One more picture from Colombia! This one is from the gardens in the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, in Santa Marta. All over the place one could find trees ranging between 200 and 400 years old. On the top of on of this trees, lazily sunbathing, there was a huge iguana.
The photo is a “standard sniper shot”. Telephoto extended to the longest 300mm range, wide open so that the shutter speed woud be as high as possible. To keep it steady needed to crank up the ISO a little bit, but not too much noise came out of that.
During the last days of his life, Simón Bolívar, seriously affected by a tuberculosis, moved to Santa Marta to enjoy the milder climates of the sea side. He installed himself in the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino. Today’s picture is the room where he died, preserved just as it was that day. The clock in the wall is stopped at the time of Bolivar’s death.
The photo is an hdr made of two handheld exposures, merged with Photomatix and retouched in Photoshop.
This photo was kind of a happy accident. Walking in the city center of Santa Marta, all full of colonial style houses, I had been playing around with some camera settings in manual mode. Now, if you are into street photography (or photo journalism), one of the basic principles to always bear in mind is always to keep your camera in some safe quick-shooting mode, in case something happens.
There is a saying in photojournalism (that some attribute to Allen Hopkins, some to Robert Capa, and some to Arthur Fellig) “f8 and be there”. This rule means that it is more important to be at the right moment and the right place than to worry about the technical details of the camera setup. Some take it as a hint to keep your camera ready to shot no matter what the conditions are.
Well, this photo is certainly not the best example of this rule. The street we walked by was dimly lit, and the settings of my camera completely scrambled when I put it to my eye and snapped the shot, resulting in a very weirdly underexposed shot. In my haste to reset the camera before the couple walked away, I didn’t pause to erase the faulty picture, and this was the result. There are so many things that are technically wrong with this pic that they are not even worth enumerating, but much to my surprise even with all the scrambled settings it still kind of makes for a strong image, so I decided to keep it as a remainder for the future.
Once we reached (by boat) the deeper beaches of Tayrona, stayed there to enjoy the nice weather and the Caribbean tiepid waters. Rest of the day involved mostly swimming, snorkeling in the coral riffs (sorry guys, don’t have the equipment for underwater photography!) and having a lunch consisting in the most delicious fresh fish. Every now and then, this lady, who would refer to herself as “la negra, pa’ servirles” came by and offered us some delicious Colombian sweets that costed virtually nothing. I found really impressive how she could walk with that huge basket perfectly balanced on her head while wiggling her hips from side to side. Many a catwalk model could have taken a lesson or two from la negra!
After a couple of days in Bogotá, went north to Santa Marta. From there I went on a guided visit to Tayrona National Park. After passing by the beach of the seven waves, this is the beach where we came out of the truck in order to continue our trip by boat. Probably the most amazing feature of all these beaches, even more than the wonderful blue waters, is how trees keep growing almost all the way to the sea.
After the visit to Monserrate and an amazing traditional Colombian lunch, it literally started pouring down, so we had to look for cover inside a coffee place, where I could enjoy a steamy cup of another of the Colombian national treasures. Once the rain stopped, we still had a few minutes of light that we used to walk around the nice neighborhood of La Candelaria, featuring nice houses of colonial styles. Wandering around, we ended up in Plaza de Bolívar, one of the main squares of Bogotá, where a free traditional South-Pacific Colombian music concert by Inés Granja y Santa Bárbara de Timbiquí. Probably because of the rain, the square was not very crowded and we could move around easily. We spotted this guy dancing all by himself like there was nobody else there and looking like he was having a great time, and I really wanted to capture the moment.
It was already dusk and I didn’t feel comfortable blinding the guy with my flash, so I cranked up the ISO to 1600 and kept the lens wide open to get a reasonably quick shutter speed (1/45s). My aim here was to get a focused enough photo so that the dancer’s facial expression would still be visible, but still capturing the dynamic of his dance. I think it did’t come out bad. Let me know what you think in the comments!
PS: In case you are curious about the music style around, you can see the band playing here (video from a different concert, music starts after the first minute):
Upon arrival to Bogotá, after a resting sleep and a healthy breakfast we headed towards the Monserrate mountain, one of the highest points in the city, in the hope to get some nice panoramic views. The weather was not particularly well suited for landscape viewing, as it was very cloudy and rainy at times, but the walk around the mountain was still nice. In one of the gardens I spotted this little fellow battering his wings like crazy. The thing was moving so damn fast that it was impossible to take a sharp shot until he decided to take a break. This is a kind of hummingbird commonly known as shining sunbeam, or “colibrí de alas largas”, very common in the higher parts of Colombia.
Remarks, opinions, compliments and hate letters are welcome in the comments!
In case you were wondering why there weren’t any updates during the last two weeks, it is because I was here:
This is the beach of the seven waves in the Tayrona National Park, close to the lovely city of Santa Marta, in Colombia. More news and photos from my caribbean trip will follow soon. In the meantime, you can let me know how jealous you are in the comments! ;-)