Fort Garland, CO.

Shooting in Fort Garland, Colorado!

Yes, there’s really parts of an old US Army fort here…

I arrived in Fort Garland, Colorado last night, driving through two lightning storms along the way, in a soft top Jeep, was not my idea of fun. I went to Lu’s Main Street Cafe which was pretty good, I’m sitting there again as I write this! I just finished shooting the Fort Garland Museum and Cultural Center, which was a great experience. It contains five buildings of the original Fort Garland, a US Army fort built in 1858. It was established to protect settlers in the territory of New Mexico. The fort had a short life as the US Army abandoned the fort in 1883. Interestingly, it’s commander from May 1866 to November 1867 was none other than Kit Carson who was famous as a mountain man, trapper, guide, and by this point an Army officer. Not only did Carson reside in the Commander’s Quarters, but he lived there with his wife and children. A pretty cool piece of history that I didn’t know about till this morning! After the Army closed the fort in 1883, it fell in to disrepair until a local citizen took it upon himself to restore and get the old fort designate as a Colorado historic site. The Colorado Historical Society purchased the fort in 1945, restored it, and opened it as a museum to the public with five of the original 22 buildings restored! Those buildings, with the parade ground and its restored original 1858 flagpole at the center of the compound are a perfect day trip!

However, the morning started off with an early morning visit to Great Sand Dunes National Park. I had hoped to shoot the sunrise but there wasn’t one. Well, there was a sunrise as there is every day, the park was clouded in. These dunes are the tallest in North America coming in at approximately 750 feet high and cover about 30 square miles! Because the temperature on the dunes can reach 140 degrees in the summer, I brought plenty of hot weather gear. But… the warmest it got was 57 degrees by the time I left. These dunes are so massive that the photos just didn’t do them justice so I had to include people for scale. Sometimes the human eye/brain needs people in a photo tOverall, even though Mother Nature didn’t cooperate, I think I may have still gotten some good shots.

Tomorrow I’m heading out early to shoot the little town of San Luis, Colorado, the states oldest town (establish April 5, 1851). After that I’m off to do some shooting in Taos, New Mexico, and finally spending the rest of the day/night in Santa Rossa, New Mexico on the old Route 66! I plan to shoot the old hotels and buildings, some still in use and some abandoned, on the old road in Santa Rosa and Tucumcari, New Mexico. Then a few more things to shoot on Saturday and home that evening. It’s been a pretty cool trip! Below are iPhone 13 mini shots, all except the shot of me are unedited (that was edited on the iPhone).

iPhone 13 Photos

Again?

Ok…¬†Gurushots.com¬†is gettin’ a little carried away… ¬†My pic, Hand in Hand, made #2 on a new¬†list of¬†“32 Photographs With Negative Space Proving That Less Can Be More.” ¬†I took this at White Sands National Monument on June 23, 2017 with my¬†Canon EOS 6D and¬†EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens. ¬†Thank you Gurushots!

 

Original photo is at:

http://www.billchizekphotography.com/Archive/i-N7m7WFH/A

 

Hand in Hand
Taken at White Sands National Monument, my daughters were walking ahead of me singing ‘Let It Go’ from Frozen because the white sand reminded them of snow.

#15 of 26 photos featured at Gurushots.com!

A photo of my girls, White Sands Walk, was taken at White Sands National Monument, NM and was featured¬†today by the Gurushots.com¬†website! ¬†The article is called “26 Incredible Shots Showing That Sometimes Less Is More” and this photo is #15 on their list. This was shot with a Canon EOS 6D with an EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM lens on June 23, 2015.

The original shot is at my website at: http://www.billchizekphotography.com/Archive/i-M9pFfs9/A

Ghost Town

bcpnet.jpgLiving in El Paso, Texas means that there is history in practically every direction. ¬†I am endlessly searching photographic topics that satisfy the blooming photographer in me as well as the history lover. ¬†When those two worlds collide, it is my¬†personal perfect storm! About 90 minutes north of the Texas-New Mexico border exists a real ghost town called Lake Valley and it’s the perfect storm. North of Las Cruces, just off I-25 is Hatch, New Mexico and this would be the place you would want to gas up and get something to eat. ¬†There is only one small unincorporated town between Hatch and ghost town at Lake Valley. ¬†That little town is called Nutt, I believe it’s named that¬†because ain’t¬†Nutt’n there but a biker bar… literally Nutt’n.¬†The 30 minute drive from Hatch can can be kind of cool with wild deer in the fields, but there’s generally not much to see.

Ghost Town Cemetery

Once you arrive in Lake Valley you’ll see the cemetery on the hill to the left. ¬†However, it’s best to go straight to the visitor center and ring the bell for the guide. ¬†Lake Valley has been taken over by the Bureau of Land Management¬†(BLM), there’s no better way to get a quick overview of the place than from the guide. ¬†This photo at right, Ghost Town Cemetery, was attempt to show the isolation of the area as well as how it was once called home for some. ¬†This mining town “was founded in 1878 after silver was discovered. Almost overnight, the small frontier town blossomed into a major settlement with a population of 4,000 people.” (1) ¬†Today it is totally deserted with the exception of the Bureau of Land Management employee (the guide) who lives on the property in a mobile home. ¬†All of these photos were taken with a Canon 6D. ¬†Ghost Town Cemetery was shot with an EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM lens at f/10, 1/125 sec, focal length 16mm, and ISO 100.

“Today, silver mining has played out and all that remains is a ghost town. ¬†BLM has restored the schoolhouse and chapel. The restored schoolhouse provides a glimpse of what schooling in a rural area was like in the early 20th century. Other buildings in the town site have been stabilized to slow further deterioration. There also is a self-guided, interpretive walking tour. A toilet is located near the schoolhouse, and drinking water is available.” (2)

 

Conoco Gas

It might not seem like it now, but Lake Valley Lake Valley actually had a post office ¬†and mail service from 1882 until 1955.(3) ¬†The car in the top photo is a 1935 Plymouth that I’ve not been able to find any other information, it makes for a great photo but that’s about it. ¬†There are plenty of signs warning of rattle snakes so this was about as close as I cared to get. ¬†The photo, called 1935 Plymouth #1¬†was taken with an¬†EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM lens at f/9, 1/80 sec, focal length 19mm, and ISO 100. ¬†This photo of Lake Valley’s Conoco gas station, called Conoco Gas was also taken with the¬†EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM lens at¬†f/9, 1/40 sec, focal length 16mm, and ISO 100. ¬†Lake Valley’s final resident moved out in 1994. (4)

The below photo,¬†Lake Valley, was shot with the EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM lens at f/13, 1/160 sec, focal length 24mm, and ISO 100. ¬†It’s difficult to imagine how well this city and its mines actually performed back in the day. ¬†Miners actually “tunneled into a silver-lined cavity they named the ‚Äúbridal chamber‚ÄĚ that alone yielded 2.5 million troy ounces (78 tonnes) of silver.” ¬†Lake Valley’s mines later “struggled and were worked only periodically into the 20th century” with the exception of the Second World War when the mines reopened “to produce manganese, and continued operating into the 1950s.” (5) ¬†Like most ghost towns, it’s interesting to visit Lake Valley but once you’ve got your photos there isn’t much else to do. ¬†However, if you really appreciate history, it’s a pretty cool way to spend the day.

Lake Valley

 

  1. New Mexico True. http://www.newmexico.org/listing/?lid=25885. New Mexico Department of Tourism. (Accessed April 19,2016)
  2. New Mexico True.
  3. Lake Valley, Sierra County, New Mexico. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Valley,_Sierra_County,_New_Mexico. Wikipedia. (Accessed April 19,2016)
  4. Lake Valley, Sierra County, New Mexico.
  5. Lake Valley, Sierra County, New Mexico.

Amigo Airsho 2014

 

 

The Amigo Airsho, that’s right, Airsho without the¬†“w”, held in Santa Teresa, NM is a great one day airshow. ¬†I was able to see it back in¬†November 2014 and would gladly go again. ¬†Some big names on the airshow circuit come¬†here, you can see performers like¬†Dan Buchanan, the US Army Golden Knights,¬†and¬†the US Air Force Thunderbirds,¬†but there are¬†many excellent performers who don’t always show up at the¬†MCAS Miramar and NAS Oceana¬†airshows. ¬†Make no mistake, this is a fantastic day for aviation buffs. ¬†The airshow has been around for decades and used to be held in El Paso, TX at Biggs Field but has¬†moved to the Do√Īa Anna County Airport in Santa Teresa, NM. ¬†Although it normally happens at the beginning of November, check online before you go as it’s been cancelled a few times in recent years due to unspecified problems. ¬†However, if it’s on, book it! ¬†The above photo,¬†A Texan‚Äôs Bottom,¬†is a North American AT-6 Texan shot with a Canon 7D, Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC lens at f/7.1, 1/640 sec, focal length 300mm, and ISO 100. ¬†All of these photos were shot with the Canon 7D and Tamron 28-300mm lens.

Incoming

One of the nice features about the Amigo Airsho¬†is that you shoot¬†it pretty well with a 300mm lens since¬†you are fairly close in proximity to the performers. Likewise, you’ll want to bring earplugs for the same reason. The photo at left, Incoming, is a parachutist of the US Army Golden Knights on final approach to his marker. Incoming was shot at¬†f/6.3, 1/640 sec, focal length 237mm, and ISO 125. I have since upgraded to the Canon¬†EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 L DO IS USM. ¬†About $900 cheaper than the Canon, the Tamron 28-300mm is a great lens and extreme bang for the buck!

Father and Son

This was my first time seeing Rifle Airshows in the photo at right. ¬†Joe Shetterly (silver plane) is also an active duty US Air Force A-10 Warthog pilot, callsign “Rifle”. ¬†At this airshow Joe was flying with his dad Greg Shetterly (the white &red plane) and Joe’s mom was the announcer! ¬†This father and son team flew separate shows and one together as well, they put on an excellent show and I hope I’m able to see them again some time. ¬†This photo,¬†Father and Son, was shot at f/7.1, 1/640 sec, focal length 300mm, and ISO 100.

Diving

The best act of the day, in my two feet planting firmly on the ground opinion,¬†was Franklin’s Flying Circus and Airshow. ¬†The aircraft at left is called Dracula and is flown by pilot Kyle Franklin. My first thought when I saw Dracula on the flight line was, “holy cow, this thing is all engine!” ¬†Yup, it is, and Kyle Franklin performs¬†an ‘in your face’ airshow that is simply one of the best I’ve seen. It’s low altitude, low to the ground, high altitude and fast, all rolled in to one show! ¬†While I’d be happy to¬†clean my breakfast¬†out of¬†the back seat of a Blue Angels F-18 cockpit after the privilege of a ride along, I’ll just watch Kyle Franklin from the ground. ¬†He’s simply the best pilot I’ve seen in years, check out his Drunk Pilot Comedy Airshow Act, the man has amazing skills! ¬†This photo,¬†Diving,¬†was shot at¬†f/7.1, 1/640 sec, focal length 300mm, and ISO 100.

The below photo¬†is another of Kyle Franklin and¬†Dracula, the photo is called Smoke of Dracula.¬† Just as Kyle Franklin tries to capture the feeling of barnstorming and aviation of yesteryear, I was trying to do the same the same thing with a sepia effect, I don’t use this effect much. This was shot at at¬†f/8, 1/640 sec, focal length 300mm, and ISO 100. ¬†If you’re looking for something to do at the beginning of November be sure to check online for the Amigo Airsho!

Smoke of Dracula