El Castillo is the largest building among the Mayan ruins at Tulum in Mexico, a tall building itself standing on top of a large bluff over the nearby water. You can get a feel for the size of the building from the people walking in front of it, and they are even several yards in front of the building. We visited Tulum during our 2016 Cruise to Mexico.
This photo is to me the quintessential photo of the Mayan ruins at Tulum, with the pyramid framed by the lush vegetation of the area. This is also about the best view you can get of El Castillo, because you can’t climb on it or explore the area right around it to help preserve the antique structure. But even without being able to climb on it or get right up next to it, you can still get a good feeling of the history behind El Castillo and the surrounding area just by looking at the building. It definitely does look like something out of the textbook illustrations or movies that you may have seen in the past, except that this is the real, live thing. No, it isn’t alive, but if you are standing there to see it live and in person, then you know what I mean.
These days, history is easy to come by. If you want to know anything about anything, just look it up on the internet. Back in the older days, we relied on things like newspapers, magazines, and books for such knowledge, and the library was always a big help in all of that. But now, all of that information is right in front of you no matter where you are, thanks to mobile devices that you can take with you anywhere.
However, for me it didn’t matter how much I read about Mayan ruins before we went to Mexico, which admittedly wasn’t all that much, but some. It was just words on paper with some photos to go along with it. Or maybe some video images on the computer screen or on television. Just some things that happened a long time ago in a place far away from home.
All of that history didn’t mean much to me until we were actually right there in the middle of it all. Yes, we weren’t living in the history, we were just seeing the places where things happened, and seeing ruins of buildings built a long time ago. But just by being there, it all became much more interesting and much more real.
Once we returned home, I began reading more about the history of the area and the people that lived there, and it has become much more meaningful now that we have been there in the middle of it all, even if we were just in the middle of a couple of very small parts of it all. It all makes much more sense now, in a very real way.
So if you want history to come alive, my advice would be to visit the places where it happened. It might make you want to know even more.
I will remember the Lord’s works; yes, I will remember Your ancient wonders. - Psalm 77:11
About the Photo
I chose to give this photo a slightly aged look to go along with its theme. So even though the sun was shining brightly at the time, I muted the tones just a bit to give it this look. It wasn’t a major change, but I thought it turned out well.
Here is a before-and-after comparison to give you an idea of the changes, so that you can judge for yourself:
Photo: A single Raw exposure, processed in Photoshop. Read more about photography tips, photo software, camera gear, and more at Steve’s Photography Tips.
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M10
Lens: Olympus M.Zukio 25mm f1.8
Date: July 18, 2016
Location: Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico