New Mexico Favorites: White Sands PM Capture

2011

The White Sands National Monument, located 300 miles south of Santa Fe at the northern end of Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert, is nestled in the high-desert Tularosa Basin (4,200′ el.). Between the San Andres Mountain Range, to the west, and the Sacramento Mountains to the east, are the astounding white-white wave-like gypsum dunes, that over millions of years have engulfed 275 square miles of desert, comprising the world’s largest gypsum dunefield.

Between enormous upheavals in the Earth’s crust 250 million years ago, followed by the uplift of these mountains 150 million years later, these huge gypsum deposits were exposed. Rainfall and snowmelt then leeched out the gypsum, washing it down the mountainsides, to accumulate in Lake Lucero, the lowest point in the basin. Without outfall drainage, evaporation left behind layers of crystallized gypsum that prevailing southwest winds have carried up the basin, piling them in dunes as high as 50 feet.

Sand dunes are always striking as their organic shapes and patterns constantly change the absorption and reflection of light, but snow-white dunes are even more unique. Unlike most quartz desert sands, glistening white sands are composed of gypsum and calcium sulphate; also, unlike most beaches, white sand is cool to the touch, due to the high rate of evaporation of surface moisture, since the sand reflects rather than absorbs the sun’s rays.

This first series of images were captured shooting west as last light approaches; while in my next blog are of images shooting east, capturing early light. Equally fascinating is how low-angled winter light casts diverse color on the bright white gypsum sand. Shadowed low and flat light creates a bluish cast when shooting west toward last light, while early light casts an orange glow on the gypsum sand.

PM White Sands<br>New Mexico Favorites: White Sands PM Capture — 2011 PM White Sands II<br>New Mexico Favorites: White Sands PM Capture — 2011 PM White Sands III<br>New Mexico Favorites: White Sands PM Capture — 2011 PM White Sands IV<br>New Mexico Favorites: White Sands PM Capture — 2011 PM White Sands V<br>New Mexico Favorites: White Sands PM Capture — 2011 PM White Sands VI<br>New Mexico Favorites: White Sands PM Capture — 2011

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New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 4/4

2016

Images from these last four series represent my fourteen year (so far) quest to convey my impressions of the Bosque del Apache, as Sandhills course through dimly-lit high desert winter skies, to-and-from the wetlands, during a 3 to 4 month period each winter.

Bosque del Apache<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 4/4 — 2016 Bosque del Apache II<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 4/4 — 2016 Bosque del Apache III<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 4/4 — 2016 Bosque del Apache IV<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 4/4 — 2016 Bosque del Apache V<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 4/4 — 2016 Bosque del Apache VI<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 4/4 — 2016 Bosque del Apache VII<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 4/4 — 2016

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New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 3/4

2016

At higher elevation, the brisk, late-light winter air barely illuminates the ever-so-quiet wetlands tapestry for the arrival of incoming migrating water fowl in the lee of the mountains to the west.

Ten to fifteen thousand mildly honking, considerably larger Sandhill Cranes follow in the wake of  the tens of thousands of smaller but much more cacophonic snow geese…

And as the very last light descends, the wetlands regain their peacefulness — until the next morning’s very first light!

Bosque del Apache<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 3/4 — 2016 Bosque del Apache II<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 3/4 — 2016 Bosque del Apache III<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 3/4 — 2016 Bosque del Apache IV<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 3/4 — 2016 Bosque del Apache V<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 3/4 — 2016 Bosque del Apache VI<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 3/4 — 2016 Bosque del Apache VII<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 3/4 — 2016

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New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 2/4

2012

During the coldest winter months, the Bosque del Apache’s diurnal rhythms are unbelievably consistent. At very first light the tremendous flocks of Snow Geese begin stirring, before rising in louder and larger groups that nearly blank out the sky, heading for adjoining grain fields to feed for the day; it’s only when no other creature can withstand the deafening din (transfering this bucolic scene into complete chaos), that the 12,000-to-15,000 Sandhills rise in smaller groups to also feed in the adjoining fields.

And then as the setting sun begins dropping behind the near western mountains, the enormous flocks of Snow Geese return, circling the wetlands before settling in for the night, followed more gradually by the larger, more majestic, and quieter Sandhills…

Bosque del Apache<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 2/4 — 2012 Bosque del Apache II<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 2/4 — 2012 Bosque del Apache III<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 2/4 — 2012 Bosque del Apache IV<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 2/4 — 2012 Bosque del Apache V<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 2/4 — 2012 Bosque del Apache VI<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 2/4 — 2012 Bosque del Apache VII<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 2/4 — 2012

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New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 1/4

20XX

Following almost a month in Eastern Europe, I’m so glad to be back home in New Mexico’s high country, above 4,000′ elevation, which includes much of central and western New Mexico.

Always exhilarated by high-desert light, I’m starting off this year’s postings by re-visiting images of my favorite New Mexico locations, beginning with the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, which is fed by the Río Grande, 150 miles south of Santa Fe. Established in 1939, this is a protected migratory stop for thousands of snow geese and upwards of 15,000 Sandhill Cranes heading south in November, then returning north beginning in February for breeding season.

Early winter light warms the soft wetlands screened by the 7,000′ Chupadera Mountains immediately to the west; as the sun clears the mountains, thousands of Snow Geese’s cacophony builds until the Sandhills too, with their six-foot wingspans, begin to lift off in twos and threes, heading for the nearby grain fields to feed for the day before returning, as the sun sets, to the wetlands’ 2-4′ of water.

So, this will be the first of the 4 Bosque del Apache favorites.

Bosque del Apache<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 1/4 Bosque del Apache II<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 1/4 Bosque del Apache III<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 1/4 Bosque del Apache IV<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 1/4 Bosque del Apache V<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 1/4 Bosque del Apache VI<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 1/4 Bosque del Apache VII<br>New Mexico Favorites: Bosque del Apache 1/4

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Nature’s Ability to Amaze…

2003

Early one winter morning 14 years ago, shortly after moving to Santa Fe, amidst its wonderful high desert landscape, I was driving up Santa Fe Mountain’s west face to continue my photographic study of its extensive Aspen stands. Upon rounding a sharp curve in the road — I happened upon an astounding and sublime surprise: a “snow spiral” which apparently had formed rolling down the steep slope. Not certain what I glimpsed, I stopped to take a closer look. And having never before seen anything like it, I just had to capture it!

Nor have I ever seen anything like it since…

Enjoy! Merry Christmas

Snow Spiral<br>Nature’s Ability to Amaze — 2003 Snow Spiral II<br>Nature’s Ability to Amaze — 2003 Snow Spiral IIl<br>Nature’s Ability to Amaze — 2003 Snow Spiral IV<br>Nature’s Ability to Amaze — 2003 Snow Spiral V<br>Nature’s Ability to Amaze — 2003 Snow Spiral VI<br>Nature’s Ability to Amaze — 2003 Snow Spiral VII<br>Nature’s Ability to Amaze — 2003

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South Into New Mexico

2016

Further south in New Mexico’s high country — returning home to Santa Fe, where I have resided for the last 12 years — restraining my camera stroke enabled me to soften the the texture amongst the brighter colors…

South Into New Mexico<br>South Into New Mexico — 2016 South Into New Mexico II<br>South Into New Mexico — 2016 South Into New Mexico III<br>South Into New Mexico — 2016 South Into New Mexico IV<br>South Into New Mexico — 2016 South Into New Mexico V<br>South Into New Mexico — 2016 South Into New Mexico VI<br>South Into New Mexico — 2016

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Sangre de Cristo Mountains III

2015

From 20 miles north of Santa Fe, my third and final series of the west face of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. President Clinton was fond of saying, “its the economy stupid!”

Well, in photography, it’s all about the light…

On this day, the sun was “out full bore,” and because my captures were slightly earlier in the day, the sun still cleared the Jemiz Mountain range behind me; sunlight shined directly on Santa Fe Baldy, the highest peak in this section of the range. Blending the highlighted west face amongst its shadowed surroundings offered a very different series of compositions.

Sangre de Cristo Mountains<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains III — 2015 Sangre de Cristo Mountains II<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains III — 2015 Sangre de Cristo Mountains III<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains III — 2015 Sangre de Cristo Mountains IV<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains III — 2015 Sangre de Cristo Mountains V<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains III — 2015

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Sangre de Cristo Mountains II

 2015

Another series of captures from “my” 8,500′ ridge vantage point, 20 miles north of Santa Fe, offers dramatic “takes” of the Sangre’s west face — including its foothills — leading up to its 12,000′ peaks perched under a late afternoon sky.

As direct sunlight still bathes the nearby foothills, the receding Sangre peaks read as a distant blue line of demarcation that separate the Blood of Christ ridge from the Western cloud-laden sky. These three receding horizontal elements of color and texture afford an array of blending possibilities…

Sangre Mountains <br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains II — 2015 Sangre Mountains II<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains II — 2015 Sangre Mountains III<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains II — 2015 Sangre Mountains IV<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains II — 2015 Sangre Mountains V<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains II — 2015

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Sangre de Cristo Mountains

2015

Returning to one of my favorite New Mexico palettes — just twenty miles north of my home in Santa Fe — an accessible 8,500 foot ridge offers unobstructed views across the 2-3 mile wide valley directly into the entire west face of the Blood of Christ mountain range, from its foothills all the way up and beyond its 12,000′ peaks, which are so often crowned with a continuously-modulating cloud cap as the evening light descends.

An always-varying palette of color, shadow, texture and form…

Sangre Mountains<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains — 2015 Sangre Mountains II<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains — 2015 Sangre Mountains III<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains — 2015 Sangre Mountains IV<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains — 2015 Sangre Mountains V<br>Sangre de Cristo Mountains — 2015

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Let It Snow

Merry Christmas to All…

Let It Snow<br>Let It Snow Let It Snow II<br>Let It Snow Let It Snow III<br>Let It Snow Let It Snow IV<br>Let It Snow Let It Snow V<br>Let It Snow Let It Snow VI<br>Let It Snow Let It Snow VII<br>Let It Snow Let It Snow VIII<br>Let It Snow

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Abiquiu Lake

2014

Abiquiu Lake is a reservoir located in Rio Arriba County 60 miles north of Santa Fe.

The Rio Chama was damned in 1963 to create the 5,200 acre Abiquiu Lake, which is more than 12 miles long  at an elevation of 6,100 feet.

From the bluffs along the southern side of the lake, the views north of the red cliffs that frame Ghost Ranch are just beautiful. Behind (south of) the lake is the very distinctive 9,862′ mountain, Cerro Pedernal.

Abiquiu Lake<br>Abiqui Lake — 2014 Abiquiu Lake II<br>Abiqui Lake — 2014 Abiquiu Lake III<br>Abiqui Lake — 2014 Abiquiu Lake IV<br>Abiqui Lake — 2014 Abiquiu Lake V<br>Abiqui Lake — 2014

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Galisteo Basin V3: Virtual Realities of the Ortiz Mountains

2014

This is the third and final series of the Ortiz Mountains. In each of these images, I have stroked the camera ‘with the grain,’ while simultaneously also stroking ‘cross-grain;’ the resultant complex-curve pans, enable me to add depth and volume to these images which I like to think of as my own single-frame ‘Virtual Realities.’

Virtual Reality<br>Galisteo Basin V3: Virtual Realities of the Ortiz Mountains – 2014 Virtual Reality II<br>Galisteo Basin V3: Virtual Realities of the Ortiz Mountains – 2014 Virtual Reality III<br>Galisteo Basin V3: Virtual Realities of the Ortiz Mountains – 2014 Virtual Reality IV<br>Galisteo Basin V3: Virtual Realities of the Ortiz Mountains – 2014 Virtual Reality V<br>Galisteo Basin V3: Virtual Realities of the Ortiz Mountains – 2014 Virtual Reality VI<br>Galisteo Basin V3: Virtual Realities of the Ortiz Mountains – 2014 Virtual Reality VII<br>Galisteo Basin V3: Virtual Realities of the Ortiz Mountains – 2014

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Galisteo Basin V2: Augmented Reality

2014

Continuing my visual exploration of the Ortiz Mountains, I have augmented each of these images with a stretched sense of the passage of time — in order to emphasize and meld the 30 million years consumed in their creation. Panning my camera of this small mountain range at shutter speeds of less than 1/15 second, takes me a step toward my own pursuit of Virtual Reality!

Augmented Reality<br>Galisteo Basin V2 – 2014 Augmented Reality II<br>Galisteo Basin V2 – 2014 Augmented Reality III<br>Galisteo Basin V2 – 2014 Augmented Reality IV<br>Galisteo Basin V2 – 2014 Augmented Reality V<br>Galisteo Basin V2 – 2014 Augmented Reality VI<br>Galisteo Basin V2 – 2014

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Galisteo Basin V: Visually Deconstructing the Ortiz Mountains

2014

A while back, I had the opportunity to ‘house-sit’ for friends who live on a ridge overlooking the Ortiz Mountains in the southern quadrant of Galisteo Basin, twenty miles south of my home in Santa Fe. Three weeks of this particular view gave me the opportunity to pursue different visual themes of the Ortiz: more or less straightforward photographic capture, plus overlaying the scene with varying motion strokes to stretch, and cross-cut the scene; and then to incorporate dramatic first and last New Mexico light to once again re-integrate my strokes.

Galisteo Basin<br>Visually Deconstructing the Ortiz Mountains – 2014 Galisteo Basin II<br>Visually Deconstructing the Ortiz Mountains – 2014 Galisteo Basin III<br>Visually Deconstructing the Ortiz Mountains – 2014 Galisteo Basin IV<br>Visually Deconstructing the Ortiz Mountains – 2014 Galisteo Basin V<br>Visually Deconstructing the Ortiz Mountains – 2014 Galisteo Basin VI<br>Visually Deconstructing the Ortiz Mountains – 2014

 

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Bosque del Apache V: Totems

2013

The initial challenge for me was to compose vertical slices of landscape within the camera vs. carving a vertical image out of an existing horizontal image. Either way though, it causes me to see differently, which is my objective. Limiting much of the surroundings enables me to emphasize verticality.

These eight totems, drawing from both approaches, are meant to provide a different perspective on one of New Mexico’s truly beautiful locations.

Marsh<br>Bosque del Apache V: Totems - 2013 Snow Geese<br>Bosque del Apache V: Totems - 2013 Sandhills<br>Bosque del Apache V: Totems - 2013 Wetlands<br>Bosque del Apache V: Totems - 2013 Bald Eagle<br>Bosque del Apache V: Totems - 2013 Sandhill<br>Bosque del Apache V: Totems - 2013 Cottonwood<br>Bosque del Apache V: Totems - 2013 Sandhill II<br>Bosque del Apache V: Totems - 2013

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Bosque del Apache V: Last Light

2013

As the last light falls on the bosque’s marsh grasses, the range of red-browns gradually fades against the Chupadera Mountains, leaving hardly any visible contrast with the tens of thousands of snow geese and sandhills that have now settled in, quieting with only occasional chatter.

Nearby grasses bordering a canal contrast ever more softly against the flowing water in the marshes. And then it becomes so quiet, no one would believe that only a few hundred yards away a vast carpet of migratory fowl await daybreak’s signal to once again awake, rise and fly out to the fields to feed.

Last Light<br>Bosque del Apache V: Last Light - 2013 Last Light II<br>Bosque del Apache V: Last Light - 2013 Last Light III[<br>Bosque del Apache V: Last Light - 2013 Last Light IV<br>Bosque del Apache V: Last Light - 2013

 

 

 

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Bosque del Apache V: Sunset

2013

As the sun begins to set, the daily ‘fly-in’ commences with the gradual return of all the snow geese and sandhills to the relative safety of the bosque’s 3-to-4 feet of water. Announcing their arrival with incessant honking as they circle and set down, the very low-angled light of sunset provides a dramatic backdrop.

Snow Geese Fly-In<br>Bosque del Apache V: Sunset - 2013 Sandhill Fly-In<br>Bosque del Apache V: Sunset - 2013 Chupaderas at Sunset<br>Bosque del Apache V: Sunset - 2013 Chupaderas at Sunset II<br>Bosque del Apache V: Sunset - 2013

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Bosque del Apache V: Overflight

2013

Tens of thousands of snow geese and as many as 15,000 sandhill cranes begin arriving mid-November to rest and refuel from their long southern migration flights. Most will stay until the end of January, spending each night safe from predators in 2-to-3 feet of marsh water. At dawn, the snow geese begin stirring; soon their honking and flapping of wings raises to such a din, flock after flock lift off, ‛flying out’ to the surrounding fields to feed. As the sun sets, they return to the wetlands for the night.

This time of year thousands of people are drawn to Bosque Apache to witness this twice daily incredible ‛sight, sound, and motion’ show, which is further enhanced by the low-angled winter sun as the birds circle against the 7,000′ Chupadera Mountains.

Sandhill Overflies Snow Geese<br>Bosque del Apache V: Overflight - 2013 Snow Geese Overflight<br>Bosque del Apache V: Overflight - 2013 Snow Geese Overflight II<br>Bosque del Apache V: Overflight - 2013 Snow Geese Overflight III<br>Bosque del Apache V: Overflight - 2013

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Bosque del Apache V: Sandhills Rising

2013

Each morning during their migration rest at Bosque del Apache, the Sandhill Cranes rise from fields flooded by 2-3 feet of water, where they are safe from predators. In groups of 3 to 10 they fly to nearby grain fields, where they spend the day feeding, only to rise again as the day fades and return to the safety of the wetlands for the night.

Weighing 8 to 10 lbs. and with a wingspan of up to 6 feet, Sandhills look ungainly while standing, but stretch into beautiful aerodynamic form with their powerful pumping wings slowly lifting them into the sky

 

Sandhills Rising<br>Bosque del Apache VI: Sandhills Rising - 2013 Sandhills Rising II<br>Bosque del Apache VI: Sandhills Rising - 2013 Sandhills Rising III<br>Bosque del Apache VI: Sandhills Rising - 2013 Sandhills Rising IV<br>Bosque del Apache VI: Sandhills Rising - 2013 Sandhills Rising V<br>Bosque del Apache VI: Sandhills Rising - 2013
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