Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

A Natural Eye: The Summer Landscape, Part II

Black-eyed Susans
As you will recall from last week, we were photographing nature. Well, I did not have to go far to find some Black-eyed Susans (or a close cousin) growing on campus.

This was my self-assigned alternative photographic assignment — which was necessitated because I did not participate in the optional assignment on Wednesday morning. Most of the class awakened around 3:00 AM to go to a distant park for sunrise among ancient Native American cave dwellings. There was no way I could get up at 3:00 AM — so I declined, knowing that I could see their photos at our Thursday review session. But I still wanted photos to share too, so I started here

Unknown FlowersAnd during the afternoon when my sleepy classmates were taking naps, I went back to Big Tesuque at 10,000 feet elevation. On Tuesday, we had all gone uphill — so I decide to head downhill and found these beautiful flowers — and I have no idea what name they go by, but I suspect someone will let me know.

Red Spotted LeavesAs I continued to explore, Eddie's exercises of looking carefully at nature paid off. I spotted these leaves that had bright red spots on them. So I maneuvered my tripod (because the light was too dim to hand hold the camera) and eventually captured this image.

The spots just seemed out of place — like red confetti that had fallen on these leaves — and only these leaves. There were no other leaves on this bush or any other push that exhibited these spots.

I poked the spots with a stick and they would not move — they were part of the leaf. I could only guess that they were the result of a virus or cancer. Curious.

Melting BarkAs I continued downhill, I found this tree whose bark seemed to be melting — like the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz when dowsed with water — "I'm melting, I'm melting!"

Going further, I found the stream getting bigger than I had encountered uphill the day before — providing wonderful opportunities for more photos — including an opportunity for creativity, as suggested by our instructor. For the photo below right, I moved the camera in time with the water (using a slow shutter speed) to produce a very interesting abstract of moving water. Très cool, n'est-pas?

Water Motion

More Water Motion And again, at a different spot — same technique, different result. Equally cool!

Red Rock FlowersOn Thursday, we headed about an hour and a half drive north of Santa Fe to the Red Rock area near Mount Pedernal (made famous in many paintings by Georgia O'Keeffe). It rained all the way up there and photography did not look promising. However, by the time we arrived, it had slacked off then quit raining altogether.

Of course, when you combine water and dry soil and you get mud. One of the best photos of the week was one of boots caked with red mud.

But the hardships were worthwhile as we spread out and found subjects for our photographs. I started with this profusion of tiny flowers.

Flowers in Motion

And then I found this plant — some sort of grassy thing — but notice how it looks like it's in motion. Very interesting what you find when you start looking.

Red Rocks And I promised you red rocks and here I give you red rocks. The soil and rocks are a rather bright rusty red. At the same time there are other colors of plants, strata and sky that break up the monotony

Struggling TreesWindswept Tree The area receives little rainfall and plants have hard time making a living. Small pine trees seem to grow from cracks in the rocks...and in odd wind-swept shapes...

Even Stranger Barkwith really strange bark and wood shapes.

Strange Rock But the strangest thing we found was this huge rock with the strangest erosion pattern I have ever seen. From a distance, I thought there were sticks on top of the rock, the arrangement suggested an old structure perhaps constructed by Native Americans for a ceremony of some sort. However, it is apparently due to different materials in the rock that eroded at different rates. Very strange.

Another great week in Santa Fe with another great instructor (thank you Eddie), a terrific classroom assistant (thank you Rick) and wonderful classmates. This is beginning to sound redundant but quite honestly, the SFW classes have been one of the greatest experiences of my life. And I do believe that my photography has improved as a result. I hope that those of you who also dabble in photography can treat yourself to a session at the Santa Fe Workshops — it is a special place which will enrich you in so many ways.

Last but not least — if you have a broadband Internet connection, you may enjoy the full Friday night slide show which has photos from the entire class — just click here. Enjoy!

 Life is good.

 B. David