Posts Tagged With: photo
In this image I miraculously transported my pa’u rider from the shade trees of Ala Moana Park to the rugged Ka Iwi coast of Oahu, just past Hanauma Bay. (see previous pa’u rider post)
While in Europe this summer, our cruise ship stopped at Helsingborg, Sweden, and we spent several hours exploring the town. One must-see on our agenda was The Keep. Once a castle stood on the hill overlooking Helsingborg’s streets, but now the only thing left is The Keep—a walled entrance behind which stands a lone remaining tower. We climbed the steps up to The Keep, and I looked back to capture this image of the town (far) framed by one of the arches (near).
Helsingborg, Sweden is across the narrow Oresund strait from Helsingor, Denmark—a town famed for its Kronborg Castle, which is said to have been the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Ouch! Double Ouch! I’m the original tenderfoot, and walking barefoot over little ridges feels like walking on a bed of nails. But the sign said, “remove your shoes,” so I knew resistance was futile, especially since management had conveniently made available plastic bags as shoe carry totes. A short distance to go over the ridged and wet terrain, and I knew the end result would be worth it.
I was at Pamukkale (pronounced Pah-MOOOK-kah-lay), where calcium-rich water oozes over a cliff and forms lovely white-terraced pools. At one time visitors could climb down to the lower pools and soak in the mineral waters, but no more. To keep hoards of tourists from damaging them, the lower pools are closed to bathing. But all is not lost. Travelers can still try out the healing properties of Pamukkale’s springs.
One way is to patronize the spa. Pamukkale has been home to a spa since the Romans built the city of Hierapolis around the sacred, volcanically warmed spring (once you buy your ticket you can visit both the terraces and the extensive ruins of Hierapolis).
I didn’t check out all the options at the spa, but I found Cleopatra’s Bath (featuring underwater seating designed as broken and tumbled columns) and two rows of aquarium tanks. Sit on a bench above a tank, immerse your feet, and dozens of itty-bitty cleaner wrasses will relieve you of dead skin and any ectoparasites they can find. It’s their job. And their food supply. One kind gentleman agreed to let me photograph his feet.
The other way is to do what I was doing—gingerly picking my barefoot way over to one of the calf-deep pools on the plateau at the top of the cliff, relieving my feet at little tidepools along the way. I must admit, the warm water felt indescribably good, and whether it was the comfort of the smooth-bottomed pool, or whether the healing waters were actually performing their magic, I won’t ever know. But afterwards, my nagging headcold disappeared. I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions.
September in Hawaii is Aloha Festivals time, a highlight of which is the Aloha Festivals parade. Nothing could be more fun and colorful to photograph than a Hawaiian-style parade with its flower-bedecked floats. And a welcome inclusion in every cultural parade is the pa’u rider. Each island chooses a pa’u queen and court, all wearing the colors of their particular island. Gold represents the island of Oahu. Before the parade, all the participants gather at Ala Moana Beach Park to wait their turn. I found the pa’u riders under the shade trees, but since the lighting and setting were a shade less than pretty, I decided to remedy that by transporting each one to a new location via the magic of Photoshop, a process that can take 2-3 hours in the digital darkroom. But it was worth the effort. The Oahu queen here looks much more regal in the soft lighting of the Nu’uanu rainforest.
When visiting another country, we have to decide: Do we drink the water or not? For Turkey, travel guides often advise buying bottled water. We followed that advice and went a step further—lugging a charcoal-filter pumping system with us. Nothing spoils a vacation faster than a case of Montezuma’s Revenge. On the other hand, I have a friend who always drinks the water wherever she goes—including Turkey—and never gets sick. I think it depends on your constitution. Cast-iron digestive system—go for it. Otherwise, err on the side of caution.
But that’s not exactly the subject of this post although there is drinking water involved. So to get to the point, I’d like to introduce you to Istanbul’s Basilica Cistern.
The largest of Istanbul’s underground cisterns, it was built in 542 AD by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I (way back when Istanbul was Constantinople), and was capable of holding 100,000 tons of water, which arrived via two aqueducts from a source in the Belgrade Forest (about 19 kilometers away). Back in the day, the water level was a lot higher, and citizens retrieved their water through large, round, well-like holes in the ceiling of the cistern. Justinian may have thought this oversized well, which supplied water to his palace, was pretty slick, but future conquerors—the Ottomans—not so much. By some accounts, they preferred running water, so the cistern system fell into disrepair.
Everybody pretty much forgot it was there until 1545, when a Frenchman who was researching Byzantine antiquities noticed that some residents got their water (and sometimes caught fish) by lowering buckets through holes in their basements. He also found an entrance at the back of someone’s garden, and steps leading down into the cistern.
The chamber was alternately restored and ignored over the years, and even used as a dump for junk (and corpses). Then in 1987 Turkish authorities realized what a great tourist attraction it would be and cleaned it up, pumping out tons of mud and dirty water and building a walkway around the interior perimeter.
Although it’s not in somebody’s garden these days, the cistern entrance is still not that obvious. Just go to the northern end of the Hippodrome, across the street from Hagia Sophia and opposite the yellow building of the Tourist Police, and look for the queue in front of an inconspicuous ticket booth. Once you’ve paid your ten Turkish lira, follow the 52 stone steps leading down into the chamber.
I had seen pictures, but nothing prepared me for actually viewing it firsthand. A forest of 332 marble columns and their watery reflections mesmerized me, and it was hard to focus on the task at hand—getting that one killer photo. After setting up my camera and tripod as inconspicuously as possible, I waited patiently for the hoards of people swirling around me to snap their pics and move on. Eventually, a space opened up. I moved in and took a quick series of shots: f11-22 for maximum depth of field (sharpness), and shutter speeds ranging from 3 to 15 seconds.
Just a note here: tripods are actually not allowed, although in my defense, I didn’t know that at first (if there was a sign, I didn’t see it, officer. Honest). I found out when I was later asked, politely, to put it away, and I can see the reasoning. Lots of people crowding around (even groups of schoolchildren on outings), and it’s too easy to trip over extended tripod legs. Again, in my defense, I kept the tripod legs in a very narrow stance, and blocked them with my legs during the few minutes I was shooting.
Getting that shot was the highlight for me, but there was more to see. A dozen or so merchants have set up shop just below the entry steps, selling art, kitschy souvenirs, photos of you dressed in sultan/harem costumes (which they supply), and food. There are fish swimming in the shallow water, and musical concerts are sometimes held here (the acoustics must be awesome).
If you’re into ancient architecture, it’s interesting to note that the cross-vaulted ceiling is made of brick, and the column tops (capitals) are from different periods: most Corinthian, some Doric. Even the columns were gathered from various ruined buildings. So although it’s a magnificent feat of engineering, it was, in fact, cobbled together.
Two of the cobbled parts (and no one knows where they came from) are blocks carved as the head of Medusa—that gorgon whose unruly hairdo—a mass of writhing snakes—could turn a man to stone with one glance. Both blocks support columns. One head is planted upside down, the other sideways (the why of that is also a mystery).
Since you’ve read this far, here’s your reward—a bit of movie trivia. In “From Russia With Love,” James Bond (Sean Connery) gets away by rowing a boat through the Basilica Cistern.
Finally: a room with a view. I photographed this scene from the 2nd-floor window of our hotel room in the ultra-charming town of Eguisheim in the Alsace region of France.
It was sheer luck that we arrived here at all. Our hotel in nearby Colmar was booked for the last three days of our stay. There was no room at the Inn, you could say. So we ventured further down the road and ended up here. A little bakery under the white awning made the most wonderful quiche, which we ate for breakfast. And surrounding the town—vineyards. White wine so clean and fresh it tasted like drops of heaven. And French cooking. Need I say more.
Perhaps the band and all those people knew we were reluctantly leaving that morning. Perhaps they came out to give us a proper send off. Perhaps……
How could I not think of John Fogerty’s “there’s a bad moon on the rise” when the Super Moon put in an appearance a few weeks ago. I had planned for this shoot: which lens to use, where it was going to come up, which location would be best—remembering that it will look biggest at the horizon, then smaller-size itself as it rises in the sky. After much debate as to location, I chose Kahala Beach (Oahu), where I calculated it would appear off the tip of Hanauma Bay’s cinder cone. The other plus to this location: going early and lounging in the Kahala Resort’s beachside restaurant for Happy Hour (cranberry juice and seasoned fries for me), and feeling grateful for a clear sky with few horizon clouds. It was pretty much a perfect evening.
It always feels good when one of my favorite images finds a second, third, etc. home. This shot became the cover of Hawaii magazine several years ago, and recently it was purchased by Alaska Airlines Magazine. So how did this image come to be in my portfolio? Some friends were in town and we all went to the Paradise Cove Luau, held amid the stunning scenery of Oahu’s southwestern shore. These three guys were getting ready for their roles in the imu ceremony (where the roast pig is removed from the imu, or ground oven), so I asked them to pose before the unearthing got underway. At first, they stood on the grass above the beach. “Can you go down on the beach?” I asked. Somewhat reluctantly they moved but they were still too far back, so I asked them to move closer to the water. “You want to get us wet, don’t you,” one joked. But photographers are thinking of one thing only—get the best shot. I knew they had to get back to work, so once they were in position I shot quickly: several frames, different compositions. And they didn’t get wet. When we were finished, one of them asked hopefully, “Are we going to be on a magazine cover?” As a matter of fact….yes, although I didn’t know it at the time. When I’m shooting for stock, it’s always a pleasant surprise to see where my pictures end up (one of them was printed on 75 ostrich eggs and given as gifts to clients of a South African public-relations agency). So a big mahalo (thank you) to my three models, wherever they are today. I hope to see them in print again someday.