Study in Sepia Photography at Monte Alban, Oaxaca, Mexico

We arrived at Monte Alban in the chill of an early summer morning still overcast with filtered light that bathed this monumental Zapotec archeological site.  Our photography workshop assignment this day was to capture texture and pattern, and to use both the sepia and black and white settings on our digital cameras.


Monte Alban is featured in Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History as one of the most important civilizations of Mesoamerica.

Stone was quarried and cut without the use of metal tools.  Horses were introduced by the Spaniards during the conquest, so these steep temples were all built by hand.  A foreman supervises the reconstruction of the observatory at the site.

Beads, clay reproductions of excavated figurines, rattles and drums are sold by local vendors who are licensed by the government to sell their wares.


In the museum, artefacts from archeological digs are on display including ancient pottery, remains of burial sites, and the original stone carvings depicting wars and warriors.

Under a tree at Monte Alban looking upward at a blue sky punctuated with puffy white clouds.  The hilltop landscape is dotted with agave and cactus.  Looking down into the Oaxaca valley one can understand the vantage point the Zapotec rulers had — a complete 360 degree view below.



6 responses to “Study in Sepia Photography at Monte Alban, Oaxaca, Mexico

  1. beautiful sepia photography!

  2. Norma–your photographs of your time at Monte Alban are fabulous. I love the person in shadow with the textural stone in the front and the layers and layers of beads. It made me want to reach out and touch them. All of the photos and descriptions were so descriptive and really showed what the area looks like. I really enjoyed. Thank you.

  3. Lovely photos. I have visited monte alban several times, and I usually try (and fail) for a grand overview in my photos. I like the idea of concentrating in detail and focusing on a specific aspect such as texture. Thank you.

    • Hi, Aimee. Yes, photography is so interesting because there are so many points of view and perspectives. That big, grand scene is often hard to capture, and the small, intimate details can tell the story of place, too. Thanks for noticing and commenting! -Norma

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