Friday, December 25, 2015

Week 51 - 2015 in Photographs

Day 351
 This is a just the details collection of photographs. Yes, you can get tired of taking scenic landscapes and need a break. Plants or portions of plants figure highly. And while photo 351 looks like a pot the picture is really about the crack.

Day 352

Day 352 is reflected light on a stucco wall in a green house. It seemed to have a plant like feel too it. But it was a green house without the banana leaves featured below.

Day 353
 I love banana leaves. Especially with droplets of water on them. Such interesting textures and patterns.

Day 354

Day 355
 And as the new leaves unroll they can become sculptures in their own right.

Day 356

Sword plants are a very different leaf but they cast some very delicate shadows against textured stucco walls.

Day 357

Stucco walls provide wonderful texture. In fact they are a key element of four of this week's photographs.

And on to the last week of the year. And the process of selecting out the best 365 photographs for an end of the year blog. If you have your favorites of this past year please make a comment to help me with my selections.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Magpie 299 - So long, Farewell

Visual prompt by Magpie Tales

He was off
So long

Til' later
she mumbled.
Gave him
a kiss.

A once 
we were more 
than friends

could not wait
didn't walk to the gate.
The car idled
in the unloading area.
Her friends awaited her.

didn't hang on.
Didn't squeeze her 
against him.
It was so long, farewell, goodbye 
for both of them
They just didn't say it in words.

J. Binford-Bell
December 2015

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Week 50 - 2015 in Photographs

Day 344

Comes now that interesting time when I try to make sense of the photographs of the last week. Or consequently the mind set I was in when I took them, saved them, post processed them and subsequently posted them. If it is possible to divine all that.

Photography is probably first a method of recording. Painting held the artistic notch in visual media. And in the earliest stages it recorded the static. Long exposures made it a difficult art for people. The first surviving photograph was taken by Joseph Nicephone Niepce in 1826 or 1827. It was of the view from his upstairs window at his estate, Le Gras, in the Burgundy region of France. As you would assume he took numerous exposures in various lights.

The one he showed the world was called The View from the Window at Le Gras. We have to take him at his word about it being his first. I would image he tossed quite a few before. And several after.

But I digress. I was trying to explain what was going through my mind this week when I was out and about with my camera, then at my computer post processing. And why three of my four posts this week are ice. I do not have Niepce's excuse that the camera was not very portable. We make them that way now. But he didn't with a still life of his desk. Out his window had to be better light. Or maybe just "because it was there." A quote often attributed to George Mallory in the New York Times article about climbing Mount Everest.  

I first began taking photographs of the strange shapes in the ice on the ponds, because they were there.  And it was strange. And oddly beautiful. When I first ever encountered this odd occurrence I attributed it to kids throwing rocks. But I have made rather a study of it. It occurs mostly in the early winter when the ponds are going through a freeze and thaw cycle. It makes for thinner and thicker parts of the ice surface. And the lowering of the temperatures of the water freeze the various forms of botanical life in the pond. And then thaw them and freeze them again. In this process they out-gas and those gases push up the ice cracking it and breaking through in the thinner parts.

And it isn't just the spider web like cracks but frozen bubbles too.  They are also a bit of a challenge. You obviously cannot walk on the thin ice to get a better perspective. Or wade out or boat out. You are stuck on the shore. Might be a good subject for a drone.

Ice cracks are a subject of three of my photos this week. I will not confess to the number I took and trashed. I think the one below looks like a Hopi Shalako Kachina. 

Day 345

 I think I felt a bit guilt about my ice obsession, so I pointed my camera at the light on the trunks of the aspens on the hill above the pond. The light was beautiful.

Day 346

It is to be noted I took only one photograph of the trees. I guess I was in a bit of a strange place this last couple of weeks. Week 49 was all about trees. Just trees. And frankly I could have made this week all about ice. Just ice. But if you google images of first photograph you will find  Niepce took way more than one. Monet did waterlilies ad nausea so I am going to leave the subject of my mind set of late. Artistic license.

Which brings us to the still life with deer skull. It was a cold and blustery day and I was not going to be enticed out with my camera even at the prospect of more ice pictures. Sitting at my computer I dove into the dry darkroom and chanced upon the still life with deer skull. I will confess that two versions of this arrangement are not the only ones remaining on my computer. There is at least one black and white version. And one applying a filter called colored pencils.

The two posted here are the polar ends of my exploration. And my favorites. And there is a similarity between the antler shapes in the ice and my deer skull. I will leave that to those into Jung or Freud. 

Day 347

Day 348

Which brings us back to ice. A week of warm weather erased my ice surfaces and began the process all over again. This time with much thinner ice. I was enchanted. Ice, ice spiderwebs, and reflections all in one photo.

Day 349

And from the sublime to the ridiculous I give you exhaust stacks on a roof. I thought they looked like an army of versions of R2D2. 

Day 350

Remember I am an artist. We are all a little crazy.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Week 49 - 2015 in Photographs

Day 343

It was all about trees this last week of photographs. I love trees. Especially old trees. They are majestic overseers of life around them. And in them. At the top of the tree above is a red tail hawk. The oldest trees seem to get the hawks. Maybe because their top branches are taller or sparser. Or maybe they are just old friends. To date a tree you count the rings after it has died. But my sister and I found an approximation method based on the girth of the tree near the base. The Ponderosa Pine above is probably over 200. There is a tree across the street from my house, the Sentinel, which may be 300. Those familiar with my blogs have seen a lot of photographs of it.

Day 342

The same tree in the first photograph is in the background of the picture above clouded in freezing fog. The tree in the foreground has some issues, but it made it through another summer. It is also featured in the last photograph from another angle. And more heavily decorated in frost. The freezing fog is a major player in this week's photos. And no, they were not taken on the same day. It is a not an infrequent occurrence approaching winter in the mountains. I love the fairy tale appearance of frost on the trees and will rush out of the house with camera to catch it before the rising sun breaks through and melts it away.

Day 341

Aspens, sans their leaves, look marvelous in frost, so they get their pictures taken often by me when so dressed up. Aspen trees are seldom solitary as a grove is all one plant rather like a fairy ring of mushrooms. A family lives for just about 110 years I read. 

Day 340

When the freezing fog burns off there is brief time when the frost remains highlighting the tree branches against a blue sky. It is definitely one of those things you have to be in the right place at the right time.

Day 339

I would assume it is the moisture content of the air which determines the density of the frost, but it also seems that Ponderosas just make a better show of it. Maybe the long needles collect frost better. They come out of the fog looking like flocked Christmas trees.

Day 338

And put that against a clear blue sky it it is magic for a brief moment.

Day 337

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Week 48 - 2015 in Photographs

Day 335

 This week's posts are about snow and ice and frost. Next week will be all about trees in this winter weather.
As the year comes to a close I remembered I had promised a theme week now and then through the year. There have been a few but not as many as I had imagined. Maybe I will do better with that next year.

I am a landscape photographer living in the home of wondrous landscapes so focusing on the details has to be a deliberate aim. And I am definitely not a tripod photographer. My long lens does the best close ups oddly. Try not shaking when the temp is in the tens.

Day 330

But I really love this time of the year. The lakes are waxing and waning ice. The air and water crystal clear. And the snow provides less cluttered backgrounds.

Day 333

 The surface of the pond above was like glass until a breeze shivered the surface. It made for a better photograph. Below is the same pond from the opposite side. The stream coming in keeps the ice away. Love the details in this closeup. Essential photographic equipment, a good pair of snow boots. And more into winter the snowshoes come out.

Day 332

Day 331

 I have photographed these rolls of barbed wire before. But the remnants of snow and the light made this photo better than the others.

Day 334
 The patterns of ice formations and clear water was what I focusing on as I walked around the pond. The perspective of the hill made them more obvious. And the aspens framed the shot. It is one of my favorite photos of this particular shoot.

Day 336

And there is, of course, the required photograph of aspen trunks in black and white. I think the light made this one more special than most. I love aspen trunks. Maybe even more than I love the aspens in the fall with their glorious crowns. Still seeking the penultimate one.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Mag 296 - The Feast

Kitchen Scene by Joachim Buekelaer
Visual Prompt by Tess Kincaid

The manor house
filled with guests.
The kitchen
full of produce
and game.

The staff
tending to the guests.
The cook

All the recipes and menus
lost in his head.
to cook
for the feast.

J. Binford-Bell
November 2015

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Week 47 - 2015 in Photographs

Day 323
Ice house door
 New Mexico weather is fickle even in the high mountains. My father used to say about the weather here, "Wait ten minutes or drive ten miles and it will change."

The week these were taken Hurricane Patricia hit the western coast of Mexico and funneled tropical moisture into the mountains. It was met by a polar jet stream and became snow. As I write this it it is raining thanks to moisture from Hurricane Sandra. It is melting the last of this snow in these pictures before changing to snow late tonight.

I like the early snows. I know they will leave. And they are new. They cover, sometimes just briefly, the dried grasses of fall. And it must be said, they bring moisture. But for a photographer it is even more important that they bring new views to capture. I am especially fond of the ponds which seem to linger between ice and liquid, turning themselves into highly polished mirrors at times.

Day 324

No photo manipulation required for the reflection above. And the pond is mostly iced over but very, very thinly. A slight wind resulted in the frozen mosaic look. Only the half circle in the upper left is unfrozen. That unfrozen part and the grasses to its right will be featured in another photo. The same pond, on the same day, is the subject of the next two photographs also.

Day 325
 Standing in almost the exact same spot on the pond but looking to my right I captured this reflection. It had begun to snow again and I hoped the flakes would snow up against the dark trees. I generally do not flip reflections but snowed in later I was in a playful mood. I used a brush stroke filter, intensified the color just a bit and flipped. Monet.

Day 326

And Day 326 is the pool of unfrozen water from another angle. Closer it reveals another strip of unfrozen water along the shore. The highly reflective ice captures the rows of tall grasses in the snow. And what series of snow photographs is complete without a black and white of aspen trunks.

Day 327

Day 328
 Summer and fall are often too busy to play a lot with my photographs. But a cold winter morning is perfect to sit before the computer with hot coffee and a lap robe and play. Day 328 is a detail of a sculpture in a greenhouse. I was trying, and again failing at minimalism. In fact, I finally reached the conclusion that I just do not fit with that group so quit. My attempts, however, did give me some different perspectives on familiar territory. And it seemed to have sparked a certain sense of rebellion in me. I had posted Day 326 in the group on Facebook and was found wanting. Day 328 passed through my computer as a black and white with blurred edges and then got trashed for this rather over the top treatment.

The minimalism version of Day 329 fell to the same fate. Heavy brush stroke filter and tweaking the saturation and a Cezanne.
Day 329

I like black and white. Day 323 and Day 327 are naturals for black and white. But bold black and white. I am just not a minimalist.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Let Them Eat Cake

Magpie by Rubens Peale
Visual prompt by Magpie Tales: Mag 295

Let them eat cake
if you must,
but never
drink wine.

A drunken magpie
is a silly thing
rolling about
with his inebriated flock.

They will stuff themselves
on fermented
in the cider house.

They know no restraint
on cake or wine,
but after cake
they can still fly.

Feed them cake 
if you must,
but withhold hard cider
and leave no rotten apples about.

J. Binford-Bell
November 2015

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Week 46 - 2015 in photographs

Day 316

A whole week of horizontal image. And four out of seven images are animals in the neighborhood. And water, ice and snow. Sometimes a week of photos is not an exercise or project but just what presents itself when you have the camera in the car.

Day 317

These two rams made an appearance on the route I take to my dentist. They stopped traffic and posed. Quite a gift. They were guarding the ewes in photograph Day 320.

Day 318

The deer were up the street. And the iced over pond on a friend's land.

Day 319

Day 320

Day 321

The rains this year made for marvelous tall golden grass this fall. The snow this week covered it up.

Day 322

But snow makes for great photographs. It lends itself very well to black and white. So do big horn sheep.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Cat Kitchen
Image provided by Magpie tales


So much
to explore.
To slip around and in
and under.

her route carefully.
for the step
of the cook.

She knew
she should leave
go back upstairs
and pretend

So much
feline temptation
was hard to ignore.
which pot first?

J. Binford-Bell
November 2015

Friday, November 13, 2015

Week 45 - 2015 in Photographs

Day 309
The house down the road

They built it several years ago. It is a vacation home but as near as I can tell they never take vacations any more. While it is the newest house on my little country lane it seems to be the most haunted. And I seldom noticed it until this year. For reasons I cannot explain even to myself it does seem draw me these days. As it is at the end of the road it is where I turn around with the dogs on my morning walk. But I took this walk expressly to take this photo.

Day 310
Trick or Treat

As I have mentioned before the selfie with a DSLR camera isn't easy if you do not employ a tripod. I like reflections. Took this one around Halloween.

Day 311
Frost  on the Snow Fence

We have been enjoying Indian Summer weather with a tease about the approaching El Nino winter here and there. Sometimes I wish it would stay as just teases.

Day 312
Fall chores

If you have to put a color to Indian summer it is gold or yellow. Backhoe yellow? And the frosts make the ponds perfect mirrors some days. Not sure where the backhoe operator is. Maybe taking a break basking in the autumn sun. You really have to take advantage of such days.

Day 313
How tall does the grass grow

The wet summer made the grass grow. And the years of drought before this summer made me forget all the flowers and grasses and even weeds that grow on my property. I definitely forgot this grass which is as tall and taller than the snow fence. New Mexico plants are opportunists. The El Nino forecast means this grass will be back next year.

Day 314
The leaves of the flowering plum

When I first moved into my house almost twenty years ago I planted a flowering plum. It is probably marginal for this area and it has springs when the buds get frozen off before it flowers. And I planted it too close to the then little blue spruce which is now as tall as my two story house. But the conifer shelters it from the approaching winter winds. This year it has yet to lose its leaves which have been frost burnished to a wonderful patina.

All the photos this week are close to home. There was this book we had growing up that was about an adventure in the backyard. I guess it affected me more than I knew because there are weeks I and my camera can find all the entertainment we need without getting into the truck to take a trip. But the, as a friend pointed out, I live in paradise.

Day 315
Clouds on the hill

This photo was literally taken from my front porch. I live in a valley surrounded by hills and mountains and wind currents rising over the crest of mount mountain ridges often engage in cloud formations which are astounding even if you have studied clouds.