Travel Theme: Metal

Cahokia Mounds, ever heard of it? It a UNESCO World Heritage site that is just outside of St. Louis Missouri.  Here is Monk’s Mound the largest remaining part of the site:

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/5 1/1250

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/5 1/1250

Cahokia Mounds are the remains of a society that was living in the area in A.D. 700-1400.  At its peak there may have been as many as 20,000 people living in the area.  The modern stairs in the photo are on the site of stairs that would have been used when this older culture was flourishing.  When you climb to the top, you get a view of modern day St. Louis:

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/1250

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/1250

The metallic glow of St. Louis is quite jarring in comparison.  Archeologists have found relatively little metal at the Cohokia site, just a few bits of copper.  Tools of bone and stone are much more common.  The site has a very nice interpretive center and if you go for a visit, that is where I would recommend you start.  It is interesting to look through what is known about the site and then think about all the things that aren’t known.

On the day we visited, I wasn’t really thrilled with the photos I was getting as I was looking on the back of my camera.  I decided to shoot bracketed exposures and edit them in Photomatix.  Once I was in Photomatix I decided to use a surreal setting for my final photos.  I wanted the stairs to pop in the first photo and the metallic glow and odd sky in the second photo.  I would say I was looking for a bit of drama to illustrate my story.  Below are two of the original photos, both the middle exposure I shot:

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/5 1/1250

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/5 1/1250

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/1250

ISO 100 50mm 0ev f/5.6 1/1250

I felt that the HDR and surreal settings help to illustrate between these two cultures.  What do you think? Does it make that point? Does it do it well, or is it too overdone for your liking?  Your comments are welcome below.

Cheers!

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30 thoughts on “Travel Theme: Metal

  1. The first two photos are very striking. I really like what you did with the color in both of them. The second photo definitely has a surreal feeling. I think that the editing is perfect for both the story you told and to illustrate the difference between the two cultures – past and present.

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  2. I actually love how the stairs stand out from afar. In fact, if you didn’t mention they were stairs, I would’ve have thought it was a royal welcoming carpet of some sort. To be very frank I think the photos are a bit overdone, with the greens being very striking…but maybe that was the intended effect, to bring out the lush greenery.

    I find it funny that a lot of the times when I’m taking photos with my Canon point-and-shoot or my Samsung phone, the photos come out dull and a bit dark, like your last two photos.

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    • Yes, I was going for something a bit over the top, to try and bring some drama to the scene. My “as shot” photos just weren’t telling the story the way I wanted too. HDR images are often overdone, in fact that is one of the reasons that photographers use the technique sometimes. Generally speaking that is not my style, and you are right the greens in the photos are very striking 🙂

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  3. Thank you for asking. It does not look surreal to me. It gave some light and brightness and I thins you found the right measure. I also use Photomatix sometimes for bracketed photos. Your post is interesting. Thank you.

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    • Thanks for taking the time to comment. I really like Photomatix but often use it for nature shots just to bring out more detail. In this case I have wandered into more of a dramatic storytelling mode, just for fun and sometimes it helps to do something out of the ordinary 🙂

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  4. Why yes I’ve heard of it, been there a couple of times. I just finished a post for the next travel theme challenge on a similar but older culture (wont be up until next week). It is a beautiful site and the visitors center is one of the best, very knowledgeable people. The photo with both the mound and the arch tells the story beautifully. I wish I had seen that view. I only climbed to the top of Monks Mound the first time, and in a thunder storm, with camera and umbrella – yup anything for a photo. The sky was so overcast that I never saw the arch. Guess I’ll have to go back.

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  5. really enjoyed learning more about this awesome place – and my fav is Monk’s Mound – and a few of your photos remind me of the only view of the arch I have seen – I have only driven by it and would like to see it close up some day. Also, I loved your metal comparisons (just a bit of copper) – and thought the edit effects were not overdone – but gave the drama and artsy feel to go with your words. Also, in the edited version of the view of modern day St Louis – well the city horizon line comes alive and there is more highlighted to the right – that is missed in the original – and also, all the lines in the grass are missed in the original – hmmm – 🙂

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    • Cahokia was given its modern name in 1699 by French settlers. The Cahokia were thought to have moved into the area around 1600 so post-peak civilization if you consider it by the numbers. The actual civilization that made these mounds was dispersed gradually from the area by 1400. It is not exactly known what caused the decline, where the people moved, and if they would have any modern day descendants. It’s a pretty big mystery with a lot of specific questions unanswered.

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