CHILDREN

Ah kids, ya gotta luv’em. Well maybe not all of them. But those under the age of 6 are especially cute and cuddly, just like adorable puppies and kittens. Although I generally avoid most cute little boys and girls as subjects, there are some I can’t avoid. The same holds true for kittens and puppies. Don’t get me wrong however; it’s not that I have a dislike of kids, or pets for that matter, it’s just that taking photos of the little buggers is like shooting fish in a barrel. Besides, photographing kids doing cute things seem so cliche-ish. That said, I must confess there are times that I give in and actually shoot those proverbial cuties in their barrels. The images below are a few examples.

This little photographer composes and focuses on her subject.

This young street urchin stole my heart on the streets of Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico.

Although this young girl and her fawns represent what I call a shameless photographic cliche, I could not avoid the innocence of the moment.

Two little Mexican girls make the final adjustments in preparation for the fiesta.

Two little adorable Mexican sweeties

These three little smiling boys begged to have their pictures taken, and I was all but too eager to oblige them.

And finally, a photo of a boy and his dog, the ultimate cliche; yet a satisfying one for this non-apologetic photographer.

While wars, financial crises and natural disasters are daily reminders of our fragile existance it is often refreshing to stop and capture the innocence of a small boy and his dog before returning to the not so realities of our daily lives.

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blog by: Ron Saunders

You can view my photography at: 345.PhotoShelter.com
and http://www.bajareflections.com

PLANES and BOATS and TRAINS

The C-17 Globemaster III is the newest, most flexible cargo aircraft to enter the airlift force. It is capable of rapid strategic delivery of troops and all types of cargo to main operating bases or directly to forward bases in the deployment area.

Pleasure cruising along the Sea of Cortez at  Cabo San Lucas

The Good Life

Though not as glamorous as the transportation depicted above, the freight train remains essential to our way of life.

FREIGHT TRAIN

                              ————————————————————————————————                                                                         NEXT BLOG: OCT 17, 2012

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SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

The WORLD TRADE CENTER

The Sphere is a large metallic sculpture by German sculptor Fritz Koenig, currently displayed in Battery Park, New York City, that once stood in the middle of Austin J. Tobin Plaza, the area between the World Trade Center towers in Manhattan. It is now remnant of the World Trade Center The SPHERE

As a photographer I’ve always had a desire to take a view of the majestic Manhattan skyline from the heights of the World Trade Center. I know it was rather corny and touristy, but I wanted to do it just the same. Three times I attempted to take the elevator that leads visitors to the lookout platform.  Three times however,  weather thwarted my attempts. No problem, I told myself, since I live here I’ll have many opportunities to take that view. As fate would have it however, the photo you see here is the only one  I ever got to photograph.

That ill-fated day, 9/11/2001 left  a mark on my psyche that will never be erased. It was Pearl Harbor all over again.

There is one issue however I’d like to add. Many Americans view 9/11 as the day 3000 of their countrymen  were killed. I understand their meaning but to omit the recognition of 463 victims representing 58 countries  also deserve some recognition. For that reason I wish to add a list of the following:

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ARGENTINA     [4 KILLED]

AUSTRALIA      [11 KILLED]

BANGLADESH [6 KILLED]

BELARUS           [1 KILLED]

BELGUIM          [1 KILLED]

BERMUDA        [2 KILLED]

BRAZIL              [3 KILLED]

CANADA           [24 KILLED]

CHILE               [1 KILLED]

CHINA              [3 KILLED]

COLOMBIA     [18 KILLED]

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC of the CONGO             [2 KILLED]

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC              [47 KILLED]

ECUADOR          [13 KILLED]

EL SALVADOR  [2 KILLED]

ETHIOPIA          [3 KILLED]

FRANCE             [3 KILLED]

GERMANY         [11 KILLED]

GHANA               [2 KILLED]

GUYANA             [3 KILLED]

HAITI                  [2 KILLED]

HONDURAS      [1 KILLED]

INDIA                  [41 KILLED]

INDONESIA      [1 KILLED]

IRELAND           [6 KILLED]

ISRAEL               [5 KILLED]

ITALY                  [10 KILLED]

IVORY COAST  [1 KILLED]

JAMAICA           [16 KILLED]

JAPAN                [24 KILLED]

JORDAN            [2 KILLED]

LEBANON         [4 KILLED]

LITHUANIA     [1 KILLED]

MALAYSIA       [3 KILLED]

MEXICO           [15 KILLED]

MOLDOVA      [1 KILLED]

NETHERLANDS   [1 KILLED]

NEW ZEALAND    [2 KILLED]

NIGERIA                [1 KILLED]

PAKISTAN             [8 KILLED]

PERU                      [5 KILLED]

PHILIPPINES       [16 KILLED]

POLAND                [6 KILLED]

PORTUGAL           [5 KILLED]

REPUBLIC of CHINA (Taiwan)  [1 KILLED]

ROMANIA              [3 KILLED]

RUSSIA                   [1 KILLED]

SERBIA                   [1 KILLED]

SOUTH AFRICA   [2 KILLED]

SOUTH KOREA    [28 KILLED]

SPAIN                     [1 KILLED]

SWEDEN               [2 KILLED]

SWITZERLAND   [2 KILLED]

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO  [14 KILLED]

UKRAINE              [1 KILLED]

UNITED KINGDOM     [68 KILLED]

UZBEKISTAN       [1 KILLED]

VENEZUELA        [1 KILLED]

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NEXT BLOG: SEPT 30. 2012

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UGLY AMERICANS

They come to enjoy the benefits of the country, its political freedom, its economic advantages, and the chance to live the good life. Yet, they refuse to participate in the culture of its people. They make no effort to learn the language, they isolate themselves within their own communities while expecting the locals to accommodate them in the traditions of their former country. If this sounds familiar it is. Ironically this is not the typical complaint of U.S citizens railing against the attitudes of Mexican immigrants in the United States, instead it is the audacious complaint of many U.S expats towards Mexicans IN MEXICO!
Mexico has the greatest number of U.S. retirees than any other country in the world. You would think that statistic alone would engender a closer bond between the two cultures. Unfortunately, the attitude of a great many U.S transplants suggests quite the opposite.

A telling example of this attitude is evident whenever gringos complain of their inablitiy to communicate with mexicans due to language difficulties. Their ironic excuse for this inability to commuinicate is that the Mexicans do not speak English. Rarely does the U.S person say, ‘I don’t speak Spanish.’ Can you imagine the outrage in the U.S  if the roles were reversed, and it was the Mexican who complained that the U.S person didn’t speak Spanish?

Another example of condescenion is the constant comparisons made between the way things are done in the States as opposed to Mexico. This view seems to suggest that the way things are done in the States is the way things should be done in Mexico. Imagine how that view would go over if the roles were reversed in the U.S.

That being said, I acknowledge there are many U.S expatriats who do not share those condescending views. In fact, many of us who are more informed of  Mexican culture often strive to enlighten our lesser informed brethren expats to do likewise. I believe many U.S citizens who behave badly do not do so deliberately. They are merely unconscious of the fact as to just how insulting their behaviour might be taken. I don’t believe they are bad people by nature. They’ve merely been programmed by the culture of which they were nurtured. Perhaps proper care and feeding by those of us who are more sensitive to these unintentional insults would serve them well by teaching them to accept others the way they are.

Anyway, that’s my rant.

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My next blog: August 31, 2012

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The OTHER SIDE of CAMBODIA

Though my previous post centered exclusively on the horrors of genocide, I’d be remiss if I did not acknowledge the life and culture after Pol Pot. Therefore, I will give  a short glimpse of  Cambodia as it is today, one which focuses on the history and culture of this proud nation.

SILVER PAGODA, aka TEMPLE of the EMERALD BUDDHA at the CAMBODIAN ROYAL PALACE

SILVER PAGODA

ANGKOR WAT STONE FACES

The country’s most famous attraction is ANGKOR WAT, a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE. The giant heads shown above are awe-inspiring.

This Angkor Wat temple below is but one example of an ancient highly complex city;  It too  is recognized as an UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE

ANGKOR WAT TEMPLE

During the vietnam war many vietnamese civilians escaped their homeland and fled to the Tonle Sap fishing village in Cambodia where they have taken up permanent residence. The woman in the barge is herself a vietnamese refugee and has contributed much to the Cambodian culture.

Father and son wash their oxen in the Choeng Ek river; a culture common to Cambodians. There is an ironic aspect to this routine however, in that the name, Choeng Ek, is the name for both river and town, a name which would be forever rememebererd as the Killing Fields. Nonetheless, life in Cambodia  goes on.

FATHER & SON WASH OXEN

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My next blog: August 15, 2012

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The KILLING FIELDS

TUOL SLENG PRISON

It seems 37 years have still not washed away the horrors of one of the most fiendish atrocities the world has ever known. In 2001,  at the dawn of a new millenium, my camera and I traveled to Cambodia to get a view of a land and a culture rarely visited. Although the country had since recovered from the horrors of the Khmer Rouge, some remnants still remained.

The image above is Tuol Sleng, previously a  high school. Under the tyrant, Pol Pot however, it was converted into a prison and an interrogation center; and, one might add, a torture chamber.

Although the dictator had no ability for painting, he did, however, enjoy viewing the works of others. As it happened, one of the prisoners was a painter.  Pol Pot, therefore, ordered the prisoner to paint the images of those suffering in their cells.  As a result we have 2 samples of his work.

STARVED PRISONER

 

     

                                                                        

           PAINTING SHOWS TWO JAILERS CARRYING STARVED VICTIM TO the KILLING FIELDS
 
 
Pol Pot photographed all his victims. In the photo below we see a poor condemned woman and her baby.

Photograph of a young man in the foreground and others crammed in the background

The KILLING FIELDS

Where victims are murdered and tossed in these mounds

The atrocities of the Pol Pot regime had no limits. In fact, the crimes I have listed are but few compared to the actual amount. There is one crime however, that,in my opinion, stands higher than most: the murder of babies.. Babies are first put into a sling, the sling is then pulled high in the air, then released in such a way that the baby is smashed against a huge tree. Afterwards the dead child is unceremoniously thrown into the mounds you see here. These innocents then lay forever with their families in what is now referred to as THE KILLING FIELDS.

What I learned from the people I spoke with and the horrors they tell, and the remnants I saw,  convinced me I will carry to my grave that unspeakable  horror called the KILLING FIELDS.

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My next blog: August 15, 2012

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ANIMALS in their NATURAL ENVIRONMENT

Among my favorite photography topics, are animals, particularly those who do not answer to humans.  What I admire in them the most is their independence. Because  I live in an area where these creatures are easily accessible I often have the opportunity of quickly grabbing my camera and snapping off several shots with ease. Take this coyote for example who, by the way, happens to be a frequent visitor to my backyard.


THIS DESERT MULE is ONE of MANY in the RUGGED TERRAIN

This desert mule is one of many in this rugged terrain.

Elk rummages for food at the Grand Canyon

 
CALIFORNIA GRAY WHALE
 
Marine biologists in boat search for California Gray Whale. The whale however, approaches them from the other side 

 

 

 

My next blog: July 31, 2012

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BULLFIGHTING

At the outstart I must state I am no fan of animal mistreatment. In fact, I deplore it. It is for that reason I’ve chosen this topic as a stark example of one of the most heinous acts of animal brutality imaginable. I took these photos not because I was curious, but because I wanted others to the get a sense of the outrage. The images below speak for themselves.

IT BEGINS as MATADOR and BULL ENGAGE

a life and death struggle

MORTALLY WOUNDED BULL

         IN THE END the WOUNDED   ANIMAL SUCUMBS

According to PETA. “Approximately 250,000 bulls die in bullfights.” “It is an inaccurate term for events in which there is very little competition between a nimble, sword-wielding matador … and a confused, maimed, psychologically tormented, and physically debilitated animal. “According to one matador, some of the top performers may “ask breeders to deliberately select placid bulls …. It’s the only way to sustain your energy for the duration of the season.”

Ritualistic Slaughter “Most bullfights are divided into three parts. First, a bull is forced into the arena and taunted by a matador with a cape. The bull is then approached by picadors (men on horses), who drive lances into the bull’s back and neck muscles, impairing the bull’s ability to lift his head. They twist and gouge the lances to ensure a significant amount of blood loss. Then come the banderilleros on foot, who proceed to distract and dart around the bull while stabbing the animal with brightly colored darts called banderillas. After blood loss has weakened the bull, the banderilleros run the bull in more circles until he becomes dizzy and stops chasing. In the final act, the matador appears. After using his cape and sword to provoke a few exhausted charges from the dying animal, the matador tries to deliver the death blow,… with his sword. If he misses, succeeding only in further mutilation, an executioner is called in to stab the exhausted animal to death. If the crowd is happy with the matador, the bull’s ears and tail or a hoof may be cut off and presented as a gift. A few minutes later, another bull enters the arena and the sadistic cycle starts again.”

“Pope St. Pius V decreed that “spectacles” such as bullfights are “removed from Christian piety and charity.” He wished that “these cruel and base spectacles of the devil are not of man” they must be abolished and he forbade attendance at them under penalty of excommunication.”

“Barcelona has declared itself “an anti-bullfighting city,” and 38 Catalan municipalities have followed its lead; the last bullring in Barcelona closed in 2006 because of poor attendance. As of January 2012, Catalonia becomes the first Spanish mainland region to officially ban bullfighting, although the final bullfight occurred there in September of 2011 when the “season” ended. The Spanish state broadcasting network, RTVE, no longer broadcasts bullfights because it does not want children exposed to violence against animals.”

“Interest in bullfighting has also declined in Mexico and Portugal, and according to one report, officials in Beijing, China, decided not to build a bullring at a popular tourist destination for “fears of the country’s image.” The photos shown in this photos however, were taken in Mexicali, Mexico. Unfortunately, there are still more than 1,200 government-funded bull ranches and dozens of state-sponsored bullfighting schools in Spain.”

“Bullfights are sadistic acts of animal torture. Innocent bulls are speared, stabbed and die slowly as their blood pour onto the arena floor. And while these animals suffer, sick and morally corrupt crowds cheer the even more sick and vile matadors who perform the executions.

Bulls are not the only creatures to suffer in bullrings. Horses are sometimes attacked by the maddend bull who is experiencing utter agony and lashing out where ever he can. It is not unusual for horses used in bullfights to die as well.

This is the fate of these beautiful animals; to be used to entertain a crowd that lusts for blood and suffering.”

Make no mistake, bullfighting is no sport. There should be an end to this horror show. Unlike bullfighting, sports have rules and the competitors have chosen to participate in them, bulls however, do not..

July 1, 2012

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