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Mexico- Landscape and Architecture. Jacket cover.

Mexico- Landscape and Architecture.

Preview book: Mexico- Landscape and Architecture by Lawrence G. Desmond

Hot off the press: Mexico- Landscape and Architecture. After publishing three books that feature the peoples of Mexico, I have just finished my first book of photos that highlight the landscape and architecture. Most of the photos were taken in the 1970s when I was living in Puebla, and attending the Universidad de las Americas in Cholula. The photos are now archived at Harvard University’s Peabody Museum.

I took advantage of days off from classes at the Universidad de las Americas to travel around Mexico with family and friends. We were graduate students in art history and archaeology, and that required a stop at nearly every Colonial church and archaeological site. The trips, along with my photos, were pretty much unplanned.

I was seldom without my camera because, for me, the Cholula-Puebla region is one of the most photogenic in Mexico. To the west are the snow capped volcanoes of Popocatepetl (17,802 ft, 5,426 m) and Iztaccihuatl (17,343 ft, 5,286 m); and scattered throughout the region are small farming villages and, some say, 365 Colonial churches. True or not, the churches are architectural jewels, and a photographic challenge.

Of course, Mexico has many landscapes — the dry and open spaces of Oaxaca that are reminiscent of Northern California, the damp-steep mountains of the Sierra Norte de Puebla, the rugged western mountains near Tepic, volcanoes both dormant and ready to erupt, deserts in Northern Mexico and Baja California, the flat limestone plain of Yucatán surrounded by the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and the thick humid tropical rainforest along the Gulf Coast that penetrates inland for hundreds of miles.

Most everywhere you travel in Mexico you are likely to see the remains of an ancient civilization. One of the most spectacular, near Mexico City, is Teotihuacan (popularly known as “The Pyramids”), but equally spectacular are the great cities of the Maya such as Uxmal and Chichén Itzá in Yucatán, and in Oaxaca is Monte Alban built on a mountaintop by the Zapotecs, and further south is Mitla with its delicate stone work made by the Mixtecs.

The photos in the book were selected from my Kodachrome transparencies and black-and-white negatives. With a few exceptions, they date from the early 1970s, and were taken with a 35mm Leicaflex SL camera using 35mm, 50mm, and 90mm lenses. The 35mm Kodachrome film was processed by Kodak labs in Palo Alto, California and Mexico City, and I processed the black-and-white Kodak Tri-X film at the Universidad de las Americas in Cholula using Edwal FG7 developer mixed with sodium sulfite.

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