Monochromes from Khiva (Part 1)

28 September 2018, Khiva, Uzbekistan.

Links go to colour posts (for more information and context). If an image does not have a link, the preceding one applies.

Click on any image to see it larger.

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Architecture, Black and White, Khiva, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

City walls.

Kukhna Ark, Khiva.

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The door to our accommodation, the Mohammed Amin Khan Madrassah.

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Mohammed Amin Khan Madrassah.

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Tura Murad Minaret.

Kukhna Ark, Khiva, Part 2.

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Looking towards the Kalta Minor.

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Open courtyard with the Kuhkna Ark on the right.

Kukhna Ark, Khiva.

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Door just inside the Ark.

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Summer Mosque.

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Summer Mosque Ceiling.

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Mohammed Amin Khan Madrassah

(Colour image not in a previous post).

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Islam Khoja Minaret & the Pakhlavan Mahmud Mausoleum.

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Crenulated city walls.

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Ceramic tiles near the top of the Kalta Minor.

Kukhna Ark, Khiva, Part 2.

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Minaret, name unknown.

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View from walls of Kukhna Ark.

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Muhammad Rahim-khan Madrasah and the Tura Murad Minaret.

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View of minaret from top of Kukhna Ark.

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Inside Kukhna Ark, Kalta Minor in the background.

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Khurinish Khana or Throne room.

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Door, unknown location.

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Detail as viewed from the top of Kukhna Ark, perhaps at the top of a Madrassah.

(Colour image not in a previous post).

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Detail as viewed from the top of Kukhna Ark, perhaps at the top of the entrance arch of a Madrassah.

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Top of Kukhna Ark walls.

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Wedding couple atop Kukhna Ark.

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This post is the second of a short series of monochromes from Uzbekistan.  They are interspersed with local posts.  The previous one is here, two posts back.  The next one is here, two posts on.

Monochromes from Tashkent

27 September 2018, Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

All images are from my previous (colour) post on Tashkent, where you may find more information and context.

Click on any image to see it larger.

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Architecture, Black and White, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

Cupola ceiling, Khast-Imam complex.

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Muyi Muborak Madrasah on the right and Abdulla Murodxo’jayev Mosque behind.

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A dome of Barakh-khan Madrasah.

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Minaret beside Abdulla Murodxo’jayev Mosque.

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Chor-Su Bazaar.

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Tashkent’s metro.

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.Architecture, Black and White, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

Leaving Tashkent’s metro.

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.Architecture, Black and White, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

Museum of Applied Arts.

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Architecture, Black and White, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan .

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Architecture, Black and White, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

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Monochrome has a long tradition in photography.  Since you are working with tonal relationships rather than colour, there is a different range of possibilities and many images work better in mono than colour.  In the days of film, when shooting black and white, you put colour filters over the lens for different renditions though you only saw the effect when the film was processed.  These days with Digital, if you are using a mirrorless camera you can see a monochrome image as you shoot, including the effect of filters.  But assuming you are shooting RAW, you still end up with a colour image that you need to convert.  This is an advantage though, as you have far more possibilities and control than in the days of film.

Just as you can have a fully automated phone or camera and just press a button for a JPEG image, some may associate monochrome conversion with just selecting a software option for black and white.  This may work sometimes and what matters is the result, not how you got there, but for me chasing a quality image requires much more.  Once I used various Photoshop methods for mono conversion, then I came to use Nik Silver Efex Pro.  I’ve never been much enamoured of Lightroom for this though it has probably improved with the new colour grading options and I do use it for quick proofs to identify suitable images.  These days I use Capture One, which to my mind offers much more control over the colours to convert, regional tonality and the various kinds of sharpening. 

The end point for photography and especially monochrome images has always been the print.  There’s a whole different level of quality that is not available in a digital image , especially a web image.  Still, this is what we have and most of these images will never be printed.

This is the first of probably seven posts on mono conversions of Uzbek images.  However, I’m currently in COVID lockdown and have been going out each day and taking photographs of the local fauna and of macro landscapes.  So I’m expecting to make two posts a week for at least two or three weeks, with midweek posts of local images.

The next mono Uzbek post is here, two posts on.

 

State Museum of Arts,Tashkent

Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 6 October 2018.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.)

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On our last day in Tashkent we had some spare time before catching the plane and chose to visit the State Museum of Arts.

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Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Reconstructed face of Neanderthal boy, Teshiktash Cave, Surkhandaraya region.

There was also a Neanderthal skull, 100,000 years old, from the same location.

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Flint tools from 4th Millennium BC, Bukhara region.

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Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Rock carvings, 3rd Millennium BC.

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Jar handle in the form of a goat, 5th to 4th millennium BC.

This image and the next two are images of objects from the Amudarya Treasure.  The originals are gold but these are replicas.  In 1880, Captain F.C. Burton happened upon some Afghan merchants being attacked by bandits in the roads of what is now Northern Pakistan, and drove off the bandits.  One of the merchants later showed Burton some items he had and Burton was most intrigued so purchased one.  Burton later showed it to Major General Sir Alexander Cunningham, Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India, whose jaw hit the floor.  Cunningham correctly identified it  as a a fine example of Achæmenid Persian metalwork, from a period when the Achæmenid Emprire stretched from Egypt to the Indus Valley.  Together with Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks, a curator of the British Museum, Cunningham scoured the markets of Pakistan and Northern India for several months and succeeded in purchasing 170 items from the hoard.  They are now in the British Museum.  The treasure had been found on the northern bank of the Amyu Darya River (the Oxus in Classical times), in what is now Tajikistan.

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Priest, 5th to 4th millennium BC.

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Bracelet with Griffins, , 5th to 4th millennium BC.

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Ancient individual with Central Asian headgear (didn’t record the label for this one).

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Coins of Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, 3rd to 2nd centuries BC.

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Solar Deity, 1st to 2nd centuries AD, Fayaztepa, Old Termez, Southern Uzbekistan.

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Buddha with monks, 1st to 3rd century AD.

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Cover from reliquary vessel, 3rd to 4th centuries AD, Kara-Tepa, Old Termez, Southern Uzbekistan.

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Hunting scene, mural painting, 7th century AD, Varakhsha, Ancient Sogdian city near Bukhara.

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This is a copy of one of the world’s oldest Korans.  We saw the original at the start of the trip in Barakh-khan Madrasah (in Tashkent).  Photography is not permitted of the original one.  In either case, it is huge.  The original supposedly dates back to the 630s but testing indicates an early 8th to early 9th century date.

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Glazed ceramic, Samarkand, 10th century.

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Glazed ceramic, Samarkand, 11th century.

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Ceramic dish, 10th to 12th Centuries.

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Glazed ceramic, Samarkand, 12th century.

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Armour of one of Timur’s soldiers, 14th to 15th centuries.

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Glazed ceramic, Samarkand, 15th to 16th centuries.

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Chain mail armour, shield and sword, Bukhara, 18th to 19th centuries.

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Embassy from Khiva, in Tashkent, early 19th century.

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Nineteenth century door from Khiva.

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Nineteenth century door from Bukhara.

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Nineteenth century door from Tashkent.

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Military uniform, Bukhara, 1861-1865.

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Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Siege of Samarkand, 1868.

Russia occupied Samarkand in 1868, which had been held by Bukhara.  The Russian army then left to pursue the Bukharan army, leaving a small force behind to hold Samarkand.  A combined Bukharan/ Kokand force then laid siege to Samarkand.  This is what is shown here.  The besiegers withdrew when the main Russian force returned.

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Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

“Bazaar in Samakand”, 1897.

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“Bibikhonum Square”, Samarkand. 

(See here for my post on its restored appearance).

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“The street of a Central Asian city”, 1896.

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Decorative embroidery, late nineteenth century, Tashkent.

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Saddle, Namangan, Ferghana Valley, late 19th century.

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Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Emir’s horse-blanket, 1911-1912.

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Jewellery, early 20th century.

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Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Gidjak and Rubab (traditional instruments), 1978.

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That was the last post on Uzbekistan, apart from monochrome conversion posts to follow.  Particular thanks to Advantour who organised a wonderful custom tour for us at a reasonable price.  There have been 22 posts with 600 images and 15,000 words.  I have updated the index of posts in the Trip Itinerary.

Samarkand to Tashkent

Samarkand to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 5 October 2018.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.)

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We are en route from Samarkand back to Tashkent, where we catch a plane to Istanbul.  These images are all taken from a moving car.  Some are less than technically perfect, but still included for a feel of the journey.

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Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

There were a few military vehicles on the road.  I wouldn’t have taken a photo like this in Ladakh, not that far from the Chinese border, but felt safe to do so here.

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Fruit for sale on the side of the road.

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The truck looks overloaded but perhaps the load is not all that heavy.

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A variety of products for sale on the way.

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I’m not able to translate the signs.

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Stork nests on a telegraph pole.

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Roadside cattle.

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It seems the products are delivered by trucks – or, maybe, a donkey and cart.

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Many people must still be pursuing largely traditional lives because some of the vehicles on the road are less than high tech.

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He’s carrying a pole; it’s not to beat the donkey.

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This car wasn’t moving very fast either.

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Ulugh Beg and Afrasiab, Samarkand

Samarkand, Uzbekistan, 4 October 2018.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.)

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This post is from out last day in Samarkand.

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Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Young woman extracting strips of bark from branches of young mulberry trees.

We visited a traditional paper mill in the village of Koni Ghil, just outside Samarkand.  Paper making in Samarkand dates back to 751AD when the Abbasid general Abu Muslim defeated a Tang Dynasty army with the aid of the Tibetan Empire and the defection of Karluk mercenaries who were over half of the Tang army.   They took many prisoners, some of whom then introduced paper making to the region.  This replaced the use of papyrus and became an export industry to the rest of the Arab world.  The paper-making tradition was lost following the Russian takeover in the nineteenth century and it has been recently recreated. 

(China retreated from the region soon after the Battle of Talas but not due to that, rather due to the An Lushan Rebellion which started in 755.)

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The strips of bark are next boiled for four or five hours.

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They are then pounded to a pulp by a trip-hammer powered by this water mill.  Then they are pressed and dried and finally polished with an agate stone for a smooth finish.

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A local woman welcoming us to the small museum for the Ulugh Beg Observatory.

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Inside the museum, a model of the observatory built by Ulugh Beg in the 1420s.

At the top front of the building is the viewing hole of the astrolabe inside.  The smaller structure on top of the building appears to be a sextant able to rotate, for less precise observations at flexible angles. 

The site is close to the ancient city of Afrasiab (prior to the existence of Samarkand).  There was another observatory here as early as 840AD, of which no trace remains.  Although Afrasiab was the capital of the Sogdians, in the ninth century they had been taken over by the Samanids, based in Bukhara, who featured in a brief renaissance of science and culture, unmatched in the world at that time.  

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Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Inside this 13th century building was a meridional arc, or astrolabe, aligned north-south, for celestial measurements.  Since they took measurements using 60 degrees instead of the full 90 degrees available, it is also a sextant.  This is clearly not a working model because there is no viewing hole to the sky at the top.  I presume the little vertical windows on the back wall are for viewing the angle cast by the sun.  The rest of the building was rooms for scientists to confer and calculate, maybe even some to sleep in.

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The astrolabe as it survives.

In 1908 Russian Archaeologist Vyatkin discovered the location of the Observatory and excavated the remains.  In particular, he  uncovered the below-ground part of the massive astrolabe, as shown here.  Only the foundations remain of the rest of the building.

As well as being Lord of Transoxiana from 1409 to 1447, Ulugh Beg was a scientist and imported the best scientists available for the observatory. It could accurately measure the length of the year, the local time of noon each day, the altitude of a star and other planets, the period of planets, and eclipses. They estimated the length of the year more accurately than Copernicus subsequently did and the axial tilt of the earth as accurately as modern measurements.  They constructed an atlas of over 1,000 stars, Zij-i-Sultani, the first to be published since Ptolomey and including those stars but with more accurate measurements.  The atlas also included a sine table accurate to six places from 0 to 87 degrees, and to 11 places from 87 to 90 degrees.  The atlas survived for posterity because when the observatory was destroyed, scientist Ali Kushji fled to Constantinople and published it.  It was in use until the nineteenth century.

Ulugh Beg became Emperor when his father died in 1447, but only for two years of turmoil until he was deposed and then murdered by one of his sons.  The observatory was then destroyed by religious fanatics and the scientists fled.  

“Religions dissipate like fog, kingdoms vanish, but the works of scientists remain for eternity” – Ulugh Beg.

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This is a view from outside.  The big black tube is the top of what remains of the astrolabe.  Perhaps that gives you a better idea of the scale of it.

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Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

… as does the view from here.  This also gives a sense of how high the arc of the original version would have climbed to reach the top of the third floor.

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A short distance away, we are near the Mausoleum of the Prophet Daniel (as in Daniel and the lions), sacred to Moslems, Jews and Christians.  Inside, the tomb is eighteen metres long because Daniel is supposed to be still growing inside it.  There are also other tombs of Daniel in seven other countries.  There was no-one stopping me taking photos inside but notwithstanding my religious cynicism, I did not do so because it was clearly a place of veneration for other people there.

Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

The tomb of Daniel is in the background to the right.  However, the line of hills in the background is the edge of the location of the ancient city of Afrasiab.  This was the capital city of the Sogdians, from the sixth century BC to 1220 AD when Genghis Khan razed it, though they were not independent for all of that period. 

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Three hunters, probably Scythians, with horses and lions or leopards.

We next visited the Afrosiab Museum, a short distance from the Mausoleum of Daniel.  Russian archaeologists discovered Afrasiab in the 1880s and the museum includes some of their finds.  It also includes some seventh century murals from the royal palace, discovered in 1965 when building a road. They are from the time of King Varkhuman, and painted between 648 and 651, or shortly after 658.  He ruled a multicultural entity and was nominally a vassal to China but his polity did not last long as his palace was destroyed by the Arab general Sa’id Ibn Ithman between 675 and 677 CE and after that there were no kings of Samarkand.

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Here we see ossuaries and skulls, from the sixth to the eighth centuries.  Some of the skulls exhibit cranial deformations that I had previously associated only with the Maya, but that I discover were performed in many cultures.  This practice was brought to Sogdia by the Yuezhi, who were driven out of China and established the Kushan Empire in Central Asia and India in the early first century.

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Fresco showing the the arrival of a king and a princess to a country church or the arrival of a royal bride.  There are details from this fresco in the next four images.

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In most of these human representations, the eyes may have been later gouged out by Islamic Arabs.

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Birds (swans?), possibly for sacrifice.

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Detail of camel saddle.

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Part of the saddle of the elephant.

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Ambassadors from Chaganian (south of Afrasiab, central figure) and Chach (modern Tashkent).

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Turkish (Turkic?) dignitaries, one of them is labeled as coming from Argi (Karashahr in modern Xinjiang).

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Left hand group: Tang Dynasty emissaries carrying silk and a string of silkworm cocoons;

Right hand group:  Sogdian chamberlains and interpreter introduce Tibetan messengers.

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Women on boats, probably local Turkic aristocrats copying the fashions of women in Tang China.

Tang Dynasty China was a major force in Central Asia during this period and Sogdia may have shared a border with them at this time (the border fluctuated).

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan .

.Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan .

.Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

A duck – a sacred bird of the Zoroastrians.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Model of eleventh century kiln.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Ceramic plate from 10th to 12th century.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

We are away from the museum now and still had some spare time so we headed for a small mosque in the country.  I do not know the name of the village.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

The minaret of the mosque.  I could remove the wires, but they were there.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Some kind of restoration exercise in the grounds of the mosque.  I do not remember the details.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

This is the mosque and we are definitely not in the city.  It was small and unassuming and the locals, who were not expecting us, were polite and friendly.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Later in the evening, since we were staying very close to it, I decided to go back for some night-time exposures of Gur Emir, Timur’s Mausoleum.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

.

.Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan .

.Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan .

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Lockdown is for the Birds

Brisbane, Queensland, 1 to 6 August 2021.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.).
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 Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

Butcher Bird.

At the end of the last post, we had stopped off in Brisbane for a couple of days en route to a photographic tour in North Queensland, when our progress was arrested by a sudden seven-day lockdown.  So we spent the next seven days with our friends Jim and Milena in their new home, and with the birds that either visited or lived there.

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

The same Butcher Bird from the verandah (also then next two images).

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife .

. Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife .

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

Back inside, with Percy and Polly (Rainbow Lorikeets) and Milena.  One of the lorikeets is interested in learning how to use the coffee machine.

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

The other, not so much.

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On the verandah again, two Kookaburras.

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Juvenile Magpie soaring up for food.  this one has a damaged foot.

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

Juvenile Magpie on the rail (the adults are black rather than grey).

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

The Australian Magpie is not related to the Eurasian Magpie.  It is related to the Butcherbird, though.

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Kookaburra.

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Though we were in a city, we were able to go for a brief walk in a forest nearby.

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Inside with the lorikeets again.

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 Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

They are very fast inside the house and challenging to photograph.

Ironically, I had brought a Nikon D850 and 300mm f2.8 lens (plus teleconverters), specifically for photographing birds in flight, mainly from various bird hides I expected to encounter.  I did not anticipate the my BIF photography would be indoors.

These indoor images were all taken with a Fujifilm X-E4 and a 27mm f2.8 lens (40mm full frame equivalent), heavily croppped.  I couldn’t predict when and where they were going to fly I needed loose compositions.  They are all on 1/2,000 sec because the lorikeets are very quick and light levels were quite low so they are all on high ISOs, more that two thirds on 6400 or 12,800.  As well as that, this was a new camera and when I had set up Custom Quick Menus, I hadn’t realised that as well as the values on the Quick Menus, there were also many other values I needed to set or they would revert to the original camera defaults.  This meant I was shooting JPEG instead of RAW so many of the images are lacking highlight or shadow detail.

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

This might represent an interesting lorikeet decal on the splashback except that it was a bit too transient for full appreciation at the time.

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Lorikeet and Jools.

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Percy and Polly powering past.

. Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife .

. Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

Also a Budgie, even more elusive on the wing.

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

… and here playing hide-and-seek.

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Back on the balcony, an adult Magpie in midair leaping for food, plus a Butcher Bird.

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

  … Coming in to land ….

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

Magpie pair.

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife .

. Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

Again, a lorikeet as an interior decoration….

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife .

. Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife .

. Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife .

. Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

Jim with Percy and Polly.

It was difficult to find lockdown information at this time as the Queensland Government told people not to ring them and if you did, you could wait for a long time and then drop out.  Eventually, we worked out that we were free to fly back to the ACT, even while the lockdown continued in Brisbane.  Jools did so first, I did so after receiving an email from the ACT Government advising against further travel. 

Now Queensland is out of lockdown and we are in lockdown in Canberra.  The main problem is New South Wales, which failed to lockdown for ten days after their first case and is now spiralling out of control with over a thousand cases per day.  (That won’t sound high if you live in Montenegro, Malaysia or Miami but is the highest we have seen in Australasia).  (The other problem is the low vaccination rate, due to the incompetence of the Federal Government).  Fortunately it doesn’t seem too bad in the ACT and we may be out of lockdown in a couple of weeks, though the situation remains precarious.

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At the water’s edge

Brisbane, Queensland, 31 July 2021.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.).
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We are on our second day in Brisbane, staying with friends, en route to Northern Queensland, or so we thought.

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Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

Though inside Brisbane, we are on a scenic drive that goes in part through a national park, and we are looking down some distance at a house on farmland.  It appears to be the mansion of a drug baron.  Perhaps a nineteenth century drug baron.  Probably opium, in that case.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

Near the road, we noticed this compact granny flat.  Specially adapted for natural air conditioning.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

And in the distance there are these massive ancient megaliths.  Some of them may be more than a hundred feet high.  How they carried the stones there is a mystery.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

It’s not fire season yet so this was presumably burning off.  These days severe bush fires can occur even in winter though.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

We proceeded on to Wynnum, where we visited a cafe and then wandered out onto the pier.  Beside the pier, this I believe is a gazebo martin (though usually known as a tree martin).  I tried to get them in flight as a test of camera settings for that purpose but they are very fast and I did not succeed.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

Wynnum pier.  The martins were building a nest in the roof of the right-hand gazebo.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

Next we visited the nearby East Coast Marina and I photographed some of the yachts sailing around and in or out of the marina, from the end of a pier.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

Also, a couple of dragon boats.  Going out…

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

…then coming back in.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

Small yacht returning to the marina.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

Two launches and a yacht coming out.

The red sign at the left is not blank on purpose for the benefit of people who cannot read, rather it is a marker for the dredged channel.  The water can be otherwise quite shallow around here.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

A launch and a windsurfer exploring the possibility of flight.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

I think the same windsurfer.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

A small flotilla of launches coming in on the channel. 

You can see the channel marker in the mid background (in itself an indication the water is not as deep as it may seem).

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

There was a parasurfer there as well.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

We are now around behind the marina and a paddle-boarder is proceeding out.  He may not require as large a mooring as those catamarans.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

The boat at front in the middle is an old pearling lugger with a Maori name, which may indicate it was used by Maori divers.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

We are now a bit further south at Cleveland Point.  There are a number of cormorants on this tree.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

With a slightly different angle, I am now shooting into the sun.  It is still a colour image but the extreme contrast has wiped out the colour.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

This is the old Cleveland Point Lighthouse, no longer in use.  It has an unusual design and was built in 1865.  It is a State lighthouse for local navigation so was not amongst the Commonwealth lighthouses I photographed in 1987 (Lighthouses tab, at top of page).

Half an hour after I took this photo, Brisbane went into a sudden COVID lockdown for at least seven days.  We worked that out later when we drove past a pub that had no patrons.  No flight for us to North Queensland early morning the day after next.

Fortunately, we were able to stay with our friends for the duration.  The lockdown did end after seven days but then there was a North Queensland lockdown for another three days.  That also ended after the three days and I would have waited and kept on going but I received a letter from the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) Government advising against further travel.  The problem was New South Wales where COVID was out of control by Australian standards because the NSW Government waited for 10 days before locking down.  Had I kept going I risked an ACT lockdown and either having difficulty returning or returning to 14-day hotel quarantine (as opposed to the much more benign home quarantine).

 

So after five days, I abandoned the North Queensland trip and returned to Canberra.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

Meanwhile, we stopped for the sunset at a beach a bit further south near Victoria Point.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

… as the light slowly receded.

MacLeay Island in the background and South Stradbroke Island beyond that.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts .

.Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts .

.Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts .

.Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts .

.Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts .

.Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts .

.Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

An obliging pelican swam up and posed for me.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

The light was getting very low and although I was using a lens with good image stabilisation, that does not compensate for subject movement and I underestimated what shutter speed I needed so the pelican in this image is not actually in focus.  (I decided to show it anyway because of the feel and the colour).

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

A last image in the gathering doom….

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Then when we got back home, I went to change lenses on my cameras for more compact storage and discovered I was missing a lens – actually the new lens from my recent post on Setting Up the X-E4.  It had fallen out of my bag.

Clearly it wouldn’t be there the next morning so notwithstanding the lockdown, I went back to try to find it.  I thought it had probably fallen out of the bag when I bent down to take a photo using a small post as support. 

When we got back to where we had been, I immediately saw it on the road where the car had been parked.  It had fallen out when I got the bag out of the car, about eighteen inches to two feet.  Fortunately I hadn’t run over it.  It was unmarked, had no apparent ill effects and still worked fine including autofocus.  (Phew!)

Mount Tamborine

Brisbane, Queensland, 30 July 2021.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.).
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Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Just before dawn, we headed off on our flight from Canberra to Brisbane, the first step of our journey to North Queensland.

. Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

… though as it turned out, we would not get to North Queensland, rather turned back due to COVID lockdowns.

. Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

We met up with our friends Jim and Milena, and later headed for Mount Tamborine.  This is a view looking inland over the plains.

. Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

… and over farmland.

. Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

The weather seems to have been changing considerably and is not quite how I remember it, though perhaps that is the infrared sensor and processing.

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Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

We stopped at a cafe for lunch.

. Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

And then we headed for the Mount Tamborine Skywalk, so the remaining images are from there.

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.Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

The bunga bunga pines are towering over the rest. 

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.Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Eastern yellow robin (male).

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These two images looking straight down at some distance.

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.Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

.Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

.Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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North Queensland Itinerary

30 July to 15 August 2021.

(Click maps for a larger size if they are too small to see).
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Jools and I are planning to fly north to North Queensland for a couple of weeks. This would be quite a change from the currently cold climate of Canberra. 

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Current Queensland border closures.

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However, it all depends of COVID restrictions and border closures.  Australia is pretty much closed to the outside world so we can’t leave the country and there are also restrictions for internal travel.  Queensland currently has closed its borders to New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia but not the Australian Capital Territory (Canberra).  New South Wales is experiencing an explosion of the COVID Delta variant (by Australian Standards at least, 172 new cases yesterday), whereas Canberra hasn’t had a locally spread case for over a year.  We just have to hope that the borders will stay open for us at least for the next three days until our planned departure date.

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We are intending to fly north to Brisbane, stay with friends for a few days, then fly to Cairns.

Edit:  We got to Brisbane and then were caught in a snap 7-day lockdown.  Towards the end of that, Jools had already gone back and I was contemplating going on despite a 3-day North Queensland lockdown when I received an email from the ACT Government warning against further travel.  So I came back as well.  I was concerned I might have to come back to hotel quarantine.  ACT is now in lockdown so we’re now in lockdown there.

Hopefully we’ll be able to do the trip at a later date, perhaps next year.

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Brisbane posts:

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From Cairns, we drive south to the Atherton Tablelands, staying in rainforest for several days near Lake Eacham and Craters Lakes National Park.  We expect to visit Cathedral Fig Tree, Lakes Eacham and Barrine, Yungaburra, Curtain Fig National Park, Atherton, Hasties Swamp National Park (bird hide), Herberton, Mt Hypipamee National Park, Ravenshoe, Tully Gorge Lookout and Millaa Millaa waterfalls.  Wildlife we hope to encounter includes striped possums, platypodes (the correct plural of platypus since the word derives from Greek not Latin) and tree kangaroos.

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We then drive to Laura where we stay overnight and join two tours of Aboriginal rock art the next day.  We next drive to Cooktown where we stay for several days and join another Aboriginal rock art tour on the last morning.

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After Cooktown, we drive to Daintree National Park, where we stay for a few days.  The rainforest here comes down to the sea and we may encounter a cassowary.  Then we drive down to Kuranda, in the hills near Cairns and stay overnight.  The next day we drive back down the hill then take a cablecar back up to Kuranda and come down again in a small train.  From there we drive to Mossman Gorge, stay near there overnight and explore the gorge the next day.  Then we drive to Daintree Village where we stay overnight.  Early the next morning we have a photographic tour on Daintree river, then drive down to Cairns airport to catch our plane back to Canberra.

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I am planning to take both Nikon and Fuji photographic equipment.

I will have a Nikon D850 and a 300mm f2.8 plus 1.4x and 2x teleconverters as my prime telephoto equipment for wildlife.

To reduce weight and also carry a larger range of equipment, I will also have a Fuji X-T2, X-E4 and X-E2 IR cameras, together with 4mm fisheye, 8mm fisheye, 8-16mm, 23mm, 27mm, 35mm, 56mm, 80mm macro and 70-300mm lenses and a 1.4x TC.  (I could perhaps leave the 23mm and 35mm behind but they’re fairly small and light.)  Jools will  have an X-E4 and a 18-135mm lens and will be able to borrow the 70-300mm when I am using the Nikon 300mm.

Next will be a technical post on setting up the new X-E4 but there may be no posts after that for two or three weeks.

Ak Saray, Samarkand

Samarkand, Uzbekistan, 3 October 2018.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.)

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At the end of a long day (as per the previous four posts) we had some free time in the late afternoon so we decided to go for a walk near our hotel, which was also near Gur Emir (Timur’s mausoleum).

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Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

In the park opposite the hotel, this is the Rukhabad Mausoleum, built by Timur in 1380 to house the grave of Islamic theologian Sheikh Burhaneddin Sagaradzhi.  The mausoleum is generally plain and unassuming, as is the interior.

.Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Here from a distance is the top of Gur Emir, Timur’s mausoleum, as we approach.

. Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

(See earlier post for more on Gur Emir).

. Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Late in the afternoon, just before closing time, there were few people around, just a few locals passing by.

. Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Not far away is a mausoleum with a simple exterior.  I was not aware of this and an attendant called us inside as we passed by.

.Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

The interior was spectacular and elegant and a great surprise.

. Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

The exterior was supposed to include a turquoise dome but that was never finished.

. Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

It has been very recently restored, in 2007.

. Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

It is the mausoleum of Abdal-Latif Mirzu, sone of Ulugh Beg and geat grandson of Timur.

. Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Timur’s death lead to a civil war, which his son Shah Rukh won after several years.  He based himself in Herat and let his son Ulugh Beg rule Samarkand.  Ulugh Beg’s great achievements were as Crown Prince and ruler of Samarkand.

. Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Looking up….

. Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

When Shah Rukh died, another series of civil wars broke out. Ulugh Beg spent his three years as Emperor fighting them.

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Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

In 1449, he was defeated by his son Abdal-Latif Mirza.  He surrendered and then set off on a pilgrimage to Mecca but his son had him assassinated on the way.

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Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

When Soviet scientist Gerasimov disinterred Timur in 1941, he also disinterred Ulugh Beg who lay with his head separated from his body.

. Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Abdal-Latif Mirza ruled for only six months before he too was executed.

. Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

The magnificence of the mausoleum lives on….

We were very lucky to visit so late in the afternoon because we were the only visitors and it is quite small.

. Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

This section said to represent the eyes and head of a bird.

. Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

The steps to the undecorated funeral chamber below.  A body was discovered here with the head separated, presumably Abdal-Latif Mirza.

.Ak Saray Mausoleum, Architecture, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Rukhabad mausoleum, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Walking back to the hotel, we were able to enter Gur Emir (Timur’s mausoleum) in the last few minutes before it closed, free of the seething crowds.  This is the main chamber.

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I still have a few posts to go on Samarkand but they will have to wait as I am soon expecting to depart of a short trip to North Queensland, unless COVID lockdowns intervene.  More on that soon.