Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Orleans Mardi Gras 2011

We recently returned from 10 days in New Orleans, overlapping with the last 5 days of mardi gras parades and Fat Tuesday.

We watched much of the parading from a privileged location along the St. Charles street parade route, since we were staying with friends in a fourth floor condo with a balcony overlooking all the action.  On several occasions I'd venture onto the street level to get a different perspective, but I mostly remained on the fourth floor.

As it turned out, the best shots were on the street.  The images that close to the crowd, the marching bands and the floats capture an energy no long lens or wide angle shot from 30 feet above could.  In retrospect, I wish I spent more time at ground level and less time close to the conveniences of food, beverage and toilets in the condo.  I'll know better next time.

Click on each image to enlarge it.

I have no such regrets about Fat Tuesday.  This is the last day of mayhem, just before the start of Lent, and is the true climax of the celebration.  We were in the French Quarter for most of the day in the epicenter of the insanity.  For a couple of hours I was positioned next to an outdoor catwalk observing a costume contest unlike anything I could have imagined.  Many of the contestants were gay men, and they spared no expense or effort creating outrageously elaborate costumes.  The crowd around the show was so thick I couldn't move from my spot no matter how hard I tried.  Only after the winners were declared was I able to get a better shooting angle near the stage.

I brought home more than 4,000 images of mardi gras, New Orleans streets, the zoo, and a couple of plantations up the river. 

In time I'll be posting the best of the images here and on my website.

This was my second visit to New Orleans in as many years.  I'm convinced there's no other place like it in this world.

A technical note about these posted images:  All were shot camera RAWwith prime lenses under available light.  ISO varied from 100 to 1600 and focal legths from 24mm on a full-frame Canon 5D to 85mm on a Canon 40D.  Considerable adjustments occurred in Lightroom and Photoshop to enhance the images.

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