Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing: Blog en-us @ Daryl A. Black (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) Sun, 12 Aug 2018 19:42:00 GMT Sun, 12 Aug 2018 19:42:00 GMT Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing: Blog 112 120 freshman orientation It is the time of year that either thrills or puts a shiver down the spines of students all over the world.  They are heading back to school or perhaps to university as freshmen, the newly minted class of 2022.  Despite the excitement of entering a new life phase, there is always trepidation.  Orientation, living arrangements, classes, teachers, and making new friends are all part of the mix. It is a little like learning to ride a bicycle.  You fall off, get on again, do much better and then try to turn a corner, and oops, you fall again.  But eventually, all the pieces come together.  And for photographers who grew up with film, it is like developing film the first time, in the dark of course, trying to load the film onto the roll, and turning it until you come to the end.  Then you carefully put it into the developing container with chemistry, and develop it for the prescribed amount of time.  When it is all done - developer, stop bath, fixer, wash - you take it out of the can and remove it from the roll, only to discover the film was curled somewhere along the way, or not agitated enough to thoroughly cover the film, leaving parts of it that never came in contact with developer.  But eventually, that too, becomes habit and second nature.

So just imagine a tiny young bird, with a wingspan of 4.3 inches (109 millimeters) inches and weighing less than one ounce, emerging from the nest, pretty much ready to fly into the world.  Such is the case of the rufous hummingbird.  The last three days, I have watched a female rufous, which must have been born here, guarding the flowers of purple sage plants.  With camera and 70-200 mm lens in hand, I followed her doing what I can only describe as endurance training.  She would fly and then rest, almost anywhere, which is not common among hummingbirds.  She would land on the ground, on the side of the water dishes, and literally crash into branches.  She is clearly part of this year's freshman class, and is going through a rigorous orientation.


Here she is making her way over the flowers, working each one as well as she is able to at this point in her young life.

This was very nearly a crash landing but she hung on.  She is one strong bird!

After the extremely active session of guarding "her" flowers, rest is essential.  Her eyes are starting to slam shut in this shot.  Having one's tail feathers in the water must also feel good on a warm afternoon.


But after a hummingbird-length nap, it is back to work, always diligent.

Thanks to Maria Davila for sending the Colibrí (hummingbird) species residing in Coahuila - Oreja blanca (white-eared), magnifico (magnificent), garganta rubi (ruby-throated), garganta azul (blue-throated), and barba negra (black chinned).

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) birds Blacks Crossing Photography Daryl A. Black hummingbirds nature New Mexico photography Taos Sun, 12 Aug 2018 19:41:51 GMT
jet jockeys This slang term used to describe pilots of jet fighter aircraft is the term I frequently associate with hummingbirds.  Their speed and agility in the air is nothing less than astonishing, and their flight techniques never cease to amaze me.  Because they are only seasonal visitors to this area, I try to photograph the flying wonders several times while they are in residence, from mid-April until late September.  Last week, I did "hummingbird isometrics", hand-holding my 70-200 mm lens during three different sessions with them, yielding some interesting results.

The first and third sessions, I worked in shutter priority, using 1/200 of a second shutter speed.  This will stop a moderate amount of action, but certainly not the wings of a hummingbird.  Thus, the blur.  But you can get some really interesting effects, as shown below.  The beak seems to be piercing the air.

Luckily, that shutter speed caught the tongue of this rufous hummingbird, hovering.

 Another female jet jockey was working as "feeder guard" and already has some damage to her tail feathers.  

The female shown below has also seen some action, as reflected by the tears in her flight feathers.  According to, the rufous are the most maneuverable of all the hummingbirds, and they also have the longest migration route.  They have been seen in every state and Canadian provence except Quebec and Prince Edward Island.  I was able to stop the wing action using 1/5,000 second shutter speed.


until next Monday,


a passion for the image@



]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) birds blacks crossing photography daryl a. black flight hummingbirds nature new mexico photography rufous hummingbirds taos Sun, 05 Aug 2018 22:53:19 GMT
velvet conundrum A continuing conundrum as a photographer is equipment.  One buys a camera and lens - whether film or digital - expecting the equipment to last a good, long time.  The original and subsequent purchases are based on potential use and type of photography one does.  Do I need to update my camera or buy new lenses, so that I can increase potential shooting or photograph different subject matter?  I suspect this is something that is in the back of many photographers' minds as they progress through and tackle new projects.  Then there is cost and justification of expenditures.   As the price of many digital single lens reflex or DSLR cameras has gone down, one can still spend a mind-boggling amount of money on both cameras and lenses, and in most cases, you do get what you pay for. These shiny objects with more bells and whistles are perpetually popping up in professional publications.  

In 1996, I started a photography project that eventually led to my book "A Place Like No Other:  people of an enchanted land."  A photography instructor happened to have a nice Mamiya 645 with a Schneider lens and he offered it to me for a good price, which was still a lot of money.  My constant thought is - just work on your technique and take better photographs.  You don't need more or bigger or better equipment.  In that particular case, I bought the camera and never regretted it.  It served me well, and the 1 3/4 x 2 1/4 format was perfect for those environmental portraits.

However, during the late afternoon/early evening hours this week, two bull elk drifted by the south side of our house, and I grabbed my Nikon D800 with 70-200mm lens to try to capture these rather large animals, with antlers in full velvet.  According to Wikipedia, the so-called velvet "is a soft layer of highly vascularised skin" that protects the growing bone until it is fully developed. This presented me with a "velvet conundrum" - should I buy a 500 mm lens so I could shoot more effective images of these animals during occasions such as this?  My logical brain's answer was a fairly straightforward "No".  I am not a wildlife photographer.  The shots I am lucky enough to get represent part of my general interest in nature and, although a definite interest, not one of my major subjects in the photographic field.  So included here are photographs documenting the elk.  Regardless of the philosophical ramblings here, it was great to see these bulls sporting their velvet.


The gash in this one's coat, probably from a barbed wire fence, is clearly evident in the image below.

Photographic conundrums are out there continually and I still try to balance true necessity, desire, and expense along with getting out there and producing really good images.

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@


]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) animals antlers in velvet Blacks Crossing Photography Cervus canadensis Daryl A. Black elk nature New Mexico photography Taos wapiti Sun, 29 Jul 2018 21:53:26 GMT
visual coolness Although it is winter in the southern hemisphere, parts of the northern hemisphere are experiencing extreme heat.  It is, after all, summer, but England, Scotland, and Ireland are having a heat wave.  Grasses are drying, revealing areas of previous habitation not seen in recent history.  Fires continue in the western United States as well as broadly around the world, and creatures are seeking shade and shelter.  In nature, most animals have adaptations to their environments.  The human adaptation in modern times is to move from one environment to another or to use machines to make adjustments to our surroundings, according to our needs.  

As a photographer, I find photographs that either I or other photographers have taken that are of "cooling" scenes help to bring visual coolness on hot days. The photographs below fill that role in a number of different categories, even environmental portraiture and fantasy shots.  The first features Jessica Fry in the aspen high country on a June day that seems to exude coolness.

lady of the woodslady of the woods  

There is nothing like a body of water to fill the visual coolness bill.  This is a water feature at the Santa Ana Pueblo Prairie Star golf course, north of Albuquerque.

Prairie Star water featurePrairie Star water feature

Water plants, including the lotus and the marsh marigold shown here, also lead the eye into a nice summer comfort zone.

lotus and pod detaillotus and pod detail

marsh marigold with lady bugmarsh marigold with lady bug

And finally, nothing, literally, cools the air like a summer thunderstorm, regardless of where you are in the Southwest.

skyscapes cloud curtains second renderingskyscapes cloud curtains second rendering

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) Blacks Crossing Photography Daryl A. Black fantasy photography flowers Jessica Fry lotus marsh marigolds nature New Mexico photography Taos thunderstorms Sat, 21 Jul 2018 22:36:39 GMT
survivors Extremely uplifting news came out of Thailand this week when all 12 young members of a football team and their coach were extracted from a cave system after having survived 16 days.  Highly professional divers, Seal team members, and military and medical personnel, along with volunteers from countries around the world, became a well-oiled machine turning what could have been a tragedy into a successful rescue operation.  

There are stories of human survival on land and on the sea every day - those who break through the trials of a disease, immigrants trying to find safety in this world, and those, who in trying to get away from the feeling of safety, take literal wrong turns, and survive despite the odds.  

Survival exists in nature as well.  I have often wondered during this year of very little rain, how the animals are faring with sparse food and water, and how plants covering the landscape manage to survive with so little of both. Somehow, they do.  Years ago, a friend gave us an envelope filled with prairie coneflower (Ratibida columnifera) seeds.  Having just thrown them out on the land, I wasn't sure how successful they would be.  Not only were they successful, they proliferated with great vigor, despite not really being watered, just surviving on the moisture that falls upon the high mesa. Photographically, they are one of those flowers that is somewhat difficult to capture, because of their shape, and the fact that even the slightest breeze moves them.  I've been trying to get some decent shots for years.  The ones here are part of my latest effort.

prairie coneflower orange groupprairie coneflower orange group

prairie coneflower bronzeprairie coneflower bronze

prairie coneflower orange singleprairie coneflower orange single

The hairy yellow daisy (Heterotheca villosa) might be considered a weed by some, but its small, daisy-like flowers add dots of yellow to the dry landscape.

hairy golden asterhairy golden aster

Finally, both the Salvia pachyphylla and the spicebush swallowtail (Papilio troilus) are survivors this year.  One of the generally common pollinators we have here are numerous butterflies.  Few are around this year, I suspect, because the birds are eating everything they can catch.  The swallowtail had a big chunk taken out of its wing.  The Salvia seems to be happy with the relative lack of moisture.

spice bush swallowtailspice bush swallowtail

My thanks and admiration to all of those people who work to facilitate survival, and those who are able to dig deep within themselves and pull through.

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) Blacks Crossing Photography butterflies Daryl A. Black flowers hairy yellow aster Heterotheca villosa nature New Mexico Papilio troilus photography prairie coneflower Ratibida columnifera Salvia pachyphylla spicebush swallowtail Taos Sun, 15 Jul 2018 21:27:11 GMT
500 and counting It is really hard for me to believe that this blog is number 500.  Before I moved to Zenfolio as my website provider, I published a blog on  The first one appeared on 30 August 2010.  The link is:  

Like a photograph, novel, short story or any creation, my blogs reflect and have contents pertaining to a particular time, place, or even mood, and reaction to the subject I am photographing or about which I am writing.   A little bit of everything goes into the total package.  Given that, I could not possibly say I have a favorite in that time period.  In some, the writing was more inspiring and wittier than others, and the same goes for the photography.  But, fortunately, a lovely few were spot on.  

So in developing a theme for #500, I had pondered doing a compilation of what I thought were the best.  However, because of the many fires in the western United States, I have been thinking a lot lately about an assignment I chose for myself in May, 1994 while photographing for The Birder's Guide to Bed and Breakfasts by Peggy van Hulsteyn.  Somehow, I wiggled my way into photographing a group of rappelling firefighters in the Gila Wilderness.  I was allowed to tag along with them as they packed their gear and ropes, chose food from a huge pantry of very high energy products, and made sure everything was packed as it should be in the helicopter from which they would be rappelling.  Fire season really had not started yet, so this was a drill.  I also was lucky enough to be able to ride along in the helicopter with them.  It was quite the deal for this former Girl Scout and Ranger Aide.  I wrote an article and submitted it to the Albuquerque Journal for their use on June 10.  It was returned to me in the mail, unpublished, two days before that same helicopter crashed, killing the pilot, and two of the firefighters, and injuring two others while moving firefighters from one wildfire to another.  It was then and still is a very dangerous job.  In the end, employees of the Gila National Forest asked me for photographs for their memorial to the men.  I sent 35 mm transparencies of the individuals for this purpose.  The Santa Fe New Mexican published the article I wrote for the Albuquerque Journal and made a memorial article with photographs.  The editor and I worked together on it and in the end, it did justice to these truly wonderful men, who loved the work they were doing and being part of the greater good.

The images here are of other firefighters who were on the team at the time and not involved in the crash.  This blog is for all who work in firefighting and those who gave their lives for it.


Gila Wilderness rappellers-3Gila Wilderness rappellers-3

Gila Wilderness rappellersGila Wilderness rappellers

Gila Wilderness rappellers-2Gila Wilderness rappellers-2

Gila Wilderness rappellers-5Gila Wilderness rappellers-5


Gila Wilderness rappellers-4Gila Wilderness rappellers-4

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) Blacks Crossing Photography Daryl A. Black firefighters Gila Wilderness Rappellers New Mexico Peggy van Hulsteyn photography Taos The Birder's Guide to Bed and Breakfast U. S. Forest Service Mon, 09 Jul 2018 16:46:56 GMT
cumulus bombs It would be easy and carefree to say that the 2017-2018 weather season thus far has been quite wonderful.  The winter was not harsh.  We shoveled very little snow, and temperatures have been almost perfect.  Winds that extended through spring and are still blowing regularly might be the only weather issue. But combined with all the gentleness, is the extreme drought in which much of the Southwestern United States finds itself.  It is crispy dry.  The national forests are closed, and the collective "we" are hoping that people use their heads and whatever common sense available during this time as far as using anything flammable, including fireworks.  

From our place on the high mesa, we have been offered some extraordinary visuals, in the form of cumulonimbus clouds or events, what I call "cumulus bombs" because they literally look like an atom bomb has been exploded.  The first formed in late afternoon and continued as the sun set, in the area east of Taos.  The eastern part of New Mexico seems to be the only place that has the magical combination of enough moisture and heat to create the uplift for one of these bombs.  One such event happened last Saturday evening.  It was huge and particularly beautiful at sunset, created totally by nature.

cumulus cloud action full shotcumulus cloud action full shot


There were so many elements to it that I wanted to give you an idea of the complexity with the photograph below.

cumulus cloud action detailcumulus cloud action detail


This cumulonimbus cloud was a result of the Sardinas Canyon Fire, 18 miles southeast of Taos.  

cumulus cloud action from Sardinas Canyon fire detail-2cumulus cloud action from Sardinas Canyon fire detail-2


With a closer look.  As the crow flies, this fire is on the other side of the Rio Grande from us, roughly 35-40 miles away.

cumulus cloud action from Sardinas Canyon fire detailcumulus cloud action from Sardinas Canyon fire detail

Although this fire is not yet contained on any level, it does not appear to be as intense as it was earlier.  Unfortunately, the Spring Creek Fire near Ft. Garland, Colorado, a mean blaze that has charred over 50,000 acres and burned much of an entire community.  It is now 5% contained.  Both of these fires were human-caused.   I feel conflicted about photographing fires because of the destruction on the ground to animals and humans alike. This kind of smoke means something totally different to those directly involved.  We are thinking about you, Anne, and rain to recharge the West.

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) Blacks Crossing Photography clouds cumulonimbus clouds cumulus clouds Daryl A. Black fires forest fires nature New Mexico photography skyscapes smoke Taos Mon, 02 Jul 2018 15:48:04 GMT
the cooling touch Summer arrived officially in the northern hemisphere on the 20th.  With the humidity shifting between 3 and 10%, the wind blowing at 20 miles per hour with higher gusts, and temperatures in the mid to upper 80s, it sometimes seems as if the life is being sucked out of the landscape.  Realizing that this is not the case everywhere (and many of you are in or near areas that are flooding because of so much rain), I still felt the need to include a few photographs that afford some coolness to the eyes and brain.  Short, sweet, cool. 

David Salman of High Country Gardens gave us three "Polish Spirit" clematis vines many years ago to plant at our then new house.  I had never grown one but it was a very kind gift.  He said that they were quite hardy so my goal was to not fail.  They are actually quite resilient plants.  The soil in which I planted them was decent but definitely not enriched.  But a little manure and "Yum Yum" mix each year seems to make them quite happy and in early summer, they are full of incredible blooms.  Even in windy conditions, with patience between gusts, they are quite photographable.  The flowers hang on, despite the winds. Set amidst elegant green leaves, they instill a sense of calm and coolness on summer days.  

Clematis 1Clematis 1





Enjoy some great summer photography during those early morning, late afternoon, and evening/nighttime hours.

until next Monday,


a passion for the image@ 

]]> (Blacks Crossing Photography and Writing) Blacks Crossing Photography clematis Daryl A. Black flowers nature New Mexico photography Polish Spirit clematis Taos Sun, 24 Jun 2018 22:15:59 GMT
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.

hands togetherhands together

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