dreams in stucco

February 16, 2015  •  4 Comments

Fans of every conceivable thing on this earth and in our society exist in odd and wonderful forms.  I am a fan of many, but as a photographer, I am very fond of stucco or plaster.  This ancient finishing coat has been used around the world in both artistic and architectural applications, and has the added bonus of being less susceptible to fire.  It usually is developed to have some texture, and a rainbow of different pigments can be added to give it more personality.  The characteristics of a finished stucco surface render it nearly perfect for environmental portraiture (studio fabric backdrops and scrims imitate its edible texture), and it delineates shadows in crisp lines.

While in Taos last September for the Taos Fall Arts Festival opening, I shot several photographs of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church with a dramatic, near-sunset sky. But what I did not notice, initially, was how sharp the shadows of the church bells were against the stucco tower.                                                            

Bell tower and shadows, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Taos, New MexicoBell tower and shadows, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Taos, New Mexico church bells and shadowschurch bells and shadows



















Even within the limitations of the "no, absolutely not" hours for shooting (between 10 and 2 in high summer), a photographer can get some interesting results by isolating light falling on stucco, as in this image of the church at Los Ojos, New Mexico.

Los Ojos churchLos Ojos church

Fort Union National Monument, with its many restored adobe and brick (and brick-capped) walls, makes everything and everyone ready for a close-up.  The shadows from the wagon wheel against the stucco seem perfectly clear and precisely etched.

Fort Union wagon wheelFort Union wagon wheel

Finally, an environmental portrait of actor Stewart Herd against a stucco wall that, just by being there, seems to add to his persona


until next Monday,


a passion for the [email protected]


Margaret B Rodriguez(non-registered)
Have you seen the 'miraculous' image of Jesus at the Rancho de Taos Parish? It was formerly displayed in the main church, until folks started taking pieces of canvas as relics, or whatever. Defacing it anyway. If you haven't seen it yet, it is a must... pretty mysterious. It appears different in the dark! Check it out, if you haven't seen it yet. Now its being 'secured' in the Parish Hall. Ciao!
Catherine Sobredo(non-registered)
Beautiful images, Daryl!
Elida Hanson-finelli(non-registered)
Wonderful and dramatic shots. I remember that night and that light! So glad you were there to create your interpretation!
Steve Immel(non-registered)
This is a marvelous examination of stucco, Daryl. The deep shadows of the first two set off the glow of the sun drenched stucco while the more subtle shadow of the church in Los Ojos reveals the texture beautifully. The wagon wheel is a classic and the portrait shows what an ideal background it is.
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