Villanueva, July 1999

By , July 25, 1999 12:42 am
Clearing storm over the Pecos, late afternoon

Clearing storm over the Pecos, late afternoon

Fort Union National Monument, New Mexico.

Fort Union National Monument, New Mexico.

In the summer of 1998, my newspaper finally made the conversion from conventional cut-and-paste production to desktop publishing, which meant instead of printing, I would be scanning my images. I happily began using my new Nikon LS-2000 scanner, and abruptly stopped making photographic prints. It happened that I still had over 1000 sheets of black-and-white glossy printing paper in stock, so I began to ponder what to do with it. Eventually I concluded that I wanted to shoot something new, preferably medium format black-and-white with my Fuji GW670III, and preferably somewhere in the desert.

The author poses for a snapshot at Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico.

The author poses for a snapshot at Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico.

By the spring of 1999, I knew I wanted to do a New Mexico tour, so I asked a friend if he wanted to join me, which he did. Another friend’s uncle had a vacation house in Villanueva, New Mexico, and agreed to let us use it for a week in July.

We arrived in the tiny desert hamlet near the Pecos River by about 2pm on our first day, and after settling in to our borrowed adobe abode, began shooting.

•Day 1: Day hike in town, with a sudden downpour. Hiked across the Pecos to an overlook to photograph clearing storm at sunset. Hiked up to grotto for view overlooking town.

•Day 2: Fort Union National Monument. We had it almost entirely to ourselves. We bypassed the campy exhibits and concentrated on photographing the ruins against a perfect morning sky. The shapes reminded us of Stonehenge. On to Capulin Volcano National Monument: excellent views of the Folsom volcano field. Nice hike. Later, Cimarron Canyon: five minutes of success, then rain.

Trees and clouds, Capulin Volcano

Trees and clouds, Capulin Volcano

 

Puyé Cliff Dwellings

Puyé Cliff Dwellings

Shooting medium format at Sandia Peak

Shooting medium format at Sandia Peak

Cool idea: Photoshop about 30 cell towers into Ansel Adams 1943 image of Hernandez, New Mexico.

•Day 3: Pecos National Monument; bad light, didn’t shoot much. Nice drive up into the Pecos Wilderness Area. Next stop: Puyé Cliff Dwellings; shot some nice stuff, and nice climbs and hikes. In the afternoon, drove the legendary Chama Valley; made a few decent images before a thunderstorm ruined our light.

At Puyé, I guessed a woman’s camera’s date of manufacture on the first try. It was a 1970 Nikkormat FTn.

•Day 4: Sandia Peak; good light, both sunshine and when the mountain was enshrouded in cool clouds. Midday, Petroglyphs National Monument; bust, both in harsh light and unimpressive sites. Long drive to Very Large Array; bad light, but excellent drive and breakthrough conversations. Dinner at Luna Mansion in Los Lunas.

•Day 5: Relaxed hike at Villanueva State Park, then Madison Winery and The Sad Café. After dinner, got about a million sticktights on my socks and shoelaces going into the back yard to photograph the sunset.

The Sad Café near Villanueva

The Sad Café near Villanueva

Spire and gathering thunderstorm, south end of Chama Valley, New Mexico.

Spire and gathering thunderstorm, south end of Chama Valley, New Mexico.

Self portrait in a broken mirror at the "Plague Town"

Self portrait in a broken mirror at the “Plague Town”

•The Drive Home: We stopped at Cuervo, a nearly-abandoned town along Interstate 40 in east central New Mexico; nice church, lots of abandoned homes. Also stopped at Newkirk, which we nicknamed the “Plague Town,” in honor of its appearance.

My time in New Mexico is, as always, some kind of journey home to a place I’ve never lived.

Additional images:

Church Roof and Approaching Thunderstorm, Villanueva, New Mexico.

Church Roof and Approaching Thunderstorm, Villanueva, New Mexico.

View from Gotto, Villanueva, New Mexico

View from Gotto, Villanueva, New Mexico

Open Rangeland, Southern New Mexico.

Open rangeland, southern New Mexico.

The Palisades of Cimarron Canyon, Enchanted Circle, New Mexico.

The Palisades of Cimarron Canyon, Enchanted Circle, New Mexico.

Self Portrait, Guest House, Villanueva, New Mexico.

Self Portrait, Guest House, Villanueva, New Mexico.

Ridge and Afternoon Clouds, Eastern New Mexico.

Ridge and Afternoon Clouds, Eastern New Mexico.

Stream, Pecos Wilderness, northern New Mexico; I made this image on a roll of Kodak Plus-X film that had expired nine years earlier.

Stream, Pecos Wilderness, northern New Mexico; I made this image on a roll of Kodak Plus-X film that had expired nine years earlier.

San Mateo Mountains west of Socorro, New Mexico.

San Mateo Mountains west of Socorro, New Mexico.

Another view of the San Mateo Mountains west of Socorro, New Mexico. I made this image and the previous one on the drive east after visiting the Very Large Array.

Another view of the San Mateo Mountains west of Socorro, New Mexico. I made this image and the previous one on the drive east after visiting the Very Large Array.

Decaying adobe wall, Fort Union National Monument, New Mexico.

Decaying adobe wall, Fort Union National Monument, New Mexico.

Clouds and cliffs near Ghost Ranch, Chama Valley, New Mexico.

Clouds and cliffs near Ghost Ranch, Chama Valley, New Mexico.

Isolated cloud and rim of Capulin Volcano, New Mexico.

Isolated cloud and rim of Capulin Volcano, New Mexico.

This is the interior of the summer house we borrowed in Villanueva, New Mexico.

This is the interior of the summer house we borrowed in Villanueva, New Mexico.

Sky and Decayed Wall, Fort Union National Monument

Sky and Decayed Wall, Fort Union National Monument

Ladders and approaching storm, Puyé Cliff Dwellings

Ladders and approaching storm, Puyé Cliff Dwellings

The author poses for an image at Cimarron Canyon, New Mexico.

The author poses for an image at Cimarron Canyon, New Mexico.

Pecos River in Villanueva State Park, New Mexico.

Pecos River in Villanueva State Park, New Mexico.

Building thunderstorm, Villanueva State Park, New Mexico.

Building thunderstorm, Villanueva State Park, New Mexico.

Clouds envelope Sandia Peak in this view from along Sandia Crest 5000 feet about Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Clouds envelope Sandia Peak in this view from along Sandia Crest 5000 feet about Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Clouds and trail, Sandia Crest, New Mexico.

Clouds and trail, Sandia Crest, New Mexico.

Fort Union National Monument, New Mexico

Fort Union National Monument, New Mexico

Puyé Cliff Dwellings with signature spiral symbol

Puyé Cliff Dwellings with signature spiral symbol

Interior, Puyé Cliff Dwellings, northern New Mexico.

Interior, Puyé Cliff Dwellings, northern New Mexico.

Towering cumulus clouds viewed from the rim of Capulin Volcano, Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico.

Towering cumulus clouds viewed from the rim of Capulin Volcano, Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico.

Window, adobe house, Villanueva, New Mexico.

Window, adobe house, Villanueva, New Mexico.

The Pecos River from bridge at Villanueva State Park, News Mexico.

The Pecos River from bridge at Villanueva State Park, News Mexico.

Posing for a photo at the top of a short hike, Villanueva State Park, New Mexico.

Posing for a photo at the top of a short hike, Villanueva State Park, New Mexico.

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