Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Guarding a National Hero

A Vietnamese policeman on duty in front of Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum in Hanoi. 

We walked up to Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum in Hanoi Sunday afternoon. It's one of the places in Hanoi almost everybody goes to. There's a large park in front of the mausoleum and a museum, other parks and government buildings all around it. It's a little like the National Mall in Washington DC. Even though the mausoleum is closed on Sundays, the area is usually crowded with Vietnamese and tourists seeing the sights. The public is not allowed to walk up to the mausoleum, which is huge but looks like a Soviet era complex (understandable since Soviet architects reportedly designed it) and not much like a Vietnamese holy place. And to millions of Vietnamese it really is a holy place. Ho Chi Minh is revered throughout much of the country as the founder of modern Vietnam, the man who led the Vietnamese out of the darkness of colonialism. 

I photographed the mausoleum with my "real" cameras: my Canon 5D Mark III and an assortment of lenses from my 24mm all the way up to my 200mm. I don't have any of Canon's tilt/shift lenses and that's really what this needs to keep all those perpendicular lines perpendicular. 

Even though I used all my real gear on this, the photo I liked the most is this one, made with my iPhone 4 and an app called Lens+. The file size isn't what I would like, but I like the snapshot feel and I really like the body language of the police officer in the foreground. I've been using my iPhone camera a lot on this trip, mostly to photograph food we're eating in restaurants and noodle shops, but also occasionally for more serious photos. 

I wish I had this serious photo on a real camera. It's the fleeting nature of "capturing the moment" that by the time I put my iPhone away and brought up my real camera the officer had moved on and two street cleaners had wandered into the photo. 

There are more photos from the Mausoleum in my archive and available from ZUMA Press