Convoluted

An HDR view from Upper Antelope Canyon, near Page (Arizona), converted to black and white:

Convoluted

I’ll be posting a longer comparison of Upper to Lower Antelope Canyon at a later date.  For now, let’s just say that a walk through the Upper Canyon is a crowded experience — even in the “off-season,” even on a “Photo Tour.”  So taking shots facing the sky is a good plan.  In any case, the canyon is a unique experience, and always a reliable source of geological abstracts.

The many faces of Church Rock

Over the holidays, my family took an old-school road trip down to Arizona to visit relatives. Along the way, we came across an interesting geological feature that I’d never even heard of before — an old, eroded bit of volcanic material called Church Rock:

Church Rock

Located 10 miles east of Kayenta, Church Rock (nicknamed after its supposed resemblance to a cathedral from some angles) is part of a whole string of interesting geological features in this part of the country.  On the far horizon, you can see the chisel-shaped tip of Agathla Peak, in Monument Valley.  I think the line-up of features makes a good composition, although something like a 16:9 crop would reduce the impact of the foreground nicely.

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Steinland

A scene from this year’s “Christkindl Market” in downtown Denver, Colorado — shelves of beer steins on sale at a vendor’s stall:

Steinland

Oddly enough, it was only on a recent trip that we discovered that while the word stein is German, this style of beer mugs is only called a stein in English-speaking countries.  Stein is an abbreviation of the German steingut (stoneware), the material they’re made of.  But in Germany, bierstein (“beer stone”) is the term used for a scaly deposit built up in poorly-cleaned brewing vessels.  A mug like one of these would be called a krug, or more properly a bierkrug.

So there’s your language lesson for the day, more about the “Christkindl Market” in subsequent posts.

‘Vette

A vintage Corvette, seen at the Great American Car Show in Westfield Center, Ohio:

'Vette

This particular shot was post-processed with Topaz Impression software (to give an oil painting effect).

Unsung incidents of the French & Indian War

…or of the Seven Years’ War, if you’re outside the U.S.

A few months back, we took a trip out to Ohio to visit some of my wife’s relatives.  Near their corner of rural eastern Ohio, there’s a “Great Trail Festival” each autumn — with folks dressing up and (to some degree cooking) like frontier folk from centuries back.  Part of the experience is a group of semi-local re-enactors portraying a skirmish from the French & Indian War.

Unsung incidents of the French & Indian War

Here, you see a French soldier on the left (who’s been “shot”) about to spring a surprise on a local colonist.  Have to love the “French” gent’s expression…

The three principals

On our recent trip to the Balkans, by far one of our favorite stops was the little walled town of Korćula in Croatia. Good food, friendly people, and some wonderful cultural sights — for instance, the ancient sword dance known as the Moreška.

The story behind the dance is timeless — there are good guys, and bad guys, and a young maiden caught in the middle.  In this case, the good guys are the White King and his troops (once symbolic of Christians, later representing the Turks), and the bad guys are the Black King and his supporters (who have always represented the Moors).

The three principals

In this scene, you see the White King (Osman, dressed in red) and the Black King (Moro) facing off — with the maiden Bula trying to stop the fighting.  Bula is the white king’s fiancee, and the black king has kidnapped her, leading to a series of battles finally culminating in the white king’s victory and Bula’s happy return to her love.

The dance has roots dating back to conflict between Christians and Muslims in medieval Spain, and quickly spread throughout the Mediterranean.  For centuries, many towns staged their own version of the Moreška — but usually just once every few years, and then on the given town’s patronal feast day.  Over the years, the tradition disappeared from town after town until now, only Korćula stages it with any regularity.  But the good news for visitors is that the town stages the dance every week, year ’round (and twice a week during the summer).  The performers are all natives of Korćula, some with long and proud family histories of participation.

Should you ever get a chance to watch the show in person, I’ve got some tips for you:

  1. Don’t use a flash
  2. Sit in the seats opposite to the musicians, preferably on the center aisle, definitely near the front
  3. Be prepared for low-light photography — I took this shot at 1/80 sec. to freeze any motion, which meant ISO 4000 and f/2.8