My night in Tsegi

driving NE on route 160 through the Navajo Indian Reservation, I knew that at some point soon I would need to stop driving for the night so I stopped in at what I thought was an abandoned motel but on closer inspection I realized it was open as was the cafe that adjoined it. I walked into the cafe/shop to buy a few things mostly because I needed to use the restroom and needed to be a customer.  I purchased water, a Navajo weave basket and a few other random items.  As I was at the cashier I noticed a local paper with the front page showing all the missing people in the area. Seemed like a lot of woman, children and a few men. I also was checking out their pricing for the motel and asked if they allowed dogs.  Yes they do.. okay good to know as that is a difficult task to deal with while on the road and I knew if I drove farther north into Kayenta that the prices would skyrocket as it was a town closer to Monument Valley. I went back into the parking lot to try to decide what to do. The place looked sketchy or at the very least very run down and literally in the middle of nowhere. I walked around the back and there was a ravine with a large mountainous rock formation. Was stunning and I thought that this would be a good place to do some night photography…

So I walked back to the front and encountered a homeless woman and several stray dogs that hung around her who were extremely calm in their temperament. The woman asked for some change for coffee which I gladly gave her. The dogs were very curious and came around me which I pet although was nervous about fleas considering I was traveling with Rascal and all but I could not turn away from them. One female jumped up on me, she was so grateful for kindness. The woman was surprised that I liked dogs saying that most people didn’t like them.. how could you not, I thought..

I decided to stay the night, and soon after started to deeply be concerned about my decision. I walked Rascal around the back to stretch his legs a bit and so I could get another look at the scenery behind this one-level motel and on coming back to the front we encountered the dogs and woman again, which Rascal didn’t bark at surprisingly. I think he realized they were different from him. I don’t know, but they all just circled each other sniffing but were also hesitant and not knowing how to interact. I fed the dogs, continued walking Rascal then started to unload my car when a pickup truck with 2 very inebriated men got out… they weren’t just drunk, they were beyond and most definitely on something else. One had white foam coming out both corners of his mouth as he spoke. One of the women that ran the cafe came out and started to yell at him saying to get out and that they couldn’t be there in that condition.. a little bad for business, you think? So the one guy kept trying to ask me questions and I politely answered while trying to walk away and luckily Rascal was barking at this point, but nonetheless they saw that I was staying there that night, which very few people were, and it was a bit unnerving.

Anyhow, the place was a very basic dump and with no internet but allowed pets and all-together cost an outrageous $90. I was left with little choice as in Kayenta prices were at least double that. Pet fee, deposit, etc

I started to edit some photos as what else could I really do.. I also brought in my rubber flip flops which were wonderful to have on occasions such as this and also for camping (basically anywhere I wouldn’t want to step my bare feet on).

As the night got dark, there were noises outside and it got creepier, although very little people were staying there, people were coming to the cafe while it was still open. It sounded a bit rowdy and anytime someone walked past my room the dogs outside would bark as they positioned themselves right under the neon motel sign which was right outside my door. I was grateful they were there… in a way it felt like they were watching over me… or at least I like to think so.

I decided I wanted to go outside and scope it out as well as try to get some images of the dogs under the neon signs. As I was shooting I noticed a figure to my left about 20 ft. away. It was very still and silhouetted. I wasn’t even sure if I was seeing this figure correctly so turned around and tried to get my settings adjusted to shoot these pooches at night, but felt uneasy and turned around again and they were still there, unmoved and completely still. Well, I thought it best to go back into my room and lock up. So much for any possibility to shoot any night photography but I had this vibe that I could end up at the bottom of that ravine behind the motel; never seen again.

This was the only uneasy night I had in the reservation. The first night at a different location in the reservation was quite the opposite and was very cozy and friendly, so no, it isn’t an uneasiness because of it being in the reservation, but that particular spot was just outright spooky.

The rest of the night was restless but besides the dogs barking at a few randoms and some people coming in fairly loudly after 3am, it went on without any other events.

The next morning I felt horrible because I realized that the older woman had slept there under the sign as well as the dogs but in the evening I couldn’t see her because she was completely covered in blankets (in the photos later I could see her leg but at the time it was too dark and I was too nervous to notice). I offered to give her more blankets to keep but she said no she couldn’t take them. All she wanted was more coffee so I went inside for 2 large cups, fed the dogs again and was on my way.

Later I reached out to a rescue organization about the dogs but they said there’s little that can be done and they have very little help with an overwhelming amount of need for it. If someone was to pick them up, like animal control, they would most likely get put down. I thanked her for replying to my email, but the thought made me feel helpless. The dogs, the woman .. just out there surviving in the outskirts. I felt miserable at my inability to help.

I have very little as far as imagery of this day and night mainly because I’ve never been good at taking photos of vulnerable people. I feel too intrusive… a bit like I’m taking advantage, making light of or a mockery of their situation by wanting to do so. So I don’t do it. I would make a terrible photojournalist for this reason alone.

I’ll leave you with a few I do have……img_9440-re img_9442-re 14715679_10154733148598969_5047897882150043648_n(this stunning spot was behind the motel)

 

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beautiful countryside, rough night

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just outside of Sedona; breathtaking countryside, visually stunning, yet perhaps one of the creepiest nights I had on the road…

I had planned on camping in an open field near a pond with a willow tree to do some astrophotography. There wasn’t anyone near that portion of the campground and the people that ran the campsite let me stay there by myself specifically so I could take some photos in the evening without disturbing anyone else.  Otherwise I would’ve stayed near the river where everyone else was camped out by.

Everything was going well.  I had a nice campfire, ate dinner, and was prepping to start doing some photos.. got my 14mm out and started to put the settings at a starting point of F2.8, at 30 seconds, set to infinity and ISO starting at 800 working up to 3200.  When it got dark enough and the stars started to appear I started to take some photos. Walked around the pond and took photos from all sides, ending with images of my tent and the stars (which is shown here).

Then the fun started…

I tried getting Rascal into the tent with me but there was a strong odor surrounding us and I didn’t know where it was coming from. It smelled something like burnt rubber or plastic. Rascal was rubbing his eyes a bit and the smell in the tent was unbearable.  Well lo-and-behold, while I was looking up into the heavens and shooting stars, Rascal was having a one-on-one encounter with a skunk! I didn’t see anything as the event was unfolding…

I decided I had to wash him off, the smell was just horrific, and I didn’t think I’d last the night.  It was pitch black out and I had a little flashlight attached to my backpack while we walked down to the river. As we were approaching the river I saw a little pair of eyes and wouldn’t you know it we came head-to-head with another skunk!!  Although this time we parted ways without any major catastrophes. So… I washed Rascal in the river with an organic mint and lavender doggy shampoo I was traveling with.

After a good wash down, we went back to the car as the tent smelled too terrible to sleep in. I had a flimsy blanket because all the other blankets and sleeping bag were covered in the scent.

So the car, as you could imagine, was not too comfortable.  I was too tired to put down the backseats and empty my car to be able to try to sleep in it properly. So while Rascal had the backseat, I was in the front trying to avoid being poked by the seat belt buckle. As the night went on, and I couldn’t get any sleep things kept getting weirder…

Behind the car was a small stream and some bushes. I started to hear what sounded like footsteps.. yes footsteps. I know I could have been imagining things but it really sounded like footsteps rather than just your typical night rustling in the bushes by some unknown creature of the night.  So as if I wasn’t unnerved enough as it was… anyhow, I tried to get some rest but as the night continued it was starting to get a bit chilly… about 38 degrees chilly, and my little flimsy blanket wasn’t cutting it. I tried to start my car to warm up a bit but my car wouldn’t start.. it was just dead.  I was thinking that besides freezing to death at night, I would have to deal with calling AAA in the morning, trying to explain where I was, and putting a delay on my travel agenda the following day.

The night was truly creepy… there was a fog that set in surrounding my car and I couldn’t get comfortable or warm or at ease in the least bit.  (I locked the doors at this point and half expected to see some Blair Witchy event happen in front of my car or have someone come out of the fog and knock at my window).

Morning came not a moment too soon and I tried to start the car once again… and it started no problem! I’m still not sure why that happened and it hasn’t happened since.

Before leaving camp, I took Rascal down to the river once again to wash him (before taking him to Petsmart to have him washed, again, with a special shampoo to get the stink out).

So yes, beautiful place but oh what a night!!  🙂

and here is the setting of that lovely evening…..

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this is one for the memory banks… anyhow, Sedona is a beautiful place in which I had mixed events happen, both positive & negative, but it is still magical in its right.

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remembrance of past lives

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”

― Chris Maser, Forest Primeval: The Natural History of an Ancient Forest

model Mia Shore

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phone pic trip images 2016

16-1 just a few fun photos to share from my trip thus far…

it has been quite a journey from NJ to Monterey and it continues… I’ve met a lot of wonderful people, both from the internet and random meetings, picked up hitch hikers, rode through 100 mile stretches with no service and barely another car in sight during a thunderstorm, camped, drank gas station coffee (which I never do), ran through ocean waves with Rascal, hiked in mountain lion and bear territory in Colorado, visited my lovely sister, ate a cookie in Colorado and almost died (joking, just felt that way) and now resting in a cute cabin in Monterey Bay.

It’s maybe half-way through.  I currently have tons of sand in my camera and lens which is a bit of a problem but will be dealt with.

more experiences to come!
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adventures with Rascal…….

Traveling the NW from NJ with pooch in tow. If  any models would like to shoot please give me a shout! 🙂

I’ll be concentrating a lot of time in Colorado,Washington, Oregon and Cali… 

….so here’s to the start of big adventures with the Rascals! XO

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Wolkoff Legends and Pariahs Music Video

Wolkoff
Legends and Pariahs

Directed by Iris Bachman

I had the pleasure to collaborate with some amazing talents to direct this music video for Wolkoff.  This was my first attempt at such feats.

The amazing talents involved include:

Wolkoff: https://www.facebook.com/JoanWolkoff/

Produced by Ken Peyser

Choreographed by Javier Padilla from The Movement Playground https://www.facebook.com/javierpadillamovementplayground/

Dancers include Spencer Grossman, Elias Rosa, Ken Peyser, Isabella Vergara.

article about the music video by Fringe Music Fix: http://fringemusicfix.com/new-videos/wolkoff-legends-pariahs-2016-dance-performance-video/

so grateful to have been a part of this..xo

 

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