The most-famous (if not quite the tallest) structure at the ancient Maya ruins of Palenque, it’s the Temple of the Inscriptions:
The House of Doves (A.K.A. Casa de las Palomas) in the Maya ruins of Uxmal has one face that tends to be shown in tourist brochures and online photos. This is the other (north) face:
When I last visited, the structure was getting a bit of touch-up work done (thus, the scaffolding you can faintly see in the left of this photo). I think it’s a very photogenic structure regardless — even on the less-pretty side and with scaffolding in full view.
A carving, seen near the top of the Great Pyramid in the ancient Maya ruins of Uxmal:
This little figure is part of the decoration on the Temple of the Warriors in the Maya ruins of Chichén Itzá, Mexico:
I’m not sure how tall he is, since he’s mounted at a significant height off the ground, and can’t be seen from up close — you need a reasonably long lens and some perspective correction software to get a shot like this. Still, if you look closely, you can see that the figure is emerging from the jaws of a feathered serpent, with most of the serpent’s details carved in bas-relief into the building’s stones.
Seen in the ancient Maya ruins of Cobá, Quintana Roo, Mexico:
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.
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.
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.
It took me considerably longer than I’d hoped — but A Photographer’s Guide to Palenque is now out and available for purchase! Â 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!
Probably one of the most-photographed sights at the ancient Maya ruins of Palenque, it’s the Palace’s 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. Â 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. Â 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. Â 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 myÂ “Photographer’s Guide” eBook forÂ the ruins at Palenque. Â Should hit the (metaphorical) streets by Wednesday. Â Stay tuned…
A panorama from the ancient Maya ruins of Uxmal, Mexico:
This shot is looking roughly southeast across the quadrangle — from the top steps of the quadrangle’s North Building. On the horizon, you can see the Governor’s Palace and the Great Pyramid.