Theft of Moqui Marbles in Grand Staircase National Monument

These round balls are called moqui marbles are natural and take millions of years to erode out of solid Navajo Sandstone – They are hard concretions of iron that formed in the sandstone. After they are exposed to millions of years of sunlight they develop a dark polished patina called #DesertVarnish which takes eons to form.

Currently, these #moquimarbles are under threat because of their value on the #BlackMarket. They are also popular with the new age tourist trade and they can fetch a pretty penny by the piece. Last I spoke with a BLM Officer, they stated that over 30,000 lbs of these marbles have been stolen from off of Grand Staircase National Monument in Southern Utah. This is truly saddening, because I’ve actually gone to many of the locations where these marbles have gone missing and it destroys and scars the landscape where they were heavily removed. If you’re caught robbing these off of a federal monument, you may as well rob a bank because the consequences are just as severe!

While I do not believe that wilderness is virgin, untouched, or pristine – I do think that humans have an innate responsibility as stewards over the land. The people who rip off these moqui marbles do so for a quick buck. The beauty, once changed, is irreplaceable.

The image above shows a moqui marble out in the wild in an area where theft has occurred regularly for decades according to sources that live in the nearby community of Escalante, #Utah. Mostly what I was able to find here were bits of marble in a place that was once filled with shiny black marbles, smooth and baked in Desert Varnish.

Photoblogging Using Smugmug!

I’ve been posting and uploading ALL of my images to Smugmug – And using the service to host all my images for  Talking Tree Photo and my photoblog. For anyone who follows my work eion social media or through the blog; Smugmug offers a 20% discount to new customers by clicking HERE and any of the links in this post.

I just applied for their affiliate program and do all my printing and hosting via Smugmug on. It’s a fact that it’s unlimited space for photographers who have a lot of images to upload.

I have done a bulk of research in comparing some of the other photography companies that compete with Smugmug and once tried Zenfolio but returned to SM because the service still feels the most intuitive and hard to beat! I’ve been with them since 2009 and that is a long streak in the age of the internet and social media. Smugmug offers professional printing and through partnerships with White House Photo and Bay Photo printing services which are two of the most professional and reliable fine art printing companies around. There are also other cheaper printing options offered through the service.

This is just my professional opinion of Smugmug and for people wishing to implement a blog, I recommend installing WordPress separately from Smugmug since they do not offer a blog as a feature. If they did, I would welcome it. For image hosting, I cannot think of a better service to recommend!? Click on the “Smugmug Pro” banner below to get that 20% off your subscription when joining the family.Smugmug Pro

Blossoming Yucca, White Sands National Monument

 White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

This picture was captured with the Olympus EM5 (a Micro Four Thirds) Camera by me in mid-Spring near Alamagordo, New Mexico. This whole region found in the Southern part of the state including Far West Texas is quite enchanting and memorable. I love every aspect of New Mexico, from the cultural diversity to the colorful and varied landscapes.