Fotoeins Fotografie

questions of place & home

Posts from the ‘Culture’ category

“Science is an integral part of culture. It’s not this foreign thing, done by an arcane priesthood. It’s one of the glories of the human intellectual tradition.” – S.J. Gould.

1-dayer in the American Southwest (1): Georgia O’Keeffe Country

Above/featured: Ghost Ranch: Chimney Rock is in shadow at centre-right. Photo location: 36.31882 North, 106.48006 West.


This is the start of a series on day trips and drives from our time in the American Southwest. The following takes place entirely within day 7 (of 17).

Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) is known as one of the best known modern American artists. Born in Wisconsin and educated in Chicago, her art came to light in New York City where her name and work became prominent. While teaching in Texas, she visited New Mexico for the first time in 1917. She fell in love with the landscape of New Mexico on subsequent visits in the early 1930s, and in 1949 she moved to the Abiquiú area where she would live for the rest of her life.

As fans of her art, we’re taking the day to drive up from Santa Fe to the town of Abiquiú. We wanted to see Georgia O’Keeffe country: the landscapes from which she drew inspiration, and the land that nurtured her spirit and fuelled her creativity.

Before our guided tour of O’Keeffe’s Abiquiú home, we stop at the Purple Adobe Lavender Farm next door to have a look. We like it so much we return after the guided tour to the farm’s café for a snack. We then make the short drive northwest onto the Ghost Ranch property to check out the ancestral lands of the Navajo Apache and Tewa pueblos. O’Keeffe recognized the importance some of that history, as she related in an 1967 interview for the Los Angeles Times’ “West” magazine:

When I think of death I only regret that I will not be able to see this beautiful country anymore, unless the Indians are right and my spirit will walk here after I’m gone.

On our return drive to Santa Fe, the sun sets over our section of the Southern Rocky Mountains, and I swear the late-afternoon breeze whispers the spirits of the Chama river, Georgia O’Keeffe, and all the souls who’ve inhabited the area.


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My Seattle: that tower again

“That Tower Again,” a three-word online phrase for the early 21st-century.

It’s a phrase I associate with Berlin and her TV Tower (Fernsehturm), and that comes with multiple stays and many months in the German capita, a city I feel very much at home (winters notwithstanding). With my return to the Canadian Southwest and near-proximity to Seattle, I reconsider my fondness for the city’s iconic landmark: the Space Needle observation tower. Sight of the tower hasn’t lost its allure since our first family visit in the late 1970s.

For the Seattle World Fair in 1962, construction of the Space Needle occurred over a mere 400 days in time for the “Century 21 Exposition”. The 605-foot (184 metre) tower stood for the spirit of innovation and the might of technology. The city of Seattle designated the tower as an official city landmark in 1999. Fast forward now into the 21st century, it’s unfathomable for resident and visitor alike to think about the Emerald City without its leading spire.

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Very Large Array, VLA, Plains of San Augustin, Socorro, New Mexico, USA, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday on NM US-60: Plains of Agustin

On US-60 in New Mexico, on our day-long drive from Tucson, AZ to Santa Fe, NM.

We’re in west-central New Mexico, and we’ve descended after crossing the continental divide, the spine of North America. Leaving behind the Datil mountains and the town of Datil, the next “landmark” is Magdalena, and before us is the flat expanse that is the Plains of Agustin, once the bed of Lake San Agustin (up to 20-thousand years ago, Pleistocene epoch). Fact is we’re still up at over 2100 metres (7000+ feet) above sea level.

The sun pokes out from behind the clouds, and lights up the white dishes of the Very Large Array (VLA) radio observatory in the distance. Today, the VLA is in a compact “engineering” configuration which is useful to see all of the dishes together, but it would’ve been nice to see the dishes spread out miles apart in an observing configuration. Guess I’ll have to come back …

I made the picture above on 19 October 2018 with a Fujifilm X70 fixed-lens prime and the settings: 1/1000-sec, f/11, ISO1000, and 18.5mm focal length (28mm full-frame equivalent). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-dXd.

Worms’ Holy Sand: Europe’s oldest surviving Jewish cemetery

I’m looking for a “thousand-year history” in the city of Worms located in southwest Germany. This has nothing to do helminthology or nematology, as the town’s name is derived from “Warmaisa”, the former Jewish name of the city. This is about an important part of Jewish-German history and peaceful coexistence of the Judeo-Christian communities within Europe. The town’s fame and reputation is also partly derived from Martin Luther; I’ve already visited the site where Luther was on trial to answer charges of heresy, as well as the world’s largest Reformation monument.

This part of the Rhein river area is considered the “cradle of European Jewry”, known also as “little Jerusalem on the Rhine.” In medieval times, flourishing Jewish communities in the cathedral cities of Speyer, Worms, and Mainz facilitated the creation of a common Jewish league with the name ShUM (SchUM), spelled out by the first letters of the Hebrew names for the three cities. To emphasize the influence of Jewish heritage in Europe and to continue the ongoing process of preservation and education, the recent application by Germany for the ShUM cities to be inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Site is at present in the Tentative list (2019).

On a breezy late-autumn afternoon, light fades quick, casting solemn shadows on this ground. In the town’s old Jewish cemetery, I’m the only person present, and I’ve placed a small stone on top of a number of gravestones. I’m surrounded by apparitions over an millennium’s age and by the remaining physical traces in various shapes, stones, and size.

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Albuquerque: world’s largest hot air balloon festival

What colourful and interesting sights of light and balloons you might see, whether it’s your first or the umpteenth time at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Every year beginning the first weekend in October, hundreds of thousands of visitors descend upon central New Mexico to see several hundred hot-air balloons ascend into the skies over the Duke City.

To kick off our time in the American Southwest, we drove into Albuquerque for our first time in the city and to attend our first Balloon Fiesta. We purchased in advance tickets to day 1’s morning session with park-and-ride, day 2’s evening session with park-and-ride, and day 3’s morning session without park-and-ride.

For opening day, clear skies and crisp conditions waited for us as we struggled mightily out of bed, but headed out into the dark of the early morning with great anticipation. Even with massive crowds and some traffic chaos, the long wait was worth the sight of seeing the balloons as oval dots on the horizon and as shapely giants up close.

I have to mention the breakfast chile relleno burritos which everybody recommended we seek and try on the festival grounds. How about a version consisting of a New Mexico green chile stuffed with cheese and batter fried, enveloped in a scrambled egg and cheese mixture, all wrapped in a soft corn tortilla and lightly grilled? Big balloons and breakfast burritos? “YES, GUY!

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