Childhood Graveyard

When I was a kid, we lived in an apartment across from a graveyard, which became my imaginations iconic cemetery setting from that point forward. When I read Revelations, the judgement took place in that cemetery.  When I wrote a story about my grandmother for a high school competition, it ended in that cemetery (she’s buried elsewhere, a few miles away).  When Harry Potter first fought Voldemort – that cemetery.

It was a dark and shady place, with big wrought iron gates, tall, somber trees, and winding gravel paths just wide enough for cars to pass on.  There were tall statues sprinkled around the south side of the grounds, honoring those with enough money and desire to invest in them, and small, nearly unmarked grave sites on the far east side of the lot, a more traditional New Mexico graveyard, covered in pinwheels and artificial flowers.  There was a “children’s area” on the west side, an area that, at 8 years old, I was especially loathe to visit.

Last year, while visiting in the area, I decided to visit the old place with my camera, nearly 30 years having passed.  I was unexpectedly surprised to find so much changed, and bemused to think how much of that change was only my perception.

The cemetery is now much smaller and brighter than I remember- more organized, and with far fewer trees and statues.  The graves in the east appear to have been moved, replaced with tidy grass and a wall for cremated remains. On the far north side, where I haven’t a memory of ever being, there was not only a 100+ year old Jewish cemetery but also a more organic New Mexico-style graveyard, a dirt lot with various markers and stones.   As a mother of my own 8-year old now, I still found the west side too disturbing to visit.

The Jewish Cemetery

The oldest graves I found, and the most beautiful headstones, were in this area.  The family plot that I spent the most time with was the Block family, with 3 children all lost in their first year of life.

 

The “Organic” Graveyard

Without much tree cover and a thunderstorm rolling in, this area was hot, mocking my cool and shady childhood recollections. Throughout the area were a handful of strikingly similar wrought iron rectangles — my heart sank as my suspicions were confirmed, each one cradling the loss of an infant.

The Main Cemetery

A far more orderly and predictable version of the cemetery setting I carry inside my head. The use of infrared and the heavy clouds rolling gave the space a quiet, winter feel that, on some level, feels like I took back my graveyard setting just a little.

 

A Palate Cleanser

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I don’t know why, but I was mesmerized by this composition tucked away in our botanical garden- discrete, balanced, and demure- just outside the luxurious, almost ostentatious, wisteria wedding courtyard.

Submitted this week to Leanne Cole’s excellent Monochrome Madness collection.

Motion

2015_03_27_2885-1-1000pxA few weeks ago I took myself on a photo trip to Explora, our awesome children’s science museum, to add an indoor twist on a series I am building about the new texture of play. This place practically vibrates with motion and energy, and I, without my children (shhh, don’t tell them!), allowed myself to just drift with my camera on the waves of the space and the noise.  It was an intense visit – exhausting, really, with rolling waves of hundreds of children on field trips – a barely contained chaos – undulation large and small.

Out of deference for their teachers (“who is that lady with the big camera taking pictures of our students?!”) and my own timidness, I kept my lens trained on inanimate objects, finding some beautiful (and far more manageable) motion there too.

Children’s Guard

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This week’s monochrome madness image is one of my favorite IR shots to date- the playful dragon who guards our Bio Park’s Children’s Garden, draped in smirks and vines.  Though I get more use out of our membership alone than with the kids, I highly recommend a visit if you are ever in the Albuquerque area.

I am debating between the pure monochrome version or a blue and white tone (below) – let me know what you think!

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Early Bird

2015_04_22_3754-1-1000pxThis week most surely conspired against its Weekly Photo Challenge, Early Bird. While I am often up early in the morning, doing so with the intention of taking photographs– without being away on vacation– was most certainly fraught with setbacks.

That said, I got some good shots in on Wednesday morning, from my home.  It was nice to sneak outside, eyes sleepy and bare feet pressed against the cold concrete, with camera in hand (and tied around my neck, lol) while the coffee brewed.  The morning air is always my favorite; cool and damp before the dry desert day sets in and the sun casts its long lines and draws the color out of everything.  It’s unfortunately too early in the year for our most dramatic dawns and dusks, but the sky’s color gradient was beautifully tender and soft light made it easy to capture the garden’s colors and shapes.

Please enjoy!

Take Two

Last Friday I left the office early to sneak in some quiet photo time at the aquarium and the bio park and was, once home and uploaded, amazingly disappointed in the pictures I got.  I got some of the shots I had been planning for, and am still processing them, but on the whole, I was very disappointed.

Interestingly, though, instead of feeling set back (the problems were absolutely oversight and human error, total rookie mistakes, I assure you) I felt a very deep and nagging desire to go back there and get it right, dammit.

The images that I was trying to get were only somewhat time sensitive and frankly not so different from the other shots I’ve done there. But the feelings of discernment, of tenacity, and of ‘I KNOW I can do better than this’ confidence were unexpectedly persistent. I have been doing photography again for about a year, and this was the first time that I felt, fully, that I knew what I wanted, knew how to get it, and knew that if I went back and tried again, I’d get the shots I had in my mind, at a level of quality I could be proud of.

So I did. And I feel as if, not so much in the pictures as in the ownership of my craft, I am slowly claiming my own title of artist.

 

Captive Nature Subjects

For being a desert, we have one hell of a zoo, botanical garden, and aquarium. Truly the easiest place in town to find beautiful, natural subjects. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel (but, you know, nothing dies).