Category Archives: Photography

Amen Corner: Angels on the Santa Fe Plaza

Saturday afternoon on the Santa Fe Plaza isn’t all turquoise and silver.  Each corner had a duo dressed like this.  A little creepy, for sure.  Those angelic, silver-faced kids did not seem very happy to be out there in the Saturday sun of Santa Fe (or to have their pictures taken).  I felt like maybe I should have rescued them.

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Santa Fe September

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I spent last week in (and around) Santa Fe learning photography from Nevada Wier.  She’s a National Geographic veteran photographer and a true world adventurer who lives in Santa Fe when she’s not in places like rural China or India or Myanmar.  I came here because her photographic ‘style’ is very much what I TRY to do.  My images here are a seemingly random group — the product of several smallish ‘assignments’ we did last week.  The goal was not so much to gather perfect images of Santa Fe, but to practice some ideas that will work in the rest of the world.  I learned a lot.

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One of the assignments is in a separate post from the New Mexico State Fair.  Another was to go grab a local and take some on-the-spot portraits that might reveal a little of their character — much as you might do in a more-exotic global destination.  I drove to the small town of Cerillos and vowed to just grab the first person I saw and see if I could make the best of it.  I wound up working instead with the third person I saw — the young cowboy’ you see in the handful of pictures below (and the big close-up above).  Zach makes his living on his family’s horse ranch.  I found him unloading firewood at a house near downtown Cerrillos.  He was a great sport and, as it turned out, a fine impromptu model.  In that last super-close-up shot, I asked him to just think about his family and his horses and his ranch, and how those things made him feel; that’s my favorite shot of the day.

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Finally, a huge thank-you shout-out to my former law partner Kathy Patrick and her husband, Art Murphy.  They let me spend the week in their adobe swankienda on the northwest side of Santa Fe.  I was living it up with the whole place to myself!

 

 

 

 

Turquoise Midway: The State Fair of New Mexico

I went to the fair in Albuquerque on a photo project.  I’d missed the pig races and the calf scramble, so I was left to wander around the vendors and games and midway.

Regular followers of this blog will recall my post from a few weeks back about the police department raffle of an assault rifle I saw in northern Texas.  Thus I was especially amused to see that even in New Mexico, your five-year old can play a carnival game and win an inflatable AK-47 in the colors of the American flag.  Stating the obvious:  New Mexico isn’t very far from Texas.

I wound up spending so much time at the “Spin Out” ride (below) I forgot to get myself a corndog.  The efficient, solo ride operator was moving loads of passengers safely onto and off of the ride like clockwork.  I watched about 15 cycles, so I had the whole process memorized.  Predictably, he was way too busy to stop and let me take a real ‘portrait.’

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I ran across this guy on the way back to my car as the night was winding down.  He was sitting there counting money.  He said his name was George Jones.  When I asked if he could sing, he said everybody always asks him that.  He also said that he coudn’t sing worth a damn.

The Way Out West: San Francisco and Santa Cruz, CA

I was a week early and about a billion dollars short of being able to compete in the America’s Cup sailing race, which started Saturday in San Francisco bay.  (I also lack the requisite sailing know-how).  But the  fog parted long enough last week to let me watch the USA Team (Oracle) practicing for the big event.  Those boats can go 50mph!  They have a 140-ft-tall vertical rigid “wing” rather than a traditional canvas sail, and they essentially just fly along a few feet above the water with a tiny surfboard-sized fin sticking into the surf to keep them on track.   

 

I spent a week sightseeing and visiting friends in San Francisco and in Santa Cruz, which is 60 miles to the south, on the north side of Monterrey Bay.  The San Francisco Bay area is hardly the furthest point in the U.S. away from Texas (or Oklahoma) – at least if you’re just measuring miles.  But the people and the ‘culture’ may be as far from ‘Texan’ as anywhere in America.  There are a surprising number of white men in dreadlocks.

Rest assured that every restaurant menu in Santa Cruz will include the words “sustainable,” “local,” “organic” “gluten,” and “GMO.”   I went with friends to a vegan café where every item on the menu had a name like “I Am Renewed” and “I Am Accepting.”  Ironically, the “I Am Fulfilled” was a smallish vegan salad.  I had the “I Am Transformed” (which tasted a lot like a black bean taco), with a side of “I Am Refreshed.”  (And I Am NotMakingThisUp).

AND:  The Mexican food restaurants do not serve chile con queso!! It’s anarchy out there, I tell you!

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The urban-looking pictures are San Francisco; the lighthouse, the giant redwood the seal and the coastline are around Santa Cruz.  The fancy place in the first two shots is the Palace of Fine Arts.  The iconic row of “Painted Lady” houses is at Alamo Park.  In the orange sunrise shot, that’s Alcatraz you see peeking through the fog.  The graffiti truck and the American flag are in China Town.  All the nighttime shots are of (and around) the Ferry Terminal and the Bay Bridge to Oakland.  A big thanks to my Costa Rica / Leadville buddies Peter and Jana Thomsen for hosting me in Santa Cruz, and to their niece Kasondra for being my tour guide in San Francisco.

Wichita FALLS: We’re Not in Kansas, Toto.

A company in Wichita Falls sells T-shirts reading :  “We’re Not In Kansas.  We Never Were.”  Apparently, a good chunk of the U.S. population doesn’t know which state they should look in (Answer:  “Texas”) to find the place.

For the tenth year in a row, some good friends and I were among the 14,000 or so riders in town for the Hottern’ Hell Hundred bike ride – the biggest 100-mile bike event in the country.  In the spirit of Hottern’ Hell Weekend, I was even more amused by another T-shirt option:  “Wichita Falls – A City in Heat,” but Dorothy’s “Not in Kansas” line from The Wizard of Oz won out as the more-fitting title here:  It doesn’t much resemble the Land of Oz, but Wichita Falls can feel like a very unusual place.

Near the finish line of the race, the local Wichita Falls Police auxiliary was holding a fundraiser — raffling off an AR-15 semi-automatic assault-style rifle.  Five bucks a ticket.  Need not be present to win.*  Proceeds benefit the Wichita Falls Police Department.  You won’t see THAT in your big fancy cities.

A few hundred yards away, on the side of the race course itself, was a nightclub (not open during the race) called Texas Playgirls, whose claim to fame is apparently that it is “now … the cheapest topless bar in Texas.”  I guess they know their target market.  This reminded me of a conversation with the desk clerk at our LaQuinta a few years ago:  Someone commented that Hottern’ Hell weekend (when 14,000 road bikers converge on the town from all over the country) must surely be the craziest, busiest time of the year in smallish Wichita Falls.  She disagreed, insisting that the ‘swingers’ convention earlier that month had been just as busy.  Who knew?!

A couple of years back, a Wichita Falls cab driver told us about her “Puke Fee” (charged mostly to intoxicated airmen from the local Air Force base):  “Fifty bucks; seventy-five if you get any on me.”  When I asked if she got much argument when people learned about the fee, she responded (emphatically), “Oh, they all know the Puke Fee!”  Of course they do.

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This year’s race was pretty run-of-the-mill for a Hottern Hell.  No mosquito attacks; no wrecks; no delusional riders.  It was hot (sometimes it isn’t!) but not crazy hot (sometimes it is!).  The biggest innovation this year was the addition of Bjorn Hegelman to our team.  Bjorn is a 6’7” German (now U.S. citizen).  Lest there be any doubt, that’s him in the middle of the picture below.  Bjorn is a former German pro basketball player.  It can be tough for  big guys to adapt in the cycling world, and Bjorn has only been riding for a year or so.  But apparently being strong as an ox has at least some advantages and gave him a pretty decent head start.  Our group had one of the fastest, strongest, most solid rides we’ve ever done – at least for the first 90 miles or so when the (metaphorical) wheels did start to come off just a little.  Funny how it’s always that last 10 miles or so that are the toughest.

Prior posts from Wichita Falls are here (2012) and here (2011).

*Yes, of course I bought a ticket.  The guy explained that I’d definitely want to get a scope for it if I won.  I really hope I do not win.