Really, what is the point of being dead if you don’t have stone figures mourning your passing in perpetuity? Ricoleta cemetery in Buenos Aires has them in spades, in varied poses and shades of grief. For the pre-deceased, I offer an instructive tour on what to get when you’re getting sad statuary.
You have the basic somber girl, eyes downcast. It is always a girl, as homophobia is a spectre that follows you to the grave, apparently.
For the more dramatically inclined, there is the crypt-top pose.
But why be so subtle? Let them know how truly sad they are at your passing with the Cadillac of mournful statues. Yes, a marble woman draped across your tomb will undoubtedly drive home the point that it sucks that you’re dead.
It occurs to me that cemetery photography is a bit like cat photography. In each case, there’s only so much variety in subject matter, yet some find each incredibly photogenic. Of course, the audience for cemetery pictures is many magnitudes smaller, but the principle is the same. And just as with cat pictures, many people roll their eyes at the gloomy, heavy, gothiness of this kind of photography. But critics be damned, I can’t help it; put me in a graveyard, and the pictures practically take themselves. So, if your enthusiasm for this series is flagging, my partner the Idiot Photographer will do her part to counterbalance this gloom with… gloom of the urbex variety, perhaps? On second thought, if you’re tired of gloom, perhaps this is not the blog for you. Maybe go see what’s on the Food Network? Anyway, here is another post in this series on Buenos Aires’ Ricoleta Cemetery.
Three views of the (mostly) narrow avenues which crisscross Ricoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires.
This weekend was a scouting trip, we did not get into many locations. Mostly it was hours of driving and listening to music followed by hours of driving around a location looking for a safe way in. Followed by a few hours of galumphing through tick-infested underbrush with the final result of two buildings explored. My final tick count was 11, Tabula Rasa on the other hand appears to be magically tick repellent. I hate him just a little bit because of this. However he has proven himself a true friend by being willing to pick one off my back that I couldn’t reach. Just another reason why you should never explore abandoned places alone; not only do you need someone to help should you fall through a floor or stair way, but timely removal of exoparasites can prevent diseases like Lyme, Rock Mountain Spotted Fever, Tularemia, and Erlichiosis.
Plans are in the making for a repeat visit at some point in the future, but first I have to figure out why I am hardly able to walk a mile before I feel faint. In the meantime I’m going to continue to look for places closer to home but my exploring schedule may be a little light until this issue gets figured out. This just means that you may get stuck with the occasional kitten photo (because I work with cats and it is kitten season) as well as whatever else may wander my way. I have a project lined up to do some portraiture in a Harley Modification Shop, and I’m also considering a project with some models in Gary (I would love to do another drag queen shoot there, I just need the queens!).
So we’ve just arrived home from our overnight trip to somewhere. I’m not going to give details on this one, so don’t ask too many questions. All I can say is this trip really took it out of me, and I’m not as healthy as I had thought I was. Also, we listened to the whole of Beethoven’s 9th symphony on the way home, and that was bliss.
I feel like we’ve earned a level up after this one.
Packing my gear, getting ready for an overnight trip to a location I’ve been wanting to visit for nearly a year now. Neither words nor photographs can capture the feeling of anxiety, fear, and excitement when preparing for a major trip like this. Tabula Rasa has much more eloquently expressed this in his introduction to Buenos Aries but the point is valid for both of us.
While we may only be crossing city, county or state lines on our trips the fact is that we’re going to a place that is generally off the map, at least to most people who respect “No trespassing” signs or have a healthy fear of the heavy metals, chemicals, dry rot, and fungus. So many things could possibly go wrong, including getting caught which is probably the least of our concerns given that hantavirus will probably just kill you outright and asbestosis will kill you painfully slowly. But there we are, snooping around the ruins of civilization with our cameras in hand observing the decay of humanity’s handiwork.
Tomorrow morning I drop my dog off with Tabula Rasa’s wife and leave a pound of cat food out for the felines which they will probably eat in about 10 minutes and then wonder why I don’t show that evening to refill the bowl. We’ll be back Monday evening, hopefully. Enjoy your weekend everyone, I know I’ll be having some sort of anxiety inducing fun.
Another shot from Buenos Aires’ cemetery of the rich and famous.
Memorial day weekend is fast approaching and Tabula Rasa and I spent a bit of time over a light lunch discussing what shenanigans we could fins find ourselves in on this slightly extended weekend. As part of our of scheming (OK, most of it) includes a couple of days of taking photos in a location we’ve never visited I realized that I’d have to bite the bullet and finally purchase a new lens.
So today I wandered over to the camera store I went knowing that there wasn’t much of a chance to find a used ultra-wide angle lens and walked away with a decent walk around lens that has good macro capability. Perhaps one day I’ll get a new ultra-wide angle but for now I will make do with what I have. In the meantime enjoy one of the last photos I took with my now deceased lens.
After yesterday’s long-winded introduction, today we’ll fast forward straight to the money shot.
As a special bonus, fell free to click here for an appropriate soundtrack for viewing this post.
I returned from Argentina a couple days ago with the hoped-for memory card bristling with raw material. Though I’ve spent the better part of Saturday evening and Sunday editing, I’ve barely scratched the surface. I’ve also had a chance to reflect, in conversation with the Idiot Photographer, on just what the hell I think I’m doing. So as a preamble to this series of posts on the Argentine capital, I’d like to throw out these musings to my fellow photographers out there to see if anything resonates. But let me start at the beginning.
I’m finding that photography and travel are inextricably linked in my mind. I would not be a very good studio photographer, and I’m not sure what I would do on a trip if I wasn’t shooting. That said, I don’t actually enjoy myself on these trips. While abroad (or in Detroit, Gary or wherever) I’m stressing about all the things you worry about in a foreign country: language barriers, finding my way around, not getting mugged or scammed, etc. I usually travel alone, so perhaps this aspect is more acute for me. I’m also anxious, because I need to get some good shots; if I don’t why I am even there? Of course I’m shooting the touristy stuff (would you go to Paris and not photograph the Eiffel Tower?) but I’m also trying to carve out some relatively fresh artistic ground, while keenly aware how silly it is for a non-native tourist who just drops into a city for five days to believe that he or she has captured anything of the true essence of the city. And so it is that these trips, particularly trips abroad, are mostly nerves, second guessings, and exhaustion.
First world problems, aren’t they?
But the story changes when I get back, and begin sifting through my shots. As I edit these pictures, I become proud of some of them, and in turn, my memory of the experience of those moments changes. Perhaps parenthood might be a good analogy here: parents are always proud of their children, though any given day of parenting, likely consisting of diapers, tantrums or adolescent surliness is unlikely to be rewarding in of itself. The rewards are cumulative, and beyond the quotidian trials of the experience itself. Of course, a parent probably won’t stop loving their child if they grow up to be a criminal. If I, on the other hand, was to return from a trip with nothing to show for it in the way of a good picture, I would have to ask myself, what the hell did I do all that for?
Well, that turned out a bit more like a plea for validation than I would’ve liked, but really, isn’t that kind of the point of a blog, or art in general?
With that out of the way, we can get back to Buenos Aires. Specifically, Ricoleta cemetery, where the rich and famous of Argentina have been interring their dead for nearly 200 years. It was an excuse to just go full Goth and milk these images for all the drama I could. Those with Goth allergies should moderate their visit to this site in the near future. In case of overdose, turn here for an antidote.
A quick P.S.- This shot was an attempt at image stacking. I was told tripods were not allowed in the cemetery, so the above is an attempt to stack in the dark sky from one exposure over the correctly exposed foreground. As the two images didn’t line up perfectly, and I’m still getting the hang of stacking, there’s a couple very obvious blurry spots where I fudged the overlay. I told IP I’d try, and post the results.I’m also a parent, and felt qualified making the parenting analogy. So there.
I never thought that my little hobby and blog would ever translate into a real life showing of my photos, but here we are. This July Tabula Rasa, Bent Bottle and I will be hanging 10 images each in the Art Gallery at the Oak Park Public Library for a month. Feel free to stop by and take a look.
Remember when the USSR collapsed?
Once again into the archives I’ve gone, to delete all the rejects and archive the rest. Currently I’m working my way through my photos from our trips to Arlington race track. I spent a lot of time down at the ring trying to get some good shots to show the personalities of the horses and this fellow had quite the expressive face. He was a little excited.
The rather esoteric title of this post is a reference to the Edward Gorey of the same name. The story (presented in a form similar to a graphic novel, with each paragraph illustrated with Gorey’s idiosyncratic drawings) details the process by which the protagonist, one Mr. Earbrass, writes a novel, the eponymous Unstrung Harp. While humorous, it presents the act of creation as neurotic, exhausting, self-alienating, and somewhat absurd. This particular story came to mind while I’ve been combing and recombing my recent pictures in order to find pictures that could make the cut for presentation here on The Idiot Photographer. Much like the fictional Mr. Earbrass, I’ve gone through exhilaration and zeal, periods of numbness, and have now reached a stage where most of the last month’s worth of photography seem alien to me. The thing in Harp, however, is that Earbrass is a successful author; he gets lost in the process of creation, but what emerges is apparently a good novel. I wish I could say the same for my own act of creation.
This, of course, is a result of not having been on a shoot in a while; I’m in need of fresh material to edit and agonize over. This will likely be my last post for the next ten days or so, as I leave for Buenos Aires Saturday. Hopefully I’ll return with several memory cards of decent material. Until then, here’s a shot of a tree attempting to escape a ruined apartment building.
For those interested in a neat write-up of The Unstrung Harp, I found this on WordPress.
A collapsed wall reveals a former bedroom. Gary, Indiana.
A mirror, miraculously not yet smashed by vandals, stands propped against the wall in an abandoned apartment building.