Subjective Realities

man in purple

Man in Purple -- 2009

Each person’s heritage and life experiences are different, creating unique subjective realities that affect our interpretation of the world around us. I like these images because the feelings and stories they evoke for me tell me something about myself.

The original images were captured at night, handheld, without the benefit of flash. I then enhanced the indistinct and impressionistic qualities to make the images even less literal, and allow the viewer more freedom to reach their own conclusions.

generation gap

Generations Apart - 2009

Holiday Spirits

Mocko Jumbie - 2009

Colorfully costumed stilt dancers — or mocko jumbies — appear at many island festivals. Cultural icons and entertainers today, the mocko jumbies have ancient African origins. “Jumbies” are mischevious or evil spirits and ghosts, and one interpretation is that the mocko jumbies scare them away by mocking them. Their height allows them to see the spirits before they arrive to cause trouble. While there are other interpretations, they all relate to protection from the spirit world.

Now just imagine if it were a jumbie that had become manifest in the form of the young woman below…

I wish a happy holiday and good spirits to all!

(Learn more about the origin and cultural significance of the mocko jumbies.)

Elfin Dream-Girl - 2009

Rising Stars Steel Band and Grilled Meats in Red

Rising Stars Steel Band - 2009

Some of the best steel pan music in the world can be heard from the large orchestras that compete at Carnival time on the island of Trinidad in the southern Caribbean. This seems appropriate since Trinidad is the birthplace of the instrument. While perhaps not the best in the world, we are fortunate on St. Croix to have several steel pan orchestras of our own, including the “Rising Stars”. The dedication of these young people and their leaders to create such stirring music must be admired.

The original photograph for the image above was taken at night under the glare of orange sodium street lights, with just a hint of flash to create the specular highlights on the pan in the foreground. Post-processing focused on enhancing the moody atmospheric qualities of the scene.

While the image below was captured under similar conditions, its focus is more on social commentary than atmosphere. This was a street vendor selling grilled meats set up in front of a perfume and beauty product store window, creating the contrasts between the pattern of the vendor’s dress, the poster in the background, and the condiment bottles in the foreground.

Grilled Meats in Red - 2009

Trojan Ships

Trojan Ship - 2009

The cruise ships have returned to St. Croix. They arrive in the morning and disgorge their living cargo for a few hours ashore. Priorities are rearranged. New businesses spring up in an attempt to pry a few dollars from wallets. The ships are welcomed as a needed lift for the island economy, even though some activities threaten to destroy the local culture and natural beauty that many come to see.

Before sundown, the living cargo streams back to the ship’s hold in time for the evening feast, and the leviathon slips quiety into the evening almost as if it were never here. Almost.

Were they really here? - 2009




The two old Danish forts on St. Croix — one in Christiansted and the other in Frederiksted — were defended by cannons aimed seaward. The irony is that the real threat to the planter’s culture of that era came from the land in the form of the changing economics of the sugar trade, the end of slavery, and rebellions by workers against the oppressive conditions they endured.

I’m not sure if the cannons were ever fired, but many of them have now found their way to emplacements around the island where they are mounted barrel down on street corners and elsewhere to act as guardrails or barriers. This one, however, was placed into the rock at the ocean’s edge where the salt water and air is taking its toll on the old iron. It’s purpose is a mystery.

Just a few feet away from this relic of the past is a much larger relic of the future, the new clock tower built in the renovated plaza that greets cruise ship passengers as they disembark. On the rocks below the plaza were a pair of jeans and shirt with no owner visible in the water or elsewhere nearby. Perhaps he simply melted away, or even scampered away nude.

Where'd he go?

Where'd he go?



Friends - 2009

I promised Pat Coakley my next post would be something a little nicer, after the spooky “Green Ghoul” posted for Halloween.

These two women were clearly friends, and I hope their friendship and humanity come through.

For the Ghouls and Goblins


Green Ghoul -- 2009

A creature was lying on the beach, dead and half covered with sand and dried seagrass. I tried to breathe some life into him and he opened his eyes and looked at me sadly. Or was that just a dream?

A bit further on was the shell of a sailboat — someone’s home — that had blown ashore. Holed by the coral stone at the water’s edge, its bones had been picked clean by human vultures in search of anything of value. As the waves washed over it’s keel, I shuddered with the old boater’s fear in the night of losing one’s bearings, or of the anchor losing its grip on the bottom, and being shipwrecked on a reef or a rocky shore. Here was proof that it happens.

Blown ashore - 2009

Blown Ashore - 2009

Made on Sight!

Made on Sight - 2009

Made on Sight - 2009

We all see funny signs from time to time. Sometimes they are obvious errors, but this one made me wonder if they really mean what they say — that they won’t start cooking that omelet until they see the whites of your eyes! I guess that would be better than yesterday’s or last week’s omelet.

On a different subject, but still having fun, the neighbors had a problem with swarming bees the other day (not an infrequent occurrence here). They called the “bee-man” — a rasta fellow who knows what to do. He looked so strange on the rooftop after he donned all his gear.

Battle of the Bee-men - 2009

Battle of the Bee-men - 2009

The ubiquitous mobile device

Making Contact - 2009

Making Contact - 2009

Mobile devices (what we used to call cell phones) seem to be everywhere and sometimes may isolate us as much as bring us together. The image above from San Juan, Puerto Rico, will be part of an exhibition at the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts titled “Daily Strife” (opening on October 16). The exhibit commemorates Virgin Islands – Puerto Rico Friendship Day, and its theme is our common experiences and responses to the chaos and rapid change of modern life.

While mulling over the theme of the exhibition, I saw the woman below — a cruise ship tourist — studying her mobile device while walking through the grounds of the historic fort in Frederiksted. She hurried out to where the cannons were placed so she could have her picture taken with the ship in the background. I wondered if she even saw the fort.

Doppelganger - 2009

Doppelganger - 2009

Per Ankh Performance

Per Ankh Performer - 2009

Per Ankh Performer - 2009

A local group called the Per Ankh Institute puts on cultural heritage drumming and dancing performances. This woman is one of the performers. Her regal posture and smile, and her instrument covered with hundreds of cowrie shells all spoke of pride in her heritage.

The occasion was the arrival of a cruise ship, and the image below shows some of the watchers. The tall woman in white with the camera is one of the Per Ankh troupe. The young girl sitting next to her is a local resident. The others are a few of the cruise ship passengers taking a short break in the shade of the palms to be entertained.

The Watchers - 2009

The Watchers - 2009

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