moderated Case Study: High Andes


Dan Margulis
 

As if Mt. Shasta wasn't high enough, we now move to another area of lofty altitude.
This is the last of our series of ten case studies; there's an eleventh, but it's challenging enough to frighten many people away and will likely go out sometime later than next Monday. So, this will be it for a while; I hope you've found the experience informative and enjoyable.
 
Over the course of these studies I've occasionally heard that they are unrealistically bad images. This one isn't. It returns to the subject of the first study from 2020: control of the color red in clothing, this time with the complication of it being a portrait (in the one just referred to, the individual's face was not visible.)
 
It's also reminiscent of our Mantillas exercise, in that it features a traditional costume that must be treated as just as important as the human subject(s). And it's somewhat reminiscent of Land of Pagodas, where a strong civilization and culture has been badly damaged by foreign interference. But the fate of the land we're about to visit is much worse even than what happened to the Burmese.
 
The indigenous people of North America were referred to by their conquerors as "savages." That may have been excessive, but certainly their civilization was primitive when compared to that of the Europeans.
 
In the Andean region of South America, this was not so. The Inca Empire, based in what is now Peru, was an advanced civilization in the 1400s, with a central government capable of intelligent economic planning, a sophisticated religion, strong family structures, a widely spoken lingua franca, no history of constant war, and a vibrant artistic heritage.
 
By today's standards they were primitive, but we have to compare them to the Europeans of their time. Pre-Renaissance Italy was arguably a more advanced society than the Incas, but the rest of Europe was not. It was the Late Middle Ages, the time of the Spanish Inquisition, of the Hundred Years War, of Joan of Arc, of Richard III, of Gutenberg deciding that there must be a better way to produce Bibles than to have a squadron of monks write out each one.
 
Compared to that mess, the Inca civilization looked pretty good--yet very different, largely because of what resources they had to work with. The Europeans had better painters, but the Incas had better metalworkers. The Europeans had better sculpture, because the Inca artists had no marble to work with. The Incas had better weavers, because the Europeans had no access to alpaca. The Europeans left us magnificent architecture made of the marble the Incas did not have, but the fact is that the Incas were better architectural technicians, and better farmers as well.
 
Their fate was sealed by two things they had that Europeans did not, and three things the Europeans had that the Inca people did not.
 
The things the Incas had that the Europeans did not:
1) Huge quantities of gold.
2) Huge quantities of silver.
 
The things the Europeans had that the Incas did not:
1) Horses.
2) Guns.
3) Significant immunity to smallpox.
 
The Inca empire may have started to decline by the beginning of the sixteenth century, but it collapsed completely under invasion from Spanish conquistadores, led by Francisco Pizarro, who took Atahualpa, the last Inca ruler, prisoner, and demanded eight tons of gold as ransom. The Incas paid up, but Pizarro welched on the deal and had Atahualpa killed instead. 
 
Thereafter the Spaniards destroyed the sophisticated agricultural system, enslaved the people and forced them to work in the mines. A high percentage of the population was wiped out by smallpox. What little was left fled to the High Andes, where remnants of the society still eke out an existence, speaking Quechua and to some extent carrying on traditional crafts.
 
One of these is weaving. As noted above, these people had (and have) outstanding textiles to work with. They also had much better dyes than the Europeans did. In their tradition, marriageable females wore brilliant clothing in multiple layers, this to demonstrate their financial means. I suppose it is awkward to wear so many layers of clothing even in a mountain climate, but it's probably more desirable than some of the things that Europeans, Africans, and Chinese did to their women to make them attractive.
 
So, understanding that when everything is colorful then nothing is colorful, the group gets its wish for a good original. And how do I know that it's such a good image? A jury of photographers told me. I was teaching a class of them in Montreal. After a good start, the class fouled up one exercise, and I let them know my view, with the addition of some New Jersey expressions that are not part of standard Québécois.
 
Several of them came up to me during a break, suggesting that I shouldn't be so judgmental inasmuch as I am not a photographer myself. One of them thought to add, "You wouldn't know an f-stop from a lens cap." Outside of a hockey rink and a woman from Winnipeg that I once had a relationship with, I don't recall ever hearing anything so nasty from a Canadian.
 
Nothing daunted, I opened up the file you're now about to work on and asked them whether they still thought I knew nothing about photography.
 
They were impressed. Their leader said, "That's not too bad, eh. You shot that?"
 
I replied, "No, Vincent Versace did, but my stuff is just as good."
 
Dan
***********
 
*In the Photos section, 2021 Case Study: High Andes, 
https://groups.io/g/colortheory/album?id=262361
I have uploaded a version opened with Camera Raw defaults, and another where the settings were much flatter. You may use either, or fetch the .nef as below. DO NOT WORK ON THE THUMBNAIL ATTACHED TO THIS MESSAGE.
 
*groups.io does not allow .nef format in the Photos section. If you want the .nef raw version, you must download a zipped file from the Files section. NOTE: the zipped file contains the two default images as well, you don't need to download them separately. Filename=2021_High-Andes_case-study_source.zip
 
*The designated size of this exercise is 2000 x 3011 pixels. If you use the .nef image be sure to open into the correct size. Do not crop, rotate, alter the sizing, apply any lens correction, or delete any tangible objects, because doing any of these things will make it impossible to use your version as part of a par assembly. We recommend that as soon as you acquire, you apply one of the default versions to it to make sure that all pixels line up.
 
Except as indicated in the above paragraph, you can use whatever methods you like to improve the picture.
 
*Please keep clear records of what you did for discussion. List members find these very valuable.
 
*Your final file is to be sRGB with a proper tag. If you work in a different RGB you must Edit: Convert to Profile>sRGB before submitting the file.
 
*When finished, save in JPEG form, quality level 9. E-mail it to me, dmargulis (at) aol.com, with your brief explanation of how you produced it. DO NOT POST IMAGES TO THE LIST.
 
*Remember that some e-mail clients automatically downsize image attachments. Make sure you’re sending it to me at the original size.
 
*Entries close Monday morning, 5 April, at 06:00 Eastern/1100Z/12:00 ora italiana.
 
*Rather than confirm every entrant I've received, I will periodically post the initials of everyone whose file I have.
 
*As soon as convenient after the deadline, I'll post all the entrants in a random order. Names will not be revealed. Once discussion begins, those who wish to identify themselves publicly may do so.
 
*If the filename of your version contains your name or initials, they will be deleted before posting. If you want to be able to identify your version by name once posted, throw in a few extra letters at the end of the filename; I won't delete them.
 
*I will leave discussion of the results to the group for the first two days after posting, and will then weigh in with my own opinion.



Dan Margulis
 

Entries for our final case study are due in 48 hours, at 06:00 eastern daylight time Monday/1100Z/12:00 ora italiana. In the last three case studies several entries showed up shortly after the deadline. I'm sorry not to be able to acknowledge them.

I confirm receipt of entries from the following individuals:

GB
RoB
FC
HD
JaG
DS
JS
KSo
RT

*indicates that a corrected version was submitted

Entries from the following were at an incorrect size/cropping/aspect and would have to be resubmitted:

HH

Dan Margulis


Dan Margulis
 

Entries for our final case study are due in 24 hours, at 06:00 eastern daylight time Monday/1100Z/12:00 ora italiana. I'm sorry not to be able to acknowledge entries arriving later.

I confirm receipt of entries from the following individuals:

GB
RoB
FC
HD
JaG
KH
SJ
CP*
DR
DS
JS
KSo
BT
RT

*indicates that a corrected version was submitted

Entries from the following were at an incorrect size/cropping/aspect and would have to be resubmitted:

HH

Dan Margulis