One thing I love to do when exploring a new place is to take photographs. Never having been to Santa Fe or the surrounding areas, I wasn’t sure where to find the best spots for pictures. And, if I was driving, it would be hard to stay on the road and look at scenery at the same time. Then, on TripAdvisor, I found a solution: a photography day tour with Mark Schumann.
Mark suggested taking the High Road to Taos with stops at Nambe, Chimayo, Santa Cruz “Lake,” Truchas, Trampas, Rancho de Taos, downtown Taos, the Gorge Bridge, the earth ships, the Taos Pueblo, another location or two along the Rio Grande, as well as a sunset spot on the way back to Santa Fe. Whew!
Mark picked me up at 10:00 am. We were joined by Chihiro, an avid photographer who lives in the Austin area. Chihiro is much more knowledgable about photography, camera settings, etc. than I am. Basically, I use my camera as “point and shoot.” With Mark’s guidance, I began to understand some of my camera’s settings, how to “frame” a landscape for depth of field and more. But, I did “go rogue” some of the time and shot what grabbed my attention instead of what Mark was pointing out.
We stopped to take photos of Sacred Heart Church and the cemetery. Some of the gravesites were simple but more were elaborate with plastic flowers, solar lights, photos, and toys.
On The Road
Great opportunity to learn about landscape photography: include some close shrubbery for perspective; focus on the middle ground. But, most important: clean your lens before you start taking pictures.
El Santuario de Chimayo
Chimayo, a little adobe church in the foothills of the Sangre de Christo Mountains in northern New Mexico, is sometimes called the Lourdes of North America. Like that famous shrine in France, it attracts those who are seeking healing of body, mind, or spirit. Read the entire article here.
Pictures coming soon!
Somewhere in the high altitude
I’ll have to send a note to Mark and ask him exactly where this is. It’s high in the mountains and is a small picturesque spot. The church was open and has wonderfully detailed murals.
Las Trampas Historic District is a National Historic Landmark District and is home to the San José de Gracia Church National Historic Landmark. The district and its church are located in Las Trampas, off Route 76, roughly 30 miles south of Taos, NM. We visited the church and, fortunately, it was open. The inside is beautiful with rough-hewn wood, tall ceilings, a wood burning stove. But, unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take photos of the inside.
High up in the mountains is a scenic overlook where you can see for miles. Mark said it was unusual to see the cloud banks. Usually, the sky is a crystal clear blue. The clouds gave additional definition to the field of depth.
No pictures; I was too busy eating and guzzling water. Believe it or not, we ate at a Vietnamese open air restaurant. Yes, Vietnamese!! It was surprisingly good and affordable and plentiful. We also visited the gallery where Mark sells some of his prints. Take a look. This is just a small selection of what’s available.
Then it was on to the Taos Pueblo, the only living Native American community designated both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark. It was larger than I expected with some ancient building and some relatively new buildings. Again, we weren’t allowed to take photos of the inside of the church with it’s shrine to the Madonna. It’s traditional to dress the Madonna in robes for the season. Well, this was hot pink Barbie season. The entire altar display was bright pink.
Rio Grand Gorge Bridge
The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, the second highest bridge on the U.S. Highway System, is a three-span steel continuous-deck-truss structure with a concrete-filled steel-grid deck. It was called the “bridge to nowhere” while it was being built because the funding did not exist to continue the road on the other side.
At 650 feet (200 m) above the Rio Grande, it is the fifth highest bridge in the United States. The span is 1,280 feet; two 300-foot-long approach spans with a 600-foot-long main center span. The bridge was dedicated on September 10, 1965 and is a part of U.S. Route 64, a major east-west road.
An Earthship is a type of passive solar house that is made of both natural and upcycled materials such as earth-packed tires, pioneered by architect Michael Reynolds. Earthship structures are intended to be “off-the-grid-ready” homes, with minimal reliance on public utilities and fossil fuels. They are constructed to use available natural resources, especially energy from the sun and rain water. More information … nightly rentals
It was strange to see these upcycled homes in the middle of the desert. Notice that some have satellite dishes and some have solar panels. We could only take photos of a few of them because the main community was roped off and inaccessible.
Red & White Rock Formations
As we travelled along, the landscape changed from semi-flat with scrubby brush to semi-flat with scrubby brush and large rock formations. We stopped at several locations to take photos.
Sunset and Moonrise
We made a quick stop at Bode’s General Store and drove past Georgia O’Keeffe’s home but had to hurry on over to Ghost Ranch to wait for Sunset and Moonrise. We did have time to take a few pics at Ghost Ranch and then waited and waited and waited. It seemed the sun would never set. But, once it did, the sunset was spectacular. Moonrise happened before sunset so we had a two-for-one photo op.
End of a Long Day
After the sun set and the moon rose, we headed back to Santa Fe. Thank goodness for Mark and his stamina. I was beat and very quiet (possibly dozing) on the way back.