Solarization

This photo was a happy accident.  I have hundreds of photos, many of which are nothing special.  I was experimenting with this using Color Efex Pro 4, a part of the NIK Collection, a series of plugins for Photoshop.  I usually just use the plugins to clean up and enhance photos; it’s rare that I radically change a photo.  In this case, though, I was able to take an ordinary photo and turn it into something much more dramatic.

Solarized Cabin

Slave Quarters, Stagville Plantation

Stagville Plantation, in North Carolina, was one of the largest plantations in the south.  By 1860 the plantation held close to 30,000 acres and nearly 900 slaves.  These cabins are original structures and housed several dozen slave families.  The cabins were very basic- one large space with no heat, no beds, no privacy.

After the Civil War, many of the slaves stayed at Stagville as sharecroppers.  Their descendants are still residents of Durham County.

Stagville Slave Cabins

Cat Nap

This cat is napping in a sunny spot at the Mercado do Bolhão in Porto, Portugal.  We went to several markets in Portugal and there seemed to be cats at all of them.  The cats serve a purpose.  They keep the market free of ratos.

Cat Napping

Fado ao Centro, Coimbra Portugal, March 2018

Fado is the national music of Portugal and our first experience with the music was in a small cultural center just a stone’s throw from  the Torre da Almedina, at the base of the stairs known as “the Backbreaker,” Rua Quebra Costa.

Fado ao Centro is dedicated to promoting the Coimbra style of Fado.  Coimbra Fado came about when male students at the University would stand in the narrow lanes of the city and serenade their sweethearts, who would listen from the window above.  This tradition has influenced the Coimbra style of Fado in several ways.

First, unlike the Lisbon version, only men can sing Coimbra Fado, and they should be students or former students of the University.  The performers wear the students’ traditional black suit and cape.  Second, the singer is accompanied by a Portuguese guitar and, sometimes, a classical, or Spanish guitar.  In the much more liberal Lisbon style the music is sometimes accompanied by piano, drums and other instruments.

Coimbra Fado’s songs are usually love songs, though occasionally a political protest song makes its way into the play list.  Finally, because of the intimacy between the singer and his beloved in the window above, clapping is not the way to show appreciation.  The proper way is to clear your throat, as if trying to get someone’s attention, kind of like the young girl’s father might do when discretely telling the gentleman caller to move along.  The girl would show her appreciation by turning her lights on and off several times.

The performance was wonderful.  The musicians were top notch and the music is moving.  There is a narrator who explains a little of the history of the music and what each song is about, and the room is full of photos and posters celebrating the artists who made Coimbra Fado famous.  For those interested, you can pick up CDs recorded by Fado ao Centro as well.

 

Graffiti, Aveiro, Portugal

There’s street art, with varying degrees of sophistication, all over Portugal.  It seems that wherever there’s a flat surface someone will mark it.  I saw this wall while walking back from a visit to Aveiro’s old train station.  I find the face intriguing and just a little creepy.  I don’t know the significance of the face, but it’s interesting.

Aveiro 2

Boats, Tarpon Springs, Florida

I like the rusted colors on the boats.  They’re obviously not pleasure boats, but real working vessels.    I also like the booms and lines contrasting against the blue sky.

Boats

Stairway, Porto, Portugal

I really like the way the severe stone stairway leads to Porto’s Cathedral.  If you were so inclined you can imagine that you’re climbing a stairway to Heaven.

Stairway to Heaven

Surf Monument, Nazaré, Portugal

There are statues and monuments all over Portugal.  Most of them memorialize people and events from Portugal’s history.  The statue in Nazaré, on the road to the Fortaleza, is probably one of the strangest monuments in Portugal.

The statue, named Veado and created by Portuguese sculptor Adália Alberto, was placed in 2016 and honors the legend of Nazaré as well as the town’s legendary status as the home to some of the best surfing and biggest waves in the world.

Veado

First, the legend.  In the fifth century, a monk named Ciriaco returned from Nazareth to the monastery of Cauliniana with a small wooden statue of Mary with the Infant Jesus which, by oral tradition, is said to have been carved by Mary’s husband, Joseph, the carpenter.  The icon remained at the monastery until 711, when invading Moorish armies defeated Christian forces.

Roderic, the defeated king, fled to the coast, accompanied by a monk, Romano, who carried the icon with him when the men fled.  When the two men reached the Atlantic, they separated, with Frei Romano living out his days, still in possession of the statue,  in a cliff-side cave overlooking what is now Nazaré.

Fast forward a few hundred years, to an early morning when a knight, Dom Fuas Roupinho, was hunting on the cliff overlooking the ocean.  The knight was in pursuit of a deer when a heavy fog suddenly descended.  The deer, blinded by the fog, ran over the edge of the cliff.  Dom Roupinho, realizing that he was very close to the grotto where the icon still remained, prayed to Our Lady to save him from certain death.  His horse, though blinded by the fog, miraculously stopped at the edge of the cliff, saving the knight from death.

So that’s the legend of Nazaré, and where the deer head comes from.  Now for the surfing.  Nazaré’s North Beach is legendary for the giant waves that come out of the Atlantic and provide some of the best big wave surfiing in the world.  In 2011, American Garrett McNamara set the world record by surfing a 78-foot wave at North Beach.  Two years later he shattered his own record by surfing a giant 100-foot wave at the same beach.

So now you know the two legends that inspired Veado, the statue overlooking Praia do Norte, in Nazaré.

Infrared Photography

Infrared film photography was labor intensive.  You had to work in complete darkness to avoid spoiling the film, so I had to use a film changing bag in a closet with no lights to load the film.  Then, to be safe, I had to seal the edges of the camera’s film compartment with electricians tape to avoid any light leakage.  That was just to load the film.  The process had to be reversed to unload it.  And then there was the development…

Some digital cameras make digital photography much easier.  With my Kodak P-850, all I needed was an infrared filter, such as the Wratten 87A filter.  The filter is a very dark filter that blocks virtually all light-waves except the infrared waves.  There are a couple difficulties to using one of these filters.  First, you can’t see through the filter, so you’ll need to compose your photo first, then place the filter on your camera after you’ve set up your photograph.  Second, the exposure time is very long, so you’ll need to use a tripod to avoid camera shake.  You’ll also probably have to take several different exposures to find the right settings.

Once you’ve taken the photo, it looks like this:

The pink tint is because the filter isn’t black as it appears to be, it’s actually a very dark red.  Because the pink tint is a little weird, I use Paint Shop Pro to create a black and white version:

Home Infrared

Infrared light is reflected differently than normal light.  The trees and grass appear nearly white and the sky is very dark.  I like the way you get a different perspective of things through infrared photography.

By the way, there are a lot of online tutorials for infrared photography.  You can also create faux-infrared photographs using photo editing software.  Here’s a faux-infrared photo of the Crooked River Lighthouse:

Crooked River Lighthouse

I didn’t use an infrared filter here; it’s all done through manipulation using Paint Shop Pro.

Melting Ice, Yukon Territory, 2016

I admit it.  I had preconceived ideas about what the Yukon Territory would look like.  For years, I had read books where tough men in heavy parkas and mukluks fought their way through snowstorms and across glaciers in search of gold.  Luckily for us, our visit to the Yukon was much less work.

I was blown away by the beauty of the place.  I expected wilderness, which was everywhere, but not the fantastic colors- the greens of the shrubs and grasses growing around the rocks, the wildflowers in bloom and that wonderful deep blue sky.   It was late Spring so there was still plenty of snow and ice, but the plant life was taking advantage of the warmer temperatures and longer days.

With this particular photo, I love the way the melting ice reflects the sky.  I also like the way the stream leads you to the mountains where it finds its beginnings.  The Yukon was a fascinating place and provided a great opportunity to photograph some amazing landscapes.

YT Melting Ice