Saturday, January 3, 2015

Buildings and Walls 2014

Las Vegas, New Mexico

I love photographing buildings and walls. They are the urban cliff walls. And in places such as off the plaza in Las Vegas, New Mexico they tell stories of not just the era in which they were built but the lives they sheltered after that, the hopes of the people who loved then and began the process of restoration.

In towns such as Las Vegas, New Mexico and Trinidad, Colorado they tell of richer days and crafts and skills lost. I see my recording of these buildings as preservation of their memories. I often joke that the bulldozer is under appreciated as a remodeling tool in northern, New Mexico, but it is also true we often torn down our history to make way for the "new and improved."

Trinidad, Colorado

The buildings pictured above are often those people want to raze to put in the new. And the one below which is an adobe building in Cimarron the new folk in town want to save. But these three all come from roughly the same time. They were all built and loved when the Santa Fe trail was new and the railroads were moving into town. Sadly for all three renovation often means just a new coat of paint.

Cimarron, New Mexico

Belfry of San Francisco de Assi in Ranchos de Taos

Adobe churches are, however, lovingly restored by the parishioners, and since the advent of National Historic Landmarks overseeing the process, in keeping with the original structure. But every once in a while pipes or tie bars have to be added to preserve the structure. Adobe is mud and mud melts in the rain. This picture of the church often photographed by Ansel Adams was taken in the rain. The adobe walls with the straw are wet and reveal a texture the tourist does not see on a sunny New Mexico Day.

Entrance San Francisco de Assi Mission

I began studying church architecture of New Mexico when in the Fine Arts program at University of New Mexico. I did not begin photographing them until about ten years ago when I would use the photographs as a basis for paintings. I am to introverted to set up an easel in a public plaza to paint. Besides Water colors dry to fast and the light can be too fleeting. This photograph of the reflection of the bell towers in a puddle caught a brief moment. The desert drinks the water from a chance rain very quickly.

Ansel Adams photographed this church a lot. It and he are partly known because of those photographs. His favorite angle was from the rear and I have believed he like that angle because it reminded him of the sheer canyon faces of Yosemite and other western parks like Arches and Canyonlands. In that way be are both a like. And it is why I photographed a modern building in Santa Fe when taking a friend to Eye Associates of New Mexico for cataract surgery. Later I would go myself. But the first time there I had three hours to kill which meant, of course, I had my camera.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

I took dozens of pictures of this building because its walls were a canvas for the light which played on them. These are just two of my favorite. And not just favorite building pictures but maybe favorites of the 365 photographs I took in 2014. They were included in the top 32 after all.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

So why does a photographer pick one picture over another? Good question. For me it is seldom tied up with technical perfection. Nor is it the magic of digital manipulation on the computer. In the photographs on this blog the most manipulation was color or saturation. Black and white is reducing saturation. And except for this last photograph I just tweaked the saturation a bit. Yes, people painting those buildings that color.  The first photograph has a polarizing filter and the second a enamel layer.

This last photograph really had the saturation played with. Adobe walls are amazing to play with in post processing. But heightened color was all. The outline of light on edges, the cracks in the stucco, and the orb were all there in the original digital record from the camera. Yes, sunspot from the sun striking the lens and filter of the camera, but those are usually hexagons.

So to answer the original question: why does a photographer pick one photograph over another? Combination of things would be the easy answer. The difficult one to get people to believe is, "when the magic happens." And you know you could go back to the same spot at the same time and not get the same picture.


  1. I love to Photograph architecture as well. These are great photos! Please visit me on my blog too - I am at http://www.

  2. Magic - so hard to define. Love your buildings & walls.


I appreciate all kind comments on my art and poetry.