Sunday, February 23, 2020

Winter Sunshine Interlude, Part II: Old Town, Cartagena (Colombia 03)

Dear Readers, let's enjoy another sunshine update while some of you are stuck in snow, ice, and gloom. We will continue with some more frames from cheerful Cartagena, Colombia.
Cartagena, Colombia (from ArcGIS online)
Cartagena is a big city now, with condos along the shore, shipyards, port facilities, and traffic. But the old core, within and near the walls, is still an architectural gem. From Wikipedia,
"The historic center is surrounded by 11 kilometers of defensive walls. These were complemented by fortifications along the coast, making Cartagena a militarily impregnable city. The walls, made in several stages, were designed to protect the city from continual pirate attacks, with construction beginning in 1586." 
I remember reading that Charles the V kept looking west from his palace in Madrid with a spyglass. One of his courtiers asked him what he was looking for. Charles responded he wanted to see the walls at Cartagena de Indias because their construction had almost bankrupted his empire's treasury and they must be high enough to be visible. Hmmm, this may be a bit allegorical, but it is a good story, and the walls did cost the Spanish Crown a fortune (let alone the lives of hundreds or thousands of slaves used in the work).
Hanging around on Avenida Venezuela, Cartagena (Ektar 100 film, Yashica Electro 35CC camera)
Waiting for a shine, Avenida Venezuela, Cartagena
The streets just west of the walls are bustling day and night. Stores are full, people are all over, and traffic is dense.
I was surprised at the numbers of snack shops and mobile phone stores. The shops in the photos above are on Carrera 11 near the bridge that carries Avenida Pedro De Heredia over the canal (sort of grungy - needs serious dredging).
Sitting out under the trees on a hot afternoon - what could be better? (Well, maybe a nap by the pool?) (Fuji Acros film, Leica M2 camera)
Inside the old walled city, there are a few modern buildings, including some 20th century architectural messes, but most of the buildings are from the 1700s and 1800s. It reminded me a bit of New Orleans without the filth or Havana but better maintained.
Plenty of liquor and cigar stores to separate the tourist from his Dollars.
The colors are cheerful in a Caribbean way. Many of these old houses are now boutique hotels, restaurants, or art shops.
Pseudo-Communist kitsch seems to be popular. I noticed the same in downtown Athens. How odd. Even Vladimir Lenin is a capitalist today.
Now this is really good: the coffee Jeep! This vendor said the coffee came from his family's plantation somewhere inland. We learned that coffee planters imported many of these Willys Jeeps in the 1940s and 1950s to replace mules on steep hillside coffee plantations. They still use them because they are light weight and narrow, perfect for mountain tracks. Most of the modern play-trucklet SUVs sold to American suburbanites are too wide, soft, and weak for serious mountain work.
Now for some Leica black and while frames on the walls. This is serious selfie terrain! You see all sorts of people enjoying the scenery and making sure that their presence is recorded for all posterity.

In the future, I'll share more Colombia photographs. This is an interesting country with amazing topography and ecological diversity. Highly recommended!

Monday, February 17, 2020

Winter Sunshine Interlude: Getsemaní, Cartagena (Colombia 02)


Dear Readers, it is February while I write this. Many of you northern hemisphere readers are in the gloom and snow. What could be more cheerful than a few days in the sunshine? It does not get much more cheerful than Cartagena.

Cartagena is a port city on the northern coast of Colombia facing the Caribbean Sea. During the colonial era, it was known as Cartagena de Indias. It was founded in 1533, and therefore is one of the oldest European settlement cities in the western hemisphere. Today, it is a major seaport and a tourist center.

My previous stay in Cartagena was in 1981, when I drilled for the marine geotechnical company (another life). My wife and I decided it was time for another visit. Oh oh, now it is a big city. What happened to the empty beaches? Where did those condos come from? Where did the bumper-to-bumper traffic come from? Regardless, the old colonial city has been preserved, and there are no cheesy modern skyscrapers in the walled old town.
On the move, Calle 25 (Ektar 100 film, Yashica Electro 35CC camera)
Just waiting, Calle 25
Room with a view, Calle 25, from the Allure Chocolat hotel


We stayed at the Allure Chocolat in the Getsemaní district, at Calle del Arsenal Calle 24 # 8B-58. Nice place! It was a bit (OK, much) higher grade than the hotels I usually occupy. According to Wikipedia, "Once a district characterized by crime, Getsemani, just south of the ancient walled fortress, has become "Cartagena's hippest neighborhood and one of Latin America's newest hotspots", with plazas that were once the scene of drug dealing being reclaimed and old buildings being turned into boutique hotels."
Listening to the boom box, Calle 29
On Calle 29 (Kodak Ektar 100 film, Yashica Electro 35CC camera)
I suppose it is a hip neighborhood. Does the wall art prove that?
The Black Parrot at Carrera 10b - very trendy at night

In the picture, Calle 27 (Moto G5 digital file)

Calle 27
Statue of Pedro Romero, dedicated to the Lanceros de Getsemani, Plaza de la Trinidad, Getsemani 
Some parts of Getsemaní reminded me of Greek villages on the islands, kissed by the sun and with brilliant, pure colors. Or possibly think of Cuban vibe but with far better food and toilets. This area had a comfortable feel with no obvious security issues. I also took black and white film photographs, but here color rules.
The cheerful ladies at Café del Mural made me an excellent espresso. Pretty girls, coffee, excellent restaurants, the sun-baked Caribbean; what could be better for a January or February escape from the cold and a Trump-cursed USA?

Friday, February 7, 2020

Hasselblad Instruction Booklets - from the archives

Hasselblad 501CM with 50mm ƒ/4 Distagon CF lens and 45° viewfinder
Dear readers, I have been using this Hasselblad since 2017. It has been reliable and optically excellent. Obviously, I should have bought one decades ago (but I used Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex cameras instead). Over the years, I did collect a series of booklets prepared by the Hasselblad company that described techniques or types of photography that you could do with your Hasselblad camera. But obviously, you needed to buy the appropriate accessories or lenses! Hasselblad, like Leica, was a master of special fittings or accessories, all made with the most meticulous engineering and production quality - and serious price.

A historical note: Hasselblad cameras went to the moon. Special motorized models were equipped with big buttons that could be operated with gloves. The now-cherished color photographs of the earth rising above the moon's surface (earthrise) were on Ektachrome film.
Here are more earth-bound applications. The Eye - The Camera - The Image and Square Composition discussed the advantages of square frames (54×54mm on 120 or 220-size medium format film). As of 2020, Kodak, Ilford, Fuji, Foma, and possibly some other companies still sell 120-size film. Not bad for a 100-year-old format. So if you have a medium format camera, put it to use and go record your family and world. If it is time to graduate from digital, borrow or buy a medium format film camera.
Here are booklets on various techniques or special applications.
Here are some slightly larger-format booklets from 1986-1988.
I never saw a booklet on urban decay photography. Maybe I should offer to write one. Maybe they would send me one of their beautiful medium-format digital cameras in exchange.......