Back to an SLR Camera

I had a 35 mm SLR film camera decades ago, but I’ve used handheld film or handheld digital cameras since at least 2001.

I tried out my new digital SLR camera this past week.


Then from my front patio, without and with the zoom lens.


Yes, my neighbor developed a brand or logo for her home, a stylized version of our local three crosses icon. It even appears on her flagstone address number plaque.

That hazy day, El Paso’s Franklin Mountains loom just inside the Texas border, 35 miles away.


Part of this new camera will be my re-learning techniques such as depth of field, in order to take better photos of my work and what inspires my work. I took a quick tour of my favorite project near my home to critique aspects of.

I’ll try not to scare you with the bad maintenance. Again, no zoom and zoom.


Recently seeing Danger Garden’s images of Agave neomexicana at one of her local nurseries, those in Oregon look healthier than here, though they grow natively on most of our hills. So, our “dry heat” can be overrated!

At least we don’t have a chance at developing SAD, and the light for photos is amazing.


At the entry, the zoom lens reproduces what I see exiting the development. Though it also shortens the close-in view, causing the houses to appear closer than in reality. This is where using depth of field might help on sharpness through the view.

Many Yucca faxonianaDasylirion wheeleri, Agave parryi, and Nolina greenei forms going solo, with softening blooms and smaller plants long ago dying or removed. Their green really stands out and brings welcome life in winter dormancy.


“Design for summer, and your garden looks good in summer. Design for February, and your garden looks good all year.” – Tara Dillard

The usual brown tips on foliage are evident on many plants (i.e. winters’ freezes and summers’ legendary “dry heat”), blurring to the left and further back.

Changing my SLR camera’s depth of field would sharpen all plants as they recede in this mass. Which is what one sees without a camera.

The structure of that mass facing exiting drivers works as intended, not forming a hard wall. It affords home properties a gentle buffer west towards the development, yet preserving driver views exiting the development, east into the valley and beyond to the Organ Mountains.


2/20/18 weather: 5835 / .00″


Dusk Ride to Dawn Design

The usual things of many Tuesday evenings. Leave the salt mine, and drive 20 minutes to be on my mountain bike before dark.

DA Fire 1-SMLDA Fire 2-SML

Happy dogs of other cyclists. The huge malamute must wonder why we need a fire at 48F.


The next morning, I missed the super blue blood moon. But I saw this lighting I’ve missed before, on an entry almost as designed.


The spiked balls of Agave parryi and Fouquieria splendens reaching for the sky, while others plants hang back.

Imagine that also with my low entry monument and development logo, possibly curved to disappear further right. On my plan, that was located somewhere between the agaves and the sotols, the boulders mostly behind.

It still works with mostly native plants.


2/11/18 weather: 61 / 46 / .00″

2/3 Evergreen, or ?

When asked by my classes about how many evergreen plants to use in Albuquerque, I said, “start with 2/3 evergreen”.


I expand on the importance of greenery in our climate and getting through our 2 dormant seasons with visual impact, which flower dependence can’t do without intensive irrigation: winter (or winter-light” or “drive-by-winter” in Las Cruces) and summer.

A few years later, I was designing this streetscape project in Las Cruces, where most areas are milder in winter and with more evergreens to choose from. Yet there was a direction from the developer to have evergreen for winter visitors plus native grasses, which go dormant and turn tan for 5 months.

In a small ponding area, I used native grass seed, plus some nearby Baccharis and Snakeweed blew in. Brown and tan.



But the median and parkway plantings used the following evergreens: Quercus fusiformis, Yucca rostrata, Rosmarinus officianalis ‘Tuscan Blue’, Nolina microcarpa, Chrysactinia mexicana, and Agave neomexicana.


The first winter of this planting, the low hit a record -15F here and as low as -22F in the basin to the north. Even this mild winter, the site seen 10 to 12F lows a few times.

That’s why.

The evergreen continues to come in handy, though only a bit over 50 percent.



2/7/18 weather: 6441 / .00″