Flag of the Aymara, Dance of the Llama

A performer participates in the ‘dance of the llama herders’ and waves the Aymara flag during a fiesta in Copacabana, Bolivia. Canon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 24-105mm f4L IS USM lens. Exposure Details: 1/500 second @ f4 ISO 400.

Amongst the hustle of packed streets and endless processions of dancers I came across this troupe of performers who said they were doing the ‘dance of the llama herders’. Don’t be confused, this flag represents the Aymaran people of western Bolivia, southern Peru and northern Chile. This is not a gay pride flag, though the colours are similar.

Getting this shot was partly persistence but also partly luck. I had been trying to shoot some backlit stuff in this street but was having trouble as the intensity of the sun was very strong and the performers were moving quite quickly. I was trying to set my exposure for the people and catching moments when they blocked the sun so as to avoid over-exposure. Failed attempts were totally blown out while others often turned out too dark as the light reflecting into the space was inconsistent. This shot I accidentally underexposed, but was lucky enough to catch the moment right when the flag was waved in front of the sun. In that split second the sunlight reflected perfectly off the white flag into the face of the dancer, fixing what would have otherwise been an underexposed shot (all the shots before and after of this particular dancer were underexposed for her face). I love the composition of this shot, particularly where the girl’s eyes are just caught inside the flag while the sun projects a partial silhouette of her profile onto the flag. The moment is nice too because she is engaging with me (I was quite close shooting wide at 24mm) and because the flag is perfectly displayed. I could never have planned this composition precisely, was another occasion where just being out there and trying stuff lets luck sail your way.




4 thoughts on “Flag of the Aymara, Dance of the Llama

  1. Great description for the technique, Cam – it’s sometimes too easy to mistake the difficulty. I find the face partially hidden causes some mystique even. And the eyes, straight down the lens. 🙂

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