Cairo Citadel

We were surprised to learn that Egypt had been ruled by foreign powers for more than 2,000 years after the pharaohs. On a hill above Islamic Cairo, the Citadel had some buildings of these foreigner rulers:

  • The watchtower and other fortifications were built in the 12th century by the Arab Saladin, who took Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187.
  • The green dome in the center is the only mosque remaining from the Mamluks, former Turkish slaves who came to power in the 13th century.
  • In 1811, the Albanian Muhammad Ali invited hundreds of Mamluk leaders to a celebration for his son and slaughtered them, eliminating rivals for the control of Egypt. Mohammed Ali was aligned with the Ottoman Empire, and his Mosque of Mohammed Ali on the left is similar to Istanbul’s Hagia Sofia.

The Citadel and Islamic Cairo form a UNESCO World Heritage Site. “Founded in the 10th century, it (Cairo) became the new centre of the Islamic world, reaching its golden age in the 14th century.”

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Museum of Egyptian Antiquities

Interested in Egyptian antiquities, we started our Cairo visit at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. Shown above, the pool outside the museum has lotus and papyrus, symbols of Egypt. From a Metropolitan Museum of Art article,

Due to its prevalence in the Nile Delta, the papyrus was the heraldic plant of Lower (northern) Egypt, while the lily or lotus stood for Upper (southern) Egypt. When shown wound around the hieroglyph for “unite,” these two plants formed an emblem for the unification of the Two Lands of Egypt.

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Tips for Photos from a Helicopter

Kauai is beautiful, and a helicopter tour of Kauai was short and expensive, so I wanted to prepare for my first helicopter ride — selecting the helicopter tour, choosing the camera equipment and settings, and dressing for the ride. My post Kauai by Helicopter described what I saw on my helicopter tour; this post covers how I prepared and lessons learned.

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Kauai by Helicopter

On our first day on Kauai, I took a helicopter tour of the island. Seeing the Napali Coast from the air was the highlight, and there was more: a waterfall from the movie Jurassic Park, Waimea Canyon, and sheer cliffs with waterfalls. Kauai is a volcanic island with one of the rainiest spots in the world, where the rain erodes the hard rock, forming cliffs and feeding waterfalls.

To get photos without reflections from doors or windows, I rode a helicopter with the doors off. This post focuses on what I saw, and a second post will cover tips for taking photos on a Kauai helicopter ride.

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Kauai

This summer we visited the island of Kauai in Hawaii, where we enjoyed Kauai‘s high cliffs, deep valleys, and water. For six million years, “high annual rainfall has eroded deep valleys in the central mountains, carving out canyons with many scenic waterfalls.”

Above is a sunrise from our condo, where the rising sun paints the beach and trees with a red glow.

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Stalking a Dragonfly

Seeing a dragonfly on a tree, I wondered if it would stay long enough to photograph it. I ran inside for a camera and telephoto lens. The dragonfly was still there. I approached slowly, taking photos along the way, in case the dragonfly flew away.

Above is my first good photo, the dragonfly seen through a wing as a veil.  The dragonfly did fly away several times, and it returned to different spots on the same branch. I thought I saw it moving its mouth after it landed, so perhaps the dragonfly was catching flying bugs. Continue reading Stalking a Dragonfly

Eclipse through an Oak-Tree Camera

In northern California, where the August 2017 solar eclipse covered up to 75% of the sun, an oak tree served as a pinhole camera, a “natural optical phenomenon that occurs when an image of a scene at the other side of a screen (or for instance a wall) is projected through a small hole in that screen as a reversed and inverted image (left to right and upside down) on a surface opposite to the opening”.

Above, in the shadow of branches, the many crescents show the sun in eclipse. Tiny gaps between the oak leaves form pinhole cameras that project the sun’s image onto pavers.

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