Mexico, Photographs, Religion, Travel

Easter is a Big Deal in Mexico (Photo of the Week)

This week is Holy Week, and yesterday (Holy Thursday) I walked downtown… to find the Central Historic District completely transformed. There’s a small grassy park in front of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, which is normally an empty, lazy place for teenagers to sit and chat and a few old men to read their newspapers. Instead, I could barely get into the square—food stands lined every pathway and paved area while crowds of people made their way toward church. Standing on a stone block, I managed to get above the crowd and capture this image:

Templo de San Francis de Asisi. Photo by André.

Yes, that is a Nacho stand in front of a church! Which is a brilliant idea that every church should implement. Also Hot Cakes, but who chooses hot cakes over nachos? Anyway, in Catholic doctrine I believe there’s a rule against eating anything just before or after taking the Host at Communion, so I’m not sure how Holy these Holy Thursday vendors are. Sort of the like the meat sellers outside that Thai Buddhist temple. My favorite picture is from behind the Church, in a little walled courtyard. This one officially gets the “Photo of the Week” title:

Families sitting on a fountain. Photo by André.

The alley alongside the church had become a sort of open air bazaar:

There are always some vendors here, but never like this. Photo by André.

I also met a smiling woman selling pan de nata, “cream bread,” a traditional treat for Easter:

Pan de Nata. Photo by André.

Each pan is decorated with candied fruit slices forming either lilies or a cross:

Close up. Photo by André.

The doña opened up a bag so I could smell it. It has a rich, almost fermented smell plus the scent of the sesame seeds. I bought one for 25 pesos, or about US $2 and had some later that night. It’s incredibly sweet, definitely fresh baked and the fruit is the best part. And Mamá, if you’re reading this… Happy Easter!

L Days cover_front only_half size

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10 thoughts on “Easter is a Big Deal in Mexico (Photo of the Week)

  1. Beth says:

    Great work on the photos, especially the “official” photo of the week! Your depth of field is perfect and you froze the water expertly. Well done! :) And I love all the color in all of them.

    • Thank you! I was honestly a little embarrassed to post these picture. It was a cloudy day and I really struggled to capture any shots that didn’t seem flat. Normally there is intense sun in this city, so it was a shock to deal with these conditions… and I feel like I lost a lot of vividness. I also didn’t have time to do any photo editing before posting them, other than cropping the one. So I appreciate the compliments, but I feel like I could have done much better.

        • I hadn’t thought of switching to B&W on those days! Good call. I have a B&W setting; I also have a Cloudy setting for the white balance. I suspect you mean I should use both together?

      • Beth says:

        I always struggle with cloudy days, too…I just prefer sun. But technically it’s far easier to shoot in clouds; with sun you get blown-out whites that are distracting, and you lose the detail there. You also get really harsh shadows that are often unattractive. As for settings, b&w just means it captures no color, as far as I’m aware. Cloudy will change your I SO (less light available) and your other settings to match. I can’t recall but you may even see on the display what it puts your settings at in that mode. Personally I never intentionally shoot in b&w, because your can never get that color back; I just convert later if I want to. Also if you have played with Lightroom at all I recently found that pulling the two tone sliders can get a lot of my color back – pull the red/green towards the red side, and the blue/yellow towards the yellow side. Just a little…the best Photoshop gut I know says “do it until it’s too much and then just back off a little” whenever I ask him how much I should adjust for various conditions.

        Ok end of random photography lecture. And I still say good work!! Send me the jpegs if you want and we can play with how you could optimize.

    • It really is.

      Although after I said how much I like the place, one young Potosino (in his 20s, a medical student, friend of the owner of my favorite cafe) asked me point blank: “Sure, but don’t you think it’s a little bit… boring?”

      I paused, but I had to admit that I do. I couldn’t live here for long.

    • It’s one of Mexico’s treasures for that reason. As a silver mining town, it was one of the first colonial cities and much of the Centro has been here for 400-500 years. It’s no Guanajuato (from what I’m told) but definitely a gem.

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