Pic for today: Lisbon Looking out over Lisbon from the highest view in the city. We took a toktok tour after the rains yesterday. I certainly could not have walked up here 🙂 St. George Castle on its own hill on the left. The Tagus in the mid-ground. In-camera HDR. Sony a5100 with 16mm prime and UWA converter for an 18mm equivalent filed of view. Processed in Polarr.
In case you did not get the memo, I am in Portugal for the next 12 days. Two nights in Lisbon, and a visit to Fatima for Carol, then 3 days of birding and photography in the Tagus River Estuary, four days in the Alentejo and the steppe county of Castro Verde, and then three days in the Algarve, and back around to Lisbon for one more night. This is our Lisbon Hotel, the Hotel Zenit Lisboa. Note the tile work…Lisbon is famous for its tile and has been for several hundred years. We tried to walk to the old town center, about 20 minutes down hill from the hotel, but it was just misting too hard to be enjoyable, so we did not make it. We are now resting after our 30 hours in airports and airplanes yesterday into today. Sony Rx10iv at 24mm equivalent. In-camera HDR. Processed in Polarr.
“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus
My wife Carol and I are in Santa Fe, New Mexico visiting our daughter Anna, who is finishing up her masters in Art Therapy / Counseling here. Yesterday we took a drive to Taos and Taos Pueblo, taking the National Scenic Byway called the Taos High Road, which winds up through the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, offering a series of memorable views of the upland landscape…as well as passing through some interesting mountain towns. It is off the beaten path in the truest sense of the word, but a certainly a wonderful drive. Then we spent the afternoon at Taos Pueblo. This is Carol and Anna in the main plaza of the Pueblo, where they hold religious ceremonies (fiesta) and dances several times a year…some of them as old as the buildings behind my wife and daughter…going back 1000 years. Unlike most remaining Pueblos, Taos has large communal dwellings that are more like the architecture of the Anasazi ruins in the area, than they are like the more southern Pueblos, which feature more individual family homes. Taos is still a living community. Though only 4 or 5 families still live year round in the Pueblo, every home and apartment is full around the fiesta days and celebrations, and the Pueblo is still the heart of the community, even if members have a home in the one of the newer areas where they have access to electricity and indoor plumbing, not to mention wifi and the internet.
As with all the Pueblos, the history of Taos since the Spanish Invasion and the American Conquest is bittersweet to say the least. Taos was the leader in two Revolts, one against the Spanish which actually drove the invaders back down into Mexico for 12 years, and another, this time allied with the Hispanic settlers in the area, against the American forces, which resulted in the death of 150 women and children who had taken shelter in the church, when the Americans turned canons on it and destroyed it. But Taos is still a strong community. Taos was the first tribe to force (or convince) the US Government to return native lands, and now holds over 100,000 areas of sacred land above the Pueblo in the mountains, which includes Blue Lake, the source of Willow Creek that is the heart of the community (Taos means “place of the willows”.) They have a strong sovereign government and have their affairs well in hand. They welcome visitors to the Pueblo and many of the Pueblo homes have been turned into cafés (fry bread and chili) or shops that feature a wide range of Pueblo arts and crafts.
It is always a challenge for me, as a descendent of the invaders and conquerors, to visit a living community like Taos. It is a reminder of the pain that has been inflicted by my people in the name of religion and manifest destiny. But it is also a testimony to the best in human nature…to the strength of the spirit that lives in us all…that not only survives but thrives in this world. It is a testimony to the light that lives in us all. It is a testimony that peace, even if tentative and tainted by the past, is possible among us. And I need that reminder this week…after we appear to have elected a old style manifest destiny Conqueror as our president. The last few days have certainly been a challenge to my generosity. I can only hope that our community is strong enough to reign him, and his forces, in for the next 4 years, and that we can emerge, as the community of Taos has, stronger and more alive for the experience. Happy Sunday!
Having a couple of hours on my hands yesterday afternoon in Seattle while my client did other meetings, and being the best day in Seattle so far, I took a walk down to the waterfront park, and south along the waterfront to the Olympic Sculpture Park, and back around and uphill to the hotel again. I have to think that the Space Needle was an integral part of the artist’s conception here. The possibilities of framing the Needle through the sculpture are too many, and too apt, for it not to have figured into his thinking. 🙂
This is another in-camera HDR from the Sony HX400V at 24mm equivalent field of view. After my normal processing in Lightroom, I made a virtual copy and used the Vertical alignment tool to automatically pull the background buildings upright and eliminate the perspective distortion. Worked like a charm with a single click.
I am in Seattle for a few days, working on a digital imaging project for a client. They put me up at the Mediterranean Inn just up the hill from the Space Needle. They have a roof garden/observation deck on the roof that offers this classic view of downtown Seattle. It rained all day, until about 4PM, and I got back to the hotel just in time to catch the low afternoon sun across the bay lighting up the city.
In-camera HDR with the Sony HX400V. 24mm equivalent. Processed in Lightroom on my Surface Pro 3 tablet.
Into every life some rain must fall. We decided to visit Acoma Sky City on our way from Gallup to Socorro yesterday. We also decided not to be put off by a little rain. It was the day we had, and it was the last weekday Sky City would be open to the public until next spring, so we went. Of course traditional Acomas would have considered it a blessed day. Much of the energy of their religion goes into praying for rain for the crops they traditionally grew at the base of the Mesa. And it was a blessed day. I shot a lot of HDR from under an umbrella 🙂
Sky City sits on a mesa top 700 feet above the valley. Until the 1930s the only way up there was long climb up foot and hand holes worn into the sandstone. A movie company built a road to film in the pueblo and another film company paved it, so today the tribe shuttles tourists to the top in small buses. My wife and daughter and one other were the only tourists on this rainy last day of the tourist season.
I could go on and an on. It was a memorable experience, but I will spare you. The tribe maintains an excellent Web presence. Just google Acoma Sky City and maneuver around the casino pages, or visit the Sky City Facebook page, and you will find a lot of information.
This shot is of one of the larger “hidden” kivas. The Spanish tried to whipe out the Acoma religion by blowing up the round underground chambers where it was practiced. The Acoma retaliated by building new kivas right out in plain sight, disguised as houses. They had to give up the roundness but it was a price they were willing to pay to keep the tribe alive. You can identify the hidden kivas by the unique white ladders with lightning bolts across the top. The ladders symbolize rain. White for clouds and lightening bolts… All the kivas in Acoma Sky City must of been happy places this day.
In-camera HDR from the Samsung Smart Camera WB800F. Processed in Snapseed on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 using the new HDR filter.
I am home from my 12 day swing through England, Germany, and Holland, and, while the trip was wonderful, I am happy to be home. These are two of the medieval homes from the old walled city of Wetzlar, Germany. I had only a few hours to explore on this working trip, but I always try to get out into the old city to capture some of its atmosphere. You might notice that these homes were built after the first depletion of the tall forests of the region. Older homes have corner timbers running the full height of the building. This one was built in layers, using shorter timbers…and you can see that the different floors have tilted different ways over the years. This structure gives many of the homes of Old Wetzlar their unique character.
Samsung Smart Camera WB250F in Rich Tone (HDR) mode. Processed on the Google Nexus 7 in PicSay Pro and Photo Edit.
The unfinished cathedral of Wetzlar, the Dom, dominates the old city. It is a mix of Romanesque 1200s style and later Gothic from the middle ages. It is a building clearly not quite at home with itself but it has its own unique charm.
This image from the square on the up hill side of the Dom, has been perspective corrected in Photo Editor on the Nexus 7 and final processed on PicSay Pro. Samsung Smart Camera WB250F in Rich Tone (HDR) mode.
I have loved the old city of Wetzlar since my first visit over ten years ago. I know it is not a major tourist attraction in Germany, where old walled cities are common, unless of course you are a canoeist floating the river Lahn or a Goethe fan. The unfinished cathedral (the Dom) was started in the 1200s and most of the construction done in the middle ages. Goethe lived and worked there when Wetzlar was the site of the Imperial Court of the Holy Roman Empire. His first works are based on his time in Wetzlar.
This is my fist trip back after a gap of several years and l made the most of the few hours I had morning and evening. This is a shot looking up one of many sets of stairs in the steep old town toward the one finished steeple of the Dom. I love the old stone and the angles.
Samsung Smart Camera WB250F in Rich Tone mode (HDR). Processed in PicSay Pro on the Nexus 7.
Sweep Panorama is a very strange thing. This is a about a 180 degree view of the dam on the Mousam River in Kennebunk Maine, taken from the middle of the bridge over the river. The dam is, of course, a straight line in reality, and the railing is both straight and continuous. I have attempted this pano with conventional stitched panorama techniques and it is next to impossible. The buildings on the left, in particular, never match up in any two shots. Sweep panorama renders what is perpendicular to the motion of the camera very well, as it records one thin line at a time…and the distortions in the other dimension are interesting. On the camera itself, you can view the panorama as a sweep, which is also interesting. Someone needs to create a panorama viewer for the computer. 🙂
Samsung WB250F in Panorama Mode. Processed in PicSay Pro on the Samsung Galaxy S4.