Snow Day

Last week I decided that I wanted to try and shoot sunset, and sunrise the following morning, from the bridge over the Rio Grande Gorge outside of Taos, New Mexico. Maybe pull out my long lens if I spotted some Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep. Do a little hiking. So I booked a hotel room in Taos and set out the next morning.

It was an uneventful drive, beautiful as always, and I took my time, rubbernecking, drove through the gorge that later spit me out on the left flank of the broad sagebrush expanse of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument and surrounding area. As I headed north I saw a great grey wall moving across the land, the wind picked up, and soon I was engulfed in a fast moving snow storm. By the time I got to Taos there were already several inches of snow covering the road. I drove towards my hotel and pulled into a restaurant to grab some lunch and wait to see what happened with the weather.

The snow kept falling, big fluffy flakes dancing down, and as I looked out the restaurant windows I knew my options were few until the storm moved on. I was ready to go to the hotel and get checked in when it dawned on me that I was just up the road from San Francisco de Asis Mission Church, nestled in the Ranchos de Taos Plaza. I decided to head over there first, wondering what the church would look like with the fresh snow. 

I turned into the Plaza and was immediately pulled in by the look of the fresh white snow against the adobe walls of the church. I rolled down the window of the Jeep and started shooting the rear buttress of the church.

Rear Buttress, as viewed from the west side

Then I pulled around to the front and was lucky to have a clear shot of the church and surrounding courtyard.

Front view
Front entrance

I stopped on the right side and spent a few moments shooting this statue.

East side

Then I went to the rear of the church and spent some time shooting both the secondary and main buttresses. I’ve shot this church on multiple occasions over the past couple of years, and I’ve yet to tire of their simple beauty.

Secondary buttress, as viewed from south side
Rear buttress, as viewed from the east

I loved the look of the snow against the adobe! I drove several laps around the church, shooting from a variety of angles…

The Taos Chamber of Commerce states the church, built between 1772 and 1816, is “one of the most photographed and painted churches in the world.”  Georgia O’Keeffe said it was “one of the most beautiful buildings left in the United States by the early Spaniards,” and Ansel Adams thought the design of the rear of the church made it “one of the great architectural monuments of America.” Me? I never grow tired of visiting this icon of the Southwest. Doing so on the spur of the moment, making lemonade from lemons (and loving every sip), made this visit special.

If you’d like to see more of my work, my online portfolio (where my work can be purchased) is here.  I post photos daily on Facebook, share my photography journey on Twitter (@KSchafferPhoto), and share iPhone pics from the road and around the house on Instagram (kschafferphoto).


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