James A. McConnell 

Frame and Light Studio

February, 2021

Grey Rainbow:  Meditation in Winter Light

Coyote in Winter 03
Coyote in Winter 03

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Coyote in Winter 05
Coyote in Winter 05

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Coyote in Winter 04
Coyote in Winter 04

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Coyote in Winter 03
Coyote in Winter 03

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Like most of the rest of the country, Winter 2021 brought sequential sieges of deep cold, high winds and snow to the Ortiz Mountains. Unlike periods of snow in previous years I see resident coyotes with frequency; the ravens take delight in Winter and seem to enjoy wind and snow even as ice forms on their collars. Indeed, raven perversity appears to increase with the heavy winds and snow. Groups of airborne ravens gang-buzz and dive-peck the coyotes, often driving the canids to dissolve into the enveloping shrouds of blowing snow amid guttural squawks.

Coyote in Winter 023
Coyote in Winter 023

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Coyote in Winter 018
Coyote in Winter 018

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Coyote and Raven in Winter 02
Coyote and Raven in Winter 02

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Coyote in Winter 023
Coyote in Winter 023

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Photographing coyotes and ravens in swirling near-blizzards and sub-zero temperatures is humbling; photographing the species together in these conditions is more so.

 

But the dance of light and shadow and sudden shifts of tones and contrasts is frigid magic. And I find myself in an unexpected, nearly-complete return to Black and White.

Raven in Snow 31

But the dance of light and shadow and sudden shifts of tones and contrasts is frigid magic. And I find myself in an unexpected, nearly-complete return to Black and White.

Coyote in Winter 021
Coyote in Winter 021

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Coyote in Winter 020
Coyote in Winter 020

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Coyote in Winter 022
Coyote in Winter 022

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Coyote in Winter 021
Coyote in Winter 021

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I didn’t shoot much color film; I wasn’t equipped to process it and my heroes, with the exception of Eliot Porter, all worked in BW. 

 

Digital changed that for me. 

 

Fall and Spring colors in New Mexico are eyeball-thumping, oddly making me recall childhood and the exuberant palette of Uganda after the onset of rain:  were there seven or were there eight distinct shades of green then and there? Spring high desert blooms and Autumn deciduous riots in New Mexico invariably bring viewer questions regarding willful over-saturating in the post-processing of my images. (To digitally desaturate hues seemed wrong. I postponed my yearly aspen shoot until one week past chromatic climax a year ago; honest peak color prints suggest 1950’s Technicolor or motel-lobby postcards of that era).

Blizzard 2

Embracing Black and White again this winter feels like exhaling after a reunion with an elegant lover from long ago. Or perhaps it is fulfillment of something left abruptly and incomplete, an expected outcome reached over an unexpected path.

 

 

Yet in February first cholla and prickly pear buds assert themselves beneath the dusting of snow, hinting Spring and torrents of color sure to follow…