T

he edge of town. No darkness here. Just raw, bright New Mexican light.

This is where Route 66 sort of comes to an end. It’s about as far west in Albuquerque as you can go, without leaving the city line.

I think that these ruins, probably once a gas station and cafe, were caused by the move to Interstate 40, which is south of here. Motorists just didn’t drive though here as much and locals wouldn’t stop here since this is very close to modern gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores.

I’d have probably never run into this place if I hadn’t been roaming around looking for PAD images. But I cruised far and wide.

I went further west than this place, to where the casino and the remains of route 66 re-emerge at a rickety old bridge. I went east out past Moriarity, where the junkyard and car museum is located. I went south as far as Las Lunas and north as far as the San Felipe Pueblo where I made two signature images.

I travelled as much as I could on surface streets. Interstates are not the way to go when you are looking for pictures.

I met great people along the way and some not so great people. I remember going into a small town grocery store about the size of a 7-11. I asked to use the restroom. “You hafta buy something.” “Okay I’ll take these two waters.” “That’s not enough.” “Okay, you’ll lose the sale and I’ll go pee on your driveway.”

I bought the water and used the restroom.

M

ore technical nonsense that I don’t want to deal with.

It seems that WordPress continues to make changes. At least some of the stuff works that didn’t work.

Of course, WordPress didn’t say a word, meaning that I caused myself all sort of problems doing an unneeded work around.

Anyway.

This picture was easy to make. Just shoot almost directly into the sun and pray.

If you expose the bright light properly the buildings will be silhouetted, which is what I wanted.

I added some faux bokeh and stuff, actually to tune down the electric color on the tumbleweeds in the background. The color was real but my eyeballs vibrated.

At least I’m having fun with color drop caps. What a day.


G

oing where the sun keeps shining through the pouring rain. That’s what the song says. That’s what it felt like on many days out there in the high desert.

This is the other end of Central Avenue, Route 66. In Albuquerque. It is a business district. When I lived there two old school camera shops were within short walking distance. One kept shrinking but still exists. The other went out of business a few years after I left. I had nothing to do with that. I swear.

The light of New Mexico draws many artists to the state. Like this. Light that I had to tune down in order for it to make sense.

I may have made a mistake in doing that because it’s been a long time since I saw that light. My mind is playing tricks on me.

Hey! What was I doing again?

This is actually a picture a day image. I used to pick good times of day to look around. That increased the chance of what I call photographer’s luck.

That’s really luck that you make yourself, usually by walking outside of your door and taking a look around. Or, by using bad weather to make better pictures. And, by standing in front of better stuff.

That’s all I know. And, that’s really all you need to know about the philosophy of making photographs.

T

his is a drive through kind of picture. You can tell because a normally straightly aligned street is tilting to the left.

That’s because I put my camera on the dashboard and let it do it’s thing.

It did its thing, alright. I’m lucky this picture exists. It set the F stop at 1.8.

Huh?

Something like this should be at least f 11. Maybe even a smaller aperture.

With such a gross over exposure I’m lucky that I could fix in post production.

There shouldn’t have been enough data in the file to produce any kind of image.

Let this be a lesson to you. Check everything. Control your camera. Don’t let your camera control you.


W

hen we were getting ready to leave New Mexico we did a thing that some New Mexican like to do best. We went cruising. We weren’t showing off our cars. We were looking for our last pictures.

And, we ate dinner at all of our favorite places. We went to places like Garcias, The Frontier and Sadies. If you know Albuquerque, you know these places. If you watched Breaking Bad, you know some of them.

This picture was made on Central Avenue as it heads out of town toward the West. You might know it as Route 66. We, however, were headed east so I could catch the blue hour with some traffic on the street. This is about the location from which the late, great, photographer Ernst Haas made one of his very famous photographs.

You know what this driving around really was, don’t you? We were fixing things in our minds knowing we wouldn’t be back for a long time. We were making nostalgia.

I’m glad we did it. After a year like the last one when we didn’t move around at all, those memories helped our travel jones.

I’m sure you do things like that too.

What are they? When do you do them?

N

o joy yet. These templates are as twitchy as ever.

But, that’s not what I want to talk about, so goodbye bad code.

Instead, let’s discuss the picture.

It’s a drive by, or drive through. It helps to have a co-pilot who knows my moves. I just talk about the objective and the lane and the only thing I worry about from that point is making pictures.

I typically like to meter from a middle highlight like the back of that silver Jaguar. Get that close and everything falls into place.

Of course, there is work to do in post production because fine tuning is needed in a lot of little points of the picture.

That kind of good work is worth it in the end.


Leaving town.

There are many ways out of Albuquerque, but this is my favorite. If you are going on a road trip you can kind of say goodbye to the city as you leave. Even if you are not, you can pretend.

This is what is left of Route 66 west of Albuquerque. Just a little over the rise in the far center of the photograph is where it meets I-40 and all points west.

There are little bits and pieces and parts of Route 66 that run along I-40, but not enough to really get anywhere. But, that doesn’t mean they aren’t photographable. They are.

There have been a lot of reflective articles lately about photography. There have been a few concerning how it relates to social media. I’ve said on Storyteller that each has their specific place in the branding world, but do they?

I have never gotten even a nibble from anything that I post on Instagram, which is distributed to Facebook. Oh sure, I get a lot of likes. But, you can’t eat likes. I read Twitter mostly for NOLA Twitter and news. I really don’t know most of the local folks who post on Twitter. And, I read news at the source.

So, why do it?

A photographer/writer who I read and like, reckons that we waste 2.5 hours per day on social media. Think about it. That’s 17.5 hours per week, or 70 hours per month, or 840 hours per year.

That’s 35 days.

What could you do with 35 days?

I have to think about it for another ten minutes, but I think I may do that. There are plenty of ways to reach, find, and talk to me.

Or, I can stay around, not post and just read here and there.

We’ll see.

No worries, I’m not going anywhere here, on Storyteller.

Wowie Zowie. Look at the big ball of light. Wouldja? Oh wait, that’s the sun as it blasts its way through the windshield.

Yes, if you leave Albuquerque at around sunset, this is your view.

There are some big businesses outside of the city limit so you have an inbound rush hour of sorts.

The finished picture takes some explanation.

I tried to keep some details in the sun. Yeah, right. But, doing that made the surrounding everything very dark. It also added a lot of contrast which is no problem for me.

Of course, all of that created a lot of shadows and silhouettes. A lot of people don’t like that which is why HDR was invented.

I like shadows and silhouettes. If anything, I want to make them stronger and more defined.

It’s all a matter of personal taste.

For me, this is how it looks and feels if you are leaving Albuquerque around sunset.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Stay strong. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient.


Reflections of a far land.
Road Trips.

Driving in New Mexico can be tedious if you are on an interstate. Driving on many roads can be lonely. But, not if you are looking for pictures.

As I recall I made a lot of pictures on this long day trip. None of them summed up being out on the road as well as these two do.

Once upon a time, rest stops were far and few between. Stops like Whitings and Cracker Barrel dominated the old days.

Today, most of those are long gone, left behind as ruins in the dirt. They’ve been replaced by modern gas stations, fast food and stores, all in one well lighted building. And, they are boring. Convenient, but boring.

These pictures were made a one of the boring stops. Obviously, I like the reflection more than I do the scene setter, but you need both to understand what you are looking at.

Technically, there’s not much to these pictures. They were made at dusk at a low shutter speed.

They are, after all, picture a day work.

I did very little to them in post production except sharpen them a bit because it was cold and I was shaking without gloves on my hands.

I did what I could. I was going to walk around the store and make more pictures, but I was making people inside a little nervous.

This restop is a good bit from Albuquerque. It sits at a cross roads. Continue west and you eventually come to “The Q.” Take the intersecting highway, drive northwest and you arrive in Santa Fe.

Stay safe. Safe mighty. Stay strong. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Look after others. Get your jabs.


Interstate 25 northbound.

Travel. What does it mean? How do we do it? Normally it means going to a place other than your home. For some of us it feels like we move when we are done with a location.

We moved to New Mexico after Hurricane Katrina. It was a good move. I always wanted to live there. I was creatively productive.

But, the New Orleans culture kept calling us, so we moved back. Looking back that may have been a mistake.

We are now talking about moving to New Mexico. Yeah, I know you can never go home again. It was never home. Home is Long Beach, California. That state costs too much money. But, it is home.

If we actually do it, we won’t return to Albuquerque. We’ll either move to Santa Fe or Taos. Of course, Taos is really at the end of the road, even though it is beautiful.

4th Street.

Of course, there is the light. It’s is so hard to put into words. It’s just different. It’s one of the biggest reasons that visual artists move there.

The pictures. They were all made in New Mexico at different times. They are all about roads. They are about travel. They are about moving, and moving on. During those days I literally made a picture a day unless I was working on assignment.

That didn’t mean I only took one frame. I worked on a scene until I was done with it, unless it was a drive by or drive through.

It’s a great exercise. You learn a lot about photography. You learn even more about yourself. I suggest that everybody who is a photographer at any level do this exercise for a year. Photograph your world. Your life. You’ll be amazed at the results.

Route 66, Central Avenue, Albuquerque

All of these images were made during my picture a day adventures. Two of the three pictures were accidental and driven by the quality of the light. The third picture, called 4th Street was just learning where a major street ended.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Enjoy all the green Jello.


Nature v Central Avenue

I seemed to be focused on a kind of rebirth.

Nature was there. Man builds something. Nature returns. Nature is here. And, so it goes. And, goes and goes.

The base picture was made on Central Avenue, or as you might know it, Old Route 66, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The light there is astounding. And, it’s even more so around dusk when everything is painted in gold and yellow tones. The layer is trees that I photographed in New Orleans after the little tropical storm called, Cindy. The trees weren’t much by themselves. But, since I’ve been thinking in components I knew that would eventually have some use. I just didn’t know it would be two days after I made the picture.

Once again. A mixture of old and new. I bit of my past. A bit of my present.

To me, there a couple of things that make this picture. The first is pretty obvious. That red highlight which bounced off of the car’s windshield draws your eye to the center of the image. That’s a combination of luck and angles.

The second is much more subtle. There used to be an old school camera shop on Central Avenue. In fact, there were two. When I first arrived from New Orleans I was in heaven. There are none in NOLA. The one in the picture was called Kurt’s Camera. Look just above the car. There is a little neon sign that says, Kodak Film.

That’s the picture.


Nature’s way.

I made this image last night. I showed my neighbor today, before I was ready to show you. The first thing that she was drawn to is that little ghost-like shape near the middle left on the bridge’s trestle. She saw it as a spirit. She called this picture, “Voodoo Bridge.” That’s the title of this post. I don’t have a better idea.

Truth.

I saw this image as an illustration of something that I always say about nature. She never loses. She seeks stasis. Eventually everything goes back to her.

I was further influenced by something I was watching on Amazon Prime about Alexander the Great and his explorations. Apparently, he travelled into the current Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. It’s mostly desert today. But, once upon a time it was green, filled with water. Cities, towns and villages flourished. About 1,000 of them. Today, they are relics. Piles of stone.

My neighbor saw the picture differently. She saw it as something mystical. A little spiritual. And, haunting. In many ways, I like that better.

Which brings me to one of my muses. The late Beatle, John Lennon. Whenever he was asked what his songs meant, he replied, “Whatever you want them to mean.”

There you have it. The artist brings everything to the work. The viewer makes his or her own meaning from it. That is the beauty of it. Many artists don’t like that, especially after they’ve taken the time to make a statement through their art. Too bad. That’s the way it is.

One more thing. A kind of housekeeping note. For as long as I pursue this path I’m not going to talk so much about technique. For me, and many of you, the pictures have become transcendent. Art is art. Besides, if these new works were paintings, I doubt you’d ask me what kind of brush I used. Or, what brand of paint.

Would you?

 


Around the back.

From the inside. A lot of you liked the Aztec Motor Court sign. I thought I would show you what the actual court area looked like. My kinda place. Bed sheets for curtains. Paintings hung on the OUTSIDE of the building. Bits of New Mexico folk art hung just about everywhere.

I’d like to say that because I passed by so frequently that I got to know some of the people who lived here. Even though their art and what-not were left as a reminder, they were fairly transient.

The picture. I said that even though I mostly tinker I do have some intent. I wanted the faux adobe to look sun-baked without being too bright. And, I wanted some details in the shadows. That’s it.