Traveling and taking pictures is a rewarding and relaxing time away from the hustle and bustle work of daily life. Finding a place that is different from where I live and grew up was an enticing challenge. I eventually stumbled upon a unique workshop given by a truly gifted photographer, Craig Varjabedian. His business is titled “Eloquent Light”, and after a week, it really lived up to its name. What was unique in this workshop was the fact that I would be living at a place called Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, NM. If the name does not ring a bell… it was Georgia O’Keeffe’s summer residence where she painted many of her landscapes. For me it was a time to forget the east coast and see with new eyes.
I remember finding my living quarters in a cabin up on a small mesa and breathing the air far from my corner of the world. Breathing was an understatement… the ranch is located at 6500 ft. above sea level. For lowlanders, as I was called, this provided a small setback. It took me 2 days to get use to the thinner air as, just walking up and down that small hill to the dinning hall proved a challenge. The reward though was breathtaking, in more ways than one… I was surrounded by sweeping vistas of a land I had only previously seen in books and movies. The light and color, of even the dirt, attracted my camera in all directions. I could not believe how many different shades of red and brown there was in one place. Cliffs that seemed distant at first light became increasingly closer as I extended my free reign of this enchanted place. On a side trip, all the color that I had previously described, vanished. “Plaza Blanca…the White Place” is exactly that. Where most of New Mexico is painted in shades of red, orange and brown, this place was void of color and felt like another planet. Cliffs, pillars and arches were made of the same bright white rock. I could see why many Sci-fy movies were made here. My challenge was to find drama and detail in this illuminated place. After exploring this otherworldly setting for a day, it was time to head back to the ranch.
After dinner on my last night, I headed out into our courtyard to surprisingly find a pitch black night, eloquently accented by a maze of stars. Lights of major cities did not spill over into this area as it does in the east. The blackness actually opened your eyes and mind to the unbelievable beauty of the Universe. Both quiet and tranquil, it was a soul awakening experience that reminded me of where I was…. and made me homesick for where I wanted to be.