El Rancho de las Golondrinas

December 11, 2017  •  2 Comments

South of Santa Fe, in the bottom land formed by the Santa Fe River emptying into La Cienega Creek, stands a New Mexico treasure, El Rancho de las Golondrinas (Ranch of the swallows).  It is a living history museum along El Camino Real (the royal road) that extended from Mexico City to Santa Fe, which offered a stopping point for travelers.  The 200 acre landscape is a tasty combination of lush growth that happens in the presence of water in the Southwest, and dry sandstone mesas above.  Fred and I have been there a number of times, and there is always something new to discover and photograph.  A photographer can visit during one of the festivals and focus on the historic - both events and buildings - or you can seek out the wetlands (including the Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve of the Santa Fe Botanical Garden) that offer a completely different view.  

All of the buildings, even when there are no festivals or demonstrations in progress, are extremely photogenic.  The mill building offers details almost as interesting as the mill wheel itself.

Golondrinas images - wallGolondrinas images - wall

Golondrinas images - mill wheelGolondrinas images - mill wheel


A few of the buildings are constructed of wood.  There must be some history in the lace window curtain.

Golondrinas images - windowGolondrinas images - window

As they do on human skin, wind and weather always work on adobe plaster, leaving cracks and crenulations, 

Golondrinas images - buttress of churchGolondrinas images - buttress of church

If you visit El Rancho de las Golondrinas, the morning hours before 11 and afternoon hours after 2 are probably the best for broad building shots.  You can tuck some details in from the shadows at any time of day, but the New Mexico sky produces intense light on the buildings and land, offering some real photographic challenges.  Regardless, it is well worth at least one photo shoot, and more if you plan on doing environmental portraiture.

until next Monday,


a passion for the [email protected]


Wayne Gesterfield(non-registered)
Nice shots. Yes it is a neat place to visit and photograph.
So many nice textures and forms.
Steve Immel(non-registered)
It's favorite of ours, too, both for painting and photography. I like seeing the place in black and white. It goes with the era. The detail of the adobes is particularly striking and contrasts beautifully with weathered clapboards on the stick built building. I concur that it would be a perfect locale for some environmental portraiture. Got a model in mind?

At one time we were members and, as such, we could visit anytime. Quite a benefit for early and late hours and during inclement weather.
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