Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Santiago Nighttime Photo Safari

Since I (mostly) work from the depto. (apartment), barring any editorial emergencies that require in-person care, or any short-term spiriting aways to work on translations from the comfort of someone else's home, freezing cold and bleak days often find me in my casucha (small and poorly constructed house, and I'm being facetious) for most of the day. I might go to the gym, or take out the recycling, but I might just as easily stay bundled up and secreted away in my sixth-floor paradise, though two seventy-something women yesterday counseled me to get out there and party like a rockstar so to better meet my Romeo. But they also thought I was twenty, so what do they know? (truth, at seventy-something, much more than me!)

But sometimes, despite my best intentions to stay happily ensconced in the land of coffee then tea then herbal tea and then coffee again, I am sometimes called outside by things that just need to be photographed, and which I am powerless against.

Like for example, I accidentally went on this processional walk the other day, on the night of St. Peter and St. Paul. Hey, there was a giant religious statue (Jesus, I believe) on a litter (if he's standing, is it still a litter?), and a powerful sound system praying right below my window. I couldn't just let them slip away. So out I went, partially because I wanted to see and partially because I wanted to show you. And also because since I didn't grow up in a particularly religious country, and the only real exposure to somewhat alien religious practices was saying "Gut Shabbos" to the passing rebbe (rabbi) on Saturday mornings where I grew up in Brooklyn. So this outpouring of emotion and belief and little lit candles held in paper shades that reminded me of Chinese-food boxes really struck me.


I also hoofed it back in the rain to find out for a woman who'd poked her head outside the door if they were giving communion. I was told by one of the sisters of the order to tell her, "not to worry," meaning she didn't have to come out and get wet (and wade through throngs of people) to receive it. Everyone blessed me, everywhere I went. Depite the giant raindrops, it all felt very cozy.

But that's not the only thing I hear whispering "sáqueme una foto, aylincita." (Take my picture, leeny!)

When there isn't a loud and shuffly processional happening right outside your door, sometimes the light is fading over the mountains on one of those days I like to call "comp days." or días compensatorías This is what we get for suffering through days of pittaPATTApittaPATTAPATTA rain the soaks the streets, the religious devotees, everyone, in what is surely filthy and probably acid rain. After that, the sun comes up one day and shows that the snow line has fallen, so we can no longer see where there isn't any on the Andes, our splendid backdrop. In the words of a good friend (from back when we lived in Portland), "the mountains are out!"

And with any luck at all, the light is just right as the sun starts to drop in the sky and I run off to my sunset spot (which I share with a whole bunch of other people, some of whom where fumandose un pito (smoking a joint) when I was there yesterday, but I couldn't be bothered to care, because look at what I saw to the east.

to the east

And then, just minutes later, to the west (the coastal range, notice that even that's snow-topped).

to the west

With thanks to Nikon, my first ever non-auto focusing lens, everyone who ever challenged me to get over my fear of manual camera settings and my long-dead father, who would have come with me and shown me a thing or two.


Richard said...

Oh wow. Just wow. Those mountains are unbelievably beautiful. And you can see them from your city?!

(cries at the unfairness of it all)

Have you ever posted on the camera gear you are using? I would love to find out how you capture such amazing scenes. Unless you just happen to live in a place that is unspeakably beautiful at every turn. In which case I will just sit here grumbling for a while.

Katie said...

Lovely photos, Eileen. I especially like the one of the Andes - they look like they're glowing.

Fly Girl said...

What a lovely scene! Catholic rituals are quite dramatic. I was in Brazil at this time last year and participated in rituals for St. Peter and St. Joan.

Eileen said...

Richard, yeah, I can see that from my city. My apartment faces south, so if I look to the left I see the andes, and to the right, I see the coastal range. The tradeoff is that we're socked in with smog a lot of the year.

Re gear: nothing special. I shoot with a bottom-of-the-barrel DSLR, a Nikon D40x, which people make fun of. If ever you want to know what someone shoots with, or what settings they used (most people share this), click on the pic, and you'll go to flickr and you can see (click on more information, I think). I used a 50mm lens, which is the kind people used before zooms, etc. It has manual focus, and lets in a lot of light. It's the least expensive lens I have, by a long shot. I adjusted exposure and aperture until I got approximately what I wanted, and then I came home. Thanks for commenting on the photography. I still have a lot to learn, and am lucky enough to have such beautiful things all around me! Will you be taking lots of pics on your continental longverse? (instead of traverese).

Eileen said...

Katie, thanks! Got any beach pics to share? Or food ones?

and Flygirl, there are so many beautiful things participated in by religious folk. I will never understand why so many people harsh on Catholocism. It's not my religion, but I can appreciate how colorful it is (from the outside).

Still Life in South America said...

Yes, the mountains were out today! Bliss.

I love the procession pic. Well, all the pics really.

Margaret said...

I also love the religious processions in Chile... and next year make plans (promise yourself right now!) to go see the San Pedro/San Pablo processions on the coast! Just incredible!
And wow, although I'm glad I didn't have to go through all that cold and rain this past week, I'm envious of that mountain view! I know it won't last long!

Katie said...

Eileen, I always have photos to share. ;) My Flickr account is bursting at the seams. However, the most interesting photos I can offer at the moment are the vintage ones I highlighted in my most recent blog post. Come take a look if you have a moment.

Marisa said...

beautiful fotos. i love the idea of "comp days"... i lived in santiago for four months before i realized how close some of the mountains were to my apartment! (only after a week of acid rain of course..)