Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sandia Cave Trail

There is a very cool trail in the Sandia Mountains, off a very rough dirt road that actually crosses over the mountains into the town of Placitas, just north of Albuquerque.  We walked the trail to check out the cave – altho we’ve lived here over 5 years, we had never visited the cave.  It was a very nice walk in the autumn woods….. 
Altho the trees had passed their prime in terms of color, there was still some green left in some leaves, mixed in among the leaves that had already lost their color.  I love the contrast between the fairly vivid green and the tired brown in the leaves.  Let’s not forget the touches of yellow, too!
As we approached the main cave, we came across this other cave.  I found it amazing that the ancient people who used to live in the caves had to make this climb each time they returned home from hunting for food or from searching for water.
And, here’s the entrance to the Sandia Man Cave.  Yes, that’s what it’s called, and since this cave had evidence that it was inhabited back to prehistoric times, I do believe this may have been the very first “man cave”!  Unfortunately, you can see the graffiti left by some young folks – definitely not prehistoric.
Using a flashlight, we could walk in only a few yards.  Here’s Jeff looking over a wall that was put up.  It was possible to climb over the wall and continue for a little bit.  It’s possible to go into it about 100 yards.  However, it gets smaller and smaller the farther in you go.  The cave actually continues beyond the 100 yards, but not so a human can fit.  It’s unknown exactly how far into the mountain the cave goes.
Here’s Jeff coming down the spiral staircase we had to climb to get into the cave – we’re definitely not as tough as our prehistoric ancestors!
Walking back along the trail, I noticed this forest wall.  I liked the texture contrast between the rocks, leaves and tree bark.
Isn’t this a lovely autumn portrait of the leaves along the trail?  I love the green, gold and brown, and the texture of the branches and also the veins of the leaves.
This carpet of leaves wasn’t deep enough to jump into, but it sure did remind me of the piles of leaves that kids used to jump into before they were set on fire.  Ahhh…that was a smell of autumn that I loved – even if it wasn’t good for the environment…..
And, we ended our walk with this image of some golden leaves still hanging on! 


Thoughts About Life

The past few days have been full of frustrations, irritations and one  huge disappointment, so we truly needed a respite from life, at least for a short time!  We went for a drive into the Sandia Mountains close to home and then took a walk along the Sandia Cave Trail. It’s getting to the end of the beautiful fall color season, but there was still quite a bit of beauty to be seen.  With everything that’s been going on, I was also in the mood for some positive inspiration, so I found some lovely quotes to accompany the images……

Isn’t this the truth?  How many times have you found yourself just doing what comes naturally, and suddenly you find you’ve accomplished more than you ever thought you could?
I love this image, and the sentiment I’ve chosen to pair it with.  How many people wait for… can fill in the blank.  And, somehow they never seem to end up doing what they originally planned to do.  It’s fine to observe those folks, but don’t imitate them!
I love this quote!  It’s a valuable thought to keep in mind when things seem to be happening too slowly.  It’s just life, moving at its own pace.  Just relax and go with the flow.
I’ve known people in my life who were very proud of the fact that they didn’t change and always did things the same way they’ve always done it.  Consistency is good; however, to never change?
When we were in the cave, I tried to take a photo of the inside without my flash.  After I pressed the shutter to open it (to take the image), I realized that the shutter would never close until it got some light.  I just turned around and sort of waved my camera until enough light penetrated and the shutter closed.  I wondered what type of image would result, and this very cool abstract occurred.  The quote makes sense to me with this image.  Don’t be afraid to do something different – it’s a part of life!


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Thoughts about Galisteo

Photographing Galisteo was this week’s Artist Date.  I had always thought about photographing this little artist colony type of town.  It’s not a ghost town, but has really cool dirt roads throughout the town proper and the roads just sort of curve and meander.  I was excited about doing this, right up until it was time to go.  At that point, I wasn’t enthusiastic about it.  In all fairness, I hadn’t slept well the night before and had to get up early for an appointment in ABQ, but I could feel the negative thoughts creeping in.  As I drove there, I told myself I’d find nothing to photograph!  Of course, that argument didn’t hold any water, and I knew it, but that’s just how my mind was operating at that point.

When I turned in on one of the dirt roads, I almost completely passed an old adobe building in ruin, falling down, before it registered what was there.  I made a point to remind myself to drive out this same way so I could shoot it then. 

I drove to a little bridge that’s buried in the town, among the residences, and began my photography.  I then told myself to give up the negativity and start thinking like the photographer that I am, looking for the wonderful images I was sure were around me. 

After the bridge and a small metal gate in a rock wall, I then saw a lovely set of old doors to someone’s driveway.  I had never noticed them before, and I realized that was because that was one of the artist’s homes that are open during the Artist Studio Tour that goes on there one weekend in October.  Whenever I’ve been to the house, the doors to the driveway were open so we could visit that artist’s studio.  I could feel the negativity melting away. 

As I drove down the narrow, curvy dirt road, I noticed a window in a wall of some sort just before I intersected with the main road thru town.  I’m thinking it will make a lovely image, so I capture it. 

I then turn and see a gate door into someone’s property that has some nice character and has a bell set above the gate door – a very Southwest look. 

I shoot that a number of different ways, hoping I’ve chosen at least one good angle!  Onward I go…….I  turn on the main road just to get to the next small dirt road that will take me back to the bridge and the adobe ruin.  Just as I turn on that, I notice the church across from where I’ve turned.  I take a few shots of that, but I think those would be best against our New Mexico vivid blue sky, and we didn’t have that on that day.  Oh, well, shot it anyway and figured I’d come back to capture that again another day! 

I then started down the road I had turned down and found 2 other photo ops – an old general store type of building and another gate door leading into the side yard of the building next to the general store building. 

Very cool gate door and shot that several times as well.  I’m thinking some of these may make good photo paintings – we’ll see! 

I then drive over the little bridge I began my photo shoot with and ended up next to the adobe ruin.  A gentleman across the road from it was setting up a sign for the Artist Studio Tour which will begin the following day, smiled at me and said hi.  A simple act, but one that did me a world of good in terms of confirming the washing away of my negative thoughts and feelings and confirming that I was just fine stopping where I had to photograph that building.    

I walked up and in the remains of the building, trying to capture the character of this piece of not quite forgotten history.

As I drove home, still a bit tired, but in a much happier state of mind, I marveled at how doing what speaks to your soul is also good for anything else that ails you!

Fourth of July in October

A week or so ago, Jeff & I visited the 4th of July Canyon.  It’s the one place in New Mexico that has the perfect environment for great fall color, ala New England.  However, this year, due to the weather and some windy days, the great panoramas of brilliant color weren’t there to see – darn!  However, walking thru the woods a bit did offer some wonderful fall color.

Sometimes, that color was found at my feet!  The orange and gold leaf stood out against the dried out foliage on the ground.  Good-bye to summer and hello to a seasonal change.

New Mexico is known for its chilies, both red and green.  When you order both red and green chilies with a meal, it’s referred to as “Christmas”.  Well, I guess Christmas can also be found in the autumn colors of the leaves still remaining on the trees, too!

Red leaves are really one of the prime fall colors and this leave really was showing off its stuff.  Inadvertently, the colors of the leaves behind it truly highlighted it.

There was something about this leaf that appeals to me.  It just seemed to tell a tale about a long season, full of adversity, as evidenced by the holes in the leaves from one bug or another munching on it.  Yet, it stood firm and is giving forth its last valiant effort of an orange burst of color.

I love the lighting in this image.  The sun just seemed to pick this bunch of leaves to bring to someone’s attention via a natural spotlight.  The peacefulness that I felt walking thru the woods just seems to radiate from this image.

This bunch of leaves just seems to show all the phases of summer into fall.  We have the green of summer giving way to the gold and orange of autumn.  The leaves are losing their moisture and are drying and dying on the tree branch.  Soon, they will be on the floor of the forest, acting as insulation for plants for the upcoming winter.

But, autumn doesn’t give way to winter easily.  The brilliant color almost seems to be Nature’s way of burning the beauty of color into our brains so we don’t forget it over the winter.

I just love the way these leaves show off their remaining color – the warm autumn colors against a background of blue sky and still some green leaves on other trees.

I’ll end as I began – looking down for treasures!  And, I was rewarded by a butterfly that was willing to pose for me as he rested on the ground.  Until next spring, little guy!


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta - Morning Glow

One week day of the annual Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, Jeff & I got up in the middle of the night (or so it seemed!) to check out the mass ascension!  We got there in time to see the morning glow – when some hot air balloons fire their engines to do a warm air inflation before the sun rises.  They glow!  Take a look….
The challenge of these shots was that it was so dark, I couldn’t see anything.  I also had to hand-hold the camera, so the fact that the image is as clear as it is…was surprising to me!
Before the officials determine whether the balloons will be able to fly on any given day, a small number of hot air balloons take off to check out the wind speed and currents - the Dawn Patrol.  One of the things that makes Albuquerque so great for hot air ballooning is that there are frequently what are called “box winds”.  A box wind occurs when the air current flows one way at one altitude and then the opposite way in another altitude.  In the case of Albuquerque, when the balloons take off, they fly south.  After a while, they fire up the engine that blows hot air into the balloon.  Since hot air rises, the balloon will rise to a higher altitude, where the air current flows in a northerly direction.  The balloon will then fly back in the direction from where it originated.  In a perfect world, the balloon could land in the same spot from which it took off; but that doesn’t happen very often!
One last look – a little closer to the balloons – of the morning glow.  We were lucky this day.  At first, it seemed like it would be too windy for the balloons to fly.  Things were delayed for a little over an hour, but then the green flag was raised, and let the inflation begin!!  More in another post!



Early Morning at Balloon Fiesta

Yea!!  The balloons were given the green flag, and let the inflation begin!  Here are some sights from the field where the balloons were inflating and taking off….
At the beginning of each day, the Star Spangled Banner is sung and the first balloon up carries the American flag.  Lovely morning sight…..
It was a very cool sight to see the American flag balloon flying into what looked like the sun!  Doesn’t this image give you a sense of the freedom that the balloonist must feel as he/she floats above the fray?
One of the great things about this hot air balloon gathering is that the general public gets to be down on the field next to the inflating balloons.  As I looked around at all the balloons that were beginning to inflate, I noticed this little girl meeting what I’m guessing is her first hot air balloon, up close and personal!  Only one of many fun moments at the Fiesta!


Inflation at the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta!

I decided to take advantage of my close proximity to the balloons inflating to try to document the inflation process…..sort of!
The first set of balloons to inflate is the balloons that are connected to the companies that provide hot air balloon rides.  The baskets that the folks are in are much larger than the baskets the other balloonists have – I have heard that about a dozen passengers and pilot are in these baskets, shoulder to shoulder.  The other balloonists refer to these as cattle cars.  As the balloons inflate, there is someone who pulls on a sort of guide rope, to help keep the balloon in line so the inflation occurs correctly.  I was able to get this shot and found the arms on this guy incredible – they were immense!!!
The more normal sized balloons start out looking like this.  The folks working on spreading out the envelope (as the balloon portion is called) are unraveling and unfolding the envelope to get ready for the cold air inflation.  The cold air inflation involves running big, huge fans and holding open the bottom portion of the envelope so that the folds of the envelope can slowly open.
Here’s a fun shot of inside a hot air balloon during the cold air inflation!
Once the envelope is sufficiently open using only cold air, then the balloon pilot fires up the engine (literally) to get some warm air into the envelope so that the balloon not only inflates, but then rises up from the ground.  I was able to stand about 10 feet away, so I got a good view of the flame firing into the inside of the envelope!
Once there’s enough hot air in the balloon, it tips up.  At this point, the crew begins to act as anchors to help keep the basket centered and upright.
This is not an image of the balloon that’s been inflating, but it’s a great shot of what this stage of the inflation looks like. The pilot is scrambling to get into the basket and the crew is working to keep it down on the ground.
Once the balloon gets the ok to lift off from the Zebra (official who controls the ground – dressed in stripes), the crew steps aside and the balloon lifts off.  As you can see, thee balloons are much smaller than the “cattle car” balloons!
And, here they are – airborne!!  Love the colors!


Colorful Balloon at the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

I really love the colorful balloons at Fiesta!  Check them out –

One of the really cool things is that the balloons inflate right next to each other, appearing to sort of bump into each other as they inflate.  The bright colors are so happy looking!

Sometimes all the bright colors can be found in one balloon – flying high!!

In this shot, they look like they are tumbling dice!  Such fun shots!!

I love this image!  It’s sort of an abstract piece.  As a very colorful balloon flew overhead, I shot upwards and caught the firing in the center of this abstract art!