Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Another photo I shot back in Bellingham, in an overgrown vacant lot. The swallows were flying all around me and I just kept shooting and shooting, trying to track them as the swooped and zigzagged across the sky. Amazing creatures, swallows. I only got a few shots which came out. Getting them in frame at all and anywhere close to focused was a real task.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I'm King of the World!

Another shot taken in Bellingham, Washington several years back, but recently re-edited. I'm pretty fond of cormorants. They're tough and successful. Swimming birds. After they've been underwater for awhile they have to dry out their feathers so that they can fly again. They typically choose a prominent spot and often face into the sun and wind if they can do both at the same time. It's a striking sight, and even though I know it's strictly pragmatic-- it's the sort of thing which goes along with their personality when you get to know them.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Going to California

This photo is called "Going to California" and it was taken in Kingman, Arizona where we stopped for the night on our somewhat arduous move from Santa Fe, New Mexico, back to California where I have lived most of my life.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Santa Cruz Lighthouse at the harbor

Took this shot years ago in Santa Cruz, of the lighthouse at the Yacht Harbor. Only got around to editing it tonight, which is a good thing because I don't think my editing skills were as good years ago. Years from now hopefully the skills will be better still.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sandpipers in Santa Cruz, California

Took this photo of sandpipers doing what they do in the sea foam of the Pacific Ocean in Santa Cruz, California.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Model Mayhem or Flake City?

First and foremost, there is really nothing at all wrong with Model Mayhem. In fact it's a really easy to use website, quite seamless to do the standard things you'd want to do like upload or arrange photos or send messages. The website exists to put models in touch with photographers mostly, but also make up artists, clothing designers, hair stylists, etc. It's a very good site and I'm not knocking it at all. In fact, here's a link if you want to check it out modelmayhem.

So far the only problems I'm having are with the people. I've asked several models so far if they've been interested in doing a shoot, they've all responded positively to that. So I go "Great, here's my contact info lets meet over coffee and plan it. Do you mind if I bring my partner, Sheryl?"  And that's about as far as it ever gets. Some of them say, "I'm coming to your area this week" or that they come around here all the time. Some of them contacted me in the first place, and then flaked. True, I've only had contact with 5 or 6 so far, but I'm getting the sense that it's a trend.

I doubt it has anything to do with Chico, or Chico State, which is known to be a party school. It might have something to do with the general age of these models--- most are around age 20 or so. Maybe the idea, the concept of being a model is "I'm good looking, so maybe somebody will pay me to stand there and be pretty." When I'm pretty sure, speaking as a photographer and also as an all around older- -than-20-years-old guy, that there is a lot more to it than that. It's not the hardest work around, but it is work, and some people can play to the camera well and some can't.

When it comes to getting paid to model-- you might have to know something about that. You might need an agent or an agency, because paid modeling work is serious business, not a fairy tale. You've got a crew of professionals working collaboratively to produce a very fine product on a schedule, not "bang bang, shoot shoot, here's a wad of cash, now go home." But you've got to get started somewhere, and so Model Mayhem could be a good start. It could also be a place to just fart around and play fantasy games, without every having to pony up and actually do something, like follow through and show up, or at least follow through with making a plan which actually involves showing up.

Lest you think I'm naive, I didn't expect everyone on this site to be a professional, not even close. Most who do anything do TFCD at least for awhile until a decent portfolio is established. TFCD is a trade wherein all those involved are trading their time and effort for the end product: the photos themselves. It used to be called TFP which is "trade for prints" back in film days. I just didn't expect the first half dozen contacts to come up zilch, especially when they are expressing interest, have seen my portfolio and presumably my website and then. . .  nothing. They did put themselves up on the site. They do state that they want to improve or add to their portfolio, that they are willing to do TFCD. Many have really woefully inadequate portfolios: a handful of fuzzy, grainy, red eye snapshots and could really use my help. I may not be the #1 fashion or even portrait photographer in the region, but I can do much better than what many of them have right now, and my portfolio shows that. If they don't like what I've got, they're under no obligation to respond or to contact me in the first place. So what's with the flake factor?

Either I get it or I don't. In a vacuum  I'm going to have to make my own assumptions. The first, and pretty much undeniable one is that the vast majority in this venue aren't even the least bit serious, and that it is just a fantasy or a game to them. Maybe we should blame the mass media for this one too-- that's not my favorite thing to do, however. Have our younger generation gotten the idea that being and young and pretty is your entire one-way ticket to Moneyville? That all you have to do is hang out a snapshot or two and the mavens of fashion will swoop down upon you, raining dollars like manna from heaven because you are the one in a million who is in possession of the perfect pout? Wow. I hope that's not it.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Strange days in Chico, or OM is a dirty word

Having a few issues here and there, probably have little to do with Chico but it is where I happen to be. I left here back in about 2004, partly because it's too damn hot in the summertime, partly because I've always found Chico to be an "affable" place, which does not distinguish itself in any way other than it's overall "pleasantness". And I was a little bored, so I left.

My partner interviewed for a minimum wage job, and that's not so philosophically central to Chico either, just fallout from our "great recession" when somebody so highly qualified and educated as she has to do that. However it may be considered a little more "acceptable" here, in that it's a fairly small town with a lot of recent college graduates: many if whom stay here because they like it here and will accept pretty much any wages offered. But again, that might be true across the country right now, I  just don't know.

Still working at generating some "buzz" for my photography business here in Chico, whereas I was getting better results back in the bay area previously with a portfolio less developed than what I have now. Strikes me as a little odd, since we were in Santa Cruz which has about the same population as Chico.

In the meantime I sometimes put fun or inspiring messages on T-shirts and bumper-stickers and such, and for some reason lately the print company has rejected some of my latest designs; like the symbol for "OM" or "AUM". Is somehow considered offensive. . . on what, a post-card? A sticker or a keychain? Why? yes I wrote them about it, because they also once rejected my "Ganesha Loves You" design as well, and there have been others. Bear in mind that a simple search of their website reveals such gems as "F---K You!" and "My God can beat up your God, so s---k my d---k." Except without my censorship of dashes where the real letters go. Imagine what I'd find if I really looked.

One thing I've had to learn about email, even though I rely upon it heavily, is that not everyone gets their email in a timely manner. Sometimes they aren't received at all. So you can't really judge people based on the stuff they don't answer. Like, maybe they forgot. But when you're newly arrived back in a small town, you want some connection, and anything can feel like a rejection. Same goes for facebook friending; not everyone has the same criteria. Some folks only want family on the list, or just people from work, or whatever. We're all different.

Now, for some reason i was able to put some stuff on black t-shirts but not other things, and I may never know why, so here goes. If the image below disappears, you'll know that the PC police have deleted it. I didn't

AUM OM shirt
AUM OM by paulnsheryl
Be a t-shirt affiliate with Zazzle.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

It Takes A Village To Sell A Self-Published Book

 We live in Chico now, and I have been primarily focusing on my role as a photographer, but I have a whole other life as a writer. Sheryl and I spent two years in eastern Arizona, living in the high desert, off the grid about 20 miles from the nearest town. This came immediately on the heels of living in ultra liberal Santa Cruz, California and making our way as spiritual counselors. We decided to write a book about the experience-- this book is mostly Sheryl's doing and she's written and published several other excellent books, but I had a part in it. So, I'm "guesting" something from Sheryl here in order to get the word out and around Chico, Oroville, Paradise and in general around Butte county or anyplace else that this blog may reach.


It Takes A Village To Sell A Self-Published Book

by Sheryl Karas on Thursday, August 4, 2011 
We could use help getting the word out. Whether this is a book you want for yourself or not, surely there are people in your lives who would be interested... if they knew it existed.


What book?
Waking Up In the Great Recession Mormon Desert 
Written by Sheryl with additions and editing by Paul. Read all about it at the link above.

Who might be interested?
  • Memoir lovers, and lovers of true-life adventures.
  • People curious about us.
  • People who love storytelling mixed with humor and philosophy.
  • Self-employed people.
  • Artists and writers.
  • Alternative health practitioners.
  • Gays and lesbians, their allies, people who support gay rights.
  • Santa Cruz folks, Californians, people from Arizona.
  • People making community online, marketing their goods and services online, or those attempting it.
  • People who care about community, love, peace, and social justice.
  • People concerned about the currently, horribly polarized political scene, and what might shift things.
  • People living through their own Great Recession sagas.
  • Spiritual but not religious folks, New Age thinkers, meditators, Hindus, Pagans, Buddhists, progressive Christians, Jews, Mormons and anyone who cares about freedom of religion (or freedom not to have one).
  • People who still care about life purpose and wanting to contribute to the highest good of all concerned.
Please send them to this link where they can see the book cover, find out more about it, and read excerpts and the fantastic reviews it has gotten. They can buy it as an inexpensive pdf ebook instant download with full color photos and art or as a conventional text-only physical book with a color cover, autographed by us, of course!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

David Blair, Poet Extraordinaire.

I was sad to hear of David Blair's death, apparently in a hotel room in Detroit. I heard a rumor that he had checked into the hotel to escape the heat, and that he was not feeling well. But another report said that he was found in his home, so don't quote me. It's said that a maid found him, and the preliminary cause of death is presumed to be heat-stroke. He's gone, and it's very sad. And that he is gone can't be undone by knowing more. He was 39. I only met him once at a reading in Bellingham, and shot a few photos when I was just about done shooting at that particular venue. He had an amazing voice and presence and his poetry was powerful and thought provoking.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Photographer's Favorite Portraits-- I am in Chico now.

A cafe portrait, not from Chico, but shot in Bellingham WA about 6 years ago.

Another portrait not taken in Chico, yet. Getting noticed in Chico as a photographer seems to be a task on my list yet to be completed adequately. But I'm working on it.

This is Julia from Bellngham, WA. Originally from Sequim, actually. I did a bunch of informal family photos and printed them on the spot as gifts to my "models" for posing. I probably wouldn't do the same today, because I'm a but meticulous about retouching. But I'm sure if I keep putting myself out there as a portrait photographer in Chico, things will work out. Visit my website for more, here's the link http://paulhood.com

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Some basic photography tips.

Cameras do lie. They lie a lot. They like to lie. One of their favorite ways to lie is by having very shallow dynamic range compared to the human eye. Dynamic range in this case means the ability to handle extremes of light and darkness. HDR ( high dynamic range ) photography attempts to overcome this shallow range by using multiple frames of the same image, shot at different exposure values, and then recombining those frames to compress said range into a single image. It's still a lie, but it can look pretty cool, or it can look pretty bizarre and ugly.

In the old days before HDR people like Ansel Adams used some pretty tricky techniques in the field and the darkroom to get very similar, ( but typically more artful ) results to HDR photography, including the combining of multiple frames shot at different exposures. "unsharp mask" was also created in the darkroom, "dodging and burning" and so on. A lot of the stuff that you see today in photoshop was originally discovered or invented, or at least studied by photographers who died before we were born. We owe them some respect if we're going to call ourselves "photographers."

The art of photography is the most important thing. It's a human art. Technique and technical matters come second. That being said, if you aren't going to learn anything about how your tools work, why not? You learned to read, you learned math, so what's the problem?

Cameras have parts similar to the eye and parts not so similar.
The general sensitivity to light is called "ISO" or formerly as film speed "ASA". Think of it as how well you can see in the dark, or how much bright light is more than you can stand. High ISO like 1600 means very sensitive to light. Low ISO like 100 means not so sensitive, but can handle bright light.

"Aperture" is very like the pupil of your eye, it also helps to control how much light enters the camera to be utilized. A smaller aperture lessens the transmission of light. Larger apertures let more light in. It's that simple; except that small apertures also increase "depth of field" which means more of an image will be in focus from front to back. A very small aperture, such as a "pinhole camera" has such great depth of field that it doesn't even need a glass lens, just a pinhole. You don't have to focus a pinhole camera, everything is in focus. Small apertures can also help a crappy lens look a bit sharper.

"Shutter speed" is the last aspect of controlling the quantity of light entering the camera. This is also similar to your eye, sort of. Did you know that 24 frames per second was discovered to be "persistance of vision?" This is the rate at which your eye can basically stop motion. It's pretty slow. This is one area where cameras tend to beat the human eye on two points: a very long (slow) shutter speed can allow a camera to see in the dark. Your eye can't do that. You can stare at the same night scene as long as you want and it won't get any brighter. Conversely a fast shutter speed, say 1/4000th of a second can freeze motion like your eye can't. They call it "shutter speed" because it's very like opening and closing a shutter. In the old, old days some cameras had no shutter-- you simply removed the lense cap, and then put it back on again. You can still do this, especially with a pinhole camera. It's fun. Shutter speed generally does not affect image quality such as depth of field, like aperture does, but this confuses people because a slow shutter speed can cause images to come out blurry if anything moves or if you shake the camera. That's why so many pictures shot in low light tend to come out blurry. Moving on. . .

You can buy a camera and put it on "auto" and take a lot of pictures. Now that we have digital cameras, you can shoot thousands of pictures and it costs you nothing. Sooner or later you will get lucky and get some nice shots. You won't know how you did it. You won't be able to do it again without taking a lot more pictures until you get lucky again. You will miss a lot of great shots because your camera on auto will make some dumb decisions which ruin the shot. One of the dumbest decisions a camera can make is choosing from about 2 dozen autofocus points all over the frame. Cameras can make many many many dumb decisions. Wouldn't you rather make your own? At least you can be proud of them after the fact.

Oh yeah, "f-stops" are aperture measurements. A big number is a small aperture. Like F22, it's small but not a pinhole. Memorize that. Big number is a small aperture, lets in less light, but has greater depth of field, also called "depth of focus" but don't say that, because other photographers will peg you as a novice. A big aperture is a small number, like f2.8, or f1.4 or f1.2. It lets in a lot of light, but the depth of field will be shallow. With a big aperture like f1.2 a portrait photographer can have your eyes and lips in focus, the tip of your nose soft, and the background all nice creamy blur. The out of focus blur is called "bokeh". The quality of this blur is like fine wine to a photographer. Don't ask me why, we're funny that way.

If you can remember that big numbers in f stops like f22 are small apertures which let in little light, and that big numbers in shutter speeds like 1/4000th of a second are fast shutters which also let in little light, it will be helpful to you. ISO is the opposite. Big numbers means more light sensitivity. Somewhere a photographer invented this system just to confuse the hell out of you.

I brought up f1.2 in case you wondered where they get those strange numbers. If you had a lens whose maximum aperture is f1, that means that the ratio of the focal length of the lens relative to the internal diameter of the lens is a one to one ratio. Not exactly, though, I've simplified it for you because it involves the focal length of the lens relative to the film plane, but close enough. An f1 lens is a FAT lens ( literally and figuratively ). If you have one, send it to me.

So, those are most of the basics of how a camera controls the quantity of light used to produce an image, and the why of it: a camera with with a much much wider "dynamic range" would not need any of these controls but even our eyes have limits like pupils ( aperture ) persistence of vision (shutter speed) or ultimately the sensitivity of the "rods and cones" and the optic nerve ( ISO or ASA referred to as film speed )

If any of this confuses you just remember that a simple camera is just a box with a hole in it, and every other camera is just a variation on that theme.

Next time maybe, "white balance" AKA "color temperature" expressed in "Kelvins" if anybody wants to know.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Some favorite portraits of mine.

Jen Martin Owen at her wedding in 2005.

A musician whom I barely knew, taken at a cafe in Bellingham in 2005. She wouldn't recognize herself here.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Some photos and musing on manipulated images.

 I took this shot back in 2008, outdoors with supplemental lighting. The model is named Vivian. Vivian had some concerns about certain camera angles that she thought wouldn't be flattering. I had pretty much no idea what she meant. It is taking me rather a long time to get used to the idea that many people are concerned with how they look on camera. In fact I used to sharpen every detail even on my portraits. I don't really have a problem with wrinkles or freckles, but I'm having to learn to remove "imperfections", or accentuate certain features and subdue others. It's difficult in a way, because I find people so interesting, so beautiful that I don't want to change a thing. But the camera puts in it's own bias. So does the light. So do a lot of things. The portrait is not the person. It's a frozen moment in time. The best compliments I get are those which speak to capturing a person's "essence" and i just heard another photographer say the same thing exactly. I think it's what we strive for in one way or another.
 This is an older photo from 2005, taken in a cafe I think. her face and the angle of her pose, the tilt of her head reminds me of someone who might have posed for a renaissance era painting. I also like the contrasting feel introduced by the Ramones t-shirt. The Ramones were a pioneering punk rock band.
 This was one of my favorite "Poetry Night" portraits when I shot for a weekly open mic poetry event. This young woman had a very quiet, calm and charismatic presence. There were a lot of people at Poetry Night who impressed me very much.
This is a current "portrait" of a cappuccino. Yes, that is the correct number of p's and c's, I had to look it up. Shot in available light which was nearly 100% artificial and from numerous sources. Luckily the weird mix of color temperatures didn't ruin the shot. In fact I think the reflected yellow light from the upper left corner was an enhancing element. I have far fewer hangups and attachments about retouching a cup of coffee than a person's face or body. I can push the envelop quite a bit on a landscape or a macro. People are another story altogether.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Another street portrait.

This is another shot I took on the street in Bellingham around 2005. Charming young woman.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Inspiration from old works

 In the name of keeping up my artistic interest I am revisiting some old photos like these. The one above I shot in Bellingham in about 2005. My main reason for shooting this was to spook a dog who was charging me by popping my flash unit at him. It worked, and he stopped. Then I discovered that I liked the image.

 Bellingham Bay is a beautiful little body of water. Deceptive in that it seems sheltered and calm, but there are some serious currents. I understand that kayaking at the wrong time of day can leave you swept out to sea and unable to return. Nonetheless a lot of kayakers take the trip, and of course so do fishermen. Some do not return. The shot above is of a kayaker returning home at dusk. He's assisted by a companion seagull.

Another shot of Bellingham Bay, this time a fishing boat is shown in soft focus due to the long exposure. I like the dreamy, soft feel of this shot.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The old days lead to the new days.

Add caption

In 2005 I lived in Bellingham WA for about a year. I was working as a photojournalist/reporter right around the time that newspapers started crashing and burning (figuratively) left and right. Needless to say, I was a newsman for less than a year, but during that year I was given the opportunity to take a lot of street portraits, and as I did I became more and more enamored of people, of faces, and in general of the beauty in the world which so often goes unnoticed or at least under-appreciated. I had been trained as a photographer when I was a kid, but having a new digital, plus a "license" to shoot: "Excuse me, I'm a reporter with the Whatcom Independent, do you mind if I ask you a question. . ." opened up a whole new world to me. In my off time I also pointed the camera at every bird, bug, flower, plant that I could, or in general, every instance of interesting light cast upon anything which struck me as beautiful. A short time later I was shooting live shows, especially "Poetry Night", "The Cody Rivers Show" the odd live band that I came across, plus a few after hours candids in bars and burrito joints around Bellingham. It was a pretty lively time, until I discovered my photos being copied and posted all over the internet without my permission, and that getting paid for my work in most circumstances was a whole other story. Live and learn.

Years later now and I find that I don't have as much enthusiasm to shoot just about anything in sight. In some ways it's a good thing, and the lulls in inspiration often lead to change and growth as an artist-- out of necessity. You're going to be miserable or you're going to grow. There's no use in pretending that taking yet another photo of a bird or a sunset is exciting to you if it really isn't anymore. You have to change. Everybody is different of course, so while I may be burning out on landscapes, the next guy is just getting warmed up, and a month or a year later I might be seeing landscapes through new eyes, but only if I'm honest I think, and heed my own muse now, even if it means putting one or two things down so that I can pick up fresh elsewhere.

I've been looking back through some of my older stuff too, and I find that this leads me also. What did I do that I forgot about since? Where did my wonder used to be? It's all there if you look for it, including "gems" which somehow slipped through the cracks. Dust them off and have another look.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Old dog, new tricks.

 Every once in a while I lose some enthusiasm for photography, and that's a good thing because the next step is trying out new things. I haven't shot flowers much in a long time, partly because they don't sell very well. I don't know why. I like them. Anyway for the image above I tried some new techniques involving a high pass filter as a layer, a blurred image as a layer, some color tweaking as layers, a black and white version as another layer, etc.

 The above is the smiley version of my dad. Lighting conditions: backlit. I used fill flash on the above. It took some fair amount of tweaking just to undo some of the nasty effects of fill flash, like those little pinpoint reflections for example which pop up everywhere on the teeth, eyes, even pores of the skin. These are pretty much just snapshots which I then touched up. from a human, everyday point of view, the above is pretty much the image/impression you'd get of my dad in person and that's what I was going for. I know some photographers want to make every image "pop", but I seriously don't always find that appropriate. I want people who know Bruce to look at a picture like this and go "yeah! That's the Bruce I know."
Now this on the other hand, isn't really Bruce. Any photographer can catch an odd image and run with it. Diane Arbus was particularly good at this. I thought I'd give a try at something dramatic. This is the same snapshot conditions as the other one, but instead of fill-flash I overexposed by one stop and purposefully blew out the background. Then I proceeded to use a bunch of editing tricks. I find the light much more interesting in this one. My dad was a good sport, it's not terribly flattering.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sycamore Pool at one mile, twilight, bidwell park.

Took this the other day at Bidwell Park in the one mile area. I believe it's called Sycamore pool, though everyone calls it "One Mile".

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Little things in Bidwell Park

 The cracks in this tree bark remind me of dancing Fair Folk.

Hearts of ivy.

Chico is a pretty place

Some random but fairly accurate views on Chico above. I don't know those folks, or that company, Build.com but. . . I wouldn't mind knowing them.

Long overdue for an update here. We left Santa Fe in the middle of April to a promised job and housing at an Inn in Grass Valley. It was a somewhat arduous trip. The night before our journey I found a large nail and a screw in the front tire of our moving van-- after we had loaded it to the gills. Emergency service came and changed it out in the driveway that very night. The trip from Santa Fe to Cali includes some 6% grades, high winds, bad roads and high temperatures depending on the time of year that you travel. Finding the cheapest moving van, loading it down and then towing your jeep with same: in this case meant that tired old truck kept heating up on the grades and that makes me very nervous. But we made it. I was mostly too busy driving to take pictures. However: Tehachapi, or the hill country around it is a really beautiful place.

Long story short, on arrival in Grass Valley our employer reneged on the agreement. I'm not naming names, but first she tried to talk us out of unloading the truck within 24 hrs of our arrival, then she tried to scare us out of taking the job at all but we weren't about to quit. Within a few days, and more than a week before our actual start date we were "fired" and being told that we were "too good for the job." Further discussion revealed that this person considered themselves "very intuitive" and that she knew we were wrong for the job the minute she met us. In fact they ( a couple ) decided that they were going to work the job themselves and put the whole Inn up for sale. That, in fact, the Inn didn't make enough money to support them plus a housekeeper. Yes, but we drove all that way, incurred a lot of expenses and because of this sudden reversal, were going to have to incur a whole lot more. That's about all I want to say about that.

Having no backup plan, and essentially being put out on the street days later we took refuge in Chico, where we have some family. We spent about 3 weeks in a Motel 6 before finding new living quarters. Things are looking better now. We're making some changes in how we do the things we do, and like a lot of people we're also looking for jobs.

Chico is a pretty place. I've lived here before; got my 3 college degrees here and rather enjoyed it. It's half the living expenses of living in the Bay Area or for that matter the Los Angeles area. We've had a couple of interviews already, and some of our business interests have picked up. It gets hot here. We didn't escape the Arizona or New Mexico heat, just traded it for California heat.

Upper Bidwell Park, Chico, California.

A macro I am titling, "The Still Point". Also shot in Bidwell Park.

Big Chico Creek as seen from a footbridge. This river runs through the center of town and the center of Bidwell park which is a good five miles long not counting the the increasingly rugged upper park.

"Wild Oats."


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Two Santa Fe's

Even though we're still in Santa Fe I decided to dig back through my collection a little and see if I had neglected anything. Found this shot from our time in Turners Falls, MA, and decided to work with it. Turners is one of many mill towns along the Connecticut river. We took a liking to it, especially to the people there. But we had left all of our belongings back in Arizona, including the jeep, and we needed to come back and deal with all that.

So now we find ourselves in Santa Fe, having decided to come here for specific reasons-- low unemployment (in theory, though the employment is very seasonal and about 78% of the money here comes from tourism in the Summer months primarily). We also came here because it's not Arizona. Of late that State has been gaining national recognition for far right wing politics, bigotry and paranoia. But most of all Sheryl and I came to New Mexico for the art market of Santa Fe; the second largest in the US, despite being a rather small city of about 70,000 souls.

But there are two Santa Fe's, at least. The art market is a small grouping of galleries along Canyon road, The Plaza, and to a lesser extent the Railway District. All that is very nice and fairly upscale and touristy-- not so slick and polished as Carmel, but for sure a destination for the art buyer or the art tourist. The rest of the city sprawls all over the place, is not terribly pretty, and seems to have nothing to do with the "art core" of the place. Besides the money from tourism the rest of the place is sustained by government jobs, as this is the State capitol. As far as countryside, views etc, most of the place feels closed in upon itself. The topography is "high and dry". If you like sunny weather, there's a ton of it. If you like lakes and streams, there are none. None. Dry river beds full of sand. I adjusted pretty easily to the 7000 feet altitude, but I think we expected some kind of magic here, and we aren't particularly experiencing that in "The and of Enchantment". Maybe that's our fault, and maybe that's OK too. We've been learning a lot and the people here are pretty marvelous, just as they have been everywhere we go.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Beacon, Santa Fe

People come to Santa Fe for a lot of reasons, most are just visiting. In fact, tourism supports about 78% of the local economy, give or take. . . it's an interesting small city. I'm taking pictures to illustrate some of what I see and some of what I think about.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Vertical Obstructions

You can see this much better if you click on it to enlarge. I got intrigued by the fact that most of Santa Fe includes all kinds of obstructions to the fantastic views all around the city. I decided to go ahead and include some of them into the composition.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sway the Jury

Saw these striking trees looming above the courthouse here in Santa Fe and took a few shots. It reminded me of a jury of peers being swayed by a convincing argument, and the sky appeared to be involved also.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

New Work, titled "Small World"

Today's work titled "Small World". This was shot a short walk from where we're currently staying Santa Fe. I was struck by the small oasis of land populated by a lone Teepee, within city limits and with the enchroachment of other structures nearby. I'm frequently confronted by history and the joining of cultures here; sometimes harmonious, sometimes not, always interesting.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Still in Santa Fe

 The above is a detail crop of a much, much larger image that I did titled "Winter Promise, Madrid" and while I do a fair amount of editing my photos I rarely "paint" to the degree I've done here. Really I have not seriously painted since I was a teenager. But I am getting inspired to paint, draw or sculpt from my exposure to all the wonderful art around us here. Below is the wider view;
Winter Promise, Madrid by Paul Hood
Winter Promise, Madrid by Paul Hood

This is a very large old cottonwood tree on Canyon Road which is the original art gallery district here in Santa Fe. This district began as just a row of houses where artists lived and began putting out their own artwork for sale on the street. It's a bit more developed now as professional galleries, the rent has consequently been driven up and few artists can afford to live right on the row and sell their own work. I was inspired to produce this image of what has to be the oldest tree in the area, but I added in a red root structure spreading across and obliterating the road. The roots appearing as rivulets of red paint, or blood, or flame depending on how you see it.

Pilgrimage, Santa Fe by Paul Hood
Pilgrimage, Santa Fe by Paul Hood

And in this shot I was lucky enough to have somebody walk into frame while i was shooting. He's way in the background but it makes for a more interesting shot.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

Santa Fe

 Partway to Santa Fe we stopped over in a Motel 6. We basically drove in a blizzard, and it was a bit nerve wracking. The following day we drove on into Santa Fe and there were several wrecked and stranded cars on the median, including one precariously balanced on it's side in the snow. Yeesh. We could've picked a better time to move, but we got there.

One of the sights outside of Santa Fe in a tiny town called Chimayo.