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You wouldn't be here if you weren't curious.*

Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

Creative Travel in Santa Fe, New Mexico: Nothing like exploring Northern New Mexico with a professional photographer!

“And the best thing about taking people out on my photographic tours of Northern New Mexico is: I get to come along too!”, Steve next to me in the car roars with laughter. “Good for you, dear Steve”, I am thinking, smiling to myself, joining in his laughter. This feels just so good! What better way to spend a Sunday than by having a lazy morning with a lavish breakfast at beautiful Hotel Santa Fe, only to be picked up by charming local photographer Steve Bundy and be taken on a road trip around Northern New Mexico, a road trip that ends up leaving both of us feeling totally enchanted? None, I am tempted to say. And it is not in vain that New Mexico State is called the “Land Of Enchantment”, as proclaimed by all the local cars’ license plates I see around me here. It really is, a land of enchantment. A land you should definitely visit at least once in your lifetime. I am so glad I am really taking my time here, exploring Santa Fe the creative way thanks to Santa Fe Creative Tourism. So here is what left me speechless, several times throughout the day, driving around with Steve Bundy on this photographic tour in Northern New Mexico.

The first thing to leave me speechless that day is this very delicious butternut pumpkin soup, complete with cranberries, apple & avocado cream served by Hotel Santa Fe ... LOVE it ! Please do not take it off the menu just yet. :D

The first thing to leave me speechless that day is this very delicious butternut pumpkin soup, complete with cranberries, apple & avocado cream served by the team at Hotel Santa Fe … LOVE it ! Please keep this on the menu for as long as I stay here. 😀

 

Just north of Santa Fe, on our way to Abiquiu, Steve and I take a first photo stop pulling up towards "Black Mesa", or Black Table Mountain as you can see in the distance.

Just north of Santa Fe, on our way to Abiquiu, Steve and I take a first photo stop pulling up towards “Black Mesa”, or Black Table Mountain as you can see in the distance.

 

We are very lucky with the contrast of light and colour patterns in the sky and on the Earth that day, making for perfect photographic opportunities.

We are very lucky with the contrast of light and colour patterns in the sky and on the Earth that day, making for perfect photographic opportunities. Here, we stop at a roadside cross believed to mark the spiritual gateway for whoever it is that died here.

 

In the small town of Española, about half an hour's drive north of Santa Fe, Steve stops to show me some otherwise hidden street art graffiti at the main crossroads in town.

In the small town of Española, about half an hour’s drive north of Santa Fe, Steve stops to show me some otherwise hidden street art graffiti at the main crossroads in town.

 

Driving on, I take this snapshot road trip pictures even through the windshield of Steve's car, "just to capture the magic of the moment", I assure him - as a professional photographer, he's of course not impressed with impromptu settings like these. ;)

Driving on, I take this snapshot picture even through the windshield of Steve’s car, “just to capture the magic of the moment”, I assure him – as a professional photographer, he might not be so impressed with impromptu settings like these. 😉

 

One of the great things of touring Northern New Mexico with a professional photographer, is knowing where to go, when to go, “and only the locals can tell you so”, Steve smiles.

He is absolutely right. Or would you have known that there is a place called “Plaza Blanca” on a – now listen to this! – Islamic Ranch called “Dar Al Islam” here in Northern New Mexico, let alone that you are allowed to drive on a certain section of their private property?! “They even have a mosque up there”, Steve drops casually and points at something in the distance, seemingly unimpressed as he steers his large 4×4 along the dirt road driveway leading up to the “Plaza Blanca” White Rock Formations he intends for us to see and photograph. Wow. Even if Steve appears not to be, I am very impressed, halfway expecting Middle-East-clad people to come our way at any time. But there is no one out here, but us. Absolutely no one. It is pure magic. And yes, only the locals would know. Only them, and “sometimes rattlesnakes … scorpions, perhaps … mountain lions, but they are shy. And bears, oh yes bears, they are here. But not now, it is already too cold, so not to worry!”

😀

I just love Steve's great sense of humour. Here, he points out one of his favourite photo motives to me: The lonesome tree in front of "Plaza Blanca" Rock Formations, standing right in the middle of a dried up riverbed.

I just love Steve’s great sense of humour. Here, he points out one of his favourite photo motives to me: The lonesome tree in front of “Plaza Blanca” Rock Formations, standing right in the middle of a dried up riverbed.

 

Love the colour patterns on this photographs, too: As if placed there by some giant hand, these white "stepping stones" lead us on our way.

Love the colour patterns on this photographs, too: As if placed there by some giant hand, these white “stepping stones” do seem to lead us on our way.

 

What sight don't you think ... and again, we have all of this to us. There is NO ONE around !! Fascinating ...

What a sight don’t you think … and again, we have all of this to us. There is literally NO ONE around !! Fascinating …

 

... to say the least: Thank you Steve for opening up new horizons to me on this tour.

… to say the least: Thank you Steve for opening up new horizons to me on this tour.

 

And same here: "Just sitting the camera at a different angle from what you are used to, can create a wholly new perspective. Well done, Elena!"

And same here: “Just sitting the camera at a different angle from what you are used to, can create a wholly new perspective. Well done, Elena!”

 

Being a keen travel photographer myself, and having published more than 11.000 photos (!) on my Flickr Photo Gallery in the course of the past two years of travelling the world, Steve and I end up feeding off each other’s inspiration for the entire rest of this photographic tour with him. Besides discussing actual photography settings & skills, he fills me in on much of the local area history around the iconic reservoir lake of Abiquiu, as well as a place called Georgia O’Keefe’s Ghost Ranch.! Now that is quite a story in itself: “About 100 years ago, this daring young woman Georgia O’Keefe ventured out here on her own, leaving behind New York City in order to become a Northern New Mexico-inspired painter. She was so inspired to paint here, that she gave up everything else and decided to live here permanently. The light and colours, as you can see, are still what captivate people today”, Steve tells me, his eyes filled with the same passion and appreciation that also leave me spellbound. “Today, Georgia O’Keefe paintings sell for millions of dollars. In fact, one just sold this week for over 40 million dollars!”

My photos or subsequent paintings might never sell at anywhere near this, but I will say with a certain sense of pride that they also manage to capture a spell, a magic essence, that Steve has opened up to me on this day and that has me bound to what even Georgia O’Keefe must have felt way back then. Check it out.

On our way to Abiquiu & Georgia O'Keefe's Ghost Ranch, Steve makes for a stop at one of the area's first Spanish settler churches.

On our way to Abiquiu & Georgia O’Keefe’s Ghost Ranch, Steve makes for a stop at one of the area’s first Spanish settler churches. Interesting, to say the least! “Some people don’t dare go anywhere near them, because of what happened there throughout the centuries”, Steve says leaving an air of mystery. …

 

"This is what inspired Georgia to paint most of the time!" And isn't it truly, a most gorgeous view?!

“This is what inspired Georgia to paint most of the time!” And isn’t it truly, a most gorgeous view?! In my mind and in my heart, I secretly smile at the memory of Georgia O’Keefe, understanding her perfectly from a painter’s point of view. I am almost itchy to sit here and paint myself, had it not been for the freezing 3°C winter winds that day!

 

On we go, continuing our road trip ...

On we go, continuing our road trip towards Ghost Ranch …

 

... only stopping to take in more great photographic spots!

… only stopping to take in more great photographic spots!

 

And don't you just love the colours here?! "We are so lucky", even Steve keeps saying now. This is the perfect moment just before sunset - this light, a true photographer's delight!"

And don’t you just love the colours here?! “We are so lucky”, even Steve keeps saying now. “The colour contrast with the dark clouds, the perfect moment just before sunset – this light, a true photographer’s delight!”

 

I couldn't agree more, playing around on Ghost Ranch.!

I couldn’t agree more, playing around on Ghost Ranch, Northern New Mexico!

 

But wait ... its gets even better !!!

But wait … its gets even better !!! Never seen such light … such colour contrasts. Such magic on display … It really is breathtakingly beautiful to me, and forgive me for using cheesy phrases such as “breathtaking”, “beautiful”, or “amazing” – but once, they do actually serve me here.!

 

Love how Steve just knows where to go and take us, actually getting quite many moments out of our tour himself!

Love just how Steve knows where to go and when to take us, actually getting quite many moments for his own photography out of our tour himself!

 

"And look what the light does on these clouds over there ... come to think of it, I've never seen clouds drop like that before. You?!"

“And look what the light does on these clouds over there … come to think of it, I’ve never seen clouds drop like that before. You?!” I haven’t. I am in awe. By now, I have been turned completely speechless in the face of this wonder-full natural scenery in front of us.

 

And that does not happen to often, but it has happened quite some times on this tour with Steve ...

And that does not happen all too often to a lively, talkative person such as myself, but it has happened quite some times on this photographic tour with Steve …

 

... in the face of more "jaw-droppingly beautiful moments" like these sunset clouds !

… especially in the face of many more “jaw-droppingly beautiful moments”, such as these almost painted, kind of surreal sunset clouds !

 

Thank you so much Steve for this magic tour with you! So lucky with the weather, the land, the colours, the stories, the company - EVERYTHING !!! Totally recommend this tour to anyone interested in photography, landscapes, and history as well as sense of place.

Thank you so much for this magic tour Steve !!! So lucky with the weather, the land, the colours, the stories, the company – EVERYTHING !!! Totally recommend this tour to anyone interested in photography, landscapes, and history as well as sense of place for Northern New Mexico.

 

Steve usually takes a maximum of between 2-3 people on his tour, the maximum number being five as he enjoys taking visitors around in his own car. Besides taking you to places you would never find on your own, he also serves as a great source of inspiration and local storytelling, having swapped his career of civil engineering in California for living his true passion as a full-time photographer here in Northern New Mexico. Steve also runs his own photo blog, and in case you are interested in taking a tour with him, you should check out his page here. Well done Steve! 😀

Looking for further inspiration on what to do & see in & around Santa Fe, New Mexico? Here is my hand-picked selection of creative foodie travel tips, as shown on this Flickr Photo Gallery:

Disclaimer: I have been invited by Santa Fe Creative Tourism to join Steve Bundy’s photo tour & workshop. All opinions are my own.

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Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

Ready for learning even more about creative travel?

Elena has recently published "The Creative Traveler's Handbook". Chock full of inspiratinal stories, travel tips and advice, it offers everything you need for planning and managing your next creative escape, addressing beginners and experienced travelers alike. Here's how to get your hands on it now!
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