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  Field Notes From
Temple of Doom

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Temple of Doom On Assignment

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From Photographer

Ira Block

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photograph by Ira Block


Temple of Doom On Assignment Temple of Doom On Assignment
Temple of Doom

Field Notes From Photographer
Ira Block

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    I stayed in a small village just a few miles from El Brujo and there usually wasn't a lot to do there—until the locals threw a big festival for Saint Mary. I visited all these great food stands selling empanadas and rotisserie chickens while watching some guys carry around a lighted up statue of the saint. Their friends had to trail behind them with a generator in a wheelbarrow to keep the lights going. But what I really enjoyed was the fireworks display. It was the most incredible thing I've seen outside of the Macy's Fourth of July firework show in New York City. For more than half an hour, pinwheels spun on this big tower as the fireworks went off. This all made for a great evening in an otherwise quiet town.

    I needed a plane to take aerial photographs of El Brujo, so I got in touch with a guy who did crop dustings. Well, when this guy showed up he had an ultralight with only one seat and a motor that looked like a lawn mower's. He solved the seating problem by plopping down a cushion and strapping me in with rope. 
    We made it up safely, but taking photos in the open air with the wind blowing was difficult. I frequently had to change my film and was worried I was going to drop it. But by the time I'd mastered that, my camera battery had died, so I had to fish a coin out of my pocket and unscrew the battery cover. I ended up getting some good shots, but I had to work for them.

    I've photographed a lot of archaeology sites and they often have great stuff, but everything is usually so aged that it's hard to capture on film. This time was different. I saw murals inside the pyramids that were more than a thousand years old and yet you could still see these fantastic reds and yellows. I immediately knew I was going to get a great story. The combination of the region's dry climate and the mural walls that the Moche had covered up with bricks helped preserve this colorful artwork.


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