To end the month of ‘places’ I figured I’d share a picture that doesn’t really require many words. Sunrise in the San Rafael Valley, in southern Arizona along the border, is some of the most beautiful countryside I’ve ever set eyes on, traveled through, camped in. There’s no other place in the world like this little pocket of heaven; it’s high desert, remote, dangerous, and hot, but it’s also unique, majestic, and largely untouched by man.
It’s the picture of heaven – at least, if you were to ask me.
Farewell, May. Let’s see what June has in store…
“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
Tumacacori is the site of Mission San José de Tumacácori, an 18th Century Franciscan mission. It takes its name from an earlier mission site founded by Father Eusebio Kino in 1691, which is on the east side of the Santa Cruz River south of the national park. This particular mission was founded at an extant native O’odham settlement and represents the first mission in southern Arizona.
The later Franciscan mission, now in ruins, was never rebuilt once it was abandoned after repeated Apache raids in the 19th century. Nearby Tubac was besieged in 1861.
No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.
During my time living in the more remote areas of Cochise County in Southeastern Arizona, I made it a point to walk along the trails that followed the San Pedro river. Depending on the time of year, different wildlife could be spotted, from roosting owls to large fish and frogs, as well as javelina, coyotes, and deer.
I could easily fill an album with photographs of the flowers, the driftwood, the butterflies and the beaver dams.
For some reason, this image always stood out to me.
This is a variant of a photograph published on this blog in 2016, but I came across it recently and wanted to take a second run in post-production; there were some color aberrations and soft-focus issues I thought I could improve upon. This was taken in January of last year while I was driving around south of Kansas City. As a general rule, photographers are trained not to photograph into the sun, but there are definitely times when it makes sense to break the rules. Getting this lovely silhouette of a single tree with a mercurial cloud-scape behind it took several tries before getting it right, but I am incredibly pleased with the final result.
Living in the southwest, people always ask me what Kansas was like – or, more accurately, they assume that Kansas is as bland as it’s Wizard of Oz depiction. Living in a valley surrounded by four great mountain ranges here in Tucson, the assumption is that Kansas is flat and boring, which isn’t entirely an inaccurate assessment – the plains states possess an incredibly subtle beauty and you have to have the right eyes to appreciate it.
I’m hoping today’s image is an expression of that beauty that folks can appreciate, regardless of where they hang their hat and what state they call home.
“It’s often about the simple things, isn’t it? Painting and photography are first about seeing, they say. Writing is about observing. Technique is secondary. Sometimes the simple is the most difficult.”
I’ve collected a lot of portraits like this during my bike rides and walkabouts in Tucson. North Stone Avenue is rich with old barber shops, auto repairs shops, and unique private markets. In an urban and suburban landscape increasingly swallowed-up by Levittown-style housing homogeneity and glossy corporate businesses, it’s nice to see small, privately owned businesses. Sometimes the character is rustic, and many of these businesses are struggling, but they have a salt-of-the earth quality that I will always appreciate.
“Photography is simultaneously and instantaneously the recognition of a fact and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that express and signify that fact”
Originally known as the Willard Hotel, this property on South 6th Avenue – a stone’s throw away from the heart of downtown – was renamed the Pueblo Hotel in 1944. This weathered sign was installed in the 1950s. The hotel and apartments closed in 1984, when I was only one year old, and is currently home to a law office. The sign remains, though, even if it might be a little misleading. It was restored to like-new condition back in 2012 and I’m really pleased that I photographed it before the change.
“Time eventually positions most photographs, even the most amateurish, at the level of art.”
There’s little that I could even consider writing about today’s image. Sometimes simplicity and irony speak loudly enough for themselves. This image was made before a greater part of downtown Tucson was renovated. I would have to drive down to South Sixth Avenue to confirm it for myself, but I’m assuming that this business is either something completely new or has been refurbished.
Of course, it’s always possible that nothing has changed at all.