Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘New Mexico

Enjoy a cholla

with 41 comments


Make that three of them. The first two cholla cacti (Cylindropuntia sp.) were growing in New Mexico’s City of Rocks State Park on October 12th of last year. No extra charge for the bird’s nest.



Three days later I lay on my mat on the ground at the visitor center for Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque so I could incorporate the morning’s cottony clouds into my portrait.



And so as the sun sets in the west we bid farewell, at least for now,
to posts about our scenic travels in New Mexico and west Texas last October.


✪       ✪       ✪


I call your attention to a January 6th article in Quillette by Andrew Doyle titled “A Puritanical Assault on the English Language,” with subtitle “Social justice zealots think they can save the world by inventing absurd new ways to describe it.” Here’s how the article begins:

It is a truism that people are often educated out of extreme religious beliefs. With good education comes the ability to think critically, which is the death knell for ideologies that are built on tenuous foundations. The religion of Critical Social Justice has spread at an unprecedented rate, partly because it makes claims to authority in the kind of impenetrable language that discourages the sort of criticism and scrutiny that would see it collapse upon itself. Some would argue that this is one of the reasons why the Catholic Church resisted translating the Bible into the vernacular for so long; those in power are always threatened when the plebeians start thinking for themselves and asking inconvenient questions.

This tactic of deliberately restricting knowledge produces epistemic closure, and is a hallmark of all cults. The elitist lexicon of Critical Social Justice not only provides an effective barrier against criticism and a means to sound informed while saying very little, but also signals membership and discourages engagement from those outside the bubble.

It is inevitable that the principle of freedom of speech should become a casualty when powerful people are obsessed with language and its capacity to shape the world. Revolutionaries of the postmodernist mindset would have us believe that societal change can be actuated through modifications to the language that describes it, which is why Max Horkheimer of the Frankfurt School maintained that it was not possible to conceive of the liberated world in the language of the existing world. As for the new puritans, they have embraced the belief that language is either a tool of oppression or a means to resist it. This not only accounts for their approval of censorship and “hate speech” legislation, but their inability to grasp how the artistic representation of morally objectionable ideas is not the same as an endorsement.


You’re welcome to read the full article (at least if it’s not behind a paywall).


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 12, 2023 at 4:30 AM

Things that stick up

with 27 comments


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

Pictures of a different nature

with 19 comments


Every once in a while I show pictures that don’t feature nature. While the previous post about the Pecos National Historical Park did deal with nature, most people visit the place to learn about the cultural interchange between Spaniards and indigenous people that took place there several centuries ago.



The site is home to the remains of various structures, including a pueblo, a kiva, and most notably a church.



In my treatment of the church I mostly emphasized light, shadows, and textures while
going for minimalist compositions. In other words, I was playing art photographer.



Oh, what pretensions.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 12, 2022 at 4:27 AM

Fall colors at Pecos National Historic Park

with 16 comments


On October 19th we spent time at Pecos National Historical Park in north-central New Mexico. While most people visit the place for insights into the ways the Spaniards and native people interacted, as a photographer I still found things in nature to photograph—even if my task was made harder by a prohibition against wandering off the trails because this was a historic site with artifacts yet to be unearthed and restored.



The top picture shows how I looked down from a high place at trees turning bright yellow. At first I assumed the group at the right was cottonwoods (Populus deltoides subsp. wislizenii) but now the white bark makes me wonder if they were aspens (Populus tremuloides). The second photograph is one I could have taken at home because fragrant sumac (Rhus trilobata) grows in Austin. Below, chamisa, also called rubber rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa) was flowering, sometimes exuberantly.



One group of those plants attracted lots of butterflies, including a painted lady, Vanessa cardui, which I also could have photographed back in Austin (though not on chamisa). The smaller butterfly looks like it might have been a checkered skipper, Pyrgis communis, which also frequents central Texas.



© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 10, 2022 at 4:32 AM

Last day in New Mexico

with 22 comments


We drove out of Santa Fe on the morning of October 19th knowing it would be our last day in New Mexico. By late afternoon we’d be back in Texas—not Austin, but another Texas A: Amarillo (which is conveniently the Spanish word for ‘yellow’). We planned to take sinuous Interstate 25 to check out a much less famous Las Vegas than the one in Nevada, then dip down to Interstate 40 and eastward into the Texas panhandle. Not too long after we started following Interstate 25 I saw a sign to exit for the Pecos National Historical Park, which I’d never heard of. It sounded interesting, so we turned off on New Mexico Highway 50 and drove east to the little town of Pecos. That’s where I saw the colorful roadside row of trees that I take to be cottonwoods (Populus deltoides subsp. wislizenii), but if someone said they’re actually aspens (Populus tremuloides) it wouldn’t surprise me.

Then it was south on New Mexico 63, where before reaching the entrance to the park we stopped at an informational display about the Battle of Glorieta Pass. Who knew that an important battle of the American Civil War took place in New Mexico? As Wikipedia explains:

The Battle of Glorieta Pass (March 26–28, 1862) in the northern New Mexico Territory, was the decisive battle of the New Mexico campaign during the American Civil War. Dubbed the “Gettysburg of the West” by some authors (a term described as one that “serves the novelist better than the historian”), it was intended as the decisive blow by Confederate forces to break the Union possession of the West along the base of the Rocky Mountains. It was fought at Glorieta Pass in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in what is now New Mexico, and was an important event in the history of the New Mexico Territory in the American Civil War.

There was a skirmish on March 26 between advance elements from each army, with the main battle occurring on March 28. Although the Confederates were able to push the Union force back through the pass, they had to retreat when their supply train was destroyed and most of their horses and mules killed or driven off. Eventually the Confederates had to withdraw entirely from the territory back into Confederate Arizona and then Texas. Glorieta Pass thus represented the climax of the campaign.

From that stretch of NM 63 we had a good view of a broad and imposing mesa:



Looking 90° to the right, in the distance we could still make out
the snow-topped Sangre de Cristo Mountains that we were leaving behind.




✦        ✦        ✦


Been a while since I commented on recent spam I’ve gotten. The awkward English in a lot of spam points to foreign origins. Take, for example, “Thanks the information” and “I discover something tougher on diverse blogs everyday. Most commonly it is stimulating to learn content from other writers and use a little something from their website. I’d would rather apply certain using the content in this little blog regardless of whether you do not mind.” At least it didn’t say irregardless.

Some comments are actually in a foreign language. Google Translate tells me the “установка окон иркутск” I received the other day is Russian for “window installation [in] Irkutsk.” Too bad I don’t live in Siberia, or I might jump on the offer. Here’s one in Portuguese: “Muito boa a materia, gostaria de ver uma sobre pousadas no pantanal.” It means: “Very nice material, I’d like to see one about inns in wetlands.” Maybe the poster of the first comment can fly from Siberia to Brazil to install windows in the wetland inns that the second commenter conjured up.

And then there was the mysterious “A red apple invites stones.” An internet search indicates that it’s an Arabic/Kurdish/Turkish proverb. One website explains it as meaning “Good will be envied,” which seems a plausible interpretation. While searching for an explanation I came across a page with 85 Kurdish proverbs. Check them out, and you can be the first kid on your block to sprinkle your conversation with Kurdish proverbs like “Listen a hundred times; ponder a thousand times; speak once” and “When a cat wants to eat her kittens, she says they look like mice.”

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 8, 2022 at 4:27 AM

Closing an eventful day

with 6 comments


Late in the afternoon on October 18th we stopped at Camel Rock on US 84 north of Santa Fe. While no colorful sunset came to meet us there the way it had in 2017, for a brief time the sun did pierce the western clouds to spotlight parts of the badlands prominent on the eastern side of the highway. That dedicated light advantaged me, as did focal lengths at the long end of my 100–400mm lens, when I hurried to portray the illumined badlands formations before the clouds settled back in.



In the top picture, the snow-covered Sangre de Cristo Mountains provided the background. That’s where this one remarkable photographic day began. It included yellow aspens and cottonwoods and willows, forests, badlands, hoodoos, and of course snow-covered mountains. It has provided the material for 10 posts with at least two photographs apiece. I could easily have done more posts about that day but the time has come to move on, even as the next day saw us moving on.



§        §        §



Yesterday on a local television program the announcer spoke about “a California nursing home facility.” That last word is redundant because a nursing home is a kind of facility. Nothing is lost in saying “a California nursing home.” Similarly unnecessary is the last word in often-heard phrases like “in a school setting” and “in a hospital setting.” It’s sufficient to say “in a school” or “in schools,” “in a hospital” or “in hospitals.”


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 7, 2022 at 4:32 AM

Camel Rock again

with 17 comments


By the time we’d visited the Santuario de Chimayó and eaten at the Rancho de Chimayó restaurant to celebrate the Lady Eve’s birthday on October 18th, it was late afternoon and therefore too late to continue on to Taos, as we’d be losing daylight by the time we got there. We turned back toward Santa Fe. On the way down US 84 I couldn’t resist stopping again at Camel Rock. On our previous visit to the area in 2017 we’d lucked out and caught a great sunset there. No such luck this time. Still, a photographer has to deal with conditions as they are, and these two pictures show the approaches I tried. In both cases I played up the clouds, and in the second image I obviously went for a silhouette.



© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 5, 2022 at 4:26 AM

Chimayó: a sactuary for fall foliage

with 25 comments


The little town of Chimayó, about 25 miles north of Santa Fe, is famous for its Catholic shrine, El Santuario de Chimayó [The Santuary of Chimayó]. Now a National Historic Landmark, it receives some 300,000 visitors per year, and we two were among them on October 18th. We did enter the small church but spent almost all our time outside, where the trees on the property were putting on a great display of fall foliage. The tallest tree in the top picture is a cottonwood (Populus deltoides subsp. wislizenii), and the ones below it seem to be willows (Salix sp.). A stream, apparently called the Potrero [pasture, paddock] Ditch, which forms a border of the property, may account for the trees’ vigor. You see the yellow-bordered stream in the second photograph.



Even the nearby hills added a bit of pastel warmth to the autumn show:



© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 4, 2022 at 4:23 AM

From Nambé to Chimayó

with 20 comments


On October 18th at Nambé Pueblo I had a great time photographing the hoodoos and other formations. Then, as we continued north-northeast on Highway 503, which forms a portion of the High Road to Taos Scenic Byway, to reach Chimayó about 10 miles away, we kept seeing more parts of the Nambé badlands that deserved to pictured.



You’re seeing two of those pictures here. And who could resist the clouds
over the snow-covered Sangre de Cristo mountains off to the east?




© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 3, 2022 at 4:30 AM

More from Nambé Pueblo

with 6 comments



On October 18th at Nambé Pueblo I had a great time photographing the badlands. Today’s first two pictures provide closer looks at hoodoos on opposite sides of the panorama that set the scene two posts back. The patch of yellow at the edge of the second picture was a cottonwood tree, Populus deltoides subsp. wislizenii



And here’s a clear shot of the hoodoo that previously appeared behind trees:



© 2022 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 2, 2022 at 4:34 AM

%d bloggers like this: