El Charro Cafe, Lordsburg, New Mexico

One of the most hauntingly beautiful towns in the American Southwest is along the borderland freeway of Interstate 10. It traverses from Tucson, Arizona to El Paso, Texas. You brush pretty close to the New Mexican boot heel of the state. Lordsburg is eerie and full of rural decay. It really clings to the past. I’ve voted New Mexico as being one of the best states in America for it’s historic remnants that still gives the #LandofEnchantment it’s true charm.

Walter White’s Meth Lab RV!?

Man, it took forever! I finally located #WalterWhite’s RV in #SouthernArizona! 😆 – Captured by me with a @fujifilmx_us #XT30 & #Fujinon #56mm F1.2 lens shot wide open with an electronic shutter. Edited with #Afterlight2App for #iOS.

Extra hashtags:
#heisenberg #breakingbad#bettercallsaul #skyblue #desertlife #southernaz

Old Sentinal Saguaro of the Sonoran Desert

It’s amazing how much #Saguaro #Cactus Plants survive in the harshest environments. I’ve been walking amongst these sentinels for years now. I observe how disease, fungus, drought, sun burn, frost-bite constantly challenge the deeply embedded lives of these beautiful creatures. I am genuinely concerned with how human encroachment is challenging their survival via development, invasive plant matter, wildfire, pollution, climate change, etc?

These cacti are resilient and rugged but they aren’t bullet proof. They can survive for centuries but Arizona rednecks have used them for target practice; I’ve seen initials cut into them. Western Cultural Dwellers don’t understand respect for these sacred beings & it shows in the aftermath of their arrogant actions. Nothing angers me more than what some idiot or groups of idiots would do to one of these beauties.

When I approach an old sentinel like this, I talk to it, respect it, give it a loving energy and thank them for enriching our world. The #SonoranDesert would be dead without them. These plants are the heart and soul of this land, in Arizona.

Photographed with a #FujiFilm #XH1 and #Laowa #9mm F2.8 #Ultrawide.

Frontier Motel in Truxton, Arizona

A nice early evening capture of the Frontier Motel in Truxston, Arizona, along Route 66! I’ve taken more photos along this historic road probably than any other photographer in the American Southwest. I love old Americana and preserving the past in photos. This is a beautiful evening when there was a massive cloudburst during monsoon season just after a massive cloudburst full of lightning. The sun came out just in time to illuminate the front of the hotel in this crimson light.

Abandoned New Mexico Homestead

Hey there, I’ve been working on Talking Tree Photoblog as well as 7 other websites here on Desert Dream Network & Talking Tree. Come check it out and tell me what you think? Some of the sites are still under construction but I’m working a few hours on it, daily. I’ve also set up Desert Dream Guestbook! Sign it if you get a chance?

This is an abandoned abode in Southwestern New Mexico not too far North of Reserve, New Mexico which feels like one of the most remote areas of Southern New Mexico.

Happy White Man’s Independence Day from Phoenix, Arizona

Hello from Arizonaland where I have been living in the #PhoenixMetro area for a year now. I have to share a few thoughts about July 4th – That some may strongly disagree with but that’s the nature of the beast!

Happy White Man’s Independence Day, Everyone! But please don’t expect me to accept lies, myths, and an empire built on lies, enslavement of an entire race and the entire genocide and theft of sovereign lands from another which involved hundreds and hundreds of First Nations. All of Turtle Island was robbed – This is a Multiple Century Occupation built on an American Genocide and Haulocaust which can never be reconciled and this is the history that every American needs to take to heart. I will continue to talk about it and express my outlook, as a Warrior Spirit on this subject as long as Ignorance continues to dominate in my lifetime! I’m not being negative; I’m very positive and telling the truth as the real history states it. Besides, American Patriotism is super overrated and has been raised to the level of sacred but nothing so evil should have been elevated to this pitch because it is sanctimonious to do so. A lie no matter how big or small is still ALWAYS a lie and no body of mythifying it will ever compensate. The truth will prevail.

Bisbee at Night, Southern Arizona

#Bisbee, #Arizona is about 30 minutes South of Tombstone, and 2.5 hours from Tucson. It’s a historic mining camp that is known for its Lavender Pit Copper Mine and legendary turquoise. It’s right on the border next to #Naco, #Mexico. It’s a great place to escape the heat of Phoenix in the Spring and for a photographer who likes shooting #CoenBrother like cityscapes reminiscent of their major film; #NoCountryForOldMen

Abandoned Church in the Bootheel of New Mexico

Out in the quiet country of #NewMexico’s boot heel along the #SouthernBorder lazy communities bask in the desert heat daily and small townspeople go about their daily lives in a region pretty much forgotten by the rest of the country. It reminds me of Far West Texas enough to step into the past, which both locations give me an opportunity to do. We are surrounded by so much yet humans are overlooking these places and yielding their lives to backlit led screens. As an artist I’m compelled to edit and view images as someone telling the stories of our time in pictures.

Instant Film Polaroids from Route 66

Here’s a few polaroids from about 6 years ago when I was going through an Instant Film craze and picking up some of these old #Polaroid cameras at thrift stores. There has always been something fascinating about #InstantFilm that stems clear back to my childhood? I often had a Polaroid Camera in my middle school years. These shots were captured along #Route66 in #Arizona.

 

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.

Voigtlander Heliar 15mm F4.5 III Ultrawide is Favorite Landscape Lens

I’ve had this lens for a few years now and must admit it is one of the best landscape lenses that I have ever owned and had the pleasure of using. The quality of my images easily beat previous wide angles that I have utilized in the past.

If you want a high quality lens for professional landscape photography – I highly recommend the #Voigtlander #Heliar #15mm F4.5 III lens for #Sony #EMount. This is perhaps THEE BEST #wideangle lens that I have owned to date and have been using for a few years now.

I was visiting with Stephen Gandy today who is the largest distributors of #Cosina / Voigtlander lenses over at CameraQuest.com. He runs an invaluable resource on vintage lenses through his website as well. Check it out!

I will post a few sample images here that I’ve captured with this lens and will post more down the road.

Testing Landscapes with the Nikon Coolpix P900

I’ve been testing the capabilities of the Nikon Coolpix P900. So far the pictures are not looking too bad. I’ve had to send the one back that I had to see if I can find a factory brand-new copy. Anyways, it’s an impressive little camera with a mini-16 megapixel sensor. Having the world record long reach that it possesses at 2,000mm, there is nothing else to compete with it on the market. I highly recommend it as a superzoom. Heres a couple more test shots:

two of three of these images were shot on the long end at 357mm (2,000mm 35mm-film equivalent) to show that it is plenty sharp long end. The camera only produces jpegs with no raw capability and with rumors successor to this camera that can zoom to 3,000mm – I’m kind of disappointed they haven’t come out with it yet, because I would probably spring for it instead. I think I’ll be sticking with the P900 just for the reach alone for a few years.

Samyang-Rokinon AF 35mm F2.8 FE – Field Testing

Two days ago I received the AF 35mm F2.8 for Sony Full Frame manufactured by Samyang from Rokinon and tested it on the Sony A7R last night. The images in this post are from that test shoot. I was on the phone today with the Rokinon letting them know about a concern I have with the autofocus noise that is coming from the lens. There’s been some complaints about it according to some reviews, and videos posted on Youtube.  This is not normal according to Samyang/Rokinon and they are working quickly to resolve. I will be getting a corrected copy from Rokinon with the next batch that comes in the next few weeks.

Rokinon is a great company in my opinion. I will be collaborating with them with some of my work using their gear. I look forward to working with them in limited capacity as a potential ambassador. So, I’m starting this off with some of the work I’ve taken with the new 35mm normal wide angle. It’s sharp! From what I’ve seen so far, I really have no complaints about the quality. Yes, there is some purple fringing and some chromatic aberration but it’s only noticeable at pixel level. I’m not worried about it, and all images were shot with the Sony A7R.


Initial first impressions of the lens is that it leaves very little to be desired where image-quality is concerned. It’s top-notch sharp and better than the first impressions I experienced with the budget Sony AF 28mm F2 FE lens for Sony Mirrorless. This lens seems to perform alright other than noisy autofocus which is being fixed in future copies from Samyang.

Let me know if you have any questions and leave them in the comments. I will try to respond in a timely manner.

Area 51 Tours & Research

My life is starting to revolve around government secrets, ufo conferences and taking friends and strangers out to Area 51. The Alien Head above is part of the Grand Alien Shrine inside the Little A’Le’Inn in Rachel, Nevada. I take people to this heart-filled stronghold out in the high desert near America’s most secretive military base known as Area 51. Pat and her daughter, Connie are the owners of this esteemed cafe that has become world-famous in it’s 28 years of operation. The owners have their own stories to tell about ET Life and what goes on at the base. Anyone can stop in for an alien or saucer burger and look at hundreds of pictures of ufos or check out the evidence room. There’s plenty of conversation about UFOs at this central gathering place along Extraterrestrial Highway – A stretch of road that runs 150 miles without any services except for this ET Oasis!


In the adjacent valley next to Rachel, is one of the side access roads that lead to two different Northeast entrances to the base. Somewhere at the convening intersections between the unmarked dirt roads pops this directional sign signaling that the base is close by.

Dave Rosenfeld of Utah UFO Hunters gave me one of his emblems and here’s a photograph of my Suzuki named Badger at Area 51. We are planning a trip to Tikaboo Peak, the only legal vantage point where you can look into the base from the mountain tops and I’m looking forward to meeting up with fellow researchers and adventurers!

As a photographer, there are few places that I love to do photo safaris at that can compare and compete with Area 51. The minimalism of the landscape makes it so easy to practice composition and the history of the base really ads a silver lining to the whole experience. You can also stay at the Little A’Le’Inn if you wish to set up camp near the base. The starry skies are hard to beat in this far outpost on the Earth.

Rural Decay Along Route 66

The shot below is of a hotel in #Holbrook, Arizona, where rooms are caricatured teepees that  guests spend the night. This is an old hotel, run-down, and along old Route 66 in #Arizonaland.

I’ve often been asked; where is the best place to find Rural Decay in the American Southwest? My answer would most certainly be to go visit New Mexico.  I dub the state, The Rural Decay Capital of the Southwest. Of course, my all-time favorite places to photograph with historical charm is along any stretch of #Route66. Most of the highway is gone now and wherever you can find a patch of it anywhere along the historical route you will certainly find old abandoned buildings, homes, gas stations, restaurants, automotive repair shops, etc. Whenever you can find any remaining stretches of the highway that are still in-tact, this is where you will locate hidden treasures along the roadside!

Route-66 was known as the Mother of All Highways, and the trail that inspired John Steinbeck’s masterpiece; the #GrapesofWrath. After all these years I have spent photographing it, there is strong spiritual and emotional attachment that I have developed to this beautiful highway. Many a time, I have stepped into the past and remembered these simpler times in American History and the charm of the 1950s.

The photograph above is of Route 66 as it snakes through the frying pan of the blistering #MojaveDesert just shy south of the tourist trap of #Oatman, #Arizona (where donkeys still roam the streets) which seems to have a long-held tradition of inviting tourists feed oats to the donkeys.  It’s on the way to Lake Havasu! If you have never been, I highly recommend paying Oatman a visit! My grandparents once witnessed the unique views, the beautiful vistas, and these bygone little towns. It’s a beautiful experience, walking in their shoes, or should we say driving down their old road?

Talking Tree is doing UFO Hotspot Photography Tours!!! :)

When I, Nathan Cowlishaw aka Nathan Arizona, offers UFO tours, I don’t do crazy stuff like psychic readings and the hocus-pocus new age stuff; I teach photography. I was a national parks tour guide for 10 years working for various independent tour operators. I worked as a Grand Canyon river swamper and a wilderness guide on the Arizona Strip which is the most remote part of the North Rim at the Grand Canyon. I know a thing or two about REAL interpretation. Let’s skip the questionable charlatanism, what do you say?

When you are interested in capturing better photos and have an interest in the American Southwest, and hearing stories of crashed flying saucers and other worth-while folklore, this may be the tour that’s right for you?

Warning! Avoid Eyelead Gel-Sticks for Sony A7 Cameras – Part 1

This is the best thing I can do for the photography community is give some advice about my personal experience using Photographylife.com’s Eyelead Gel-Stick for Sony Sensors. Right now, I CANNOT and WILL NOT recommend them for ANY Sony sensor cleaning on any mirrorless camera in the Alpha series!

The staff over at PhotographyLife.com have visited various forums over the last several months warning photographers not to buy Chinese counterfeit knock-offs of it’s sensor gel-sticks from Eyelead in Germany designed to remove dust specks and other debris off of camera sensors because the counterfeits have damaged several Sony cameras. I took their advice and purchased a gel-stick about 8 months ago directly from PhotographyLife.com. Recently after getting back from a 12-day photography trip from New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada, I noticed a few dust specks on my much-loved Sony A7R camera.

This was my chance to try the much anticipated Eyelead Gel-Stick from Photography life. To my complete horror, the stick was uneasy to pull away from the sensor upon first trying it out without lifting the cover glass on the Sony A7R or damaging the glass. This turned into a nightmare minutes later and instead of yanking it off, or pulling on it, or forcing it, I gently was able to lift it off from working it on one side of the gel head and then gently removing. After checking to see if it removed the dust speak, to my dismay I noticed a bunch of residue from the stick itself adhering to the Sony Sensor which looked far worse than the dust speck! I was immediately angered.

I tried a few more times to apply the gel-stick after utilizing the sticky paper supplied with the product to see if that would help in removing the residue. I was very gentle utilizing the gel-stick and used the same method of lifting the gel stick from one side to remove it from the sensor. It was obvious! The more I tried to fix the situation, the more damage and residue it left on the sensor! Madness would be doing to same thing over and over expecting different results so I stopped cold turkey and will never buy another flipping gel-stick, unfortunately. I hate ’em now, every last gel-stick! Grrr…

My Verdict is – This product from Eyelead and PhotographyLife.com is totally questionable and I find it flabbergasting that I paid so much from the “authorized source” and it’s a fact, in my book, that it DOES NOT WORK and it will damage or cause further damage to any Sony Full Frame Sensor.

In the photos above you will notice some discoloration to the sensor where the gel-stick was applied. It’s my hypothesis that this is actually the Sony Sensor coating either being directly affected or even removed as a result of using the Eyelead Gel-Stick. It was maddening “trying to fix” the situation caused by the Eyelead Sony Gel-Stick. Nasim, from Photographylife.com, reached out to me and have informed me that they are sending a wet-cleaning solution that will help me out here. I hope a wet clean will remove the discoloration and residue caused by the Eyelead!? If it doesn’t, this will require a much more expensive repair as a result of trusting Eyelead’s Gel-Sticks!

I’ve been doing wet-cleaning methods on digital camera sensors for years with absolutely no problems with companies like Visible Dust back in the olden days. Cleaning camera sensors comes natural to me. I’m hoping a wet clean clears up any visual blemishes on the sensor caused by the Eyelead. If it does not, I will know for a fact that Eyelead Gel-Sticks damage Sony mirrorless cameras and will follow up with – Part 2!

*Note, In an effort to be fair and balanced – here’s an email message sent to me within minutes after posting this article from Nasim Mansurov @ PhotographyLife.com:

Nate, I’m not sure why you ordered Eclipse when an order of a wet cleaning kit with swabs was heading your way. USPS doesn’t work on weekends, so it was going out tomorrow. We have a better cleaning solution than Eclipse, which might not be able to easily remove the residue you see on the sensor. PS had to decrease the quality of their chemical liquid after dealing with a lot of complaints from Sony users whose coatings on AA filters were getting removed by the solution.

I understand your frustration with our product, however, please note that we have tens of thousands of happy customers who use the sensor gel stick to clean their Sony cameras. I don’t know whether the sample product you received was faulty, or some strange chemical or coatings on your A7R caused incompatibility, but it is a very rare case. Do you think we would still be selling the product if every customer had a problem? I personally issue full refunds for every customer who has a problem with our products – imagine if I had to do that for every order out there, we would be losing money left and right. These cases are extremely rare and whenever there is a complaint about any residue problem, I try to get the customer to send me their camera so that I can investigate the case and report to Eyelead Germany. However, in this case you didn’t want to send the camera for cleaning, so it is not in my hands to see the issue, which is why the best I can offer is to send you a wet cleaning kit.

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