New Mexico Uplanders

It just occurred to me this afternoon that I never put together a photo essay of our New Mexico hunting trip from last February.  Some of you will know that the upland season ends on February 1st here in Idaho.  We decided to extend our season by two full weeks by heading down to New Mexico for scaled quail, bobwhite quail and Mearn’s quail.  We truck camped on BLM land or Forest Service land — woke up early, went to sleep early, slept in the bed of the truck with the dogs, ate out of the cooler and fresh from the field, schlepped through sand dunes, crept the truck over hard country to watch the stars over Texas and we harvested a lot of birds.  I really found my shooting rhythm and the dogs were bone thin, tired and in utter rapture.

It’s brutal, vicious hunting down there.  The vegetation is prickly and serrated — cutting and poking at you with every step you take.  The sunlight is harsh, even in the heart of February, so harsh that it seems to come from every direction.  We’re used to ankle breaking basalt lava flows, brutal and frozen gale force winds and near vertical hiking here in Idaho.  It was interesting to test our mettle in a new place, in a new way.

Rob and I were reminiscing about this trip last week and talking about our plans to head down again this winter to scout out more territory for ourselves and to simply enjoy the company of each other.

We hunt for food, but hunting also gives me such a strong sense of family.  We’re together out there — just him, me and our dogs.  A unit.  Working together (kinda like a wolf pack would) to bring home dinner.  The wolves got it right.

Without further adieu:

New Mexico

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Photo Round Up (between here and there and everywhere else)

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May Film


I’m sure I failed to tell you that Robert gifted me with an old film camera for Christmas.  I was delighted.  I started with a film camera when I was very very little — my grandmother on my dad’s side of the family gave me a pink and black point and shoot camera at the age of six or so that I used constantly until I upgraded to something else sometime in high school.  Speaking of high school, I took eight semesters worth of film photography there which included film developing and print making in a glorious darkroom.  I loved those classes very much.  Between then and now, I’ve become a full-time working artist (or creative, or whatever you want to call what I do for a living) (everything I can think to call myself sounds a little pretentious), despite the fact that I’m a university drop-out by way of three different institutions.  I think instruction is a wonderful thing but there’s no substitute for simply diving into a medium and figuring out your style on your own by muddling through the troughs and crests of creative flow.  Never mind being elbow deep, get neck deep in your medium and don’t think for a second there’s a right or wrong way to do it.

Now I’m rabbit trailing a little and pontificating a lot so here’s the bottom line, I’ve always enjoyed photography so returning to my film-y roots has been a true joy.  What I cherish about film photography is the delayed gratification.  I send it away to be processed and looking at the developed image files is always a surprise for me.  I didn’t have to re-learn a film camera.  It was like a bicycle — I climbed back on and began to effortlessly swoop about on the asphalt.

The other important thing I want to mention about film is each image I shoot costs me about a dollar so I find myself slowing down and choosing my shots wisely.  It’s not for everyone, but it’s for me.  I like the pace.  I like the sound of the shutter.  I like that there is no immediate result on a screen on the back of the camera.  Sometimes I think film is one of the last great things.

Anyway, here are some of my favorite photos from the month of May.  They were taken, respectively, in a hotel room in Missoula, on the Owyhee River of Oregon/Idaho, at Little Payette Lake of Idaho and Shepp Ranch on the Main Salmon River of Idaho.

No digital image has the grit, grain or feel of film photography, even if you take the time to add some grain back into your image in Photoshop.  It might be obsolete, but it’s still very beautiful.  I hope you think so too because I’m going to keep on shooting and sharing.57430029 57430025574300155743003057430033574400085743003157440001574400165744001757440010574400185744002257440030

Edge Season

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We went out yesterday under such a magnificent sky.  It gets foggy in the high desert during the winter months and the mantle has lifted!  We’ve been gifted with such bright days this week.  There’s a sense of coming alive all over the land.  The deer are beginning to drop their winter burdens.  I expect to hear a meadowlark any day now — last year, around this time, I heard the first one in the sagebrush above the riverbank here.  They always signal a seasonal shift for me.  I cherish their music.

I can sense it all stirring, waking, rubbing at sleepy eyes.

Along the roads and deer paths I run, the sage is coming back, fragrant and soft.  I run my hands over it as I pass through it and then lift my fingers to my face and breathe a little deeper.  Is there a greater, more soulful scent than the sagebrush of the interior West?  Maybe the perfume of an entire slope of wild rose in bloom.  That’s lovely, too.

Rob is starting early season work in the southeast (Arkansas, Tennessee, et al) sooner than ever this year.  The off-season seems to get shorter with the passing years as he goes deeper and higher with his job.  We’re savoring our last moments together as a little family before the fire season busts us up for a bit.  And no, we don’t know where we’ll be living or where I’ll be working or any of that stuff.  As usual.  Being a firewire is to exist in a kind of information less purgatory; I live a very last minute life.  But we always prevail and something pseudo-suitable always turns up in the way of housing and studio space.  I’ve quit worrying about it.  Things will shake out how they will, they always do.

I have enough projects and travels to keep me active and busy this spring (I cannot wait to share some of those details with you), but I’ll still miss Robbie when he goes.  We’ve done a lot of growing and shedding of old selves this winter.  All the change and growth has been rooted in truth, in realizing the things about our individual selves that we’d like to work on, and then simply working on those things and rewiring our hearts and minds, dropping bad habits and lighting new fires in our hearts.  I’ve loved this winter.  This winter with him.

He’s been building me a hotbed!  It’s kinda state of the art, you’d expect nothing less from him though, would you?  I can hardly wait to get it planted.  I have my seeds coming in the mail as I type this.  Maybe they’ll arrive today!



The Bob

I had a wild summer.  It’s strange that I’m only starting to share some of these photos with you now, in the waning days of January, but things take as long as they take (and I have the most dependable WIFI I have had in a long while so I can actually get images uploaded for you — hallelujah).

The short of it is this:  I spent a week on the back of a hilariously stubborn, thistle-chomping Haflinger  while riding 80+ miles into the heart of the Bob Marshall Wilderness of Montana (I abated the stubbornness with a little willow switch).  One of my dearest friends was with me and we had a blast choking on the dust kicked up by the full string of mules we were riding behind, freezing to death on the first day which involved 21 miles of rain after un-sleeping in a haunted Forest Service cabin, fishing the pristine waters of the Southfork of the Flathead River, and generally being spoiled rotten by our hosts, guides and friends (you’ll know them as @muledragger and @bigskybandits on the old Instagram machine).  I shot most of the trip from the back of my bumpy and delightful horse with my x100t — it shoots pretty soft so if you notice a difference in the feel of these photos, that’s the reason why.

The entire trip was terrible for my already acute case of horse-fever.  While I’ve always dreamed of having a pack mule for mountain trips and high country hunts, I walked away from this backcountry horseback trip with such a rich respect for the hybrid.  They are truly such wonderful, stout, complex creatures.  A joy to behold and to know.  And boy howdy, when you reach your fingers down into their big, beautiful ears to give them a scritchy scratch and they lean in and drop their enormous heads down on your shoulder and forget their size and weight because they’re too busy feeling mule ecstasy…well, it’s a pretty darn magical thing to experience.  Our libraries need more books about the solid love of good mules.

Without further adieu, I give you the Bob Marshall Wilderness and a smattering of humans, horses and mules in the fat heart of summer.  Enjoy!

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