This is an old photo, taken with my old rebel, in Sighisoara, Romania very early in the morning just before sunrise. Sighisoara is a beautiful little medieval town in Transylvania. It’s known as the birthplace of the real life Dracula, Vlad the Impaler.
I wish I could say I’ve named this photo after a great experience in Ristorante Barchetta, but I didn’t hop off the ferry in this village. It looks like a nice spot for a bite though, or an afternoon beer. From the ferry I saw this lady in the green dress on her phone, while the rest of the world rushed by her. I wondered if it was an important call or if she was just having a a chat. What do you think?
I uploaded a photo very similar to this one here. I don’t know why, but I wasn’t quite satisfied with it. I’m a lot happier with this version.
Lake Como is a really interesting place and I wish I’d been able to spend more time there. The lake is surrounded by towering mountains rising directly from the water’s surface. Villages are, therefore terraced up the slopes. I thought this one was particularly interesting. There was a dock at water level, but the village didn’t seem to start until quite high up the hill.
In the Snæfellsnes peninsula, where we took a detour on our way to the Westfjords, is a beautiful old fishing village called Stykkishólmur. We stopped off for lunch where I had the biggest mussels I’ve ever seen. They were delicious. Then, I wandered down to the harbor for a few photos before continuing on our way.
Failed trip into the Alps!
It seems like wherever I go, my first attempt to really strike out and take some photos failed. In Iceland it was trying to get to the most westerly point in Iceland, to photograph puffins, in one night. Today, it was an attempt to drive up a valley in the alps to see some snow-capped mountains. We set out too late, despite our careful sunset calculations and barely made it into the mountains as the sun began to drop. A great opportunity presented itself, a castle atop a hill lit beautifully by golden light but we couldn’t get off the highway to get down to it. By the time we came to an exit we decided we were too far along. By the next exit we decided to hop off and drive on the smaller roads so if any opportunities presented themselves we could actually stop. This meant guessing which roads to take. I guessed wrong and we began winding our way up a mountain with no easy way to turn around. Eventually, we got turned around and back down into the valley. By now the sun was on the verge of disappointing and panic had set in. We dashed back to the original castle. Trying to find a vantage point we parked in a town. Just as we were headed to a good view it was like a light switch had been flicked and the castle was blanketed by the shadows of the mountain. It was still a great drive, it’s just a bit disappointing coming back without a single photo!
Today’s Photo: Alice Bel Colle
My morning was much more successful. The hotel has a handy guide with a brief summary of all the surrounding towns. Alice Bel Colle caught my eye for its purpose built mound with a 360 degree view of the surrounding landscape. We rose early and made our way there. Once atop the mound we weren’t disappointed by the view, though the heavy cloud cover wasn’t ideal.
I spotted a rift in the clouds with a bit of pink light coming through and realized I could frame it up just behind this church. I shot 3 exposures at -2, 0 and +2 which was plenty to cover the range in the scene as the clouds dampened the light considerably.
I’m in the process of planning my trip to Iceland in June. I’ll be going for the summer solstice so will get to enjoy photographing sunsets that run right into sunrises through the night. I’ve also got a few interesting bits I’d like to do. The top of my list is snorkeling in the rift between the North American and European tectonic plates. Apparently, the water’s so clear you can look down for miles into the Earth and feel like you’re floating in space. I also need to photograph some puffins and want to go whale watching, as well as exploring some ice caves. There’s so much to do I wish I was going for longer. It’s going to be difficult coming up with a plan that won’t leave me totally exhausted. I’m not entirely sure when I’ll sleep. If anyone’s got any advice on Iceland let me know.
Fish Farm, Rwanda
When setting out on a hike through a few of Rwanda’s thousand hills it’s reasonable to expect to find something interesting around every corner. You encounter sights ranging from a young boy juggling a football made of plastic sheeting and twine, to two men using a long saw to split a log (with one man standing 8 feet in the air atop the trunk being cut), as well as the subject of today’s photo.
It’s somewhat startling to find this large, man-made pool of water in amongst the sugar cane, maize and potatoes. Initially, what it is ain’t exactly clear. Then, you notice concentric ripples forming on the surface as if the water was being disturbed by a light rain. It’s not raining so the only solution is that there must be something below. The guide confirms that it’s a fish farm and begins explaining how it works. It’s quite fascinating, particularly the purpose of the fence pictured below. I’m intrigued to see what people think it is for, so have a guess in the comments section. I’ll see what everyone comes up with then add the answer in a comment of my own if no-one guesses.
This photo employs 5 exposures bracketed from -2 to +2. I had shot 7 exposures but decided that the other two weren’t adding anything so decided not to include them.
Most people visit Gisenyi for the gorillas and a lot of people will trek up the volcano to see them twice. At $500 for a day permit we decided we’d only go once. As I’ve mentioned before, we made the most of it by going to the largest, and hardest to reach, group.
The next day we went on a much easier hike. We departed Gisenyi and walked along a well used path that links villages to the town. On the route we passed numerous little hamlets, crops, and fish farms. Along the way we stopped and traded a child a football for his homemade version – crafted from plastic and twine. Further along, there were grids etched into the baked ground and upon asking about them, we discovered they were used for a hopscotch type game. The children demonstrated this to us and then got a good laugh as we attempted it ourselves.
Our first official stop was in a village to see how the baskets photographed below are made. We’d seen a lot of these baskets across Africa in curio markets. They were all made of thread. These seem more authentic as they are made entirely from dried dyed grass. They work with long grass and bind it together with more grass as they spiral out from the middle. They thread the grass though a needle and push it through the thick bundle. We all gave it a try and concluded it was pretty difficult to push the needle through. I think Shannon was the only person with any luck. After this attempt, and chomping on some delicious sugar cane, we decided to play with our newly purchased homemade football. We had another real football with us, earmarked for the orphanage we visited later and the children in the village looked on inquisitively as we shunned the real football to kick the homemade one around.
I grabbed this photo on the way out. I’ve had a lot of difficulty processing it for some reason. I was combining three exposures from -2 to +2 but the results kept coming out grungy. So, I decided to try processing this image from a single raw with Photomatix. This result came out much cleaner but some of the photo was still under and overexposed. To fix this I layered all of the photos I had in Photoshop and masked in selected areas from the other exposures.
Normally I wouldn’t include people posing for a picture in one of my shots. But, as I mentioned in a previous post, taking photos of the kids in this village was great fun! Here you can see my travel companion Chris posing for a picture as Shannon teaches a couple of the kids how to use her camera. The sky was striking and I liked the opportunity to catch a picture of the kids having fun without actually having them pose for me!
This photo is only bracketed from -1 to +1. I had to shoot handheld because if I’d set up the tripod the kids would have flocked long before I was ready to take a shot. I also needed to use a small aperture to get the whole scene in focus. If I’d gone to +2 I never would have been able to get a sharp image.
We’d brought clothes to give as a gift and as thanks for allowing us to visit. We didn’t know that we were going to be visiting this village and had actually packed very light for the safari. It was a shame as Shannon had been carrying a lot of stuff to give away the whole trip (this eventually found a home in a Rwandan orphanage). Everyone managed to pull something out, including Soniko who offered up a brand new world cup rugby jersey. But, Soniko wanted to give this to someone personally and eventually gave it to the older kid in the blue sitting down in the middle of this picture. Being selected for Soniko’s prize possession made his day and he beamed a huge smile as he received the jersey.
On our way to visit this village we saw the mud bricks used to build this structure baking in the sun. We went inside one for a demonstration on how grain is ground into flour. They’re actually a very clever design. The wall around the perimeter does not meet the thatched roof allowing for the breeze to roll through. This cools the inside while allowing any smoke produced in cooking to be quickly ventilated. The doorway was tiny and involved a bit of a contortion to get through.