The Queen’s Bath, revisited

Along with all the amazing ruins, the ancient Maya site of Palenque also offers some really nice waterfalls not too far from the site center.  Dubbed the “Queen’s Bath,” it’s actually a series of waterfalls with terraces.  It can be a really amazing thing to see and photograph.

But can it ever change its appearance with the seasons.

Our most recent trip to Palenque was timed to fall just after the end of the wet season, in early December.  Enough water was flowing in the Otolum creek to give the Queen’s Bath some life:

The Queen's Bath

Note that this is a 1/13 second exposure, so you can see that you can get some nice blurring of the water without a tripod (note that you can’t use a tripod in the ruins without a permit requiring paperwork in advance, etc.).  At least, an exposure like this will work if your camera or lens offers image stabilization.

For comparison’s sake, here’s a shot taken from nearly the same spot two years earlier (but at the end of the dry season, in mid-May):

Queen's Bath (dry season)

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!

The Tower

Probably one of the most-photographed sights at the ancient Maya ruins of Palenque, it’s the Palace’s tower:

The Tower

On the days we visited Palenque, we had to deal with pretty persistent clouds — not a huge deal, if you have a few ways to handle them.  In this case, I used NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 to avoid losing the shadowed parts of the tower and get a little drama in the otherwise-featureless clouds.  It’s on the edge of looking “over-cooked,” but I think it works for this image.

The funny thing in retrospect is that in order to get this shot, I had to stand on what once were the Palace’s toilets.  Good thing they haven’t been used for a thousand years.

If you’re planning on travel to Palenque in the near future, I’m doing final edits to my “Photographer’s Guide” eBook for the ruins at Palenque.  Should hit the (metaphorical) streets by Wednesday.  Stay tuned…

The Aqua Azul waterfalls

The Aqua Azul waterfalls, uphill from the ancient Maya ruins of Palenque in Chiapas, Mexico:

Agua Azul Waterfalls

When we visited Palenque last year, we split the first day between the ruins and some nearby sights.  The Aqua Azul (blue water) waterfalls are a beautiful set of pools and cascades not too far uphill from the ruins along a twisty, winding road.  Great place to decompress!

BTW, sorry for the sporadic blog postings lately — I’ve been working to finish up the next “A Photographer’s Guide” eBook.  This one’s on the ruins at Palenque, and should hit the (metaphorical, electronic) streets in the next week.  But first, I need to finish up some editorial work on it…

Temple XII, Palenque

A.K.A. the Temple of the Skull, from the stucco carving of a rabbit’s skull at the base of one of the temple’s pillars.

Temple XII, Palenque

In the 1990s, archaeologists found a passageway leading from the temple to a burial chamber for a person of some importance (likely local royalty) and his attendants. This is one of the first structures you see when you enter the ruins of Palenque.