Leaving Lalibela

by John Downey

We toured the monolithic rock churches of Lalibela yesterday.  It was nothing short of amazing to witness these iconic centers of worship, carved out of single slabs of volcanic tuff.  Most are built into the ground and a labyrinth of disorienting tunnels can keep you below ground most of the tour.  Each church is manned by a sleepy chief priest, some of whom I recorded while they meditated in hoarse whispers.  Many slept between two-hour masses.  This image, which still requires some additional work in post to eliminate the ghosting around moving people (not visible in this small version), was processed as an HDR composite to compress the dark tones at the bottom of the church and the light values in the sky.

Returning to the hotel late afternoon, the sun set behind distant rugged mountains.  Many years ago, I shot an image of the Grand Canyon with a cheap 100mm lens on Fuji Velvia that compressed the peaks together, yielding varying hues of blue haze.  This orange version image reminded me of that.  Very cool.  I’d guestimate the furthest and haziest peak to be well beyond 100km away.  A 200mm lens and 2x extender (400mm total) flattened the peaks.

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