Waiting for the light to go out

So, with about half of North America, I plan on driving to the path of totality for the upcoming Total Solar Eclipse on August 21.  I was originally going to write up some tutorial information on this, but since so much of it is already available, I thought it best to primarily link to the sites I think are most helpful. Continue reading

Sugar Skull

A while back, I bought a used Olympus E-PM2 off eBay and had it converted to full-spectrum usage (i.e., I had the anti-IR filter removed from its sensor).  Add an IR filter to its lens, and you can get some interesting effects with the setup — so I took it up to the mountains to the Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships:

Sugar Skull

After split-toned processing, this is an infrared image of the “Dia de Muertos” snow sculpture, created by a team from Wisconsin.  This sculpture won the “Artists’ Choice” award this year, well-deserved if you ask me.  The level of detail that the sculptors could achieve with packed snow is impressive.

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 Korčula 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 Korčula 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 Korčula, 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

A different sort of last supper

The Denver Chalk Art Festival is always a colorful (if crowded) experience for photographers.  This year, it happened to coincide with the Denver Comic Con — so it was fitting that the Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design (RMCAD) contributed this work based on cartoon / sci-fi characters:

A different sort of last supper

One of the hallmarks of RMCAD art works is their use of reflectors to turn a curved artwork into something that is visually straight when seen from just the right angle.  If you look carefully, you can see the bottom edge of their reflector in the top third of the above image.

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