Golden light.
Golden light.

“Well, they say that Santa Fe is less than ninety miles away, and I got time to roll a number and rent a car.

Oh, Albuquerque.

I’ve been flyin’ down the road, and I’ve been starving to be alone, and independent from the scene that I’ve known.


So I’ll stop when I can, find some fried eggs and country ham. I’ll find somewhere where they don’t care who I am.

Oh, Albuquerque, Albuquerque.” — WordsΒ and Music, Β© 1976 Neil Young

After his early super success, Neil Young needed a break. As he famously said, “when things get a little too middle of the road, I head straight for the ditch where things are much more interesting.” And, so the “Ditch Trilogy” was born. Three albums. That the general public didn’t understand. Or, really like. He didn’t care. He just wanted to make music.

During my time in New Mexico, I poked around just about everywhere. I found this little abandoned church on a side street. The parish, itself, had moved just down the street. An artist lived in what was originally the church. I passed by again and again. Finally, the winter light was amazing. I took this picture.

That’s the thing. Maybe a little lesson. We all like to travel. At least we say that we do. Right now, I’m a little burnt on traveling. That’s another story. I’ll get over it.

Usually, when most of us travel we don’t stay in one place long enough to get to know it. We are there for a couple of days. Maybe a week. We have a mini bucket list of things to see. To do. That’s great and all of that.


We really don’t get the feel for a place. We don’t learn the ebb and flow. For a photographer, almost every good picture we make is really just a matter of luck. Of timing. Sure. We can game the tripΒ a little. We can work at the ends of the day. Dawn. Dusk. The light is surely better then. We still don’t know the place. That just takes time to settle in. To be there. Just to be.

That’s when the pictures get good. Really good.

Here’s my suggestion. For photographers and non photographers. The next time that you get the urge to roam, go some place that isn’t so far from home. Or, fly to one place. Hang out there. Make pictures if that’s what you do. Relax if you aren’t a picture maker. I’m pretty sure your pictures will be better. More meaningful.

For those whose prime mission is not to take pictures, you know that feeling of needing a vacation from your vacation? You won’t have that feeling. You’ll return home relaxed and smiling.

Try it some time.



  1. Your patience for taking advantage of the lighting is amazing. To me, there is no place like home (a tiny little place in the Catskills) but when I travel I have done both…I call it the ‘fancy’ way and the real way. To me, the backpacking I have been fortunate to do and the ‘hole in the wall’ restaurants have given me a chance to see and experience so much. When I worked for the newspaper, I was told to always have my camera within reach. One never knows. Sometimes, like at a beach, I feel almost unholy taking a photo…I can never capture the totally spiritual way I can feel at times in nature. So much enjoying this part of your journey, land that I have not visited. Thanks again for the sharing. w


    1. Thank you. For me, there are so many pictures out there that kind of look the same. The only way to make something different is to be patient and let the picture find me, rather than me find the picture. In my newspaper days, especially towards the end when I managed newspaper staff and edited, I always suggest that photographers carry their gear everywhere. You never know, as you say. As far as “never capturing the totally spiritual way…” that’s the trick isn’t it? To share the feeling rather than to just document the scene.The hardest trick of all is to have fun doing it. πŸ™‚


      1. i do Ray…still i’m interested in that pool job…i’m sure i could mange that πŸ˜‰ and then photograph in new spaces…i do love to travel! πŸ˜€ soon your page will turn and a new chapter will begin πŸ˜€


      2. I’ll be home. So I can do it. πŸ™‚ For a week. Then a while off with only two shows. Then back to it in March and April. You’d probably enjoy NOLA. The Quarter is fun for a day or two, then you’d want to expand into the city. Yesh, another page turns tomorrow… where does the time go?


  2. Something so magical about this photograph. It doesn’t let you go; you return back over and over again to look at it. It’s brilliant.

    I am not traveling a lot; but you made me dream about it:)


  3. Great composition Ray, I love the moody lighting and processing. Also, I appreciate the wisdom found in your writing. I also appreciate your humility, but you are a wise, multitalented dude. I fallen behind on my reading my followed posts, thank goodness for some time off. Regarding the golden hour, I love shooting this time of year. The low sun offers many more hours of golden light!


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