Thursday, February 21, 2013


Hereford in Meadow
Lazy J2 Ranch
Patagonia, AZ

Rancher Sidney Spencer had a dream as a child that she would one day own her grandmothers ranch where she spent a great deal of her childhood playing the expansive grasslands of the San Rafael Valley south of Patagonia, AZ. Her dreams came true but not as most would think. She did not inherit the 7,000 acre ranch as some would think. It already had been sold by 1953.

Sidney Spencer purchase the ranch section by section a labor of love which started in 1995. After suffering a head injury, the wall street savvy and marketing/advertising executive, had to take a different turn. She refocused on her dream and working and executing a different plan, the purchase of the Lazy J2 ranch. It took years of toil but by 2001 she made her dream come true.

While she started ranching with 20 head of cattle, she now ranches 200 head of strictly grass fed cattle. These hoofed guests consume on their own acres and drink about 35 gallons per day of the sweet water per day. They feast and dine on the over one hundred grasses found on the range and grow to weigh in between 1,200 to 1,600 lbs. before they are humanely killed and make their way to local farmer's markets and homes that want organic beef.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Perception Perspective

Fence Line at the Lazy J2 Ranch
Patagonia, AZ

Tossed and turn this AM and simply had to get up, not because I couldn't sleep, but rather because my mind was filled many thoughts that needed to get put down on paper. The San Rafael Valley and what it means is still fresh in my head. It inspires souls like mine. It triggers the heart and it races content.

This land lends itself easily to the lens. It's an artist's oasis in the desert. What I have discovered is my passion for photography has transcended into my love of life, my family, and my friends (even those not met).

Recently I've started change my style. In other words my perception has caused me to change the perspective of my images. I am seeing things more like a drama unfolding in a cinematographic event. Thus, I've chosen to crop my images in a 16:9 ratio. Not only does it help me to tell the story better but it helps the viewer see it. You are viewing the storyboard.

Rancher/owner of the Lazy J2, Sidney Spencer, invited me to shoot because she saw my worked and believed enough in me to think that I would be also be able to narrate my captures with a kindred voice. She was right. The size of the ranch helped me put life in its proper perspective. It's meant for us to enjoy. We have to see, to live is to experience; we have to keep moving thinking about what is here to enjoy and take in.

There is so much living left, so much to see, so much to enjoy. I can't sleep and I hope that you can't either. The land and nature has awakened me. Life beckons; experience it. Don't postpone any longer.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Almost Heaven: San Rafael Valley

San Rafael Valley Grasslands
Lazy J2 Ranch
Patagonia, AZ

Spent a day shooting in paradise, a beautiful natural grassland surrounded by mountains in Southeast Arizona. In the heart of the San Rafael Valley you will find the Lazy J2 ranch, a ten section ranch enveloped by the most beautiful pastures and sensuous terrains. At the lower levels of the ranch are rolling expansive grasslands and at its higher elevations hillsides peppered with fragrant manzanita and juniper trees ill suited for grazing cattle. Most of this land remains under the protection of the USFDS and the proud stewardship of rancher Sidney Spencer.

The ranch literally went on for miles as we trekked on a four wheeled smooth riding Ranger. At each bend there was something different to behold as if God himself had placed it there for viewing. A piece of heaven in the high Arizona desert. The San Rafael Valley and the Lazy 2 Ranch act as the spiritual source of the Santa Cruz river fed by the summer monsoons and flowing creeks.

As I looked across the expanses, I imagined movies such as Dances with Wolves and Out of Africa complete with soundtracks. Yes for most of the day, as we traversed the winding and hilly gravel roads, with a friendly blue healer companion by my side, I was speechless. We stopped along the way, checking on black angus steers heartily fed by the 35 acres each has to graze and ample personal daily water supply of 35 gallons. We also checked to make sure the windmills were functioning and stopped those who water tanks were brimming.

For a city boy, this was all amazing to me, the decent life of steers in the San Rafael Valley grass fed all their lives and free to roam endless miles. It's easy to just dream in a place like this. This is undoubtedly must be what heaven is like. I certainly can't imagine a more perfect place.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Had to Rest

Snow Dust
Pima Canyon
Tucson, AZ

Must admit some of my shots are taken as an excuse to offset my exhaustion. The air is thin still for this city slicker from the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex so I find my self making frequent breathing stops. These become photo opportunities.

Imagine how many opportunities you might miss on any given day, if you don't take the time to catch your breath, take a coffee break, or simply stop to chat with a friend at work. It's a steep climb any way you look at it. The rewards are plentiful along the way, if you pause just long enough to catch your breath.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Take a Break

Snow Dust
Pima Canyon
Tucson, AZ

Been enjoying my many walks and hikes. They help me put things in perspective. The bright sunlight also manages to cheer my spirits. There's nothing better than to stop along a mountain trail and discover the sounds of silence. I afford myself the luxury of silence in an era of iPhones and iPods. It seems we are always plugged in and tuned out with ourselves.

Nature enables me to reconnect with my spirit and to see what is important. I seek a peaceful spirit. There's very little I wish to combat at the moment. At this stage of my life, I choose to absorb the life energy which abounds and surrounds me. It's great to be alive and to have another day to see and experience life.

We should pause, take a break, and observe. We might be amazed at what we actually accomplish by doing simply nothing. To some it makes no sense, to me it makes no sense not to. It feels good to be content with the universe. All I have is today. I must remember to enjoy each breath, each moment, as I take natures pulse and relax my own.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Find Beauty

Pima Canyon View of Tucson
Tucson, AZ

"Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Some folks have asked me why I enjoy the desert so much. At times, I've skirted around this issue abstractly, but let me be forthwright. The desert challenges my eye and my soul to find beauty. It's not readily apparent. Obvious, it's not.

Within a short time of any treck to mountains, the landscapes awaken my senses and I become a student of nature. I study light and the presense and absences of colors which I see in vast open spaces. The me becomes we as I become one with the Saguaro giants. I am part of this thing called life and a planet called earth. I am both a passenger, citizen, and visitor of a solar system.

My observations are simple. The desert and its light teaches me to enjoy what I see and to be patient. In time, at the appropriate time, nature reveals her prize. All I need do is wait. If I wait long enough, I find beauty in just about anything that surrounds in the open spances of the desert. Here I see what life I've been missing. That, my friends, is the beauty of the desert. My eyes, soul, and senses welcome it's instruction. Each day brings a new tutorial. I welcome it as much as desert mountain stream. It refreshes and renews me. It waters my parched soul.