Reflections from Tumacacori

Four Pots

Four Pots @ 2011 Bo Mackison

Another set of photographs from Tumacacori National Historical Park. These are taken in a side building near the mission church building. This was one of the more important buildings in the complex–it was the granary. The granary held all the surplus food grown during the growing season. It was an impressive place to the native peoples who seldom had huge stockpiles of food stored and ready to eat during the leaner months of the year.

In the Sun

In the Sun © 2011 Bo Mackison

I was at Tumacacori twice this week. One day it was bright and sunny, and even February’s morning sun in the desert provided intense sunlight. The second day it was mostly cloudy, with patches of blue sky peeking through stormy gray clouds. It is often easier to photograph buildings in cloudy weather to avoid the deep shadows and washed out colors, so I returned thinking I would retake some of the photographs of the church building. However I quite like the sun’s highlights and the shadows on this clay pot. I took many photographs studying the interplay of light and shadow.

Granary at Tumacacori

Granary at Tumacacori @ 2011 Bo Mackison

This is another photograph of the granary. The stairway, at one time, led to the second story of the granary, but only the first floor remains. Efforts by the Park Service to maintain these ruins are ever ongoing. The adobe must be continually cared for or it would eventually be damaged by moisture during the times of the monsoons.

After I spent an hour with my camera, and a second hour taking a tour of the site with a Park Ranger, I spent another hour sitting in the shade, absorbing the mystical sensation of being surrounded by ancient memories held in these ancient walls. I thought about the idea of the granary, comparing it to my Southwestern “explore”, thinking that it is important to me to capture this time in my history, to keep hold of this time, make meaning from these solitary days, these days so different from what I normally experience.

I’ve been documenting my stay in the Southwest in several ways–through journaling, drawing maps, sketching and, of course with my photography. I am particularly drawn to the study of light and shadow in this sunny climate, to the natural areas–mountains surrounded by desert–so unlike the rolling farmland and lake country that I usually call home, and to the stories of the ancient people.

My words, drawings, photographs, and memories–all of these I am storing in my “experience” granary.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She is living in Tucson for two months, exhibiting her photography in art shows, taking photographs of Arizona landmarks, both historical and natural, and blogging about photography, art fairs, and learning to live on her own. Her mantra is “Bo goes solo!”

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Thank-you for this most wonderful tour of this place. Looks like you’re having a great time!

  2. I’d echo Marcie’s comment, definitely a most wonderful tour. 🙂

  3. Very beautiful and well composed architectural photography Bo. Definitely one of your strong points.
    The second and third images are my favorites.


    • Bo Mackison says:

      Thank you , Richard. I have always loved to shoot architecture, but this adobe is really something. It offers so many possibilities with composition, shadows, light. Lovely to shoot.

  4. Love these photos! That one of the pot with sharp shadow is every drawing teacher’s dream. They spend so much time talking about secondary shadows–how there is one dark one and another one that has some reflected light. And, of course, in the art room, you never see it. Here is such a perfect example–and you captured it perfectly!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      I love your comment about the art room. I remember that lesson well, and how confusing it was. What a good eye you have, Quinn!

  5. You are spending your time there well, Bo! I’m glad.

  6. I’m enjoying this series tremendously, Bo. There’s something about the southwestern light that’s intriguing. I agree that your photos with the sun and shadows are very fetching – captivating. I can smell the adobe – it’s so distinctive when it gets warmed by the intense sunshine. Looking forward to your next post!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Aww, Debi, what a nice comment. I love it that you can “smell the adobe” – the adobe really does have a marvelous sensual quality when the sun warms it, you are so right.

  7. It looks like you’re having a great time and using your time well, Bo. I’m glad we get to experience some of this with you. 🙂

    “Experience granary.” I like that. I also really like your shot of the clay pot.

  8. These are beautiful Bo, love the still life In the Sun, lovely compositions !!

  9. Joanne Keevers says:

    Bo, I simply love the way you collect your memories together and preserve them for future reference. QuinnCreative’s map idea is an idea I will remember for the dy when I will be free to take off to parts unknown myself! Are you keeping a private journal for yourself? I do hope so, and knowing you, you will be. 🙂

    I’m drawn to the granary photo, there’s something quite mystical about it.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Oh yes, Joanne. Those maps can be quite addictive. And, yes, I’m keeping a journal, too, mostly a nature and art journal but there are plenty of musings, too.

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