Sunday, September 24, 2017


Back in the jurisdiction, as Jack might say. We took Madeleine downtown yesterday, where there are two children's splash fountains, one in Citygarden, one in the remodeled Kiener Plaza. The latter has a really nice playground. While standing there I saw this couple, obviously visiting town, taking a picture of a well known local monument from the wrong side. I'll explain that in a couple of days. The sort-of kanji shadow at my feet in the playground may or may have provided information.      

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Model By Chance

It's legal in the US to photograph anyone in public spaces with the usual restrictions on commercial use. It's not like that everywhere. (Don't photograph other people's kids in the UK without permission!) So when I was presented with someone else's model overlooking the Canyonlands bottom I took what was offered. 

Gotta get out on the streets of STL again this weekend. There are a couple of things going on.


Friday, September 22, 2017

Would You Drive This Road?

That dirt road is the Schafer Trail. It zig-zags down from the mesa on top known as the Island In The Sky to the floor in Canyonlands National Park, a drop of nearly a mile with sheer drop-offs throughout. We did it as passengers in a heavy four wheel drive vehicle. That was scary enough.             

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Black and white shots of the American west can be dramatic. Think Ansel Adams. He and I share a birthday but, um, the comparison ends there. And there is no point in considering a pattern since Kurt Cobain was born on the same date.

So, some attempts at B&W from Arches National Park. The improbable structure above is called Balancing Rock. No idea how it formed but it certainly suggests impermanence.

Do your own Rorschach test on the second pic. Some people thought of a lion, others of a Mesopotamian ruler. I think it looks like an English barrister with full wig who is about to unleash a mighty sneeze. And the third one? Maybe a microscopic illustration from a pathology textbook.     

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fiery Furnace, Or, Better You Than Me


There is a section of Arches National Park known as the Fiery Furnace, not because of its heat but due to the intense red color of the sandstone near sunset. As the signs indicate, you can go wander around the complex arrangement of stone fins and canyons but only with permission of the park rangers. You have to go along with them or prove you know what you are doing so they don't have to drag your sorry (and possibly deceased) butt out of there. 

The bottom picture gives some idea of what you are getting into but the link above makes the point much more clearly. I wouldn't go in there if the Seven Cities of Gold were inside offering to give me their debit cards and Trump promised to resign.   

Monday, September 18, 2017

Desert Critters

I'll be doing back-fill from the trip for a while but there's lots to show. 

We normally think of the desert being dry as James Bond's martini, but it it weren't for water all the fantastical shaping of rock would be impossible. We happened upon a little spring-fed stream that created its own ecosystem. This frog was as tiny as it was beautiful. A short distance onward brought us a more expected lizard. The two critters were near each other but a world apart, unlikely ever to meet.  

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Light, Shadow And Space

Back home. Very late plane but home safe.

These are two more images from The Phoenix Museum of Art. I mentioned the openness yesterday. The B&W on top shows three levels, exhibits and people moving through them. The second photo was taken in a work placed inside a dark room. It is called You Who Are Getting Obliterates In The Dancing Swarm Of Fireflies by Yayoi Kusama. The title might be a bad translation from the Japanese but the space is disorienting. Dark but for this star field effect, glass walls and mirrors. You have no idea where to walk without bumping into something. There is a feeling of both spaciousness and confinement. Fortunately, a staff member was there to assist.  

Phoenix itself was disconcerting. It is just - so - bright. The intensity, the unrelieved searing sky, the endless high-volume tans and ochers, was really getting to me. It's cloudy today in St. Louis with a good chance of rain. What a relief. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Phoenix Art Museum

We visited the Phoenix Art Museum yesterday. Although we have been to the area several times, we have never visited. We were impressed.

The building is spacious and the walls uncrowded. It has an open, airy feeling although it allows only secluded peaks at the desert sun. There was a show on about the work of celebrated fashion designer James Galanos (they had a copy of his famous portrait by Richard Avedon). The clothing was beautiful but, as I am not a big fashion fan, I found the mannequins almost as interesting.

Home tonight.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Rancho Pinot

Dinner last night at a wonderful and different restaurant, Rancho Pinot, recommended by our local friends. Owner-chef Chrysa Robertson has spent twenty five years serving cuisine at a high standard in a comfortable yet quirky atmosphere. The themes are western-rodeo-cowboy and girl with surprising touches here and there. (It's worth wandering around for a look if you go.) Above, refrigerator magnets on a back counter. Below, just part of Robertson's wacky and wonderful curio cabinet. Last, part of a poster which the old rocker in me recognized as the source for the cover of The Byrds' 1968 album, Sweetheart Of The Rodeo. I pointed this out to the staff, who didn't know about it.      

Thursday, September 14, 2017


Dinner last night with City Daily Photo friends at their beautiful home on the north side of Camelback Mountain in the town of Paradise Valley. They have a cactus gardener, a profession I never considered before. Good times, good wine and then had to speak at my conference at 8 AM this morning. It worked out.

So going to school today. May do some Phoenix area tourism tomorrow.  

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

That's Better

Much better air and light yesterday. The Grand Canyon is too much to absorb but we are glad we made it back after 25 years. Mrs. C thought we needed documentation that I actually did it, as shown below. There are still an awful lot of pictures to edit, though.

Down to Scottsdale today for some more-or-less work. I'll be attending a conference of lawyers in my specialty and speaking Thursday morning. I'm one of the most senior members of the organization and, frankly, I get a limited amount out of these. Maybe I'll do some of that editing to pass the time. But first, dinner tonight with CDP friends Sharon, Dave and Julie.  

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Not Quite As Grand As We Hoped

We arrived at the Grand Canyon yesterday and, I'm sorry to say, are a bit disappointed. Sure, it's one of the great sights of the world, but it is crowded (I can't imagine what it's like during school vacations). We are staying at the moderately priced hotel inside the park. The room is worn and the food is mediocre. No wifi in the rooms and very weak in the hotel lobby. You aren't getting away to commune with nature in this place anyway so why not? 

In particular, the air is very hazy. We don't know if it is from pollution, dust or wildfires. The top photo was the only usable one I could get at sunset last night and it is heavily Photoshopped. Hoping for better conditions today.         

Monday, September 11, 2017

Hopi Lands

We leave the lands of the Hopi Nation this morning after having spent a long day going through the Hopi mesas and villages, followed by hours in the far back country with Micah Loma'omvaya. He is a brilliant, gentle and generous man, a tribal official, historian and a member of the dwindling traditional Hopi priesthood. It was a magical day, viewing beauties outsiders rarely see.

In the second picture Micah explains some of the many petroglyphs. (I have so many photos of petroglyphs from around Moab, Monument Valley and here that I could do a few posts on that alone.) The details are too complex to explain here but he helped us understand why the Hopi consider their land to be the center of the earth.

If you are ever in this area you must seek him out. His web site is  Scroll to the bottom of the page and note the little sign that says "Hopi Tours, Est. 1540." That's when the Spanish showed up.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Canyon de Chelly

There are many more photos to edit from Monument Valley but I am trying to keep up with a bit from each day's sightseeing as we go along. We took a detour on our way from Monument Valley to the Hopi Reservation, visiting Canyon de Chelly National Monument

It's a remarkable place but few people were there. In a sense, the canyon is hidden, falling down from a flat plateau, invisible until you get to the edge. A number of Navajo families raise crops and animals on the valley floor during part of the year. The geology is as surprising as the Grand Ganyon, which we will visit shortly, but on a much smaller scale.

There are ruins of many rock face dwellings of native people who lived here about 800 - 1200 CE. Got lots of good pix but that will have to wait for the next editing session.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Why People Come Here

There is nowhere in the world like this and it is hard to experience it completely on your own. One highway runs through and there are a couple of streets that go to hotels, restaurants and shops. To really see it, you need to go into the dirt and sand roads of the back country, something you dare not do alone. It takes a local guide and a heavy four wheel drive vehicle.

We booked a full day trip with Phillips Photography Tours. I cannot say enough good about them and our driver-guide, Tully. Mrs. C and I saw things the bus tours could not imagine. A few Navajo live in isolated homes that had no electricity until the coming of solar panels. There are still some hogons, traditional dwellings in the shape of a dome, made of intricately interlaced juniper logs and covered with dried mud. That is where we met Cecelia, spinning local sheep's wool and making exquisite wall hangings and blankets.

I took about 1,500 shots so there is a lot of editing to do We have no early morning tour today so we will rest a little longer and eventually head towards Second Mesa, Arizona, and the Hopi Reservation.       

Friday, September 8, 2017

Entering Monument Valley.

Driving into Monument late Thursday afternoon in less than ideal light. In and out clouds, a bit of a sprinkle but, most important of all, fire haze. There are wildfires throughout the region and, although not right around here, the ash stung our eyes.

As you can see, this is pretty empty country. Civilization awaited us at the end of today's road. Up early Friday. We've booked a full day private photography tour in the back country with a Navajo guide.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Canyonlands In Bad Light

While Tuesday was brilliantly sunny, most of yesterday was hazy and covered in wispy cloud. Not the kind of light you're looking for on a day trip to Canyonlands National Park. So, to paraphrase an old saying, when life gives you lemons, open Photoshop. Try B&W, bump up the saturation and contrast, leave it dark, sharpen like crazy.

And by the way, I was wrong when I said yesterday that there are only two national parks with arches. The second photo is Mesa Arch in Canyonlands. A commenter told me that Bryce Canyon, to the west in Utah, has some, too.