photography from the ground up

Just Up (Or Down) The Road

I live in a wondrous place. The problem I have is that, being surrounded by beauty has made me a little thick-skinned; I guess you could say that  I take it all for granted. So, I am putting my thoughts down in words accompanied by images, not so much to convince anyone else, but to remind myself.


Fenton Lake is a small (less than 40 acres) manmade lake which was formed by construction of an earthen dam on the Rio Cebolla. The Cebolla itself is not really a river by most standards; it is, at most, three feet wide along most of its length. But, here in New Mexico, it qualifies. I made this image on a dark day. I was standing amongst the cattails at the north end of the lake. The ridge line  to the southeast burned during the Lake Fire in 2002.


One of the most recognizable and well known features in the Jemez Valley is Battleship Rock. It is composed of rhyolite and was formed when the volcano that shaped the present-day Jemez Mountains erupted for the final (hopefully) time, the ash and lava flowed into a box canyon; when it cooled the rock filled the canyon and as the softer earth eroded away, the monolith was left exposed.


Jemez Springs is a small village (population: 250) that lies in the heart of San Antonio Canyon–the canyon formed by the Jemez River. Not much has changed, visually anyway, since I first came here in 1977. This is a typical mid-week, January evening.


New Mexico Highway 4 runs through San Antonio Canyon for about thirty miles before climbing onto the flanks of the Valle Grande and continuing across the mountain to Los Alamos (yes that Los Alamos: home of the atomic bomb). This stretch of the highway is about five miles south of Jemez Springs.


In the early years of the last century, there was an extensive logging operation in the Jemez Mountains. The logging company used a train to haul the logs to a mill in Gilman. They bored two tunnels through the solid granite that transects the Guadalupe Box and when the logging declined, the tracks were replaced by a road–New Mexico SR 485–which provides access to the Santa Fe National Forest. Some may recognize the tunnels from the role they played in the film “3:10 To Yuma”


The Jemez River cuts through Soda Dam, a large, seven thousand year old calcium carbonate formation left behind by a small, unassuming hot-spring next to Highway 4. It is located about three hundred yards from my door and is a huge tourist attraction as well as being the swimming hole for local youngsters.


The second image provides a better view of the river flowing through the “dam”, and of the swimming hole; the kids jump from the sides into the plunge pool. When the New Mexico Highway Department blasted through the formation to improve Highway 4, the building process was interrupted, and the dam has been eroding since then.


16 responses

  1. It looks like you have a lot to chose from. Beautiful!


    February 4, 2014 at 12:33 pm

  2. Hi Jim,
    What a wonderful set of images from a beautifully scenic place, I can’t imagine any photographer being “subject poor” and in your environment it must be difficult to have a rerun of your work exposure after exposure and no duplicates. WOW.


    February 4, 2014 at 12:34 pm

  3. Wonderful photos!


    February 4, 2014 at 1:40 pm

  4. Wowwwwwwwwwww gorgeous photo’s and words


    February 4, 2014 at 1:55 pm

  5. Claudia Joy (Chittim) Bandy

    Beautiful images, Jim, that remind me of a place I still think of as “home” although I left about 10 years ago. I’d love to see you do a series of images of the Gilman tunnels and the trip to them as I find that particularly magical. As you round the bend behind Guadalupe Mesa, I always think it’s a bit like returning to the womb. As you drive slowly toward the tunnels,the canyon walls become narrower and narrower, and the nearly geometric look of the rocks on the far side of the river always “talk to me.” There’s such a strong energy just as you exit the second tunnel, and there’s a huge face in the rock just above the exit on the road side. Between the chatter of the rock walls, the gurgling of the river, and the dance of the light on the rocks, I feel I’m in the womb of nature, completely at choice about when (or even IF) I will re-enter my ordinary world. OK, I admit it – I’m a Gilman junkie! Never miss it when I visit. Give my love to Robin.


    February 4, 2014 at 3:44 pm

  6. You do indeed live in a beautiful spot Jim! I especially love Battleship Rock with the brilliant sky behind. Nicely done.


    February 4, 2014 at 4:22 pm

  7. Stunning pics. Beautiful places. My uncle used to live and work in Los Alamos, the kids left after he died. Had wanted to visit but that never happened, probably just as well, I wouldn’t have wanted to leave. I do understand becoming blind to what’s around you, but I’d find it very difficult to not see that kind of glorious scenery.


    February 4, 2014 at 6:33 pm

  8. Diane

    We definately live in an awesome place and are blessed to be here; your photos captivate how beautiful it is. Thank you, Jim!!


    February 4, 2014 at 8:49 pm

  9. as usual so stunning 🙂


    February 5, 2014 at 6:47 am

  10. wow! those are amazing pics and great words to describe them.


    February 5, 2014 at 7:34 am

  11. You sure do live in a spectacular place. Great photos and descriptions; and I especially liked Battleship Rock, thank you.


    February 5, 2014 at 2:25 pm

  12. Wonderful shots!


    March 6, 2014 at 6:19 am

  13. lnthrock

    I love all the water pictures!


    March 13, 2014 at 9:00 pm

  14. I am very happy to read your article. Thanks 🙂


    March 28, 2014 at 11:31 am

  15. Nice sky in the Battleship Rock. You a very lucky to have such a beatifull place to visit


    August 18, 2014 at 5:17 am

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