An NBC team just left PAP after a quick, 5-day jaunt covering the World Cup craziness here in Haiti, and it was a great time. We watched the World Cup on a huge 30 foot screen at the national soccer stadium, checked out some tent cities that are still really struggling, and were spectators for a good old Haitian soccer game played by teenagers on an old tennis court. But the coolest thing we did, by far, was something that we hadn’t planned to do at all.
The picture above is the eternal flame built in 2003 by then-President Aristide to celebrate Haiti’s bicentennial, which was in 2004. The tower is located only a stones throw from the Presidential Palace, and has exactly 200 steps to represent each year the country had been independent from France.
But the thing is, the torch has never been lit. In fact, the tower has been unfinished ever since Aristide was ousted in 2004. Aristide left the country, construction halted, and now downtown PAP is left with this enormous, ugly, monolith which makes you think they had the Olympics here, until you think about it again and realize how that would never (EVER) happen.
So we were driving around Champs de Mars looking for interesting things to shoot when I asked our fixer, Handy, if he thought we could get to the top. It would make for some amazing shots, and I had my camera with me which means I could get an updated picture of the Presidential Palace to put on here. We drove through the gates, Handy talked to the guard, I flashed my press credentials, and we started the climb up the 200 rickety, dilapidated metal stairs.
Once on top the view was breathtaking. You could see the Palace, the tent cities surrounding it, the port, the mountains, it was incredible. I started feverishly taking pictures, worried I would never get this chance again. I snapped the Palace, the people in the tent cities, people getting water from a water truck (OMG, more people getting water from a water truck! *SNAP*) I went around and around about half-a-dozen times before I realized what I could potentially do.
I turned to the cameraman shooting video of the city from above and asked him, “How hard is it to make a panoramic picture out of a bunch of shots you took?” “Easy,” he responded, “if you have Photoshop it’s really simple.” Well, I have Photoshop (YES!), so I took one more trip around the tower’s top level taking as many level shots as possible, and making sure to avoid the rail-less edges of the platform. I brought the photos home, ingested them into my computer, and 10 minutes later this popped out:
The panoramic photo is a 360˚ view of Port-au-Prince from Champs de Mars, and it turned out pretty awesome. The 360˚ part of it kinda throws off your sense of direction, so as a point of reference the large mountain in the middle is south, and the left and right edges connect to make north. If you look closely at the horizon there are some places where it just doesn’t connect, but it’s still a pretty awesome view of the city in a way that I’ve never seen it before. As you can see, there aren’t really any buildings taller than the tower, so this panoramic pretty much encapsulates the entire place.
To end this on a slight side note, I apologize for the lack of posts recently. Obviously with work, and other issues (Olie), taking over it’s been a little hectic so posts have been sparse. They’ll be back soon, as there’s a ton of stuff going on around here. Cheers!