At the request of NewMexicoWomen.org, on Saturday I photographed the 8th Annual Dona Predicanda Perea Encuentro de Medicina Traditional at the Westside Community Center in the South Valley of Albuquerque. The daylong event was co-sponsored by Kalpulli Izkalli and unOccupy Albuquerque: Medicine for the People. Kalpulli performed a healing ritual for about 100 people and a blessing for the elders to start the day off, and there followed free, traditional healing treatments, food and music.
After a hiatus of several years—since the early to mid-2000s, when I collaborated with William deBuys on Valles Caldera: A Vision for New Mexico’s National Preserve—yesterday I ventured out to so some photography in the Valles Caldera again. I was hoping to find some of that magical light that so often fills the sky-bowl of the Valle Grande, and I wasn’t disappointed. In spite of the fact that many of the mountains burned severely in the Las Conchas fire, the preserve is resplendent as ever. With a background sound of bull elk bugling, I walked into the great grassland and stayed, mesmerized, until sunset.
I just returned a two-week trip to Peru, which included a 42-mile trek to Machu Picchu on the Salkantay trail. It was a spectacular experience, spanning a range of environments, from a 15,200-foot pass (with 20k peaks to both sides) down into a cloud forest at 6,000 feet. We also visited some small villages and an astounding assortment of Inca ruins. I’ve posted a new gallery (http://donusner.com/peru-2016 )with some of the photos from the trip, but I must return. It’s a place worth visiting many times.
I was fortunate to be present at the Lannan reading last Wednesday, and to make photographs of the event—as I’ve been doing for the Lannan Foundation for 17 years now. Santa Fe is fortunate to have this ongoing series right here in town, but the events are podcast at Lannan.org, available to all. This one was particularly powerful, featuring Kenanga-Yamahtta Taylor with Donna Murch. The duo lit up the audience with a powerful discussion on matters of race in America. Taylor, an assistant professor at Princeton University and a recipient of a Lannan Residency Fellowship, spoke about the Black liberation movement and the current and historical struggles of African Americans against police violence and for equal rights. Her talk was followed by a talk with Donna Murch, author of Living for the City: Migration, Education, and the Rise of the Black Panther Party in Oakland. Afterwards, Taylor signed her new book, BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, just out from Haymarket Books, while Murch also signed copies of her book. It’s an event worth listening to, available at lannan.org.
I came across this image of Jesus peering through fallen leaves on the hood of an abandoned lowrider painted by LowLow Medina in Chimayó. It’s sad to see the lowrider fading away, but amazing to see the image as it remains…
I’ve been back from Patagonia for two weeks, and I’m just getting through the first edit of my photos. These include street shots from Santiago, Valparaiso, and Punta Arenas, as well as landscape/nature photos from Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, Parque Nacional Bernardo O’Higgins; and Parque Nacionál Los Glaciares in Aregntina, including Perrito Moreno glacier and the Mount Fitz Roy area. These are fabulous places, in the literal sense—places of fable, of legendary climbs and exploration at the southern tip of the Americas.
Santa Fe University of Art and Design sent me down to teach a digital photography workshop at the Universidad del Valle de Mexico in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. This sprawling, industrial city in northwest Mexico has a deep history. I was drawn to the old part of town and took my students there to take pictures. We also made a field trip to Ures, about an hour and a half away.
I’m just back from a ski trip into Yellowstone National Park, hosted by Yellowstone Expeditions. This park is the oldest in the National Park system, and one of the crown jewels. It shines year-round, but is extraordinary in winter, when there are fewer people around and wildlife in abundance. A group of twelve of us was shuttled into the park in “snow coaches,” which are conventional vans equipped with very unconventional equipment—tracks and skis to travel on the snow. We stayed in small yurts clustered around two big yurts that housed the kitchen and dining area. The yurts are comfortable and warm; we never felt chilled, even though it dropped on 15 degrees below zero (F) one night.
Being situated deep inside the park, near the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, allowed us terrific access. We skied each day to a new destination, to be amazed anew each time by the land and the wildlife. There were trumpeter swans on the Yellowstone River, river otters along the banks, foxes hunting for mice in the grasslands, coyotes trotting here and there—and yes, wolves. Half of our group had the good fortune of seeing the Canyon Pack, a group of seven wolves that wanders over a wide area centered on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. And of course there are bison all over the park, spending their time pushing snow with their great heads to get at the grass below.
The geothermal activity at the park is also astounding. More than half of the geysers in the world are in Yellowstone, and there are hot springs and thermal vents throughout the park, which surrounds a large caldera (collapsed volcano) whose magma body lies not far beneath the surface of the ground. It’s amazing to come across great steaming caldrons of boiling water in the midst of a winter landscape, with many of the pools colored deep blue and rimmed by red and orange rocks.
The caldera is reminiscent of our own caldera here, close to home, the Valles Caldera. The Yellowstone caldera measures 45 miles in diameter, while the Valles is “only” 13, but the Valles is more distinct and easier to recognize as a caldera. They are also similar in hosting large herds of grazing animals—elk in the Valles Caldera, bison in Yellowstone.
One of the rare phenomenon we witnessed in Yellowstone is “sun pillars,” a truly magical apparition that occurs on occasion when conditions are just right in winter in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. They form when light reflects off of large snow crystals, and they’re astounding: golden pillars of light that hover over the depths of the canyon like holograms. There’s a photo above, and I’ll post more soon.
I’ve posted one photo under “Featured Prints” on my home page, and I’ll be posting more in the coming weeks. This is a place worth visiting, and continuing to protect. Go visit if you can—in winter!