Saturday, May 20, 2017

NEW MEXICO: ODDS AND ENDS

We had a great time on our recent visit to New Mexico, and I thought I would wind up my account of the trip with some photos that didn't seem to fit in any of the other posts.

First, a few flora shots.  The first was taken outside the Georgia O'Keefe Museum.


I took this second of some oak leaves during our hike in Bandelier National Monument.


And the third below was on the grounds of the Casa San Ysidro museum in Corrales.


In addition to the Museum of Art and History, while in Albuquerque we visited the city's Museum of Natural History and Science.  It was an excellent museum, but not as photogenic as I had hoped.  Here is one shot of a sabre-toothed tiger in silhouette that I thought worked in black and white.


Then there were doorways.  In reviewing the photos that I kept from the trip, I realized that I took a lot of shots of doorways, many of which were included in previous posts for the trip.  Here are a couple that were not.



This latter was actually part a wider shot that included these windows.


Finally,  in Santa Fe I came across a pair of ornate wooden doors that had great texture.  I probably should have tried to get a shot of both doors, but wound up settling for this closeup.


Oner of the ways that I measure the success of a vacation is by the rate at which I take photos on the trip.  By that measure, this was a great vacation, despite some spotty weather.

John

SANDIA PEAK TRAMWAY

On our last evening in Albuquerque we took the tramway to the summit of Sandia Peak, east of the city.  There is a restaurant at the base of the tramway, Sandiago's, where we had an early dinner before boarding the tram for the summit, at an elevation of some 10,400 feet.  The ride up (as well as the ride back) takes 15 minutes and covers an elevation change of 3,800 feet over a distance of 2.7 miles.  It is the longest tramway in the United States.

Here, first, is a photo of one of the tram cars, which can hold up to 50 passengers.


The terrain is more rugged than I had thought.



I liked the following shot that I took at the summit.  I think it was the alignment of the three peaks at varying distances that appealed to me.


I also liked the following shot that featured the trees on the ridges being lit by the evening sun while the remainder of the mountainside was largely in shadow.


In the following shot I worked hard to capture the sun hitting the tram cables just before we began our descent.


We had hoped to stay at the summit until sunset, but it is about 20 degrees cooler at the top than down in the city and significantly windier, so we began our descent a little before sunset.  But I did catch this shot once we got down to the base of the mountain.


John

ALBUQUERQUE MUSEUM OF ART AND HISTORY

During our stay in Albuquerque, my wife and I visited the city's Museum of Art and History, located in the Old Town area.  I liked the museum a lot.  As its name indicates, it is a combination of an art and a history museum.  The first gallery that we visited was a special exhibit devoted to Hollywood.  The gallery was filled with movie posters, both old and recent, as well as a good deal of other movie and television memorabilia, including costumes from various movies and TV shows.  It was excellent.  Unfortunately, no photography was allowed in this gallery, so I have nothing to show.  However, photography was permitted in the other galleries, and I enjoyed the relatively small but interesting art collection.

First a photo of an exterior courtyard.


I liked this shot for its abstract perspective lines.  And somehow it seemed reminiscent of surreal art, perhaps because of its artificial vanishing point and because the art pieces in the courtyard seemed unrelated to one another.

The art that I was drawn to was primarily contemporary.  Here are some examples.







I particularly liked this last piece, though this image only includes a portion of the work of art.  This was actually a sculpture of sorts, consisting of pieces of subtly colored glass set at angles to each other to create unusual reflections.  A careful look reveals that the image has strong but imperfect symmetries.

I was able to underexpose the following spotlighted granite sculpture to turn the background black.


I was not particularly drawn to the historical sections of the museum, which primarily dealt with Albuquerque and New Mexican history.  But on our way out we did visit an exterior sculpture courtyard.  I have to say that I did not find the art in the courtyard particularly noteworthy, but I did like this semiabstract image that I took of the courtyard and that I converted to a black and white.


John

Friday, May 19, 2017

CORRALES, NEW MEXICO

On our trip to New Mexico, we spent the first three days in Santa Fe and the last two in Albuquerque.  On our way from the former to the latter city, we spent a few hours in Corrales, a lovely town northwest of Albuquerque, situated along the Rio Grande (yes, that Rio Grande).  Here first are a couple of semi-random photos I took in the town.



I had checked out touring a historical residence museum situated in the town.  However, when we got there late morning a docent told us that tours were generally limited to groups that had reserved in advance.  However, she said, the group of fourth graders currently touring would be gone at 1 p.m. and that we could return for a private tour.  So we had lunch at a nice little cafe in town and returned around 1 p.m.  When we did we were treated to a wonderful 1-1/2 hour private tour by a very knowledgeable docent.

The residence is known as Casa San Ysidro.  It was built in the late 19th century by the GutiĆ©rrez family.  In the 1950s the Minges family acquired it, expanded it, and furnished it with Spanish Colonial memorabilia.  More recently it has been converted to a museum.  Following are a few photos of the facility that I took.  Here first is the entrance.


This is deceptive because the actual doorway is the smaller opening in the panel on the left in the photo, which was, at best, only five feet high.  Not sure of the reason for the smaller opening, but I liked the light that I caught when I took the shot, which I thought showed off the combination of adobe and old wood.

Here is another doorway, leading to another doorway that I shot for the symmetry it provided.  The problem here was that my image was reflected in the doorway glass.


One of the rooms housed a number of religious objects.  The docent pointed out that the room included many more objects than a family living in such a residence would have owned.


One of the shots that I liked was of a courtyard behind the residence.


The early afternoon sun was high in the New Mexico sky, casting shadows that were approaching vertical.

Finally are a couple of detail shots.  The first is of a wood cabinet the lock and the patina of which I found appealing as a composition.


The second is of a simple vessel sitting on a simple table.  I thought the soft light and the neutral colors helped to make this shot.


John

LA FONDA

This post should probably be categorized as documentary rather than aesthetic.  In any case, during our recent visit to Santa Fe, we stayed at La Fonda.  When we visited Santa Fe in 2004, we stayed at the same hotel, on the recommendation of a colleague.  It was a great choice for our prior visit and wee felt the same about this visit as well.

La Fonda is a 150-room hotel that has been ranked as the best historical inn of its size in the U.S.  I wouldn't know about that, but it was filled with charm and was in the best possible location in Santa Fe, being situated in the historical district right between the main plaza and the cathedral.  The hotel was built in 1922 as a replacement for an inn that had burned down a few years previously.  La Fonda is located on the Camino Real running north from Mexico City and is at the western terminus of the Old Santa Fe Trail.

I regret that I did not take any photos of the exterior of the hotel.  But I did take some interior shots that I am posting here.  Each morning we took breakfast in the hotel's main captive restaurant, which was filled with charm.


One note about the dining room: On our previous stay we also had a breakfast here and sat next to a party that included the actor Jack Palance.

The hotel features a significant amount of local art or at least decor.  Here are a few examples.




Of course, I couldn't resist taking an abstract shot of some railings, along with a whimsical directional sign.



Finally, is a shot I took from our hotel window that features Santa Fe's iconic adobe, as well as an approaching rainstorm, one of the meteorological challenges with which we dealt during our visit.


John

Thursday, May 18, 2017

CATHEDRAL BASILICA OF ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI


The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi (aka St. Francis Cathedral) is located in Santa Fe's historical district.  Its Romanesque revivalist architecture differs significantly from the adobe style that otherwise dominates Santa Fe.  In that it is in some senses refreshing.  Here is a shot of the building's west facade.


Following is another shot I took at night showing the same facade being bathed in artificial light.


There are a few statues that grace the front of the church.  The statue that caught my attention was the bronze of St. Francis . . . and his dog (wolf?).


Later I realized that I could pose the statue directly in line with the cathedral's rose window.


The exterior was nicely detailed, as in the following.


The interior was, I thought, equally interesting.  Here, first, is a standard shot from the rear of the nave.


And another closer to the sanctuary.


Here is a shot from the front of the nave looking back toward the the rose window.


And finally a side shot midway up the nave showing some of the stained glass windows.


The cathedral is an absolute must-see for anyone visiting Santa Fe.

John

BANDELIER NATIONAL MONUMENT

Bandelier National Monument is 50 miles northwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico.  It is largely a wilderness area that includes a significant number of archeological sites created by cliff-dwelling Native Americans generally during the period from 1100 to 1400 CE.  We visited the area on our recent trip to New Mexico.  There are a number of fairly long hiking trails in the monument, but we confined our visit to the Main Loop, a trail that runs past a number of the ruins but is only about 1-1/4 miles in length.

The cliffs that were used for dwellings appear to be sedimentary rock but actually consist of tuff, a compared volcanic ash.  It is porous and much softer than sandstone and therefore very workable for creating cavities for shelters and other purposes.  Here are some examples of that.




The tuff was also cut into blocks that were then used to build other structures, as in the following.





Many of the cliff shelters were accessible by ladders extending up from the trail.  They, of course, are of recent vintage.



It did not rain during our hike, though the skies were threatening the entire time.


And, in fact, it began raining just as we were finishing our hike.

John