La Carpa Blanca

Last year I visited Cholula in September, and came away with some great photos of the Iglesia de Los Remedios with the Volcano Popocatepetl.  In one photo, I got really lucky and captured a nearly full moon as well.  I have a minor obsession with this church and volcano and have returned to it regularly.

A few weeks after my visit last year an earthquake rocked the area and the church was damaged.  There’s a Youtube video of this happening.

I read online that this church would be a priority for restoration, because the large festival in early September is centered around it.

I decided to head back to Mexico a year after my last visit and see if I couldn’t get a photo of the church with the moon rising behind it.  I found the dates this would be possible, and they were near the end of September — perfect, as the festival would be over.

I found a hotel that had a rooftop I could shoot from, and it lined up with everything pretty well.  I booked it.  I ended up taking a 600mm lens with me, as I would need that length to get the photo I was after.

I arrived in Cholula to find that the festival — which I thought was over — was still going on!  A large white tent (“carpa blanca”) was erected in front of the church.  I asked around and was told that the tent could be there the entire month, even if the festival was over.  This was not good.

That evening, I climbed up on the roof and as the moon rose, I got the photo I wanted.  Sadly, the tent blocks the front of the church.


I tried to think of ways to incorporate the moon but not the tent.  As the moon quickly rose, I considered a silhouette photo:


I had another chance the next night, but that tent was still there…

Day three, the tent was still around.  I resolved to leave the next morning, as the moon wasn’t going to be in position any longer anyways.

As the taxi drove me toward the bus terminal the next morning, I looked up, and the tent was gone.  I made a split second decision and went back to the hotel and stayed another night.  No, there would be no moon….but perhaps I could get a nice early morning photo.

The next morning, I climbed on the roof, and took a few photos.  Before the sun rises, there’s a period of 20-30 minutes where the sky is a deep blue, often called “the blue hour” (even if it doesn’t last an hour).  Here’s a photo of the church — sans tent — from the blue hour:

Iglesia de Los Remedios, Cholula

Iglesia de Los Remedios, Cholula


As the sky continued to lighten, some interesting cloud patterns became visible.  I took this photo with a wider view to incorporate another church dome:

Iglesia de Los Remedios, Cholula

Iglesia de Los Remedios, Cholula


I’m happy that I stayed around and got a few photos without the tent.  I do feel like I have some unfinished business, though, and I’m already eyeing up full moon dates in 2019 to see when things might line up — just NOT in September!

5 comments on “La Carpa Blanca”

  1. Catherine Hicks says:

    The tent is a reminder that the church is alive and well! Even with the tent, an amazing photo. Looking forward to 2019 photos of the same subject. All of your blue hour photos are incredible, these included.

    1. Peter says:

      You make a great point! Thank you!

  2. Dean says:

    So what did you think of my youtube presentation of Cholula? Cholula, Mexico HD

    1. Peter says:

      Nice! I think I’ve visited every church in Cholula, at least from the outside. I have a few more church photos I can share as I have time.

  3. Aditi says:

    The tent just added another dimension I felt and with the festivities made a unique picture. Your pictures of Cholula are breathtaking!

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