Spring Brings New Growth

Happy first day of spring from Tucson – where the cactus are starting to sprout new buds, just like the citrus trees and wildflowers.

This is a macro (close-up) photo of a cholla cactus. They’ve been called jumping cholla because the individual sections seem to jump out at passersby. The reality is, the passersby move too closely to them, unaware that they have long, fine needles unseen to the naked eye. Those needles catch on clothing and pull the section off the cactus, making it appear to jump.

Image copyrighted. Any use requires licensing from Martha Lochert


Fleeting Fog in the Desert

It was a foggy morning in the Sonora desert after a day of rain. The last time we had thick morning fog like this was in 2015. Since it is such a rare occasion, the landscape becomes magical and surreal when it does occur.

Image copyrighted and registered at US Library of Congress. Any use requires licensing from Martha Lochert.


It’s Cold, Elsewhere

As we enjoy lows in the 40’s and high’s in the upper 70’s in Tucson, Arizona, I think of those who are experiencing record snowfall and bone-chilling cold, single-digit high temperatures today. Keep warm and be safe as you go out into the world today.

Image copyrighted. Any use requires licensing from Martha Lochert.


Edible Christmas Tree


So, I saw one of those 30 second video recipes on Facebook originally posted in Spanish on kiwilimon.com (at twice the quantity) and thought I’d give it a try at our annual holiday lunch at the studio. Everyone seemed to like it, so here’s my slightly altered recipe from the theirs.


(Arbolito de Queso Aceitunas) – from kiwilimon.com (*cut in half from original, as that would be for a huge party)

4 – 8oz. boxes of Neufchatel cheese (2 cups cream cheese)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (moist, but dry; not packed in oil)
¼ cup tri-color bell peppers – cut into tiny bits (except for one piece – cut into a star or flower shape to use on the top of the tree as an ornament) – or, as I did: use 8 of the sweet mini peppers & a whole one for the tree topper
1/2 cup pepperoni slices – cut into tiny strips (orig. said salami, but didn’t indicate what type)
(orig. said 1 morita peppers, finely sliced – but I left this out)
1-1/2 tsp. rosemary, dried
1-1/2 tsp. oregano, dried
1-1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
Olives – green, black, Kalamata, etc. – various colors – stuffed is OK – but use all pitted olives. *This took a 6 oz. can of small black olives and about 3 oz. each of Kalamata, pimento-stuffed small green and jalapeno/garlic stuffed large green olives.

●The cream cheese needs to be worked, to make it more pliable, by creaming it with a heavy spoon (that won’t break) in a large bowl.

●Add all the other ingredients and cream some more –  thoroughly mixing the ingredients.

●Place the “dough” on 2 pieces of waxed paper or parchment (placed side-by-side on the serving plate/platter with a gap in the middle. Place dough in center of the gap.

●Cover with another piece of parchment or waxed paper (to keep it off your hands) & mold the blob, like working with clay, into a triangular Christmas tree shape. Dispose of the paper & carefully pull on the two pieces underneath to remove them; clean tray with clean wet towel, if there were any smears – though the 2 pieces of paper were there to avoid this.

●Cover tree with olives by twisting & pressing them into the cheese mold – alternating colors as you work up the tree.
(* recipe didn’t say this, but pat all the olives dry or they won’t stick into the cream cheese as well.)

●Add short sprigs of fresh rosemary randomly between some of the olives to simulate pine needles, and the bell pepper star/flower shape or whole mini pepper as a tree topper.

●Present with a spreader and firm crackers; guests can remove the sprigs of rosemary before eating, if they don’t want to chew a stem!

*** This was enough for a party of 16 – with leftover.


Photo © Martha Lochert.  www.MarthaLochertPhotography.com 


Happy holidays!

Filter Broken / Thankfully, Lens OK

I sometimes give private photo instruction or teach classes on mastering one’s camera and on photo composition. One thing that comes up in every class is my instruction to get protective filters on their lenses. It’s much easier and cheaper to unscrew a scratched or broken filter than to buy an entirely new lens. I give that instruction knowing that it’s easy to get fingerprints on a lens or have a twig hit the lens surface while out doing macro landscape photography.

Well, last night I arrived at a gala event, opened the camera bag I had just prepped a half-hour earlier, removed the lens cap on my wide-angle lens and shocked to see my filter smashed. Here it is as I discovered it. Horrifying!

For a split-second I thought it was my lens, not the filter.

The lens was perfectly fine when I put it in the bag, but a pressure stress on the glass filter shattered it in transit, when the end of another lens pushed into the cap of this one. Luckily the broken shards did not scratch the lens surface and I was able to remove the filter, carefully clean the lens surface and start my job!

Filter broken, thrown away and new one ordered; lens is fine. 🙂





Happy Autumn

Something calm and soothing for your weekend respite on this first weekend of autumn: lily pads and a tiny waterfall by some airplane plants at Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior, Arizona.

I love the spatial disparity in this photo. The water level appears lower than the lilies, making them seem to float above the water level, since there are no light reflections in front of the pads connecting the plane of the water to the front section.

Image copyrighted. Use requires licensing from Martha Lochert.


Colorado High Country, Mt. Bierstadt and Altitude Sickness

Mount Bierstadt ( elevation 14,065 feet), is the summit of the Chicago Peaks on the front range of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. It is accessible from Guanella Pass, which stretches from Georgetown south to Grant, Colorado.  This is a gorgeous area, but be prepared. Even if you don’t hike the dog-friendly (on leash) 7.3 mile out-and-back Bierstadt trail from the summit of the pass, you are still at 11,670 feet from the vantage point of my photograph and at risk of altitude sickness, if you’ve come directly from a low altitude within a day. Don’t be deceived – being physically fit has nothing to do with who does or does not get sick.

I’m not a medical professional, but I have been in the position of aiding someone who had a very bad case of altitude sickness. We were in the middle of nowhere and it was very scary. At a time and location like that, you can’t “Google” an answer, since you won’t have an internet connection and more-than-likely won’t even have cell service. So, know what to do ahead of time.

Here’s what I have learned in my research:

To avoid altitude sickness –

  1. drink extra water and avoid alcohol and caffeine for a few days before your trip and for the first day or two after arriving at the higher altitude
  2. get plenty of sleep the night before (and if possible, follow the “climb high; sleep low” axiom of sleeping at an altitude 1000 ft. lower than where you were hiking or sight-seeing during the day – especially for the first few days, as altitude sickness quite often doesn’t show up until a day after arrival)
  3. acclimate to higher altitudes in increments for a few days – so if coming from the desert and into the Rockies, spend the first day in Denver or a similar altitude, then go higher the next day
  4. if you must go straight to an altitude above 8,000 ft. in one day, make sure to rest, hydrate, not smoke and not drink alcohol on that first day
  5. eat plenty of carbohydrates (free pass for eating breads, pastas, grains and cereals. Yippie!)
  6. remedies/aids with mixed opinions include: a high-dose daily intake of vitamin C, ginkgo biloba and lemon water.





If you do experience altitude sickness (trouble sleeping – due to lower air pressure reducing available oxygen intake; headache; fatigue and nausea), take ibuprofen or naproxen sodium, drink lots of water (a tincture with ginger extract drops, will ease nausea), eat some carbs and rest. In extreme cases (symptoms mentioned previously, plus breathing problems, lack of coordination and lethargy to the point of passing out), move to a lower elevation as soon as possible, as life-threatening cerebral or pulmonary edema may be present.

Image registered with the US Library of Congress. Any use requires licensing from Martha Lochert.



An Aspen by the River

It’s such a relaxing sight to watch the Aspen leaves rustling in the breeze and gently reaching over Clear Creek on the eastern slopes of the Rocky mountains in Colorado.


Image copyrighted and registered with the US Library of Congress. Any use requires licensing from Martha Lochert.


Tranquility in the Rockies

Just across the road from Molas Lake, south of Silverton, Colorado, is a pristine little alpine lake called Little Molas Lake. As the name implies, this lake is much smaller than its neighboring lake. It is also more peaceful, in my opinion.

There are not very many people here at one time, since there is not a highly developed large campground, as there is at Molas Lake. There are a few dispersed campsites, but you are on your own at this lake.

I’ve been here several times and each time I experience the same sense of calm. It is a silent place – a respite from a noisy civilization. The only sounds are a few birds chirping, maybe a frog croaking and the occasional gentle splash as a fish or beaver comes to the surface.  Though there are usually one or two fisherman, they all have the same respect for silence in the grandeur of this lovely place.


Image copyrighted and registered with the US Library of Congress. Any use requires licensing from Martha Lochert.

Molas Lake – Camping with Comforts

Situated just 6 miles south of Silverton, Colorado, Molas Lake is a 137-acre Silverton-owned campground with 58 tent and RV sites next to a 25-acre lake. The alpine lake is surrounded by stellar views and is a great spot for those who want to camp, but have the conveniences of shower facilities, a camp store, kayak and paddle board rentals, a stocked lake in which to fish, and a town nearby.

Personally, we prefer dispersed camping next to rivers with more of a wilderness experience, but this is a great option for families and those who feel safer camping with others nearby.


Image registered with the US Library of Congress. Any use requires licensing from Martha Lochert.


Tsegi Canyon in the Navajo Nation

Tsegi Canyon in northeastern Arizona on the Navajo Nation reservation sits just off US Route 160. Tsegi means “in between the rocks” in Navajo and is descriptive of deep canyons with sheer walls.

The canyon walls and ground are a symphony in oranges and rusty-browns – from the oxidized iron present in the sandstone and exposed soil.

Image registered with US Library of Congress. Any use requires licensing from Martha Lochert.


Bruschetta – yum , yum

Here’s a fairly simple lunch or appetizer I make, since I grow my own basil and always have some ready to use. You might want to try making it too.

Bruschetta made & photographed by Tucson photographer Martha Lochert.

1/2 loaf French baguette – cut into 1/4 to 1/2″slices (or 1 loaf, if it’s a tray of appetizers for a group). Spread each piece with a thin layer of butter or organic coconut oil (or nothing) and toast (buttered side down) on a cookie sheet in the oven or toaster oven.

While that is toasting, in a bowl, combine:

Three handfuls of grape tomatoes (organic, if possible), cut into sixths
1/2 Tbsp. or more, chopped garlic (store-bought chopped garlic is quick & just fine)
Fresh cracked black pepper (eyeball it and add as much as you think you’d like; it doesn’t need much)
Stir and set aside.

Loosely chop, 12-20 large basil leaves and set aside (or finely chop and stir into the tomato mixture; either is fine)

When the bread is lightly toasted, remove from oven and top each piece with a spread of goat cheese. (Hint: The goat cheese will crumble, as shown in the photo, when spread cold or go on more like cream cheese, if spread at room temperature.)

Top the cheese with some of the tomato mixture, then pieces of basil, if not already mixed in with the tomatoes.

Place all the pieces closely together on a tray, then drizzle lightly with balsamic glaze (available at Trader Joe’s, if you don’t want to make your own balsamic/brown sugar reduction) in a zig zag pattern. *Do not use straight balsamic vinegar.

Add a bit of freshly cracked sea salt (Pink Himalayan, is the most healthful) to the tray of bruschetta  & serve. Enjoy!


  • Note: a variation to this would be slices of buffalo cheese instead of the spreadable goat cheese &/or a spread of pesto (on top of the cheese and under the tomatoes), instead of the fresh basil leaves. Both options are yummy.





Beautiful Flowers are Sometimes Toxic



A night-blooming Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii) trumpet flower starting to uncurl is a beautiful thing, but the plant is also a toxic hallucinogen. It’s in the nightshade family, along with tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant, but unlike those, is not edible.

Sphinx and Hawk moths are common pollinators of the plant.

To learn more about the plant, visit:

https://www.livescience.com/53153-sacred-datura-plant-photos.html  and


Photo copyright Martha Lochert. Use requires licensing.



Photographing Fireworks

Do you want to photograph the fireworks?

1. Get as close as you can.
2. Use a tripod.
3. Set your camera to ISO 200 and your exposure mode to manual, then set the shutter speed at 6 seconds and aperture (lens opening) to f11.
4. Watch where the first fireworks burst and aim the camera there.
5. Press the lens part-way to focus on the first bursts, then switch the lens to manual focus (so it will stay locked into the focus point you’ve just established). If the auto focus system is confused and doesn’t lock into a point of focus, have the lens on manual focus and wait for the next burst and set the focus yourself.
6. Get a feel for the pacing of how long in between each one, then anticipate when the next will go.
7. Use a remote trigger, if you have one (or be mindful of not moving the camera during the duration of the exposure) and make your first exposure.
8. Without moving the camera, take a look at what you captured. If the framing is off, make adjustments to create a better composition & if the focus (zoom in to check it) is off tweak that.
9. If the exposure is too dark, then either boost the ISO to 400 or open the aperture to f5.6 and try again. Adding a longer exposure time won’t make individual streaks of light any brighter, but it will allow the trails to go farther in the photo and it will allow more bursts to be recorded within one exposure.
10. Check the second exposure and make more adjustments as necessary, then once you’re happy, shoot away!

* Keep in mind that during the finale, there will be more bursts at once, so you probably will want to quickly stop down the aperture to a couple f/stops smaller, so as not to overexpose in the brightest white areas, since many bursts will overlap themselves and create a very hot (overexposed) spot.

Here’s hoping everyone has an enjoyable and safe Independence Day holiday. Cheers!


Image copyrighted. No use without licensing from Martha Lochert


Grasshopper – Chilling instead of Hopping

Well, I’ve been busy and ignored my blog for awhile … three months. My last post was in honor of the first day of spring. I guess now that it’s summer, it’s about time I post something!

It’s been incredibly hot here the last few weeks – with afternoon high temperatures hitting 116! At least the humidity is low in southern Arizona before the monsoon rains start, which should be soon.

The heat usually brings out the grasshoppers, but it must be an off year, as I haven’t seen many this season.


No use of photo without licensing from Martha Lochert.

Paddy Pig

I am of Irish descent through both my mother and my father’s side of the family. Every St. Patrick’s Day my mind fills with memories of my paternal grandmother Cecile Margaret Catherine McKeon and her ever-present cookie jar from which we all sneaked cookies. Decades ago it was affectionately named Paddy Pig. I don’t know when Paddy joined our family, but I know he has been around since at least the early 1960’s.

Poor Paddy has taken a beating over the years. Though broken on numerous occasions, he’s always been patched back together so that the next generation can enjoy his happy smile and stay connected in some small way to the Irish roots we have.

As crudely patched as he is, he’s one of the family and no one can  bring themselves to throw him away; he represents too much. He sits on a shelf in my kitchen now, but when I get him down and lift his head, I know I’m replicating the same action my relatives did for at least fifty years and it keeps their memories in my heart.

His broken, yet mended state of being is somewhat of a metaphor for life and the struggles we can face. Although our expectations are sometimes crushed and the people we draw near disappoint us, we are resilient, piece ourselves back together and forge ahead with the optimism of a new day and a new dream.

May you find some joy and inspiration in this happy little patched piece of porcelain on this St. Patrick’s Day and always.

(Originally posted in 2012, I thought it was worth a re-post for this St. Patrick’s Day)


Perching Boulder


Texas Canyon, which lies about twenty miles east of Benson in southeast Arizona and easily accessed from I-10, is full of huge granite boulders. This one rests at the south end near the Amerind Foundation and, as many of them are, is precariously balanced in a way that seems to defy gravity.

Image copyrighted. Any use requires licensing from Martha Lochert.



Apples On The Way?

Apple blossom photo by Tucson photographer Martha Lochert

I planted my first apple trees last April. They are still sweet little four-foot popsicles, but apparently they like where I planted them because they started budding a few weeks ago and are now in full bloom. It isn’t officially spring, but it is in Tucson – and the varieties I planted (Dorsett Golden and Anna) are early bloomers.

When I planted them last year, I figured it’d be four or five years before they’d get their feet in the ground and start producing apples, but who knows; they are covered in flowers, so maybe I’ll get some already.


Valentine’s Day – A Day of Love


It’s Valentine’s Day, but this day is not just for sweethearts. It is a celebration of love – for all who have a heart to give and receive love. May you share your love and accept love back on this and all days.


Image copyrighted. Use requires licensing from Martha Lochert.

World Wetlands Day!

Photo by Tucson photographer Martha Lochert

Happy World Wetlands Day! I bet you had no idea …

This photo was made at the Sweetwater Wetlands in Tucson, Arizona. It is lush with swamps and marshes, wild birds, dragonflies and other critters.


Image copyrighted. Use requires licensing from Martha Lochert.



Even the Hummers Need to Stop and Rest


I walked out on my porch and this beautiful little hummingbird was taking a rest. I thought he was hurt, since his wings were out. Usually the hummers fold their wings in close to their bodies when they stop flying.

He patiently awaited while I went in to get my camera, then crouch down and move within inches to make pictures of him. He allowed me to snap a couple images and then he flew away. I guess he was just tired. What a treat for me!

Image copyrighted. Any use requires licensing from Martha Lochert.


A Safe & Happy New Year


Another New Year’s Eve is upon us and it seems the overwhelming consensus is that 2016 can not end soon enough. There seems to have been a disproportionate amount death this year – and I am not just reacting to all the celebrities who have passed (and there have been a lot), but I have known many, many people who passed away this year. My friends have experienced the same thing.

So, here’s to a better year in 2017 – with fewer deaths, and way more happiness. As always, please be safe if you are out this evening and call a cab if need be. Your life is important to more people than you realize.

Image copyrighted. Any use requires licensing from Martha Lochert.



White Dove of the Desert


A detail of the beautiful Spanish Colonial architecture on the “White Dove of the Desert” – Mission San Xavier del Bac – founded as a Catholic Mission by Father Eusebio Kino in 1692. It is the oldest intact European structure in Arizona, built 1783 to 1797 by Ignacio Gaona and his native American O’Odham workforce.


Image copyrighted & registered at US Library of Congress. Any use requires licensing from Martha Lochert.


Happy 100th Year of the National Park System


Friday, November 11, 2016 (Veterans Day) is the last of the free entrance days to our national parks, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the national park system. So take advantage and enjoy the beauty! A list of parks waiving the fee can be found, state by state here: https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/fee-free-parks.htm

Image copyrighted. Any use requires licensing from Martha Lochert