From another perspective.

D

o you remember what I said yesterday about November 21 being the start of my year? Well, I started that. After some thought I decided that I wanted to take a look back at my traveling life.

This does two things.

You get to see photographs that you might never have seen. You know. Exclusive to the readers of Storyteller. I have further plans for that.

This also forces me to work through my archive and do something about the 50 year old mess.

I also am playing with, tinkering with, and experimenting with different art forms.

Anyway.

T

his is The Church of Saint Francis Assisi located in Taos, New Mexico. It’s actually in Rancho de Taos. The plaza that is built around the church is dusty and has seen better days.

Just about everybody and their brother has photographed it. And, their brother’s brother too. It’s a challenge to do something different. I think I did, but only because of luck and timing. Saying that is a gamble. Obviously, I haven’t seen every picture that was taken there.

Happy Tuesday.


In Taos, New Mexico

Sunset. 

San Francisco de Assis Mission Church. In Rancho de Taos. New Mexico.

I received an email about a gallery show. One of the featured pictures was of this place. Makes sense. As locations go, this is one of the most famous in the country. The church has been drawn, painted and photographed for many years. By everybody. Famous artists. Ansel Adams. Paul Strand. Georgia O’Keeffe. Artists like that. 

Anyway.

The email reminded me of this picture. I made it after a long day of chasing pictures in the back county. I eventually made my way to Rancho de Taos. The sky exploded. 


San Francisco de Asis Church
San Francisco de Asis Church

You’ve seen this place. You know you have.

Just about everybody has photographed it. Or, painted it.

A few of those artists who did are: Georgia O’Keeffe, Paul Strand, Ansel Adams, Ned Scott. And, that’s just getting started. Georgia O’Keeffe said that it is one of the most beautiful buildings in the United States left by the early Spaniards. There you have it. I almost can’t say anything more.

But. You know me. I can.

I’ve been stopping by this place — the San Francisco de Asis Mission Church, in Rancho de Taos — for years. I’ve photographed it on black and white film. Color film. Digital sensor. If I could paint, I probably would have painted it. I haven’t really hadn’t added very much to the original artists who worked here. I doubt that many of the millions of photographers who passed this way have added much to the general collection either. We all end up repeating ourselves. We become derivative. We can’t help it. This place is beautiful in its wonderful simplicity.

Then, on one trip to Taos I saw the light. I was heading back to my hotel at about dusk I got very, very, very lucky.  The sky went crazy. It exploded with color. I worked as hard as a could for about 15 or 20 minutes. That’s all the time I really had. The top picture is one of the results. It’s special. To me. I’m sure somebody may have made a picture something like it. After all, New Mexico is all about light. At least for artists of all genres. Just stand there. The light will make you look good.

This is one of those pictures that I can’t really claim. It’s nature’s work. I really just saw it and pushed the button. Really.

San Francisco de Asis.
San Francisco de Asis.


St. Francis de Asis Mission Church
St. Francis de Asis Mission Church

I decided to take a step back. Lots of stuff going on around here. All good.

So.

I took a walk through my image files. I ended up in New Mexico.

I’ve always liked New Mexico. After the storm, we took refuge there for a few years. It was a great place to heal. But, after a few years the call of the swamp was too strong.

So. We went home.

But, I made a lot of pictures there. After all, New Mexico is the home of all kinds of artists and photographers.

I made this picture in Ranch de Taos. You’ve seen many pictures of this place, I’m sure. It is the St. Francisco de Asis Mission Church. Everybody paints it. Photographs it. Sketches it. Famous artists like Ansel Adams. Georgia O’Keeffe. Paul Strand. Ned Scott. Your neighbor. The guy down the street. Some guy from Queens, New York. Me.

I happened to be coming into town from the north when the sky lighted up like only it can in New Mexico. I tried to make the picture as minimalist as I could so that I could focus on the setting sunlight. What you see is what you get. F8 and be there. That sort of thing. Post production is also minimalist.


Everybody knows this place. But, they know it from a different angle. This is the famous San Francisco de Asis church in Rancho de Taos, New Mexico. Viewed from its back side, which faces the road, it is probably one of the most painted and photographed places in The United States. But, seen from the front it almost looks like just about any New Mexican church that is surrounded by a village plaza.

The picture. If you make a time exposure in deep shadow that natural blues in the cold light will appear.

However, I did enhance this image to make it look my mind’s eye saw it. Here’s the deal. When we make a picture of a scene there was something that attracted us to it. But, quite often neither a digital capture of an exposure made on a piece of film — remember that — can capture the scene as we remember it. That’s due to the limitations of chemistry, optics or even physics.So, I chose to help the picture along in post production. There is also an opposing philosophy that says the picture should look exactly as the camera captured it. Some photographers make a big deal of that. Why? The photographer whose name everybody knows is Ansel Adams. He never left the image alone as it came from the camera. In fact, he created an entire method of developing and printing the picture called The Zone System. He sought to improve the raw image and turn it into the image he saw when he actually pushed the shutter release button.

There you have it.


A peaceful Sunday. A little break. Three pictures. Quiet pictures. Made at different times and places. For different reasons. The three of them are: Taos Dusk, Bamboo and Morning Spider Web. Yes. I have some shot back stories to share.

Taos Dusk. Everybody photographs this place. Everybody paints it. Ansel Adams made a landmark photograph there. Georgia O’Keeffe painted it. Just about every photographer and painter who is on some kind of Southwestern trip stops there so who am I to try to photograph it? This place is located in Rancho de Taos a few miles away from the town of Taos. It’s real name is San Francisco de Asis. And, why the try to capture it in some way? How would I make my own statement? How would I make a picture that is a little different? I had no idea. I’ve photographed it in the past and the pictures were okay. Just okay. So, I was out looking around in the fields and roads just behind the church when the late afternoon light started turning into an exciting and bold dusk. I got to the church just as the light was at its most striking. I made maybe 20 frames. This image is the result. It is sort of my signature piece of the location. Nature did it. I didn’t. Sometimes, that’s how it works.

Bamboo. Need a quiet place to take a break in the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong? Head to the cemeteries in Wan Chai. They are located almost in Happy Valley. They are beautiful and very quiet, yet just outside their gates the streets are roaring with traffic and people. There are three. Muslim, Indian and Christian. As you wander through them you might find a stand of bamboo. What am I saying? Might? You’ll find bamboo everywhere. The day that I was there was warm, but not the hot like the weather is in July and August. There was a nice breeze so I slowed down the camera’s shutter speed, and popped a little flash. More nature. Mixed with a little technical skill. Very little technical skill.

Glistening Spider Web. Yet another storm story. Three hurricanes in 2005 that struck somewhere in Louisiana. The first was Cindy. Originally, it was called a tropical storm. But, insurance findings later caused it to be upgraded. Get that? INSURANCE findings. The last two are better known. They are hurricanes Katrina and Rita. After Katrina, I re-located to Lake Charles, Louisiana. That seemed fine… for a few weeks, when along came Rita and another evacuation. Good thing too. Rita touched down at Sabine Pass, just about 70 miles from Lake Charles. It was brutal. The evacuation was hellish for everybody. It was a super hot summer. Houston, Texas was threatened by the storm. The main highways became parking lots. Cars ran out of gas on them. People ran out of food and water on them. You couldn’t budge for hours. So, I took back roads aways from Lake Charles. There were no motels available that would take pets until I reached Mountain Home, Arkansas. There, I found a Best Western that took in everybody. Best news was that FEMA/Red Cross paid the bill. But, that drive took 18 hours as compared to 7 when we made our way back to Lake Charles. 3am and I’m wired as I could be from the drive. But, I did fall asleep… until 6am. I awoke and decided to take a walk. It turned out that this little B

est Western had a beautiful garden that was a cross between something Asian and an English garden. I always carry a camera. This is the first picture I made after the hell that was Katrina and Rita. It had to be peaceful. I needed that.