Meskel 2011

by John Downey

Last year, I had the privilege of witnessing the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Meskel ceremony first-hand.  The benefit of being here for a repeat was knowing where to be at the right time during the evening Demera or cross burning.  These images were made from a pedestrian overpass in Arada district of Addis Ababa.  Usually, I plan my photography in terms of which images will be black and white or in color.  For these however, it was a mixed bag. The scenes above and immediately below looked awful in color because of the mixed lighting between sodium street lamps, candles, fading twilight, and fluorescent glow from kiosks.  So the conversion to b/w worked well and ultimately, conveyed more movement.

For the last two images, color worked well because of only the orange-red glow of fire and sparks.  If the ceremony seems dangerous, it is.  Note how close the observers are to the four-meter Demera.

Ultimately, the cross topples and, depending on which direction, determines the fate of harvest season.  Fortunately, builders angle it for ideal results.

Advertisements