Friday, May 27, 2011

NOW showing in the desert: Saguaros in bloom...and on to Korea

May and June in the Sonoran desert: birds and blooms
(these guys are ubiquitous here, but you just gotta love their sky-blue eye-shadow, eh?)
Desert white-winged doves feast on the saguaro blooms during the day;
 bats pollinate them at night...

Each bloom (about the size of the palm of your hand) opens at night...
and by the end of the next day, they're spent...

...without blooms...

...and then with:

Even after living here for a few years now, I always find the interiors of cactus blooms to be surreal--
sinister hands, sea anemones, tentacular, arid echoes of fantastic corals...

Next week, I leave for Korea;
after eighteen years away,
I'll be spending about four weeks there,
in Seoul and also on the opposite coast, in the city of Sokcho,
at the foot of Seoraksan Mountain National Park...

No other country in history 
has modernized as rapidly as South Korea;
within one lifetime--my mother's--
from completely war-shattered
third-world ruins,
it has become the world's most Internet-connected society,
one of the world's largest computer, cellphone,
automobile and ship manufacturers;
was built by a South Korean company, Samsung.


Here's one of the last photos (scanned; taken by a cheap point-and-shoot camera)
 I took the last time I was in Seoul: of my last days there, in the fall of 1993--
new construction going up just behind
the grounds of Deoksugung palace,
(late XVI c.)

I can't wait to see what else is new...

With the ubiquity of wi-fi in South Korea,
 I hope to be posting while there...
'stay tuned'...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

hummingbird nest...back to Central America

We had an out of town visitor this weekend--so a visit to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum was a must. The timing was right--there were six different nests in the hummingbird aviary, and here's one of them:

...another de rigueur activity to introduce desert life--an evening walk in Sabino Canyon:

The out-of-town friend lives in Guatemala, which is, incidentally, where I got my first digital camera. I began learning to use it, walking around her hilltop neighborhood to the west of Guatemala City; this sunset view of the Volcán Agua was one of the first photos I took:

Her home in Guatemala was a home-away-from-home for us during the year we lived in Central America. When we got back to León, our Nicaraguan 'hometown,' 
I had fun taking pictures of the many colonial doorways in that hot, lowland, university town: favorite is this one:

I was running errands (that's my bike) and on the ride home a row of buildings caught my eye. I got off my bike, got my little camera out of my backpack to take a quick picture, and then when I turned around to continue on my way, I realized, ahh, THIS is the photo I want!

If you never stop and look, the unexpected will never grab your eye.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

...with an iPhone in St. Louis

Last week, I traveled to St. Louis for a conference. With storms in the mid-west, there were cancelled flights, so the itinerary turned into an all-day-long affair: Tucson to Dallas, then Dallas to Chicago, and finally Chicago to St. Louis, arriving late at night.

Since this was a work-trip with not much free time, I didn't bring my camera...I immediately regretted that decision the following morning when I looked out my hotel window, waking up to this view:
(...stitched together on my iPhone with the Autostitch App...)

RIGHT downtown!--with the celebrated 630-ft. high  Gateway Arch on the left, and the mid-19th century Old Courthouse on the right (site of the original Dred Scott court case)...

So, I did the best I could with my cellphone camera...

The scale of the monument, and the audacity of its slender construction--just awesome!
Paris has its Eiffel Tower, Seattle its Space Needle...
and in the middle of the Continent,
St. Louis is justifiably proud of its stainless steel gesture of pure mathetmatics...

looking up the south leg:

...and then after a four-minute claustrophobic ride in a retro-futuristic round bubble of the elevator-tram--think of peas traveling up a giant leaning pod--this is the view of the Arch's shadow, eastward over the Mississippi River:

...looking westward over the downtown core, flanked on its south by the baseball stadium, and on the north by its hockey area:
 (this is stitched together from five cell-phone photos)

...and, fun with vertigo: splicing together two shots for a 'straight-down' view
between the legs of the Arch:

(Math trivia: the Arch, instead of being a true parabola, is a catenary curve.)

I went up to my hotel's roof-deck--had to shoot through glass--but still, a fun phone-panorama, with the Mississippi River at muddy flood-stage:

...and a view from one of downtown's many plazas:

 ...and then inside the domed atrium in the center of the Courthouse--the color scheme seemed pretty 1980's to me, for a 1850's-era building:
 (again, stitched from 5 cellphone photos,
distorted, but I still like it...)

Pure form.