Sunday, April 30, 2017

Pictured here are my son, Ted, and Birna who works for the Handknitting Association of Iceland. Ted bought me a sweater from the Association last year and it was the wrong size. So I contacted the Association (via email) and Birna was very helpful in replacing my beautiful sweater with one that fit perfectly. When in Reykjavik this month, we stopped in and introduced ourselves to Birna to thank her for all her help. She seemed pleasantly surprised and was a treat to speak with. Thanks Birna!
Fishing is the main industry in Iceland, followed closely by tourism. Iceland has chosen not to join the European Union as they wish to be free of EU regulations that could effect catch quotas, prices, and types of fish and whales caught. While there my son and I ate Minke Whale meat and it was very tasty ... and very expensive. A small serving (about 1-2 ounces) cost 4400 kroner (about $44!). Iceland also is home to aluminum smelters powered by thermal steam and heat. The borax is shipped from Australia and smelted in Iceland because the power is so inexpensive. There are three aluminum smelters in Iceland, in Reyðarfjörður, East Iceland, owned by Alcoa, on Grundartangi near Akranes, West Iceland, owned by Norðurál Century Aluminum and in Straumsvík near Hafnarfjörður, Southwest Iceland, owned by Rio Tinto Alcan Iceland.
The Lutheran Cathedral in Reykjavik, Iceland. Reykjavik (smoky bay) is the capitol of Iceland and has a population of about 200,000. The overall population of Iceland is about 325,000; mostly people of Scandinavian stock who came from Norway and Denmark in the 9th and 10th centuries. Lutheranism is the state religion of Iceland. The statue in front of the Cathedral is Leaf Ericson (the founder of Iceland).

Sunday, January 29, 2017

With names like Cuchillo and Chloride, you would expect to find buildings and ruins like these in New Mexican ghost towns. And that's why I drove 1,000 miles to Southern New visit and photograph these unique and photogenic spots. Armed with my trusty AAA Gazetteer, a generic road map, and a smartphone map app I set out to discover and record my findings.

Following the Civil War, men and women struck out into the southwest looking for land and wealth; rumors of gold and silver discoveries stoked the imaginations of people from the Midwest and the East. Thousands came to Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado in search of riches and mineral wealth; the land (owned by Mexico until 1848) yielded gold and silver in huge quantities and was the force behind the growth of towns like Contention, Arizona; Chloride, New Mexico; and Durango, Colorado. As fast as the towns grew, they collapsed and died. People moved away and left the many ghost towns that, today, dot the Southwestern mountains and desserts.

But I found an interesting wrinkle to many of these ghost towns. They are still populated with people who are friendly and willing to share the town's story and history of the land and the peoples. Restaurants, bed-and-breakfasts, businesses, museums, and bars hide in these out-of-the-way towns. There's also evidence (evidenced by new construction) that some folks are dropping out in style and enjoying the laid-back Southwestern life style. Below are some photographs of these towns. Please enjoy...

The Chihuahuan Desert is a desert and ecoregion designation covering parts of Mexico and the United States. It occupies much of West Texas and parts of southern New Mexico, and southeastern Arizona, as well as the central and northern portions of the Mexican Plateau. It is bordered on the west by the extensive Sierra Madre Occidental range, along with northern portions of the Sierra Madre Oriental range. On the Mexican side, it covers the northern half of the state of Chihuahua, along with the majority of Coahuila, north-eastern Durango, the extreme northern part of Zacatecas, and small western portions of Nuevo León. With an area of about 362,000 km2 (139,769 sq mi), it is the third largest desert of the Western Hemisphere and the second largest in North America, after the Great Basin Desert. From: Wikipedia.

I took this picture southwest of Truth or Consequences ... or west northwest of Alamogordo. The land is beautiful and so very different from the area in which I live (Nebraska). The soil is sandy and the plants are designed to live with little water and hot, dry air and winds. Greasewood, sagebrush, cacti, and tumble weed abound and thrive. Deer, lizards, peccary, and tons of insects live here, too. This photograph was taken with my Canon 6D mounted on a tripod. I shot with a 24-70mm Sigma lens in monochrome with a red filter; raw format; and manual settings. The picture was edited with both Lightroom 6.5 and Zoner 18.
The two biggest land owners in New Mexico are the U.S. Government and Ted Turner (he has two ranches). So, much of the high plains and Chihuahuan Desert are used for either munitions tests (around Alamogordo and White Sands) or cattle grazing. Since there's so much land, it's cheaper to divide ranches with cattle guards rather than barb wire fences. The result? Range fed cattle wander free across the land with minimal fencing or restraints. Above is a contented heifer who is grazing land to the west of Truth or Consequences.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

I just went to New Mexico last week to photograph ghost towns near Truth or Consequences and the Chaco Canyon ancient Indian dwellings. Since the weather at Chaco Canyon was very bad (forecast: 20 during the day with snow and high winds and 7 at night), I stayed south and visited Truth or Consequences, ghost towns to the west, White Sands,  and Alamogordo. On the way home, I took some interesting pictures of towns and villages in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. All toll, I drove slightly more than 2200 miles, took about 500 photos, and spent about $700 on food, gas, and lodging. The building pictured here is the back of a storage facility in Elida, New Mexico located on state highway 70.

All across New Mexico I drove through rain storms, snow showers, and sleet and ice assaults. Being from Nebraska, none of this bothered me much but the shifting weather did give me a chance to stop and take some photos. The storm pictured here was along the Billy the Kid Trail (aka: hwy 70) in central New Mexico. The temperature varied between 29 and 40 depending on the altitude.

This little church is in Cuchillo, on highway 52 just to the northwest of Truth or Consequences. I took pictures of this building and the building (barely visible in the background) as I started by first "ghost town run" on a quiet winter Sunday. I brought two DSLR Canon camera bodies and one Canon point-and-shoot. The cameras are: Canon 6D and Canon Rebel T2i. I brought the following lenses: Canon 50mm; Sigma 24-70mm (my favorite); Sigma 150-500mm; Canon 10-22mm; and a Sigma 70-200mm. Most shots were with the 24-70mm and the 10-22mm wide angle. As you can see, I shot in both color and monochrome. Most pictures were edited with Lightroom6.5.