Thursday, September 24, 2015

Week 38 - 2015 in Photographs

Day 260

Mother Nature gets top billing this week. Beginning with double rainbows so close to my house even my wide angle lens did not include them in their entirety. I did get all the bands of color at the apex of the inner bow. Never have seen so many bands on a rainbow before.

Day 261

And the colors of this rock in the Red River. And the little oasis of moss and grass growing in the crevices of the rock stood out against the white froth of the cascade beyond it.

Day 264

 The arc of the Enchanted Circle from Angel fire to Questa moves around the highest points in the state. They are eye catching on the best of days but quite frankly I love them most when there are clouds and shadows and rising fog. All the elements came together Tuesday including the first glimpses of color toward the top when the sun hit it just right. The others on the highway probably thought I was crazy given the number of times I pulled off the road to take another photo. 

Day 262

I have caught glimpses of the hidden cliff in between folds of mountain ridges, but on this particular day the sun breaking through clouds highlighted it like a mystical Brigadoon emerging from the rising mists. I could not pass up a single opportunity to capture this secret cliff and valley.

Day 266
The early morning jaunt over to Questa to the dentist office revealed the sun light breaking through the clouds and illuminating the cliff face normally missed because of the drama of the crest of Wheeler Peak. A few miles down the road I took another picture of this cliff nestled between peaks.

I always allow extra time to drive anywhere. You have to factor in camera time.

And at the computer when I got home I played with black and white to see if I could bring out more details from my photos taken with my long lens using the car as a tripod.

Day 266 in Black and White.

Day 265
Hondo burn scar

I still arrived in Questa early. I used to live there. I moved within months of the Hondo Fire which burned for 22 days within a half mile of my house. That was 17 years ago and the forest still has not recovered. The fire burned so hot it scorched the earth down three feet.

Day 263

To end this blog on a more colorful note I have posted Day 263 last. Fall brings color on the hills but before they peak it seems the colors in the clouds do. Been a great week for photography in the highlands.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

May 286 - Shadow

Image by Tess Kincaid

There is this veil 
a shadow

A film

In silence
it reveals itself

And then
it is


J. Binford-Bell
September 2015

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Thunder Run

Thunder Run
20 x 30 Mixed Media on Artists Canvas $1500

I became aware of the Salt River Wild Horses and their plight on the Tonto National Forest in Arizona just recently. The Salt River Wild Horses come under the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. This act was to protect all wild horses and burros on public lands but it also put the Bureau of Land Management as manager of these herds. And made no allowances for them on National Forest Land. Horses are seldom respectful of boundaries, imagined or fenced. 

Wild horses are not indigenous to America. Most of the mustangs on public land are descendants of horses brought over by the Spanish Conquistadors. The Salt River Wild Horses are, however, not mustangs. They have been living on the lower Salt River since well before the Tonto National Forest was created in 1902. An Arizona Champion newspaper article, dated January 25, 1890, and in the Arizona State Archives, classifies horses in the Salt River Valley as "native stock." 

Mustangs have been a subject of several paintings and when I discovered pictures of the Salt River Horses on the internet I had to paint them. I began working on a sketch which would involve horses, water, reflections and an approaching storm. Allegorically the storm is the plight facing these wild horses if the Tonto National Forest isn't stopped from their plan to round up and sell or kill them.

Drawing transferred and sky filled in

Any time I venture into new territory a painting takes longer. I do not work with a preliminary color cartoon like some painters. This canvas which is 20 x 30 could be considered my study for larger paintings on this subject. And watercolor canvas is a lot more forgiving than paper.

Foreground floated in

I also love the effect of floating in colors on an area of the canvas covered with water. It gives a great watery feel which was perfect for the Salt River in this painting. The rainbow colors also represent a hopefully better future for the wild horses. 

Horses and splashes blocked in

In past paintings of mustangs the horses themselves are main color focus but I chose to represent the horses as closer to their true colors since I was taking liberties with the water.

Clouds too complex and Splashes not done

The wild horses are taking definition but the clouds have too much. At this stage I was also not that happy with the splashes. Of all the elements in this painting the splashes were the most difficult. And yet I saw them as one of the major parts of the painting. The clouds were stealing the show. I simplified the clouds and put some purple in them and the splashes. Water is not just white even when splashed. And when they were too white they stopped the action.

Last, of course, is always the signature ravens. I debated where to put them. They are fleeing the storm as are the wild horses.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Week 37 - 2015 in Photographs

Day 253
Yes, another sunflower

This week was all abut color. It just seemed to be everywhere. Fall has arrived. It is a shift in the winds. A new freshness to the air. And above all a clarity of light. No freezes yet. The days are still wonderful with a sweater in the mornings and evenings. Great to be out an about with a camera or a mower.

Day 254
Even the air seemed to be yellow

The grasses are getting gold  and there is just a hint of what the aspens will become soon. And the yellow of flowers just everywhere.

Day 255

And the sunsets are more brilliant. Or so it seems. The photo above was not even facing west where the sun sets. But all the clouds to the south and east caught the red and orange of the setting sun.

Day 256

I love umbrellas. Especially colorful ones. This picture of three of them on the deck in a shop area in Angel fire was impossible to resist. And the straw flower below looks like a mini version of colorful umbrella. Or are they copying the flowers? We have had an awesome wild flower summer but the last few blooming have caught my attention more. Maybe because they have no competition.

Day 257

Since we are talking fall I thought I would throw in an early aspen photograph. You can see the yellow grasses and the hint of gold in the background aspens. No gold on the major subject but the leaves have taken on that color just before they will turn gold.

Day 258
There was a crooked tree

And to cap the week off another sunflower. This one was a volunteer from the winter bird seeds. And a bee posed right in the middle almost as if basking in the sun it reflects.

Day 259

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Mag 285 - Doll House

Forgotten in the barn
Image Provided by The Mag 285

The treasured toy
Abandoned in the chicken coop
With all the other stuff
she once loved
like the dresser she painted pink.

When she left
They removed all the things
which reminded them
of her life
she removed them from mind.

The doll house 
was empty of all the furniture
and the house
where she had lived
just as empty.

The worldly goods
of her family now stood
arranged by strangers on the front lawn.
Estate Sale

J. Binford-Bell
September 2015

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Week 36 - 2015 in Photographs

Day 246

I thought for a while it was going to be a black and white week. First three are. It was largely due to the smoke from the west coast fires being blown in to the state. No it did not turn all the colors off, but it took the blue out of the skies. Landscape photos with white skies just are not good. Black and white seemed to solve that issue. And framing the shot or cropping it to minimize or eliminate skies. It was days of smoky skies.

Day 247

Fortunately I have become a lot more comfortable with black and white post processing. And even without noisy, or cloud filled skies, I managed.

Day 248

Day 249 was an attempt to work with color on the same grey day as the photos above. A filter I love using on old cars managed to get some blue in the sky.

Day 249

And the skies at dawn are not that blue to begin with. But dawn was when they were most likely to have some blue in them because the smoke laid down and became haze in the valleys. Day 250 was taken on the Road to Raton to drop off paintings at the International Bank Exhibit. I always allow enough travel time to stop and take pictures when going somewhere.

Day 250

Then there is the approach of using the gray skies to your advantage. They do take distracting details out of the background like the mountains barely visible in this truck photo. I obscured them even more with a vignette treatment. I very much like this handling of an old International truck I have photographed before at the Eagle Nest Museum. It did require getting down on the ground for the angle. Aah, the sacrifice us photographers make.

Day 251

If the blue goes out of the sky it goes out of the reflections of the sky as well but not as much. In my years of doing pond reflections I have found the sky reflected in the water is almost always more blue than the sky itself so I seldom take photographs with the sky and the water in them. The haze did seem to fog the reflection so I worked with that and minimized the saturation of this photograph. It brought out the ripples made by a fish breaking the surface. This was how I worked up to black and white originally. It gives the photo an aged look I quite like.

Day 252

The smoke is now gone so bright colors will be more featured in the coming week of photographs. Check daily posts out at Binford-Bell Studio.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Mag 284 - The Back Way

The Mag 284

The Back Way

Grandad called it
the back road.
Her father referred to it
as the highway.
Always with a grin.

A road only
in the days of horses.
Now the stile
was used more 
than the gate.

The back way in
she always called it
The long way between
her house
and his.

The thinking way
Lots of time to ponder
the error
of her ways
as she walked.

It had been years
but it seemed right
to walk the lovers' lane
to his wake
one last time.

J. Binford-Bell
September 2015

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Week 35 - 2015 in Photographs

Day 239
Eddy on Cimarron Creek

This week included more time devoted to photography. Not just click and run. And while you sometimes capture great pictures that way a concentrated period of time with camera in hand is by far the best approach to learning something while taking pictures.

Opening a computer folder with 100 or more digital images and doing that three or four days in a roll gives you perspective but not necessarily that many more good photographs. A former friend that worked for National Geographic as a photographer told me in the days of film that if you get one good image out of 36 you are an excellent photographer. That was my goal for a long time. Digital through that yardstick out the window on one level but it also put the photographer back in the darkroom if you will.

When I took Photography 101 in college we had a darkroom for our black and white photography. We had complete control of our images. Then along came color and who could afford their own color darkroom. You had to have an intimate relationship with your film processor. Digital gave us a dry darkroom and control of our images again. But still I think if there are three photographs on an average out of 100 you want to spend time with in that dry darkroom you are doing good.

But there are bonanza weeks where your eye, the light, and the subjects available seem to be magic. But even when that is not the case you need to review the photos which did not work and come up with why they did not work. Yes, it is no longer a matter of wasting expensive film but it is part of becoming a better photographer.

Day 240
Coneflower and beetle

 The wet year has certainly given me ample time to learn to photograph sunflowers. And try to come up with unique approaches. I had announced to a photography friend I was out with that I was taking no more photographs of sunflowers. She saw me aiming at the one in the photo I said I was photographing the bug. But this also is not a sunflower but a yellow wild coneflower.

Day 241
Remains of hotel at old Stage Coach stop
Dawson, New Mexico

It is always nice to have new subjects to photograph but familiarity also makes for better photographs. Definitely want to revisit the stage coach stop and also Ojo Caliente and retake the same images but at a different time of day or from another angle.

Day 242
Latia fence at Ojo Caliente

Adobe walls and vigas are familiar architectural elements, however. And because the were familiar I wanted to try a couple different treatments in that dry darkroom. I think I am more fond of the black and white.

Day 243
Shadows and light

But the sepia with a more generous crop makes the building look older. It is a new building built in the old style.

Day 244
Sepia treatment

 But we stayed in the historic hotel where the aim was to keep the historic look but in the renovation and in the photographs. Upon return I want to spend more time with the details of the old hotel.

Day 245
Chair at the end of the hall