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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March 27, 2017 – Pinetop Trails

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During the first (and only) full day in the Pinetop region, we were disappointed to see that a lot of the roadways were closed off. Many of them are closed down during the winter due to heavy snowstorms. We weren’t able to go to a couple of the locations we wanted, forcing us into an impromptu day-trip. Rather than following an itinerary, we drove where the mood took us.

“Should I go left or right,” she’d say as we approached a fork in the road.
“I dunno. How ’bout left?”

It’s a surefire way to see things you wouldn’t expect, including one of the most depressingly impoverished towns on the indian reservation, White River. It felt like an industrial purgatory, and it was sad to see huddled beggars kicking stones in the parking lot, asking shoppers for food and money as they brought their groceries to their car.

But in these small communities, and in the outlying primitive roads, there’s a lot of old-world beauty. As I looked through my photographs at the end of the day, I was struck by how timeless many of them looked, reminding me of old photographs I’ve picked up at estate sales, or dug out of of my grandparent’s shoe-boxes. The image above was, in particular, reminiscent of a lot of old west photographs I’ve stumbled across in my years living here in Arizona.

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March 19, 2017 – Tumamoc Hill

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And for just a little break from my Mexico pictures, we’re back in Tucson for today’s photograph.

I moved to Tucson in 2001 to attend the University of Arizona College of Fine Arts and to work at The Center For Creative Photography. In that time, I stayed in cabins on Mount Lemmon in Summerhaven, hiked trails in Sabino Canyon, and I’ve ridden my bicycle up and down just about every road in town. I’ve camped in the pine forests on Mount Bigelow, and trundled along countless canyons in the foothills. In all that time, I have never actually walked the meager one or two miles up to the summit of Tumamoc Hill.

It took a special woman in my life suggesting that we drive out to the base and walk up the trail. I had no idea how popular this little walk is; the footpath was teeming with people of all ages and sizes, heading to the top around sunset.

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March 05, 2017 – Arroyo de Hacienda

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Slot canyons surround the edges of the Urique River, which winds through the tropical forests in the Copper Canyon region. Military macaws squawk from the treetops and wild fruit grows throughout the area. This image is only about a hundred yards into the canyon; on the reverse side, the canyon winds several miles deeper into the side of the mountain, where a small family of Tarahumara people live, raising chickens and crops in an open clearing.

My guide was a local Urique resident, woefully hungover after spending the previous evening drinking and celebrating at a local young woman’s Quinceañera. I thought, by the time I had made it this far into the state of Chihuahua, I was reasonably conditioned to make this hike without too much trouble. Tomás managed to make me feel like a weak and vulnerable kitten.

It was a rigorous hike. My two traveling companions tapped-out and headed back to the village only an hour-or-so into the canyon. I’m incredibly thankful that I stuck it out, even though I was somewhat hobbled by blisters the following day. Once we made it back out and onto the gravel road, we hitched a ride in the back of a pickup truck. It was the hottest part of the day, closing in on 115 degrees. I got back to the farm I was staying at, plucked a basket full of lemons, and hung out in the shade, slicing and juicing them into a plastic pitcher.

Best glass of lemonade I think I have ever enjoyed in my life, before or since.

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March 03, 2017 – The Tropical City of Urique

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The town of Urique is at the bottom of the valley Barranca de Urique, formed by the river of the same name. In today’s photograph, you can see this river winding through the frame, and the small town huddled around it (a population hovering around one-thousand). The road down into the canyon is a series of switchbacks that wind back and forth toward the village. It’s a low-maintenance road, and a reasonably harrowing experience to drive down. Stories abound about rocks that have crushed cars, and vehicles that have tumbled over the edge.

I bought a bus ticket and put my life in the hands of somebody more skilled at making the journey than myself, and we crawled down the dirt road.

Due to its relatively low elevation above sea level – Urique is about 550 meters – the climate is nearly tropical. The town only has electricity for a fixed number of hours every evening (for light, mostly, once the sun goes down) and, during the hot days of summer, most of the village goes down to the river during the day to keep cool in the water, saving work for the early morning and for sundown.

Papayas, lemons, oranges, and bananas grow wild in the surrounding areas on the outskirts of town, and the villagers actively cultivate their own fruit and vegetable gardens. On hikes through the forest, you can find a shady spot, pluck a fresh orange from a tree, sit down and take a rest. It’s a glorious and unspoiled little corner of the world.

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January 20, 2017 – Monsoon In Arizona

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Sometimes you just get lucky.

While living in Bisbee, Arizona, up on the hilltop on High Road (an appropriate name for a road in a town known for it’s debauchery and drinking and weed smoking), I sat on the wrap-around deck and looked across the canyon toward ‘B Hill.’ I was home sick with strep throat, and a monsoon storm rolled through town, dumping rain and lighting on our scenic little corner of the cosmos. I set up my tripod and started snapping at the rainbow, thinking it might be a fun image for our liberal little town.

Bisbee is know for it’s raucous gay pride weekend, it’s open and accepting politics, it’s unique character. The first microbrewery in the entire state of Arizona was opened in Bisbee, and Bisbee was the first municipality in the state to legalize gay marriage – a symbolic victory, of course, as these marriages were only considered valid within the city limits at that time.

A rainbow over Bisbee seemed like it’d be a fun picture, naturally.

But then I captured this, and I was awe-struck. I’ve never been a storm chaser or a lightning photographer, but the composition was so astonishing and accidental, I absolutely had to share it. I hope you enjoy.

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January 07, 2017 – Sunset

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Landscape photography is about as old as photography itself – it has reached a level of cliche that’s hard to escape. At the same time, it isn’t the easiest art-form, either. We all have friends who have taken that ‘epic’ sunset photograph, replete with power lines and ugly houses in the foreground that completely distract from the colors, the clouds, and the experience.

I’m not a naysayer – I love that we all have cameras in our pockets, on our phones, that allow us to document majestic moments. But this doesn’t make us all artists. There’s something to be said about composition, intent, and execution. Cameras allow us all to be witnesses to nature’s majesty, but that doesn’t make us all artists. What I love about camera technology is that it hints at the possibility that we all CAN be artists – the tools to make exciting images are completely democratized, totally universal and, as I already mentioned, in each and every one of our pockets.

Get out there, guys. Keep your eyes open. Make something. Nature does all of the heavy lifting – all you have to do is recognize the beauty, pick up your camera, and give it a go.

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