Arizona

Tucson’s Newest Murals–Impressive!

These two showed up since my last visit to the Old Pueblo. And there are apparently six or eight more I need to locate…

 

This masterpiece, near 6th Street and Stone, was painted earlier this summer by Joe Pagac, a cycling enthusiast and, obviously, a very talented mural artist. Go to his Kickstarter page HERE for more details and the thoughts behind his imagery:

Tucson Mural Walk, #1. Tucson, Arizona, 2017
Tucson Mural Walk, #1. Tucson, Arizona, 2017

 

Across the street from Joe’s mural is the old Tucson Warehouse building, a structure I’ve always admired for its classic signage on the roof (unfortunately, due to storm damage, missing all but the wheels of the Mayflower moving truck). As of the summer of 2016, thanks to the Tucson Mural Arts Program, it has been adorned with a new and impressive work called “Goddess of Agave”, by Cristina Perez.

Tucson Mural Walk, #2. Tucson, Arizona, 2017
Tucson Mural Walk, #2. Tucson, Arizona, 2017

Navajo Poems

The Mexican Hat at Sunset. Utah, 2017
The Mexican Hat at Sunset. Utah, 2017

 

Having grown up in Arizona, attended university in Flagstaff, and explored the deserts and canyons on and around the Navajo Nation, the Navajo people and their land have a special place in my heart.

Here, I offer a small handful of visual anecdotes from a recent drive through their country.

Disclaimer: These images are by no means completely representative of this beautiful place or these wonderful people…just small snapshot snippets. I would love to spend a lot more time here to try to tell a more complete and balanced story.

 

There were dreams here once. What were they? What happened? Were they sucked away by the overwhelming grandness of the landscape?

Navajo Dreams. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017
Navajo Dreams. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017

 

You’ll see this “Love Life” graffiti throughout Navajo Land in the most unlikely of places. Do it. Love life.

Navajo Love. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017
Navajo Love. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017

 

Meth has found its way on to the Res now. No, it’s not just an urban problem.

Navajo Tragedy. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017
Navajo Tragedy. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017

 

Cody J. Charles was an 18-year-old Navajo from Tuba City (“…born of The Zuni Edgewater clan and born for the Coyote Pass People…”). He died in an auto accident here. Too young…way too young.

Navajo Tragedy, #2. Navajo Nation, 2017
Navajo Tragedy, #2. Navajo Nation, 2017

 

These “street murals” were placed here by the doctor and artist Dr. Chip Thomas (aka “Jetsonorama”) to promote Navajo pride and history and, occasionally, to protest attempts by the dominant culture to infringe on Navajo rights and resources. I have photographed his murals in other areas of Navajo Land before and find them quite moving. They stand in happily surprising contrast to the vast and harsh high desert environment in which they are found:

Navajo Pride. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017
Navajo Pride. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017

 

And–naturally–the omnipresent golden arches (and the equally omnipresent cell phone tower):

Navajo Land Invaded. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017
Navajo Land Invaded. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017

“The Fence” (Navajo Land)

You never know when a quick photo op stop might turn into a much deeper visual investigation.

And so it was with this strange and otherworldly section of fence line on the lands of the Navajo Nation. You’ll find it–if you are paying attention–along U.S. Route 89 in Arizona, north of Cameron but south of the turn toward Tuba City.

Here is my collection of images from this meditative session. What questions might they imply?

Navajo Fence, #1. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017
Navajo Fence, #1. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017

 

Navajo Fence, #3. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017
Navajo Fence, #3. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017

 

Navajo Fence, #4. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017
Navajo Fence, #4. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017

 

Navajo Fence, #5. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017
Navajo Fence, #5. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017

 

Navajo Fence, #6. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017
Navajo Fence, #6. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017

 

Navajo Fence, #7. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017
Navajo Fence, #7. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017

 

Navajo Fence, #8. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017
Navajo Fence, #8. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017

 

Navajo Fence, #11. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017
Navajo Fence, #11. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017

Fingernail Moon at Windy Point (A Metaphor)

Fingernail Moon and Hitchcock Pinnacle. Windy Point, Mount Lemmon, Arizona, 2017
Fingernail Moon and Hitchcock Pinnacle. Windy Point, Mount Lemmon, Arizona, 2017

 

To photograph a fingernail moon at dawn up on Mount Lemmon, you need to hoist your fanny perpendicular early–while it is still inky black outside–and get to your chosen photo-op site at the first indication of light.

Why?

Well, a fingernail moon is a very fragile thing and will disappear rapidly as sunrise approaches and the sky on the eastern horizon travels the painter’s palette from a deep and starry black, to indigo, to cold blue, to delicate pink, to yellow, to orange, to blazing white…and finally, with the Sun alive once again , the heavens settle into that familiar, washed-out, daylight denim of the high winter desert.

In the above example, it was almost…almost…almost too late. A few more minutes and Mother Moon was just a faded Fig Newton of my imagination…invisible to my hairy human eyeball as well as to the sensor in my camera.

A fingernail moon.

Ah, yes, another fine metaphor for the fragility and cyclic nature of Life itself.

Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR (Sample Images, Part 1)

OK, a few days back I promised some sample images from the relatively new (2015) Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR telephoto lens.

It will be hard for you to tell true image quality looking at these small files on your smudgy computer screen, but I will tell you I am quite pleased with the wall-to-wall sharpness even when pixel-peeping. The lens will certainly work for my personal landscape purposes when attached to my now very-banged-up Nikon D800 (and even on whatever succeeds the “aging” D800, I’m confident).

Three things I have not yet tried are hand-held shots of beasts and birds, exposures with smaller apertures, say, f/11 through f/22, and shots using the 1.4 teleconverter (which will make it an f/8 lens). I’ll post more sample images as I continue to experiment in those areas.

So, on to the samples…Here is one photograph taken on a tripod (this big lens comes with a tripod collar, thankfully), with mirror lock-up and shutter delay (I don’t use a separate remote), at 200mm (the min), f/8, ISO 100, and 1/50th of a second:

First Light on Thimble Peak. Tucson, Arizona, 2017
First Light on Thimble Peak. Tucson, Arizona, 2017

 

And here is a second photograph as I probed deeper in to same general area on Mt. Lemmon (those towers up at 8,000′ look mighty frosty!), on the tripod with mirror lock-up and shutter delay, at 500mm (the max), f/8, ISO 100, and 1/25th of a second:

Ice Towers. Tucson, Arizona, 2017
Ice Towers. Tucson, Arizona, 2017

2017 Women’s March On Washington (and Tucson, and the World!)

Yesterday’s “Women’s March on Washington” turned out to be a march on the world.

Yes, there were several hundred thousand women in D.C. for the main event, but there were some 600+ other protest marches all across the United States and many others around the globe…from Rome to Nairobi to Sydney, and even to Antarctica.

A whole lot of people–and not just women–are pissed. And they have all pulled out their magic markers, knitted their “pussy hats”, and strapped on their marching shoes to express their fierce sentiments.

The March in Tucson was expected to attract a couple of thousand protesters, but the number likely came in quite a bit higher at 8,000 to 15,000 depending on who you believe.

Here are a few images from yesterday’s event in downtown Tucson (using the Sony RX100iv in VERY unforgiving and contrasty light)…

 

The crowd gathers under threatening skies:

Women's March, #16. Tucson, Arizona
Women’s March, #16. Tucson, Arizona, 2017

 

A young patriot at her first protest:

Women's March, #2. Tucson, Arizona, 2016
Women’s March, #2. Tucson, Arizona, 2017

 

Pink was the color o’ the day:

Women's March, #3. Tucson, Arizona, 2017
Women’s March, #3. Tucson, Arizona, 2017

And the pink “pussy hats” were for all ages. Imagine this Mom having to explain all this to her kids:

Women's March, #7. Tucson, Arizona, 2017
Women’s March, #7. Tucson, Arizona, 2017

 

Here is a pretty original costume that certainly attracted attention to his issue:

Women's March, #6. Tucson, Arizona, 2017
Women’s March, #6. Tucson, Arizona, 2017

 

The dog’s name is “Miranda”, rescued from Afghanistan. I should have talked a bit more with this woman to get the rest o’ the story:

Women's March, #8. Tucson, Arizona, 2017
Women’s March, #8. Tucson, Arizona, 2017

 

A few rain showers rolled through on the blustery west breeze, but it didn’t seem to dampen the enthusiasm of anyone at the rally:

Women's March, #9. Tucson, Arizona, 2017
Women’s March, #9. Tucson, Arizona, 2017

 

Another young supporter of women’s (and human) rights:

Women's March, #15. Tucson, Arizona, 2017
Women’s March, #15. Tucson, Arizona, 2017

 

I loved the Princess Leia reference:

Women's March, #17. Tucson, Arizona, 2017
Women’s March, #17. Tucson, Arizona, 2017

 

All kinds of themes, topics, and issues were addressed by the protesters:

Women's March, #20. Tucson, Arizona, 2017
Women’s March, #20. Tucson, Arizona, 2017

 

The Dr. Suess poem (right) was a most excellent original idea:

Women's March, #21. Tucson, Arizona, 2017
Women’s March, #21. Tucson, Arizona, 2017

 

Recording history:

Women's March, #18. Tucson, Arizona, 2017
Women’s March, #18. Tucson, Arizona, 2017

 

The Tohono O’odham Nation was well-represented, with the border wall being one of their central concerns:

Women's March, #22. Tucson, Arizona, 2017
Women’s March, #22. Tucson, Arizona, 2017

 

A “Nasty Woman”, her partner, and their two patriotic canine companions:

Women's March, #23. Tucson, Arizona, 2017
Women’s March, #23. Tucson, Arizona, 2017

 

I am Woman, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore…” (Helen Reddy):

Women's March, #26. Tucson, Arizona, 2017
Women’s March, #26. Tucson, Arizona, 2017

 

Outraged and two of them already wearing their pink “pussy hats”:

Women's March, #30. Tucson, Arizona, 2017
Women’s March, #30. Tucson, Arizona, 2017

 

Our future:

Women's March, #31. Tucson, Arizona, 2017
Women’s March, #31. Tucson, Arizona, 2017

 

These ladies were assigned the job of being at the tail end of the march–last in a line of thousands:

Women's March, #33. Tucson, Arizona, 2017
Women’s March, #33. Tucson, Arizona, 2017

Storm Clouds on the Horizon

Once again, a big-ass Pacific storm has steam-rolled in to the parched American West bringing with it more heavy snow to the high elevations and rain to the valleys.

Colorado’s snow pack is already at somewhere around 150% of normal while in California they are at about 115%. This is all good news and a welcome respite from so much drought in these here hills. (Although we still need several years like this to really recover.)

Farmers and skiers, rejoice!

Then, of course, as heralded by today’s grand event in Washington, D.C., we now must consider the possibility of being battered by a another, more elusive but no less powerful, monster-storm of quite a different  stripe.

What, pray tell, awaits us from beyond this last foggy horizon?

Tree in Fog and Snow. Mt. Lemon, Arizona, 2016
Tree in Fog and Snow. Mt. Lemon, Arizona, 2016