Independent Photography

Archive for January, 2012

Cowboys and surfers

This week has been a little hectic, compared with the previous one at least.  It’s production week for the paper meaning decisions about cover, content selection and layout need to be made.  I’ve worked production at a paper before, however, the charlatan is a weekly publication, the voice of nosara publishes once a month.  Which means content relevance is perhaps the most challenging aspect, since the issue will sit on stands for a month, the stories and pictures inside need to be relevant for the whole month.

So on Wednesday I was asked to go to a hotel in town to get a photo of liquor for a story on the changing liquor laws here.  Apparently there are a limited number licenses available depending on community size, most of those licenses have already been bought up at prices as low as $6, the owners of those licenses in many cases rent them out for as much as $3000 a month, that’s a hell of business plan.  Most license owners purchased theirs as far back as the 30’s and have held on, clearly some updates to the law are needed.

The folks at the hotel agreed to make me a cocktail so I could photograph it.  I was supposed to keep logos and faces out so as not to implicate the hotel as one of the abusers of the liquor licenses… the photos were kind of boring but the drink was on the house, so I lingered by their pool and sipped it after.  Not too bad.

 

Sometimes its hard to do what I do...

Thursday was an equally quiet day; all I did was work on a few police briefs for the printed copy then hit the beach.  We managed to figure out that the suspected thief captured in Nosara the other week had been released on his own recognizance pending a trial date.  The police seem to have a case against him although the residents are still paranoid.  After that I worked on another brief about a car fire from a week ago, seems a battery shorted and the hood caught on fire, otherwise no major issue.

That evening I decided to go to the beach to read.  I ended spending more time photographing surfers in the fading light, I got a few nice ones…

 

This pretty much defined the evening...

As I said.. less reading more photography…

 

Surf instructors hit the waves at sunset because its after work and they have free time, the birds hit the waves for the fish.

Sunsets here are beautiful, though I think I’ve stated this before.

 

A surfer watches the sun set, they paddle out and sit and wait for waves to come. The light is beautiful...

 

Though it looks like there’s no waves they show up.  One minute the ocean would be calm as can be, then suddenly it would swell and there would be waves.

 

A surfer paddling to catch the front of a wave. The trick is to get just ahead of a wave before it breaks and quickly stand up.

This time I used the 5D, shooting at 6400 ISO gives you a lot more more leeway, just fewer fps for catching peak action.

 

This guy was good, he would ride the wave until it finished then lower himself back onto the board to paddle out again. No crashes, no falls.

Finally the sun hit the horizon and everyone just kind of stopped to watch it.

 

Two seagulls fly low looking for fish while a surfer waiting for a wave watches the sun dip below the horizon...

Friday was the start of two busy days…  First I was given a driving lesson on the quad and access to the keys.  It was maybe the third time in my life I’d driven a quad and the first time I’d driven a manual transmission vehicle.  The driving lesson was mostly my boss groaning every time the quad lurched as I tried to change gears…

 

Me and my new ride. The travel scarf is needed to keep from swallowing a dustball, as are the glasses and the helmet well safety first.

The reason I needed access to the quad was to get to Nosara for the fiestas of Nosara, a three-day rodeo and festival on the edge of town.  The event opened on Friday evening, it was part rodeo, carnival, running with the bulls and community dance.

 

A food vendor adds fuel to his cooking fire at the Nosara rodeo. There were more than 10 different places to eat mostly serving refried meats.

Safety precautions were not quite what they would have been in Canada, spectators are allowed right up to the fence, they can even sit on it.

 

A young rodeo fan watches the introductions before the start of the first rodeo game.

 

There was a big arena set up in a field outside of town; the rodeo games began with an introduction of the rodeo riders, complete with a prayer.  Then they released the first rider, after he was thrown the real games began… Drunk locals and tourists then would taunt the bull until he charged them, then they try to get out of the way…  I personally couldn’t believe it, in Canada the Calgary Stampede takes flack every year for potential animal abuse, in Costa Rica participants take their lives in their hands without even signing a waiver…

 

A festival participant tries to avoid a charging bull. Had I wanted to, I probably could have joined in I won't lie though I was a little nervous.

Although I didn’t get in the ring I did spend most of the time sitting on the fence, at one point a bull charged and in my rush to get back over my sandal caught the edge of the fence and I fell about 5 feet.  I din’t break any equipment or bones and I landed on the right side side of the fence.

 

A rider is tossed from a bull while festival participants rush in to distract and draw the attention of the bull, no one was hurt. To give you an idea of how close you can get to the action, this was shot with a 24mm on a full frame camera with little cropping. A minute later that bull charged the fence I was sitting on.

Of course I might have been overreacting… I mean if drunk, barefoot tourists can get in the ring without spilling their beers, I probably would have been ok.

 

A tourist protects himself and his beer from a charging bull. There were several tourists who participated in the rodeo games most of them were wasted.

Friday was a late affair; the event started at 8pm and went until about 2am.  I left around 12:45, because after 12 the rodeo was finished, the sober people left and the dance began.  I was tired and drove home to edit.  Having never shot a Rodeo before, and having to compete with some truly shitty lighting I somehow shot just over 1200 frames, I have never shot that many in a single night.  I trimmed them to a further 76 then finally down to 15 for use on the voice of nosara’s facebook page, it was about 3am when I finally got to bed.  Apparently they’ve set aside two pages in the paper as well, so some should make it in there as a pictorial story.

Saturday was thus a slow start, however, after lunch it was back on the quad to head to the second event called the Tope (pronounced toe-pay).  The Tope is basically a big lunch and party, complete with some cowboy skills competitions.  Since I’m missing the all-star game in Ottawa, this is the best I could do…

 

Cowboys arrive on horseback to the Tope, a big day of eating, drinking during the fiestas of Nosara on January 28.

 

It was brutally hot, I’m not sure how people could drink beer and whiskey for 3 straight hours in that heat and still ride home…

 

A young boy rests on bags of horse feed. Although the Tope was held in the shade, the day was immensely hot.

 

I tried some shooting from the hip, there’s an old photography adage, “F/8 and be there,” it means closing your aperture enough to increase your depth of field, allowing you to shoot without have to worry too much where your focus is.  In this case it let me catch this without having to be obvious about it.

 

Friends great each other near the beer truck at the Tope. The day was a relaxed feast and social event.

 

And of course there were lots of horses.  I spent some time on a farm in Uruguay in 2007 which cultivated a real appreciation for horses, these were pretty talented riders too.

 

A cowboy regains control of his horse, the horse grew impatient after trotting on the spot and began moving around wildly. Within a minute the rider was able to regain control.

 

This evening is the finale but I don’t think I’ll be there, today is my day off and my boss has the quad so I’d have to bike the 7km.  Instead I’m going to start work on a new project and get some beach time.  There is a hotel, bar and adventure travel company in town called The Gilded Iguana.   The owners are originally from Toronto and have established their business here as a sort of fixture.  Several people have told me that The Gilded Iguana is the place to be in town on a Tuesday night.  I was there this past Tuesday with my boss and the place was packed, we couldn’t find a seat much less a table for most of the evening.  I met with the owner and asked if she’d be interested in an interview, I think this is something that if pitched properly could be freelanced to a Canadian publication.

So I sent the owners an email and received a speedy reply essentially saying drop by whenever, so today I’ll call and hopefully be able to meet with them.  This isn’t a project I intend to rush, I’d like to take time, and build trust, if this is going to work I’ll need photographic access to the entire operation.  So I’d like to start with a very basic introductory interview, and hopefully a tour, I doubt I’ll shoot a single frame today.  After a few months, I’ll hopefully have something marketable.

Paz siempre,

Adam

P.S. My apologies for the break in posting this week and thus the huge post today.  The office internet has been down for the last three days, it started working this morning again, so fingers crossed it keeps working…

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First week of work…

A worker clears brush in preparation for planting, I think sugarcane? I wasn't quite sure what he said and I was in a rush to another assignment.

Monday morning was the start of my first full week of work.  I woke up to an email from my boss asking me to cover three assignments that day.   The first one was a little ridiculous…  We’re doing a story on ‘Tanorexia’ also called ‘sun addiction.’  I was asked to go to the beach and take some photos of people enjoying the sun, specifically women…

Ali Stark-Rinder (left) and her twin sister Glory Stark-Rinder live in the United States, but their family owns a house in Nosara, they try to come twice a year for the sunshine.

The issue wasn’t photographing women on the beach, the issue was talking to them afterwards…  I ran over my speech a few times in my head, so I wouldn’t sound like a creep.  Imagine some guy with a big camera who walks up to you and says, “I’m a journalist and I’m doing a story on sun-addiction, anyways I just took a photo of you and I need your name, and where you’re from and why you’re here.”  After I hung out on the beach for a bit…

The Nosara Beaches Hotel from a distance, the hotel I explored the other day. Apparently it was built inside a protected area of the beach. The Nosara beaches are spawning grounds for sea turtles so no construction is allowed within 50m of the shoreline. Someone built the hotel anyway and the government shut it down

After that it was off to the liquor store for a very basic photo of liquor bottles.  Costa Rica is in the middle of changing its license management system, and Voice of Nosara wanted some stock pictures of liquor bottles for any stories related to it.  Having finished the first two I had some time, so I went back to the beach to try and get rid of the t-shirt tan I seem to have developed.

A crab, one of many, I found on the beach. This was my favourite photo although i think I need a macro lens... The crab itself is about the size of a small tomato

While that was actually successful, I got something worse… a tan-line in the shape of my camera bag strap.  I’ll have to go back either without the bag or with the strap on the other side and correct that.

Monday evening was the third assignment, I went down to a place called the Yoga House, which is guess what? A yoga studio!  They had a speaker, an American author named John Perkins who became famous in 2004 for his book, ‘Confessions of an Economic Hitman.’  The book was groundbreaking because it outlined his role for the previous few decades as an agent of the American economy sent to foreign countries to assist in destabilizing the economy for on behalf of American business interests.  The theory is complex, but these so-called economic hitmen were instrumental in implanting America’s neo-liberal polices globally, but especially in Latin America in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s I highly recommend looking it up.

Author John Perkins explaining the prophecy behind 2012.

Perkins is now a new age spiritualist and spoke about many topics.  Mostly he talked about the meaning of several different spiritual and indigenous prophecies relating to 2012.  It turns out that the Maya prophecy isn’t the only one relating to the dramatic changing of times in 2012 most importantly, its not the end of existence but rather a changing of existence.  The talk was heavy at times but really enlightening.

John Perkins demonstrating a Quechua transformation ritual by blowing fire with high proof alcohol. The Quechua use corn beer, Perkins used Bacardi 151.

I felt I was a little obtrusive though, the room was so quiet that the echoes of the mirror slap from my SLR could be heard.  It gave me an opportunity to try out the 5D’s ‘silent shoot’ mode.  It’s a lie, it’s not silent, although it is much quieter.  Basically you enter mirror lock-up, the focusing mirror smacks up blacking out the viewfinder, and you use the screen to frame.  When you actually take a photo the only noise is the shutter opening and the curtain closing, the problem is it limits the frame rate to only one photo at a time.

Tuesday morning started off slow.  Shortly after I woke up I noticed some workers spreading some brown crap all over the road outside my window.  In order to control dust during the dry season they pour molasses all over the roads, which with heat and pressure hardens and keeps dust from going everywhere.  It looked like kind of a shitty job.

A city worker throwing molasses on the road to control dust.

Then I received an email asking me to track down some business inspectors from the Costa Rican government and follow them while they inspected local businesses (mostly immigration and health issues).  There have been some claims of corruption apparently, however, the inspectors never made it today.  Instead my boss showed up on an ATV.  We headed out to the town of Nosara and I got a nice little tour.  We drove through lower income neighborhoods built out of sheet metal with no electricity or running water.  Then headed to three different construction sites to photograph bridges that were under construction.  During the rainy season several poorer areas of Nosara are essentially cut off from vehicle traffic because of high water levels in the river.  The government has finally gotten around to fixing this problem.  It also presented me with an opportunity to try to be creative, how the hell do you take a picture of a build site in the jungle and make it interesting?  What made it worse was we showed up during lunch so there weren’t any workers around.

A view over the shoulder of my boss while she drives the quad back to Guiones Beach from the town of Nosara. I love ATV's.

After that we headed back, and I had to shower off a layer of dust covering my whole body then came the ‘fun’ part; editing and translating.  Because the paper is bilingual everything is translated, so while I only filed English captions for the Spanish people to translate, I was given an 800-word story in Spanish to translate.  I put on Jurassic Park for background noise and got to work, such a good movie.

All that’s done now though, so I’m going to make dinner then head out to the Gilded Iguana, a bar in town with live music.  My boss and I are going for drinks, it will be my first actual night out, should be fun.

Paz Siempre,

Adam Dietrich

P.S. I just wanted to thank those who have read my blog and commented so far.  I post with the expectation that no one reads it, but the encouraging comments from strangers and the number of page views say otherwise.  While I don’t publish comments made (trying to maintain a portfolio feel to the site) I do read everyone.  Thanks and I hope you keep reading.


Days off

Saturday wasn’t actually supposed to be a day off.  Instead I woke up at 6am to get to the edge of town for 6:50, I was supposed to be meeting a source from the day before.  He was the security guard who helped bring in the thief; he and the Tourist Police were headed to the hills to scour for clues and I was supposed to accompany them, take some pictures and write a perspective piece.  I got there ten minutes early and waited for more than an hour, my ride never came.  I suddenly found myself with an extra day off…

I hadn’t actually gone grocery shopping yet, I’d only purchased a few over-priced items at the mini-mart.  I’m not actually in the town of Nosara, that’s about 7km away, instead I live at Guiones beach.  So I figured I’d bike into Nosara, see the countryside a bit and buy some groceries.  I got a little lost (what’s a 20 minute detour anyway?) but otherwise I got there without trouble, the town was like a ghost town, dusty roads and abandoned buildings (maybe even tumbleweed)… However, I found the grocery store and bought some food.  Then as I was leaving, my bike chain snapped… Leaving me with no choice but to walk the 7km back to Guiones in midday heat and sandals.  Very, very bitter I forgot about taking photos for the most part (I will be going back at some point obviously) until I was about halfway home and working on instinct.

Near the airport was this sign… I put it up because when I got home I was coughing up dirt for an hour…

Laugh all you want… this is a serious issue in the dry season…

Dunno… thought this was a cool shot, the plane coming in to land…

This was a third of the way home… I was still smiling… an hour later, not so much.

When I got home, I drank almost 2 liters of water, and passed out for an hour, woke up and made my first real meal since arriving here (by real I mean not just rice and onions…).  I spent the rest of the afternoon keeping cool and rehydrating, then bought some beers and wandered down to the beach to read before sunset.  It was truly peaceful.

Every sunset amateur cowboys wander down the beach…

I brought two beers with me for reading and sunset… but in the heat they tend to warm up, thus creativity is needed…

Find a rock in a tidal pool, leave beer to chill…

Then I got a little silhouette happy…

Like with this couple walking back along the beach past the tide pools

And then there’s the self portrait…

And why not? If I didn’t photograph me no one would! …

I didn’t want to waste my day off though, so I took a very long walk down the beach.  First I wandered as far as I could before I hit jungle, then swam in the surf, read and decided to walk back.  On my way back I stepped on glass or something and slashed my toe open, I sat on the beach trying to clean it with salt water and my towel, then used gaffer tape and a bit of towel to wrap it up.  Its doing well and didn’t hurt too much on the walk back, however, the day before, I developed a bad blister on the same foot walking from Nosara, my poor left foot…

On the way back I wandered up to this building I had seen from a distance for a long time, it turned out to be an abandoned hotel on a cliff over looking the pacific… I explored for a while and found one other person, he could only tell me it was closed, he had no idea why.  I wanted to climb to the top of a spire that was in the center of the hotel, however, my progress was halted by a pack angry dogs who showed up in force to bark at me…  I’ll be back, I’ll be careful, the view of the beach from the top will be unrivaled.

A horse tour coming out of the hotel area…

Anyone see Jurassic Park?  It takes place on an island off the coast of Costa Rica right…

I’m not even kidding… I half expected to see a velociraptor come through here.

Isla Sorna…

The most confusing part about the hotel… it’s abandoned, with a big manicured lawn.

However, reanimated dinosaurs weren’t the real concern…

A pack of angry dogs was the issue…

I continued my trip back to the office, made some dinner, threw on a movie and wrote this up.  Tomorrow is the start of my first full week of work.

Paz siempre,

Adam Dietrich


My first days at work

So I suppose I will start with Thursday, since I didn’t post that day…

That morning I wandered down to the beach to shoot more surfing, I got a great sequence of photos of an American kid from Maryland pulling a back flip on his surf board, I was ecstatic.

John Volatile from Bethesda Maryland, pulls a back flip on his surfboard. I know it doesn't look like it, but he lands this. Absolutely amazing.

While I was standing in the surf taking photos I noticed a lot of smoke from the south, I figured it was nothing, turned out to be nothing.  However, with photography the mantra of, “shoot first, ask later,” is sometimes the wise thing to do.

Apparently garbage burning is quite common here...

Thursday was also my first official day of work, so that morning I received an email from my boss asking me to contact the president of the local surfing foundation to follow up on a story written in the summer.

In July Voice of Nosara, wrote a profile piece about an 11 year old girl in the next town over.  She had been born with a rare bone disorder and her mother was unable to afford the treatment she desperately needed.  A neighbor at the time was helping her with some basic physiotherapy, although the neighbor was only a Pilates instructor.  The greatest challenge for the girl it seemed, would be attending the local school, which was in no way accessible nor did the school have the necessary funds to make it accessible.

So the Surfing Federation of Nosara hosted a concert with American singer G-Love, earlier this month and all ticket and beer sales went to help her.  They raised over $4000 and secured promises from a local contractor to help with the construction for free.  Since this only required a few emails be sent I spent most of the afternoon waiting to hear if the ATV had been fixed…  It hadn’t.

That evening I decided to go and shoot more surfing, after the sun had just dipped below the horizon.  It worked kind of, I probably should have used my 5D MK II which has better low light performance, instead I used ‘the beast’ (1D MK II) because of its added crop factor and high frame rate, however, it’s ten years old and sucks in low light… Lesson learned and I’ll go back.

Surfing just after the sun dips below the horizon.

Sunset on the ocean is beautiful…  I can’t wait for my medium format to arrive.

Sunset on the ocean.

This morning also started slowly, I had to run an errand for Voice of Nosara and pick up some documents from a nearby restaurant.  I was expecting a slow day (I’d been told to expect a slow day) however, shortly after I returned to the office I received a call from my boss.  It seems a suspect in a series of robberies and potentially a rape had been arrested, I was about to be smacked in the face by the realities of the Nosara ex-pat community…

When I arrived at the Police station tour source was there, freaking out, claiming the cops were going to let him go, they had no evidence etc.  As it turns out a gardener found the suspect asleep in a hammock covered in leaves behind an ex-pats house, called the nearby private security guard who then called the police.

Apparently there has been a string of robberies going back more than a year in the area of Las Huacas (nicknamed the Beverly Hills of Nosara).  The residents are all ex-pats, rich and were furious.  However, because the suspect had been caught sleeping, not robbing they were worried about him getting off on lack of evidence.

There was also a rape of an ex-pat about a year earlier and there were some who thought he matched the description of the suspect in that crime.  The survivor, who has since returned to the US, was emailed a photo of the man in custody, however, she couldn’t identify him, furthermore there was an issue with the DNA evidence collected after the rape… Apparently the cops had lost it…  So he was effectively cleared of those charges then.

However, an angry mob had gathered nonetheless to make sure he wasn’t released.  The Costa Rican equivalent of the FBI (called the Judicial Police) were called from another town to come and take him away for fingerprinting.  Apparently the police had prints on file from some of the previous robberies and they were going to see if they matched.

The mob gathered outside the police station. I overheard a, white, American guy joke about, "So I hear there's a lynching" I cringed a bit at the insensitivity...

I spent four hours standing around, the cops had no holding cell and we found out he was being held in an ally between the station and the building next to it.  They weren’t pleased with me sneaking a photo.

The cops wouldn't let anyone see the suspect and they were holding him behind a solid metal gate between two buildings, again no holding cells, so I lifted my camera over, stood on my toes and shot blindly. Bad luck though they had him with his back to the gate...

Due to alack of evidence (or perceived) our source was trying to get as many people as possible to ID him.  A security guard took a picture of the suspect on his cell phone shortly after the arrest.

Residents looking at a cellphone with a picture of the suspect on it.

After four hours in the sun, waiting an not knowing what the eff was happening, we were told that the cops felt the had enough evidence to hold him and the Judicial Police were going to take him to Nicoya, where the courts and jail is.  As he left the police station people were screaming threats and ‘son-of –a-bitch’ in Spanish at him.

This is the photo we're running with, direct, sharp and to the point. Too bad he covered his face, the police seem to think they have a very strong case right now so I guess he's hoping for some privacy. In Costa Rica you cannot publish the full name of someone suspected of a crime, even if they're in custody and facing charges, only the last name, although he'd refused to give that too police.

I shot about twenty pictures of the three minutes it took him to walk to the car and for the car to drive off, I do consider myself a ‘frame conscious’ photographer.

Leading the suspect out, not the best 'perp walk' shot but I thought the sun burst added some drama.

So I learned a few things today, the ex-pat community here is EXTREMLY tightly knit, and you do not fuck with their property or they will crucify you.  They were planning on following the police to the next town to ensure arraignment and were threatening to protest in front of the prosecutor’s office if he was let go.

Also in my rush to get to the scene I forgot my water bottle, which was a mistake I will NEVER repeat.  After hanging around for four hours in the sun outside the cop shop I came home and jumped in a cold shower and downed a liter of water.  The article is online already here I’m told this was very fast turnaround for Voice of Nosara, needless to say I’m pretty pleased.

It seems tomorrow I’ll be tagging along with the cops as the comb the hills for clues… should be good times in the forest, hopefully some interesting pictures can be made.

Paz siempre,

Adam Dietrich


The Poem Repair Shop

This post will be taking a short detour from my current internship in Costa Rica to review something I did over the winter break, which just passed.

I went to high school outside of Guelph in the town of Breslau, I was incredibly fortunate to go there, because it was a private school.  While I clashed with the administration over everything from uniform attire, to hair colour and eventually tattoos my four years there presented opportunities I would likely not have had otherwise.  For example, a trip to Nepal in gr. 12, a trip to Italy and Greece in gr. 11, an outdoor biology course in Muskoka in gr. 10 and radio time at the U of G

My English teacher in gr. 11/12, Adrian Hoad-Reddick, hosts an hour-long radio show at CKCU, the University of Guelph’s campus radio station, called The Poem Repair Shop.  In gr. 11 I started assisting, mostly I supplied music for in between readings, my preference was local punk and rock.  PRS was great because it gave the opportunity to help in a live-to-air radio broadcast (my grandfather had better have been proud), immerse myself in the 519 music scene and experience poetry I might not have otherwise been exposed too.  For two years I helped out almost every week, I soloed a few shows, interviewed a band or two and ultimately put together a full show myself for my cumulating task in ENG4U, it beat the hell out of writing an essay.

El capitano, Adrian Hoad-Reddick manning the control board.

It was a nice mini-reunion, with everyone taking their turn at the mic.

Eric Balnar, PRS alumni and Carleton Student reading on air.

Wha

Eric Balnar and Devin Howard preparing limericks for the limerick equivalent of a rap battle. Eric won.

This past winter break I was able to come home from Ottawa a little earlier than usual.  I attended the annual SJK pub night hosted at the Ebar in Guelph.  While there Hoad told me about his intentions to host an alumni edition of PRS on the 29th.

It was really great to get back into the studio and reconnect over some poetry and music again.  So I’ve posted some photos and included a video of a limerick showdown between Eric and Devin, enjoy.

Peace,

Adam Dietrich


Nosara – Arrival

Whew, today has been a long one.

It started at 4am as I tried to quietly leave my dorm, although I’m certain my alarm pissed everyone off… I checked out and walked to the bus station, along the way the streets were riddled with the cries of tropical birds, it was seriously loud.  The bus ride itself was long, it was about 6 hours in total and since there was no AC onboard I opened a window.  That was a good idea, bad idea situation; because it’s the dry season now the roads are mostly dust and dirt.  Ultimately though, the dust in the face was worth the breeze in the stuffy bus.

My first glimpse of the sea en route to Nosara from San Jose. The Pacific is gorgeous.

When I finally arrived in Nosara my boss wasn’t there to meet me, so I hung around for half an hour or so.  This was about 11:30am and already I could tell Nosara is a lot hotter than San Jose.  Just as I was about to get concerned that maybe something was wrong and she wasn’t coming, a lady on a bike pulled up and asked if I was Adam.  It turns out the ATV is in repair so she’s been using the bicycle, I can’t wait until the ATV is out of repair.

Emiliana, the lady who met me at the bus stop, is the editor in chief of the Voice of Nosara, she’s from Argentina and seems very nice.  I also met the ad manager, Arianna from Florida, who on occasion will also write stories.  At first she was a little stand offish it seemed, however, later in the afternoon we got to talking.  She gave a brief overview of the structure of the Voice of Nosara, readership for print/online, ad rates, ownership and circulation levels.

I was told I have the day off today, which makes me assume tomorrow I start, so I wandered to the beach and bought some sandals on the way.  The beach is beautiful, it’s the Pacific Ocean and the water is bathtub temperature almost.  I’m technically not in Nosara town, but Guionnes beach, although everyone calls it Nosara.  The place is filled with beach bums, surfers and ex-pats (mostly American), it’s very easy to see why.

Cue gratuitous  scenery shots…

The prerequisite beach self-portrait

I haven’t seen much wildlife yet, aside from some pelican-like birds.

Some birds, I haven't identified them yet but I saw a bunch. They were walking around in the surf eating these slugs that crawl in the sand.

As I mentioned surfing is huge, I’ve never shot surfing before but I figured I should try.  The surf was a little low and there were only three people out… Gotta figure out when the best time to see people out is.

My first surfing shot! I hope to get better while I'm here... Surfing is definitely hard subject matter to find in Canada, plus in shooting it there's the added challenge of salt water and camera equipment.

What I really want to catch is a huge bail, with the rider and surfboard going off in different directions… that would be sweet.

She's about to bail on her ass, the picture of the bail was really boring though, you can't see anything over the wave she crashed into. Also I know nothing about surfing but contorting your body's balance like that on a snowboard would ensure an ass fall

After the surfing photos I continued north along the beach towards a huge outcropping of sorts.

Low tide leave tidal pools... Also that mountain in the corner, I climbed it to take the next two pictures.

This photo only shows a corner of the hill, in the mid-day heat I almost died after summiting it.  Okay well not really, but I did chug half my water bottle and have to sit down.

Looking north on the other side of the outcropping. I'm not sure how to reach this beach yet

The hill proved to be tall enough to unnerve me a bit, especially because it was really just a ridge with a goat path on top.  Still I found tire treads from a mountain bike…  Meaning people use the ridge to ride down… Crazy.

The view of the beach I walked along... Absolutely beautiful.

As I said the mid-day heat is sweltering, after my walk along the beach I came back and had to nap.  Arianna mentioned that here the sun is more direct and thus more intense, so 30 degrees feels a lot hotter than 30 degrees, needless to say I have a sunburn already, seems I should have worn sunscreen on my day out in San Jose.

While the sun had destroyed my appetite, the nap had brought it back.  I walked around the corner and bought a wrap for about $6, it was incredible.  Avocado, red cabbage, carrots lightly toasted with some sauce in it.

So tasty, so very tasty, although no where near the typical Costa Rican diet....

The Office is also my apartment, so from 9-5 five days a week, it’s a newspaper office, outside of those hours I have the run of the place.  It’s very cozy and central too, I’m about a ten minute walk to the beach and 2 minutes to amenities.

Yes, another self portrait... This is the office/my bedroom for the next six months, very cozy.

The windows look out onto ‘main st’ Nosara…

The view from my window around dusk.

Also, there’s a cat!  I’m allergic to cats (which is tragic because they’re my favourite animal) this one is mostly outdoors and the apartment is wood so hopefully I won’t need to dig into the allergy meds too much…

Soooooooooo cute! I'm not sure of the name yet so I've been calling her 'gatito' which I think is Spanish for 'kitten'

I’m very excited to start tomorrow, however, I need to stay out of the sun from 11am-2pm otherwise… I may cook.  That said I’ll leave you with this photo taken on the beach just before sunset…  Be jealous, it’s ok.

Beach goers watching the sun set while sipping beers on the beach... I could very much get used to that.

That’s all for today.

Peace,

Adam Dietrich

P.S.  Today Wikipedia and other major sites (including WordPress) blocked access to some or all of their content to protest two bills before the United States Congress, the acronyms are SOPA and PIPA respectively.  I won’t go into detail here but if you’re curious you should Google them… if those bills pass they WILL change the way everyone uses the internet, for the worse.

P.P.S.  Capital Hoops was tonight, the classic showdown between Carleton and Ottawa U’s basketball teams at Scotiabank place, its the first time in three years I haven’t gone and the last two I was there court side for the charlatan, I was feeling a little nostalgic as I cruised their live blog.


San Jose

A man feeding pigeons in Plaza de la Democracia in central San Jose Costa Rica

When I travel to a new city I usually like to have a day or two to do nothing except walk, so this morning I walked for 6 hours.  I wandered downtown bought some sunglasses and tried to find out where to meet my bus to Nosara tomorrow morning.  It turns out Google lied!  (I know, it’s outrageous and shocking)  Google said that all buses to other parts of Costa Rica left from the central bus station in San Jose, called the Coca Cola bus station, which is named for the former bottling plant that the bus station is located in.  It turns out their buses don’t go to Nosara… neither did the next station, or the next.  It gave me a chance to bust out some serious Spanish as I had to start asking street vendors how to get to the right one.  It took about 45 minutes, but I now have my ticket for the bus, which departs at 5:30 tomorrow morning; gross.

I watched these two guys cat call over the bench at that girl for almost ten minutes, it was clear she wasn't going to respond but she had a smile on her face... It seems thats how flirting starts in this country, with catcalls, I've noticed that people in cars will wolf whistle out the window as they pass cute girls...

 

After that I wandered more, bought some bread and cheese from the grocery store and some apples from a fruit vendor… the apples were from the states though, I wanted some local fruit…

The view looking down Ruta 1 (main highway) north, I flew into Costa Rica at night so I missed the topography, however, every time I turn a new direction I see these cloud draped mountains.

 

With my hunger assuaged, eyes protected, bus ticket in hand and slightly exhausted and sweaty I headed back towards my hostel, to a huge park near by.  I wandered around and siesta-ed in the shade of a tree.  The weather is literally perfect.  The air temperature is around 25 Celsius and there is a constant shifting breeze, a welcome change from the minus 30 wind tunnel called Ottawa….

 

As I was sitting under the tree napping I woke up and saw, what I assume to be a dad playing soccer with his two kids. It made for a nice happy photo, although how they played in the direct sunlight like that gahhh.

As a photographer I’m a huge fan of juxtaposition, to the left of the field these guys were playing on was a massive soccer stadium.  I wasn’t able to frame it in the background and still get the faces while they played so… I took a second photo.

 

Here it is! The Estadio Nacional (national stadium) those little dots in front of it are another group of people playing pick-up soccer.

 

After an hour or so of relaxation and soccer creeping I continued my about-town trek and stumbled on this random piece of Canadiana.   While American fast-food chains dominate the main roads of downtown San Jose, the Bank of Nova Scotia somehow managed to get the tallest tower and thus dominates the skyline.  Some International Relations/Development theorists would argue that all of this foreign direct investment is a good thing for the country’s development and economy… some.

 

I have an uncle who has some executive job in Scotiabank's international development wing, he'd worked in Venezuela and Peru, I'm gonna have to figure out if he's involved in the many, many Scotiabank's I've seen wandering around...

As I sat down to edit some pictures a new arrival to the hostel came out back for a cigarette.  Curious about what I was up to he asked and we struck up a conversation.  We sat and talked about nothing really and yet covered every topic from climate differences between Wales and Canada and Costa Rica, plane crashes, previous romances and our limited understanding of Costa Rica.  This is one of my favorite parts of backpacking, the interesting people you meet and the stories and experiences they choose to share.  Since I was having a conversation I had closed the lid of my laptop, and while we were talking a bird shit on it, they say its good luck if a bird shits on you… I think it was good luck the bird shit after I’d closed the lid.

 

That's my hostel, and the street below. They have a really nice little patio where I camped out this afternoon to write and edit.

Today has been a wonderfully relaxing day.  I’ve been in touch with Voice of Nosara and they’re ready for my arrival, apparently they’ve adopted a cat, which is awesome.  I love cats.  Early morning tomorrow and six hours on a bus, but my next post will be from the Voice of Nosara office.

Another post, another self-portrait of myself in my 'editing suite,' hehehe.

Peace,

Adam Dietrich


Departure

Well I’ve made it… or almost.

I’m in San Jose, I need to be in Nosara…

I should start with mentioning that I didn’t sleep the night before my departure, my nerves made sure of that.  Thus at 5am Ottawa time (4am Costa Rica time), on zero hours of sleep, I trekked out to catch a bus to the airport.  Ottawa was freezing, something like -30, I wore the only pair of pants I’m bringing, in addition to my packed sweater and windbreaker – I was just warm enough to wait for the bus.

Bank and Slater transitway, 5:20am gross....

Departing Ottawa was like clock work.  However, because of the sub-arctic temperatures they had to coat the plane in a layer of anti-freeze.  It was a little concerning at first because we weren’t told that this would happen.  Suddenly moments before the engines lit to carry us into the sky the plane stopped and a weird looking truck drove up to the plane.  A part of the truck lifted on a small crane attached to the back and then began spraying the plane in an orange mist from some attached hoses.  I deduced it must be anti freeze.

Strange looking machine attached to the back of a pick-up truck coating the plane in anti-freeze.

In Toronto I had to re-check my bags, because I was transferring through Miami and the US makes you clear customs (even if you’re just transferring through an airport) before you take off.  I arrived in Miami and had 45 minutes to race from one end of the huge airport to the other.  Than my flight was delayed, so I bought Wendy’s and watched Boston Legal to pass some of the time.

The view from 25 000 feet, descending over Toronto, the light poking through the clouds made some cool patterns on the fog below, like spotlights.

One more uneventful flight (third flight that day) and I landed in San Jose, Costa Rica.  I was bound and determined to get downtown via local bus as opposed to taxi, which meant saving around $19.60 USD.  It also meant dusting cobwebs off my Spanish, despite running on zero energy.  The bus rise was a little tense… I didn’t know where the stop was, what it looked like, when to call the stop, how to call the stop or if I was even on the right bus.  Turns out I was, the bus dropped me off about a block from my hostel where I am now.

The hostel is cool, painted in random colours and run by some fat American ex-pat who wanders around between the front desk and his Wii console…  That said this place has charm I was told there were three rules that applied to me when I arrived: 1. No drugs, no outside booze, they have their own 24h bar.  2. Return sheets and towels when I check out.  3. Be cool.  I’m in an 8 person room, the hostel is almost empty right now and my room is something like $10 a night.

My bunk for the next two days, home sweet home.

I haven’t slept in two days.  The last three have been a crazy emotional rollercoaster, however, sitting here typing this out over a beer in the front foyer of the hostel has me facing a really cool new reality… I’m actually going to be in Costa Rica for the next six months. Crazy.  Anyway, I need to sleep, tomorrow is touring around and I need to purchase a bus ticket to Nosara for the day after.

Me... writing this blog post you're reading... super meta.

Peace,

Adam Dietrich

P.S. I’m currently talking with a lady who works at the hostel… she’s from Guelph, what a small world.


Preparations

Well I can’t quite believe the day is almost here but in three days I’m heading to Costa Rica for 6 months, as an intern at the Voice of Nosara, a newspaper on the west coast of Costa Rica.
It comes at an important turning point in my life, I just recently finished the requirements for my bachelor of arts degree at Carleton University.  I must confess I’m truly excited to be done university, more excited to be heading to Costa Rica (more so because there’s a heavy snowfall right now), yet the most excited about waking up every day and going out to shoot pictures.  Some days will be more mundane than others, some might be downright boring but to be out there partaking in the process of ‘photojournalism’ for the next six months, has me very excited.
There are of course the people in Canada whom I will miss.  I am surprised at the number of good connections from four years in Ottawa and I am very thankful for the memories.  The last few weeks I’ve been between Guelph and Ottawa to visit family and friends.  While it has been somewhat bittersweet, I think that’s something to be grateful for.
Packing has been the process of packing my entire life into two bags, with the carryon holding most of the items crucial to my job.  Below is the ubiquitous ‘what’s in my bag blog photo,’ enjoy.
Starting in the top left corner going done in imagined columns the list of stuff is:

1. My travel scarf… bought it for a dollar fifty in Cambodia in 2008, used it as a turban/bandana for two years as a Roosters cook, soaked it in vinegar and used it over my face 2. against tear gas while photographing the G20… I was told at purchase time I’d find a million uses for it
3. Beside it my Canon L 135mm f/2, a beautiful lens in low light and super sharp too!  Made as a portrait lens but highly useful in sports as well.
4. My PSP, for entertainment on the go nothing beats it… Especially when its been moded to play NES, SNES and Gameboy games…
5. In the black draw bag; my headphones, a much needed item
6. My Canon 5D MK II, my main camera body, it’s a full frame, lightweight, video-capable wonder
7. Below that, my ‘work camera,’ for days where lots of frames will be shot nothing beats the reliability of Canon’s EOS 1D line.  Though the MK II (pictured) is somewhat dated, (it’s a nine year old camera )  it was recently repaired by Canon after being damaged during the Bluesfest wind and rains.
Below the cameras is my developing tank and an extra reel.  I have a medium format camera on the way and I’d like to be able to process the film while I’m in Costa Rica.*
8. Canon L 24mm f/1.4 II recently returned from Canon repairs after its focus shifted, it is a beautiful wide angle lens, useable in almost any light.
9. Below that is a remote shutter release… I’ve had it forever and you never know when it’ll be useful.
10. Extra PSP UMD games… for fun
11. Moleskine notebooks, one reporter type and one small notebook for travel notes
12. Battery chargers for my 1D batteries**
13. My Canon 85mm f/1.8, another portrait built lens that works for on the fly as an excellent low light action lens
14. Canon Speedlite 580EX II, an amazing hot shoe flash, simply the best one Canon makes.  I’d like to start making better use of it
15. Digital voice recorder, what type of journalist doesn’t need this?
16. Pens, a highlighter and sharpies, important for writing stuff
17. A set of pocket wizards, useful radio transmitters for off camera flash photography
18. Three extra batteries for my EOS 1D
19. A Leatherman multi tool, because that stuff is ALWAYS useful*
20. My Flip video camera, I purchased it for the G20, so I could have video, this is a durable, simple and useful high def video camera in a pinch
21. My Canon 2x Extender II, this turns my 135mm f/2 into a 270mm f/4, or when used on my 1D the cropped image sensor makes it a 320mm f/4.
22. A mini-mag light for finding stuff in the dark
23. Extra back cap for a lens and body cap for a camera
24. USB 2.0 multi-card reader with 8gb card.  While the card reader is a little slow and dated… I don’t have cash for the nicer UDMA firewire ones right now
25. A roll of mini-sized gaffer tape, you never know when you’ll need it
26. An 8gb USB key
27. 2x Lexar 400x 16gb compact flash memory cards, fast enough to let me shoot to my cameras buffer and keep pace plus the two cards give me all the memory needed
28. A 512mb compact flash card… incase the limited extra space is ever needed…. I had it lying around
29. Adapters (USB and SD) for the micro SD card in my Blackberry (not pictured)
30. An Olympus point and shoot 35mm camera, I found it in a trash can in Osoyoos BC in 2007, since then it has gone everywhere with me.  35mm colour film is still widely available so I’ll buy some in Costa Rica
31. A regular 4x AA battery charger
32. Charger for the battery in the Canon 5D MK II
33. A Duracell battery charger which charges four AA batteries in about 15 minutes, very useful.*
34. Archive sheets for 120 negatives
35. Kodak powder developer and fixer, I’ll buy vinegar for stop bath there.  I can’t bring liquid because of TSA regulations.  This and the film below are evidence of how much I’m going to miss Kodak once their stock tanks and they file for bankruptcy…*
36. 120 medium format film! 4x Kodak Tmax 100, 2x Ilford Pan F Plus 50, 2x Fujichrome Velvia 100 (for some beautiful slides… I’ll have to bring this back for processing) and finally 4x Kodak Tri-X 400, expired in 1990, my friend got a bunch on Ebay for very little so he gave me a few rolls as a birthday gift, I think I’ll use them for fun and try pushing and puling (200, 400, 800, 1600)
37. Charger cable for my PSP
38. Think Tank Retrospective 30 shoulder bag, for carrying everything, without looking like it…*
*Will be checked for airline and bus travel and not put in my shoulder bag
**one is checked one is in carry on
***Items not pictured, Blackberry Curve 9300 (unlocked and able to be used with a Costa Rican sim card), Super Baldex a 50’s era folding medium format camera which was made by the German camera company ‘Balda Cameras,’ its highly portable and shoots film, which if processed and scanned properly, can yield resolutions like 60-70 megapixels, an 8gb SD card for backing up files on my 1D mk II, and finally my Macbook Pro 13” and charger for editing, 1TB hard drive for storage.

Everything, including the laptop in my bag.
I hope to be able to post once I have arrived in San Jose, there is a hostel I am staying at where I will have access to the internet.
Until then peace, and enjoy the winter.
Adam Dietrich

2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,300 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.