Sunday, August 30, 2015

Acoma Pueblo and the woman with the blue umbrella...

Sunday, August 30, 2015
Here we are, back in Acoma, the Native American Sky City, named for it's place on top of a desolate, wind swept mesa in the middle of nowhere in the New Mexican desert.  Its been here for a thousand years.   I've been here before, but it didn't seem the same.  Been everywhere before, but it never seems the same.  Considering the holocaustic indignities we have inflicted on their people, it is a wonder that the Acoma people tolerate us at all.  Must be the steady flow of income we provide, but that doesn't mean they have to like us.  So the excursion was short and expensive.  Don't like to flaunt my senior privileges at the ticket booth, but at these prices...

Been here before and needed to return, if only to breathe in the experience of being in one of the most otherworldly, breathtaking places in America...the Indian Masada.  A good part of the tour was devoted to having our guide refresh our European collective unconsciousnesses about the absolute horrors of degradation and genocidal ethnic cleansing our ancestors wreaked on these once noble people; tortured, dehumanized, and denied their identity and language in the name of religion and manifest destiny.  The Europeans were horrible.  They left death and cultural decimation in their wake wherever they went, everywhere in the world was scared by them.  I left amazed, ashamed, and angry.

As always, my interests are photographic, but the tour was short, brisk, and insufficient to my needs, which drove me to follow my eye and not the tour guide, so on a number of occasions,  our group leader felt the need to chastise Jackie for my indifference to the direction and content of the tour, and my tendency to drift away and not stay with the group, so I did my best to behave, but I'm sure we won't be back, so it was now or never and I needed to follow my muse, as best as I could given the constraints.  Given more time and room to move I could have seen more, but this is a bit of the what's up there.

Adding to my discomfort was this annoying European woman with an open blue parasol who seemed to be everywhere, standing dead center of any interesting shot I was lining up.  To make matters worse, she was part of an equally annoying European family group whose members asked too many "meaningful" questions for my liking.  Further reason to drift away out of earshot and into more interesting areas.  After a while however, my annoyance with the woman with the umbrella turned to obsession and possibly in an act of self preservation/passive aggressive hostility, I began to stalk her with my camera, with interesting results.

By now, I'm sure she was feeling my malevolent intent.  If umbrellas could kill...


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Pablo and Jackie's Ansel Adams moment...

Friday, August 28, 2015:

Here we are in New Mexico, returning to our home base after checking out a dreary little town called Cuba.  Rather than taking the main road back, we made the questionable decision to take Route 4, which looks ok here, but going through the mountains, its a switchback rutted unmaintained nightmare of a one lane donkey trail dirt road winding through the desolate wilds of the Jemez Mountains with storm clouds dogging us all the way and threatening to turn an already iffy situation into mud as we struggled to make our way back through this landslide prone area back to Bernalillo.  A risky move that had us on the edge of our seats.   We didn't believe the warning signs, or more accurately, I didn't, but in the end it was worth it.

As we dodged a bullet and reached the base of the mountain covered in dust but none the worse for wear, we found ourselves passing through the town of San Ysidro close to sundown when all of a sudden, the sun broke through the clouds at that oblique angle that turns the world on its head for a short moment of time and then fades to grey.  The clouds in New Mexico have been spectacular and this late afternoon was no exception, producing this striking photo of the San Ysidro Catholic Church, reminding me in some vaguely photo romantic way of Ansel Adam's 1941 photograph, Moonrise over Hernandez...fortunate to be in the right place at the right time and completing the job during a narrow window of opportunity.

Being the recipient of good fortune in addition to a good eye, photographically,  I have occasionally been accused of photoshopping some of my shots.  Sour grapes I'm sure, but this is to assure you that the above full building shot of the church was taken and published as seen.  There are still people out there who wonder out loud whether Ansel Adam's might have superimposed two negatives to produce his iconic Hernandez image, something that always irked him.

Jackie took this great photo of the church with me in the lower left corner moving in to take the above picture of those doors.  Whenever I look at Jackie's pictures I am humbled.  Weather permitting, Sunday we head off to Acoma, the Native American Sky City, but for now I am signing off to take a shower and wash off the dust.