Travel & Documentary Photography

Barcelona Peace Rally, August 26, 2017

 

More than a half million Barcelonans, many carrying a single long-stemmed rose, filled the streets this afternoon for a peace rally in the aftermath of the senseless terrorist attack on Las Ramblas. There were people of all kinds–Catalans, tourists, recent immigrants, even a large number of Muslims.

The above short video will give you some flavor of the event.

Some of the signs:

“We are not afraid”

“No, to Islamophobia”

“Your wars, our dead”

“Felipe [the King], if you want peace, don’t traffic in weapons”

“The best answer is peace”

 

Here are a handful of images with my commentary:

The crowd moving down Passeig de Gràcia on their way to Plaça de Catalunya:

Protest for Peace, #1. Barcelona, 2017
Protest for Peace, #1. Barcelona, 2017

 

The idea is to have the Muslim world together with us (as just about all already are) in this battle against extremism:

Protest for Peace, #2. Barcelona, 2017

 

The sign that is being dismantled said, “Spain against terrorism…Thanks, Your Majesty! [the King]” and was accompanied by a number of Spanish national flags being waved about on tall poles. The message sounds good, except that it was really pissing off the local Catalans and the police siphoned them away from the main march and had them disband as they were being bombarded by jeers, whistles, and shouts from the home crowd. Why? Well, these protesters were Madrid loyalists (Spanish flags) and, from the Catalan point-of-view, Madrid is essentially in bed with the terrorists and the root cause of the various terrorist attacks in Spain due to Madrid’s support of the Iraq wars and ongoing international arms sales. Then, of course, there is the Catalan tendency to dislike all that is Madrid and anything related to the Bourbon royal dynasty (see especially the Siege of Barcelona, 1713-1714):

Protest for Peace, #4. Barcelona, 2017
Protest for Peace, #4. Barcelona, 2017

 

Red Cross and police vehicles were soon decorated with roses in thanks for their service during and immediately after the attacks:

Protest for Peace, #5. Barcelona, 2017
Protest for Peace, #5. Barcelona, 2017

 

Much of the crowd continued on past the Plaça de Catalunya and visited the various memorials along Las Ramblas:

Protest for Peace, #6. Barcelona, 2017
Protest for Peace, #6. Barcelona, 2017

 

Muslim marchers rest in front of the Las Ramblas Burger King after the rally. The messages: “Love wins over hate”, “We want peace”, “Barcelona embraces peace”, “We want peace…end terrorism”:

Protest for Peace, #7. Barcelona, 2017
Protest for Peace, #7. Barcelona, 2017

Terrorism on Las Ramblas, Barcelona

Las Ramblas, #25. Barcelona, 2017
Las Ramblas, #25. Barcelona, 2017

 

Yes, it is yet another inhumane and disgraceful act of inhuman cowardice. This time, on one of the world’s most famous and beloved pedestrian walkways, the Las Ramblas (or La Rambla) corridor in Barcelona, Spain.

I absolutely don’t want to take away from the weight of the tragedy in Catalunya, but in the past few months, as a reminder, the world has seen…

15 April, in Syria: 126 killed, mostly children, in a car bomb attack against evacuees

31 May, in Afghanistan: at least 80 and up to 150 killed and some 350 or more wounded in a suicide truck bomb attack in Kabul

23 June, in Pakistan: 75 to perhaps 100 killed and at least 150 wounded in twin bomb blasts and a third targeted attack

24 July, in Pakistan: 26 killed and 58 wounded in suicide bomber attack

12 August, in Pakistan: 15 killed and 32 wounded in bomb attack

This is just an abbreviated list. There were a number of other attacks throughout the world during this period.

The main point is this: ALL of these attacks are horrible tragedies, leaving behind a bloody trail of mangled human bodies–physical and psychological trauma, lost limbs, brain damage, excruciatingly painful burns, and destroyed lives. Perhaps because these events are somewhat rarer in Europe and the United States, it is the attacks in the west, which seem to garner the bulk of the sympathy and publicity in our U.S. and European news media. 

And three other points:

  1. Terrorism committed by “Islamic extremists”–who aren’t really “Islamic” at all, by the way–is not the only kind of terrorism there is. Consider the killing of nine black parishioners by a white supremacist at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, 2015. I’d say that fits the definition of terrorism.
  2. The vast, vast majority of Muslims aggressively condemn terrorist attacks committed in the name of their religion. Those in the west who criticize Islam, rather than separating out specific criminal deviants for vilification, risk alienating portions of the Islamic population. The world would be a better place with Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, all working together against the scourge of terrorism. (Actually, maybe the world would be better off without any of these religions–with the possible exception of Buddhism–but that is a topic for another day.)
  3. Finally, it sure wouldn’t be a bad idea to ask ourselves just why individuals turn to terrorism. What are the economic and political factors driving such an extreme decision? Remove these factors and you remove the raison d’etre of terrorism. This requires clinical study, not simplistic emotional reactions.

Here is a selection of images from the Las Ramblas tragedy, with my occasional commentary, made early in the morning of August 25, eight days after the fact…

Before dawn, a city worker stops to contemplate one of the larger memorials. As the candles slowly burn out or are blown out by the breeze, only the candles along the edge are easily relit or replaced:

Las Ramblas, #1. Barcelona, 2017
Las Ramblas, #1. Barcelona, 2017

 

One of at least 20 smaller memorials, some specifically for individuals who died in the attack:

Las Ramblas, #3. Barcelona, 2017
Las Ramblas, #3. Barcelona, 2017

 

People from many countries have written their supportive messages on the tree trunks and the walkway tiles. One common phrase that you see everywhere is “No tenim por”, or “We are not afraid” in the Catalan language:

Las Ramblas, #6. Barcelona, 2017
Las Ramblas, #6. Barcelona, 2017

 

Las Ramblas, #7. Barcelona, 2017
Las Ramblas, #7. Barcelona, 2017

 

One of the victims, 40-year-old Silvina Pereyra Cabrera and originally from Argentina (or Colombia?), had lived in Barcelona for ten years and worked in the famous market, La Boqueria:

Las Ramblas, #9. Barcelona, 2017
Las Ramblas, #9. Barcelona, 2017

 

As I was photographing, I ran into this young guy who was relighting as many of the candles as he could. Speaking in Spanish, he made the point that terrorism occurs all over the world and victims in places like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Syria deserve just as much sympathy as victims in Europe. We are all human, we all have families, and we all suffer, he said. I neglected to ask, but I would suspect he is an immigrant from (perhaps) Morocco:

Las Ramblas, #12. Barcelona, 2017
Las Ramblas, #12. Barcelona, 2017

 

Others stopped to relight candles as well:

Las Ramblas, #16. Barcelona, 2017
Las Ramblas, #16. Barcelona, 2017

 

At the intersection with Carrer de l’Hospital (Hospital Street), near La Boqueria, you’ll find the largest memorial, a vast field of flowers, posters, notes, letters, stuffed animals, candles, and other personal items. I believe this is about where the criminal asshole’s vehicle finally came to a stop:

Las Ramblas, #17. Barcelona, 2017
Las Ramblas, #17. Barcelona, 2017

 

Three-year-old Xavi Martinez was the youngest victim of the attack:

Las Ramblas, #21. Barcelona, 2017
Las Ramblas, #21. Barcelona, 2017

 

Mickey and Minnie:

Las Ramblas, #22. Barcelona, 2017
Las Ramblas, #22. Barcelona, 2017

 

I found an American flag in the memorial closest to Plaça de Catalunya, perhaps intended for Jared Tucker, a 42-year-old American construction worker who was killed here. The police in the background are the Mossos d’Esquadra, Catalunya’s provincial police. Passersby and crowds often spontaneously break into applause when the Mossos appear, such is the people’s appreciation for their rapid reaction to the attack:

Las Ramblas, #27. Barcelona, 2017
Las Ramblas, #27. Barcelona, 2017

 

“Muslims against terrorism”, in a field of compassion:

Las Ramblas, #28. Barcelona, 2017
Las Ramblas, #28. Barcelona, 2017

Old v. New in Cozumel Harbor

Old and New. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017
Old and New. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017

 

I thought this image told a nice story of the old versus the new, in this case on the high seas.

The Norwegian Jade is the big cruise ship, one of several similar vessels operated by the Norwegian Cruise Line. Indeed, you can see one of the Jade’s twin vessels, the Norwegian Dawn (if I read the cruise schedules right) directly behind.

The three-masted ship is the Alexander von Humboldt II, launched in 2011 and operated by Deutsche Stiftung Sail Training out of Bremerhaven, Germany. If you want to learn something of the old ways aboard a sailing ship (“Aargh, matey! Hoist that scurvy dog from the yardarm!”), you can take one of their awesome courses.

Some interesting comparisons…

First, Norwegian Jade:

–93,558 tons

–Crew of 1,037; Guest capacity of 2,402

–965 feet long with a beam of 125 feet

–Built in 2006, refurbished in 2017

Now, the Alexander von Humboldt II:

–992 tons; 24 sails

–Crew of 79 (includes trainees)

–213 feet long with a beam of 33 feet

–Launched in 2011 to replace the original 396-ton Alexander von Humboldt (1906 launch)

An aside…When considering which type of ship might be what you’d like to board, it might be worth considering the amount of waste that is generated by each and what might simply be dumped into the sea. Lots to check out on Google on this topic. Different cruise lines and ships rate quite differently…the dumping rules are different depending on location and type of waste…and so on.

Cozumel, Mexico in Black and White

Squall Line. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017
Squall Line. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017

A random selection of photographs, in monochrome mode, from the island of Cozumel, Mexico…

 

The tranquility of early morning on the western side of the isle–that is, before the thrumming start of the daily parade of dive boats carving their way through the sea to the many reefs:

The Pier. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017
The Pier. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017

 

An arm wave from on high…the lighthouse on the southern tip of the isle:

El Faro. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017
El Faro. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017

 

Here is a more abstract (erotic???) rendition of the lighthouse taken looking down from its summit perch, with a splash of color left on the woman’s purse:

El Faro, Abstract. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017
El Faro, Abstract. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017

 

The buzzards live in a paradise–they even get their own custom signs!

Guarda su distancia. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017
Guarda su distancia. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017

 

Finally, three abstracts from a local beach hotel:

Techo, Cozumel Occidental. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017
Techo, Cozumel Occidental. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017

 

Reflected Stairway. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017
Reflected Stairway. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017

 

Reflected Chandelier. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017
Reflected Chandelier. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017

Color Seascapes: Cozumel, Mexico

El Mirador, #18. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017
El Mirador, #18. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017

 

Sorry about the lack of posts of late. We have been spending a lot of our emotional capitol recently and decided to drop off of the grid and out of the social media gerbil mill for ten days or so.

It was refreshing.

Enthused by a new environment, I did hoist my sleepy fanny perpendicular on nearly every morning in search of interesting sunrise sites, the above being one: El Mirador on the windy (Caribbean) side of the isle.

Some photography tips for this and other spots on Cozumel:

–First and foremost, the east area of the island, which I found most interesting, is theoretically off-limits before 6a.m. and after 7p.m., which will be a problem during certain times of the year for a photographer looking for good light. In the dark wee hours, you may run in to some reflectors stretched across the road next to a smallish warning sign that states the hours of access. (The sign actually says you can’t go into the southern and eastern areas between 6a.m. and 7p.m., but that is clearly a mistake.) It is easy enough to drive

Check Point. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017
Check Point. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017

around the reflectors–they were unmanned when I encountered them–and continue on your way, but you could be taking a risk. The reason for the restriction (according to three different locals we asked) was that contraband and drug shipment activities were at one time an unpleasant reality in the relatively unpopulated areas (not so much now, apparently) and the local authorities didn’t want tourists inadvertently walking into some sort of Breaking Bad business transaction on one of the desolate beaches. I am not sure what the police would do if they found you and your tripod there outside of the posted hours but an educated guess would be that it would likely involve a fine. In my case, typically passing the check point at 5:40a.m. and arriving at my chosen photo op spots by 6a.m., I saw absolutely no one. YMMV!

–You will need a rental car (or scooter) to get out east and back during the “golden hours” of sunrise/sunset. We rented a car and had no close calls with other vehicles, people, iguanas, or crocodiles, although you have to be very alert when driving anywhere near San Miguel–motorcycles and scooters, like buzzing locusts, are everywhere. Note on car rental: The initial price will look very, very cheap. You’ll need to add on all the different required insurance policies, so you’ll likely end up paying $300.00 or even more for a week with a small economy car. It is worth it, though, if you need the photographic flexibility.

–Remember all the usual salt water/beach precautions: Be careful about sand and salt spray getting in and on your equipment. Bring cloths to clean things up and for wiping off lenses. Many folks will use a clear filter to protect their lenses in these conditions. Take great care when changing lenses–reminder: the east side is the windy side.

–The rock around El Mirador and on the southeastern side of the island is SHARPLY sculptured limestone. If you fall on it, you could stab yourself to death, poke an eye out, bust a kneecap…or, at the very least, come up very scraped, bloodied, and humbled. So, wear some good shoes–and watch your step.

–Be ready to fill a memory card or two as you experiment with different wave combinations and shutter speeds. I tried everything from longer 30-second exposures with my 9-stop ND filter, to exposures short enough to freeze the water motion. I tended to prefer the 2-second to 1/8 of a second range because of the wonderful water effects this would often create. (The above image was shot at 1/4 second and f/22. Yeah, yeah, I know…diffraction and all. It does indeed have a negative effect on sharpness but I’m OK with it.)

–Expect to do a fair amount of cloning in post-processing due to the amount of trash that collects along tide line on top of the algae. Or, alternatively, you could just fill up a few bags with trash before you shoot.

–Other spots to consider: the tide pools at Chen Rio at Kilometer 44, and the interesting blow holes at Kilometer 32. El Mirador is at about Kilometer 34.

–In a future post, I’ll show one or two before and after post-processing comparisons using my raw files. You will see that I did a fair amount of lifting of shadows and dropping of highlights, cloning out of trash and water droplets, contrast and saturation increases, horizon straightening, and so on…to turn the images into what I saw on that morning!

Here are some examples of what I came up with on the different mornings I shot along the east coast…

First, here is an example pre-sunrise image. Sometimes there is very nice light, with more subtle colors, before sunrise, so plan accordingly. I liked arriving just as first light was approaching. This gave me time to play with longer shutter speeds (8 seconds in this case) as well as scope out the area:

El Mirador, #1. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017
El Mirador, #1. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017

 

Here is another pre-sunrise photograph taken on a different morning, this time with Venus above and also reflected in the foreground pool. I only saw the planet’s reflection later, during post. If I had noticed at the time, I would have moved slightly right so as to put the reflection just slightly to the right in the water. This was a 20-second exposure and the naked eye saw much less light than what you see here:

El Mirador, #30. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017
El Mirador, #30. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017

 

As the Sun comes up, your shutter speed will have to get shorter (unless you use filters), but this is a nice opportunity to try to catch waves in flagrante delicto, as in the following three examples–two into the sun, and one away. In the last, a half Moon happened to position itself nicely in the blue between the high clouds:

El Mirador, #7. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017
El Mirador, #7. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017

 

El Mirador, #40. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017
El Mirador, #40. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017

 

El Mirador, #42. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017
El Mirador, #42. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017

 

Another option for a completely different mood and look is to throw on a 9-stop filter and go for a long exposure–30 seconds at f/11 in this case. These filters are so dark you have to frame and focus first, then put the filter on for the shot:

Chen Rio, #5. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017
Chen Rio, #5. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017

 

The opposite extreme is to stop at least some of the water motion. Here, at the blow holes at Kilometer 32, I used 1/200 and f/11 with full morning sun. I wasn’t quite successful in capturing the partial rainbow that would fleetingly appear through the mist (sorta seen below the Moon):

Blow Holes, #2. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017
Blow Holes, #2. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017

 

Finally, if you are stuck at “home” maybe try shooting the pier right next to your hotel as I did here. The near full Moon helped by adding a nice center-o’-interest with an anchored boat and dock light on the left as secondary tidbits. This was a 25-second exposure at f/22 but done sans filters as it was still quite dark out (well, with moonlight). The slow shutter smoothed out the sea (and blurred a few clouds) and the small aperture helped bring out the star effect on the Moon and the pier lights:

Moon Over the Pier. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017
Moon Over the Pier. Cozumel, Mexico, 2017

Talca Bottling Plant – Lines, Textures, Shapes, Forms

Talca, #3. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Talca, #3. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

Today, Valentine’s Day, we were treated to a tour of the Talca “embotelladora”, or bottling plant, in Godoy Cruz, Mendoza, Argentina.

¡Gracias, Anna Clara!

Talca (Oeste Embotelladora, S.A.) takes great pride in producing a “national” product. That is, an Argentine company, with Argentine owners and employees, making soda from Argentine ingredients, all for an Argentine market. (Unlike the giant multi-nationals like Pepsi and Coke.) 

It is quite an operation–and what a wonderful place to discover black and white industrial/abstract compositions!

One of the too cool vehicles belonging to the owner, the “Panda truck”:

Talca, #1. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Talca, #1. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

Soda pop has just gotta have gas:

Talca, #5. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Talca, #5. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

Un “charco artístico“:

Talca, #8. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Talca, #8. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

Stacks and stacks and stacks:

Talca, #9. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Talca, #9. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

Bottles and bottles and bottles:

Talca, #12. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Talca, #12. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

I liked this particular abstract, formed by towers of plastic-wrapped packing material and the anti-hailstone fabric above:

Talca, #13. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Talca, #13. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

The Talca brand…in this region, only Coca Cola gives it much competition:

Talca, #14. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Talca, #14. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

Another of my favorite images from this day. It definitely has that industrial look:

Talca, #15. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Talca, #15. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

For more images from the “Talca Tour”, please… CLICK HERE!

Crossing the Cordillera Once Again

“Aquí me pongo a cantar (Here I begin to sing)

Al compás de la vigüela; (To the rhythm of the guitar;)

Que el hombre que lo desvela (For a man who cannot sleep)

Una pena estraordinaria, (Because of an extraordinary sorrow,)

Como la ave solitaria (Like the solitary bird)

Con el cantar se consuela.” (Finds solace in his song.)

José Hernández, (El Gaucho Martín Fierro, 1872)

 

We are back in Mendoza, Argentina for a visit–and a daughter’s wedding!

¡He vuelto a mi “pago”!

 

Just out of the airport in Santiago, we take a southerly heading, with this view of the Cordillera out our left window, to gain altitude before crossing:

El Cordillera, #1. Santiago de Chile, 2017
El Cordillera, #1. Santiago de Chile, 2017

 

That obvious valley leads your eye north to a large glacier that hangs off of the south side of the 6,570-meter (21,560′) Volcán Tupungato. If you are tired of the 14er crowds in Colorado, this is the place you need to be–myriad 6,000-meter peaks, many of which you can basically walk up (maybe with ax and crampons, and after a long, long approach!) and with nary a single ascent each season. Tupungato, though, is more popular and probably gets climbed by maybe a half-dozen parties each year, and usually from the Chilean side.

In this photo, Chile is to the left and Argentina is to the right and we are looking north, again, out a left-side window:

La Cordillera, #3. Chile-Argentina, 2017
La Cordillera, #3. Chile-Argentina, 2017

 

Here, we are headed north and are on final approach to Mendoza’s airport. This is the view out the left window toward the Cordillera de los Andes we just crossed, now covered by clouds. The taller buildings (seismic-proof, they say) are in the center of town and that highway in the foreground would eventually get you to Buenos Aires after some 13 hours of eastbound driving (about 650 miles).

I have often thought that Tucson, Arizona and Mendoza have a lot in common–similar population, similar climate and temperatures, and both located at the foot of arid mountains–although the mountains above Mendoza are WAY yuuuge in comparison to Tucson’s puny-ante Mt. Lemmon:

Mendoza Centro. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Mendoza Centro. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

For many more posts about, and photos of, Aconcagua, Mendoza, and the Cordillera, just type “Andes” or “Mendoza” into my site’s SEARCH box. Have fun!

Navajo Poems

The Mexican Hat at Sunset. Utah, 2017
The Mexican Hat at Sunset. Utah, 2017

 

Having grown up in Arizona, attended university in Flagstaff, and explored the deserts and canyons on and around the Navajo Nation, the Navajo people and their land have a special place in my heart.

Here, I offer a small handful of visual anecdotes from a recent drive through their country.

Disclaimer: These images are by no means completely representative of this beautiful place or these wonderful people…just small snapshot snippets. I would love to spend a lot more time here to try to tell a more complete and balanced story.

 

There were dreams here once. What were they? What happened? Were they sucked away by the overwhelming grandness of the landscape?

Navajo Dreams. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017
Navajo Dreams. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017

 

You’ll see this “Love Life” graffiti throughout Navajo Land in the most unlikely of places. Do it. Love life.

Navajo Love. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017
Navajo Love. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017

 

Meth has found its way on to the Res now. No, it’s not just an urban problem.

Navajo Tragedy. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017
Navajo Tragedy. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017

 

Cody J. Charles was an 18-year-old Navajo from Tuba City (“…born of The Zuni Edgewater clan and born for the Coyote Pass People…”). He died in an auto accident here. Too young…way too young.

Navajo Tragedy, #2. Navajo Nation, 2017
Navajo Tragedy, #2. Navajo Nation, 2017

 

These “street murals” were placed here by the doctor and artist Dr. Chip Thomas (aka “Jetsonorama”) to promote Navajo pride and history and, occasionally, to protest attempts by the dominant culture to infringe on Navajo rights and resources. I have photographed his murals in other areas of Navajo Land before and find them quite moving. They stand in happily surprising contrast to the vast and harsh high desert environment in which they are found:

Navajo Pride. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017
Navajo Pride. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017

 

And–naturally–the omnipresent golden arches (and the equally omnipresent cell phone tower):

Navajo Land Invaded. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017
Navajo Land Invaded. Navajo Nation, Arizona, 2017