Two Little Girls, One Lamb

Of Course, I Would Tip These Girls for a Photo!

Of Course, I Would Tip These Girls for a Photo!

It started in Arequipa. From there to Puno and Cusco, I would run into pairs of girls in indigenous costume cradling either a baby lamb (most often) or a llama. In Cusco, there was an elderly grandmother with a llama. Each time, I was grateful to tip them 10 or 20 soles for a picture—knowing full well that I was being used. So what! It was an easy way for indigenous women and their daughters to make some easy money, and I didn’t mind. (The only people who minded were the women who were trying to sell their handicrafts to the tourists—but I bought from them, too!)

This bWoman in Chivay Had a Lamb and a Llama

This Woman in Chivay Had a Lamb and a Llama

Finally, here’s the old woman with the llama in Cusco. She was so sweet that she felt uncomfortable talking about money at all. I gave her 20 soles anyhow. She looked like she could use it:

Okay, Sio I’m a Big Chump

Okay, So I’m a Big Chump

I look at it this way: The Spanish Conquistadores ripped off the poor campesinos of Peru, stealing their labor, their lives, and what little they had for themselves. Do I feel ripped off? Not a bit!

Where in Arizona Is This?

Not What You Think....

Not What You Think….

Well, for starters, it’s not in Arizona. It kind of looks like a model of a geological formation, but it isn’t. What we have here is a crack in a piece of steel as magnified by an electron microscope. For an interesting look at other objects magnified to a factor of n, check out this website.


Mining the Comstock Lode

Timothy O’Sullivan Rare Photo of a Miner Near Virginia City

Timothy O’Sullivan Rare Photo of a Miner Near Virginia City

The above photograph is one of several taken by Timothy O’Sullivan over a hundred years ago giving rare views of the Old West. You can find a number of them at the Daily Mail website.

What I found interesting about the above photograph were the conditions under which it was taken. According to the caption:

Silver mining: Here photographer Timothy O’Sullivan documents the actvities of the Savage and the Gould and Curry mines in Virginia City, Nevada, in 1867 900ft underground, lit by an improvised flash—a burning magnesium wire, O’Sullivan photographed the miners in tunnels, shafts, and lifts. During the winter of 1867-68, in Virginia City, Nevada, he took the first underground mining pictures in America. Deep in mines where temperatures reached 130 degrees, O’Sullivan took pictures by the light of magnesium wire in difficult circumstances.

Another of my favorites is this view of Paiute Indians taken near Cottonwood Springs, Nevada (in Washoe County).

Paiute Indians in Nevada

Paiute Indians in Nevada

I recommend you view the website when you get a chance.


Downtown Ísafjörður in the Westfjords

Downtown Ísafjörður in the Westfjords

It took a while, but now I have all 1,017 photographs I took in Iceland (minus a few obvious nixies) available on Yahoo! Flickr. You can see them by clicking here.

Eventually, I will take the hundred or so best pictures, create title pictures and maps, and add a soundtrack. Then I’ll try to get some cloud space and store it there. At that point, I will let you know how to access it..

Every once in a while, you will see a dark vertical line at the right edge of the picture. That started happening when I accidentally dropped my camera on Austurstræti in Reykjavík. Now when I take a picture, the camera makes a funny noise and some, but not all, of the pictures have the dark line. Otherwise, they seem to be all right.


Iceland 2001: Jökulsárlón

The Glacial River Lagoon of Vatnajökull

The Glacial River Lagoon of Vatnajökull

About a week ago, I found my old Kodachrome slides of my 2001 trip to Iceland. I had them converted by Bel Air Camera in Westwood to JPEG format and copied onto a CD-ROM. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be interspersing my best Iceland 2001 pictures with my regular posts.

The above glacial lagoon is near the Southeast Corner of Iceland, between Höfn and Skaftafell. Iceland is called Iceland because that corner is occupied by Europe’s biggest and most deadly glacier, Vatnajökull. And that glacier is the first part of the island that comes into view when sailing aboard a Viking craft from Europe.

Beneath a heavy layer of glacial ice at Vatnajökull lies the volcano Grimsvötn.

Think of what happens when an active volcano that is covered by a glacier suddenly erupts. You have a phenomenon, unknown in the Continental United States, referred to by Icelanders as a Jökulhlaup, a sudden flood that forms from seemingly nowhere and rushes to the sea, destroying everything in its path. It is because of this phenomenon that Iceland did not have a permanent road connecting the Southeast of Iceland to the Southwest. The picture below shows the wreckage of a steel bridge not far from the lagoon above from the 1996 eruption of Grimsvötn:

Bridge Destroyed by 1996 Eruption of Grimsvötn

Ruins of Bridge Destroyed by 1996 Eruption of Grimsvötn

The lagoon of Jökulsárlón is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area. The calved pieces of the glacier are all shades of blue and white. It is possible to take an amphibious boat ride among the floating chunks of ice, which I plan to do next month. The bus from Reykjavík to Höfn (and back) stops there for about thirty minutes to let all the shutterbugs have a go at it.


Is This a face for the Ages?

Is This a Face for the Ages?

When I saw this picture on the MSNBC website (along with a bunch of other keepers), I knew I had to build a blog post around it. My temptation is to tie it to something political, but then I thought that, actually, another face might be more appropriate:

My Usual Response to American Politics

My Usual Response to American Politics

Or, when things get particularly bad:

This Is for When Things Get Really Alarming

This Is for When Things Get Really Alarming



Down Time

Hopewell Rocks, Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Canada

This will probably be my last post until the end of September: Martine and I will be heading out on vacation within a couple of days. As I do not own a notebook computer, and as I have qualms about taking something so heavy and so eminently stealable with me on a trip, if I post at all, it will be using whatever computers are available to me. Chances are that any posts I might make during the trip will be unaccompanied by photographs, especially if the computers do not permit me to use my thumb drive.

Not to worry, however: If the past is any predictor, I will return with somewhere between 500 and 1,000 digital photographs taken with my Nikon Coolpix S630. I’ve got the spare batteries and memory cards to flood Yahoo! Flickr with my work.

A quick review of my general destinations, in order: New Hampshire, Vermont, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Maine, and back to New Hampshire. We will be avoiding large cities—mainly because accommodations and food there are too expensive. The largest city along our route is Québec City. We will be staying across the river, a quick ferry ride away, in Lévis.

A Face In The Crowd

Identifying Faces from Google Picasa

As this has been a slow afternoon at work, I decided to try to identify my friends on the thousands of photographs I have stored on my second work computer. These are faces of people in Chinatown parades, Obon Carnival line dances at the West Los Angeles Buddhist Temple, military re-enactors, or just people in the background of many of my shots. They may be people who cut me off on the highway, served me lunch, speakers at the Los Angeles Times Book Festival, or what have you.

After one has been looking for a while, one keeps wondering whether the face is the face of a friend or acquaintance. Then I bring up the original photograph, and it’s just a tiny face in the background greatly enlarged by the mighty Google face recognition software.

Even so, I am surprised at how many faces I recognize of people I haven’t encountered for years. Have they dropped off the edge of the earth? Or have our paths simply diverged, as they frequently do, for reasons relating to geography, changing interests, or whatever other reason. Some of them represent friendships I will take up again. Perhaps some of the people I see most now will be somehow re-prioritized in life’s endless reshuffling of the deck.

None of the faces above are familiar to me, but several look as if they possibly could represent people I met once (and filed away in my mind as “do not make any special effort to remember”).

There is a term in demographics called cohort. The term refers to a group of people one is affiliated with at a particular time. For example, I belong to the cohort of Hungarian-Americans born in 1945 in Cleveland, Ohio. I also belong to the cohort of people who attended graduate school in film at UCLA but never attained their degree objective. There is also the cohort of people who regularly attend the Chinese New Year Parade on Hill Street every February, people who go to the Obon Festival, people who attend military re-enactments, or people who just read obscene numbers of books because they love to.

All the people in the thumbnails above intersected, however briefly, with my life at one time or another when I was sporting one of my digital cameras. Every one of those faces represents a different world which intersected mine.

How many faces will we see in our lifetimes? How many millions? How many people are wondering about my image as they edit their Uncategorized Picasa photos? Who knows? The answer is blowing in the wind.