Temple of the Frescoes (revisited)

It’s the Temple of the Frescoes, in the ancient Maya ruins of Tulum, Mexico:

Temple of the Frescoes

Compare it to a photo from my previous visit, and you can see there’s been an unfortunate addition during the past few years — bracing in a couple of the doorways over on the photo’s left.  Apparently, the structure’s developing some structural issues — hopefully they can be addressed without too much change to the building.

Out in front

Seen in the ancient Maya ruins of Calakmul, Mexico — five stelae at the foot of Structure II:

Out in front

Calakmul has no shortage of the vertical monuments called stelae, 117 at last count (the most of any site in the region).  Sadly, the local limestone is fairly soft, so most of them are eroded to the point where much of the once-rich detail has been lost to weathering.  But they can still make strong elements of a photographic composition if you’re careful with the lighting you’re working with.

Temple of the Cormorants

An angled shot of Building 2 (Temple of the Cormorants) at the ancient Maya ruins of Dzibanché in Quintana Roo, México:

Building 2 and steps

Dzibanché is an amazing little site to visit — it doesn’t get the press of the bigger sites (so there are never crowds), but it still has lots of interesting structures to see.

The Temple of the Cormorants is the site’s tallest structure, but sadly you can’t climb it.  Still, plenty to see from ground level.  This structure contains three burial chambers, one stacked atop the next in its core.  In the bottom one, archaeologists found the tomb of a member of the city’s elite, with a wealth of grave goods — including a polychrome vessel decorated with cormorants (giving the structure its modern name).

This shot’s taken from the northwest of the building — even from here you can see some of the structure’s many layers of construction, and you can just make out the stucco carvings under the sheltering roofs along the steps on its side.

Group D Ball Court, Cobá

Seen in the ancient Maya ruins of Cobá, Quintana Roo, Mexico:

Group D Ballcourt

The more I read about Maya sites, the more complex I find the ball courts to be — or at least, the myriad forms they often take. If you’re curious, this ball court was built in an older, somewhat classic form — the side walls are mostly sloped, and the ends of the court are open. To take in this scene, though, you’re standing with a modern structure to your back — a covering for some pieces of sculpture. This calls for a wide lens, and a stitched multi-image panorama on top of it.

Temple of the Sun

Temple of the Sun

In Palenque‘s Cross Group ruins, the Temple of the Sun is definitely the “cover girl” of the group’s three structures. This is a bit ironic since it’s the shortest of the three temples, as it was dedicated to the most minor of Palenque’s triad of patron deities. But for one reason or another, it has weathered the intervening years more gracefully than have its siblings. So, its relatively good condition makes it the most photogenic member of the group.

This image was made from the steps of the tallest group member, the Temple of the Cross.

The North Group

North Group

A compact string of five ruins, the North group sits at the north side of the cleared part of Palenque. You can walk around all of the group’s structures, but you can’t really get a good frontal shot of the five together due to a few pesky trees. I took this photo from the front steps of the Temple of the Count, probably the best vantage point if you want to photograph them together.

Photographer’s Guide to Palenque — now out on the streets

Palenque cover thumb

It took me considerably longer than I’d hoped — but A Photographer’s Guide to Palenque is now out and available for purchase!  It’s a brute of a guide book at 65 pages in length (if you printed it on regular 8.5″ x 11″ / A4 paper), has a dozen maps and one or two images for every structure open to visitors — a steal at $4.99.

And of course, don’t forget that a purchase also gains you access to a host of online material — an editable shot list, wallpaper for your computer or tablet, bigger maps than I can pack into an eBook, etc.

Go check it out!