May 31, 2017 – San Rafael Valley

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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…

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May 30, 2017 – Tumacacori

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“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.”
~Mahatma Gandhi

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.

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May 29, 2017 – Driftwood

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No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.
~Heraclitus

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.

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May 28, 2017 – The Lone Tree

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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.

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May 24, 2017 – Winter in Bisbee

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“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?”
~John Steinbeck

A small town is a strange place to live, but I loved living on the hill looking over Old Bisbee. Up on High Road, this was the view from my deck. I watched winter storms descend in January and monsoon storms roll through the canyons in July. There’s no other place like it in the world.

But life moves on and things change. The view will always be beautiful, but I eventually had to leave.
This image was taken in February of 2012. A crisp, dry morning with snow dusting the hillsides.

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May 23, 2017 – Whitewater Draw

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Whitewater Draw, originally Rio de Agua Prieta – “the river of dark water” – is a tributary stream of the Rio de Agua Prieta in Cochise County, Arizona. Famously, this is the wetlands where the sandhill cranes migrate to during the winter months. In the shadows of the Chiricahua Mountains in the Coronado National Forest, this remote destination is about a forty-five minute drive from Bisbee, Arizona, the old mining town I once called home.

I used to go out here to photograph the birds and capture these colorful sunsets. One of the great benefits from living in a small town like Bisbee is the lack of traffic and the abundance of unspoiled land like this.

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May 20, 2017 – Western Kansas

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You don’t realize how wonderful it is until it’s gone – isn’t that how the saying goes?

An eighteen-year-old version of myself couldn’t wait to get out of Kansas, to leave the plains behind and start a new life someplace different. I think that comes pretty natural to a lot of folks, but I really couldn’t wait to get away – to dive into new experiences and embrace the discomfort.

That was half a lifetime ago. I’m a man in his mid-thirties now, and the world looks a lot different than it once did. Adventure seems easier and life seems less complicated somehow, even though a lot of the idealism and hope and optimism has been tempered by various broken relationships, job losses, and debts. The upswing is that I have never put down the camera; if anything, the camera continues to fuel my optimism, my love of small experiences, my appreciation of the little details.

Life isn’t perfect, that’s for sure. But how could we ever deny the beauty of a long, slow-burning sunset?

Once upon a time, I wanted to escape the Midwest. Now I enjoy it, more and more, every single time I return. This is a photograph I made driving through the most remote areas of Western Kansas. Completely flat, nothing but farms, unincorporated towns, and a dreadful lack of gas stations. But there is beauty here, that much is certain.

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