Archive

January 2021

Browsing

There are few places in the world where you can stand in one place to watch the moon set then turn around and watch the sun rise simultaneously.  One such place in El Paso, Texas at the top of a road called Transmountain Road that runs through the Franklin Mountains.  The state road connects the east – northeast in particular – with the westside of the city.

I arrived at the location with the intention of capturing the sunrise and light streams of passing cars.  I knew I had to arrive around 6:30 to catch the rising sun and early morning traffic.  To be honest, I was ignorant of the fact that moonset was at the exact same time.  I was also oblivious to the fact that this spot on Transmountain Road would allow me to view the start of the day and the end of the day at the very same time.  

Needless to say my camera got a workout as did I pivoting back and forth to capture the photographs.

The experience had a profound affect on me as I couldn’t quite work out in my brain what a truly special moment this was.   How many places in the world is it possible to see both the sun set and the moon rise with unobstructed views at the same time?  I can’t think of  many.  It was also a special moment to be able to capture the experience with my camera.

Years later the photographs found a home in two of my books, “El Paso 120 : Edge of the Southwest” and “Sí El Paso.”

The experience also got me to thinking about El Paso’s Franklin Mountains.  For me, the mountain range is like an old comforting friend.  I see the mountain as a being as opposed to a thing.  And, as a being, the mountain must have a mood.

The Franklin Mountains display various moods through- out the day.  The temper of the mountain is calm at sunrise, almost in a slumber in the brisk January morning air.  There are no giant pine trees to soften the winter wind whipping around my face, no singing birds or running deer to take my eye off the sky.  Only high-elevation cacti and desert brush crawl along the slopes and boulders, often jutting out like nature’s high rises on either side of the mountain.

Moon SettingLooking west I see the near-full moon sinking below the horizon.  Seconds later, I turn to the east, marveling at a fiery ball nudging above the desert floor, and the royal blue sky rapidly transforms with bursts of splendid golden hues as if Mother Nature’s paintbrush sweeps across the heavens.  In an instant natural fireworks fill the sky as the moon sets and sun rises and I watch in awe.  A moment passes, and the sun’s rays stretch across East El Paso, tickling the sides of the Franklin Mountains, waking them for another day.

Sunrise With Franklin Mountains in View

The mysterious moon.  The full moon with rays casting shadows as if it were day.  The illuminated rays stretch from the heavens across the lands below.  I close my eyes, and travel.  The nocturnal vibes invade my body, my heart, my soul.  I hear the mystic, yet soft voice of the wind whisper in my ear, “the night is yours”.

The moon guides me, the stars tell me not to worry, guiding me towards a place unknown by the world, yet so familiar.  I sit in silence in awe of the natural glow as if a comforting night light guides me down the hallway.  Melodic sounds of swaying branches, crashing waves, or blowing leaves tell me the night is alive with beauty.  They scream their joy.  They sing life.  Crickets hiccup their nocturnal sounds, bull frogs bellow in deep harmony and critters scatter under the brush here and there.

The moonlight disperses through my skin, through my bones, through my soul.  I become one with the night.  The sounds and stress of the day are a distant memory.  Calmness sinks into me.  Peace surrounds every bit of my being.  I join the symphony of the night.  I once again become human, I become the night; I feel the pains, and I feel the joys.

At last I feel warmth.  I was a prisoner of the present – surviving through days, weeks, months, and years.  Never knowing that what I missed most was inside my soul.  The drums of the night were my heartbeats, the guitars spoke through my voice, the moonlit night shining in my eyes, and my surroundings revived through my skin.

Now I am back again.  Whole.  Centered.  As One.

I have been photographing idyllic landscapes illuminated by the full moon for over ten years.  A new book project
is on the way.

I have been capturing landscapes under a full moon for over a decade.  From Fredericksburg, Texas, to El Paso to Croatia and Venice and London to the Sahara Desert and Bali – I’ve been there.  It’s been me, a tripod, a remote control and my camera all in the silence of the night. 

Photographing scenes that would normally be pitch dark are illuminated in such a way that some viewers think the landscapes were captured during daytime.  The shadows are different and at times have an ominous feel to them instead of the stark contrast during a full sun day.  The colours and perception are richer, and for me, more meaningful.

I tend to like quiet at any given time.  I also feel quite comfortable being alone.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m a social sort of fellow but I thoroughly enjoy time and place just for me.  Capturing landscapes and city scenes during a full moon are perfect excuses to excuse myself from the crowd.  And in my mind, you’re never really alone being alone.  I never feel isolated.

As I’ve traveled around the world, I’ve learned the full moon can be an auspicious time for both Hindus and Buddhists.  Purnama is the term used in Bali.  The Balinese believe the gods descend amongst Balinese Hindus to answer prayers and honour wishes.  This is a comforting notion.    I’ve begun researching what the full moon means to various cultures around the world because of my experiences with the Balinese and Bhutanese.  If they believe the full moon has special powers, then others must look to the soft glow in the sky as something remarkable as well.

So, I continue capturing night images during the full moon or super moon with the idea that one day I’ll have a large enough body of work to present in an exhibition or book.  This is a special project for me.  I look forward to one day sharing what I’ve seen and captured with the world.

Unexpectedly arising from southern New Mexico’s barren landscape is a natural arrangement of larger-than-life rocks reminiscent of urban high rises.   Formed of hot volcanic ash that solidified nearly thirty-five million years ago, these formations have been carved by the elements into gnomish shapes and fanciful columns that can reach forty feet high.   Only a handful of places in the world have formations like these.  I know all too well they are not easy to climb.  I tried.

Popular with many overnight campers, the “city” is webbed with pathways that I curiously trundle through, feeling dwarfed along the way, until dusk.   It is during the golden hour, when the sun begins to set, that the magic begins.   The sun’s rays bounce from the ancient volcanic rock giving off an exquisitely rich cornucopia of color—sparkling hues of pink, orange, yellow, and purple—that you can only see in these moments.   The “city” comes to life, making this an ideal time to begin clicking the camera’s shutter.

The reason to visit City of Rocks is to escape routine and stress.  Trust me, it will be you and the rocks and no phone signal when you visit.  The landscape is a nice blend of the west’s rugged rock formations and grassy plains.  You’ll be in the desert, tho’ the land is not barren like you see in Arizona or Southern Utah.

I always to see Fred Flinstone as the large rock formations literally remind me of Flinstone’s Bedrock.  Close your eyes and envision for a moment.  You see this, too.  Don’t you?

City of Rocks
LATITUDE
32 ̊35’24” N

LONGITUDE
-107 ̊58’33” W

ELEVATION
5,250 feet (1,600 meters)

AREA
1,230 acres (497.8 hectares)

Time has a way of being a flash before your eyes, and catching you unaware of how quickly time can pass in a metropolis.  One minute you wake up and it seems like the next minute it’s time to turn out the light.   Just yesterday I was younger, embarking on my new life into adulthood, unworldly yet eager to discover.  In fact, I remember being extremely nervous with the responsibility.  It seems like eons ago, and I wonder where each year disappeared.   Like a flash, the years flew by.  I know I lived them all.  I was there.  There are glimpses of how my simple life was back then.  Time seemed to move by so slowly.  My idealistic hopes, and dreams, seemed to be the truth ahead.  Everything, and I mean everything, seemed so clear without muddled sight, or any sort of distortion.  I did not think about options because I wasn’t worldly enough to know much beyond the other side of town.

Here it is, years later, and the speed of time catches me by surprise.   Yesterday was Christmas and now here it is again.  How did that happen?  How did I get here so fast?  Where did the years go, and where did my youth go?   I still feel young in my mind and yet my body tells me something entirely different.   I remember seeing older people through the years, and thinking that they were years away from me.  Man, they were old.  Quite honestly, I never gave it a thought that I’d ever be where they are.   Winter was so far off; I could not fathom this, or imagine, fully, how my body would change.   Someone played a trick and flipped a switch.  I know that’s what happened.  One day I had six pack abs and the next thing I knew my trousers didn’t fit.  My mind matured, and now I am not so sure of many things these days.  I used to be sure about everything until other people’s actions slowly changed my view.   I’m getting grey, move a bit slower, and now my view is untidy; the world seems to bend, and buckle.  Did I miss the memo alerting me to the fact that our values and morals changed?  Why didn’t anyone consult me?  And, why did it take being taken advantage of in obscene ways for me to wake up to the changed world?

I wake up, and before I know it, the time has come to turn in for the night.  Everything seems to move far more quickly than I am able, and time is rarely my good friend like it once was.  Is there a rush for me to keep up, or is time moving so quickly I can’t possibly keep up?

To explain my life and the way I live it would be fruitless quite honestly.  Not many people would understand how I make everything work.  It’s safe to say I live under a proverbial rock.  I’m social and I get out and I travel the world.  So much is foreign to me to say the least.  Have I slowed the cycle of life by living the way I do?  No, life rushes by no matter what.