a20 February 2014

Chichen Itza - New Wonder of the World

Chichen Itza - huge market or beautiful ruins?

Pyramid of Chichen Itza - ruins of the Mayan city from around 5th century AD - was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007 (the other ones are eg. Roman Colosseum or Great Wall of China). Most of the people think that Chichen Itza is the biggest pyramid in the city. But in fact this pyramid is named differently - it's Temple of Kukulkan. Kukulkan himself, who was depicted as a feathered serpent, was a god who created the world according to Mayas' beliefs. I will write about the pyramid a bit more in future posts as it's very interesting on its own as Mayas mastered optical and sound illusions which they used to great extent when building this very temple.

Unfortunately there are some drawbacks of it being one of the seven wonders. With the title, came masses of tourists (around 1.2 million each year at the moment). And following them a lot of local vendors. Those Maya people (who are descendants of those who build the city) sell all sort of goods and souvenirs (like t-shirts, Mayan masks, calendars or some sort of whistle producing jaguar growling). Although I understand they make a living this way it's sad that they sell their goods inside the park (and not outside as you could expect). Wandering through Chichen Itza therefore resembles walking through a huge market where every single vendor sells exactly the same goods. You don't feel the spirit of the past that much there. And most of these goods aren't produced in Mexico at all. The guide which showed me around Chichen Itza mentioned that the park tries to fight with the vendors by kicking them outside... but they return every time. I wonder if it won't be possible to stop fighting and live in symbiosis instead. Why not to turn those vendors into artists, performers who would look and behave like ancient Mayas? This way the place would be free of rubbish and it would feel like in the past.

What's more it's not possible to shoot sunsets or sunrises there as the park opens quite late (a few hours sunrise) and closes rather early (4 PM if I recall correctly). That's why I was shooting it in the middle of the day (in fact it was around 3 PM so the light wasn't that terrible but still far from what I would like). And the tripods aren't allowed there to make it even more difficult for photographers. I tried to use tripod on the other ruins site in Mexico (Ek Balam) but I was told it's not allowed there. Reason I heard was "it's too professional". I only had Sony NEX-6 with me (expect the full review soon) so I wonder how they would react to me trying to use large 5D MK III with 70-300 L lens (which is quite huge and white what gives it this very professional look that seem to attract attention of guards all over the world...). I will probably never understand what's wrong in taking professional looking photos. If I upload them later on my blog and numerous social media isn't it free marketing that parks, museums and palaces get? Apparently they don't agree on my point of view unfortunately...

Daily photo - Ruins in Chichen Itza

In the high dynamic range photo below you will see some of the ruins that can be found in Chichen Itza. It's quite difficult to have tourists-free photo there as mentioned in the earlier paragraph but I somehow managed to do that although I needed to walk for a while, waiting patiently for a good moment. I took only 3 exposures here at 2 EV spacing. Additionally I used circular polarizing filter to boost colours saturation a little bit.
Ruins in Chichen Itza

Finally some EXIF information:
Technical details:
Camera: Sony NEX-6
Lens: Sony 10-18 f/4
Focal length: 16 mm
Aperture: f/7.1
Exposure time: 1/60 s ("middle" exposure)
ISO: 100
Number of exposures: 3
E.V. Step: 2.0
Flash used: no
Tripod: no
Filters: circular polarizing filter
Technique: HDR, tone-mapping, luminosity masks
Software: Photomatix Pro 5 (Contrast Optimizer), Lightroom 5.0, Photoshop CC, Topaz Clarity, Topaz Detail

Where was this photo taken:

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