Socorro, New Mexico in Black and White

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   Black and white photography has remained a passion with me over the years, though it has taken a backseat to my color work. When I first began to take photography seriously, more years ago than I care to remember, I shot mainly in black and white.  Since the age of digital, I have shot in color and only on occasion after taking a photograph and looking at it in Lightroom thought, wow, this would make for a good black and white shot. What I have not done in many years is go out specify with the intent to look for and photograph in black and white. That was about to change…

   On our recent trip to New Mexico we, my wife and I, drove down to Socorro, after spending a day and a half in Santa Fe (more about that in a future post).  Socorro is a small historical town about a good one hour drive south of Albuquerque straight down Interstate 25. The attraction was to go to the nearby Bosque Del Apache WLR which is a few miles outside of Socorro. We left Santa Fe on Wednesday morning.  Every year at this time, Bosque del Apache hosts their annual Festival of the Cranes which celebrates the fall migration of thousands of Sandhill Cranes back to the Rio Grande Valley for the winter. The festival is a week-long feast for nature photographers and birders of all levels. It filled with classes and guided tours led by knowledgeable instructors from all over the country.

   New Mexico, over the past dozen years or so, has been one of our favorite places to go at this time of year. Generally, we made our way to Bosque del Apache the week before the festival, avoiding the crowds, but still finding thousands of Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese as well as other birds and species at the refuge. A few year years ago we decided for the first time to go during the festival and signed up for a few classes. This year, after looking at the selection of classes, and finding three that we were excited about, we decided to  do it again. The first class was on Wednesday afternoon and would not take place at the refuge but in Socorro.  Led by Boston based photographer, Don Toothaker, it was called Socorro in Black and White (bet you were wondering when I was going to get back and make the connection to my opening paragraph, huh?).

  That afternoon, we spent walking around Socorro’s town square/plaza and its neighboring area looking for perspectives that lend itself to striking monochromatic images. One of the benefits of going with Don was he was able to gain access to photograph inside some of the various local buildings such as the historical Garcia Opera House, the 400 year old San Miguel Mission and a few other places that we would have not had access to otherwise. For me it was a chance to go back to my photographic roots (not to sound too dramatic) searching for images that lend itself to the art of black and white photography. Below are a few samplings.

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