Saturday, October 29, 2011

Making a Shopping List

I do try to support local businesses but I no longer ski, have a complete stock of Angel Fire t-shirts, and cannot figure out the open/close schedule of our restaurants in off season. In spite of gas being 20 to 30 cents more per gallon than Taos I usually fill up on this side of the mountain unless I need to go to Taos for another reason.

Since the Taos branch of Artisan's art supply closed these trips had become less frequent. As a solo household I often just picked up food stuffs at the local store. The Valley Market was recently bought and remodeled by Lowe's, a Texas chain. The remodel enlarged the store but most of the new footage has been taken up by a much expanded liquor section which is arranged so it cannot be avoided. My favorite brand of ice cream is gone. Organic foods are relegated to one half aisle across from wines. Whole wheat flour cannot be found. Their bread is that white foamy stuff that when wadded up makes a great cleaner for paintings. And your ability to find organic milk is dependent on being there on stocking day. They said they were keeping on the neighbors that worked there but I think the last one just got forced out.

I have continued to try mainly because of my schedule before vacation but the items on the list I cannot find grow and finally I have a list long enough to justify the 50 mile round trip to Taos. I see that this will be a twice a month event and while there I will fill up on cheaper gas. If I pop in the local market it will be for the odd can of dog food, but even pet food sacrificed space for more liquor. One hopes they can make a profit on tourists because most of us locals are spurning the place, and they spent a lot on the remodel. I was one of the last "give them some time" people.

Well, back to that shopping list.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Made it at last

Painted Desert
After I graduated from high school my father gave us the grand tour. Not the grand tour of a year in Europe which some of my later college friends enjoyed but two weeks with the family seeing the parks of the intermountain west. It was an ambitious list of must see's and early on two parks got cut: Painted Desert and Petrified Forest. The argument was we lived in a painted desert and that you could buy petrified wood everywhere. So for years both remained on my must see list if for no other reason that they got cut.

But there always seemed to be grander parks to see or more important places to go. But this vacation with my sister I at last made it to both. Let me say for the record that you can buy petrified wood everywhere. But the colors and scope of the painted desert, which continues into the petrified forest park, is not to be seen just anywhere. And for a photographer it should not be missed.

I really want to go back. Mostly because the light changes the colors so very much. It is one of those places, like the Grand Canyon, I can imagine setting up the tripod and waiting for the sun to rise or set.

My quilted purple mountain

And with the colors there are such interesting shapes and contours. It once was a primordial forest. The petrified wood huge towering trees that grew there. The two parks are joined because the painted desert continues into the once lush forest of the petrified trees.

Cascade of Petrified Trees
We took one of the walks to the bottom of the colored hills. The world above vanished. The trail marker at the top said to take time to listen to the silence. I felt as if I had been transported to a world before there was time or noise.

Maybe another planet.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Time Slipping Away

This last year seems to have gone so fast. And the last two months like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. I have changed so many things it is hard to find equilibrium it seems. And it isn't just me but the world around me as we race from fall to winter in New Mexico.

I normally post a weekly blog here on Mondays and just this morning (in the hours before dawn) realized it was Wednesday. Vacation with my sister begins tomorrow. We are off to photograph more of our beloved Colorado Plateau. This time the southern edge of it. Have cameras and laptops and will travel. Only this time we are doing it on day trips or overnight turn arounds. Works best with fur kids and changeable weather.

I need the vacation. But not because it is a change of pace. Pace has changed a lot all on its own. A bit of boredom would be nice. No computer crashes, no extreme allergic reactions with a pet, no more friends being diagnosed with terminal illnesses, etc.  Same oh, same oh sounds very nice actually.

But I seem to have no control over time or what happens in that time. I just feel a bit old to go with the flow. And we are too close to winter to throw caution to the winds.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Spending time with my camera

Storm clouds

I have been spending time with my Nikon D90 and my newest version of post processing software: Corel Paintshop Pro 4X Ultimate. So much time you would think I was enrolled in a post graduate level photography course. And in a way I am. I am using other photographers I know as my instructors and dissertation committee. I consider the things they post as assignments and take to the street or computer.

Terry Atkins Rowe has posted several very illuminating links on our D90 Ladies Club page on Facebook. And they have served as my text book. A recent one she posted was on achieving good black and white photographs. Frankly since I left my darkroom at college I have not been successful with B&W. And having my sister and friend, Terry, excel at it has been a bit intimidating.

My natural tendency is to quit the table when I don't like the game or lose a lot. But this is about me, my camera and my computer. It is an inner competition with self and not just about photography. So armed with camera I set out. The really great thing about the digital era is photography becomes a really cheap activity once you have the camera, lenses, and software (and ignore the I-really-want-this-list).

The above picture was really fantastic in color. I tried it in B&W because very active skies are suppose to be very good for B&W and a photograph I saw at a Taos art exhibit this weekend proved clouds could be just as stunning without color as with. The picture leaves just a hint of lilac in it and the one below with just a bit of blue.

Then there was the raven. I have finally managed to lure one close enough to get a picture but it was through thermo pane glass which was anything but clean. The grass it was standing on was anything but brilliant green and ravens are black. The composition of the photo was solid so why not. I am a believer you cannot save an awful photo regardless of what you do in the darkroom, dry or wet.

It is necessary for B&W I have read to have light from one direction. This picture was taken in the early morning and light was coming from the direction of the bird's tail and gave great definition on the feathers because of it.

Textures are also suppose to be a good thing for B&W so when I downloaded this picture of a ram at the Taos Wool Festival I was immediately drawn to the textures around the face and neck of this beast. This photo is good in color in its entirety but the sun coming from the butt of the sheep washed out all contrast on the rest of the picture. So I cropped down to the most interesting textures before taking out color. Totally B&W in this and the raven.

So in conclusion I have learned a lot. In part that those that do a lot of B&W post processing are quite likely considering that when they take the picture: Texture, active skies, strong light source from an oblique angle, etc. That in and of itself gives them a huge spring board for black and white photographs. It isn't just something you do with a bunch of pictures you took which failed in color. But the same things that make for a good black and white photograph also add to a good color photo.

Next lesson is to go out with camera and shoot specifically for black and white.  Lesson after that is shoot for color pictures and find out if my black and white experience as improved the shots I get.