Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Latinopia Spotlights Octavio Romano. Chicano Photographer in Morro Bay.

Latinopia Honors First Publisher of Chicano Literature

In 1969, Quinto Sol Publications was publishing Mexican-American literature. Then, in 1972, editor Octavio Ignacio Romano-V was joined by Herminio Rios C. to put together the first collection of Chicano literature, the fifth printing of El Espejo: The Mirror.

Latinopia, the nation's leading site for Chicano visual documentaries, updates its offerings weekly. This week, Latinopia features Romano talking about mestizo and chicano literature. It's interesting to hear Romano declare an open door policy, especially given the academic pedo that flew when other scholars accused Romano of foisting a false canon upon Chicana Chicano literary theory.

Morro Bay Birds and Seals
Michael Sedano

Photographing writers reading their work to an audience is my chosen challenge. Capturing a reader in a dynamic instant, forming a sound, eyes looking at the audience, poised in readiness, requires a good ear to anticipate a gesture or an eye contact moment. Over the course of a 10 minute presentation, numerous moments pass, some of them photographed. Nature adds the challenge of once-in-a-lifetime moments.

A rustle and a chirp in bushes calls my eye to a mostly hidden brown beauty. It flits out of sight then flies over to a backyard fence bordering the wetlands. If that California Thrasher turns toward the camera the eye will sparkle. The bird flits away just after the shutter goes "click".

A modern camera takes lots of the work out of a photograph. A fast-moving bird moves in and out of focus except the photographer keeps a target on the moving animal and the lens quickly adjust to maintain focus. Given a bright sunshiny day allows both fast shutter speed and smaller apertures for sharp focus.

If the bird stands still in the early morning chill and the water is still the reflection makes a great photograph. Luckily, this Curlew is not far from the camera.

Bright sunshiny day describes my weekend in Morro Bay in this year's annual trek to the estuary at Morro Bay along the California coast north of Vandenberg Air Force Base. A night launch from Vandenberg caught my eye as I admired the sky. A fast-growing contrail rose from my right swiftly passing overhead, three spotlights of engine fire winking back at me as the missile climbed into space.

Up the coast, four and a half miles north of Charles Foster Kane's castle at San Simeon, Elephant Seals complete a migration to arrive and give birth. The State of California erected boardwalks and railing systems allowing visitors to peer down upon individual animals, neonate babies suckling sleeping mothers, bulls surrounded by mates, thousands of animals spread as far as the eye sees in both directions.

The animals flip sand over their bodies then lie motionless. The mothers protect their young with flippers of sand. Sand trickles off the tiny bodies that crawl along a mother's smooth belly, finding a nipple. One tiny body lies covered with sand. Sand has settled into the crevices of its skin. Successive flippers of sand pile atop the eyes, the unblinking eyes.

Across the beach animals conserve energy by lying as still as corpses. A shudder, a flip, a blinking eye is all to identify the living from the dead.

But this baby has not moved, has not knocked off the sand off its body, not off the soft rolls of loose skin, not off the unmoving eyelids. Some babies sidle up to a bull, the fleshy proboscis snorting sand at the offspring.

The still baby moves a flipper. It is not dead today.

The salt marsh stretches miles across a watershed grown with thickets of red-brown brush. Shallow channels form with the tides, bringing food that attracts roaming herons and millions of shore birds.

Long, long lenses are a photographer's boon. I did not rent a 500mm lens and relied upon a zoom lens up to 300mm. That isn't enough lens for a superior image. My camera has an 18 megapixel chip which means it produces a huge image that 25% of the frame offers satisfactory pictures, like those of birds in flight.

Some images are more challenging than others, despite their predictability. Flocking sandpipers take to air hundreds in a tightly spaced group. They fly in synchrony, their dark backs offering illusions of smoke moving across the water, instantly the cloud flashes a brilliant white when the birds turn their bellies toward the viewer. It's spectacular seen across the water in the Morro Bay estuary.

The sandpipers, like many sea animals, are dark on top, light on the bottom. A prey looking up at the animal sees white like the sky is white. A predator looking down at the animal sees dark, like the ground is dark.

The estuary gets the photographer close enough to see through the camouflage.

This Osprey, a sea hawk, heard the camera from several hundred feet and flew off a moment after this exposure.

1 comment:

Olga Garcia Echeverria said...

Beautiful pictures! Now, I want to go to Morro Bay. Gracias.