I came across these two Malagasy guys sitting on the wall outside the entrance gate to the Ambohimanga Rova playing their guitars and singing. At first I thought they were looking for money from tourists visiting the Rova (not to be confused with the Rova in Antananarivo), but after observing them for a while I realised they weren’t taking any notice of the tourists (who were few and far between anyway) – they were just enjoying singing songs under the dappled shade of the jacaranda tree (I would have loved to have been there a month later when these steps would have been carpeted with purple jacaranda flowers).
It would be nice if I could say they were singing traditional Malagasy folk songs, but I don’t think they were. My Lonely Planet guidebook told me that traditional Malagsay music is now hard to find. The music you are more likely to hear in Madagascar these days is “a cheesy blend of guitar rock, rough-and-ready rap and hip hop, and soulful ballads. Love songs with catchy choruses are the nation’s favourite, and songstresses such as national treasure Poopy (yes, that’s her real name) keep the syrup coming with a stream of indenti-kit, but irritatingly catchy hits.”
Ambohinmanga (or ‘blue hill’) is the old capital of the Merina royal family, and right on top of the hill, a couple of hundred metres up the road from the village, sits the Rova, which is the fortified palace of King Adrianampoinimerina. Despite its proximity to the present capital, Antananarivo (it about 20 km to the north of the city), there are rarely more than half a dozen visitors at any one time, so it is a very peaceful place, enabling you to relax amongst the buildings and contemplate its history without being disturbed by hordes of tourists.
A few interesting facts from my Lonely Planet guidebook about this Rova:
-- It was constructed using cement made from egg whites – 16 million eggs were required to build the outer wall.
-- The king’s palace inside has a single trunk of sacred palissandre wood which was reputedly carried from the east coast by 2,000 slaves, 100 of whom died in the process.
-- The top of the pole is carved to show a symbolic pair of women’s breasts, a sign of the king’s polygamy and thus power.
-- Behind the palace are the baths (still there) where the king performed his royal ablutions once a year in the company of his 12 wives and diverse honoured guests. Afterwards his bathwater was considered sacred and delivered to waiting supplicants.
PP: Adjusted levels and sharpened. I used an external flash directed towards the tree (I felt the men needed some fill-flash but I didn’t want to over-expose the wall on the left). I shot this with a wide angle lens at 12mm (which is why the entrance gate is angled) but decided not to do a perspective adjustment as I quite liked the balance of the composition as it is.
Critiques | Translate
anducina (8407) 2006-10-30 11:13
Nice compo, colours and light. Interesting architecture.
pboehringer (770) 2006-10-30 19:57
Brilliant explanatory text that comes along with this post. The picture tells us a good story of these two guitarist and I wish TE would have also the possibility of sound to listen to the song. The interaction between the two is dynamic and the tree and also the gate on top of the stairs adds a good atmosphere.
Best Regards, Peter
devimeuxbe (58557) 2006-10-31 1:54
nice and peacefull place for a songer. The POV is beautifull. The light also.
Interesting and unusual view from madagascar.
(You have really been everywhere !...)
vincz (19113) 2006-10-31 5:59
I like very much this daily life shot from Madagascar. A very nice atmosphere indeed, a quiet place to sing a sing. Very good rendering on the picture itself, great light and very sharp. Well done.
ktanska (27508) 2006-10-31 7:27
What a gem for a place, especially because there aren't any crowds. And if there were, they would play for money or go away. Very cosy feeling. And I like jakarandas with their curvy branches, even without flowers.
MIG13 (0) 2006-11-01 16:12
Hi, David! Nice pic! Good and original composition, mixing old architecture, musicians and a bright day! Well done! TFS! Greetings from Rio! Miguel.
sabyasachi1212 (19779) 2006-11-02 12:16
Fantastic composition. The setting, the colour, the mood all seems to fall perfectly in place. Great work!
With Greetings from India
hoorge (1434) 2006-11-04 23:19
Nice pov, composition, and mood captured.
mphotographies (1976) 2006-11-06 1:46
Well noted image, I can hear the melodies play, the picture is so real, unpretentious, all the elements seem to be placed at the right position. Lovely skies, lively atmosphere overall - picture perfect!
PJE (20758) 2006-11-06 21:51
Well David it does look like this building has seen better days. The setting here with the two guitarists playing for enjoyment must have been moving to listen to. I like how you chose to use fill flash in this photo. It certainly helped bring to light their faces even though they were quite a distance from you. Excellent work David!
bakes888 (18499) 2006-11-08 3:00
Hi David. Nice capture, sharp as a tack. I love the choice of focal length and low POV. Well captured and thanks for sharing.
elmec (12210) 2006-11-10 4:28
Very interesting scene with two musicians!
Perfect bright light!
I like this holliday scene!
- Copyright: David Astley (banyanman) (7789)
- Genre: Places
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2006-10-01
- Categories: Daily Life, Ruins
- Camera: Nikon D100, Nikkor AF-S 12-24mm f/4G ED, Circular PL
- Exposure: f/5.0, 1/160 seconds
- Details: (Fill) Flash: Yes
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Date Submitted: 2006-10-30 9:33