Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for January 3rd, 2023

Things that stick up

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And now finally back to the last part of our 12-day western trip in October.

After spending several hours at the Pecos National Historic Park on October 10th we continued on our way back to Texas. Along Interstate 25 south of Las Vegas (New Mexico) I pulled over to photograph the prominent butte shown above. Hours later, as we approached Amarillo (Texas) I made sure to stop at the famous Cadillac Ranch, which isn’t a ranch at all but an art installation in which wealthy Texan Stanley Marsh and a group of “art-hippies” who called themselves The Ant Farm half-buried 10 Cadillacs nose-down in a field along US 66 (Interstate 40) in 1974. In the decades since then the cars have been much vandalized—or in modern jargon, repurposed. As Roadside America explains: 


Yet Cadillac Ranch is more popular than ever. It’s become a ritual site for those who travel The Mother Road. The smell of spray paint hits you from a hundred yards away; the sound of voices chattering in French, German, and UK English makes this one of the most polyglot places between the UN and Las Vegas.



Sure enough, when we arrived there shortly before 6 o’clock in the afternoon we found plenty of people at the site, many of whom wielded cans of spray paint to add their personal touches to Cadillac Ranch. What with a breeze blowing, I sometimes found it hard to approach the cars without worrying about breathing paint or getting some on my camera. Still, with perseverance I managed to take my pictures.  



So many successive layers of spray paint have been added over the years that they’ve created a whole topography on the once-smooth surfaces of the cars.



 In the final picture you can imagine the skin of a super-colorful reptile.



Note. While I was taking my pictures a small bird briefly landed on one of the Cadillacs. Thinking I might show that photograph, I e-mailed Shannon Westveer to see if I’d caught enough detail for her to identify the bird. She wrote back that it was an invasive European house sparrow. That led me to refrain from showing the picture because I don’t show photographs of species I know aren’t native. Shannon felt I should still show it as “outreach to the public on this species, i.e. why we should take down yard feeders if they are using them, to keep a keen eye out on bluebird boxes and martin houses, etc. We brought them here, they’re doing quite well in our built environment, and it’s on us to not make it even easier for them.” She included a link to an educational Texas Parks and Wildlife article, which I am including here.


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 3, 2023 at 4:33 AM

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