by Dick Kraus
Staff Photographer

When stuck with a lot of lemons, the old adage goes, make lemonade. That's what I'm trying to do here, so bear with me. You see, when "Murphy's Law" (if it's possible for something bad to happen, it will)takes over, as it did recently.....well, this is lemonade.

To begin with, my journal for this month was supposed to be about the fantastic web page assignment that I freelanced, last month. I was invited to document a mission to Villahermosa in Tobasco Province, in the south of Mexico that was conducted under the auspices of Operation Rainbow. They provide medical help for children in third world countries who are afflicted with cleft lips and palates. A team of surgeons and nurses and support staff travel around the world at their own expense to help these poor children. This particular group of medical people came from the Chicago area. I was hired to photograph the mission which was then posted, daily, on Operation Rainbow's web site.

It was an amazing experience and I took many photos. And, after I got back home, I started writing a journal, describing what it was like. I had to wait for the Web Master, who had accompanied the mission and who had downloaded all of my digital camera discs to his computer so that I could reformat and reuse my discs for more photos. I had asked him to burn them onto cd's and send them to me so that I would have pictures to add to that journal. He graciously did this and wrote to me last week saying that the cd's were in the mail.

Well, Mr. Murphy shoved his friggin' law in my face and the deadline for this issue is upon us, and the goddam pony express still hasn't delivered my photos. The journal is written and waiting for the inclusion of my photos. I'm a photographer, not a writer and I don't think that a text only journal would entertain many people, so I'm making lemonade. I'm pulling that journal, and substituting this one. Which, as luck would have it, will be text only. Sheesh!

So, grab a glass and enjoy this lemonade.

After the week of operations and just before we were to fly back to the US of A, the good people at the children's hospital where we worked, treated us to a tour of the 1800 year old Mayan pyramids in the neighboring province of Ciapas. We were driven there in a bus provided by the hospital and were given a guided tour of this amazing historic site known as Palenke. I was amazed at the place. High pyramids build of hewn stone blocks soared into the sky. It was a "red filter" day, that day. In my black and white film days, a "red filter" day was one with a deep blue sky and puffy white cumulus clouds. That's what we had. There were great photos everywhere you pointed your camera. I filled an entire 160 megabyte flash card with my Nikon D-1 digital camera. That translates to about 120 frames.

I made shots of the huge, ancient pyramids soaring into that deep blue sky. Click, click, click. I made close-ups of the amazing architectural details that allowed these edifices to hold together for almost 2000 years. Click, click, click, click. I shot broad panoramas, framed within the stone arches. Click, click. There were detail shots of the ancient frescos on the walls. Click, click. And more of the steles (columns engraved with Mayan pictographs that told the histories of the Mayan rulers who were buried in tombs in the depths of the pyramids). Click, click, click, click. I used every lens in my inventory. I made wide shots. Click. I made medium shots. Click. I made close-ups. Click, click. I shot low angles, high angles and everything in between. Click, click, click. I filled the flash card and I knew that I had some great art to do a travel page for my paper. And a journal for Assignment Sheet.

One of the first things that I did when I got back, was to download 3 discs to my computer hard drive at home. Two were some of the last shots I made of the doctors at work. One was from Palenke. I even made separate folders, dated according to when the shots were made. I made sure that the transfer of images was successful. Then I had to reformat my flash cards because I needed them the next day when I returned to work at the paper.

When I returned home from work, that next evening, I opened the folders and found that I had made mistakes in dating them. I had to make new folders with the correct dates and I copied the image files from the original folders to the new ones and then I deleted the old ones to avoid confusion. I am a stickler for emptying my trash can on a regular basis. OK, I'm really anal that way. And Murphy shoved up my ass once more. When I opened the folders to work on the photos, I found that I had copied one of the folders twice and the missing one, it goes without saying, were the files from Palenke. Shit! Not one photo of the Mayan ruins was available. I immediately ran Norton Unerase but it didn't turn up a thing.

So, I hope that you are enjoying this un-illustrated glass of lemonade.

You have to know that the missing photos of Palenke were the best pictures that I have ever made. Just like the biggest fish that I ever caught was the one that broke off before I could get him in the boat.

See you next month with the journal that you should have been reading now. Hopefully it will have pictures. I've had enough lemonade for awhile.

Dick Kraus

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