The Digital Photo Guy

Long-Haired, Hippie-Type Artists in Bisbee

by on Jan.31, 2014, under Articles, Lightroom, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing

Bisbee, AZ: The Definition of Quirky

Bisbee is an island of long-haired, hippie-type liberal Democrat artists in an ocean of Red conservative Southeastern Arizona. This town is the very embodiment of “reinventing” oneself in the face of adversity. When Phelps-Dodge Corporation (PD) closed the copper mine in 1975, the town was on the verge of extinction but for a visionary mayor, Chuck Eads, who, with help from PD turned part of the world famous Copper Queen Mine into a tourist attraction to keep alive the rich mining history of the area. In the ’70s, Bisbee started to attract artists who established a quirky, thriving colony that continues to this day. I was in Bisbee in mid-January and made the following photos. Again, I got a little carried away with Topaz Adjust and Simplify.

Copper Queen Mine   Copper Queen Mine   Copper Queen Mine   St Patrick Church   Old Stock Exchange   Beer Bottles   Central School Project Artists' Co-Op   Lowell, AZ   Lowell, AZ

Like most tourist attractions, the Copper Queen Mine had some anomalies. I liked the old mine equipment and gear for tourists taking the tour but the dynamite fuse can label looked a bit too neat to have been around much longer than say, 2 months! St Pat’s Church was interesting for all the stained glass but churches aren’t really my thing. Old Bisbee had very nicely re-purposed building like this old stock exchange and the Central School Project, now an artists’ co-op. Lowell used to be a separate town when traveling 3 miles took all day. Now, it’s a funky “suburb” of Bisbee and home to Bisbee Breakfast Club, one of the best places for breakfast and lunch.

Whitewater Draw

My purpose for being near Bisbee was to photograph sandhill cranes at Whitewater Draw. Based on my experience at Bosque del Apache, I thought I understood the fundamentals of sandhills but, alas, I didn’t have a grasp on the basics of controlling the weather. First, I never realized it got so cold in southeastern AZ. It was 20F in the mornings as I got out onto the playa. I’m sure it’s been as cold at Bosque but I wasn’t expecting it in Arizona. Second, the sight lines are only from the east side of the playa. That meant the wind had to be from the east for the cranes to take off and land facing me. Of course, the winds were always from the west so all I saw were crane butts. Third, the closest I could get to the cranes was about 100 yards, much further than Bosque. At that distance, I needed 600mm just to get a crane in 1/20th of the frame. Just when I thought I had it figured out, the arthritis in my left knee kicked in and I couldn’t hobble the 1/4 mile to the playa. You can also add to this litany of excuses the fact that while some cranes flew overhead from the east as they returned from the feeding fields, there were no clouds in the perfectly blue sky and I already have lots of photos like that. Here are a few of the photos out of several hundred.

Back From the Feeding Areas   Time for Breakfast   Oh-Dark-Thirty and 20F   Sandhill Family   Northern Shovelers   Sandhill Drinking   Morning Flyout   Frozen Coot

The first image was made with a 300/2.8 with a 2xTC resulting in a 600/5.6. That’s about as close as I could get to most of the cranes. There were more Northern Shovelers at Whitewater than I had ever seen anywhere else. I’m surprised they haven’t dug their way down to China by now. The coot was slipping and sliding across the ice, trying to get to open water. Every so often, he’d peer down through the ice. Not the brightest bulb in the pack. As always, comments are welcome. All comments are published (except outright SPAM) regardless of whether I agree or not.

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