This was one of the most famous entertainment venues in Panama City during the forties, fifties and sixties.  Artists from all over from Latin America performed here.  Some of the names I can remember are:  Daniel Santos, Olguita Guillot, Vicentico Valdés, Beny Moré, Virginia López, Cascarita, Celia Cruz, etc.

If you look closely at the old marquee, you can still read the following (although some letters are missing):  Hoy Olga Guillot, Abierto 10:00 a.m. (Today Olga Guillot, Open 10:00 a.m.). Olga Guillot is no longer with us.  She passed away in 2010.  Olga Guillot (October 9, 1922 – July 12, 2010) was a Cuban singer who was known as the ‘queen of bolero’. She was a native of the Cuban city of Santiago.

Other similar venues operating during this period were:  El Abrigo Rojo, Maxim, El Sombrero, La Cueva de Montesinos, El Happy Land and Camelot.  Some other names surely have slipped my mind.

Rivers of money flowed on the streets of Panama City and Colon during the forties.  The ports of Cristobal and Balboa were the last ports where thousands of soldiers and sailors spent their last dollars and drank their last cold beers before departing to the South Pacific to fight against the Japanese military forces.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

In 1962, when I first came to Panama City, El Teatro Tropical was in full swing.  Now it is forgotten, dark, dirty and dilapidated.  I was sixteen years old then.  Now I’m sixty-eight. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge.  Bye.

The Instituto Nacional was designed and built by an Italian architect named Genaro Ruggieri in 1911.  Due to his Italian origin, Ruggieri had a deep knowledge of classic architecture, (e.g., classic Greek and Roman architecture).

If you look closely at the structure of the Insituto Nacional, you will easily recognize the gorgeous marble frieze on the upper section of the edifice.  For those of you who are not familiar with the architecture term; a frieze is a broad horizontal band of sculpted or painted decoration, especially on a wall near the ceiling.  Take a look.

This picture depicts the lovely frieze of the Instituto Nacional in Panama City, Panama. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

When I saw this frieze, I remembered the famous Elgin Marbles stolen from the Greek Parthenon Temple by an unscrupulous British nobleman. His name was Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin.  From 1801 to 1812, Elgin’s agents removed about half of the surviving sculptures of the Parthenon, as well as sculptures from the Propylaea and Erechtheum. The Parthenon Marbles were transported by sea to Britain. In Britain, the acquisition of the collection was supported by some, while others likened Elgin’s actions to vandalism or looting.

Credit: Wikipedia Encyclopedia

Following a public debate in Parliament and the subsequent exoneration of Elgin, the marbles were purchased from Elgin by the British government in 1816 and were transferred to the British Museum where they stand now on display in the purposely-built Duveen Gallery.

Lord Byron did not care for the sculptures, calling them “misshapen monuments”. He strongly objected to their removal from Greece, denouncing Elgin as a vandal. His point of view about the removal of the Marbles from Athens is also reflected in his poem “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage”:

“Dull is the eye that will not weep to see
Thy walls defaced, thy mouldering shrines removed
By British hands, which it had best behoved
To guard those relics ne’er to be restored.
Curst be the hour when from their isle they roved,
And once again thy hapless bosom gored,
And snatch’d thy shrinking gods to northern climes abhorred!”

And now you know more about some of the attractions of the beautiful edifice of the Instituto Nacional in Panama City, Panama and its Italian roots.  Good Day.

For the last two years I’ve been studying the fundamentals of photography, before I start to shoot out of the box.  Meanwhile I will keep myself “In the box”.

They say photography has rules, but I think that they are more like general guidelines to aid you in taking decent pictures.  If you don’t feel comfortable using them, you can always experiment and break them.

“What I am trying to say is this: Before you can think out of the box, you have to start with a box.

We need to learn the basics of our craft. If you understand the traditional craftsmanship, that is—when speaking about photography—the technical aspect of handling the camera, understanding composition, having thorough knowledge about light’s influence on a photo, and being familiar with the visual language of photography; only then do you achieve full freedom to express your intentions with a photograph.

Some believe learning the traditional craftsmanship will limit their artistic voice. However, I do not agree to that perception. As I see it, knowing will only make you freer—as long as you do not let those old rules confine your creativity. It can actually—and most likely will—become a resource for expressing your artistic intent.”

The following images were composed using “The Rule of Thirds” which is a general guideline in traditional photography.  It works this way.  You draw an imaginary grid on your camera’s screen with two horizontal lines and two vertical lines.  Where these lines intersect, is the ideal spot to place your subject.  People normally place them in the center of the screen, which is not a good idea.  The eye will usually look for the sweet spots described above.

This shot was taken at the Pedestrian Street in downtown Panama City, Panama.  As soon as I saw this gracious woman, I knew my day was made.  I love the combination of red and black clothing.  The woman had a beautiful skin, attractive clothes and walked with grace.  I hope you enjoy these shots as much as I did when I pressed the shutter button.  Now and then I still take brief looks at this refined woman who walks like a queen.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

I will say right up front however, that rules are meant to be broken and ignoring this one doesn’t mean your images are necessarily unbalanced or uninteresting. However a wise person once told me that if you intend to break a rule you should always learn it first to make sure your breaking of it is all the more effective!

Photographs taken with a Fuji X-30 mirrorless camera in P-Mode and handheld.  Good Day.

The digital revolution and the ubiquitous cellphone camera has given rise to a very visual culture.  In this day and age, everybody is a photographer.  Photography has been democratized, it is now available to everybody with a dirt cheap cellphone.

Where are we headed?  Today the chief victims of the cameraphone are the manufacturers of point-and-shoot cameras.  If the trend continues, and I think it will, the P&S cameas will follow the way of the Dodo.

Recently I purchased a mid-range smart phone since the Chinese-cloned Apple iPhone said, like Roberto Duran, “No Más…No Más.”   I acquired it as a phone only, but after reading the manual, I discovered it also has a decent camera and was able to take pretty good pictures.

Below are some of main specifications of my Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone:

  1. Primary:  8 MP, 3,264 x 2,448 pixels, autofocus, LED flash.
  2. Features:  Simultaneous HD video and image recording, geo-tagging, touch focus, face/smile detection.
  3. Video:  1,080p@30 fps (frames per second)
  4. Shooting Modes:  Single shot, best shot, best face, sound and shot, face detection, panorama, share shot, HDR, buddy photo share, beauty, smile shot, and low light.
  5. Color Effects:  Choose color theme for the photos such as:  No effect, Cold vintage, Warm vintage, posterize, solarize, green point, blue point, red-yellow point, washed-out, cartoonify, black and white, sepia or negative.

Having all these great features at my disposal, it was only a matter of time before I was taking sample pictures using my cellphone as a portable camera.  I’m glad I did, because the results exceeded my wildest expectations by a wide margin.  Below are the first shots taken with this wonderful device.  Here we go.

Snapshot of the Instituto Nacional, a regal education center in Panama City, Panama. Due to the large eagle statues on the upper section of the structure, it is called “El Nido de las Águilas”, (The Nest of the Eagles), thus the title of this blog post. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

Expect more images of the Instituto Nacional soon, but using another camera.  It is such a jewel of architecture with a rich history.  Many presidents of the nation graduated here during its prime days.  I operated as a high school at this moment.

With the addition of this phone camera, I now dispose of four tools to take pictures.  I’m so happy with these sample pictures that were better than expected.  Now is the time to become a decent photographer without much hassle.  (Kindly click on the images to enlarge and appreciate them better.) Good Day.

English is by far the greatest borrower of words from other languages.  As the English language morphed from Old English to Middle English, to Early Modern English and to Modern English, it absorbed thousands of words from other sources such as:

  1. Latin
  2. Celtic
  3. Scandinavian
  4. French
  5. Greek
  6. Arabic
  7. Spanish
  8. Italian
  9. Dutch, Flemish
  10. German
  11. Yiddish
  12. Russian
  13. Sanskrit
  14. Hindi
  15. Dravidian
  16. Persian (Farsi)
  17. African languages
  18. American Indian languages
  19. Chinese
  20. Pacific Islands languages
  21. Australian English
  22. Many others

That is why it is such a fascinating language, alluring and detestable at the same time.  It is a extremely dynamic language, always changing like a living organism—even as we speak.  “English is seldom at a loss of words.”

In vocabulary, English is the richest modern language. It is constantly surprising even to those word gatherers among us who spend much time exploring dictionaries, especially the larger and older lexicons that harbor thousands of neglected words—words that may be a bit dusty but are none the worse for disuse.

English also has an abundance of synonyms, many not so familiar. (A relatively unknown synonym for the word synonym is poecilonym). To sunbathe, for example, is to apricate. A synonym for kissing is suaviation. We all know the word swastika. (The swastika was a positive symbol — of good luck — before the advent of Germany’s infamous Third Reich.) But how many know it’s also called a gammadion, fylfot, or crux gammata? Or that for the medical symbol called a caduceus (a winged staff with two entwined snakes) there is a far less known synonym — kerykeion?

But more obscure terms can be handy when one wants to be discreet (not to say deceptive or veiled) or somewhat droll in what one means.

Take the case of a guy on a dating website describing himself as being unconventionally handsome and stating that he is ventripotent, exophthalmic, and trochocephalic as well as opisthognathic. Don’t be surprised when he turns out to be pot-bellied and bug-eyed with a huge round head and a projecting upper jaw.

Borrowing is a consequence of cultural contact between two language communities. Borrowing of words can go in both directions between the two languages in contact, but often there is an asymmetry, such that more words go from one side to the other. In this case the source language community has some advantage of power, prestige and/or wealth that makes the objects and ideas it brings desirable and useful to the borrowing language community. For example, the Germanic tribes in the first few centuries A.D. adopted numerous loanwords from Latin as they adopted new products via trade with the Romans. Few Germanic words, on the other hand, passed into Latin.

If you are a serious about studying English be prepared for a long haul.  It is fun and irritating, but at the end of the day, you have done something absolutely wonderful.  Oh!  I love this language!  I really mean it!

Suggested Readings:

  1.  Engish is Seldom at a Loss of Words by David Grambs and Ellen S. Levine
  2.  Borrowed Words

If you are a regular follower of Lingua Franca, you already know how much I love to shoot flowers.  Usually I buy a fresh bouquet of flowers every fifteen day, following our retiree payday.  Fresh flowers add a touch of color and beauty to the house.

If the flowers are exotic and full of bright colors, I take great care in photographing them under different angles and lighting conditions.  Some series consists of forty snapshots or more.  I understand French impressionist painter, Claude Monet, practiced the same routine with the Rouen Chatedral.  In 1890 he painted a classical series of this structure that had been enjoyed by many generations, even to this day.

The painting in the series each capture the facade of the cathedral at different times of the day and year, and reflect changes in its appearance under different lighting conditions.  If you enjoy painting, you know exactly what I’m referring too.

Below is the last series of a bouquet of scarlet flowers which mesmerized me for quite a while.  I still enjoy viewing their structures, shapes and colors using the large HD screen of my television set.  They look absolutely gorgeous.  Here we go.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

Most photographers have a natural tendency to shoot impressive subjects like the Grand Canyon, the Eiffel Tower, exotic wildlife, outstanding landscapes, beautiful people and what have you.  Others prefer to aim their cameras at ordinary and mundane things that you see every day.  You see them so much, that after a while they become invisible.

William Eggleston (born July 27, 1939), is an American photographer. He is widely credited with increasing recognition for color photography as a legitimate artistic medium to display in art galleries.

Eggleston’s mature work is characterized by its ordinary subject-matter. As Eudora Welty noted in her introduction to The Democratic Forest, an Eggleston photograph might include ‘old tires, Dr Pepper machines, discarded air-conditioners, vending machines, empty and dirty Coca-Cola bottles, torn posters, power poles and power wires, street barricades, one-way signs, detour signs, No Parking signs, parking meters and palm trees crowding the same curb.’

Eudora Welty suggests that Eggleston sees the complexity and beauty of the mundane world: ‘The extraordinary, compelling, honest, beautiful and unsparing photographs all have to do with the quality of our lives in the ongoing world: they succeed in showing us the grain of the present, like the cross-section of a tree…. They focus on the mundane world. But no subject is fuller of implications than the mundane world!’

Mark Holborn, in his introduction to Ancient and Modern writes about the dark undercurrent of these mundane scenes as viewed through Eggleston’s lens: ‘[Eggleston’s] subjects are, on the surface, the ordinary inhabitants and environs of suburban Memphis and Mississippi–friends, family, barbecues, back yards, a tricycle and the clutter of the mundane. The normality of these subjects is deceptive, for behind the images there is a sense of lurking danger.’ American artist Edward Ruscha said of Eggleston’s work, ‘When you see a picture he’s taken, you’re stepping into some kind of jagged world that seems like Eggleston World.’

According to Philip Gefter from Art & Auction, ‘It is worth noting that Stephen Shore and William Eggleston, pioneers of color photography in the early 1970s, borrowed, consciously or not, from the photorealistic. Their photographic interpretation of the American vernacular—gas stations, diners, parking lots—is foretold in photorealistic paintings that preceded their pictures.

Photograph of “The Red Ceiling” photographed by William Eggleston.  Eggleston’s, The Red Ceiling, is also known as Greenwood, Mississippi, 1973. Credit: Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

Inadvertently I have been shooting ordinary subjects for over a year.  I thought there was a subtle beauty in them that we never saw because we were too busy with our daily life to take a deep look at them and really “see” them.  My wife often asks, “Omar, what is there to see in these shots“?  I always smile back and reply; “Everything!”

Below are some of sample shots of ordinary subjects in our house.  Take a look at the aesthetics of the routine world— invisible to most people.  Here we go.

Snapshot of a small pantry in our kitchen. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

Snapshot of Internet cables inside a clay pot in my home office. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

Snapshot of shoe boxes in one of our closets. The red boxes really stand out from the rest of the items stacked on the corner of the closet. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

Source:  Wikipedia Encyclopedia


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