The legend of Halong Bay is that a celestial dragon defended ancient Vietnam by breathing fire on pirate invaders and spitting out hundreds of hot emerald stones into the north sea. The gems become islands which formed an impenetrable wall to other invaders.
Today Halong Bay protected from the sea but vulnerable to a daily invasion of tourists. It is a busy thoroughfare of sailing boats and day cruise ships. By day the bay is alive with the sights and sounds of 8200 visitors daily.
Select cruises offer overnight stays and in the late evenings and early morning it’s possible to experience the quiet solitude of the bay.
On this morning I was awake at dawn. The early morning light had just broken and the only sound was the gentle slap of water against the fisherman’s oar. It was a quiet awakening to a brand new day.
In the East there is an ancient man made reservoir called Srah Srang. It was built in the 10th century by the Khmer civilization in the kingdom of Angkor. For over a thousand years people have used this place for religious rituals, communal baths and water collection.
On this early morning, as dawn broke across a cloudy eastern sky, a lady collects water for another day.
In the West coast of Canada, the rain forests meet the Pacific and the sun sets in a blaze of glory.
A hoodie shrouded man walks along a jetty after bidding the day good bye.
Two worlds. One day. Twelve thousand kilometers apart. The sun rises and sets on both.
The High Line is an elevated pathway built on an old railway viaduct in west Manhattan. It’s described as a
“living system” drawing from multiple disciplines which include landscape architecture, urban design, and ecology. Since opening in 2009, the High Line has become an icon of contemporary landscape architecture.”
Along the 2.33 km walk are views of Manhattan’s urban landscapes. Towering skyscrapers, avant garde architecture, old and new buildings. Since it’s opening in 2009 real estate value for apartments abutting the park have climbed.
For $6 million dollars you can get a home ten meters away from a pathway sporting twenty thousand pedestrians a day. For even more, you can watch the pedestrians from your luxurious glass enclosed bathroom and bathtub. It is a room with a view. The question is, who’ll be viewing whom?
What do you do when you’re in New York City in the worst spring snow storm in a recent history? You go to the museum of course. You, Me and Fifty Thousand other people.
Like well muffled lemmings we line up at the MoMA, pay for tickets and shuffle off to line up again for coat check. We head off to the escalators where we shuffle through five floors of exhibits. Exquisite, gorgeous and beautiful art.
Somewhere on the second floor I remember what a uncultured noob I am. Oh I see the wonder of the famous Water Lillies and the brilliance of the Starry Night. I even get the genius of the color blocky Mondrians. I recognize the beauty and famous-ness of these pieces but I am not enthralled by them.
Instead I am drawn to the frames of scenes outside. Quiet and fleeting vistas of snow falling silently on brownstones across the city.
I learned a harsh lesson in portraiture this week: Digital is not the same as Print.
It’s a surprising realization that after four years of photography I’ve never actually printed my pictures. I’ve been satisfied with sharing them here, on Flickr and other social media. That changed when I committed to mailing prints back to the folks in Cuba.
But let’s rewind a bit.
The highlight of my recent trip was the opportunity to take pictures of people. I met members of the Chivirico community and with their gracious consent, took some wonderful portraits. As an additional bonus, on the last day our group had a full day model shoot with a troupe of professional dancers. It was an chance for composed shots with enthusiastic and ‘malleable’ subjects. As a gesture of appreciation I agreed to send printed pictures back to the community.
And here is where reality bites.
Portraits that looked perfectly fine on screen showed up harsh and unflattering in print. So many of these folks had been charming in person; I hated sending back ugly photos. I hastily adjusted the images, dialing back on clarity to soften the details and smoothe out natural skin imperfections. Softer, toned down images resulted with improved print quality. On screen the visual effect was almost as dramatic.
My lesson learned? For close up portraits, particularly those slated for print and people you’d rather not hate you, hold back on the clarity.
On the other hand, for my model pictures I allowed for more dramatic license. There were some pictures where I’d scaled back on the clarity, reprinted the image and then decided that I preferred the original.
For example this portrait of Graciano. I think the hard lights on his face adds a gritty edginess to the picture. It elevates it from being a nice shot to being an interesting one.