Category Archives: Mexico

Day Of the Dead By Candlelight

Christmas and Thanksgiving are long gone, Valentine’s Day is history, and Easter is just around the corner. Even so, I still have one more set of images I’d like to show of the Day of the Dead in Oaxaca, Mexico. These are all scenes from a number of the cemeteries that we visited around Oaxaca over several evenings. And no, the image of the band playing is not in here by mistake. Although the gatherings around the graves of loved-ones were somewhat solemn and personal family affairs, it was not a sad occasion and was, overall, more of a celebration of life and family. Hence, the band playing out over a crowded cemetery at 1 in the morning.

On the technical side, all of these images were taken hand-held. You’ll notice the high ISO in most of them, a testament to the low-light capabilities of the Canon 6D. There was noise, of course, which varied from image to image but this was easy to clean up in Lightroom or with Nik Define2. The final images lost a bit of sharpness due to the noise reduction and probably wouldn’t be appropriate for large printing but they are adequate for web and small prints.

Xoxocotlan, Mexico - Canon 6D, 24-70 mm f/2.8L @ 48mm, f/3.2, ISO 4000, 1/60s

Xoxocotlan, Mexico – Canon 6D, 24-70 mm f/2.8L @ 48mm, f/3.2, ISO 4000, 1/60s

Santa María Atzompa, Mexico - Canon 6D, 24-70 mm f/2.8L @ 70mm, f/2.8, ISO 5000, 1/60s

Santa María Atzompa, Mexico – Canon 6D, 24-70 mm f/2.8L @ 70mm, f/2.8, ISO 5000, 1/60s

Panteon General, Oaxaca, Mexico - Canon 6D, 24-70 mm f/2.8L @ 70mm, f/2.8, ISO 10000, 1/60s

Panteon General, Oaxaca, Mexico – Canon 6D, 24-70 mm f/2.8L @ 70mm, f/2.8, ISO 10000, 1/60s

Santa María Atzompa, Mexico - Canon 6D, 24-70 mm f/2.8L @ 70mm, f/3.2, ISO 1250, 1/60s

Santa María Atzompa, Mexico – Canon 6D, 24-70 mm f/2.8L @ 70mm, f/3.2, ISO 1250, 1/60s

Xoxocotlan, Mexico - Canon 6D, 24-70 mm f/2.8L @ 60mm, f/2.8, ISO 12800, 1/60s

Xoxocotlan, Mexico – Canon 6D, 24-70 mm f/2.8L @ 60mm, f/2.8, ISO 12800, 1/60s

Santa María Atzompa, Mexico - Canon 6D, 24-70 mm f/2.8L @ 70mm, f/3.2, ISO 6400, 1/60s

Santa María Atzompa, Mexico – Canon 6D, 24-70 mm f/2.8L @ 70mm, f/3.2, ISO 6400, 1/60s

Santa María Atzompa, Mexico - Canon 6D, 24-70 mm f/2.8L @ 54mm, f/3.2, ISO 12800, 1/60s

Santa María Atzompa, Mexico – Canon 6D, 24-70 mm f/2.8L @ 54mm, f/3.2, ISO 12800, 1/60s

Santa María Atzompa, Mexico - Canon 6D, 24-70 mm f/2.8L @ 70mm, f/2.8, ISO 8000, 1/60s

Santa María Atzompa, Mexico – Canon 6D, 24-70 mm f/2.8L @ 70mm, f/2.8, ISO 8000, 1/60s

Also posted in Cultural, Travel Tagged , , , |

Backstreets of Mexico

As I’ve written about in several previous posts, last October/November I traveled down to Oaxaca, Mexico, with Within the Frame to photograph the Day of the Dead festival. Festivals typically involve a number of relatively short periods of frivolity and excitement interspersed with long periods of nothing much happening. For our group, a good portion of this down time was spent simply walking around, alone or as small groups, exploring and photographing backstreets and neighborhoods of Oaxaca and nearby communities (not to mention plenty of eating and drinking). Festival pictures are often fun and dramatic, full of color and movement with people dancing and revelers in fantastic costume. There’s certainly nothing wrong with photographs of this but as images that are representative of a place, they can be a bit misleading. Festivals are only a very small part of a culture or a place. That’s why, for me, it’s the images of everyday life in a community that are often more interesting and compelling.

At the Corner Market

At the Corner Market – Canon 6D, 38 mm, 1/60 sec @ f/2.8, ISO 2500

Villa de Zaachila

Villa de Zaachila – Canon 6D, 70 mm, 1/250 sec @ f/4.5, ISO 100

Unknown backstreet

Unknown backstreet – Canon 6D, 24 mm, 1/1000 sec @ f/2.8, ISO 100

Villa de Zaachila

Villa de Zaachila – Canon 6D, 32 mm, 1/400 sec @ f/4.0, ISO 100

San Pablo Villa de Mitla

San Pablo Villa de Mitla – Canon 6D, 24 mm, 1/500 mm @ f/4.0, ISO 100

Villa de Zaachila

Villa de Zaachila – Canon 6D, 70 mm, 1/500 sec @ f/4.0, ISO 100

Also posted in Cultural, Travel Tagged , , , |

In the Streets of Oaxaca

One of the fun and exciting things to take place in Oaxaca, Mexico, during Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is the seemingly random street parades that appear and wind their way through the town center. Various groups – from school children decked out in elaborate costumes and make-up to wedding parties with dancers in traditional dress and paper-mâché caricatures of the bride and groom – march through the streets and around the Zocalo (town square), typically accompanied by a loud and energetic brass band. Occasionally the paths of different groups will cross at an intersection, the participants intermingling for a brief moment in time before continuing on their separate ways.

I still have calendars available with the proceeds going to support relief efforts for the super-Typhoon Haiyan that struck the Philippines last month causing horrendous devastation and destruction. Rebuilding of lives and communities will be going on for quite some time from this disaster. Your support for my efforts to raise funds would be greatly appreciated and would be a great way to spread the holiday spirit.

Caricature of the bride - Oaxaca, Mexico

Caricature of the bride – Oaxaca, Mexico

Standing tall - Oaxaca, Mexico

Standing tall – Oaxaca, Mexico

Street dancers - Oaxaca, Mexico

Street dancers – Oaxaca, Mexico

Zoiks, Zombie!! - Oaxaca, Mexico

Zoiks, Zombie!! – Oaxaca, Mexico

Marching band for the wedding - Oaxaca, Mexico

Marching band for the wedding – Oaxaca, Mexico

Also posted in Calendar, Cultural, Humanitarian, Photography Tagged , , , |

A Festival of Contrasts

In my previous post, I briefly mentioned some of the visual contrasts surrounding the Day of the Dead (Dia de Los Muertos) in Oaxaca, Mexico; how what one might generally consider to be a rather solemn occasion can also contain so much good-natured fun and frivolity. One of the best examples of this contrast was at the Panteon General, a large cemetery and mausoleum dramatically lit by thousands of candles set in wall niches, outside of which a small carnival was set up with food stalls, games, and kiddie rides. It’s probably safe to assume that a certain amount of gayety has always been a part of Dia de Los Muertos but, like many cultural events around the world, commercialism has begun to creep in. Still, it does make for some fun photos.

Carnival Fishing - Oaxaca, Mexico

Carnival Fishing – Oaxaca, Mexico

Only $10 - Oaxaca, Mexico

Only $10 – Oaxaca, Mexico

Pizza - Oaxaca, Mexico

Pizza – Oaxaca, Mexico

Treats - Oaxaca, Mexico

Treats – Oaxaca, Mexico

Watching over lost souls - Oaxaca, Mexico

Watching over lost souls – Oaxaca, Mexico

Speaking of commercialism of holidays, the Christmas shopping season is now upon us. How about giving the gift of photography this year? My 2014 wall calendar The Nature of the Abstract would make a fine gift for family and friends.

The Nature of the Abstract

Also posted in Cultural, Travel Tagged , , |

Graveside Contemplations

While Mexico’s Day of the Dead festival (Dia de Los Muertos) includes a significant amount of crazy costumes, parades, parties, and street revelry, the primary focus for many is the late-night gathering of families at the graveside of loved-ones to reflect on those that have passed on. These cemetery gatherings themselves are often an odd mix of frivolity and solemnity.

Although in a broad sense it could at times feel like a bit party walking through the large cemetery gatherings (at one cemetery there was a stage set up with a live band playing), at a more intimate level it could also feel rather intrusive. Although not intended to be an occasion of mourning, but rather a time of celebration, one couldn’t help feeling that you were walking through people’s private gatherings. Some families preferred to be left alone, but many were quite welcoming. If you took the time to at least give them a smile you generally received one in return, and possibly even conversation or mezcal.

Conditions for photography were difficult. It was quite dark with candlelight often being the only source of light. The intimacy of the occasion also required a high level of respect and courtesy (sadly ignored by some photographers). Most folks didn’t mind being photographed if you at least gave them a few moments of your time.

Remembrance - Oaxaca, Mexico

Remembrance – Oaxaca, Mexico

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