Stephen Alvarez@salvarezphoto

Journalist, artist, photographer for National Geographic Magazine. Most recently founder of the Ancient Art Archive @ancientartarchive

Barely three inches long but packed full of attitude. The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird will take on all challengers. I have seen them chase far larger birds and even mammals. The birds often appear as a flash of emerald green in the canopy as the males defend flowering plants against rivals. The electric clashing noise of two hummingbirds fighting over their turf is hard to forget.The feathers of the male's neck cape are arranged in such a way that the shocking red color is visible only from the front as in when they are flying straight toward your face. Its hard not to cringe with a big red spot heading your direction. They must be one of my favorite animals in the Eastern Hardwood Forest.


Havasu Canyon is an oasis in the desert. The river that runs through it spring fed and a consistent 70 degrees. It provides a respite from summer heat and proves to be a magnet for tourists. Last time I was in Havasu Canyon was one of the hottest summers on record. It was ell over 110 degrees in the day. So we slipped out at night to beat the heat and also the crowds that normally throng to the waterfalls. The light of a quarter moon and a small headlamp were all we needed to light the scene. #havasu #night @natgeocreative @thephotosociety


What does it look like building a 3D model of a cave? It looks like this...shooting thousands of overlapping photos to make a highly detailed model. I’ve been working hard with the @ancientartarchive in a Southeastern US cave using 3D modeling to find new ancient art. Follow the link in the @ancientartarchive profile to read more, see a video fly through of part of the model and to find out howyou can support the work we are doing. We are using VR technology to preserve previously unknown artworks and need your help!  #photogrammetry #cave


Rock Art in Southern Utah | The art contained on America’s public land is an incredible resource. Much of it hauntingly beautiful. It is also a record of what the original inhabitants of this continent thought was important enough to write on stone. These four artworks were all contained within the original boundaries of the Bears Ears National Monument. They were photographed last month on quick scout of artwork in Western National Monuments as part of a National Geographic Society grant.

The Bears Ears was established -in part- to protect over 100,000 archaeological sites in Southern Utah. In a controversial move late last year, the administration ordered the Monument’s size cut by 85%. All these sites are now outside Bears Ears National Monument. #bearsears @thephotosociety @natgeocreative


La Compuerta, Guatemala | The prayers go on all night in seemingly endless repetitions punctuated by occasional marimba music and dancing. The men pray, the women pray, the men dance, the women dance all inside Don Vincente's small house. A sacred fire is fed with offerings of liquor, food and blood. The doors stay closed. It is oppressively hot. It is deadly serious. This is preparation, spiritual training for the ceremony that is to come in the mouth of Naj Tunich cave. Then in the hour before dawn Don VIncente gathers the sacred fire into a bowel, throws open his doors and leads a procession to the cave. Every time I get to witness a ceremony carried out with such sincerity I feel like I've received the most tremendous gift. #gratitude #guatemala #najtunich


Naj Tunich, Guatemala | It was a strange experience. We had been working all day in the Maya Art Cave of Naj Tunich recording the stunning Maya paintings inside (see @ancientartarchive for photos of the art). Returning to our parked pick up truck at dusk we were immediately surrounded by the Maya men from La Compuerta, the nearest community. They wanted to know who we were and what we were doing inside their cave. Through a combination of Spanish and K’iche’ we explained the National Geographic story I was working on about Maya cave use. As we talked the circle tightened in an intimidating way. Were they mad? Did they want us showing the world their art? There was movement in the crowd and a paper bag was passed through the group of men. On it was a list of things, things I should bring when I returned for a harvest ceremony in the following month. I had not heard of this ceremony, had no plans to return but that list was an invitation of sorts to a closed Maya cave ceremony. I asked the leader of the group why they had invited me back, why would they let me into a very private service. His answer was that they wanted their ceremonies and beliefs recorded. He said that if National Geographic recorded the story it would live beyond them. #maya #Guatemala


Another great outdoor office! A frame from the road last month in the American West working with the @ancientartarchive in the hills above Abiquiú, New Mexico. 
#roadtrip #officework


The milkyway and a quarter moon light up the sky above Hacienda El Porvenir. #ecuador


A double rainbow at sunset near Cotapaxi, Ecuador. After 4 days in the cloud forest of Mindo we we've been greeted by wide open views and this fantastic rainbow at sunset. It was worth the walk in the rain to get to see it.
#ecuador @natgeocreative


A butterfly on my finger. Once this one got comfortable on my fingertip it refused to leave. Maybe it found something tasty there. Near Mindo, Ecuador . #mindo @natgeocreative


Clouds roll over the Bears Ears. This part of Utah is seeing some of the driest conditions in years. There are fires burning just over the border in Colorado and springs on Cedar Mesa are going dry for the season. I was in the Bears Ears late last month looking at ancient artwork that was left out of the National Monument by the recent 85% reduction in the Monument's size.


Take cover Bonnaroo! A storms blowing in. Fantastic skies and torrential rain today in the south. I hope everyone enjoying #bonnaroo2018 is safe and dry. #bonnaroo