Independent Photography

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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