Independent Photography

Archive for May, 2012

El fin de Mayo

Nosara is a strange place sometimes.  Electrical brownouts are quite a common thing, all businesses have surge protectors designed to store power to keep desktop computers on during the brief flickers.  There have been the odd power outages too, for a few hours at a time, they usually occur during storms.  Last Tuesday in the middle of the day, under a blue sky the power suddenly cutout.  I wasn’t able to continue working so I went to the beach to pass the time until the power came back on.

A female Howler monkey and her baby.

As I got near the beach one of the real estate guys who works in the plaza near the beach saw me, “hey, got your camera with you?” he asked.  I looked where he was pointing and there was a dead Howler monkey hanging from a power transformer, here was the cause of the blackout.  I took some pictures, but what I found interesting was not the dead monkey, but the family of Howler monkey’s across the road who had gathered and were screaming.

A dead Howler monkey hangs from an electrical transformer in Playa Guiones.  The monkey grabbed an exposed part of wire with it’s tale, electrocuting itself to death.

An hour and a half later the monkey had fallen to the ground, it was several hours before the body was picked up.

It’s a common thing in Costa Rica, the monkey’s use power lines to cross roads and jungle, and if there is a hole in the rubber casing or they touch a transformer they’re either horribly mutilated or killed.  There are several organizations set up to rehabilitate the monkeys, in some cases they have built bridges over the lines.

A female Howler monkey carrying her baby makes her way across a power line on the other side of the road.

Although the dead monkey was sad, the gathered monkey’s mourning on the other side of the road gave me an excellent opportunity to get some nice pictures of this endangered species.

A mourning Holwer, howls across the road from where another was killed on a power line.

Last Friday was a somewhat busy day; I was supposed to go to Nicoya for the opening of a new music centre, although, because the bus was late I missed out, so I ended up not going Friday.  However, while waiting for the bus there were a bunch of mountain bikers who biked by.  They were part of a five-stage race across the province of Guanacaste; the third stage took them through Nosara.

A one armed mountain biker taking part in the Guanaride bike race, from Ciudad Blanca in Liberia to Playa Naranjo in Puntrenas, passes through Nosara on his way to Samara during the 3rd stage of the 248 mile race on May 25. There are five stages in total, one per day, from May 23-May 27, the third stage started in Playa Langosta and ended in Playa Samara, 68 miles down the coast, passing through Nosara.

The next week I went to Nicoya to follow-up on the opening and try to get a photo.  At first I was worried when I got there, it was just a big open, empty room, with some smaller rooms off to the side where kids were having music lessons.  I wandered around and was invited into a few of the lessons, one pair was completely cool with me photographing them during a practice session, so at least I came away with a few nice pictures.

Yogathan Madriz Berrios, professor of violin and viola an the Nicoya music school, instructs Laura Gomez Diaz, 18 from Hojancha during a viola class on May 28. In addition to the two practice rooms, storage room and massive performance space, the building also has a shaded patio in the back for lessons.

Finally there’s been a community reforestation project on the beach for the last few days.  From Sunday-Tuesday volunteers came out to plant trees, it was a follow-up to an event last year where they planted over 1000 trees… 80% died.  This year they only planted 310 and used different compost and planting methods, organizers hope that more will survive this year.

Christian Santamaria, a local surfer, passes a tree to be planted to a student from Del Mar Academy. On Tuesday May 29 35 students from Del Mar took part in the reforestation effort.

Student’s from Del Mar Academy sit with a tree ready for planting while they listen to instructions on how to properly plant the trees.

Local surfer Christian Santamaria leads a group of students from Del Mar Academy to the planting site in southern Guiones.

Students from Del Mar Academy plant a tree during near the cemetery on Playa Guiones during a reforestation effort.

So yeah, that’s the kind of week and half it’s been, tomorrow I head to Nicaragua, first I have to take a bus to Liberia, then I’ll stay there overnight and take a direct bus to Granada, Nicaragua.

I’ll end off with this picture taken by Surfing Nosara, they have photographers on the beach everyday taking pictures of people surfing in the hopes those people will buy those photos later.  Their photog was a little bored Tuesday morning I think, and he took a bunch of pictures of people planting trees, there was one where you can see me at work.

See if you can spot me…

Next post should have some pictures of my Nica-adventures.

Paz siempre,

Adam Dietrich

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Into ‘Winter’

I haven’t seen blue sky in five days, we’re entering the edge of what locals here call ‘winter,’ which means rain. It looks like the clouds may be starting to break though, so hopefully…

I’m going to try something new with this blog post, rather than chronological order I’m going to start with my favorite photos and work down.  I should also make two notes, there are sunset photos near the end, for those who are followers of this blog you’ll note there are lots of sunset photos, you have been warned.  Secondly there will be a geeky final paragraph about some film stuff, if you don’t want to read a lot of technical film/photography jargon, then skip that too.

There were a lot of ‘firsts’ for Nosara this month, first mini-golf tournament, first charity race and first motocross race.  The motocross race on May 13 was cool, it was hosted in a field in the north part of town, and like most events here was low infrastructure.

I was able to wander all over and cross the track even during the race.  I’ve also always wanted to shoot motocross, so this was cool.  It was a loud muddy overcast affair, but I came away with some good clean pictures and had the chance to be creative.

Wicho, a rider in the rookie category flies past a lap marker during his race. Despite an earlier fall he tied for 7th out of 12 riders in his category.

Wicho falls off his bike after bumping with a rider in mid-air. There were no injuries and Wicho got back on the bike and finished 7th out of 12 for the day in his category, but held a position as 5th overall out of 20 riders because of points from previous rounds.

From left to right, Carlos, Wicho and Luis Diego follow each other over a jump during the rookie race at Nosara’s first motocross race on May 13.

I tried to slow the shutter here to keep the crowd sharp and the riders blurry.  I didn’t think to use a flash, second curtain sync would have given me the same picture with a slightly sharper view of the bike at the end of the blur, would’ve been cooler.

Riders land a jump in front of a crowd of onlookers perched on a hill near the start line.

A week and a half earlier there was a community outreach event.  A local hotel, provided dental services for school children from neighboring communities over two and half days.  Harmony Hotel has a community sustainability committee whose job is community outreach and development.

Dental access, like everything in Nosara, is limited.  Dentists from Nicoya visit once a month but their time is limited.  However, the university of Costa Rica’s dental program has an internship component.  Usually students fulfill this obligation by doing volunteer work in Costa Rica’s countryside.

Harmony Hotel’s sustainability committee contacted the university and offered to pay for transportation and accommodations for the dental students.  Several students and their prof showed up in the afternoon of May 2 and took over one of the hotel’s cabinas to use as an impromptu dental office then for the next two days then cleaned kids teeth and wrote referrals for anything serious.

A student from Garza’s school has his teeth cleaned in a Harmony Hotel room on May 4.

Saturday morning was a much-anticipated charity run through the jungle, I’ve been asked to write two preview articles for it to date.  There was both a 12k and a 5k race and the money went to charity, run of the mill stuff but I like the starting line picture.

Runners take off from the start-line for the first Adventura Nosara charity run. Both the 12k and 5k races started and ended at the same point in Playa Guiones on May 13. Proceeds from the race will fund three programs in town, the firefighting, security and recycling associations.

A week before on May 12 there was a mini-golf tournament, welcome to small town news.  It was little affair, surprisingly popular with the adults…

Two kids take part in the Mini Jr (Under nine) category of Nosara’s first ever mini-golf tournament on May 12. The course was designed by Mael Van der Weid, the 10 year-old son of CafŽ de Paris’ owner Thierry Van der Weid, Mael funded the course construction, all $20 000 through the sale of his paintings. Mael said he likes trophies and a tournament was an excuse to have trophies made.

During the first two weeks of the month my girlfriend Yamina came to visit again, it was pretty awesome, the next three pictures were taken while she was here and we were wandering around.

Horseback riders make their way along Playa Guiones in front of a storm front on May 4. Climatologists believe the oncoming rainy season, referred to locally as ‘winter,’ will be milder this year, with much less rain. Speculation focuses on the ‘El Ni–ño’ phenomenon and effects of global warming.

Here are the sunsets…

and here is the geeky post…

I like to shoot film, I brought a Baldex med format folding rangefinder with me, some Kodak D-76 developer, fixer powder and my developing tank.  I had never used the Baldex before so I’ve been testing how it works with some expired Tri X 400 a friend gave me as a birthday present.

I was able to develop two rolls so far, one at 400 ISO and one pulled to 200 ISO.  Although I don’t have an enlarger or a med format scanner to scan them, I saw a post on Petapixel (a photoblog I follow) which detailed how to build your own med format scanner with a remote flash, a DSLR and a cardboard box.

A Canon 5D mkII with a 135mm f/2 and 2x extender is used to ‘scan’ medium format negatives. The negative is held in a box with a flash placed behind it. The flash is triggered by a remotely by a pocket wizard and digital picture is cropped and the curve inverted to turn the negative into a positive.

The cardboard box I modified to light the negative and take a picture.

The results I got were ok, although I’m not sure if that was the expired film doing weird things or the ‘scanning.’  I have some rolls of still good Panf 50, so I’ll try that next and see.  At the very least it’s a good way to quickly scan negs to make digital contact sheets.

Picture of a palm tree on beach shot n the Baldex scanned with the 5D.

So yeah that’s it, some community meetings/events this week, then it’s back to Nicaragua for another visa run at the start of June.

Paz siempre,

Adam Dietrich


April

Ok so it’s been a month since my last post.  April was a bit of a slow and weird month, I spent a lot of time working out the details for my return home and my replacement in July.

However, that’s neither here nor there.  I spent most of the month working on a feature about the volunteer firefighters here in Nosara.  Aside from that it was the odd assignment for the web.  There has been some reorganizing of the staff internally and it’s been a somewhat confusing to say the least, but everything is starting to straighten itself out.

So going in chronological order…

Early in April I stopped by the Nosara Yoga Spa for a trippy little concert featuring three very talented guitarists.  One of them, Bill McPhearson, is credited with starting the live music scene, more or less, in Nosara, with a Tuesday night acoustic set at the Gilded Iguana, a popular bar/hotel in town.

Spectatoars watch and listen to a concert featuring three acoustic guitarists at the Yoga Spa in Nosara, Costa Rica. Above on the ceiling 'transvisualizations,' projected visuals used to 'visualize' live music, are projected by a VJ.

Tuesdays at the Iguana have now become an iconic part of Nosara’s nightlife.  McPhearson has also left Nosara to take up a teaching post in California.  However, he is married to a Tico (slang for Costa Rican) so he plans to return once a year at least.

Bill McPhearson, an American who is credited with kickstarting the live music scene in Nosara, Costa Rica performs on April 4 at the Yoga Spa. McPhearson has since left Nosara for a teaching position in California, however, he intends to return and play at least once a year, if not more.

About a week later I went to the animal rescue centre for a web feature on adoptable pets.  It was fun, the animals were cute and the woman who runs it is incredibly dedicated.

Plus I shot all the portraits at f/1.4 it’s the newest coolest thing in photojournalism (I say that somewhat sarcastically).  Basically it means shooting with the shallowest depth of field you possibly can, hence in this photo, literally only one eye is in focus.  More and more photographers are paying big bucks for lenses that open to f/1.4, 1.8, 2, and I guess the logic is, if you’re paying for it why not use it?  This was one of the first times I found it useful for an assignment that wasn’t a portrait.

An adoptable puppy inspects a camera lens. The Nosara Animal Rescue, run by Canadian Sarah Foster, takes in hundreds of neglected animals each year, they are cared for and given access to healthcare then put up for adoption.

I’ve also been getting into shape somewhat.  We’ve been running a blog-style post a week on the web about fitness options in Nosara.  What it means is I get to take a variety of free classes, ask some questions snap some pics then write a brief first person perspective on it.

So far there’s been Crossfit, which defeated me (I’m picking words carefully here), a Zumba/Bootie Fit class and today Tai Chi, my favourite thus far as been Tai Chi. although Crossfit made me feel like the hulk and Zumba/Bootie Fit left me feeling like a back up dancer in a rap video…

Anyway the photos weren’t anything special from any of the classes, but I like this one because I’m visible.  I never ‘see’ myself at work, and after looking at this photo I think that’s a good thing.

Yoga House founder and Zumba instructor, Jodie Buehner, teaches a Zumba/Bootie Fit class on April 20 at the Yoga House in Nosara Costa Rica. The class is a fusion of the fitness regime Zumba, which was designed by a choreographer in the mid 90's, and 'Bootie Camp,' which provides core strengthening, with a focus on 'the bootie.'

So this will mark the third post I have with rodeo pictures.  This time it was in the beach town of Garza, about 10km outside Nosara.  It was pretty cool and it operated the same way as the Nosara fiestas, after two of which, I had a system down.

One of the rodeo games played at the first annual Garza Fiestas, on April 21. The games are a combination of bullfighting and rodeo riding. Safety gear is completely optional.

The big thing at this fiesta was this psychotic bull called ‘Malacrianza,’ which I was specifically asked to get a picture of.  Talk about pressure, the rider lasted 7 seconds.  At three frames per second (5D Mk II) that gives me a max of 14 photos.  I had 8 useable ones, these two are my favorites.  It was crazy though the arena was sparsely lit with these flickering floodlights, every photo the white balance is a little different then the last.  Also Malacrianza was bucking in he part of the arena where my placement counter to floodlights left my pictures washed out.  For those familiar with Adobe Lightroom, these photos have the contrast and black toned tab turned up 100%,  and even still the photo lacks contrast…

Orlando Tellez Aguilar, 28 from Santa Cruz rides the infamous 'Malacrianza' during the second night of Garza's first ever fiesta's. Aguilar lasted for 7 seconds before being tossed by the bull.

I like that he wore a hockey helmet, it’s the second one I saw in Costa Rica, the first one was on a motorcycle driver…

Orlando Tellez Aguilar, 28 from Santa Cruz rides the infamous 'Malacrianza' during the second night of Garza's first ever fiesta's. Aguilar lasted for 7 seconds before being tossed by the bull.

These fiestas are crazy… people in and out of the ring.

Spectators inside and outside the arena wait for the start of the second night of rodeo games at the first annual Garza fiestas on April 21. The rodeo games feature audience participation, in that, after the bull throws his rider spectators get on the field and try to anger him without getting hurt.

Over the course of the month I’ve been meeting with the Nosara firefighters, speaking with their funders and founders, and other towns nearby about their situation for a feature on the underfunded and overworked volunteer department here.  The feature sprang from an idea I pitched in March about a series of portraits of the firefighters with bios and their opinions on what they needed to better do their job.

The idea was based off a project I saw by Canadian Photojournalist Louie Palu, he worked in Afghanistan for a while and shot a really stunning series of portraits of the soldiers he was with.  More pics shot at f/1.4.  Palu’s work is here, check it out, I still don’t have anything on it, but that’s how painters in the renaissance learned, first by painting work done by masters before them, then developing past or outside that.

Kyle Bombard, co-owner of Reef Realty, is one of three brothers who grew up on Santa Catalina Island in California then moved to Nosara. There was no professional fire department in Santa Catalina, so everyone in the town would help to fight fires. Bombard says the biggest issue they face is proper safety equipment, he cites a recent fire at the Nosara dump which had fire fighters breathing in fumes from burning plastic, silicone and other materials for close to 12 hours, with little to protect them except scarves or dust masks. Currently the volunteers supply their own gear and vehicles.

I’ve never been to or photographed an orchestra before, so this past Saturday was cool.  In March I wrote a preview story about a group of parents at the local Montessori school, they were planning to bring an orchestra from Nicoya comprised of high school music students to perform in Nosara.  It was big, more than 400 people turned out to see it.  Most of whom had never seen a show like that before.

Conductor, Juan Luis Guevara Mora leads the violin section during a performance at the Nosara catholic church on April 28. The orchestra, named 25 de Julio, is based out of Nicoya and is the only orchestra in the Guanacaste province.

The conductor was great, he was so emotive I had a hard time filing down pics.

Conductor Juan Luis Guevara Mora conducts the Nicoya youth orchestra during their first ever performance in Nosara. The choir is made up of music students from the area around the city of Nicoya.

I shot a bunch of regular photos of people playing instruments but to be honest, just a straight photo of someone playing a violin is boring, unless they’re really emotive or flamboyant.  So I was looking for something different.  Because they were kids most barely saw over their music stands, I decided to play around with that, this was my favorite.

One of the violinists in the 25 de Julio orchestra watches for the conductors cues during a free concert in Nosara on April 28. The concert was organized by a parent group from the Del Mar Montessori School called the community service committee.

This one falls outside the chronological order of the post as I shot it on the 24th.  I looked outside my window and saw a strangely bright star, I looked it up on Google and it turns out that night Venus was going to rise with the moon and be visible to the naked eye.  I set up a tripod and took a photo, I haven’t done much astrography, but I want to try more.  It’s more accessible than I thought, I mean this was taken at a 270mm focal length, nothing huge, you just have to know when and where to look.

The crescent moon (left) sits almost horizontal with Venus, visible to the naked eye on April 24 from Nosara, Costa Rica.

On the 5th of May there will be what’s called a ‘super moon,’ basically based on the Earth and Lunar orbits this will be the closest the moon comes to the Earth all year, making it look much brighter, bigger and visible.

I think I’ll bust out my medium format, which by the way works.  I had this old 50’s folding 6×6 shipped to me and I processed the first roll of film, some expired TriX a friend gave me.  Camera works great and it felt badass to process film in Central America.  #imanerd

Anyway, that’s it for now.

Paz Siempre,

Adam Dietrich