Friday, November 30, 2012

Friendly Neighborhood Alligator

Here’s a shot taken with my Pentax ZX-30 loaded with Fujifilm’s Velvia 100. It was pretty dark in the swamp but I was able to brace the camera on a fence post thus stabilizing it for the slow shutter speed (1/15) necessary to get the properly exposed photo with the 70 to 300 zoom (zoomed in to 300mm) wide open at f5.8. It’s amazing how you can get great photos with extremely slow shutter speeds if you just take the time to brace your camera or better yet, use a tripod (mine was not with me this time).

Here is another photo taken with the same set up but zoomed out to only about 90mm and the lens wide open to about f4.5.

My guess is that I was probably about 50’ to 60’ away behind a hurricane fence taking these pictures. I was able to put the lens through the hole in the square mesh of the fence and wrap a couple fingers around a nearby post for extra stability.

A high res film scan would yield better resolution and the Velvia color balance is a little too warm for my taste but overall I’m very happy with the results.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Snacks for Eternity

Down here in South Louisiana funerals, cemeteries and graves hold a special attraction for us. It could be the Spanish - French culture or the Catholic influence but in any case things seem to be a little different here.  Thousands of family cemeteries dot the highways and bayous where families visit their lost loved ones and even have picnics and pseudo-family reunions, especially on All Saints Day. Priests visit the cemeteries to bless the graves and the visitors. Families cut the grass, pull the weeds, and paint the tombstones while the kids play and eat picnic lunches.

I don’t really know how the rest of the country deals with their cemeteries but I ran across another culture recently that adds an unusual twist to the usual cemetery rituals in South Louisiana. The photo above was taken during a recent trip to visit my wife’s parent’s graves.

This is a commercial cemetery so there are few family reunions or picnics here. There’s no need because this cemetery is pretty much in the center of town near homes and restaurants and the grave sites are maintained by the company that owns and operates the cemetery.

What they do have however is a very colorful Vietnamese population (if that is the proper word to use for the deceased inhabitants of the property) whose remaining loved ones provide “special attention” to the final resting places of their loved ones. It is rare not to see snacks, beverages and cigarettes left on the graves along with the customary flowers.

While all the graves have flowers it’s easy to tell the Vietnamese graves from other graves. As you can see in these photos it’s the one with the beer…

…the cigarettes…

…and other “special treats.”

All of the photos above were taken with my Pentax ZX-30 loaded with Fuji Velvia 100 film except the last one which was taken with a Fujifilm Finepix Real 3D W3 digital stereo camera (you should see it in 3-D).