Toloache (Sacred Datura)

 

Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii)

The Sacred Datura plant (Datura wrightii) is known in Mexico as toloache, from the Nahuatl words for “bow the head” and “reverential” (how can you not love this?). Beverages made from this poisonous deliriant induce hallucinogenic visions; when used improperly, even death. It is used for sacred rites of passage by Native American tribes, has been used to hex and to break hexes, to produce sleep and induce dreams, and for protection from evil. It has also been used for divination, to find one’s totem animal, to allow one to see ghosts, for communing with birds, for long hunts and strength, for sharper vision, for sorcery and to increase supernatural powers. Sacred Datura (also known as Jimson Weed or Devil’s Weed [Yerba del Diablo]) is one of the subjects of Carlos Castaneda’s critically acclaimed The Teachings of don Juan. I have personally used it only for photographic power.

Accordingly, a sacred plant commands sacred photographic treatment. I experienced many rejects and failures before I finally landed a successful photograph. Sacred Datura grows in the Chihuahuan, Sonoran, and Mojave deserts and blooms from April through October, rainy season dependent. In clear weather, flowers may open in the morning or evening but close during the heat of the day. In cloudy weather, they may open earlier and last longer. Individual flowers do not last long, timing is everything. In windy conditions – common on the desert during it’s blooming period – flowers can be quickly damaged by wind (folded and bruised flower petals don’t photograph  well). Further, wind is often disastrous for large format film photography where long exposures are common and camera bellows become wind sails. My exposures are timed carefully to fall between gusts of wind. Unlike digital photography, there is no instant feedback in film photography – results are not visible until I later develop the film. A second negative is often made to counteract wind movement; one is routinely a throw-away (due to blurring).

Toloache resides in my gallery of Strange Growths. For photographers and other artists, my next post here will detail the origins of and methods used in this ongoing body of work.

Put a print of this on your wall!

You are visiting the blog of landscape photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his website or follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

Photo: Pacific Ocean, 5:20pm

_MG_3158Design and Architecture firm Workshop/APD has acquired a large Tranquil Waters print for a New York design project. It’s an honor to have my Pacific Ocean photographs make an appearance on the Atlantic side. These liquid abstractions are often the confluence of three movements: water, watercraft, and camera. All three are typically moving simultaneously in these photographs and the results are often surprisingly exciting or a complete failure. I may be better known for my monochromatic impressions of California deserts yet I’ve lived in close proximity to the Pacific Ocean my entire life. In my experience, the vast infinite and solitude of open water is not at all unlike standing on a desert summit with the vast and infinite stretched before my feet.

You, too, could have this print on your wall

You are visiting the blog of landscape photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his website or follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

Starry Nights

_DSC5492Most contemporary nature and landscape photographers are obsessed with sharpness. I like to see how far I can push the blur.
This is Sweetbush (Bebbia juncea), long after the flowers have gone to seed and probably long after most photographers would consider making a photograph of them. It’s a large aromatic shrub in the Daisy family that grows in desert washes and provides a nice treat for Desert Bighorn Sheep. I used a soft-focus portrait lens wide open (big aperture) and focused only on one flower.

 

You are visiting the blog of landscape photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his website or follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

Sierra Wave over Xinet

The office of Xinet, Inc. Berkeley, CA

The office of Xinet, Inc. Berkeley, CA

Xinet® Inc. recently installed a 24×30″ print of my photograph Sierra Wave Over Mt. Tom in their Berkeley, California office. Xinet® Inc. has been a leading developer of high-performance server software applications for graphics and media professionals. With North American headquarters in Berkeley, California, and a European office in Munich, Germany, the company has built a loyal customer base among the world’s top advertising agencies, retailers, printers, publishers and corporations.

Art is rarely bought on a whim, and Xinet’s purchase of Sierra Wave Over Mt. Tom was no exception. Kathleen at Xinet explains:

When I saw the Sierra Wave I knew it could be perfect. We are based in California, our CEO is a hang glider and is always checking the clouds over Mt. Tamalpais from our west-facing windows and often in the evening the ‘Sunset Review Board’ (ie whoever’s working late) gathers in the lunch room for end of the day adult beverages! Also, the company used to be called Mt. Xinu and the logo was an image of overlapping purple mountains. So this is more than just something nice to put in the lobby that matches the furniture, I think it resonates with who we are.

Kathleen reports that the “photograph has gotten lots of great comments and makes the reception area feel so much warmer“. It’s a genuine thrill to hear this, Kathleen! Thank you and Xinet.

You are visiting the blog of fine art photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website.