Not to worry, I’ll get back to all things New Mexico in a few days. Or, Asian. Or, someplace.

I was asked to enter a juried show about botanicals. This works out fine since on occasion I’ve been asked to shoot images of food in my particular style which is to strip the subject down its barest content and make the picture. I do this because I really don’t know how to photograph food which is an art in itself.

This is one of my three entrees. I have no idea how they’ll do. But, since juried shows are usual based on the personal likes and dislikes of the jurors, I really never expect much. Because of that personalization, it’s hard to learn from success or failure. But, it’s a good exercise in very tough editing.

“The compound maintained by the Sons of the Holy Family contains two buildings of particular significance. The first is El Santuario de Chimayo, the tiny shrine that is built on the site of what many believe to be a miracle associated with the crucifix of “Nuestro SeƱor de Esquipulas” (Our Lord of Esquipulas). El Santuario de Chimayo is also the site of “el pocito” the small pit of Holy Dirt which many people attribute as possessing remarkable curative powers.”
The quote is taken from the the church’s website. What the website very humbly doesn’t say is that it is known to many as the Lourdes of America. People travel from all over the world in hopes of a healing miracle. They walk through the church directly to the small pit mentioned in the quote and scoop out a bit of soil in hopes that it will heal them.
I’m not sure about that. I’ve been coming to this place for many years because when the tourist busses aren’t in Chimayo, it is a very quiet and restorative place. When I finally settled in New Mexico (Well, sort of) after my evacuations from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, this is the first place I sought out. 
I think I’ll post more about this place in the coming days.

When was the last time that you saw wooden clothes pins? For that matter, how many people hang clothes on the line to dry? Yes. I know it’s a green trend. But, I don’t see that many lines of drying wash around when I ramble about looking for pictures.

How did I manage to find this scene?

After yesterday’s post in which I ate at — and photographed — the El Camino, I decided that too much food was just too much food and I needed a little stroll to deal with it.

I walked along 4th Street – Route 66 – El Camino Real — and saw this little adobe building. It is a business. They sell different kinds of antiques.

Apparently, they also sell collectable quilts and blankets. Since those are a bit personal, I’m theorizing that they wash them and hang them in the sun to dry. No matter what time of year, New Mexican sun should kill any bacteria that remains on the bed clothes.

Even though a wooden clothes pin is a rather mundane item, I think that I spotted a classic bit of Americana.

I was having lunch at a very camera friendly restaurant in Albuquerque called El Camino. It is located in The North Valley, on 4th Street which is also known as old Route 66 from the Pre-1937 period that I wrote about a few days ago. In earlier times the road was also called El Camino, hence the name of the restaurant.

This place has been around for 50 years, changed owners a couple of times and still produces great food and great service.

What is even more surprising is the attitude they have towards photographers. Usually, I have to ask permission to shoot very few images. But, they saw my gear and asked if I wanted to take pictures. They let me wander around wherever I wanted, including behind the counter.  But, as it often happens, the best place from which to make a picture was right from my seat. This man is a classic New Mexican rancher who is dressed well for his lunch outing.

After reading yesterday’s post about Route 66, a good friend of mine sent me an email that basically said, “If you like Route 66, go to Tucumcari. “

She’s right in a way.

Tucumcari, New Mexico has the highest density of classic 1940s and 1950s motels and motor courts along what is left of Route 66. Most of these buildings have well maintained neon signs and a hard working photographer can make a lot of Ruote 66 pictures very quickly.

But — you knew this was coming — it is one smallish town along what is now Interstate 40. Route 66 is Tucumcari’s Main Street. In order to make enough pictures of the “Route 66 stuff,” you’d probably have to stay there for parts of two nights. It might be worth it, if you are a true Route 66 aficionado. I’m not sure what a day in Tucumcari would bring. But, for most people, it’s a gateway town to New Mexico if you are coming from the east, or a final stop before you head into Texas if you are coming from the west.

If I were photographing Route 66 seriously, but didn’t want to make a huge project of it, I’d pick Albuquerque because Route 66 runs east and west, as well as north and south. No, it’s not magic. Prior to 1937, Route 66 ran north to Santa Fe from just west of Santa Rosa and then south down to Albuquerque all the way to Los Lunas, along what is now 4th Street, and then west through Rio Puerco and Suwanee where it headed west in the same general direction as we know it today. After 1937 it ran east and west through Albuquerque along Central Avenue.

All of that is the long way of saying that there is a lot of area to make pictures in less then a short day’s drive. Of course, a lot of the truly nostalgic buildings are gone. For a long time the City of Albuquerque demolished those old buildings without regard to any sort of historical significance. In some cases, it might have been just as well. Boarded up old motels gave rise to other kinds of business on their premises.  On the other hand, there are a lot of slabs and over grown weeds where those buildings used to be.

This picture was made on Central Avenue in Albuquerque in the late afternoon sun.

I was following what is known as the pre-1937 path of Route 66 which actually travels south to Los Lunas before turning west again and joining what most people think of Route 66 west of Albuquerque.  I got a little bit lost and ended up a few streets away of from my intended direction. This is a usual occurrence.

Sometimes this is a good thing as you’ll see when I tell this story.

I saw this old building and decide to make a few pictures. Eventually  a neighbor came out and asked what I was doing. I told her and we had a little conversation about her neighborhood. I wanted to know why there was a door to nowhere on the second story of the building across the street from her home.

It turns out that a very old woman lived there. When she passed away in that upstairs area, her sons carried her body out of the upper door and were so upset that they locked the door and removed the staircase so that nobody could go in the top floor of the building again. Apparently, the old woman’s home remains as it was almost 20 years ago. That’s New Mexico for you. If this picture was made in my last home – New Orleans — the body would still be there and I’d be telling ghost stories.

Once upon a time in the Southwest there was a cafe called the Red Ball Cafe which sold Wimpy – burgers.

You remember Wimpy. He’d gladly pay you tomorrow for a hamburger that he could eat today. Popeye fell for this trick more then once.

This burger was to Albuquerque what White Castle burgers were to the East Coast.

The cafe began life during the Depression and eventually closed in the late 1980s. The city bought the building in 1996 as part of a restoration project and sold it to the current owner, Jim Chavez, who took a huge leap of faith and restored it to the condition in which it is found today. Mr Chavez is a pretty outgoing guy who invited me inside to make a few pictures, one of which you see in this post.

Today, in addition to Wimpyburgers, the Red Ball cafe features very, very good New Mexican food. But, the burgers can be bought by the sack at 99 cents a burger and you know what they say down at the Red Ball… ” a burger a day keeps the salads away.”

Before I forget the most important thing. It is located on 4th Street just before Bridge Street in a 500 year old neighborhood called Barelas. More about Barelas in later posts.

In my world, I’m known as a travel and location photo – grapher. I photograph all things related to travel… people, places, things. But, sometimes one of my agencies asks me to make pictures of something that is not directly related to location work. In this case, I was asked to shoot Valentines “stuff” for next year’s marketing and sales cycle. So, I trotted off to my local store and had a look around. I found what I needed, but waited until the day after the holiday to buy most of it because the prices drop by at least 50%.

I set up what amounted to a small product studio and started shooting the pictures. It takes me a little to fumble around while since this is not really what I do. And, I have to experiment. I bought these little rubber stick on hearts and dragons (what a dragon has to do with Valentine’s Day is beyond me) so I stuck some of them on a piece of glass and held the glass in my hand. Most of the pictures are somewhat straight forward. That is until I got to this series of images. Apparently, the glass was turned away from the light and into the background. Because I was holding the glass and the camera I let the auto-focus  on the lens do its job… and it focused on every imperfection in the glass itself.  I liked the basic composition. but the quality was terrible. Soooooooo… I started playing with a Photoshop plugin called OnOne and this image is the result. I like it, but I’m not entirely sure why. I think it is simply the strong and contrasting colors that attracts me to the finished image.

This is San Francisco de Asis. It is well known as just about anyone who is anybody has either painted or photo – graphed it. Famous artists such as Ansel Adams, Paul Strand and Georgia O’Keeffe have added it to the body of their work.

It was built between 1772 and 1816 and is located in the plaza of Rancho de Taos. It is designed in a classic style of a Latin cross. If you were to look down on it, you would see that its shape is that of a cross.

That’s its history. Here’s a bit of my history as it relates to the mission church. I’ve been photographing it for around 25 years. Most of my images are a little more documentary in nature. You can see the church, the plaza or the church gardens. You can see a bit of New Mexico’s famous and wonderful light.

But, there was this one dusk when magic happened. The light fell just about as you see it. I decided to go for something more abstract and artistic. Normally, I tinker with picture. I brighten it, add color, contrast… stuff like that. But, this is as I saw it… just as the photograph came right from the camera. And, I have to tell you. Nature did a far better job then I ever could.