Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing: Blog en-us @ Daryl A. Black (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) Mon, 19 Feb 2018 17:45:00 GMT Mon, 19 Feb 2018 17:45:00 GMT Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing: Blog 112 120 "Whose woods these are..." Robert Frost wrote a poem in 1922 titled "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening".  For some reason, while going through thousands of my photographs this week - old and new - and despite the fact that snow has been basically on a leave of absence this winter season in the high mesa country, the poem has been wandering around in my head the last couple of days.  The poem has been analyzed, picked apart, assigned meaning, and multiple interpretations.  When I think about it, I take it at face value admiring the imagery, and the way Frost strung the words into lines and themes.  

"Whose woods these are I think I know..." reminds me of the many trips we have made, heading west and gaining elevation toward the pass on U. S. Highway 64.  Despite multiple visits, do I really know the woods in all their seasons?  Probably not, but I love them. nonetheless.  One stand of narrow leaf cottonwoods has always enchanted me.

Oaks in New Mexico are generally scrub or Gambel oaks, rather than the tall, towering varieties of the eastern hardwood forests in the United States,  European oak forests or the live and white oaks growing in patches in California and Arizona.  Their growth habit is a tangle and beautifully messy.


Along the highway, just a few places fit Frost's line "the woods are lovely, dark, and deep...".  Plentiful water allows the growth of aspens and spruce "All Together", as I named this image, rendered here in black and white.



The woods tell their own stories, open to interpretation by the photographer or artist.

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@




]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) aspen blacks crossing photography cottonwoods daryl a. black mountains narrow leaf cottonwoods nature new mexico photography robert frost scenics spruce stopping by woods on a snowy evening taos trees woods Mon, 19 Feb 2018 17:45:16 GMT
a traditional wedding photograph Friend and fellow photographer, Steve Immel and I are meeting on this "blog" Monday to discuss weddings.  As you know from following me online, I really enjoy wedding photography.  However, each wedding is a "once in a lifetime experience" which means the photographer has one chance to get it right. Since I have a need to control as much of my part in the event as I can, my mind kicks into gear the minute an agreement is signed.

The first task for me would be to scope out the venue/venues to determine ideal photographic locations.  Fairly quickly after that (with comments or questions gleaned from location research) I meet with the couple to determine their wants and needs as far as wedding photographs are concerned.  Giving them a form to complete about specific photographs they might want helps them think about the photography, and the photographer know and mentally set up the work at hand.  Just a hint from experience.  If tents are going to be used, encourage the couple not to use colored tents.  Unless you want to come equipped with massive fill light.  

Weddings are the one event when family and friends gather together - whether relationships are good or bad - to celebrate.  But opinions differ as to what photographs a couple wants taken and in what style.  The wedding site and its character - whether formal or informal, inside or out - is in the mix as well.  Some want traditional or "normal" photographs, wherein the couple are photographed straight on, and families are in huge lineups.  Others say they don't want "traditional" wedding photographs.  Usually, the couple wants a combination of both.  But you can bet if the photographer doesn't get a photograph of an aunt or uncle or grandparents or best friends, there might be disappointment.  Then there is the situation which actually happens quite frequently wherein a family member or two want photographs but the couple is ambivalent about them.  So the second task in the planning process is to sit down with the couple and really get a feel for what they want.  

Regardless of the style, I always try to remind myself to let the creative juices flow.  How can I make a group photograph more interesting?  In the photograph below, the wall and table enabled part of the wedding party to be on the wall with some standing in front of it, while the couple sat, giving the image a little more depth and interest.


Is it possible to take traditional shots in a different way?   This is a big one for me.  If a bouquet and flowers are used, they are delicate, temporary, and expensive, so most people want good photographs of them.  In the photograph above, many of the flowers are included.

Then there are photographs of the rings.  It is always a bit of a challenge to give them a little snap.  Here are two that show the grooms' rings, rather than the bride and groom's rings together, just for fun and something out of the ordinary.

Shots that usually set wedding photographs apart from the standard album are the spontaneous shots.  I loved this pairing of groomsmen relaxing after the wedding, and making sure it was made in the 21st century, with cell phones in hand.

The opportunities to shoot environmental portraits at weddings is endless.  The bridesmaid in this photograph looks like a Venus.  The wind was absolutely howling as her hand moved to keep her hair out of her eyes, I took this shot. Inclement weather can actually enhance some photographs.

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@


]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) blacks crossing photography daryl a. black new mexico photography taos wedding photography weddings Sun, 11 Feb 2018 17:10:38 GMT
the eyes have it Thrushes or the Muscicapidae family apparently have had a very good year. There are hundreds of robins, bluebirds, and solitaires coming to our water dishes to bathe and drink in this winter of little moisture.  These birds got me thinking about eyes and their significance in both the bird and human world.

Solitaires and robins have eye rings that differentiate them from other perhaps similar looking birds.  At first blush in flight, the solitaire looks like a fairly nondescript grey bird.  But a closer look reveals that white eye ring and some buff colored feathers above the tail area.


The American robin also has an eye ring, as shown below.


Roosters and chickens seem to have large, intense eyes.  Apparently, eye rings are not required.

Big Daddy eyesBig Daddy eyes

Eyes of all species are constantly searching and sensing what is necessary for survival, true of this coyote watching me.

coyote eyescoyote eyes


Then there is the human eye, coming in all shapes, sizes, and colors, each speaking its own language within a smile, a frown, glare, or in a stare of wistfulness.


I do not know the significance of an eye ring, or the particular color or shape of an eye, but I have a deep appreciation of them.  In my book, the eyes do have it!

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) birds blacks crossing photography bluebirds coyotes daryl a. black eyes nature new mexico photography robins solitaires taos thrushes Mon, 05 Feb 2018 18:01:39 GMT
it is the sky Besides photography that is scheduled within any given week in the life of a photographer, ideas for blogs seem to come from the most interesting places. This week, while having a conversation with a neighbor, she looked up at the sky and said "This is why I am here.  Look at that."  And how true her words were.  New Mexico's sky has attracted many, particularly artists to the state. Driving into Ghost Ranch, it is easy to see why Georgia O'Keefe eventually settled in the Abiquiu area.

Scenics - Abiquiu Ghost ranch landscapes-3Scenics - Abiquiu Ghost ranch landscapes-3


From the totally practical aspects of the sky allowing sun to generate energy...

solar panels and skysolar panels and sky

...and the tail end of a thunderstorm blocking the sun...

  skyscape 2017skyscape 2017 the view through a window at Chaco Canyon...

Chaco Canyon windowChaco Canyon window

...or across the plains near Fort Union...

wide open spaces near Fort Union, New Mexicowide open spaces near Fort Union, New Mexico


...the sky is huge in New Mexico and in our lives.

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) abiquiu blacks crossing photography chaco canyon daryl a. black fort union ghost ranch nature new mexico photography sky taos Mon, 29 Jan 2018 17:51:42 GMT
jewels of winter The first real winter arrived late Saturday evening and early Sunday morning in the southern Rocky Mountains.  Although we had just an inch of snow on the ground here, ten inches fell in many of the mountain areas, and the variation in temperatures yielded beautiful crystalline ice in many places.  The sagebrush seed pods turned colors as the clouds moved across the sky, from yellow to almost a light green.  But the real bonus getting the creative juices flowing yesterday was the ice. 

Some of the same types of ice formations I had seen before, but the "creatures from outer space look" of snow melt freezing soon after contact was wonderful. This "ice claw" was the first creature I saw and photographed.

ice clawice claw

In our seventeen years of living on the mesa, I had never seen this before.  A ice lace ornament, hanging from a very thin wisteria branch.

lace ice ornamentlace ice ornament


But the encapsulated seed pods of gaillardia looked very much like the Hollywood version of the heads of aliens.

seed head encasedseed head encased

I was taken by how clean and clear the water was that dripped onto the pods and froze.

seed head encased 2seed head encased 2

I hope these jewels of winter find you healthy and content, with creativity flowing within and without.


until next Monday,


a passion for the image@

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) blacks crossing photography close-ups daryl a. black ice nature new mexico photography snow still life taos winter Mon, 22 Jan 2018 16:06:16 GMT
musings over tea Nothing like a nice, hot cup of tea to get the creative juices flowing on a winter's day. Today's blog is courtesy of two friends who influenced the work that I did this week and subsequent thoughts and musings over tea.

Victoria sent us a video link about a woman who is both a photographer and caretaker of the Oceanic Hotel on Star Island off the New England coast between New Hampshire and Maine.  I was taken aback by the starkness, loneliness, greyness and cold of the place, but my initial reaction was replaced by Alexandra de Steiguer's peace with being alone and content there.  She embraces the aloneness, and uses photography during the off season (winter) when tourists are not there, as her record. She works with film, shooting stills of her surroundings.  Although Steiguer has a broad palette (which must be monochromatic much of the time) and an enormous number of locations to shoot, she photographs what is around her.  The black and white photograph below of the California coastline and Monterey cypress that I shot years ago, reminds me of the film.

Monterey cypress black and whiteMonterey cypress black and white

Watch it on The Atlantic - The piece is titled "The Quiet Exuberance of Winter", and it is a stunning example of documentary filmmaking.  

Musing over tea this morning, I thought about the film, about her life of isolation during the off-season for 19 years, and others' lives as fire lookouts (including Edward Abbey), and photographers filming their own surroundings. Photographers and artists have always traveled miles to different places to capture history and fascinating locations, but many of the most memorable photographs were made by those who photographed the nearness.  Both present juicy material and frequently produce rich results.  

tea 2tea 2

tea 1tea 1

Further musings with a lovely cup of Darjeeling included the many photographs I had looked at, seemingly again and again, this week, as I embarked on a project to truly organize and further categorize my work within Zenfolio, the website I use.  A few changes had been made by Zenfolio, and I had, quite frankly, been putting off this task.  As every photographer knows, most of us would much rather be taking photographs than organizing.  But my friend, Susie, said she was running short on greeting cards and was unable to find names and information on my photographs.  Thus, I took the dive.  Having 800+ photographs featured in the Zenfolio blog alone, made it an interesting task.  I am very nearly finished.

Regardless of where you artistry or photography takes you this week - near or far - I hope it provides joyful and creative experiences.

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@



]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) blacks crossing photography california coastline daryl a. black monterey cypress new mexico pacific ocean photography quiet exuberance of winter taos tea the atlantic zenfolio Mon, 15 Jan 2018 18:21:18 GMT
January smiles Most of New Mexico has been frightfully spoiled this winter with the relatively warm and sunny weather.  People in the midwest, south, and east are all suffering from record low temperatures and in some places, are buried beneath record snow fall.  Those of us in the Southwest know we need moisture badly, but most continue to revel in the sunshine.  

Yet, it is January, and there is still much less sunshine.  Combined with lows in the single digits most of last week and highs in the 40s, winter is holding on tight.  This made me think about what makes me smile in the winter.  Which also turned my mind to art and photography.  Art is evocative, period.  No one can look at a piece of art, whether it is a painting, a sculpture, or photography without eliciting a reaction.  That response may be "you call that art?" or "isn't that stunning?" but there is always a statement either verbally or emotionally to accompany the piece of art.  

The process of making an image includes many emotions, and the end product reflects those feelings in some way.  You know from reading my blog that I love many subjects and I react to each in a different way.  But I thought that during this winter month in the northern hemisphere, perhaps some January smiles were in order.  I frequently smile at portraits of people, but I wanted to include other images today that always make me smile, for whatever reason or reasons. Perhaps they will make you smile as well.

Roses for you...

roses in handroses in handKONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA


A very curious coyote pup in the garden...


Reeds in a pond in the suburbs of Denver...

reed in pondreed in pond


Frog of a most princely type...


and a few challenges and smiles for me this afternoon as I attempted one of the few selfies of me you will ever see...


May many things bring smiles to your January!

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@




]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) animals blacks crossing photography daryl a. black frogs nature new mexico photography roses taos Mon, 08 Jan 2018 01:08:43 GMT
a new year Today is a brand new day in a brand new year.  My hope is that 2018 provides each of you abundant creativity, adventures, good friends, family, strength, joy, and love!  And that sanity and kindness rolls over the world like a gentle breeze!


A toast to you and life!

toast to 2018toast to 2018


until next Monday,


a passion for the image@

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) blacks crossing photography daryl a. black new mexico photography setups still life taos wine Mon, 01 Jan 2018 01:19:24 GMT
Happy Christmas! Short and sweet this week, as I present the lowly and wonderful pomegranate (Punica granatum) for Christmas.  Originating in the broader area now known as the Middle East, it spread to Spain and into California during the 17th and 18th centuries.  It was a treat for New Mexico kids, and we relished picking out the seeds with their juicy, messy flesh whenever they were available in the markets.  At that point, photographing them had not even occurred to me.  So today's blog is my present to you on this special day.

I did two different shoots, both in natural light.  The first shoot took place under high overcast, rendering a soft and mostly even light, shown here.

pomegranate 2pomegranate 2


The second shoot was in shade of late afternoon light, using a light-toned pine board, which created the painterly cross-section below.

pomegranate cross sectionpomegranate cross section


I also shot is obscured sun, resulting in a subdued sheen on the pomegranate profile here.

pomegranate on woodpomegranate on wood


Happy Christmas all!

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) blacks crossing photography christmas daryl a. black fruit nature new mexico photography pomegranates red taos Mon, 25 Dec 2017 01:53:28 GMT
Ducks?? I know two things that are true in this world.  Where there is water, there is life, and it seems that robins are the nearest things to ducks or other water birds in their bathing habits.  No truer than during the past forty days or so when there has been no measurable moisture.  It is definitely bird central at our two water dishes these days.  The activity is non-stop with robins, western bluebirds, juncos, solitaires, nuthatches, jays, and finches the most frequent visitors. But robins bathe constantly, regardless of water temperature.  If there is no skim ice or we have refilled the dishes with room temperature water, the robins are there, flinging water everywhere.

Robins bathingRobins bathing

Robins bathing-2Robins bathing-2

Another interesting thing is that juncos (the smaller grey birds with brown on their backs) love to eat water off of grass and branches, just as they eat snow and ice.

Robins bathing-4Robins bathing-4

Photographing the organized chaos of bathing is interesting.  I did bursts of shots with the shutter speed at 1/1250 of a second in order to stop some of the motion, using my 70-200mm lens at 200 f.28.  Then, upon occasion, as in the shot below, a robin will just sit and hog the water.  It must feel good.

Robins bathing-3Robins bathing-3

As we enter the holiday season, I hope you find ample opportunities to create photographic images of all types, learn, and have fun during the process.  

Keep safe.

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) birds blacks crossing photography daryl a. black nature new mexico photography robins taos Sun, 17 Dec 2017 23:12:29 GMT
El Rancho de las Golondrinas South of Santa Fe, in the bottom land formed by the Santa Fe River emptying into La Cienega Creek, stands a New Mexico treasure, El Rancho de las Golondrinas (Ranch of the swallows).  It is a living history museum along El Camino Real (the royal road) that extended from Mexico City to Santa Fe, which offered a stopping point for travelers.  The 200 acre landscape is a tasty combination of lush growth that happens in the presence of water in the Southwest, and dry sandstone mesas above.  Fred and I have been there a number of times, and there is always something new to discover and photograph.  A photographer can visit during one of the festivals and focus on the historic - both events and buildings - or you can seek out the wetlands (including the Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve of the Santa Fe Botanical Garden) that offer a completely different view.  

All of the buildings, even when there are no festivals or demonstrations in progress, are extremely photogenic.  The mill building offers details almost as interesting as the mill wheel itself.

Golondrinas images - wallGolondrinas images - wall

Golondrinas images - mill wheelGolondrinas images - mill wheel


A few of the buildings are constructed of wood.  There must be some history in the lace window curtain.

Golondrinas images - windowGolondrinas images - window

As they do on human skin, wind and weather always work on adobe plaster, leaving cracks and crenulations, 

Golondrinas images - buttress of churchGolondrinas images - buttress of church

If you visit El Rancho de las Golondrinas, the morning hours before 11 and afternoon hours after 2 are probably the best for broad building shots.  You can tuck some details in from the shadows at any time of day, but the New Mexico sky produces intense light on the buildings and land, offering some real photographic challenges.  Regardless, it is well worth at least one photo shoot, and more if you plan on doing environmental portraiture.

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) adobe architecture black and white potography blacks crossing photography daryl a. black el rancho de las golondrinas golondrinas history new mexico phoaphy taos windows Mon, 11 Dec 2017 17:55:42 GMT
the work of photography Anyone who has used a camera knows that there is more to photography than releasing the shutter.  The camera itself, developer and printing chemicals, computers, software, printers, and papers have to be made first before the photographer even begins her or his work.  Planning a photo shoot, calculating time and mileage, or doing set ups and studio shots and checking batteries and equipment are the first part of the individual's journey.  After the photographs are made, they are either developed in the darkroom or on the computer, and then printed or formatted for use in publications.  Meaning that, in the long run, the darkroom or computer work may actually take more time than the shoot itself.  If you love photography, none of these stages is really work but an adventure each time you enter the darkroom or sit down at the computer to render photographs.  There are deadlines for publication as well as those that are self-imposed, and pressures when shooting weddings (only one chance to get it right), but it is still fascinating.  An added bonus is that sometimes, as I did this week, you discover something you never knew about a computer program.

All this is to say that during the past week, I didn't shoot much, but devoted my time to photographic development at the computer, working on the sets of prints and greeting cards I am assembling.  Choosing images, making sure their rendering works well with the papers being used, and each print is what I want.   As they say, the best way to start any day of photography is with a good breakfast.  

breakfast - toast-2breakfast - toast-2


eggs in bowleggs in bowl


And to top it off, one of the great flavors of life, coffee.  

coffee beanscoffee beans


I look forward to getting out and doing some architectural and environmental portrait shoots this month, and learning more secrets of development.  Hopefully, you will be able to do the same.

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) blacks crossing photography bread daryl a. black eggs food kitchens new mexico photography taos Mon, 04 Dec 2017 17:51:04 GMT
Where there is water One of the givens is that life on Planet Earth needs water.  And where there is water, there is life.  We have seen this play out on the high mesa time and time again.  When it rains and there are puddles, birds and other wildlife don't bother visiting our water dishes.  But when it is dry and ours are the only water sources for miles, animals gather at all hours of the day and night. The elk, deer, and occasional cows have been ravaging the aspen and assorted plants that are still green because of the extended autumn warmth.  Many different species of birds are here as well, some that you normally would not see.  

Often we hear birds before they make their presence known, but what I think is a hairy woodpecker has been, literally, hanging around lately.  It could be a Downey woodpecker, but I think because of the length of the bill and lack of dark spots on the white tail feathers it is a hairy.  This one had been taking a bath and was very busy fixing its feathers. 

hairy woodpecker 1hairy woodpecker 1

hairy woodpecker 2hairy woodpecker 2

hairy woodpecker 3hairy woodpecker 3


Then there are the "bathing beauties."  Members of the thrush family - robins, solitaires, and bluebirds - are almost like ducks in their attraction to and affinity for the water.  A group of western bluebirds flew in, staging in the New Mexico privets before their bath.  Here is a pair - male on the left and female on the right - and a lone male in the next image.

western bluebirds, male and femalewestern bluebirds, male and female

Once again, I am struck by the talent of wildlife photographers and the images they produce.  Mine pale in comparison, but serve more as a record of time and space.  Which, truly, what photography is and photographers do.  And so it continues.

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) birds blacks crossing photography daryl a. black hairy woodpecker nature new mexico photography taos thrush family western bluebirds wildlife photography woodpeckers Mon, 27 Nov 2017 17:00:47 GMT
back to my photographic roots During the past month, I have been putting together images for sets of prints and cards.  One of the sets will be black and white.  I am calling it Noir/Blanc/Gris, and it has taken me back to my roots in the darkroom, where the only film I developed and printed was black and white.  I loved everything about working in the darkroom, but not having one of my own, travel to and from Santa Fe was a long haul.  It made shooting digital images and rendering them in Lightroom or Photoshop that much more appealing.  It is not quite the same as darkroom work but digital photography has come a long way, and working with images on the computer can be quite satisfying as well.

The shot below presented itself in the morning hours.  Nothing like a shadow on black steel and an adobe wall to make an interesting black and white image.

wood burning stove pipe and shadowswood burning stove pipe and shadows

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is one of the world's most iconic structures.  I took a shot of one of the uprights using Fujichrome Velvia transparency (slide) film while walking across the bridge in 1994, and have always loved it, but never thought in terms of black and white until recently. When I resized the image, I noticed the beautiful art deco elements for the first time.  It is a work of art.

Golden Gate bridge upright, black and whiteGolden Gate bridge upright, black and white

I also reached into the past to create a ghostly black and white rendering of a building on the island of Barbados, probably part of an abandoned sugar plantation.  I almost like the black and white better than the original color image, which, again, was shot on slide film.

sugar mill ruin Barbadossugar mill ruin Barbados


Finally, a lily I had worked with before but this time rather than toning it, made it strictly black and white.   When I was spending six to eight hours a day in the darkroom and shooting black and white, I felt as if I was almost seeing in black and white.  This exercise is taking me back to those roots. 

lily study black and whitelily study black and white

Keep exploring...

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) architecture black and white photography blacks crossing photography daryl a. black flowers golden gate bridge lily nature new mexico photography taos Sun, 19 Nov 2017 23:57:40 GMT
extended autumn I can remember many a November in years past when the temperatures were well below zero and snow was flying fast and furiously.  This year, the collective "we" in New Mexico are spoiled.  The weather has been a delight as we experience an extended autumn.  Although it is dry, the relative warmth keeps me from thinking that winter is in the wings, waiting to pounce.  In preparation for today's blog, I walked around, camera on my shoulder and a plate of pumpkins and squash in my hands, photographing the contents in a variety of settings over a four hour period.  And during that time period, I returned to locations I liked simply because the light was changing, and the afternoon breezes altered my approach.  Photography of this sort is similar to a combination of plein air painting, and still life studies.  It serves the purpose of stimulating the artist's creative juices, requiring him or her to work in different ways and in different environments.  That is why you see the results of these sessions from time to time in my blogs.  Every shoot is an adventure.

At our house, wool is always available, and with its texture and patina, it makes a nice backdrop.  Below is a natural white Navajo-Churro wool.

Harvest set up 1Harvest set up 1    


Squash, jalapeño pepper, and wheat grass on Fred's Rug 254 in the style of Chiefs Blankets.

Harvest set up 3Harvest set up 3



The image below was shot in mid-afternoon, which, at this time of year, produces a nice, low light with interesting shadows.

Harvest set up 2Harvest set up 2


I found a couple of what I call "juicy" details while checking for focus in several of the images.  The ridges in the pepper mimic the larger ones in the squash.

Harvest set up 4 detailHarvest set up 4 detail


This is a shadow on one of the squashes.  It was a complete and total surprise.

Harvest set up 5 detailHarvest set up 5 detail

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) blacks crossing photography daryl a. black harvest nature new mexico photography pumpkins taos vegetables Sun, 12 Nov 2017 22:50:45 GMT
Sawmill District details As promised last week, I continue to blog today with images from the Sawmill District in Albuquerque.  My penchant for geometrics was definitely piqued by the architectural elements of a number of different buildings, particularly those designed to obscure mechanical areas.  In the two photographs below, the concrete blocks appear to do exactly that.  Together with contrasting colors, the forms play with the morning light.

Sawmill District architecturals 1Sawmill District architecturals 1

Sawmill District architecturals 2Sawmill District architecturals 2


Although it was built, if my memory serves me correctly, in the late 1960s, the Hotel Albuquerque (formerly the Sheraton Old Town Inn) has quite the striking edifice.  At that time, it housed dignitaries and heads of state from all over the world.

Hotel Albuquerque exteriorHotel Albuquerque exterior

It's new sibling, the Hotel Chaco, about which I wrote last week, has its own rhythm created by windows and sandstone.

Hotel Chaco south stone workHotel Chaco south stone work


Many different elements are highlighted in the Albuquerque Museum (aM).  Here is a building corner with glass, and again, sandstone.

Museum of Albuquerque exterior detailMuseum of Albuquerque exterior detail


The outside of the museum blends sculpture garden and park.

Museum of Albuquerque building and gardenMuseum of Albuquerque building and garden


As the shift from autumn to winter begins, and animals and birds change locations, many photographic opportunities await.  I hope you are able to take advantage of the richness these alterations provide.

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@


]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) albuquerque albuquerque museum architecture blacks crossing photography daryl a. black hotel albuquerque hotel chaco new mexico photography repetition rhythm sawmill district taos Sun, 05 Nov 2017 16:45:25 GMT
Sawmill District revival Something is afoot in New Mexico's largest city.  My old stomping grounds, Albuquerque, is frequently in the news because of crime, and on the political front due to a troubled mass-transit system, but there is a revival going on in the Sawmill District.  We have seen it in detail during the past several years while staying at the Hotel Albuquerque during the Albuquerque Tango Festival. A very large building seemed to rise from a dirt lot east of the hotel.  The first year, we wondered.  The second year, we walked over to it and realized it was becoming the Hotel Chaco.  We also explored the small businesses and work/live lofts and homes to the north and east of the construction, courtesy of the Sawmill Community Land Trust.  Now, the old Paxton Lumber is poised to become the Sawmill Market, a 25,000 square foot food and market hall, which, if the architectural renderings are true to form, will somewhat mimic detailing of the Hotel Chaco.  Which is where today's blog takes us.

Stepping into the Hotel Chaco for the first time, several things immediately impressed me.  The design is geometric, dramatic, and stunning.  The project is a product of the architectural firm M. Arthur Gensler, Jr. and Associates, Inc. Some might feel it is a bit stark, with detailing coming from its namesake, Chaco Culture National Historical Park.  But it works, incredibly well.  From the sandstone-lined doorways, openings, and light wells to Native American artwork, seemingly nothing was left to chance.  Great intention and care have been given to the building, inside and out, from the entrance to the gift shop, featuring the work of Patricia Michaels' Waterlily fashions, along with the work of other Native American Artists.  


The oculus in the hotel lobby, shown below, was designed by Santa Clara artist Tammy Garcia.

Hotel Chaco oculusHotel Chaco oculus


The south entrance features a ramada or pergola, with wood and Corten steel, creating a latilla and viga ceiling effect.

Hotel Chaco south walkway pergolaHotel Chaco south walkway pergola


Huge advertising photographs for the Level 5 restaurant cover the south and east windows, where future shops will be, adding to the aesthetic.  Steel cable is strung between the uprights along the outside sidewalks, one of the many examples of transitions from thick to thin and chunky to delicate that hallmark the hotel design.  Acknowledgement of the areas's industrial roots is demonstrated in the building materials and large steel architectural elements.  Liberal use of more traditional stone and plaster blend with the metal to make a winning combination.

Hotel Chaco east detailHotel Chaco east detail


The topper on the Hotel Chaco cake is the Level 5 Rooftop Restaurant and Lounge.  Once again, no detail has been left to chance.  From the slabs of wood that serve as bar table tops to the sheet and angle steel legs and supports, this is form and function at its best.  Something seemingly simple like the tableware adds interest and texture.

Hotel Chaco Level 5 long tableHotel Chaco Level 5 long table

Another element of Level 5 is the creative use of indoor and outdoor space. Most of the window-doors slide open to the outside, and in warm weather, people can wander in and out of the restaurant to get a better view of the city. Gas fireplaces dot the area, a modern-day ode to gathering around the fire. While we were having breakfast, a couple was finishing their coffee outside by one of the fireplaces.   Ottomans accompanying the outdoor furniture have the look of huge stones, but are actually made of fiberglass.   In the west wall, openings provide a framed view of west Albuquerque.

Hotel Chaco east Level 5 outside areaHotel Chaco east Level 5 outside area

Hotel Chaco Level 5 west outdoor areaHotel Chaco Level 5 west outdoor area


We actually went to the restaurant because we had heard good things about it from friends who had gone to lunch there the day before.  It exceeded our wildest expectations.  The hotel partnered with Chef Mark Miller of Coyote Cafe and Red Sage fame, and he is the mind behind the menu offerings.  When we told our server Soly that the Sage Scrambled Egg Tartine sounded good, she said "It is like Thanksgiving dinner for breakfast."  The creation combined scrambled eggs, aged cheddar, a spicy tomato jam containing lots of fascinating ingredients, assorted locally-sourced, in-season greens, and seeds and nuts piled on top of a huge slab of sourdough whole wheat bread.  A steak knife is brought to the table for cutting into the crusty mix.  It was unlike anything we have had.  The yummy sounds kept pouring forth.

Hotel Chaco Level 5 breakfastHotel Chaco Level 5 breakfast


This brief tour of Hotel Chaco would not be complete without mentioning the attention to service that is found in each and every part of the Heritage Hotel Group.  As I mentioned, Soly was our server at breakfast, and service is her middle name.  She was amazing.  Here she is, shining like her namesake.

Hotel Chaco Soly at Level 5_Hotel Chaco Soly at Level 5_

Our thanks to her and everyone at the Hotel Chaco and Hotel Albuquerque for anchoring the Sawmill District and making it an extraordinary place.

until next Monday


a passion for the image@




]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) albuquerque's sawmill district architecture ashley cloutman-martin blacks crossing photography daryl a. black hotel chaco julie cloutman level 5 restaurant mark miller new mexico patricia michaels patricia michaels waterlily fashions photography tammy garcia taos Mon, 30 Oct 2017 19:23:48 GMT
bravo! On all counts, we are experiencing an extraordinary autumn in northern New Mexico.  The aspen were stunning and long lasting, the scrub oak are still presenting themselves in shades of orange, rust and red, and the cottonwoods take ones breath away.  Lining streams and rivers, they are the brightest and most profound I have seen in some years, presenting a broad palette of colors, sometimes on one tree.  Photographers and painters plant themselves along the highways to the ski areas and rivers.   This is where painters can use their artistic license to the fullest extent, eliminating power lines, fence posts, and other human-made signage which might detract from their work.  As a photographer, I have to remind myself to be careful how I shoot because I basically don't believe in spending massive development hours removing distracting items from an image.  The time-tested wisdom of shooting the best photograph you can in the beginning holds true in every case.  Regardless, it is always worth getting out and shooting the amazing landscape.  Here are a few shots of the brilliance.

cottonwood study 3cottonwood study 3

cottonwood study 2cottonwood study 2


Even a tree such as the one here, with dead branches, carries living ones with leaves in assorted stages of transition. 

cottonwood study 1cottonwood study 1


With me, there is also the challenge and adventure of making alterations in color and saturation, as demonstrated below.

cottonwood study 4 alteredcottonwood study 4 altered


Bravo and kudos to nature during this golden season!

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) autumn blacks crossing photography cottonwoods daryl a. black gold nature new mexico photography taos trees yellow Mon, 23 Oct 2017 16:31:52 GMT
the over and under of weaving During the Wool Festival last weekend, answering four basic questions about weaving consumed a good portion of Fred's time in his booth.  So I thought it might be good to shoot the process for the purpose of explanation.  

The first was "On what kind of loom do you weave?"  He weaves on a Rio Grande walking loom.  Fred's particular loom has a wealth of character, as it lived in a woman's greenhouse for some time before it came to him.  Being made of pine, it was a little warped and required adjustment in the form of rebar, screws and additional pieces of wood.  Below is a photograph of him standing on the treadles of loom.  He can use up to four treadles but since he is doing weft-based Spanish style weaving, he only uses two.

The second question:  Do you make these pieces?  Answer to that is a simple and absolute "Yes."  Here are a few shots of the process of weaving a rifle scabbard.

scabbard weaving 8scabbard weaving 8


The third question:  "Do you dye your own wool?"  Although we experimented one winter day years ago and dyed a pound of lovely spring aspen green, the woman who dyes the Navajo-Churro wool that Fred uses is the legendary Connie Taylor.  She is the National Registrar for Navajo-Churro sheep in the United States, and if anyone owns a rug woven by Fred, 99.5% of the wool has been dyed by Connie.  Some of it also came from her flock.  The colors shown in the scabbard below are Ganado and teal, along with undyed, natural brown-black.



After the weaving is complete, Fred rolls it off the weaving surface of the loom, as shown below, and cuts the piece, leaving enough warp for fringe.

You can see that he knots the fringe to keep the weaving together.  There are 368 fringe strands and 92 knots on the finished piece.


The completed scabbards #38 and 39.  The client, who has been extremely supportive of Fred's work since his first Wool Festival, ordered two more of this style to match another he purchased last year.

Rifle scabbards 38 and 39Rifle scabbards 38 and 39

I am certain Fred would be happy to answer any questions you might have about his work.  Thanks to everyone who is in any way involved in the process from feeding the sheep to shearing to carding to spinning and dyeing the wool, and to those who purchase his work.

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) blacks crossing photography connie taylor daryl a. black fred black navajo-churro wool new mexico photography rio grande walking loom taos weaving Mon, 16 Oct 2017 00:09:20 GMT
Wool Festival in review This weekend was the Taos Wool Festival held in Kit Carson Park.  From the Friday wind that sent the top of our EZ Up tent flying when we were setting up, to the gorgeous, sunny autumn weather on Saturday and Sunday, it was a busy and wonderfully social event.

Teamwork is the key during the festival, and my job is to help Fred during the event in any way I can.  So my primary mission was definitely not photography. These are grab shots and just a very brief representation of the "booth" and some of the animals in the park.




I suspect the caged rabbits were going through their own traumas will all the people oohing and aahing, trying to get their attention.  It would be interesting to know what this one was thinking.


These vicuñas were absolutely adorable.  About the size of a seven year old, children and adults alike love their sweetness.



Fred and I would like to thank the many people who stopped by to say hello and wish us luck.  Bill and Sue, Barbara and Jerry, and Victoria came from Santa Fe and we appreciate them making that long drive.  Buf, Steve, Terry, Geraint, Steve V., Gail and Earle, Andrea, Melissa and Steve, Janet, Paule and Maury, Elida and Alfie, Klara and Jivan with their wee one, Richard and Matt, Paul and Helen, and others "the day after the weekend fog" keeps me from remembering, brightened our days.  We appreciate your presence.  And many thanks to the people who bought rugs and rifle scabbards, and those also who came to see Fred's work and admire it from afar.  


until next Monday,


a passion for the image@


]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) big sage artisans blacks crossing photography daryl a. black fred black new mexico photography taos taos wool festival vicuñas weaving wool wool festival Mon, 09 Oct 2017 16:26:50 GMT