February 2, 2015

Obsession Part 3: No sun, no dancers...

The general theme of these last posts has been really the serendipitous nature of photography. You set out to shoot one thing yet it is another that becomes the image you keep. So it is with this third weather related experience.

The state park where I volunteer helps some students from NMSU put on a Native American Marketplace. This has been a good place to get some great images. Last year, I took “Native Dancer” maybe one of the best photos I have ever taken.

So I approached this weekend with excitement. Saturday was warm, sunny and I got this image of a Native American potter sketching out a design for a soon to be made earthenware pot.

There was some dancers scheduled for that day but they cancelled, but there was a children’s group scheduled to dance the next day. I vowed to return. I mean, what could be better than little children, in traditional costumes, doing traditional dance?

When we awoke, the sun was shining and we prepared to go with some coffee and breakfast. As we were leaving, i noticed the sun was gone, covered in dark clouds and there was a drop or two of rain. By the time we got to the park, it was dark, dreary, cold, and foggy. As we were approaching the gate, I must admit, I thought the day was shot. But as we drove down the access road, there was a view of the Organ Mountains, shrouded in fog and storm clouds. Around here they say that you never see the same mountains twice, that every day is different and this was no exception. I had never seen anything like this. I stopped, took a few shots and went to the marketplace. No dancers, no pictures there, as everything was buttoned up. However, I could not wait to get home to process the images I took. A few follow and I must say, I am happy with them!

January 20, 2015

Obsession Part 2: Sunset and moonrise and storm clouds, oh my!

My second interesting weather experience was last summer when we went out to chase a super moon for pictures. It had been a typically gorgeous New Mexico day - warm, dry, and with a brilliant blue sky. I had checked the almanac and found it to be perfect too. Sunset at 7:30, moon rise at 7:20, and it would take about 20 minutes for the moon to clear the mountains. Just what I wanted, enough light to get details in the foreground and the moon over the mountain peaks.

I left around 5 pm to travel about 30 minutes to a place where I wanted to shoot, up close to the mountains but as I went out the door, there was trouble. Clouds, clouds everywhere! To the west to block the sunset, to the east to block the moon rise. I continued anyway, hoping that maybe I would be lucky and it would clear but this was not in the cards that night. What was in the cards however were some pretty dramatic cloud formations and colors in the sky. This was what I ended up shooting.

I am including both a color and B&W image of several things taken that night. The reason for this will become apparent in the next few weeks as I am working on a special blog post. Perhaps in 2-3 weeks, you can see that too…

January 15, 2015

Obsession in Three Parts

Part 1 - Sun to Snow to Sun

So based on my recent posts, you might conclude that I am obsessed somewhat with the weather. This seems to be the usual around here in southern New Mexico. We always want to know how hot it will be, how windy will it get, will there be any rain, when is the dust arriving, or how long will this heat last.

As a photographer, I am uniquely aware of the power of weather changes because that is when photographs can show the most drama and capture a real feeling of helplessness. Since we have been here in New Mexico there have been 3 times when this power was suggested to me.

The first came on a beautiful March afternoon about 2 and a half years ago. After some cool weather, the day was just gorgeous and we got in touch with friends to go have an afternoon picnic at Dripping Springs, a local place we frequent. As we sat there eating we could feel the air suddenly get cooler and soon, massive clouds moved in. We were getting uncomfortably cold and decided to go up a little further to the visitor’s center. As we packed up, it began to drizzle. Although we only travelled about a mile further up the mountain, we may have gone 2000 feet more in altitude and as we arrived, the rain had changed to snow. So there we were in shirtsleeves scrambling into the building as the snow fell. In 20 minutes there was a considerable dusting. Another scramble to the car and car heater and we headed back down the mountain. By the time we got back to Las Cruces, the sun was shining and temps were still in the mid 60’s. This picture shows the beginning of the storm coming over the mountains at the picnic area.