Monday, May 11, 2009


Hold my Tail
My recent post “Solitude” prompted me to move in the opposing direction with this post.  So here we will explore the idea of “together” with a lead-off photograph of the Barnum and Bailey Circus elephants as they parade through Washington DC from the Southwest rail yard.
From a shot composition perspective, this is an example of showing something less than the whole and letting the observer construct the rest of the scene.  In other words, I could have set up a wider perspective and included the entirety of both elephants.  However, with a tighter cropped shot I was able to capture the essence of the moment.  You do not need to see the whole elephant to know it is an elephant.
The next shot “Merida Musicians” was taken in Merida Venezuela.
Merida Musicians
This shot was taken at one of the stops on the Merida cable car(teleferico in Spanish).  The cable car claims to be the longest and highest in the world.  Commencing a couple of blocks from the central plaza in Merida , it ascends 10,500 ft and traverses a distance of 7.8 miles. 
Before processing this shot, the two musicians were standing in front of a bright pink wall – it was overwhelming.  In post process, only the musicians, their instruments, and the violin case remain in color.  By eliminating the color from the distracting pink wall, the shot gains interest, has a more three dimensional feel,  and draws your eyes to the subject of the photo – the musicians.
I will only introduce the next photo as “Beside Myself” and suggest it takes the idea of “together” to a completely different level.  Because this is a panorama, you will get a better perspective by clicking on the photo and bringing up a larger version.
Plaza in El Hatillo
So I’m sure you quickly determined that the same man shows up three times in the photo.  This shot is a composition of 7 shots that were stitched together with a program called PTgui.  I took the first shot at the far right and progressively panned to the left with successive shots – the same direction the man was walking.  When stitching the shots together in PTgui, I was able to keep the man in the shot, and in three different positions.
For anyone considering panoramic shots, particularly useful in landscape photography, I highly endorse PTgui (  The program is easy, intuitive, and produces exceptionally high quality photographs. (Hey PTgui guys…my computer with your software on it died last year.  Send me a fresh copy and I will gladly and enthusiastically continue to plug your product!)
A wedding says “together” in an iconic way.  So the next shot “Wedding at the Capitol” could not be ignored.  However, what I like most about the shot has nothing to do with the theme of this post.  Take a look, then I will explain.
Wedding at the Capitol small
This shot was taken in the spring when the Cherry blossoms were in full swing around the US Capitol building.  Not surprisingly, this is a favored time and location for DC area wedding shots.  This photograph accomplishes something unique – although it is black and white it maintains the celebratory essence of the event - it is not moody as many black and white shots tend to be.  Although we have taken away the color, the shot remains vibrant.  With the white blossoms mirroring the brides white dress in contrast to the black tuxedos and dark tree trunks, the shot has a full gamut from pure white to pure black and a pleasing balance of intermediate shades.
As was the case with my blog on “Solitude,” “Together” need not refer only to people.  Here is an example from Bogota, Colombia - “Bogota Churches.”
Bogota Churches
The next shot comes from Machu Pichu in Peru.  I have a number of great shots from this visit, but I will limit myself to the photograph relevant to our theme of together.
Inca Ruins Plaza Tree
So far our exploration of “together” is principally limited to “pairs.”  The next shot expands a bit beyond a pair, and speaks more to working together.
This shot was taken in the jungles of Venezuela in a place called Canaima.  Canaima consists of an air strip, three rustic camps, and a small village of an indigenous nomadic group.  Canaima is the stopover on the way to Angel Falls, the tallest waterfall in the world.  The camp where we stayed consisted of rustic yet attractive little cabins with a beautiful view from the covered porch.  Unfortunately the interior held a few surprises such as a bed that was about a foot shorter than my 6’+ requires, and the hot water for the shower was supplied by an electric heater attached to the tip of the shower head – including exposed wires.  But hey, what is life without a little adventure.
Back to the ants – on nearly all solid surfaces in the camp, you can find these enclosed ant highways.  I’m not a biologist, but I assume they are intended as some form of defensive measure to protect against predators.  Curious, I flicked off a piece to inspect the construction (for a sense of scale, the opening in the picture is the width of my index finger).  I left momentarily to fix a drink, and upon my return I found the scene you see in the photo.  Within no more than two minutes, the “repair crew” was on scene.  And within 10 minutes, repairs were complete.  The efficiency of the process was quite impressive.
Continuing with the sub-theme of working together, the following shot “Stroke!” shows the human level of working together.
Stroke! (1 of 1)
“Stroke!” is a shot taken at the traditional rowing races in Abu Dhabi.  These are not lightweight crew shells, and that is not a western conception of a coxswain!
Finally, in going to the extreme of togetherness, nothing says together like the barrios of Caracas.
Caracas Barrio Highlight
This is a pretty common sight in Caracas.  Caracas is located in a mountain valley at an elevation of 3000 feet and separated from the Caribbean by the Avila Mountain Range which extends up to about 9000 feet at Naiguata peak.  All along the valley sides, Caracas is ringed by barrios similar to this (with the exception of the Avila National Park on the Northern side of the valley).  House upon house – literally.  The truly sad thing about this is that landslides are common during the rainy season which can lead to catastrophic results such as the 1999 landslide that killed some 30,000 people. 
Between the beginning of December 1999 and the 16th, coastal Venezuela received over 44 inches of rain.  The landslides began on the 15th and continued through the 16th.  The effects were devastating including the loss of 10% of the population in that region, 8,000 individual residences, and 700 apartment buildings.  Of the estimated 30,000 deaths, only 1,000 bodies were recovered.  The rest were either buried in the mud and rock, or washed out to sea.
Lastly, we will end on a lighter note and return to the Barnum and Bailey elephants.  For obvious reasons, I call this shot “The Greatest Show on Earth.”
The Greatest Show on Earth small
I hope you enjoyed the exploration of “together.”  It was a natural contrast to my last post - “solitude.”

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