Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing: Blog en-us @ Daryl A. Black (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) Tue, 19 Jun 2018 01:51:00 GMT Tue, 19 Jun 2018 01:51:00 GMT Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing: Blog 112 120 normal? My desk companion - the Concise Oxford English Dictionary - indicates the meaning of "normal" as "conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected...the normal state or condition."  In both the world of nature as well as the human-created world, very little seems to be "normal" these days.  Due to a lack of moisture in our landscape, all the creatures are doing strange or "abnormal" things.  Not only are more species of birds visiting the water basins, they seem to be having some struggles.  The Say's Phoebe (member of the Tyrant flycatcher family) has thus far built five nests, all of which have been destroyed by the scrub jays looking for eggs.  The jays, along with most of the other birds, are not getting enough to eat to support and feed their own young. The red-shafted flickers are regularly destroying the big ant hills to consume one of their favorite foods.  We may not have been paying attention before, but we have never seen that.  Raven chicks, usually squawking up a storm, are A.W.O.L, at least here.  By this time, the water basins are full of all sorts of disgusting things being soaked by the adult ravens to feed their raven chicks. Not one shred of entrail has shown up.  You probably didn't need that piece of information. And the climate is, in scientific terms, way out of whack. The human-created world is impacting the natural world, and our government is impacting people in gut-wrenching ways.  Many days I think my purpose is to do more serious, photo-journalistic and documentary photography.  But in the chaos, there is still nature's beauty to photograph, and there is certainly room for both.

Working with the second big spray of orchid blossoms this year, on a tiny plant given to us some years ago, I changed backgrounds and times of day for different effect.  Always in the improvisation mode when it comes to backdrops, I used a grey wool vest for the first image.

orchids grey backgroundorchids grey background

The second shot, made with indirect natural light, has a gallery white matte background. 

orchids white backgroundorchids white background

The third is against a flat, black fabric.

orchids black backgroundorchids black background


As soon as the midday shower ended, I headed outside to capture the first daylily blooms of the season.  

day lilyday lily

The flowers are big enough to act as rain collection devices, in the area where the stamens and petals meet.

day lily detailday lily detail


day lily 2day lily 2

Nature will do what it will and perhaps that is one of the "normal" things in this world.

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@





]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) blacks crossing photography daryl a. black day lilies flowers lily nature new mexico orchids photography taos Sun, 17 Jun 2018 22:23:15 GMT
the next adventure How to begin this morning's blog?  To say that food is the subject matter would be simply wrong and fall short of explanation because of the extraordinary spirit that has been rattling around in my head since the news broke.  Anthony Bourdain, renowned chef, renegade, traveler, adventurer, and consumer of all life, took his own in France this week.  His curiosity lead him nearly everywhere on this earth, allowed him to try foods that I could never bring myself to smell, let alone put in my mouth.  He had a passion for food and drink, and an abiding respect for the people with whom he shared tables.  For some time, I have felt that the best writers are print journalists, perhaps because they have to meet daily deadlines, and crank out excellence at a sometimes frantic pace. Bourdain was that rare combination of journalist with an incredible written voice as well as spoken voice and visual presence.  But he was, above all, a storyteller.  He was a wordsmith of such profound and sublime talent that he reached millions around the world who read his books and watched his series Parts Unknown and No Reservations.  Although my words and photographs are woeful in comparison, I still felt compelled to do this blog.  I think he would have appreciated the photographs presented here, particularly the one below showing the skill with which this gentleman on the dock in Cabo San Lucas cut swordfish steaks.

cutting swordfish on dock in Cabo San Lucascutting swordfish on dock in Cabo San Lucas

Bourdain was definitely an omnivore, savoring all parts (that is ALL parts) of beasts - both land and sea based.  The two shots below were taken at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, with Fujichrome Velvia film, and scanned for inclusion here.

Fisherman's Wharf, San FranciscoFisherman's Wharf, San Francisco

Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco 2Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco 2

He got to know places by roaming the streets and exploring markets.  I would be surprised if he had not visited the Farmer's Market in Vienna, where fresh cheeses and fruits are in abundance...

Cheese, Farmer's market, ViennaCheese, Farmer's market, Vienna

jack fruit, Farmer's Market, Vienna Austriajack fruit, Farmer's Market, Vienna Austria


...or the Grote Markt in Antwerp, Belgium, another culinary wonder with foods and people from all over the planet.

Grote Markt, Antwerp, BelgiumGrote Markt, Antwerp, Belgium

One episode of the Parts Unknown series featured New Mexico.  I was never quite sure what he thought of the Land of Enchantment, or if he enjoyed his Frito Pie from the Five and Dime (formerly Woolworth's) on the Plaza in Santa Fe.  Any meal prepared with fresh ingredients, heart and soul, and shared leisurely with others over good conversation and drink was fine with him.  Whether it was in a back alley in Hanoi, or in a hotel in Beirut where he helped prepare meals for people trapped by conflict, Bourdain brought the world, its food, its cultures, and his adventures into the homes of many, and along with it, a new appreciation of common bonds at the table.  Bon Voyage for your next adventure, Anthony Bourdain.

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) antwerp austria belgium san francisco vienna anthony bourdain blacks crossing photography daryl a. black farmer's market fisherman's wharf food grote markt new mexico photography taos Mon, 11 Jun 2018 15:23:48 GMT
black and white, color, and in between Nothing like a three+ hour meeting with a photographer and a couple to be photographed to get the creative juices flowing.  That is what happened Saturday with photography friend Steve Immel, and a truly lovely couple who will be getting married in August.  Since I have the privilege of being another photographer at the wedding, it was great to meet the very organized and brilliant couple, and discuss many things.  The range of topics was broad and wonderful, pretty much all over the map.  And since the purpose was to exchange ideas about their wedding photography, much of it applied to that subject. Each couple has different ideas and concepts for their wedding images, and this was no exception.  We tried to cover it all.

One question I always ask a couple when preparing to photograph their wedding is whether they would prefer black and white or color photographs.  Some people don't think in terms of black and white photography, and wouldn't even ponder it until you ask.  Others realize the beauty and importance of it, which was the case at our brunch meeting, wherein we discussed the merits of both black and white (endurance, gravitas, and history), and color (popularity and brightness), and came to the conclusion that a combination of both would be the best option.

Given that, I have divided images in this blog into three categories:  black and white, bright color, and muted color/monochrome.  As many know, there is nothing like a dramatic black and white photograph, regardless of the subject matter, and in this case, weddings.  The photographs below were in outdoor settings.  The first was taken during a half hour window in the mountains of southern Colorado when it wasn't raining.

Robin and Dominic - The KissRobin and Dominic - The Kiss

The image below was on a very bright autumn afternoon but in the shade of the lovely trees at El Monte Sagrado in Taos.

Carter-Machino wedding at El Monte SagradoCarter-Machino wedding at El Monte Sagrado

Early evening, sea level light in August on a golf course in the Los Angeles area provided a nice balance of light and shadow, perfect for black and white photography.

Christie and Joel after the weddingChristie and Joel after the wedding

The next category is bright color.  Sometimes, situations or things seem to demand color, such as the photograph of a spring wedding in the Arizona mountains.   High altitude, intense light was perfect for color.

Cathy and Javier mountain weddingCathy and Javier mountain wedding

The choice and color of flowers enhanced the autumn colors in this mock wedding done for tourism in New Mexico, in which both Steve and I served as photographers.  Morning light on the Rio Grande also rendered bright color.

Rio Grande mock wedding raft and coupleRio Grande mock wedding raft and couple

Muted color or near-monochrome can also be wonderfully effective in wedding photography, as shown below.

Except for the purple in the flowers, the image is carried by light and dark ivories.

wedding still lifewedding still life

So what do you think?  Black and white or color or both for weddings?  If you have a moment, let me know your thoughts.

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) black and white photography blacks crossing photography daryl a. black environmental portraiture new mexico photography steve immel taos wedding photography Mon, 04 Jun 2018 16:46:14 GMT
for each It is Memorial Day.  Throughout the weekend, a steady stream of motorcycles, trucks, campers, boats and assorted vehicles have moved over American highways, driven by people seemingly in a hurry to get somewhere.  There will be barbecues, furniture sales, yard sales.  This three day weekend is considered the beginning of the summer travel season but the added Monday - Memorial Day or Decoration Day - was set aside to honor those who died while serving in the armed forces.  Many now celebrate the memory of all who died before us, in addition to those who served.

If I were somehow able to time travel and be in the presence of so many stellar spirits, I would go up to each with a flower, and say "thank you."  Since it is important to say "thank you" every day, I do it here with variations on a theme of wisteria in their fragrant bloom.  This is only the second bloom the vines have produced in seventeen years.  Significance for the coming months?

Wisteria 1Wisteria 1

Wisteria 3Wisteria 3

Wisteria 2Wisteria 2

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@ 

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) blacks crossing photography daryl a. black flowers memorial day nature new mexico photography taos wisteria Mon, 28 May 2018 15:49:11 GMT
Fiber Crawl As our friend, Victoria says "get a cup of coffee and a snack."  Today's blog is a full one!

This weekend was the New Mexico Fiber Crawl, courtesy of the wonderful people at EVFAC, otherwise known at the Española Valley Fiber Arts Center.  Artisans and shops from south of Albuquerque to the Colorado border participated in the crawl.  Fred had his work at EVFAC so we spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday getting to know fiber artists and their work.   But first, I needed to photograph the wall mural "Through the River it Flows" by Nanibah Chacon and EVFAC.  It is a beautiful piece of art gracing the east side of the building, making it pop.

EVFAC mural 1EVFAC mural 1

EVFAC mural 2 by Naniba ChaconEVFAC mural 2 by Naniba Chacon

Here is a shot of Fred's rugs situated on his new mobile display rack.  You can see more of his work at

Fred's display, Fiber CrawlFred's display, Fiber Crawl


It is hopeless.  I cannot resist an interesting face, so I utilized the afternoon shade and reflected fill light on the east side of the building to do some impromptu "fashion shots" of two of the artists at the show.  The first series features fiber artist Vanessa Harris.  Two shots below show one of her scarves as well as the earrings and necklace she made utilizing fiber.

Vanessa, Fiber CrawlVanessa, Fiber Crawl

Vanessa 2, Fiber CrawlVanessa 2, Fiber Crawl

Amanda Speer and Dain Daller are fiber artists and owners of Warp Zone Weaving -  Prominent this weekend were their Ikat weavings and apparel.  The next two shots feature Vanessa wearing one of their beautiful scarves.

Vanessa 3, Fiber CrawlVanessa 3, Fiber Crawl

Vanessa, EVFACVanessa, EVFAC


April Jouse, the current director of operations for EVFAC, is a multi-faceted artist in her own right.  It is easy to see she did performance art and theatre.

April Jouse 4April Jouse 4

April Jouse, EVFACApril Jouse, EVFAC

The wind machine was in full force in the shot below.

April Jouse 2, EVFACApril Jouse 2, EVFAC

April's website is

April Jouse 3April Jouse 3

So, we'll wrap up the fiber in anticipation of the warm months.  But I wouldn't be surprised if some black and white images arose from this shoot and appeared on the blog at some point in the future.  My thanks to everyone at EVFAC, all the vendors, April, Vanessa, Amanda and Dain, and Fred for allowing me to photograph them and their work.

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@


]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) amanda speer and dain daller april jouse big sage artisans blacks crossing photography daryl a. black española valley fiber arts center fiber crawl fred black nanibah chacon new mexico photography taos vanessa harris warpzoneweaving Mon, 21 May 2018 15:28:41 GMT
fiber, fiber everywhere May signals not only the opening of summer, but the art and studio tour season.  The New Mexico Fiber Crawl begins this Friday 18 May and runs through Sunday, 20 May 2018, at a wide variety of locations around northern New Mexico.  Organizers of the Crawl have creatively divided participating artists and businesses into "threads" - Albuquerque, Española, Los Alamos, Mora, Santa Fe, Taos, and Tierra Amarilla.  The Fiber Crawl website is below where you can check out the wide variety of artisans and shops represented. Also listed here are the direct websites of several of the participants.

All of this means that our house is currently packed with product created by my husband and weaver Fred Black, and fiber is literally everywhere.  Here is a shot of his latest, Rug # 313.  He had originally planned to incorporate a design in the middle of the rug, but was enjoying the variegations of the Ganado red wool he had measured and worked into the body of the rug that he decided to leave it plain.  The result is a generous span of juicy red.

Rug 313Rug 313

Here is a detail from Rug 313.  The blue is a Tierra Wools turquoise, and the black is dyed black.  Both the Ganado red and black are dyed by Connie Taylor, registrar of the Navajo-Churro Sheep Association and artist extraordinaire.

Rug 313 detailRug 313 detail

A shot of another skein of Ganado red wool from Connie Taylor

Ganado red skeinGanado red skein


Finally, some of Fred's Navajo-Churro wool rugs and rifle scabbards that will be on display and for sale at Española Valley Fiber Arts Center

Fiber Crawl productFiber Crawl product


Fred will have work at both Tierra Wools and at the EVFAC.  You can find his work at

If your weekend has open time, I would encourage you to find a member of the Fiber Crawl near you and feast your eyes on some truly exquisite art, and enjoy the beautiful New Mexico landscape.

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) blacks crossing photography daryl a. black fiber fiber crawl fred black navajo-churro wool new mexico photography taos weaving wool Mon, 14 May 2018 17:06:42 GMT
ode to the common On this spring morning in the northern hemisphere, one thing is certain: somewhere, probably everywhere there isn't snow on the ground, dandelions are in bloom.  When I searched them online this morning, subject headings and websites mostly lead the reader to sites with directions for destroying these native plants.  To be fair, there are quite a few articles about their nutritional and health values as well, but I must say, I am guilty as charged of pulling them as soon as they bloom.  This year, I decided to take a deeper look into these yellow jewels.  Thus, today's blog is an ode to the common, but at the same time striking dandelion.  In my search and getting on the ground and close up to photograph them, I saw stamens and pistils in addition to the petals and leaves.

Dandelion 2Dandelion 2

Depending on the phase of a particular dandelion bloom, it can look almost like a different flower. 

Dandelion 3Dandelion 3


Kneeling and then almost laying down, I got these two shots.  Pollen anyone?  

Dandelion 1Dandelion 1

The common dandelion almost looking like a sea anemone

Dandelion 4Dandelion 4

I hope your explorations of our world lead to wonderful places this week!

until next Monday, 


a passion for the image@


]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) blacks crossing photography dandelions daryl a. black flowers nature new mexico photography taos weeds Mon, 07 May 2018 16:26:06 GMT
children of spring Whether or not one believes that the year, season during that year, and time of day of birth influence the personality of child, it is apparent to me that those children born in spring - in addition to having the wild and wooly weather incorporated into their being, seem to be creative and passionate about life, and are capable of great empathy and love.  I know a huge number of them who burst forth with energy, sometimes generating little whirlwinds around themselves, while at other times, literally making the world glow.

Nearly ten years ago to the day, I was fortunate to do a photo shoot with a new friend, Catherine Sobredo, in downtown Santa Fe.  She is a great photographer, with a love for the arts, having done photo series on ballet, flamenco, tango, and modern dancers.  I have since learned that, in addition to her compassion and deep love of people, those feelings are shared with other creatures particularly those in jeopardy, including the wild horses of the western United States, and others that are abused.  We are both quintessential children of spring. We had a lovely time wandering around the Plaza and environs, taking photographs of places and faces, although my mission was to shoot some photographs of her.  Shooting with my Nikon D80, I had serious lens envy seeing the lenses she was using on her Pentax. 

Catherine Sobredo shoot Santa FeCatherine Sobredo shoot Santa Fe

Catherine wears hats well, and her black hat added drama to many of the shots.

Catherine Sobredo shoot Santa Fe-3Catherine Sobredo shoot Santa Fe-3

Catherine Sobredo shoot Santa Fe-4Catherine Sobredo shoot Santa Fe-4

For some reason, this photograph seems to say so much.

Catherine Sobredo shoot Santa Fe-2Catherine Sobredo shoot Santa Fe-2

Thanks, Catherine, for giving me the opportunity to photograph you, and Happy Birthday to you and all the springs stirring the air out there!

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@


]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) blacks crossing photography catherine sobredo daryl a. black environmental portraiture new mexico photography portraits taos Mon, 30 Apr 2018 16:59:06 GMT
field trip This is the time of year when lumbering, yellow school buses dot the highways, filled with pumped children who don't have to sit in a classroom that day, on their way to a museum, game, or park.  Field trips were always exciting events that happened toward the end of the school year, when both teachers and students are at wits end and holding their breath for summer vacation.  It just seemed appropriate that Cristina and Ben, and Fred and I planned a field trip to the Museum of Natural History in Albuquerque to see the Da Vinci exhibit, along with all the other kids.  And there were a lot of kids, but to the credit of museum staff and many volunteers, the groups were organized, drilled on etiquette, and sent into the wider world of wonders that the museum currently offers.

We went to learn more about Leonardo Da Vinci and his incredible work. Naturally, the Mona Lisa was prominently featured.  Thanks to Lumiere multi-spectral digitization, at 240 megapixels, varnish that has yellowed and distorted the original colors can be removed, revealing the original paint as seen using different light spectrums.  The eyebrows and eyelashes are no longer apparent in the original painting.  Here are variations on a theme of the Mona Lisa's eyes.

Mona Lisa eyesMona Lisa eyes   

Pascal Cotte created the Lumiere Technology, and used it to analyze and photograph every part of the painting, including the hands shown here.  The technology is fascinating.

Mona Lisa handsMona Lisa hands

But there was so much more to Da Vinci than I can even grasp.  A seemingly perfect balance of art and science occupied Da Vinci's incredible brain.  Ideas flowed like an arroyo during a summer thunderstorm, and his interests were endless.  From the Citta Ideale or Ideal City, the concept for which came forth after the plague of 1484...

Da Vinci Citta IdealeDa Vinci Citta Ideale the many flying machines and parachutes that he rendered and conceptualized...

  Da Vinci flying machinesDa Vinci flying machines

...Da Vinci continually created, built, wrote (mirror image and in Old Florentine), and painted.  To me, some of his most ground-breaking and amazing work were his anatomical studies, including his pen and ink drawing of the Vitruvian Man. The Man demonstrated the "ideal" proportions of the human body as described by the Roman architect Vitruvius.

Da Vinci Vitruvian ManDa Vinci Vitruvian Man

Here is one of Da Vinci's drawings of the human arm and shoulder musculature.

Da Vinci arm and shoulder musculatureDa Vinci arm and shoulder musculature

What would the day be without a selfie in the Stanza degli Specchi (mirror room)?

Da Vinci Stanza degli specchiDa Vinci Stanza degli specchi

There is no one like Da Vinci to open one's mind and get the imagination rolling.  I would highly recommend visiting the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque to see Da Vinci, The Genius.  It runs through July 29.  The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Take a field trip this week!


until next Monday,


a passion for the image@



]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) blacks crossing photography daryl a. black leonardo da vinci new mexico new mexico museum of natural history painting photography taos Sun, 22 Apr 2018 15:42:26 GMT
cloud "tells" Written media, including books, magazines, and newspapers in addition to movies and television, frequently feature gambling scenes.  From James Bond playing baccarat in the original Casino Royale (and almost all the other Bond films) to those scenes in many other movie and television series of people playing poker, and Texas hold'em, we have had an education in the "tell".  These are habits, facial/body expressions and other reactions that might "tell" one player what other players' next moves could be.  In the same way, clouds in the sky hold all sorts of tells about local weather.  This week, the cloud "tells" have been massive, and their story is mostly about the wind of spring in New Mexico.

All photographers are observers of the world around them.  One does not necessarily need to hold a Ph.D. in meteorology to know that something is afoot in the atmosphere these days.  But it is fascinating to watch clouds developing, taking shape, morphing and moving over the topography - just like water encountering rocks in a stream.  This is a very simplistic description, and photographs show so much more, including the two images below.  Even to the amateur weather geek that I am, I can see there is a whole lot of action happening here.  Holes are developing, with almost a whirlpool-type activity. One heck of a bumpy ride for those traveling by airplane!

cloud tells 1cloud tells 1

cloud tells 4cloud tells 4


From a slightly different angle, a few minutes later, and rendered in black and white, the clouds work their magic.

cloud tells 3cloud tells 3

Later, in the western sky, the sun is setting amidst a set of swirls.

cloud tells 2 sunsetcloud tells 2 sunset

If you are interested in reading more about weather, there are several great sites for in-depth information, including the NOAA Aviation Weather site at:  

It features data on winds aloft (at 30,000 feet), icing, and significant meteorological warnings, among other things.  The NOAA National Weather service radar loop shows the "painted" radar readings.  This particular site listing includes radar data roughly west from the Arizona border and east to the Texas border and south to north from Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, to the Colorado border. 

And finally, the every day go-to forecast page (this particular one is set for Taos, New Mexico but you can input any location):

It features all sorts of juicy tidbits like high and low temperatures, wind, humidity, barometer reading, sunrise, sunset, moon sequences, historical weather data, and on and on.

Enjoy your explorations this week!

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@


]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) aviation weather data blacks crossing photography clouds daryl a. black national weather service nature new mexico noaa photography sky skyscapes taos weather underground Mon, 16 Apr 2018 16:06:10 GMT
people and portraits If you read my blog regularly, you know that one of my favorite photographic subject areas is environmental portraiture.  Always different, always stimulating, and sometimes challenging, this kind of "people photography" leaves a lot more to chance then studio portraiture.  The photographer has to be strong and firm with her or his own vision, but friendly and open, and use equipment as well as conditions to best advantage.   No fill flash was used in any of the images in today's blog.

Once again, it must be said that light is everything.  Isolating light and/or using shade and fill light is one way of making an on-site or environmental portraiture work.  Such is the case in this exterior shot of Jesse Ortiz at Tierra Wools in Los Ojos.

Jesse OrtizJesse Ortiz

Clouds and sun were playing games when I shot an image of Julia while she was visiting the United States in conjunction with the film From Zimbabwe to Santa Fe, by doc filmmaker Cristina McCandless.

Julia From ZimJulia From Zim


Weaver Joe Bacon seated at his home in Arroyo Seco.  Light from two different windows filled the scene, and white walls acted as diffusers and reflectors.

Joe Bacon at homeJoe Bacon at home

Although this is obviously a seriously posed shot of Ashley, I took a number of photographs of her on the Taos Territorial House stairway before capturing the image below. The walls are white, and a west window filled the small space. Some eastern light was also scooting down the first set of stairs at her.

Ashley the bride glamour shot b&WAshley the bride glamour shot b&W

I am quite envious of photographers who not only make amazing portraits of other people, but are so comfortable with their own beings that they mug and play with the camera when in front of it rather than behind it.  Although I am getting better about having my photograph taken, I am much more comfortable behind the camera, capturing interesting and beautiful faces of the world.  And I do my very best to make those I photograph feel comfortable and make the experience fun.  Being camera comrades, Steve and I have fun shooting.  He, unlike me, is one of those examples of people who are almost as comfortable in front of the camera lens as behind.

Steve holding up wallSteve holding up wall

And finally, a shot of Fred in Cossack hat and sunglasses.  Lots of reflected light from the surrounding snow.

Fred in Cossack hat-2Fred in Cossack hat-2KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA


There are so many images I would love to share with you, but out of respect for either minors or people in private events, I don't feel I can do that in this blog setting.  As photographers, you may struggle with this as well.  So I suppose those are for the pleasure and memory of the people involved and us as photographers.

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) blacks crossing photography daryl a. black environmental portraiture from zimbabwe to santa fe men new mexico photography portraiture taos taos territorial house women Mon, 09 Apr 2018 15:13:46 GMT
structure in nature An episode of NOVA that aired this week on math spurred my thinking on today's blog.  A good chunk of time was spent on the Fibonacci sequence (according to Wikipedia "...every number after the first two is the sum of the two preceding ones"), and how they appear in nature.  1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, etc.  And that lead me to structure and how even apparent randomness is structured.

One of the primary examples of this type of structure is the Nautilus. Although I have never photographed one of those, the shell shown below from the Philippines is an excellent representation of structure.  Despite the fact that there are twelve segments, my suspicion is that the 13th was broken off at some point.  

shell - tower screw shellshell - tower screw shell


The Fibonacci sequence is vividly apparent in daisy-type flowers but it made me wonder if it also follows in the intermediate layer of bark from a palm tree in southern Arizona, shown here...

palm bark detail 2palm bark detail 2

or in this wonderful agave specimen from the United States Sonoran Desert...


or in bamboo segments from the Napali Coast on Kauai.  Or is part of the formula simply a reflection of growth and available water and nutrients?

Hawaii bamboo 2Hawaii bamboo 2

Nature, in all its elements and mysteries, is awe-inspiring.  That is why so many photographers choose it as their primary source of inspiration.  I hope you are able to get out this week and get up-close and personal with it.

Thanks for the comments on last week's blog, Ingrid, TTT, Steve, Terry, Dianne, Catherine, Wayne, Larry, and Orlando.  Always great to hear from you!

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) agave bamboo blacks crossing photography cactus daryl a. black nature new mexico palm bark photography plants shells sonoran desert taos trees Mon, 02 Apr 2018 16:53:14 GMT
petal pusher As far as I am concerned, there is nothing like a gift of flowers to get the creative juices flowing.  They also make me ponder color, how they reflect the surroundings in which I place them, and how different hues photograph.

In Sacred Emily, written in 1913, Gertrude Stein penned the now famous phrase "A rose is a rose is a rose".  I might add, perhaps.  They come in myriad colors, sizes, shapes, and fragrances, and all are photogenic in one way or another. The buds and fully opened flowers are both wonderful, but the petals have such expression.  In celebration of spring, today's blog pushes petals.  One of the reasons I like to use them for photography is that from the base to the petal top, there is a broad range of colors.  Some of those colors can't be seen unless you remove the individual petals at the base, where, in this case, white, yellow, and light green radiate outward.

rose petals in water 3rose petals in water 3    


As the petals oxidize, their colors turns, as is the case in several of the petals below.

rose petals in water 1rose petals in water 1

Bud and removed petals used together are complementary.

rose petals in water 2rose petals in water 2

rose petals in water 4rose petals in water 4

Regardless of your celebration this week, I hope it brings joy and peace.  Thank you C & B for presenting spring!

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) blacks crossing photography daryl a. black flowers nature new mexico petals photography pink purple roses still life taos Sun, 25 Mar 2018 21:53:19 GMT
organization Nothing like revisiting photographs that are hither and yon to bring home the concept of organizing your photographic work, and placing value on each and every image you keep.  

It was that kind of weekend, and yesterday in particular, when the wind was howling and waves of grey-purple clouds were moving across the mesa that yielded snow, graupel, and everything in between to bring on those organizational skills.  

I am privileged to know many photographers, and I suspect I am not alone in my thinking about and delay of organization.  We would much rather be shooting.  Having written about this before in blogs, I write again as a reminder to self to get my act together, and to realize that regardless of the photo shoot being random or educational, or it being a project or assignment, each has value.  One person, a group, buildings, nature, travel - each should have its own category and file.  My slides and black and white projects are very well organized.  But then, there are the files marked "People - black and white", which means that to know what is in that file, I need to go through the file in its entirety.  That could be good because you see your work afresh and perhaps from a new perspective.  But, on the other hand, it involves time.  And then there is the ultimate photographer's sin - leaving a proof sheet or sleeved negatives without a date when they were made.  The negative may say "Ilford HP", signifying the type of film, but self-developing leaves no date.  And darned if I don't have sets of those.  Then there are slides that were made into prints or prints for which I have no negatives, or were digitized onto floppies that can be no longer accessed in the current format.

The great thing about all of my viewing the past few days was seeing images I had completely forgotten, and wondered why I had not digitized them.   Like the image below of the owner of Zorba's tavern on Crete.  I had previously used one of him I thought was better, but this one is casual and on the wild side, which is lovely.


There are several shots from Crete and Santorini that, for some unknown reason, I had not bothered to scan, such as the one below.   Santorini sceneSantorini scene

Two more slides that were dormant in their files are below.  The first of bamboo on Kauai and the second of a hotel complex in Cabo San Lucas. Beautiful, bold paint and architecture, but the slide needed some attention.

Hawaii bamboo 2Hawaii bamboo 2

Cabo San Lucas hotel areaCabo San Lucas hotel area

Any working photographer has quite a body of work that probably needs to be revisited from time to time.  The long and short of this morning's blog is a lesson - shoot, download, label, print, and organize.  I am no longer counting on a particular format but printing so that if a format/computer/electronic system/program changes, an image can still be scanned.  Yes, second generation but at least you have it.  It is one's digital negative or physical memory. 

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@


]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) blacks crossing photography daryl a. black environmental portraiture new mexico organization photography portraiture taos travel Mon, 19 Mar 2018 17:15:44 GMT
of winters past Thanks to all of you who read and comment so regularly on this blog.  It is great to receive your input.  Which is one of the reasons why today's edition is a bit of a nod to winters past.  TTT wrote saying she was absolutely not ready for spring, and that she wanted to see some winter before things start emerging from the ground.  By request, here are some shots from snow-filled winters, the first of which is from December 2015.

winter solstice shotwinter solstice shot

But just to give those of us faith that winter may still grace us with snow, here are two photographs from the 2nd of April 2017.  Yes, last year.  So different.

April snow on adobeApril snow on adobe

House in April snowHouse in April snow

And the grand finale, with aspen in full leaf and daffodils blooming, this quick shot is dated 19 May 2017.  I remember it will because I had foolishly planted our basil seedlings, grown in the greenhouse, outside.  After all, the official date of last frost, May 15, had already passed.

May snowMay snow

The weather in the Rocky Mountain west always seems to keep us guessing, which is probably a good thing.

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) blacks crossing photography daryl a. black nature new mexico photography snow taos winter Sun, 11 Mar 2018 22:50:32 GMT
the two springs Because I tend to think that spring arrives on the vernal or spring equinox,  I did not give much thought to the 1st of March this week, except for changing the calendar. But the people at NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, use temperature data to define seasons, in this case, meteorological spring. Which began on Thursday.  

Typical of New Mexico at this time of year, the wind blew like mad yesterday, stirring up dust, pollen, and numerous particulates which turned the normally crystalline blue sky into an antique tinted photograph.  From their behavior, the birds have certainly felt spring coming for a few weeks.  And this morning, we thought we heard our first Say's Phoebe of the season, which, from our records, is at least two weeks early.  We hope that he or she has enough flying insects to eat.  

Even in the driest of seasons, green things start poking out of the ground in March.  Soon, some of the ground-hugging flowers will start to bloom, including the "Easter daisies" shown here.

Easter daisies 2Easter daisies 2

More low-growing, daisy-type flowers (the composite family) pop up later in the season.

flowers - daisiesflowers - daisies

Just as there is a meteorological spring and an astronomical spring for different scientific and planning purposes, there are two springs where we live, depending on whether plants and trees are on the north side or the south side of our house.  In normal years, the north side of the house can have snow covering the ground until April, and sometimes longer, whereas we see the first signs of spring on the south side of the house about three weeks to a month earlier.  In essence, our high pitched roof gives us the two springs here as well.  The first daffodils on the north side signify that the warm season is on its way.  The two images shown here are from my new "Fresh and Painterly" art card collection.

daffodil with orange cupdaffodil with orange cup

Daffodils (yellow and aspen)Daffodils (yellow and aspen)

All of these photographs were made in the morning hours, before 9:30 a.m., which yielded brighter, more stark light for the daisies, but isolated light for the daffodils.

Whatever weather presents itself where you are on this wonderful planet of ours, I hope you find pleasure in it, and plentiful photographic opportunities.

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@


]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) astronomical spring blacks crossing photography daffodils daisies daryl a. black easter daisies flowers meteorological spring nature new mexico photography spring taos Mon, 05 Mar 2018 17:13:18 GMT
Olympic prowess I love the Olympic games - both summer and winter - and cannot conceive of the practice and development of strength, endurance, and skill it takes to compete. The games also put my mind to work about games and how the origins of many of the sports came from sheer practicality and need, such as cross country skiing, biathlon, and downhill skiing.  Humans living in cold climates needed straightforward methods of transportation before fossil fuels were even imaginable, and the ability to procure food, probably with bows and arrows and later with guns.  The women and men competing now don't have the same life and death needs as the creators of these activities.  But they certainly have taken them to new heights.  Participants in the winter games that just concluded took every single event to new and stunning levels.

Another modern day event has its roots in real life, real time necessities.  The rodeo is a competition based on skills needed for riding and roping animals in order to get them and keep them on the range, in the corral, or to the train depots or stockyards.  From the photographs here, you can tell this was definitely "my first rodeo" - not as a participant but as a photographer - and I discovered that photographing a rodeo requires very special skills exclusive to the sport. The first two shots were of rodeo clowns preparing for their work. 

rodeo clowns perparingrodeo clowns perparing

rodeo clown stretchingrodeo clown stretching

Here is an action shot of the rodeo clowns at work, distracting the bull.

calf ropingcalf roping


I call this image of a cowboy waiting to compete "The Working End"

The Working EndThe Working End


Now the work is done, for the time being.


A technical note.  These shots were made using a Mamiya 645 1 3/4 by 2 1/4 format camera, on lford 400 film, and scanned.


A tip of my hat to all, who, regardless of their work or sport, are constantly taking what they do to higher levels!

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) blacks crossing photography daryl a. black kirtland new mexico photography rodeo clowns rodeos taos Mon, 26 Feb 2018 18:07:32 GMT
"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.

narrow leaf cottonwoods colornarrow leaf cottonwoods color

narrow leaf cottonwoods black and whitenarrow leaf cottonwoods black and whiteKONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

oak tangleoak tangle


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.

All together, black and white imageAll together, black and white imageKONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA


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