Category Archives: Photography

Mexico Travel Photography: Five Day Photo Challenge Editor’s Choice

Last week, I posted a Colors of Mexico photo challenge on Mexico Travel Photography, a Facebook group I moderate. We had 45 people take part. I didn’t count the total number submitted, but it was a 5-day challenge. We saw a lot of beautiful photographs of Mexico.

Geri Anderson. Oaxaca Zocalo.

Geri Anderson. Oaxaca Zocalo.

Mexico is where anything goes! Vibrant color is everywhere. The photographs in this post run the gamut from people, buildings, food, clothing, festivals, markets, street life, re-engineered cars that would have become junk in the USA, and then some. There are literal and figurative photos, abstract and impressionistic.

David Taylor.

David Taylor shared this photo of live dress-up dolls.

As this blog’s writer/editor, I took the liberty of selecting photos to post here that I thought were especially dramatic for the choice of color (or not).

Mary Anne Huff Shaw. Quinceanera dresses, Mexico City.

Mary Anne Huff Shaw. Quinceanera dresses, Mexico City.

As editor, I also took some artistic license to crop the original photos submitted on Facebook and do some photo editing enhancements. I used my judgment in this process. Why?

Day 5, Mexico Colors Photo Challenge. "Day of the Dead" celebration in Zinacantán, Chiapas. (In tzotzil language is called "Sk`in Ch`olelai")., Ana Paula Fuentes

Ana Paula Fuentes. Day of the Dead, Zinacantán, Chiapas. “Sk`in Ch`olelai”in Tzotzil.

Sometimes the subject of a photo reveals itself by getting in closer. Cropping is all an experiment and depends on each person’s preference. Some people are afraid of doing this, but you can always revert to the original. Nothing lost by trying. If I altered your photo and you don’t like it, please forgive me!

Miles De Coster. Oaxaca chickens.

Miles De Coster. Oaxaca chickens.

For example, I didn’t crop this chicken in the market photo that Miles took. It’s so close you can see the pin hairs.

Donna Howard. Mexico provides so many opportunities for photography.

Donna Howard. Mexico provides so many opportunities for photography.

And, I bet Donna got right up to this young boy judging by his expression. Zoom. Zoom.

Please share this post!

Mary Stelletello. Amaranth harvest.

Mary Stelletello. Amaranth harvest.

This is exactly as Mary shot this picture. I confess I bumped up the color a bit. Such a beautiful Mexican landscape. They are growing healthy food, here.

Kathy Maher Fritz. Ceviche at Rocio, Punta Mita. My mouth waters just looking at this!

Kathy Maher Fritz. Ceviche at Rocio, Punta Mita. My mouth waters just looking at this!

I got in closer on Kathy’s photo so we could see the juice of that orange slice, and yes, says Kathy, the mouth-watering ceviche. Thank you. What’s for dinner? Anyone have a good recipe?

Hollie Taylor Novak. Nobody loves funky, rusty, interesting old junky cars like I do. Its what makes Mexico so charming. I see Texture, Color, Rust, all things I love. Getting all the use you can out of the objects in your life and being resourceful is worthy in my book.

Hollie Taylor Novak. Funky, Rusty, Junky.

Hollie says, “Nobody loves funky, rusty, interesting old junky cars like I do. It’s what makes Mexico so charming. I see Texture, Color, Rust, all things I love. Getting all the use you can out of the objects in your life and being resourceful is worthy in my book.”

Shannon Pixley Sheppard, Flor de Piña dancers at the Guelaguetza desfile in Oaxaca.

Shannon Pixley Sheppard, Flor de Piña dancers, Guelaguetza desfile in Oaxaca.

A Oaxaca desfile is a joyous parade. We have them here all the time, and it’s wonderful. Shannon got up close to get the intricate embroidery on the dresses. It’s what Oaxaca is known for. Don’t stay away!

Diane Hobbs. CIMMYT- Centro International de Mejoramiento de Maiz y Trigo, Texcoco, 2014

Diane Hobbs. CIMMYT- Centro International de Mejoramiento de Maiz y Trigo, Texcoco, 2014

I wrote to Diane that this looks like a Luis Barragan design. Intense primary colors. Gorgeous. I didn’t touch this one. Love how the right angles contrast with the round trees. Ah, Mexico.

Lanita Busher. Semana Santa, Oaxaca 2012.

Lanita Busher. Semana Santa, Oaxaca 2012.

The subject is holding a bull that spits fireworks. It’s a traditional part of Oaxaca celebrations. We see these at Christmas, especially. Not for the faint of heart, but dazzling.

Nena Creasy. Museo Textile de Oaxaca, dyeing with indigo.

Nena Creasy. Museo Textile de Oaxaca, dyeing with indigo.

Ok, I did a big crop on this one to get our eyes focused on the glorious indigo dyed cloth at Oaxaca’s textile museum, and that amazing red-orange wall in the background. Love that splatter of indigo blue on the floor tiles.

Pauline Hastings. Colourful stairway on Isla Mujeres

Pauline Hastings. Colourful stairway on Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo

Gad, do you think Mexico could be any more colorful than this? Not likely!

Please share this post!

Omar Chavez Santiago. Calle Alcala, Afternoon in Oaxaca.

Omar Chavez Santiago. Calle Alcala, Afternoon in Oaxaca.

Omar Chavez Santiago sent this one in on the last day of the Challenge. We all loved the sky! Omar is age 22 and is graduating from university this December. He has an eye!

Moises Garcia Guzman y de Mendoza. Aprons in the Tlacolula Market... // Mandiles en el Mercado de Tlacoula.

Moises Garcia Guzman y de Mendoza. Aprons in the Tlacolula Market… // Mandiles en el Mercado de Tlacoula.

And, Moises sent us this one of the ubiquitous embroidered apron worn by all traditional Zapotec women who live in the Tlacolula valley. And, where do you buy these? Why at the Sunday Tlacolula market, of course! I enhanced the color and did a crop so you could see the embroidery detail.

Karen Otter. Colors of Mexico.

Karen Otter. Colors of Mexico.

Karen sent us this terrific masked man whose garments are covered in bells!

Don Hughes. Colors of Mexico Photo Challenge - Hualulco

Don Hughes. Colors of Mexico Photo Challenge – Huatulco

Good enough to eat. I bet it was tasty, fish head and all. I cropped in closer. Such a great color. Wonder what the seasoning was? Squash? Carrots? Huatulco is Oaxaca’s beach resort. Flights go there direct from the USA.

Betsy McNair. I have no idea where this was taken.

Betsy McNair. She says, “I have no idea where this was taken.”

Old here is very beautiful. The textures and layers are a sight to capture. Thanks, Betsy.

Claudia Brewer Michel. How to make the colors of Mexico. Studio of Jacabo Angeles, San Martin Tilcajete.

Claudia Brewer Michel.  Studio of Jacobo & Maria Angeles, San Martin Tilcajete.

Claudia says, “This is how to make the colors of Mexico.” At alebrije carver-painter Jacobo and Maria Angeles‘ studio, visitors see how natural pigments color carved animals. I cropped to get in closer to the hands. A slimy, beautiful mess.

Rene Cabrera Arroyo. Chiles en Nogada from Puebla.

Rene Cabrera Arroyo. Chiles en Nogada from Puebla.

This is the season for Chiles en Nogada, the traditional dish that celebrates Mexico’s Independence from Spain. Red, white and green! Eat it through September.

Melanie Schulze. Oaxaca, near Parque El Llano.

Melanie Schulze. Oaxaca, near Parque El Llano.

Another take on fish, this time a graphic adorning a wall. Peeling paper and paint. Such great texture. I bumped up the yellow and contrast.

Araceli Gonzalez Carrasco. Tanivet, Tlacolula.

Araceli Gonzalez Carrasco. Tanivet, Tlacolula.

Sunset in the Tlacolula valley. Such a beautiful silhouette. Thanks, Araceli.

Please share this post!

Nick Hamblen. Colors of Mexico.

Nick Hamblen. Colors of Mexico.

Nick sent this one among several over the week. I loved the shadows, the rust, and the color contrasts. I couldn’t decide between this one and the Mexico City subway scene. It was the blue that did it.

Gail Schacter. Day 2, Colors of Mexico.

Gail Schacter. Day 2, Colors of Mexico.

Gail sent us this one on Day 2 of the challenge. I cropped in to get us closer to the faces of the children, and highlighted the color. Wanna red lollipop?

Bob Ward.

Bob Ward.

Maybe Bob will tell us where he took this photo. It’s the stippled walls that really pop along with those beaten down doors that might have a few more years left in them. What stories these buildings could tell if they talked.

Please take a look at Mexico Travel Photography Facebook Group to see the work that everyone submitted. We’ll do another challenge soon. If you aren’t yet a member, please join. Most of us are amateurs who just love to take photographs of Mexico, her places and people.

Thanks for reading and following!

Norma

How to Correct the Image and Crop a Photo: Download your photo. For simplicity, take a Facebook photo and download it. I use a MacBook so I click on the download and it opens in Preview.

Image Correction: You then use your cursor to open Tools on the Toolbar above. Click on Adjust Color. A screen pops up. Use your cursor to slide the levers to change exposure, contrast, shadow, highlights, saturation, and sharpening.

To Crop, put your cursor on the photo and click the touch pad. A square will come up that you can adjust to decide the area you want to cut. It’s all an experiment and you won’t ruin anything. You can always revert to the original and start over!

 

 

Mexico Travel Photography Photo Challenge: Colors of Mexico

Mexico Travel Photography is a group I moderate on Facebook. I’ve put out a photo challenge to post The Colors of Mexico for five days. Choose any colorful photos of Mexico you have and send them to the group page. You might have to join the group if you aren’t already a member. You’ll see some fantastic photos of Mexico already posted. Still time for catch up. Today is Day Two. Post two photos today and you’re in!

La Bandera de Mexico on a Frida Kahlo skirt.

La Bandera de Mexico on a Frida Kahlo-style interpretive skirt.

See a color analysis of Frida Kahlo paintings here.

 

Everyday Life in the Campo, Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico

Those of us who live here in Mexico probably do much the same things that you do every day. Food shop, clean house, exercise, visit friends, read, write, take naps, volunteer, etc. Most of the immigrants I know are retired and live here either part or full-time. We’re from Canada and the U.S.A. for the most part, but Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans are among us, too.

Oaxaca Red casita color. With Gar Bii Dauu. Local endangered succulent.

Oaxaca Red casita color. With Gar Bii Dauu. Local endangered succulent.

Living in Teotitlan del Valle is different from being a city dweller. This village of indigenous Zapotec people holds to a strong, powerful and ancient culture. Many work at weaving wool rugs. Some are musicians. Others are shopkeepers or run comedors. Some are bakers and butchers. A few sew clothing. Many are farmers. In times when there are fewer tourists, many weavers supplement their income by growing and harvesting food.

Plowing my neighbors corn field, a five-hour project

Plowing my neighbor’s corn field, five plus hours of labor

I live in the campo. Out beyond the hubbub of town, amid the traditional milpas of corn, beans and squash. I’m surrounded on three sides by maize fields. Some are tasseling now. Here, the tradition is to plow the furrows when the corn is waist-high to break the crust and allow rain to penetrate earth. This is living close to the soil. Organic. Honorable.

It’s rainy season. Green stretches for miles. Today I awakened to whistling. Out my window was a young man driving a team of bulls plowing the field next to the casita I live in.

Rene's Volkswagen van. Can you guess it's vintage?

Rene’s Volkswagen van. Can you guess it’s vintage?

I grew up in Los Angeles. Miles of freeways. Concrete. Tiny lots separated by six-foot block walls. School yards paved with asphalt. I remember scraped knees and elbows. The hum of car engines passing. We were all jammed together, a jam of humanity. Even more now. Gridlock. I think I’ve become a country girl.

The crop was planted in July. There wasn’t much rain in June and farmers worried about another year of drought. In my absence over the last five weeks, seems that weather has played catch up and everything is growing.

Two teams of bulls on two days, one white, the other black. Take a rest.

Two teams of bulls on two days, one white, the other black. Take a rest.

The young man plowing the field rents out his services. His two bulls are tethered with a hand-hewn yoke that supports a wood plow. He guides the curved stick deep into the earth with one hand to keep the furrow straight. In the other, he holds a switch that gently prods the animals to keep on the straight and narrow. Farm machinery cannot do this job well enough.

A perfect day for plowing the fields.

A perfect day for plowing the fields. From my living room window.

This is his second day at it. Both days, he started at eight in the morning, ended around two o-clock in the afternoon, just before lunch. People work hard here. Five plus hours plowing the field with no break in the heat of the day. The monotony of walking back and forth. The patience of walking back and forth.

Oaxaca Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat, March 2017

My friend, plumber and handy-man extraordinaire René asks me if I know what the greca (Greek key) symbol means that is woven on village rugs.  It’s the step-fret carved into the Mitla temple walls, I answer.

Grecas, Mitla archeological site

Grecas, Mitla archeological site, post-classical Monte Alban

Yes, and more, he says. The ancient Zapotecs believe the two interlocking hands that form the pre-Hispanic greca represent the serpent deity duality and the life-giving connection between earth and sky, water and fire.  

The transformation. Beige to red. Another symbol.

Rene executing the transformation. Beige to red. Symbol of change.

We are eating lunch and the thunder is rolling in. The sky darkens. Earth gives off the aroma of on-coming rain.  The just plowed field next door will soon drink its fill. René packs up his painting supplies. Paint does not do well with humidity.

Handwoven indigo rug with greca design

Handwoven indigo rug with greca design, Teotitlan del Valle

The exterior walls of the casita I live in are getting a makeover. The wasband liked beige. I’m in the mood for Oaxaca Red.

From rooftop terrace, a 360 degree view of Tlacolula valley

From rooftop terrace, a 360 degree view of Tlacolula valley

New Mexico Dry. After the Santa Fe Folk Art Market.

By Tuesday after the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market ended, most friends returned home or continued with travels. Market weekend was HOT, over 100 degrees fahrenheit with no rain, unusual for July when afternoon thunderstorms usually cool things off, they say. There’s no air conditioning here, my local friends remind me. Adobe, shade and water are the natural coolants.

Taos Pueblo, New MexicoThe high New Mexico desert is beautiful, austere, the color of salmon, sand, sage and terra-cotta. Only the cloudless blue sky, jagged mountains and cottonwood banking the rivers give relief to the landscape.

Beautiful pottery comes from this region

Beautiful pottery comes from this region

It is big country with expansive mesas and tumbleweed. Still the wild west with scattered oases.

Cemetery, Taos Pueblo, with adobe chapel

Cemetery, Taos Pueblo, with adobe chapel

I drive an hour and a half north across Native American pueblo land — Santa Clara, Tesuque, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso — climbing up through a mountain pass along the Rio Grande River Gorge to Taos to visit friends.

Native American Tiwa people live in the pueblo

Native American Tiwa people live in the pueblo

Beneath the mountain, under a cloudless sky, I see dust dancing in the distance, a funnel cloud likeness of Kokopelli blowing his flute.

Jerome Church, Taos Pueblo with Blue Altar

St. Jerome Church, Taos Pueblo with brilliant blue altar (no photos inside)

Despite the heat, it is easy to love it here, the mix of silver, turquoise, coral, casinos, fry bread, corn, indigenous pride and creativity, ripe nectarines and peaches — prolific local bounty. This is more than an enclave for opera and art aficionados.

Colors of New Mexico

Colors of New Mexico

The Taos Pueblo looks much like it did forty years ago when I first visited and felt drawn by the region’s history and her native peoples.

Taos Pueblo as it was

Taos Pueblo as it was

There are a few more tourist shops, but the pueblo is otherwise untouched except by bus loads of visitors who come in early morning to avoid the sun.

Tributary of the Rio Grande runs through the Taos Pueblo

Tributary of the Rio Grande runs through the Taos Pueblo

It’s not difficult to make the comparison between Mexico and New Mexico both visually and culturally. Spanish is a primary language here, and roots go deep into colonizer oppression and conversion (read about the 1680 Pueblo Revolt).

Three foot adobe walls, wood beams called vegas to hold up cedar ceilings

Three foot adobe walls, wood beams called vegas to hold up cedar ceilings

From history, we know that political boundaries do not define the origins of people (think Maya people of Chiapas, Mexico and Guatemala).

Handwoven blanket. The Spanish brought sheep and looms to New Mexico, too

Hand-woven blanket. The Spanish brought sheep and looms to New Mexico, too

Descendants of Mexican landholders subsumed into U.S. territory in 1853 with the Gadsden Purchase populate Nuevo Mexico.

Tiwa people of Taos Pueblo are known for drum-making

Tiwa people of Taos Pueblo are known for drum-making

Taos Pueblo is a UNESCO World Heritage site

Taos Pueblo is a UNESCO World Heritage site

Many of my New Mexico friends are equally at home in Oaxaca, and it is easy to see why.

Stockade fence, adobe wall, unresistable texture

Stockade fence, adobe wall, irresistible texture

Just like Oaxaca, I love the colors and textures here, the traditions of the native people, their art and creativity. The synergy between these two places is strong and as I drive through the country, I have this feeling of peace and deep history.

Hand-hewn logs provide sun shelter

Hand-hewn logs provide filtered shelter from the sun

At this moment, I’m in Huntington Beach, California, with my son Jacob. The ocean breezes bring chill to the air, even though days are warm. It’s great to be back in the land of my growing up and connect with family for more than a few days.

Turquoise doors, Taos Pueblo

Turquoise doors, Taos Pueblo

 

Oaxaca Tropical Fruit + Tomato Ginger Chutney Recipe: With Some Heat!

Tropical Fruit + Tomato Ginger Chutney atop Boulanc's walnut infused rye bread

Tropical Fruit + Tomato Ginger Chutney atop Boulanc’s walnut infused rye bread

I’ve been sequestered in my Teotitlan del Valle casita for some days now (without internet connection), more out of choice than anything. Best to hide from the heat of the day under the ceiling fan with a sewing or cooking project.

Saucepan with fruit and spices before taking the heat

Saucepan with fruit and spices before taking the heat

So, after a trip to the Tlacolula market on Sunday where I saw an overabundance of fresh mango and papaya piled to the rooftops, I had to have some.  Then, there were the tomatoes, everywhere.  Did you know that tomatoes are one of Mexico’s gifts to the world?

A full pot before the cooking begins!

A full pot as the cooking gets underway!

I went home and made up this recipe for a chutney jam that is great on toast or to accompany meat, poultry fish or top on steamed veggies and rice.

Lime juice and zest makes this recipe tangy sweet a la Oaxaca

Lime juice and zest makes this recipe tangy sweet a la Oaxaca

Ingredients:

  • 1 large, ripe mango, peeled and cubed (1/2″ cubes)
  • 1 small, ripe papaya, peeled, seeded, cubed (1/2″ cubes)
  • 1 small, ripe pineapple, peeled, cored and cubed (1/2″ cubes)
  • 8 plum tomatoes, peeled (score top, immerse in boiling water for 30 seconds until skin can be removed), and quartered
  • 2 medium white onions, peeled, julienne cut
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled, whole
  • 3 sticks cinnamon
  • 2 hot red peppers (see example)
  • 6 cubes of candied ginger, diced fine (can substitute candied kumquat)
  • juice of six small limes to equal 1/2 c. liquid
  • zest from 2 limes
  • 3 cups granulated natural cane sugar
I grow these peppers in a pot on my rooftop terrace. They add the heat!

I grow these peppers in a pot on my rooftop terrace. They add the heat! They are either Fresno or Serrano peppers. Not exactly sure!

Put all fruit and spices together into a six quart saucepan. Add lime juice and zest. Stir in sugar. Stir well. Put saucepan on a heat diffuser over low heat for temperature control and so bottom of pan doesn’t burn. Sugar and juices will dissolve together into a thin syrup with fruit floating around. Bring to simmer.

Note: Remove the peppers mid-way through the cooking process if you don’t like spicy.

Continue cooking on simmer, stirring frequently, until liquid reduces by 50% and thickens to a jam consistency. You can use a thermometer or test for doneness if liquid drops in thick globules from a metal spoon raised about 12″ above the sauce pan.

When it's done, it looks like this. Of course you can always sample for thickness.

When it’s done, it looks like this. Of course you can always sample for thickness.

We live at 6,000 feet altitude here in Oaxaca, so cooking takes time. The chutney jam was ready after about 2 hours on the burner. Patience here is a virtue!

The lowest flame on my stove. Note the heat diffuser.

The lowest flame on my stove. Note the heat diffuser.

Refrigerate to eat within the next week or two. Or, process for 10 minutes in canning jars in a water bath until the tops seal.

I'll freeze a small batch and eat the rest. Maybe you'll come for dinner?

I’ll freeze a small batch and eat the rest. Maybe you’ll come for dinner?

Tips: Last week I used cantaloupe and did not use tomatoes or pineapple. I also substituted kumquat for ginger. You could also add thin slices of oranges and lemons instead of the lime and use 1/4 c. vinegar. Muy sabroso!

Candied ginger, my stash from Pittsboro, North Carolina, used with consideration.

Candied ginger, my stash from Pittsboro, North Carolina, used with consideration.

I want to acknowledge two friends who gave me recipe inspiration:  Natalie Klein from South Bend, Indiana, and David Levin from Oaxaca and Toronto. Natalie is a friend of 40+ years who shared her tomato ginger chutney recipe with me and I have adapted it many times, even canning and selling it.

Close-up of the fruit and spice medley

Close-up of the fruit and spice medley

David (and friend Carol Lynne) returned from Southeast Asia a few months ago where they took cooking classes. David has made chutney ever since. He inspired me to try my own hand at the concoction.

Lime zest sits on pile of julienned white onions

Lime zest sits on pile of julienne white onions

More years ago than I care to count, I owned and operated a gourmet cookware shop, cooking school, and cafe. It’s in my DNA.