from the parking lot at All Seasons Restaurant and Gift Shop, next to I-25, with a dozen people on the ground to see us off. Eventually I'll share some of the town shots here, including at least one iconic aerial view of Raton nestled into the high mountains and plains. Not today, though.
Once we did float south, it got very quiet as we passed high over antelope and horse herds, Eagle Tail Mountain in the distance and, to our delight, big ponds of water left below by recent rains. Tom, on the left here in the white t-shirt, and Royce were able to simply float and enjoy the panorama. A couple minutes later, though, with fuel running low, they told me to prepare for a landing. Moments later they warned me that it was going to be a rough landing. It was. I was glad I'd brought my D300 and 18-200 lens (for compactness and flexibility) rather than the expensive D4 and longer heavier lenses. In one moment, I thought my left leg was snapping at the ankle. Close call. I landed on top of Royce.
I walked back to the impact point and paced back 37 yards that we bounced and dragged across the rough pasture. Tom looked up the highway for the chase vehicle while Royce tended the "envelope" or balloon. I did what I was there to do -- take pictures. I call this one "Lunar Landing Module." Looking at the pictures, you can see why I called the experience an opportunity: I got a wealth of great images that one can't just go out and take any day. Some of them will be used by Raton MainStreet over the coming month to promote the July balloon rally. You can bet that I'll be back for the rally where more pictures await.
May 19, 2013 Portales -- Who Woulda Thunk It!
My photography is ready for a 2014 New Mexico Magazine travel feature on Clovis and Portales; it awaits my writing the text to accompany it. These cupcakes are among the specialties at Roosevelt Brewing Company on the downtown courthouse square in Portales, already a wildly popular destination just months after its opening, and justly so. Photographing the food made my hungry! Lucky for me, they let me eat as much of my subject matter as I could, including fabulous brick oven pizza and great beer brewed right there.
It's a fun place, bustling with people enjoying the pizza and barbeque, the great beers and ales, and of course the cupcakes! Click to enlarge the photo at right and see young owner and brewmaster Justin Cole's brewing vats at the back. On the left a woman is happily holding a baby aloft. With Roosevelt Brewing Company, Vines Italian Restaurant, and the Do Drop Inn within yards of each other on the northeast corner of the square, I'm planning to take Christina, stay at Almost Home B&B on the rural outskirts of town, and enjoy a vacation in Portales!
May 12, 2013 Connecting the Corners
The highways between New Mexico's northeast corner and southeast corner are getting more wear because of friendships formed by Lea County Museum director Jim Harris and Raton artist Terry Bumpass and, lately, me. Terry's RAG-TAG Group (Raton Arts Group-Trinidad Arts Group) will have a show at the Lea County Museum's art gallery from June 7 to August 8, when my own photography show will open. The gallery is located in the Lister Building on Lovington's downtown courthouse square.
I took a road trip south last month in hopes of adding some Lea County images to my show, with great success. I posted three images, with comments, here on my arts blog when I got home. Here are two more, including Lunch Express in Eunice, where the proprietor did not take kindly to having her business photographed. I chatted her up, to no avail. My travel shots always have a potential to end up in New Mexico Magazine, but she had never heard of the magazine, nor did she care. I love the shot and Jim agrees, so it's going in the show.
Headed back northward, I spent two days in Portales and Clovis on assignment for that very magazine, a travel piece that probably won't run until 2014. When I'm on these assignments, I work 14-hour days, beginning long before dawn so I can drive to where I need to be at dawn, such as Oasis State Park west of Portales and Clovis, seen here. I'm still out at the other end of the day shooting other locations in the evening and sunset light. One of the secrets of great photography is planning shots for the optimal light. Photography is painting with light and there's no substitute for the best. It's early and it's late.
May 5, 2013 Esmé
Albuquerque's fine poet Esmé Rodriguez Vaandrager spent a fabulous two weeks energizing and inspiring Raton High School students to tap their creativity and take some risks, expressing themselves in both writing and performance. Like Manuel Gonzalez, Danny Solis, and Jessica Helen Lopez before her, Esmé was kind enough to let me make some B&W portraits of her after school one day. She proved a natural and experienced model, making my job relatively easy.
For pictures of Esmé in action with the students, visit the Raton Poetry page at Facebook, which is updated regularly as more photos, videos, and poems are added. Other photos of the program are at my arts blog. Esmé's partners in poetry this year were Manuel and Danny. Danny's moving to Minnesota, but we've already booked his replacement: next year's poet-educators throughout the last two weeks of April, National Poetry Month, will be Esmé, Manuel, and...the return of Jessica Helen Lopez! It's a dream team. We couldn't be more excited.
May 3, 2013 Tooting Your Horns
The final show of the Raton Arts & Humanities Council's 2012-2013 season came and went May 1 at the Shuler Theater with a performance by a group that still can't decide on its name after 30 years on the road. The Chicago trio that calls itself New Odyssey seems to feel that "3 Guys, 30 Instruments" is a better name. They're probably right. After so long on the road, you'd think they might have arrived at something better than either name by now.
The audience warmed to them until everyone in the room finally sounded happy, especially in the second of two short sets, but I had trouble getting past my initial bad impressions. The guitar and keyboard sounds were compressed until they sounded like they were being played through a box of flannel pajamas. The guitarist had one of those young-model permanent five-day beards; I assume there's a product out there now that keeps a man's beard at exactly that length, a perfectly groomed five-day beard every day.
Keyboardist/band director Gary Polkow had so many sounds in his synthesizer and pre-recorded tracks loaded into the mixes that it was hard to tell what was real and what was Memorex. Maybe that's a compliment, but when Christina leaned over to ask whether drummer multi-instrumentalist Gary Todd was singing or lip-syncing as Louis Armstrong singing "Wonderful World," I wasn't sure myself. But I'll give Todd credit as being, by himself, worth the price of admission -- and the only one I found any interest in photographing. Polkow looked like a junior college English teacher and the guitarist, Michael Jay, well, there was that beard. And the pajama-damped guitar. Thirty years on the road has done him in, him and Polkow both.
But not Todd. You can see by the photos that he's still having the time of his life. The second set was better than the first and the audience grew positively enthusiastic to extended medleys of classic Beach Boys and Beatles songs. Todd did hilarious send-ups of both Mick Jagger singing "Jumping Jack Flash" and Tina Turner singing "Proud Mary." Next time the long bus ride leads to a discussion of the band's name, they ought to just settle on "The Gary Todd Revue" and leave it at that.
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