Friday fun: what they’ve done with my taxes, tourists, balls, and making a bollocks of it

by Stefan Fletcher May. 29, 2009 6799 views

On 1 August 1291, the inhabitants of the three valleys of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden decided they’d have more fun beating other people up instead of each other and thus the proud nation we call Switzerland came into being. Long before the chocolates, the watches or the dodgy banking, the main Swiss export was mercenaries (which is why the Pope has a Swiss guard). Still, it could have been worse. Schwyzerland could have been called Urine. Why mention this? Well, other than the pleasure of gratuitously taking the Uri out of my birth country, I recall watching the National Day fireworks back home near Lausanne once, when some old git turned round and complained, “this is what they’ve done with my taxes”.

Moving to the present, the Acropolis is beautifully illuminated and I don’t begrudge any of the taxes I pay on this. What I do resent is screwing up a beautiful panorama by making the wrong adjustment to the pan head on my tripod and forgetting I was not in manual mode, which results in different exposures and poorly stitched images, as in No. 2. A more successful example can be viewed here [photoblog.com].

Taking panoramic shots in front of the Acropolis can be a hazardous business. I stand there with a camera, tripod, spirit level, light meter and cable remote and often tourists come up and ask whether I am a photographer. If I resist the temptation to reply that I am, in fact, a crash-test pilot for a condom manufacturer (difficult, but possible), I get asked to take a snap shot of said tourists with the Acropolis in the background. The downside is having to use their fiendishly complex, gizmoid compact camera which doesn’t have a viewfinder. They are inevitably disappointed with the result and it all ends in shame, recrimination and tears. OK, so maybe it doesn’t. Actually, I enjoy doing it. For all I know, they may never come back to Greece and it would be a shame not to get it right.

I can afford to be blasé about the view. I live here. It’s the tourists I find fascinating: those odd poses, the fixed look, peering intently at a small screen that eerily lights up their face. I’m sure I look just as odd, but even so. It’s even more intriguing when people try to shoot landscapes with mobile phone cameras.

The pan head (not to be confused with the Harley-Davidson motor, which is even more unreliable) was a mistake. It’s a heavy piece of kit to lug across a hot city and I’ve done better without it. I went cheap, so mine has an axis of rotation not centred on the camera sensor, which leads to pin-cushion distortion in the panorama, even if you get the exposure right. What a balls-up. Some of the mistakes are rather nice, however.

This should have been Friday’s post, but I was busy getting a sun tan at the beach. Sorry. Hope you all had a decent weekend.

My taxes must pay at least one night's worth of illumination.

Ah, tourists.

More of the same (this one taken some time previously)

What the tourists came to capture

More of the same

I rather like this. It reminds me of Arabic calligraphy

Long exposure, fisheye and rotation using the pan head

  Be the first to like this post
Join the conversation
19
There are 19 comments , add yours!
Taniamindi 11 years, 5 months ago

great set!!

11 years, 5 months ago Edited
Mar 11 years, 5 months ago

I like 4 the most because of the movement. A bit spooky

11 years, 5 months ago Edited
Aylin 11 years, 6 months ago

All of them are amazing..C'est comme un reve!

11 years, 6 months ago Edited
Monika 11 years, 6 months ago

i think whats worse than being recognized by you as a tourist ;-) is having other tourists recognize us as a tourist... the camera makes everyone a tourist in other people's reality, and eventually in one's own:-) i was standing up there in late 90`s and took photos... wonder if you were there and laughing about my ridiculous attempt to capture the sunset:-) i adore no. 4... look what you have done to the poor tourists, they look like ghosts of the acropolis. and the last one... its from a different world. love it.

11 years, 6 months ago Edited
Tim 11 years, 6 months ago

tourists,,,why can´t I be one of them? :(((((((((( maybe I don´t pay enough taxes¿?? or maybe precisely cos i pay too much?????

11 years, 6 months ago Edited
Ricardo 11 years, 6 months ago

2# is super nice!
and all others are amazing! :)
Well done!
I liked the shots from people photographing! it is nice!

11 years, 6 months ago Edited
Miclaud 11 years, 6 months ago

Une merveilleuse série, les couleurs, les cadrages... le paysage.... et la dernière!!!

11 years, 6 months ago Edited
Laura 11 years, 6 months ago

More fabulous shots! I haven't been on here in a few weeks and missed many of your posts I'm sure....when I have more time I'll have to go back and look as your sets are always my favorite....along with your commentary.

11 years, 6 months ago Edited
Piyali 11 years, 6 months ago

I absolutely love No#4, it's amazing..I didn't have my glasses on so unless you pointed it out I could have never guessed any flaws in those stitches. I am sure the shots you took of the tourists were great ones which gives me a reason to look for you if I ever visit Greece..

11 years, 6 months ago Edited
Betty Meade 11 years, 6 months ago

Your panoramic shot is so beautiful. Thanks for the laugh...I would say the tourists were lucky to find you~

11 years, 6 months ago Edited
Thebronzebow 11 years, 6 months ago

You're not a crash test pilot for a condom company??? Could have sworn I saw you [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bizJWtJ0xXo&feature=related]here[/url].

Ah well, Love #4 for it's movement and 11 is very interesting. You've done a great job withsome of the portraits as well. Quite expressive. BTW if I ever come to Greece, I'm gonna want to do that too... :)

11 years, 6 months ago Edited
Sandra Vermeulen 11 years, 6 months ago

Photo nr.5 and nr.7 are my favorites.
Why?
The way you have photographed photographing people.

11 years, 6 months ago Edited
Michael Sakowicz 11 years, 6 months ago

Interesting. When the panorama works correctly, it is such a nice effect. Also, this is why I try so hard to not look like a tourist when I go anywhere that is not home. I guess it is kinda hard when carrying around a DSLR.

11 years, 6 months ago Edited
Marsha 11 years, 6 months ago

Ha! I just shot some tourists on rocks today so I can relate to that.
Love the very interesting effect in #4...and the colors in #8. And...I like tedbarlow's comment because it made me go back and really look at #10....hmmm....

11 years, 6 months ago Edited
Ivan 11 years, 6 months ago

Great post! Thanks a lot for sharing!

11 years, 6 months ago Edited
Jarvo J 11 years, 6 months ago

Good for you Rev. Never complain when taxes are spent like this. you can learn a lot about a place by the propostion of public money that is spent on arts, heritage and entertainmtent.
Love the shot of the ghostly tourists.

11 years, 6 months ago Edited
Doris 11 years, 6 months ago

Althoough,after your essay, I will NEVER dare to get back to Athens and get close to Acropolis with my modest SLR...I really enjoyed your reportage and your beautiful panorama!

11 years, 6 months ago Edited
Eric J H Joyce 11 years, 6 months ago

Great post.

11 years, 6 months ago Edited
Kecskemétiné Nelli 11 years, 6 months ago

Hilarious.
I also love #4 and #11. (And #5, 6. It's so much fun taking photos of others taking photos. =))
I have a friend who lives not far from a popular place visited by tourists and consequently is frequently asked to take photos of all kinds of people. He is delighted in the activity since he takes shots which include the landscape and some parts of the tourists but never their heads or both sides. =P
As for taxes..
If all your taxes are paid for illumination, then maybe the income from tourism covers your payment.. ;)

11 years, 6 months ago Edited
Up
Copyright @Photoblog.com