I found this woman spinning wool on a roof top on Isla Taquile on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca, Peru. I sat with her for a while, but she didn’t seemed particularly pleased to have my company. Eventually I asked if I could take her picture, which she agreed to (I think in large part to see if that would get rid of me) and then took my leave. It was a brutally bright afternoon, with the high altitude sun just blasting everything out. Luckily she was sitting in the shade. Though even in the protection of the wall, the intensity of the light knocked most of the color out of the image. With a little help in Lightroom I was able to bring some of that color back.
Which leads me to something: As I mentioned in the previous post, I’ve been slowly working my way through “Vision and Voice” by David DuChemin. And as he notes, any post-processing will lead to the question: “Did it really look like that?” And for this image, the answer is no, kinda, and yes. Replicating how things looked when I was there in a photograph is essentially impossible. This is the case for a number of reasons: One, the context for this image is lacking. There is no sign of the village below, the sounds, the voices speaking in Quechua, the heat of the sun, the smells of the island, the calls of the Chiguanco Thrushes, or the huge blue expanse of Lake Titicaca visible hundreds of feet below. All of that comes into play with how I perceived the scene when I was there. That context is absent to the viewer. Even now, years later, my memories are skewed by all those unseen aspects of the scene, so is this how it looked? Maybe. But this is how it felt. The deep blue of the head scarf, the reds of the sweater, the way the old woman stuck her tongue out through a toothless grin, in concentration as the spindle twisted with remarkable speed. Those are the things that caught my attention and what I am trying to emphasize here. The other aspects, the context of the island, those will remain with me.
So no, of course it didn’t look exactly like this. Then again, maybe it did.
I’m a big fan of David duChemin at Pixelated Image. He has a gift (and learned skill) for candid portraiture in challenging environments, is a great writer, and his books are wonderful. I strongly recommend that you check them out. I’ve recently been reading his book “Vision and Voice”. It is a book about how to use Adobe Lightroom to better express your vision. Importantly it isn’t a technical manual but emphasizes how to make an image, once out of camera, show the viewer what you really want them to see…and feel. It is as much philosophy as instruction, and has inspired me to go back and revisit some images I made a few years ago in Peru.
I met this man on the Plaza de Armas in Cuzco, Peru. There were huge protests going on the streets, many thousands of people marching against proposed privatization of public lands in the Sacred Valley. It was peaceful and extraordinary, with indigenous groups, environmentalists, students, archeologists, and farmers all coming together. But I’m getting off track. This man wasn’t involved in the protests, and I found him sitting on a bench, just watching the passersby. A number of things caught my eye about him, but what made me pause was the old medium format camera he had strung around his neck. I stopped and sat next to him on the bench and asked him in spanish about his camera. We chatted for bit, and I struggled to understand his heavily accented speech. But we were both photographers, and connected over this fact. Eventually I asked to make his portrait, and he willingly agreed.
I’ve always liked this image, and its one of my favorites from that two-month trip through Peru and Bolivia. With inspiration from David duChemin, I re-processed the image in Lightroom, bringing up the brightness in his face, darkening and slightly blurring the background to limit the distractions, and adjusting the saturation and white balance to better reflect that dim, overcast day. As much as I liked the image before, I like it even better now.
Oh, my one regret? I didn’t include his camera in the shot. Dammit.
It is about 15 degrees outside right now as I write this. The first morning where the temps here at my cabin have dropped down into the teens. The golden days of autumn already seem long gone, and I’m just … Continue reading →
The Wild Imagination Photography Stock Library is now live! There are currently more than 1000 images available from across the globe with new images being added daily. Alaska, Bhutan, Peru, Bolivia, Panama, South Georgia Island, Antarctica, and the Falkland Islands are among the areas currently represented. For the first month the site is live (until 7 November 2011) I’m offering 20% off all orders, including prints and digital downloads. Just use the coupon code: 20offWI when you checkout. Click HERE to visit the site.
As I noted a post or two ago, I’ve been spending a lot of time sorting, editing, and keywording some older images. The whole process, while at times tedious, has been to relive some very good memories. One of those … Continue reading →