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Monthly Archives: July 2011

RPRT Photo is taking a week off to brush up on computer skills and do some shooting out in the field.  I’ll return to regular posting by August 10th.

In the meantime, as I have time in between classroom sessions and field work, I’ll throw some thing up.  Like this cow that I shot this afternoon.  Generally speaking, shooting in dappled light conditions (mixed light and shadow) is a huge no-no, since the exposures are too far apart, and you wind up with either blown-out highlights or detail-less shadows, or even both.

But in this shot, even though the cow is in the sun (enough sun to cast a shadow on the grass), the evening light falling on her, filtered through oak leaves, is soft enough to get plenty of detail in her coat.  I generally begin shooting at minus 2/3rds of a stop as a starting point to ensure detail in my light objects, check my thumbnail and my histogram, and adjust accordingly to eliminate unwanted “blinkies.”  Minus 2/3rds was perfect for the body of this cow in this soft light.

I love her coloring.  (I’m a sucker for animals with “socks.”)  And the evening light just made her beautiful orange face glow with golden highlights.

And I also like the way her shadow on the grass accentuates the length and curve of her graceful horns.  Rules are made to be broken!

Continuing our tour of the convent in Arequipa.  There are so many arched passageways and alcoves, and yet each one is unique.  I love the repeating patterns, as well as the interplay of the light coming through the arches and the shadows cast by the columns.

I’ve been to the Vatican, and St. Peter’s, and I’d so much rather spend the day strolling about here.  Much more down to earth!  Another sleeping alcove is below.

Continuing with our tour of the convent in Arequipa, Peru.  Another one of many arched passageways.  I love the bold use of color in what some might consider a somber setting.  And the fact that there are hundreds of plants tucked among the alcoves.

This is evidently a typical nun’s dorm room.  Supposedly they slept under arches since they’re supposed to be stronger than flat roofs during earthquakes.  Arequipa sits among three volcanoes, so earthquakes are a fact of life here.

One thing I seem to never get tired of shooting is arched passageways.  I love all the different patterns that can be made with the columns.  There are also many different textures to explore in this image.  And the frescoes on the walls are beautiful.

Tomorrow:  more arches!

The Santa Catalina Convent in Arequipa was founded in 1580.  It’s a spectacular place to wander through, from an architectural, historical, anthropological, and of course religious perspective.

I’m a sucker for dioramas, so of course I couldn’t resist The Last Supper.  I love the different expressions on the faces of the apostles.

The convent abounds with various small courtyards and passageways.  A tricky exposure here, but as I recall, they didn’t open to the public until 10 or 11 AM, at which time the mountain light is harsh and bright.  So please forgive my blown out highlights, and admire the architecture instead.

I’ve been to churches, shrines, chapels and cathedrals all over the world, from Rome and the Vatican, throughout Europe, the US, Mexico, etc.  Peru seems to have a penchant for the gory unrivaled by any of the 30 countries I’ve visited so far in my travels.

There are numerous intriguing doorways and passageways at the convent, and the combinations of colors and textures are almost innumerable.  I love seeing how the bricks have been worn by hundreds of years of foot traffic and rain.

I’m taking a detour from the saga of my last trip to Peru to tell you about the Monterey Jazz Festival 2011 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra.  They are 21 of the most talented high school jazz musicians you’ll ever hear.  They’re playing together only for the next 8 days, and then they’ll reunite on September 18th at the Monterey Jazz Festival (California) for one performance.

I heard them perform tonight at Yoshi’s in San Francisco, and they rocked the house!  Or jazzed the house may be more accurate.  Or both.

Mind you, I’m not a big jazz fan.  This late boomer is a Deadhead and Parrothead from way back, and these days, I mostly go to hear live music that features bodhrans and pennywhistles, and occasionally a sitar, accordion and/or banjo.  I’m nothing if not eclectic.

Despite not being a huge jazz fan (though I listen to Coltrane and Davis every once in a while) I was blown away by how great these kids play.  And by how much fun they have doing it.  I assure you, it’s contagious!

Here’s the link to the Monterey Jazz Festival web page that tells you all about them, followed by their performance locations and dates.  If you’re on the West Coast over the next week or so, Washington, Oregon and/or California, anywhere near their venues, I highly recommend checking them out.

July 26: Seattle, WA / Jazz Alley
July 27: Seattle, WA / Jazz Alley

July 29: Pt. Townsend, WA / Centrum Jazz Festival
July 30: Pt. Townsend, WA / Centrum Jazz Festival

July 31: Monmouth, OR / Mel Brown Jazz Camp
August 1: San Diego, CA / The Neurosciences Institute, presented by the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library with special guest Gilbert Castellanos
August 2: Los Angeles, CA / Vitello’s Jazz Club
September 18: 54th Monterey Jazz Festival, Jimmy Lyons Stage, 1:00pm

Tomorrow:  back to Peru!

Strolling through Arequipa in the morning, I spotted this Kodak sign on the wall of this Pharmacy.  Not sure if the fact that it’s upside down has any significance, but it certainly caught my eye, even though I had already made the switch to digital by 2006.  Noticing all the bright reds used in the signs, I began to long for some Kodachrome…

This building was pretty typical for the neighborhood, and I just loved the color blue it was painted.  It was almost the same color as the sky in that region.  I also like the way the pedestrians’ red jackets contrast with the blue wall.  Some Ektachrome would’ve done a great job with that blue.  And what would’ve brought out those reds nicely?  Kodachrome!

This shopkeeper had her wares on display, showing off the vibrant colors in the sunlight.  I love all the rich, bright colors, especially the reds…where’s Kodachrome when you need it?

As I approached this square from a distance, I was initially disappointed to see that the fountain wasn’t flowing…until I discerned why.  I guess someone’s gotta clean all those pounds of pigeon poop out of there every once in a while.  Note the handmade ladder the workers are using.  What would’ve brought out the bright greens of the trees and the blue of the sky?  Ektachrome, that’s what.

Yet another Kodak moment!  <SIGH>

We take a break from our trip to Peru, which will resume tomorrow, to have another Bad Art Night interlude.  This is one of my “masterpieces” from last night’s  BAN session.  You can see why I chose photography over drawing as a way to make a living.  But the point was to have fun, which I did.

For more about Bad Art Night, see my previous posts on the topic, and/or google it, and/or go to , and/or do all three!

After hurriedly doing several drawings with felt-tip markers, all of which were bad, I decided for the first time ever to whip out a camera at Bad Art Night.  It was of course my “point & pray” pocket camera instead of my usual digital SLR.   The room was not well-lit along the walls where I was shooting.  Perfect!  Even the fill-flash setting on this camera is too harsh for macro shots, so I turned it off…and prayed.

The above image is a close-up of a pattern on some cloth.  I like the colors and the abstraction.  To me it has kind of a 60’s feel.

Our hostess last night is a knitter, so there was of course lots of yarn about.  Kind of funky, like the texture, colors are a bit bland for my taste, let’s see what else there is to shoot…

Aha!  Anything was fair game for my camera on Bad Art Night…yup, even coathangers!

Finally, success!  The image below is one I actually like.  Not great quality, true, but I’m pleased with the composition.  And it isn’t something I would’ve normally shot with my digital SLR.  In fact, none of these images are something I would’ve normally shot, period.  But that’s the point of Bad Art Night.  Loosen up, play, don’t strive for perfection, do something you normally wouldn’t do, and have fun.  I did all five…at once!  It was a good night.

Arequipa is a beautiful colonial city in southern Peru.  It’s lovely both by day as well as by night.  Many of its buildings were constructed using blocks of sillar, a volcanic rock.  The tuff is very pale, and because so many buildings have been built with it, Arequipa is known as “La Ciudad Blanca” (The White City).   The pale buildings are particularly striking by night.

The buildings along the town square are dramatically lit at night, and I enjoyed the photo ops for several hours.

Since I don’t own a tilt-shift lens, I played with deliberately accentuating the perspective of looking up at the buildings.  I love the way the pillar and the building appear to be leaning in towards each other in the image above.  Despite the frequent earthquakes in the region, I assure you that both structures were quite vertical when I was there.

In the image above, the fact that the building in the background is so evenly lit accentuates the beautiful filigree on the iron gate and fence.  The delicate scrollwork really stands out against the pale walls.  It would be difficult to get this effect during the daytime, with harsh light and deep shadows on the building competing for attention.  The metalwork would disappear against the shadows.

The image below is a pedestrian walkway.  I love the ornate street lamps, and the way they recede into the distance.  This is a city that’s fun to walk and photograph, both by day and by night

The plant above is a passion vine, which is where passion fruit comes from.  While this passion vine was growing in Peru, I don’t know whether it’s a species that’s native to that region.  In any case, the flowers, as on most passion vines, are stunning, and you can also see a passion fruit ripening in the upper right.  Hummingbirds and bees love these beautiful flowers.

Below we have…Our Lady of Perpetual Dryness?  Someone was evidently worried enough about The Virgin getting damp in her tree-trunk shrine to prophylacticly encase her in plastic.  Mary and Jesus are ready for the next downpour….

Some animals of Peru.  We must, of course, start with the ubiquitous llama, who, along with the condor, is one of the animal most associated with Peru.  If you crossed a mule and a sheep, you’d get an animal as useful as a llama.  Great pack animals, and their fleece can be used just like wool.

Below you see cuy, which are guinea pigs.  Hint:  they are NOT pets.  They breed like rodents, mature and reproduce quickly, their feed is cheap, and they’re very tender and delicious.  Yes, I ate cuy in Peru.