Dia de Los Muertos – Santa Maria Atzompa

Sitting

From Wikipedia:

Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration takes place on October 31, November 1 and November 2, in connection with the Christian triduum of Hallowmas: All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called ofrendas honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. They also leave possessions of the deceased.

I had the honor of visiting several cemeteries in the towns surrounding Oaxaca City for Dia de Los Muertos this year. These images were from the town of Santa Maria Atzompa on October 31st, though we witnessed similar sights in Xoxocotlan and San Filipe del Agua. The cemeteries were overwhelming and the task of capturing the the scene and their mood was daunting.They were both solemn and festive, traditional and modern, quite and loud all at the same time. Street festival took place just outside the gates and there was plenty of mescal being poured. At one point I found myself in a dose-doe with a drunken man in a cowboy hat, as we tried to pass on the narrow paths between the grave sites.

It has been a few weeks since my visit and the distance has only served to strengthen my memories as I look back on these scenes. The cemeteries glow with candles and the air is filled with the potent smell of wild marigolds (cempazutchil) accented with bright red cockcomb (terciopelos). It is visually overwhelming and surreal.

On a photographic note, it is maddeningly difficult to print these images. It is hard enough printing night images, but these images have an additional challenge. The natural shade of the bright orange marigold and the magenta of the red cockscomb are “out of gamut” color on most printers. I am still working through finding a solution.

In a Line

Hortencia

Life Story

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Just another local Sunset

Sunset
Sunset by I Nancy, on Flickr

The yucca’s are in bloom in our local hills and I took the opportunity about a week ago to do a little after work hiking and yucca hunting. There are advantages to the longer days to go along with the disadvantage of having to get up way early to catch a sunrise. As the sun began to lower in the sky, my friend and I realized that we might be in for a really nice sunset. We were close to a trail that takes you to this nice sunset view. We rushed up the hill, quickly changed lenses, and started shooting as the sun went down. Although I took about 10 shots, you could literally see the sun disappearing, this was the first one and the best balance of sun and hills and light and space.

Just Weeds

Just Weeds, originally uploaded by I Nancy.

The cool spring this year has been keeping the wildflower active and alive. This from an outing to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve outside of Lancaster California. You would not believe the acres of bright orange poppies. Not only at the Reserve but also leading in and out.

Seeing all the poppies I was thinking that I wanted to showcase some of the other wildflowers with the poppies as their backdrop. These little purple flowers are just the blooms of a weed which seed into these little twisty stickers. I remember playing with these as a kid. They are very common. Here they get first billing with a nice contrast of orange and purple. I also really like the hints of in focus poppies on the left side of the image.

I’ll be posting more from the Poppy Reserve.

California Poppies and Guest

California Poppies and Guest

California Poppies and Guest, originally uploaded by I Nancy.

Today I took my day off to head to the Conejo Valley Botanic Garden at 8am to see what I could see. I met one of the garden volunteers and she was telling me about different things blooming in the garden. When we turned the corner I saw the field of poppies. I’m quite sure that she was probably disappointed at my excitement. Although this is the state flower, and they bloom only during a short time in spring, they are quite common. She had hoped I would be more interested in the exotics. She didn’t know that I was looking for layers and textures and ended up shooting mostly what she might consider “the weeds”. Never-the-less, I am quite happy with my poppies for this year.

I’ve been experimenting practicing with different layers of focus. Been getting some interesting shots. I use a friend, who has a very classical eye, to judge how I am doing. He hasn’t liked many, but this one caught his attention.