Thursday, January 29, 2015

Week Four - 2015 in Images

Day 22

Finished up one painting this week, in the middle of a second, and just began a third yesterday. So my focus has been on painting. And my morning outings as been with the dogs and not the camera. There is a major snow storm moving in so all the same scenes will be new again. Snow changes things. Including mood and desire to take the camera out. January thaw continues on the whole. But then there was the day it didn't snow here but just on the high mountains.

Day 23

Everyone is probably getting tired of the snow capped peaks where I live. They often look rather stock photoish to me, but I admit to being overly fascinated with them this winter. Trying to come up with the perfect stock photo I suppose. I have found different places to take pictures from of this highest part of New Mexico. The camera has not gone on walks but it has gone on drives. No worries about snow or chuck holes with Big Blue.

Day 24

My camera's main focus this week has been is-it-done-yet photographs of paintings. Feeling guilty I took some extra time on the computer to post process a couple previous photos I took like this still life above. Or the water in the Rio Grande below taken when I had to run to Espanola for some things.

Day 25

A fan on Binford-Bell Studio Page said it made her dizzy. I wanted to reply, "Yes. And your point?" But I just posted the water flat. Cropped the bank line out of this one below. The flat line of the bank can be rather static even in a non-static body of water.

Day 26

Definitely a hodgepodge week with photographs. In part because I have designated next week as black and white so some of the photos taken this week are going to be seen next. And some of them posted this week were from last. I did a blog on Sidetracked Charley about the Creative DSLR Selfie and the photograph below is the lead selfie of those.  

Day 27
The creative selfie is suppose to say something about who you are. So a shadowy me before the reflection of a map where I live and the landscape I so often photograph behind me says a lot. But even people without cameras make statements about themselves in various ways. Decorating your space is one of those. If you do not hire a decorator. I rarely take portraits of people partly because where I live people are seldom in the scenes I focus on. My portraits of people are often their unconscious creations be it what they hang on their walls or leave in their yards like old and rusty cars.

Day 28

Sunday, January 25, 2015


Visual Prompt Provided by Magpie Tales


She whispered
to the dark shadow


She spoke
to the sense of doom


She said 
to death entering her

am not ready
to die.

J. Binford-Bell
January 2015

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Week Three - 2015 in Images

Day 15
In the midst of January thaw

January thaw is on. Or still was this last week. Note the absence of a snow cap on the mountain. It made the weather great for getting out with the camera. I was really on a trek to find ice to capture when I took this photo. Coyote Creek is nearby this area which stood in for Montana during the filming of Lonesome Dove.

Day 16
Suspended in time

This melting ranch house from the early settlement days in Black Lake has been slowly melting into the field. The outhouse, however, seems to be doing quite well. If you look closely hidden in the tree line are the newer homes.

Day 17
The old root cellar
No snow this last week but a freezing fog. It creates a fairly land frost on objects and the picture above was really about the Ponderosa pine and the frost on the long needles. I didn't even get out of the car for this photo. Just rolled down the window. Not lazy but wanted the extra height the pick up gave me to zero in on the pine needles. Sometimes you can get so focused in on one object you miss what is in the background until you are home and the photos are on the computer. The post processing era says we can crop or clone out anything not wanted, but in this photo nothing was not wanted.

Day 18

This picture was about the condensation on the inside of the green house. I loved the pattern it created. The geranium is just foreground interest. Not everyone is totally into abstract textures and patterns. I reduced saturation on this photograph so the bright pink flowers did not distract from my precious patterns of condensation.

Day 19

Day 19 is another frost photograph. But I was also very much attracted to the pattern of melting snow. This little valley collects snow and so the January thaw does not hit it as hard. But the edges are melting around the pond and the streams which pass into it. It was a nice background to the frosted aspens.

Day 20

Frozen fog seems to just kiss certain branches. I was drawn to squat down and photograph this isolated low fir tree branch. No other part of the tree was so blessed. And I loved the contrast with it and the old trunk. Only processing was to use a vignette focus to highlight the center of the composition.

Day 21
Search for the creative SLR Selfie

When I encounter a reflective surface I must photograph it. I am still in search of the ultimate creative selfie using an SLR camera but I also greatly love reflections found in ponds and mirrors and glass usually without me in it. With this one I was actually looking to get the forest reflection in these windows. There is a triangulation formula I am told. But when I am out with my camera I am totally in my right brain. One of the reasons I do not make a great technical photographer. You will not find me out on a cold night doing star tracks across the sky with an app on my smart phone.

This photograph which captured me and not the forest could be called a failure. I think I needed to be on the frozen pond to get the angle I wanted. But do you see the ghost to my right?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Dance

The Couple prompt Mag 254

He swayed
into the kitchen
grabbed her 

Off balance
she turned 
to avoid

He reeked 
of alcohol 
off balance

She asked
herself yet again
why had she

Jacqui Binford-Bell

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Week Two - 2015 in Images

Day 8

I began the week with color. January can be so grey sometimes. But then a freezing fog turned the drabness to a fairy wonderland and I got drawn back into landscape. So it is a mixed bag this week: three for color and four landscapes.

I toyed around with making the photo below more colorful and there is even a black and white version. I have watched the sun hit this corner for a couple weeks. I liked the strong bands of light intermixed with the textures of the wicker and the pillow. This particular post processing solution seemed to bring out those bands of light most and add to the contemplative nature of the Buddha.

Day 9

Freezing fog  produces ice crystals on the branches and needles of the trees. And causes ice crystals to fall from blue skies. It is a fleeting effect, and does not form evenly. I am unsure as to why it will be on one side of a tree and not another. But I do know once the sun is up and fully on the ice it melts. I love the forecast of a freezing fog.

Day 10

I have used these two colorful chairs as props for orchid pictures. But on this particular day as I was re-positioning them  to serve that purpose I decided they enjoyed their own moment in the spot light.

Day 11

Pet sitting is my "day job." It fills in the bare spots in the art market. And it gets me out of the house with my camera when I might just sit at home and brood on winter days. Sometimes I quickly attend to my furry charges and go home, but others are just too fine to not take Big Blue on an outing. And so the landscape photographs.

Day 12

Since the landmarks are the same I try for a different take on the scenery. I had on the long lens for this photograph and the last one for the week. I thought of switching to the wide angle but stopped myself. Why not an up close and personal view of the mountains that surround me. I like the results on Old Mike and Wheeler. Day 14 is Touch Me Not. The sky was boring but the hills brushed with the freezing fog were great.

Day 13

Why day 13 did not get posted with the other freezing fog photos is the barb wire in the foreground. Oh, yes I could have cloned it out but then why not clone out the snow fence. It was when debating that I realized both of them echoed the slant of the tree line in the distance. And it is a perfect illustration of the freezing fog only effecting parts of the tree and a portion of all the trees. And who says every photo I post in the 365 Day challenge has to be perfect. They are instead illustrations of the steps in my learning process.

Day 14

Tomorrow begins Week 3. Stay tuned day by day at Binford-Bell Studio's Page.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Week One - 2015 in Photos

Day One

Beginning of a new year of 365 Photography Challenge. Still time to begin your own challenge. A great way to keep your eye sharp and your camera within easy reach. And try to keep up your enthusiasm in January.

Day Two

When I need color I just go to photographing cars, tractors and green house flowers. But there have been some great epiphanies with trees this winter. I find when I feel reluctant to aim and shoot it is time to push, stop and take a few more minutes to find the beauty in a stark winter scene. Easy with snow. Especially the fairyland snow of Day Three.

Day Three

But when the snow has gotten glossy, the ponds frozen, the skies grey, and the trees bare of even a bird it is a bit harder to keep up my enthusiasm. That said the following photographs of winter trees have been rewarding. Love particularly Day Four with the grey skies, and stark outlines of branches and trunks.

Day Four

Day Five was a lone Aspen trunk against a stucco wall with snow falling. And I was in a I-need-color mode. Posted directly below it is the original photo. One of the things I want to do in the 365 Day Challenge for 2015 is randomly post the original of a modified photograph.

Day Five

Original of Day Five

And once a month I want to focus on a subject for the majority of the week. This week was trees and the shadows they cast as in Day Six below. Winter gives us long and dark shadows especially of the melt and freeze slick coating of old snow in the woods. Trees are five of this week's seven.

Day Six

In January we have only gotten slight changes of some snow but the photo below was taken the morning after a 10% chance of 1/2 inch of snow max. I really liked the results because the little bit of snow does not hide the skeleton of the trees. And on the morning I took Day Seven it was clearing but also still snowing. The air seemed to sparkle.

Day Seven

If you want to get in on the process one day at a time check out Binford-Bell Studio on Facebook.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Stand Alones of 2014

Pastel Sky

Assembling paintings for my solo showing in Trinidad, Colorado this last July I had to step back and judge my own work on a new level - inclusiveness. The exhibit was about more than 45 paintings. It was about 45 paintings which belonged together.

With the 365 Day Photographic Challenge it is about picking one photo which merits being the best for that one day. And then in this process of doing a recap on the best of those 365 it was about putting seven or eight photographs together on a blog. Photographs which belonged together because of subject or as an example of getting lucky. The photographs in this blog are examples of the art I would have left behind when doing the solo show this summer. Great photos but they just do not belong with the others.

Pastel Sky is a great dawn photo but it is pastel. It stands out among all my other dawn pictures because it is a different color. The photograph below is a more "normal" dawn at my house. But when I first posted it a photography friend told me I should not over saturate. Made it look fake. I didn't play with the colors on either of these two photographs. If you hung them together on a wall everyone would assume one was a post processing lie. The exhibit would be about that and not the other work.

Red Sky at Dawn

With a large segment of my photographs I just adjust for brightness and shadow. Maybe tweak the contrast a bit. But I also really like going all out on post processing. Painting with digital filters and effects. Like the bowl of fruit in the sun below. The photograph was taken from the interior of the room and back toward the direct light streaming through the windows. What my first photography instructor (and maybe every one since) told me not to do.

Not having to pay for every shot in cost of film and processing frees up the creative side. When I got my first digital camera it took me a long time to get over the "worshiping the shot" mentality. I loved the light and colors on these orbs, and the original is not bad but by playing with enhancement of colors and highlights the tomatoes began to look like glass so I used an enamel filter. I guess it fits in the category of still life but this was not my year to do those. Lots of still life studies in the 2013 365 day challenge.

Fruit Bowl

The next three photographs would fit into a category called reflections, but while reflections remained a favorite in 2014 I also began to regard them as ordinary and so fewer made it to the post a day. The photograph below was of my new-to-me truck. There is something about its teal blue color and the tint of the windows which turns it into a mirror. This is not a photograph of my truck but of my back yard reflected on my truck.

Big Blue as Mirror

Just like this isn't a picture of a pink dress on display in a window but of Main Street Trinidad where this window is. It has won an award in an exhibition and two prints of it have sold. One on metal and another on metallic paper. It is available for sale on my artist's site of Fine Art America. Print number one is hanging in my studio in Black Lake, New Mexico.

Main Street Reflections

Of all the pond reflection pictures I took this year this one made the cut and it isn't even a great reflection but it is a marvelous photograph of the surface of a pond being rippled by a faint breeze. Okay, maybe you have to be a photographer to be thrilled by that.

Trees of Water

Photographers are also thrilled by old trucks. And New Mexico has a lot of old trucks. A lot of them still run but a lot have become lawn ornaments. The one below is at Eagle Nest Museum. I like this picture because like the first truck picture I ever took it is just part of the truck. It is truck as sculpture.

The Old International

If I went back several years there would be enough umbrella pictures for their own blog. Not sure why I like umbrellas, but this is the one for this year. Maybe it is another photographer thing again


The 365 Day challenge for 2015 has begun. Visit Binford-Bell Studio for daily posts.

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.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Top Landscapes of 2014

Herd Before the Storm

I consider myself primarily a landscape photographer. And I live in an area with fantastic natural beauty. So out of the 365 days of posts a large percentage were landscapes. Those which made up one of the 365 for 2014 were culled from an even larger amount photographs taken. The six photographs included in this blog I consider special for one reason or other. The first photograph could be just another picture of clouds. And I have so many pictures of clouds. The combination of clouds with the herd and the light created a great photograph. Even the slant of the land and the bit of snow fence added to an otherwise ordinary picture.

If you live in the Enchanted Circle of northern New Mexico you are definitely familiar with Old Mike's and Wheeler Peak, the two highest points in the state. Needless to say these two peaks are photographed a lot. Old Mike's in the predominate mountain in this photograph and the all white tiny point to its left is actually the taller Wheeler Peak. The aspects of this photograph, which to me, make it special among the dozens I took in 2014 are the early fall snow, the patch of golden aspens on the foot hills, the clouds, and the play of light and shadows.

But especially important was the point of view. This photo was taken on a walk up the hill from my house. It is not just the mountain but the grass meadow, the near by forest, the distant hills, and the mountain all of which adds to the feeling of distance and size. And to me the mountain itself has great mass when not entirely covered in snow. The early fall snow left the rock structures of the Sangre's not only visible but defined. And, the morning light on the pines helps too.

The Top of the Sangre de Cristos

Ansel Adams said a great photograph was about being in the right place. I would add, at the right time. On a drive back from Albuquerque a friend and I stopped at the top of the Horseshoe turn at the Taos Volcanic Plateau overlook because of smoke rising from a prescribed burn on the distant Apache Reservation to the west. The smoke had drifted into the plateau and filled up the Rio Grande Gorge which splits the plateau.

Here again an often photographed subject by tourists, professional photographers and myself. I have always been rather disappointed at the results. I figured with the smoke this was not destined to be satisfying but, heck, it is digital and I do not have to pay for film or developing so I snapped a few of the smoky gorge. The resultant images were colorless enough that I wondered what they would look like in black and white. And got this great image. The smoke defined the gorge rim and added to the perceived depth of the canyon. BTW it is about 400 to 600 feet deep at this point along its course. It also increased the reality of distance often flattened by full sun.

The Crack

The photograph below was taken in the neighborhood. It is a road I often take. And too often stop to photograph. But an 18 inch snow storm transformed this road through the woods. And the long winter shadows of the morning added to the depth. Never neglect the familiar.

The Road Often Taken

I loved these rocks on a sandstone bluff near Aztec, New Mexico. There they were with no other rocks around. The sandstone underneath them had been worn away by wind and rain to leave these former cap stones stranded. But all the photos seemed ordinary until I tried one on the slant. It is one of my favorite landscapes of the year but obviously impressed nobody else.


While the photograph below turned out to get more likes than any other posted from that same trip. It was for me a "throw away." One of those photos you take just to prove you were there. Or in the old film days to take the one more photo on the roll so you can reload the camera in case a herd of elk come over the hill.


In fact, I did not originally even post it as one of the 365 photos for 2014, but to my Back Country Page on Facebook.  When it proved so popular I had to take a second look at this abandoned homestead outside Pagosa Springs. All I remembered were the weeds (thistle) and prairie dog holes. And that I did not want to walk through either to get a better angle or close up on the buildings. But time and distance from the subject revealed the composition and clouds and shadows and light which made it a good photograph.

Tip: Don't consider only your opinion.

All these photographs are for sale. Many are featured on Fine Art American site.