The day this photograph was taken, my camera had an accident. It was the end of November 2008, and the first day I was out shooting, the first trip which Pure Magic did to Brazil. Sometimes it seems like yesterday; when I look at the numbers, it’s bloody ages ago.
Anyway, this was taken fairly shortly before the camera went error 99. Either I got water into it causing the error 99, or opening the camera to try and fix the error 99 caused water damage. Net result, one camera, very, very unusable. It was a 40D.
I wound up borrowing someone else’s camera for the rest of the trip and it was really hard – I’m not supposed to admit that – but enough of the controls were different that certain things were non-intuitive and certain things just didn’t work that well for me, plus the picture imports were set up differently which caused me grief with filenames. When I think about that trip, I often just think about the photographs I didn’t get. It was particularly hard because there were more than a few stand out photographs on the first day. I’ve always liked this one; at the moment though I think it’s probably my favourite from that day. I’m not absolutely certain why although I think the colours have a lot to do with it. It’s not a great kitesurfing photograph; it’s far too close-up, there’s very little context. But I like the level of detail you can pick out; while they are all very soft, the water droplets which give a lot of evidence of motion. I’m pretty sure that there was a 50mm lens on the front of the camera.
Another picture, from further up the coast – I think it might have been taken near Lagoinha – which I like is this one.
I’m inclined to wonder – bearing in mind what has happened with other older photographs, whether it would be worth taking out the Brazil files again and having a look to see if there were things I missed at the time, or photographs I would deal with differently now, looking at them through different eyes.
I’m taking very few photographs at the moment; couldn’t even tell you the last time I took out the camera, and in any case, I need to replace one of the midzooms as it finally gave up the ghost in the face of its life by the sea.
I still sport a 40D. I bought a replacement six months after this trip. At the time, being without a camera was fairly, fairly hard for me. It surprises me now, however, how little I have been using them. I think in part it’s because a couple of years ago, I reached the zenith of what I wanted to do with kites with some wide angle stuff in Sutton in Dublin, and wanted, or needed to do something different for a while and could not find out what that was. I’ve a feeling now that the different thing I want to go to; or go back to, is travel photography.
I’m minded – unusually – to go back to Brazil. Not necessarily to kitesurf (although I did, when I was there last), but just to carry my camera around and see how I get on. I need to think about it…and maybe dream a little.
I’ve been pretty much chained to a computer for the last 10 days.
This is from this afternoon.
I had reason to build a Linux machine yesterday and I used one of the old computers lying around the place that I never quite got around to formatting and passing on. One of the things I did before making it dual booting was back up all the files in my personal directory which included a fairly hefty Pictures directory. Most of the photographs date from around 2009, 2010, maybe some 2011. Amongst them, I found a bunch of photographs which I had taken in Charleville Show, around the same time as I did a bunch of family photographs. The family photographs got dealt with at the time, but I hadn’t really looked at any of the others.
There are a bunch of photographs of cars which I’ve really only just started to look at, and the first of them was this which I’m pretty sure is an Escort Mark 1. Most cars of this vintage are older than me.
One of the photographic styles I love, but don’t do that much with, are the really glossy stylistic photographs you find on the covers of Car magazine and in some print ads for cars. I tend not to have loads of pictures of cars anyway, and let’s face it, it’s challenging to do it to a car which was parked in a field in north Cork. So I am quite happy with the way this wound up.
The photograph was taken with a 40D and probably with a 17-85mm stuck on the front although I might have had the 10-20 with me. The EXIF overview is telling me it was shot at 20mm anyway. It very clearly spent some time in the laboratory of my mind and Photoshop with a bunch of things sliders, exposure, shadows, contrast, black, clarity etc in the Raw processor and then had a couple of blur filters applied (about four of them), the blur was removed from the main subject of the photograph, the whole thing was converted to black and white and a photographic filter was dropped in on top of it. It is not the first time I’ve done this and ethically speaking, it’s hard to call where the line between photography and self-indulgent digital art starts.
But I like it and I’ve plans to do similar to another few cars, also photographed in a field in North Cork.
I am confined to barracks for reasons of books at the moment but I stole five minutes to play with a couple of fountain pens, some ink and a white plate.
This is one of the results.
Well, winter in Ireland. This was taken inland in Fuerteventura where their understanding of the seasons are a bit different to ours.
I really should be writing code.
It’s been quiet enough around here….
Along the north eastern shoreline of Fuerteventura there is a lovely walk; you will meet joggers, dogwalkers and circuit trainers there most days. There is a stunning view of the sea, and the island of Los Lobos, an uninhabited island which belongs to Fuerteventura, and which is now also a natural park.
I walked it most days. And sat on benches watching waves breaking. Four or five of the main surfing breaks on that side of the island are to be seen from there.
Lanzerote has one live volcano remaining and it’s about 15 metres behind me. It’s kept in a little jail, but you can go and have a look at it.
It looks roughly like this:
It’s warm on that mountain. But the scenery is stunning and again, utterly alien to someone who’s used to seeing grass everywhere.
El Cotillo, northwest Fuerteventura
This is central Fuerteventura.
Fuerteventura is one of the lesser frequented Canary Islands. It tends to popular with the watersports contingent because it is well placed for waves on its north and northwestern coasts, and it’s particularly well endowed with trade winds which means for years it’s had a great reputation with the windsurfers, and more recently, with the kitesurfers. I was there last week, although not kitesurfing, just recceing out the place.
Like all of the islands, it’s volcanic in origin, and so it has quite a lot of uplands in the centre of the island. I recommend getting a coach trip across them which means you can be terrified as the coach driver concentrates on getting around what are often very narrow mountain roads. The scenery is well, well worth it.
For someone from Ireland, one of the most striking things about Fuerteventura is the complete lack of grass. I saw none all week. Any green that you will see comes from palm trees and various shrubs. You will see aloe vera plantations, and some of the volcanic rock has lichen. Otherwise, most of the landscape varies in shade from gold to red.
The island has a shocking lack of water. The water table has been dropping for years and rainfall is somewhere between 20-30 days a year. This means they have a fairly safe tourist industry, although it is not as developed as say Tenerife or Gran Canaria, and the island bears the scars of a construction boom and bust. But the net result is that their farming has been serious damaged. Fuerteventura has a large number of non-functional tomato plantations; they just don’t have the water any more, and the ground water is dropping all the time because for years, they have not had rain to replenish it. Most of the water on the island comes from desalination plants or is bottled water from the mainland. Historically, however, Fuerteventura had the resources to farm cereals going way back – 19th century for example – but this is no longer the case. Current efforts are focussing on low water harvests of which the two main ones for now, neither of which is necessarily making the island very rich just yet, are aloe vera and olives. The olive industry, in particular, is at a very early stage so it’s hard to say how the island will get on with it. In the meantime, the countryside has a lot of dried up river beds, and lots of evidence of past efforts to retain whatever rainwater did fall. The land is extraordinary arid although the mountains do not look as much like a desert as parts of the coastal area does with the large dunes and beaches on the east coast both at the northern and southern end of the islands.
Fuerteventura fascinates me – in another life I tend to play around with data so I do want to look at some of the weather records and see what exactly has been happening. For now, however, the above is just a small sample of some of the photographs I took while I was there. They will be posted here over the next week or so with some texts, or you can click through and have a look at them on the pixie site.