These photos were taken late in the afternoon. The wooden boat was in the shadow, while the background was still lit by direct sunlight. So I used an external flash, held in one hand, to lighten up the foreground and have a more balanced lighting, while still trying to obtain a natural looking image. I set the flash output manually; a couple of tries are usually enough for me to get an appropriate setting.
This photo shows part of a Roman road, built in the first century A.C. to connect the cities of Braga (Portugal) and Astorga (Spain). It was originally about 320 km long and one of its purposes was to facilitate the fast displacement of the Roman armies. Most of the road is remarkably well preserved, at least in the Portuguese part. It crosses some beautiful natural scenery and is an excellent opportunity for relaxing hiking or biking trips.
Pentax K10D + Zeiss Distagon 25/2.8
This Summer, part of the forest shown above was consumed by a forest fire. It saddens me to think of that. But the road is still there and the forest will grow back again. Just like it has along the last 20 centuries.
I remember very well the first time I saw a photo by Sebastião Salgado, some 20 years ago. It was in a newspaper article about his work with the people at Serra Pelada gold mine, in Brazil. This was the photo:
photo by Sebastião Salgado
This image can only be truly appreciated when seen in larger size. If you can, take a look at Sebastião's book "An Uncertain Grace", where it was published. It is not one of his most famous photos, it is not even one of my favorites today. But at the time I found it impressive (and I still think it is!). For a few minutes I just stared, not only overwhelmed by the image's content, but also amazed by the simple fact that someone could create such a tremendously powerful photo. I have three of Sebastião's books now and, when I browse through them, I still ask myself: "How?!..."
Ironically, I cannot really say that his work is actually inspiring to me. When I look at these images, I can't help but thinking I'll never come close to doing something like this. And then I go into a short depression...
A recent hike to Pé de Cabril peak (loosely translatable as "Goat's Foot" - shown in the next photo) in Peneda-Gerês National Park. The calcined trees found in one of the valleys were unmissable photo subjects.
Some readers of this blog may have noticed that I identify my home location as "Porto, Portugal." Some may even have recognized Porto (the English call it "Oporto") as being the city where Port Wine is bottled, a place with some unique and picturesque locations. Those might have already asked themselves why I have never posted photos of Porto.
I have been living here since the mid 80s, first in the city and now in the suburbs. But, as often happens with places one knows well, my photos of this city usually seem to fall into the "postcard cliche" trap, at least to me. I'll try to avoid that here.
The shots below were taken recently at the Ribeira neighborhood, in the old town. The riverfront is a very touristic spot, but the inner streets haven't changed much along the decades. For centuries, this has been a poor area, a place where a stranger would have to tread lightly. In the XV century it was the home to sailors and longshoremen, whose descendants still live here, probably almost as poor as their ancestors. Tourists often wander its narrow streets, trying to find their way up to the cathedral. They must wonder why the houses are not better taken care of, why they are not inhabited by upbeat young artists, why there are no souvenir shops and typical restaurants every other door...
This place has never been intended as a tourist attraction. But it is slowly becoming one and maybe one day everything will look jolly and perfect. That's not a bad thing. But Ribeira will then be something different from what it has been along all these centuries...
Today I'm celebrating Exposing Pixels' first anniversary! I started this blog as a way to find motivation to take more photos and invest time on their selection and processing. I'm quite happy that I was able to keep a steady posting rhythm.
Of course, some of the photos I've shown and some of the texts I wrote were probably not worth posting. But hey, this was just my first year! Hopefully the second will better...
I'm also happy that the readership has been steadily increasing. Thanks all for your interest! This blog has also been a way to establish contact with some fellow photographers across the planet. They have taught me quite a lot already.
To mark this special day, I'm reposting two photos I quite like. On another day I would certainly choose another two. These are my favorite today:
The landscape in Serra d'Aires e Candeeiros Natural Park, in Central Portugal, is rough and barren. It was not an easy place to live in, just a few decades ago. The local population strived to survive raising cattle and growing cereal crops. Small rock fences can be found everywhere, some still being used to hold sheep or cows. The old windmills are abandoned, though, crowning the otherwise bare mountain tops.
This Summer a good friend visited us and brought his new "toy": a Pentax DA 12-24mm f4. It is a very nice lens, but such short focal lengths demand some getting used to.
We decided to try some long exposures with this lens and his K10D. One of our subjects was the XVIII century fortress shown below, shot at ISO 200, f4 and a 30 sec exposure (and a tripod, of course). During the exposure, we added three flash bursts along the left wall, in order to make it standout a bit. Framing the shot was quite tricky - this is a very dark location and we pretty much could not see a thing. The light that was gathered in this long exposure came from relatively distant streetlights. So we had to adjust the composition based on trial and error. In the end, we were quite happy with the result. The combination of the yellow and white lights coming from the street and the flash, respectively, worked out quit well.
Pentax K10D + Pentax DA 12-24/4 + off-camera flash
I also tried a few short exposure shots with my 25mm at f2.8 and ISO 800, using an off-camera flash to lit the side wall. A curious result, but definitely not as impressive as the previous one.