Independent Photography

Un Junio Tranquilo


It is July, that means I’m now in my final month here in Nosara.  It’s prompted a few interesting reflections, some I will share now, others I will have to think about a bit more.  One thing I know is I will miss this place, maybe not right away, but at some point down the road I know I will.  Below is part of the reason why, I haven’t used high dynamic range editing in more than a year, but Monday’s sunset prompted one.  This is me on top of a ridge separating playas Guiones and Pelada.

There’s a narrow ridge that separates Playa Guiones from Playa Pelada, it’s a little vertigo inducing, about 50m high with sheer drops. This is also the first HDR picture I’ve down in a while. It’s actually comprised of three stacked pictures, which expose lights, darks and mid-tones in high contrast scenes. it’s usually frowned upon in photojournalism because it requires stacking three different pictures from three different times but this was just for fun.

What’s more my replacement is picked, a guy named Giordano Ciampini, he’s leaving Canada on July 5th and wisely getting some pre-internship travel in.  For the last little while he’s been based out of Toronto as a freelancer, he also graduated from the same program at Loyalist I’m going into, and last year he was in Egypt during the revolution under his own steam.  He has a tumblr here with some cool stuff for those interested.

Before I go though I have a list with some unfinished things and unexplored places.  Off the top of my head, the town of Samara, 35km away and playa Rosada, a pink sand beach only really accessible during low-tide.  More importantly as I look back over the last six-months I realize I got what I needed from this experience.

My Spanish, though still rough, has improved dramatically, I’m still limited in my own vocabulary but I seem to understand around 80% of what is said at a regular speaking pace.  My portfolio is now more than half comprised of photos from Nosara.  I’ve gone from being a terrible writer to a passable one, and pitched stories that landed on cover.  In a few cases I produced features which required, video, photos and text.  While there is still time to do more, I’m happy with the way things have gone.

Conveniently too I have been hired as an assistant for two weddings here.  I say convenient because I have been looking towards what I’ll do from August to January in Guelph, and frankly I’m hoping to do some weddings.  However, my wedding portfolio was sorely lacking, so the two here have given me an opportunity to step up that part of my game.

I like wedding photography, for different reasons than journalism.  Weddings are generally happy days, people are usually looking their best and want you to take their pictures, creativity is a must, if you’re not trying something new each time you’re not really trying, I feel.

Nosara is a great place for a wedding too, on the beach with the setting sun.  Here’s a few samples from last Wednesday, the next one is tomorrow night.  I’ll be putting up a new blog for wedding stuff soon, and a Facebook page, which will have more samples.

The classic prep shot, framed through a mirror.

Fun with reflections in tidal pools.

Getting in close, they asked for a picture that featured that red dot in a visible way, this seemed like the best option.

The wedding planner had these sky lanterns, a Thai tradition, that were lit and let off into the sky.

The next day the newspaper got a call from someone asking about floating lights over Guiones, also one of my friends caught one when it landed near his house, he wasn’t sure what it was so he kept it.

In terms of assignments, it has been a slow month and none of them have really been great for pictures.  I’ve also done a lot more writing this month and I’ve been playing around with video more.

I’ve been hoping to do a video on what it’s like to drive in Nosara – beautiful views, jungle, choking dust, mud, 2ft deep pot-holes, the pacific etc. I figured the easiest way was to drive from north of town to the beaches, through different neighborhoods on a quad with my camera straped to my chest for a POV video.

Problem is the quad keeps breaking so I haven’t had a chance…  But a few weeks ago on a quiet day I decided to test my, ‘camera-mounting system,’ which is a belt and a carabiner and go for a test-drive.  I wondered if the sped up video would work and if the POV would work or if it would be too shaky.  I feel like it worked, although some minor adjustments need to be made and once the quad is functioning again I can do the actual drive.

And for those of you who have five5 minutes and want to see the slower and thus more scenic tour.

I also played around with stop motion animation for a feature on coffee.  Basically I boiled water and set up a cup, a cloth coffee filter, which is how the Tico’s brew their coffee, and my camera on a tripod.  I used the cable release, and put the running lock on, once the 5D hit its buffer it shot roughly 1.5 frames per second at a consistent rate for as long as I neeeded, then I started brewing coffee.  After I used iMoive (I need to graduate to Final Cut) stacked the pics (120 in total) and set the view time for .2 seconds each.  It could probably also be made into a .gif…

I’ll also include a few pictures from my trip to the coffee farms.  Earlier in June I went into the mountains in Nicoya to visit two coffee farms with a writer, it was a really fun day of sightseeing for me.  Unfortunately coffee season is not now, so both the farms were empty and dormant, the coffee plants won’t flower until around November-December.  In both cases we were toured around an empty farm, it was still interesting but a lot harder to make pictures of the farms…  The full feature is coming out later this week in print and sometime shortly after online I think.

Wilberth Rom‡an, the Manager of the coffee co-op Coopepilangosta, stands in front of the co-op gate with a juvenile coffee plant on June 8. The co-op is located in Hojancha in the canton of Nicoya and produces both organic and non-organic fair-trade coffee. The gate behind him reads, ‘Benefit Matambu’ and is an homage to the indigenous Matambu whose land the co-op is on.

A view of the mountains near Los Angeles de Nandayure in southern Nicoya on June 8. Beyond the last mountain is the Gulf of Nicoya. The topography here is very different from Nosara and the climate is cooler and damper.

Daniel Chaves, the administrator at Coopecerroazul in Los Angeles de Nandayure talks with Voice of Nosara reporter Wilberth Villalobos Castrillo during a tour of the farm on June 8. The Silo’s are used to store coffee which has been dried but not yet roasted or packaged. Because June is not during harvest time the silo’s are empty, and cleaned.

This past Friday I was hired to shoot a graduation ceremony at Blue Spirit.  The Blue Spirit centre is a Yoga training fortress, situated on a mountain overlooking Playa Guiones, protected by guards, razor-wire and walls.  The Yoga monks inside are quite nice though, it’s an interesting community they have there.  While I was in their studio I was able to see over the tree-line to Playa Guiones from a height I haven’t before, it was pretty cool.

The view of Playa Guiones from Blue Spirit’s yoga studio. The tip at the end is where the ridge from the first photo is. The beach break is a few kilometres long.

I was hired to shoot a group photo of all 70 students, I’ve never shot a group photo that big before, but they had a ladder.  They also wanted a portrait of each student with their teachers and certificates during the ceremony.  I used a portrait lens and a flash to fill them in and with my remote trigger and a tripod, it was like a factory line.

After the ceremony though, the students had a presentation that they’d prepared.  It involved a lot of kow towing, rhythmic dancing and flowing white dresses.  I wasn’t hired to shoot this part, but I did, cause it was kind of cool.  I wanted to be more unobtrusive though, so I tried to use a slower shutter and very narrow focus to do it with the limited natural light.  I think it kind worked.

The Blue Spirit people were very friendly, and the facility is absolutely beautiful.  Plus they let me eat at their buffet… I was stuffed I had 4 plates I think, there was a random mix or American, European and Tico food so for example, rice, beans, French bread with guacamole and peanut butter.

So coming up is another wedding tomorrow, I’m planning on heading to Samara for the weekend, and hopefully next week there will be an Arribada in Ostional, it might require a late night and early morning but I want to shoot one sooooo bad.

For now though this is it.

Peace,

Adam Dietrich

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