A place to indulge an affliction


A curse upon me – my selfie was photobombed!

Howard Carter selfie Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Egypt, Nov. 2008

Howard Carter selfie Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Egypt, Nov. 2008

This is a fictional story of how I photobombed Howard Carter’s selfie in the Valley of the Kings. The story is from Mr. Carter’s point of view.

Howard Carter was an English archaeologist and Egyptologist.   Mr. Carter died of lymphoma in 1939, seventeen years after he discovered the intact tomb of 14th century B.C. pharaoh Tutankhamun.  Because his death occurred many years after the opening of King Tut’s tomb, it has been used to refute the notion of the curse of King Tut’s Tomb. What most people don’t know is that Mr. Carter was cursed soon after opening the tomb. The curse temporarily transported him 86 years into the future, in the year 2008. Here’s what happened:

It took five years for Howard Carter and his patron Lord Carnarvon to find the tomb of Tutankhamun. Predictably, there was great celebration and plentiful libations when they finally found the intact tomb. As leader of the expedition, Howard Carter led the celebrations well into the night. The following day, he woke up on the ground with a pounding headache. He was quite disoriented. It didn’t help that there were many people around, but none he recognized from his expedition. And everyone was dressed oddly. Women in men’s pants, imagine that! Carter gingerly approached a group that sounded like they were speaking English (albeit with atrocious accents!) They were friendly enough (although he heard someone remark in an undertone while staring at his clothes, “Must be a historical re-enactor.”) He asked them where he was and when they told him he was in the Valley of the Kings, specifically in front of King Tut’s tomb, Howard Carter was astonished. How did they know? His expedition only found this place yesterday! The Asian woman in the group pointed to signage in Arabic that was also translated to English stating, “Tomb of Tut Ankh Amun No: 62.” Carter stared dumbfounded at the yellow sign. His head was pounding even more and he barely heard the Asian  woman ask if he wanted to take a photo of the signage, since he seemed very interested in it. She handed him a squarish gadget that resembled one of those photograph contraptions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She directed him to look in the lens and press a button, then afterward showed him the photograph it produced: a portrait of him in front of King Tut’s tomb. Carter became hopeful. If he could show this photograph to his expedition team, they could be reassured that they had found the correct burial site of the boy king, along with its rumored treasures.  Carter asked the Asian woman if he could re-take the photograph. She handed over the camera and moved out of the way. Or so he thought. When he looked at the photograph, there she was behind him in the photograph, smiling broadly. Carter was about to protest the ruining of an otherwise perfect selfie, when a sudden burst of light blinded him. A few minutes later, when it seemed less bright and safe to re-open his eyes, he saw that he was again surrounded by the people in his expedition. Gone were the strangely-dressed people speaking English in odd accents.  Carter had returned to 1922.

I had fun making up a story around this visual assignment. As you may have guessed, I chose Historical Selfies for my second visual assignment. I’ve written in previous posts how I enjoy history, so this was an easy choice.  I used a selfie I took during a trip to the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt in November 2008. The tour group consisted of English-speaking tourists from the U.S., Australia, and the U.K.  I incorporated this bit in the fictional story I created to go with the composite photo.  While going into Tutankhamen’s tomb cost an additional 100 LE (Egyptian pounds), photographs were not allowed inside the tomb, so I had to content myself with a selfie of the signage.

I used Photoshop CS6 to create the composite photo for the “selfie.” I created a composite only once before, in another GMU course, and I had forgotten how to do it. Luckily, I remembered there was a YouTube tutorial.  After viewing the tutorial, I still had trouble being able to create a composite. I was using two non-JPEG files and thought that might have been the problem. After converting the PNG and the GIF file to JPEG, I was able to create the composite.  Below is a gallery of the original photos I used (and considered using) for this assignment:

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$5 Photo

For one of our visual assignments this week, I chose Return to the Scene of the Crime from the Assignment Bank.  The assignment required us to “Take a photo from the past that you took in a particular location. Return to that stop, and take another picture, “framing” the original within the current view.”

I took some liberties with the assignment guidelines: First, the photo of the past I used was not a print photo but the Lincoln Memorial printed on the back for the $5 note. Second, I took the photo I’m submitting a few months ago, not recently. This was on July 4, 2013, while I was volunteering for the American Red Cross during the 4th of July celebrations on the National Mall. For those  of you who live in the DC area, you’ll know that while there are always many people milling about on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, it’s not usuallly as many as in this photo.  This crowd was waiting for the fireworks to begin.

I took this photo along the Reflecting Pool. My limitations included the glare from the setting sun, the temporary fencing put up by the National Park Service, and the crowds of people around me, all preventing me from aligning the $5 bill exactly with the columns of the actual Lincoln Memorial. I tried several ways to angle my camera but in the end could not align the columns properly without stepping on small children or falling into the (duck doo-infested) Reflecting Pool.

This photo is worth more than $5

This photo is worth more than $5

I cannot even take credit for the idea of this photo. While on business travel the previous January to a naval hospital, I noticed a similar photo ($5 bill framed against the Lincoln Memorial) used as the background photo on someone’s computer screen. I asked him, a Navy veteran, about it and he told me it was taken on his one and only visit to Washington, D.C. That poignant conversation reminded me of how I sometimes take for granted that I live in a city replete with memorials to our nation’s history, yet there are thousands of Americans out there, including those who served in our armed forces, who have never had the chance to visit D.C. So, on the day the U.S. celebrated its independence from Great Britain and on the site of the memorial to the President who issued the Emancipation Proclamation, I copied the photo idea to honor those veterans, including two uncles, who have not had the chance to visit D.C.

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What did you have for lunch? A fifteen-minute photo scavenger hunt; it was quite filling

I did the photoblitz safari assignment during a lunch break, while on business travel to a naval hospital in California. The hospital is named after Robert Eugene Bush, who distinguished himself as an 18 year old sailor during the Battle of Okinawa in WWII. He was the youngest Navy sailor to earn the Medal of Honor in WWII, which was awarded by President Truman. During the battle, the Hospital Apprentice Third Class continued to fight off the enemy while administering lifesaving blood plasma to a wounded Marine officer. HA1 Bush was himself wounded but initially refused medical help until those who he was aiding were safely evacuated. A pair of sculptures depicting this heroism stands in front the naval hospital and is where I based my photo blitz. My appreciation for the work and dedication of our U.S. military medical corps grew in the past two years, while I was on this particular client project. Doing this photo blitz was a sentimental look back as I prepare to move on to a different client project.

I kept the safari within the fifteen minutes, but I forgot to take a photo of my iPhone right at the 15 minute mark, hence the ending time is 17 minutes past the beginning time. It was a cold, windy day in the desert and I had not been dressed appropriately for the desert winds, so I was ready to head back inside the building after fifteen minutes. I was only able to take twelve of the fifteen suggested photos, but am satisfied with how they turned out. I’ve provided a matrix below the photo gallery to show which photo is what.

             Photo Type
April 2, 1:08 p.m. Beginning time
Red rose Dominated by a single color
Shadows building wall Interesting shadow
Close up view of stones with sculpture in background Unusual angle
Flags Into bright light; motion
Shoe reflected on a brass propeller Shoe or foot
Ship’s anchor in a parking lot against a desert landscape Two things that do not belong together
Stones Repeating pattern
Sculpture of Robert E. Bush seen through anchor opening Looking through a frame or opening
Sculpture of Robert E. Bush holding both lifesaving medication and death dealing weapon Metaphor for complexity
Medal of Honor Citation Plaque Representing joy
Hospital architecture Converging lines
Stones Abstract
April 2, 1:25 p.m. Ending time


Five Foto Fun

Five Card Story: Tricked!

a Five Card Flickr story created by chronicwnderlst

flickr photo by Serenae

flickr photo by cogdogblog

flickr photo by Serenae

flickr photo by cogdogblog

flickr photo by dwtno

The aloe vera helped with the sunburn, but did nothing to soothe my wounded pride. Kokopelli, the trickster god, won this round. He lured me to the outdoors, using a tame sunrise to promise a mild day. But the sun shone angrily soon after and I was left burnt without the protection of a cloudy sky.

What a fun project this was! I initially read a few of the stories posted to the Five Card Story Gallery to get an idea of how people crafted their stories using the five random photos. Then, I played around with a few sets of five random photos. The most important thing in developing my story was choosing the first photograph. If none of the first initial five photographs spoke to me, I abandoned the “deck” right away. I depended on the first photograph to inspire me into weaving a story with the subsequent photos. I used the first word that came to mind after selecting that first photograph to set the theme for the story. It was fairly easy to create connections between the photographs. I did a bit of research to validate what I knew of Kokopelli.

The story spine is as follows:
There once was a girl who enjoyed sunshine. Every day, she relied on the god Kokopelli to give her a weather sign. But one day, she misjudged Kokopelli’s message based on the sunrise. Because of that, she went outside without any sun protection. Because of that, she got sunburned. Because of that, she had to use aloe vera to soothe the sunburn. And, ever since then, she never went outside unless it was a sunny, cloudy day.