“Red and white, blue suede shoes
I’m Uncle Sam, how do you do
Gimme five, still alive
Ain’t no luck, I learned to duck

Check my pulse, it don’t change
Stay seventy two, come shine or rain
Wave the flag, pop the bag
Rock the boat, skin the goat

Wave that flag, wave it wide and high
Summertime done come and gone, my oh my

I’m Uncle Sam, that’s who I am
Been hiding out, in a rock and roll band
Shake the hand that shook the hand
Of P. T. Barnum and Charlie Chan

Shine your shoes, light your fuse
Can you use them old U.S. Blues
I’ll drink your health, share your wealth
Run your life, steal your wife

Back to back, chicken shack
Son of a gun, better change your act
We’re all confused, what’s to lose
You can call this song the United States Blues”

U.S. Blues — Robert Hunter/Jerry Garcia — The Grateful Dead

I’m not feeling so patriotic this Independence Day, so you’ll have be happy with some lyrics sung by The Grateful Dead.

I made these pictures over the course of the last ten years. During my travels. In many parts of The United States.  For those of you who celebrate our national holiday, burn a hamburger for me. For those of you who live in other countries and for whom July 4 is just another Thursday, enjoy yourselves. Do whatever it is you want to do. To our friends to the north in Canada. I’m sorry.


Sometimes on my back road drives, I find stuff. Well, not exactly that. I’m sure the stuff that I find isn’t lost. It is more like dumped. Sometimes it’s interesting stuff. You know what they say. “If you want to take better pictures, stand in front of better stuff.” Sometimes, even better stuff doesn’t help. Anyway, the thing about the high desert is its dryness. Very dryness. While we have humidity in New Orleans that ranges in 70 and 80 percent range, New Mexicans complain when humidity is like 12 percent. All that dry air prevents rust. Or at least inhibits it. While you may see old, dumped cars and trucks that look rusty, upon closer inspection you find that they are not. They are wind-blown and sand blasted. They are faded by the strong sun light. The sun tends to magnify in intensity when you are a mile up. At least you aren’t eight miles high. And, waiting to touch down. Did you catch that?

So. This truck. It’s an ancient GMC truck that I found “parked” in a field. I doubt that it ran or even could be started. It’s tires looked firm but dry rotted. Obviously, the windshield needs a little work. Other than that, it looked intact. Unfortunately, I stopped to make the picture at exactly the wrong time of day. High Noon. Flat. Chalky light. Ugly. Still I made the picture. It was a record shot. One that I would keep in the back of my mind for when I was in the “neighborhood” again. Something to be reworked at a more appropriate time of day. But, I “found” image file when I was looking for those act of traveling pictures that I mentioned. I decided to play with it. I added a little color. I added a little contrast. I sharpened some of the details. Then I added some “glow” to it. That did it. The image is somewhat presentable. Here it is. 

I wrote about Seligman, Arizona, a few days ago.  I realized then that you haven’t seen enough of the place. So, today’s post will be a little long and full. Thirteen pictures, I think. There’s no overall picture and that’s too bad. But, my detail pictures should give you a sense of the place. It’s quirky. It’s a little weird. It suits me. Listen to Ry Cooder when viewing.

I found these chairs in Seligman, Arizona. I know, I know. Where the hell is that? Seligman is one of the last true Route 66 towns left in America. It’s located just off of I-40, east of Kingman and west of Williams. It’s almost a ghost town. But, not quite. It is a great rest stop for people traveling on I-40. It’s also a place that I’ve been passing through for well over 45 years. It started when my parents took us to the Southwest. And, I’ve driven through it from time to time since. People come to Seligman from all over the  world. I’ve heard tourists speaking every kind of language. It’s a funny kind of place. I’ve stopped there when the entire town lost power. I’ve been there when the entire town lost water pressure. And… yet, I’m always drawn to it. 

More from my summer roads series. There is one problem with this picture. I’d forgotten that it’s been around a bit. When I Googled Tres Piedras his picture comes up as number one on Google images and number 9 in general Google search results. That’s okay. It’s part of my editing project so those of you who have never seen it, will finally see it. Those of you who may have seen it can have sort of an encore.

Here are some things I should have known, but I just learned. It’s located at the crossroads of Highways 64 and 285. I think that’s how I first stumbled upon it. It’s located just past the Earthship Landing Zone in Taos County, New Mexico. Figures. Well, earthships are off the grid, self-sufficient homes that are pretty much organically constructed. Sometimes they are made of trash. Actor Dennis Weaver owned one build of old tires. They seem to work well and have become very expensive to buy.

The picture obviously got a little help in post production. Lot’s of painting going on here. But, if you ask me what exactly I did, I probably can’t tell you. Sorry, but I was just experimenting at the time. No matter what I did to this picture, one thing remains. It’s old. I think I’d better go make some new summer pictures.

Not just any red. Fuzzy dice red. With an American flag. I thought I’d post this as a walk up to a long Memorial Day weekend. Originally it was called Decoration Day and it was established to honor the Union war dead who were killed during the Civil War (In The United States — for those of my foreign guests). The Confederate war dead were honored on another day in May. It was later expanded to those military who died in all wars and now it has sort of morphed into a day of remembering all dead. At any rate, it’s become family day when people gather to look at fireworks shows, have a barbecue and generally enjoy the bookmark holiday that marks the arrival of summer.

This picture was made at a car show. It has all of the elements. And, it’s mostly read. As you know, I like red. Technical specs? Not many. F8 and be there. Keep your eyes open. Post production was done using Topaz which gave it that grainy feel. I don’t use Topaz very much these days. I use OnOne, which gives me a little more control.

Morning Balloons is a case of a good sense of direction and a whole lot of luck. I planned to photograph the first morning of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. I planned to arrive well before the first mass ascension which meant getting up very early and sneaking up I-25 to sort of a backdoor exit to the balloon field where the event is held. What I didn’t plan for was two accidents  on I-25. From the minute that I entered the highway, I knew that I was in trouble. It was a parking lot. I exited as quickly as I could which probably took 30 minutes. By then I knew that I could never reach the field in time for the morning events, so I picked my way through smaller city streets until I got behind the balloon field and onto 4th street, which is an extension of old Route 66, north of the field and the city. I saw the balloons lifting off and made a dash to a place where I could position the Sandia Mountains and the early morning sun in the background. I broke most of the rules. I shot directly into the sun using a wide angle lens. I said a little prayer and hoped for the best. I guess the photo gods were on my side. This is probably just a case of knowing the location and your place in it.

Cemetery Boots is mostly about liking a certain place and returning to it again and again in order to photograph it in all kinds of light. This is Mount Calvary Cemetery. It is tiny, dusty and a bit run down. It is across a two lane street from its church which is also tiny. How tiny? Tiny enough that a priest comes once a week from Santa Fe in order to say mass. Why this place? Well, for some strange reason I like cemeteries and it is easily accessible. It also has that sort of run down boot hill of look. The boots were sort of new to me. They were glued to a headstone as a monument to the deceased. This image is a great example of being in a place long enough to really know it. I guess there are two theories. When you travel to a place for a few days or weeks, you sort of scrape the surface and make sort of shallow images. On the other hand, you see it with fresh eyes. The second theory is to really photograph a place you have to really know it and that means you have to be there. I think that I subscribe to the second theory.

New York Motion is an elderly image that was actually made on film. I made it in this painterly way because to my mind it captures the energy and motion of New York City at night. The image was made in Times Square on a very cold night. I was shooting Fuji Velvia film, using a 20mm lens set at 5.6 and I let the shutter speed go wherever it needed to be which was probably around 1/2 second. This is an example of letting the scene dictate the technique. And, that’s as it should be.

The word flambeau means flame torch. Originally, these men were slaves and some free men of color who carried the flame which helped light the dark streets of New Orleans during the early days of Mardi Gras parades. Today, they are seen as almost a kind of performance art because of their wild girations and dance steps. In the early days parade goers tossed coins to the flambeaux who were trying to earn money. This tradition continues today. In any case, this is a great interaction between performers and the crowds.