"Photography is not a sport, there are no rules, everything must be tried and tested" - Bill Brandt
Bill Brandt is one my greatest inspirations. I love his landscapes, portraits and even the nudes (not a big fan of the genre, but the way he did it was just genius).
I think what I like the most about him is his approach to photography. For him, it was all about creating something with the medium, avoiding silly self-imposed rules.
He died in 1983, 5 years before Photoshop was created. That didn't stop him from completely changing his images in the darkroom. Actually, he admittedly did most of his work in the darkroom.
The image of the seagull is a good example. He added the bird afterwards, and the morning Sun years later.
He was brilliant, and we'd be wise to follow his advice to experiment and try everything.
PS: If you want to know more about Bill Brandt, I strongly recommend watching this interview from 1983 for BBC's Master Photographers.
I had Mértola on my list of places to visit for a while. On my way there, I drove through the Guadiana Valley Natural Park, where I saw signs on the road warning about lynx. Now, that was something new to me!
This is an image of a little chapel on top of a hill, just out of town. The light was harsh allowing only for very high contrast shots. This was what I came up with.
My to-do list for 2019 is the same I had for 2018: become a better photographer.
The problem is that setting goals for anything creative like photography might be quite difficult. "Make better images" is not a goal that makes sense, since there's no way to measure it.
I do believe we become better at anything -creative endeavors included- the more we practice it, though. That means creating more content in whatever form that helps us improve as photographers.
Committing to create
Making commitments is very important for me. This might not apply to everyone, but I do my best work under pressure: knowing that I have to upload something tomorrow will force me to create that something.
This year, I'm committing myself to create every single day, and that can be easily measured: I will be uploading a new image every day and two new videos every week, among other things.
It might seem counterintuitive to force oneself to create, but I've made some of my best images after dragging myself out of the house into horrible conditions.
I only write when I’m inspired. Luckily, I am inspired at 9 o’clock every morning - disputed quote
Improvement will happen
If I follow through on my commitments, I will be a (much) better photographer by the end of the year. It couldn't be any other way: creating every day makes you a better artist.
Instead of setting big and rather abstract goals for the year, I am making small but frequent commitments.
After all, photography is a marathon that never ends and the only way to keep going forward is step by step.
I love the landscapes of the Alentejo. My last trip to Portugal was spent mostly in the Algarve, and I mentioned how much I regretted that decision. I do need more time in the Alentejo, hopefully I can go back soon.
Despite being a bit far from where I was staying further south -90 minute drive or so-, I still tried to make some images around there. This is one of them, of some sheep grazing around this tree just before sunset.
Beautiful and calm scenes no matter where you look at. I'm ready to go back.
It's not often that I get clear skies and mild weather in the winter, so I decided to head to Falesia Beach, Albufeira, and make a long exposure of the Full Moon.
I made two exposures, one with my Sony a6000, and another one with the Bronica on Ilford HP5+.
The first Image of the Month of 2019 is here: Awakening City.
Awakening City was the image I had in mind when I was heading to Chicago, almost a year ago.
It took me a bit longer than expected to find the perfect spot, and it was only on my last day in the city that I was able to make the image I wanted.
This might look like a peaceful and beautiful scene, but that morning of late January was one of the coldest I've ever experienced.
Tne effort was completely worth it, though. This is one of my favorite images I've ever made, and it's part of the work I'm currently exhibiting, America Untitled.
Note: I'm keeping the image of December 2018, Wild West, at a discounted price until 11:59PM PST on Sunday 6th, due to an unusual busy Christmas time.
A new image will be released every month and offered at a reduced price during that time. After 30 days, it will be sold at full price. They will never be on sale at any time in the future, the rate during the first month will be the lowest, ever.
want to know more?
You can find more information about how I create my images and all the details about pricing on The Art and Craft behind my prints.
A while ago, I had a "terrible" realization: everything I had done in life as a software developer was already gone or will be gone in the next few years. Apps have been taken down, websites have been closed.
The exception might be a few lines of code, here and there. They will survive as long as someone else keeps them alive.
The fate of all the side projects I've worked on over the years (hundreds upon hundreds of hours of work) is already sealed, though: they are all gone.
Even as a photographer, if I stop paying the bills this website would be shut down, and all online platforms will eventually go away and / or delete my images.
Your life's work gone, just like that.
The day I realized about this was the day I sold my first physical copy of "Went West", my first book. At that moment, my website and online platforms stopped being the only places where my work lived. There are 40+ copies of that book all around the world, and since then, I've also shipped several prints of some of my images.
I know they too will vanish, eventually. Some might have already been thrown away, or put away. Most will follow at some point.
My hope is for just a few that will survive and outlast me, if someone finds them to bring some joy. A legacy of sorts.
While I appreciate the immediacy of the web and the convenience of online platforms, I'm aiming to create more physical work this year and to put it in hands of more people.
Starting tomorrow and through February 6th, America Untitled will be in display at Monty Ambigú. This is the third exhibition of this work, the first time in A Coruña.
It is a very special city for me since I lived there for over 12 years. I've been looking forward to this exhibition. If you are nearby and can attend, the inauguration will be tomorrow, January 3rd, at 8:30pm.
I don't mean sitting in traffic on my way to the office. Rather, a peaceful drive through the mountains on my way to a day out making some images.
Behind the wheel, I'm alone and I can't use my phone. I have no option but to go through my thoughts and sometimes, to get bored.
Being bored can be very good for our brain. Sadly, it's also very hard to achieve nowadays: not more than 5 seconds of boredom would go by without me reaching for my phone (I have adopted some measures to fight this terrible habit).
I don't know much about meditation, although it's something I've always been interested in. One day, I might give it a try.
Until then, driving will be my meditation.
Christmas is here, and it can be a wonderful time to try new things with our camera. Long exposure photography is a great tool to have in our arsenal, and if you haven't gotten around to play with it, then you might like my latest ebook: Long Exposure Photography.
I also uploaded the first of two videos about long exposure photography. They will cover pretty much the same contents of the book. Watch the first episode here.
Camera and Lens: Sony a6500, 16-70mm f/4 Zeiss
Settings: 16mm, ISO 100, f/6.3, 1/160sec
I've been going through some old images I never had time to work on, and I'm finding a few I really like.
Like this one, taken up in the mountains when the Sun was already setting behind the peaks of Picos de Europa National Park, in Asturias, Spain.
I really can't wait to visit the mountains this winter. Soon!
I got started in photography because of nature. It was when I moved to Oregon that I felt like I had to photograph those places my eyes couldn't believe.
I hadn't been out in nature for a while, and I believe that is what was driving my recent lack of inspiration.
Instead of visiting yet another town here in the Algarve, I decided to go on a little hike in some nearby hills (called Fonte de Benémola).
The short-term benefits were pretty clear: I was able to breathe and clear my mind. I think there will be some more long-term benefits, because sometimes all you need to run a marathon is to take that first step.
Camera and Lens: Sony a6500, Sigma 16mm f/1.4
Settings: ISO 160, f/2, 1/60sec
I went on a little hike to get some fresh air and try to get the inspiration I've been lacking lately. I picked a nearby trail through the hills of the Algarve and grabbed my video camera.
It was a success. This one is my favorite of the few images I made there, but that was not the point. That little walk filled up my "inspiration tank" and I can already feel it (me writing this post today is proof of it).
I've been feeling a little bit uninspired lately. It's normal, everyone has highs and lows in photography.
When I struggle with creativity, there's one thing that almost always comes to my mind: camera gear.
"If only I had this camera or this lens... I could create something different"
I only recently realized that it's not a new piece of gear that I want to buy. I want a better version of myself, a better photographer making better images than the ones I'm making right now.
But it's not about the equipment we have, it's about the use we make of that equipment. A new camera or lens might inspire you to get out, but it will still be you who has to make the images.
A few weeks ago, I started shooting with my old Sony a6000. It's an almost 4-year-old camera, able to create beautiful images. It's always been a backup camera so I used to look down on it.
Not anymore. From now on, it will be my main camera for photography (digital, this is, the Bronica is not going anywhere!).
I also downgraded my 70-200mm big and heavy telephoto lens to the 55-210mm that came in my a6000 kit. The quality coming out of them isn't even in the same league and still, I've made more images I like with the latter. That's due to the size, weight... and also price. Being cheap means I'm more willing to risk it in rough conditions.
This kit should enable me to create most of what I want to create with my photography. Thinking otherwise has only led me to dwell and waste time looking at new gear.
Let's get out and enjoy what we have, let's get out and create something.
Camera and Lens: Sony a6000, Holga Pinhole Lens
Settings: ISO 1600, 1/3 sec
This is my favorite image I've made with the Holga Pinhole Lens so far.
This is the view I get every morning when I'm in Spain and I'm checking for the morning weather. The same ugly building, every day.
A completely different view when looking through the pinhole.
Some images from last week, my first one in Southern Portugal.
Camera and Lens: Sony a6000 + 16-70mm f/4 Carl Zeiss
Settings: 70mm, ISO 200, f/5.0, 30 seconds
This is, along with "Valley of the Saints", my favorite image from France.
I drove for more than three hours to make an image like this one, even though I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to. You see, these Oyster Beds are on a peninsula in the Arcachon Bay, a place I didn't know I'd be able to reach.
I only had one day in the area, so I had to try.
Not only was I able to get close to them, but I did it for hours. I thought that I'd have to leave once the tide got higher, but that only made the spot better and better for the kind of photography I was looking for.
I had a blast looking for compositions among these sticks, until I finally found it. I knew I had gotten what I was looking for as soon as I pressed the shutter, but I still spent some more time in the location just in case I ran into something even better.
That didn't happen, but it didn't matter. I was happy and couldn't wait to see the results of that long day.
It was worth it.
I'm writing this from my hotel room in Evora, city I'll be leaving shortly to head towards the Algarve.
This was my second time in this beautiful town, and I already regret not having spent a few more days in the area. Not only there's so much more to explore on these charming and mysterious streets, but I really want to photograph the landscapes of the Alentejo.
There's still hope, though. Where I'm going is not too far from here so I could always do a day trip, and I'm also hoping to find similar landscapes down there.
For now, these are some of the images that I made during these short two days here in the capital of the Alentejo, Evora.