Thursday, June 20, 2013


I wanted sunset photos without power lines streaking across the image, so I headed down from the bridge and maneuvered the truck into a good spot, which became even better once I hopped up on the roof. Now we're talking. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


More trains, coming at ya . Saturday was an excellent photo day.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Monday, June 17, 2013


I do believe I mentioned trains in yesterday's post...

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Yesterday Tucson had not only clouds, but a smattering of rain! The weather people are saying the monsoons have arrived. Though it's a month early, and we haven't had our traditional 2 weeks of pure hell as we wait for there to be enough moisture to gather so it can actually rain. I've lived here a long time and yesterday's rains actually caught me by surprise.

And along with the monsoons comes the spectacular sunsets Tucson is know for. So I grabbed the camera and decided to do a little sunset photography. I surprised myself by heading not towards the mountains, but away. I hit the very eastern edge of town and while driving over a bridge, noticed a bunch of crazy birds flying in erratic patterns. I almost came to a dead stop on the bridge when I realized they were not cracked-out birds, but bats leaving their roosts for their nightly forays. Ooooooo!

I quickly (and by that I do mean churning dirt) pulled off the to the access road leading below the bridge, but by the time I go there, the bats had finished their exodus. Devastated, I hung out for another 10 minutes before giving up and deciding to head out for the sunset shots I originally intended to get. I believe there was pouting involved, complete with lip dragging and dirt kicking. 

I realized the top of the bridge may be a good spot for photos and headed that way. And it was exceptional, except for the traffic. A lot of it. So those of you who drove by the crazy woman at the crest of the bridge yesterday, that was me, thanks for staying on the road.

I made it to the apex of the bridge just as a train was going under. Woot! Train photos! I was so engrossed with shooting the train and the sunset, it took me a minute to realize the dreaded dust spots in my viewfinder were, in truth, bats. Yay me! There were 4 more batches of bats that came out from under the bridge over the next 10 minutes. Not nearly as many as the first group I saw, but still impressive. What a sight! I even remembered to take a couple of photos. Enjoy!


A little rough wear and tear on these old Chevys.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


When you are looking for places to store your beer bottles, chain link fences work quite well.

Friday, June 14, 2013


I recently visited a historic property midway between Amado and Arivaca in Southern Arizona. Two hours of roaming the property with photo ops in every direction. Fantastic.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


The creepy pecan grove. Love the new editing software. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


I love lines in photography. There aren't many places better to find suggested lines than an orchard of trees. This pecan grove is just of I-10 and perfect for photos.

Monday, June 10, 2013


So it actually snowed this year. In Tucson. Not just on the mountains. And not just overnight. All over town and during the day. When the weather reports originally came out that there would be a snow storm the following day, people thought the Weather Service confused our location with some place where snow actually happen. Ever. Then our snow day dawned and by mid-morning I was driving through an actual snow storm to run errands. I finished those tasks in record time and headed for the outskirts of town. The rest of the day was for me and my photography. Snow in Tucson. Incredible.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


And now for something completely different.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


I love the Arizona sunsets. 

Monday, June 3, 2013


I recently visited Tumacacori Mission and found a peaceful site I will return to again and again. As mentioned previously, I haven't had much time to sort through the numerous photos from that trip, so here are just a couple of them. With more to follow. 

The mission is now a well cared for National Park Service site and there is a nominal $3.00 entry fee. The history of the location dates back to 1691, the first mission in the area. It is an impressive structure first glimpsed through an exterior arched window of the visitors center. It simply takes your breath away; magnificently posing in an open grassy flatland sprinkled with trees. The decay of the building, halted but not reversed by the Park Service, can been seen even from that distance. 

Tumacacori Mission

The building calls you to it and you respond by gliding down the cement path, not noticing your surroundings as your attention is focused on the structure in front of you. The building is asymmetrical. Something that is a little hard to comprehend after seeing San Xavier del Bac, the mission further north, just south of Tucson. 

San Xavier Mission, The White Dove of the Desert

I spent my childhood attending mass at San Xavier and I am much more accustomed to its appearance. I can't help but make comparisons. This building isn't white-washed, as San Xavier is, a brilliant white that is almost painful to look at in the desert sun. Tumacacori, is the brown of the desert that surrounds it, though it is not of the land. It is more as it rises up from the flat plain.

As you get closer, the building towers above you, and you can clearly see the places where plaster is missing, revealing the massive adobe bricks of the structure.

Stepping through the imposing carved doors, your eye is caught by the weathered arched blocks above your head and you wonder how the building survived at all. 

Down a Park Service added ramp and into the interior. The temperature drops instantly. Silence envelopes you. The church welcomes, embraces you in it's past, and you are swept back to a different century. The history is palpable. Towering walls, some with sections of plaster remaining and hints of faded color decorating the walls, a testament to the past grandeur. To your left a veritable tunnel leads to a side vestibule. How is it even possible for walls be this thick? A set of stairs you want to climb with every fiber of your being that you know lead to the bell tower. Can you imagine the view from up there? The photo opportunities?  

As you are drawn to the alter, you examine the empty niches in the walls and wonder which saint was represented by a statue long gone. There are beautifully made adobe blocks with the form marks still visible in some areas protected from the elements. There are no benches to mar your progress, or trip over as you take in the large support beams of the ceiling. After climbing the set of stairs to the alter you turn to take in the space you have passed through. How many others have done the same. Where were the benches located? How many weddings performed? How many funeral services? You can imagine the weathered cowboy, hat in hand, finding his seat for mass. The ladies in their Sunday best, heavy wool dresses, reveling in the cool interior as you are doing today. The procession of Franciscan monks heading out the doors at the end of mass to greet attendees. You can imagine Tumacacori in all its painted and well-tended glory. And the melancholy arrives, knowing what would have been like in its prime, if it hadn't been abandoned after Apache raids. Certainly more similar to the stunning San Xavier, though never as flashy. 

Another visitor enters, marring the blinding light of the doorway and taking you out of your revive, back to the present. It is almost disorientating. Taking another look around, you realize the building is just as impressive, if not more so, than San Xavier, for its tenacity to survive without the tending, care and continual habitation of people. A true desert rat. That feeling of peace returns and you continue out to the blinding light of day feeling as though you have made a new friend.

Sunday, June 2, 2013


This is just a bit south of Tucson, near Tumacacori Mission. I took more photos at the Mission that I can begin to tell you. So many, I haven't had a chance to go through them all yet. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013


 As mentioned, I've been doing quite a bit more urban photography. Here are a few more images from the  burned out building.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


A little gem show goodness today.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


For the first time in 2 years I will be participating in an art festival. I will be showing at the Holy Trinity Monastery in picturesque St. David, Arizona during the Fiesta de la Primavera.  It is a perfect location for a Mother's Day trip and only an hour south of Tucson. For those of you in the Southern Arizona area we would love to see you. The photo below was taken in St David and will be available for purchase at the Fiesta.

Friday, May 3, 2013


One of my friends stayed with me for a bit over the winter. I was fortunate enough to watch her build a stained glass window. It was fascinating to see the plans and bits of glass and watch it turn into a beautiful creation. Such art.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Now that I am playing on Instagram, I've spent so much more time photographing urban scenes. If you look closely, there is always a photograph waiting. It may be as simple as security bars covering a window in the Lost Barrio.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Fun at the gem show. A box of ammonites.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


A classic Tucson vintage hotel. It's a shame it's closed down.

Friday, April 26, 2013


So here's a tidbit of information, I'm afraid of heights. Here's another wee tidbit; when you walk up the Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian walkway (at the time) there are plywood walls which block the view until you are up close to the support towers. There is also something under the walkway so you can't see down. 

Until 4/5th of the way up. 

Then you can suddenly see the insane height to which you have nonchalantly walked without fully comprehending just how high into the stratosphere this freaking walkway actually ascends. The water so far below, you can't fully grasp what it is you are seeing for a moment. After that moment, your knees go weak, your head spins and you grasp on to the plywood walls hoping you don't pass out. 

You bravely continue though, because the walls end just up there, and you've come from the other side of the nation, a little phobia isn't going to stop you from this photo op. 

Then the plywood walls end and you are blasted by gale hurricane force winds causing you to actually stumble a few steps before planting your feet and bracing against the monster trying to lift you and throw you over the side, to.. Oh. My. God... the water and tiny, tiny boats so far below. Some nut who obviously doesn't understand not everyone is comfortable staring into the gaping jaws of death, goes zinging by on a bike. "On your left." I wanted to rip off that daintily chiming bell and throw it over the side of the bridge. Though imagining following the flight as it disappeared into a speck and knowing you wouldn't even see the splash, made me a little nauseous. 

So instead, I stagger to the nice massive, stone constructed support tower. Exhaling slowly, starting to relax now that I am holding on to the sturdy support, THAT IS PART OF THE WHOLE BRIDGE THAT IS SWAYING ever so gently in the breeze. Clinging to the tower, realizing on one side you are protected by the wind, I work around all 4 sides. Keeping my back in contact  with the cold stone, one hand holding on to any purchase hold I can find, the other in a sweaty death grip on the camera. Snapping away and hoping even one will come out well, because this is one thing that is never happening again. 

Progress is measured by inches. Sliding one foot at a time, like the person you see in the movies who was dumb enough to go out on a window ledge, because you'll be damned if you don't get photos of the view before you pass out and have to be carried down. One trip around the tower and not a chance in hell that we are going to walk across the bridge as we so naively planned just 20 minutes ago when on terra firma. 

Annnndddd it's time to let go, pry those fingers loose, take one shaky step forward, avoiding another kamikaze biker and their chiming bell. The goal is the plywood blinders. It's possible. Because getting down is the only way I am going to see if the photos came out. 

I did. And they did.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


During a wee bit of urban exploring, I came across a burned building. It was a produce warehouse and all that remains are the walk-in coolers. My heart goes out to the local family who lost their building and business.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


One of my recent favorite train graffiti images from my Instagram postings. Looks like he's been there a while doesn't it? How many places has he seen?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Joshua Tree at sunset near Kingman, Arizona.

Monday, April 22, 2013


Another image from Barrio Viejo. I always want to know what is inside.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


I was a kid in a candy store this past weekend. A historic home tour in Barrio Viejo! 6 homes open to the public for the first time in a generation. Understandably, there was no photography permitted inside the home. Outside was legal though. I do believe, I am going to have this one printed.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Friday, April 19, 2013


One of my new favorite images. I am hoping it will translate well when I have it printed.

I posted this one to Instagram. The square format changes things just a wee bit.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


As mentioned previously, I've been posting a lot on Instagram. Here's one of the recent posts with the original photo and the edited photo. It's not much, but it makes a big difference in the final image.



This vintage bus was in the small lot in central Tucson. I love that it says "here comes the boys' club of Tucson" across the front.

If you're on IG you can follow me at backcountry_photos.