Independent Photography

Posts tagged “2012

Back at work

So it’s been well over a month since my last post.  Whoops?

Frankly since this blog is mostly about me I’ve been waiting until I had some interesting pictures to share.  My main focus over the last month has been finding work.  It’s been a pretty decent month, albeit low key.

First off though I want to show some pictures from Nosara.  Since being back I’m now slowly working my way through the unprocessed film I have.  While there I used two rolls of Fujichrome 100F.  It’s a beautiful daylight slide film and it worked pretty well in combination with my antique Baldex.

The film was processed by a place in Ottawa, Labworks, where I’ve been going for years.  They have a great deal too on 120 prints; one processed roll plus a set of 5×5 prints for about $12.  Since I don’t have a medium format film scanner I scanned the prints and at 2400dpi it managed resolutions at 6000px x 6000px.  Which is higher resolution than my 5D mkII.  Not bad for a 65 year old camera…

A selfie using the timer on the Baldex, this was taken at Playa Nosara, near the river mouth.

Slide film doesn’t have a lot of latitude.  You either get the exposure or you don’t, which made shooting with it much more difficult because I had no lightmeter… so I guessed most of the exposures, using some basic photography principles like ‘sunny f/16,’ and some basic math.  However, the following two were a little overexposed and pulling down the exposure using modern editing techniques did some cool things to the colour.

Guiones beach at sunset, a scan of a print made from a 120 Provia slide.

This one from when Yamina (girlfriend) came to visit me the second time in May.

Yamina stepping off some rocks at Playa San Juanillo, about 20km north of Nosara.

So I’ve been trying to keep busy and keep some of the momentum gained from school and Nosara as I continue through the fall.  I am slated to start at Loyalist College’s Photojournalism program in January 2013 but that’s a few months away.

School went back two weeks ago and though I wasn’t there, my good friend was, and I’ve been receiving reports on the program and what to expect.  Including some of the assignments.  Each week there is a photo assignment where you have to do something specific.  In abstentia I’m going to try to do as many as I can.

The first one was to take a picture of an interesting person, who is not a friend, family member or member of the Loyalist community.  It took a day or two to set up the interview, but I ended up doing a photo of the dude who repaired my cellphone a few weeks ago.  He has a unique operation run out of his apartment.  So I showed up and photographed/interviewed him while he worked on a clients iPhone.

Roun Gew, aged 30, came to Canada from the Sudan in 1990. For the last 10 years he has repaired computers in Guelph, Ontario and for the last year he has repaired cellphones which he said now brings in the bulk of his income. He learned how to repair phones by watching Youtube videos. In this picture he is dismantling an iPhone 3Gs which had been water damaged. The blue line attached to his wrist keeps him grounded and prohibits electronic shock during repairs.

Photography has not been my main pursuit recently though, finding a job has been.  I succeeded in finding a job as a full-time dishwasher at a restaurant/café around the corner from my house called With the Grain.  I also got a job as a nightclub photographer for Guelph nightlife promoters Freshmedia.  Tonight is my first night with them and it will be at the Vinyl (always the Trasheteria in my heart) and Friday and Saturday will be at the Loft.

However, whilst job searching in August I had a pretty fun time running around Ontario.  I went to My dad’s cottage in Huntsville, stayed with my girlfriends family in Ottawa, saw some old friends and spent a day wandering Toronto before landing back in Guelph.

In Toronto I took a lot of pictures of the CN Tower…  I haven’t actually tried to photograph the CN Tower since I got into photography, so it seemed like a good idea.  But I was trying to find something unique and I think I did beyond just a tourist shot.

Edge walkers leaning over the edge of the CN Tower’s observation deck. I really wanna do this some time.

Toronto has a lot of Pigeons and there were a lot in the park near Kensington where Yamina and I ate lunch, I spent more time than I should have trying to photograph the nearby scavengers…

A flying rat! Dunno why I felt this needed inclusion, I guess I thought it was a nice look at an ugly animal.

To get there we took the GO Train from Guelph to Toronto, which meant an early morning, by the time we arrived in Toronto I needed coffee.  So we stopped at this place on Queen St West.  It looked like grunge and dirt was the theme of the place….

In a bathroom at a coffeeshop/bar on Queen St. west. I think they were intentionally going for the, ‘grungy as hell,’ look.

Over the Labour Day weekend I had the opportunity to go to my dad’s cottage on Cowan Lake near Huntsville.  There are great sunsets and glass-like water.  I spent most of the weekend sitting on a dock drinking beer.

Cowan Lake near Huntsville, Ontario. The morning calm, not a wave on the water.

Also hung out with this wonderful lady.

Yamina, again, this time as the intrepid explorer.

See what I mean?  Great sunsets…

Cowan Lake at my dad’s cottage near Huntsville, Ontario at sunset.

So that about sets the tone for the next few months here.  I’m trying to work as many hours as I can in anticipation of school, and keep from falling behind.  This week we need to make three pictures, all themed around motion: one using a panning motion, one freezing motion and one blurring motion.  So this Sunday I think I will pop over to the University of Guelph for some sports.

I’ve also been looking for assistant work in Guelph and have had some minor luck.  I photographed a wedding with Trina Koster Photography on August 11, pictures are here and I assisted Ross David-Pilon from studio 404 during a commercial shoot with the Brampton Arts Council as an onsite editor.  I’ll tease my new wedding post with one picture below.

The happy couple.

Autumn must really be coming and for the first time since January it actually feels cold…

Paz siempre,

Adam Dietrich

Back In Canada

I am back from Costa Rica.  I left Canada on the 16th of January for Costa Rica and I returned on the 25th of July.  I flew through Houston into Toronto and cleared security sometime just before midnight.

Back in the Royal City, as it’s called. It’s not a huge sprawling metropolis, but compared with Nosara, it might as well be.

One of the biggest changes coming back, is that I am no longer living in Ottawa.  Frankly I have no reason too.  I went there for university and I finished that shortly before leaving.   I will be going back to school in January at Loyalist College for Photojournalism, but until then I will be in Guelph.  Hopefully I will be able to find some work in photography while I’m here otherwise… waiting tables?

Needless to say emails are going out today and tomorrow, to let people know, I’m here and I can do photography.

However, this post is going to recap my final days in Costa Rica.

I was at the Caribbean!

Does a picture of a Caribbean beach get more stereotypical?

I mentioned the hostel I was staying in my last post, as a somewhat unique place, and not for good reasons necessarily.  One of the drawbacks was that the beach in front of the hostel was rocky and kind of sucked.  However, I had been told that about a 20 minute walk away was a nice sand beach, and there was so I spent a few hours there.

A sand crab; these guys were all over but really skiddish, as soon as you stood up they would hide back in their holes.

There was also a small island off the coast that reminded me Jurassic Park…

I’m pretty certain that’s Ilsa Sorna. I also had the opportunity to talk to some Tico’s who had seen Jurassic Park, they didn’t like that San Jose was portrayed as a small beachside town, when it’s a) huge, b) several hours from the nearest beach and c) surrounded by mountains…

More interesting than another white sand beach (I know I was spoiled) were the jungle paths.  The jungle basically pushed right up to the beach and there were some cool paths to some deserted places I went along.

One of those paths led up to a cliff with a sheer drop 50m into the ocean.  It was a dramatic place to sit and read for a while, although one that required caution while climbing around.

Nice spot to sit and read for a little while.

On the 24th I packed up my stuff and set out into the rain. It had been pouring that morning but had slowed to a light drizzle around 10am when I left.  I boarded a bus to San Jose and 5 hours later I was back in the big city.

I made my way 20 blocks across town with my backpack and found myself back at Galileo Hostel, the place where this had all began, so to speak.  I stayed there for two nights when I first arrived and had nothing but nice memories of the place.  Sure enough the experience was about the same this time around.

Self-portrait in the same place where I wrote my first blog entry in Costa Rica some six-months ago.

I spent the evening at the hostel bar, chatting with other people staying there.  It was a little strange.  As the night wore on, I was tired and wanted to sleep, but at the same time sleeping meant I would wake up, and waking up meant it would be over.  I didn’t want it to be over.

The next morning while waiting to depart for the airport I took some pictures of a map they had spread out on a table at the hostel.

Just a few small points on a map…

I decided to do an overhead shot and then I put the map photo into Photoshop and used the paint tool to circle all the places I was, and the roads I traveled to get there.

Magenta is where I went, circles are places I stayed.

Considering I was just there to be in Nosara I think I got some pretty decent travelling around in as well.

Three hours later I was in the air to Houston, Texas.

My final glimpse of San Jose and one of the last moments on Costa Rica soil just before take off.

Here is a short video I took out the airplane window of our take off, and my final glimpses of Costa Rica.  I think the best part is the commentary from the four-year old sitting next to me.

I’m gonna miss Costa Rica.  In my list of places to visit in my life, frankly Costa Rica wasn’t on it.  I only went because the Voice of Nosara offered me an amazing opportunity.  As I look back over previous travels though there seems to be a pattern of ending up in places I never intended to visit, which I then grow to love.

I hope I’ll be able to return someday soon.  Financially speaking I should be able to, it’s almost cheaper to fly to San Jose from Toronto than it is to fly to Vancouver.  And now West Jet is flying regularly to Liberia, Guanacaste.

Until then it’s time to hit the ground running.  Photojournalism is an intensely competitive industry and I’m going into Loyalist with experience and a competitive advantage, the next two years are going to be fun.

Paz Siempre,

Adam Dietrich

P.S. To the regular blog followers who I haven’t met, glad you’ve enjoyed reading, hopefully I will be able to keep this interesting as time goes forward.

P.P.S To those at Voice of Nosara and the people of Nosara in general, thank you very much for everything over the six-months.  Thank you very much.

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.


Adam Dietrich

La Segunda Vez: Nicaragua

Ok, I wanna start this post with a picture, pulled from near the end of this very wordy post, of a red-eyed tree frog.  Why?  It’s cute.

The red-eyed tree frog is native to the rain forests of Central America, it’s not poisonous nor endangered though it is considered threatened. They come out at night to hunt and in this case wandered into the hostel reception area.

What a week it’s been.  When I posted last it was the eve of my tri-monthly departure from Nosara, colloquially referred to as a ‘visa-run.’  Basically every three months Costa Rica demands those here on tourist visas leave for 72 hours, I assume to ponder whether you want to return or not…

I left Nosara on June 1st for Nicoya, the capital of the canton, similar to a municipality, which Nosara is in.  I briefly stopped at the bank, if you call an hour to get a cheque cashed ‘brief,’ and then was on my way to Liberia, capital of the province of Guanacaste where Nosara and Nicoya are located.  It was my stopping point for the night.

My hotel in Liberia, also where the bus to Nicaragua met me. No, not an Instagram photo, rather a Blackberry rip off called ‘Pixtrix.’ What’s more hipster than Instagram? Not-Instagram, that does the same thing.

The last time I went to Nicaragua to renew my visa I had trouble re-entering Costa Rica.  The Tico’s required proof of onward travel in the next three months or they refused to grant a visa.  Trapped in limbo between Nicaragua and Costa Rica I had no choice but to buy and international bus ticket from one of the reps wandering around, likely for this exact situation, I purchased a direct bus from San Jose to Managua good for one year.

I had this ticket lying around so I figured I would use it, but meeting the bus en route in Liberia is easier then going all the way to San Jose.  Leaving from the country’s capital would require six hours busing to San Jose, an overnight then it would be five more hours before the bus passed through Liberia, or I could travel the four hours from Nosara to Liberia, stay over night and meet the bus there, saving at least seven hours of my life.

My bus to Nicaragua parked at the border. I love the rainbow, although it’s missing a unicorn.

Crossing the border was a bigger pain in the ass on an international bus than using local buses and walking across, as everyone’s visa has to be processed then everyone’s bag had to be searched by a border guard who put no effort into it.  After two hours of slowly stepping over an invisible dotted line in the sand we were on our way.

However, I didn’t want to go to Managua, I wanted to return to the pueblo of Poste Rojo and the little treehouse hostel near it.  The route from the border to the capital of Nicaragua doesn’t bring me to Poste Rojo, it splits and one road goes to Granada, the other Managua.  The bus stopped and I jumped out and it drove off.  I found myself in a little town called Nandaime on the side of the Pan-American Highway.  I waited at the side of a dusty road, soliciting stares from the people waiting for a bus with me.

After about ten minutes a local bus, occasionally called a chicken bus because in Honduras campesinos are known to transport chickens in them, arrived.  It was in reality a brightly painted recycled school bus from North America, mine was a Bluebird, with the logo painted acid green and the bus painted black.

The bus was headed to Granada, on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, I asked it to drop me at Poste Rojo and began the exhausting 200 metre climb to reception, it’s almost completely vertical.  An hour later I was watching the sun dip over the jungle while tree frogs and howler monkey’s made noise, sipping a beer, reading whilst swinging in a hammock.  I did that all next day too, lazy Sunday.

Monday I realized I was leaving Tuesday so I figured I would head into town, I hadn’t yet been to Granada.  It’s the capital of the province of Granada in Nicaragua’s southeast; it’s on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, the biggest lake in Central America.  The lake was of strategic importance for the Spanish colonizers because of a small navigable river that connects Lake Nicaragua to the Caribbean.  It made for an excellent inland bay to load up treasure ships safely with stolen gold from the Maya and Aztec in the north and the Inca in the south.

Main st. Granada. Although a little tired looking now, Granada was once a jewel in Spanish Central America. It was modelled after the city of Granada in southern Spain, as a result Granada, Nicaragua is an odd combination of Spanish architecture with Ottoman influences, and materials and tweaks from local influence. It’s a busy, busy place too.

~~~ here comes a political-historical deviation ~~~~

As a result of this historical strategic importance Granada is full of beautiful architecture.  Most big cities in Central America are somewhat devoid of ornate colonial architecture because it wasn’t a source of administrative importance or power for the Spanish unlike Lima, Buenos Aries or Caracas, which are littered with ornate architecture.  However, Granada’s relative importance warranted it a greater level of fancy buildings then I have seen elsewhere so far.

The irony of course is that the city is in terrible disrepair after decades of internecine war fueled by foreign powers.  The Somoza dictatorship and the successful Sandinista (FSLN) revolution was a proxy war for the cold war powers.  The FSLN is Marxist in its ideology although post-Somoza Nicaragua has found it’s own mix of socialism and religion.  One election poster I saw a lot read, “Nicaragua: Christianity, Socialism, Solidarity,” strange combination indeed.

The Cathedral of Granada looks out over a neighbourhood with Sandinista graffiti on the telephone poles. Granada was founded in the 1526 by Francisco Hern‡ndez de Co—rdoba, and is the oldest European city in Central America. It has been a major site in all of Nicaragua’s big historical events.

The FSLN is currently in power and they’ve steered Nicaragua in an interesting direction.  One could argue that the tired looking architecture in Granada is symptomatic of a lack of focus on development.  That’s just not true.  The fact is political leaders in Nicaragua are tasked with reversing a century of privilege and their priorities are elsewhere.

In the early 1900’s the US intervened in most Central American countries, as per their manifest destiny belief the US wanted a canal through Central America, originally they proposed building it in Nicaragua.  That plan failed and instead they supported Panamanian independence movements seeking separation from Colombia, the cost was a sovereign American strip through the country to build a canal and then they proceeded to pacify Panama’s neighboors.

One of the churches I wandered by, Iglesia Guadeloupe, is at the entrance to Granada from the lake. Construction began in 1626 and it was periodically used as fort to defend against pirate attacks. In 1856 William Walker, an American who tried to make himself president of Central America, and 18 troops were cornered inside by Nicaraguan troops, the encounter left pot marks in the church which weren’t fixed until the 1940’s.

In Costa Rica, it was political which lead to revolution in the 40’s and in Nicaragua it was political with a little direct military intervention to assist it.  Then in the 30’s they assisted in establishing Anastasio Somoza García as a ‘king’ of sorts.  Until 1979 he and his sons used Nicaragua as a personal bank account.  They pillaged all the public services, assassinated and tortured dissidents and pushed the campesinos into civil war.  The Sandinista’s, named for Augusto César Sandino a general who led a guerilla war against the US marines occupying Nicaragua in the 30’s and the government they were backing, beat out the Somoza dynasty in 1979.

For the next decade the US carried out a covert war using black ops ‘Contra’s,’ short for ‘contrarevolution’ or ‘counterrevolution’ in English.  Most of them were Nica’s trained by the US, although the Green Berets were also evident.  By 1987, after almost a century without democratic rule Nicaragua began the transition back, in 1990 Violeta Barrios de Chamorro was the first female elected head of government in the America’s.

Nicaragua is still recovering from decades of war, and whilst Costa Rica was allowed to spend all the time marketing themselves as a Central American heaven, Nicaragua was busy fighting for basic human rights.  Now Nicaragua is finally at a point where Costa Rica was in the 1950’s, but the Nica’s have big dreams.  The Sandinista government recently outlawed misogyny, while it is a hard law to enforce; especially with a poorly trained corrupt national police force (see earlier post) it’s a lofty goal.  One the rest of America could perhaps consider looking at.

A man walking by the municipal library, a much more modest looking building than the churches.

There are more concrete measures on the ground too.  However, restoring colonial edifices falls somewhere behind education for all, equality amongst class and sex, access to universal healthcare etc.  I would argue Granada is still beautiful, and more so when you realize that the tired old colonial buildings, actually means Nicaragua has their development priorities sorted out

~~~ and back to the regular post ~~~

Iglesia Merced, was built in the mid-1700’s. During independence from Spain it was burnt badly and the inside was gutted during the revolution. It’s dramatic on the outside though.

A brightly coloured barbershop in Granada.

My lunch in Granada, Gallo Pinto, a Central American staple or rice, beans, tortilla and meat, in this case chicken. This was Nica style with the rice and beans premixed. As well as a Ton–a, Nicaragua’s national beer, a fairly bland pilsner.

Buses waiting to depart from a bus station in Granada. In the background is Mt. Mombacho, a volcano and cloud forest on the edge of town.

I wandered around Granada, snapped some photos of the churches and city etc.  The cool thing was a photo that came about while I was waiting for my bus back to Poste Rojo.  I was taking a photo of a busy main street, afterwards I saw a guy rushing towards me shouting, “Chele! Chele! Sacar una foto de mi!” I confirmed with him that he wanted his picture taken, told him it was digital though so I couldn’t give it to him, he didn’t seem to mind.  I took the picture, showed him the back of the camera, he nodded saying it was good, I just had enough time to get his name before he ran off back to his day.

Jorge, I forget the rest of his name, I was unprepared to really get info out of him. But as mentioned a series of similar photos would be kind of cool.

It wasn’t the first guy who yelled at me to take a picture of them.  At first I didn’t know what to make of it, and I worried that maybe my camera was attracting some unwanted attention, so I spent most of the walking around time with it in my bag, only taking it out for a picture.  I now realize it was likely harmless.

When I got back to the hostel some Americans had checked in.  As the evening set in we were all chatting and I relayed my story, one of the girls, a fine arts student from California, suggested it might make a good project.  I suddenly wished I had a week or more to be in Granada, just walk around with a camera all day, wait till someone yells at you then take a portrait Sartorialist style and add in some basic personal info, name, age, occupation, dreams?

That night a red eye tree frog popped by in the hostel reception.  There was a little photo shoot.

One of the American’s I was hanging out with on the final night. Striking a fighting stance with a red-eyed tree frog on his hand…

The next morning I headed out, local bus to Rivas, then another to the border at Peñas Blancas, no border issues (I had my proof of onward travel this time), local bus to Liberia, local bus to Nicoya, wait for an hour and then local bus to Nosara.  All in: 12 hours travel time, four stopping points, two countries and five buses.

Since I returned back I have been settling back into things.  My final day of work is July 18, so that leaves me with a month and 11 days.  My successor is all but confirmed, once it is I’ll post here and link to their blog

I spent most of this morning dealing with the quad, now there are tire issues and battery issues, I wanna take a sledgehammer to it sometimes, but then I would be without transport.

Oh and my new (hahaha ‘new’) med format camera is working great.  I dragged it to Nicaragua and processed a few shots, I scanned them using a little DIY scanner I made a few weeks back.  I posted about the process here.  So yeah here are some pictures shot on Kodak Tmax film, some of us still buy Kodak products…

A photo of the bridge at the hostel which connects the main reception treehouse to the yoga platform.

Me, chilling in a hammock with some morning coffee before heading to Granada.

The Church of Nicoya in Nicoya, Costa Rica en route to Nicaragua. This church is the oldest in the province of Guanacaste having been built around 1644.

This month is shaping up to be good, so hopefully some interesting posts will happen down the road.

Until later,

Paz siempre

Adam Dietrich

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

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


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

Solo at VON

Okay so a post every two weeks is pretty good right?

The biggest change so far has been the departure of my editor.  She’s been in New York on business (the paper’s owner lives there) for the last two weeks and returns today.   The biggest change for me has been that I have mostly been in charge of the breaking news in Nosara.  Yes sometimes there is breaking news.

Like the first weekend after she left, which left me exhausted.  It was the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day, on Saturday I was supposed to shoot the second round on an ongoing surf contest in the morning then a St. Patrick’s Day event in the evening.

So I drove the 15km to Playa Graza at 6am to meet the boats and waited an hour, no one showed up.  Frustrated and confused I left and drove back to Guiones to the Tico Surf school, they’re the ones who organized the contest.  I walked into the office and saw all the organizers watching TV on a laptop, turns out the waves that day sucked so they had decided to post-pone. I went home and started to relax.

Then came a call from the Nosara firefighters saying they were dealing with a fire in the nearby town of Esperanza.  I drove out there, it turned out that a farmer had tried to clear land by starting a brush fire, then the wind blew it up a hill and it spread out of control.  Although there weren’t flames, in dry brush fire travels along the ground, the hill was burnt.

I went back home, wrote a story ate dinner then drove out to cover St. Patrick’s Day.  I went to a bar called the Black Sheep, which only opens a few times in the year.   It’s an English pub, a legit looking English pub, in the middle of the jungle.  It quickly denigrated into a drunk fest…  Literally people almost drank the place dry, here are some pictures.

The line-up at the bar was took about ten minutes to get through. By the end of the night the Black Sheep was out of all but two types of beer. The only people decked out in green seemed to be the staff.

Ok so if the white balance above looks a bit off… it is, I might have turned up the green channel, for ya know, St Patrick.

The Irish Car Bomb station served Guinness beer with shots of Baileys and Whiskey dropped into the glass. This is how mistakes happen.

And then they were drunk.

Things got a little rowdy after midnight... Including people jumping fully clothed into the pool. When they saw the flash firing from my camera... more people started jumping, then the owners came out and put a stop to it. Something about safety.

The next morning started early.  I had gotten home the night before around 2am and had to be on the road by 6am to be at Playa Garza in time to catch the boats.  As it happened I woke up a little later than I intended to and made it just in time to get on the second last boat.  The second round of the surf contest was hosted at an off shore reef.  According to one of the organizers it was the largest surf contest, held off shore ever in Costa Rica.

Horses (not wild) gallop along Playa Garza before the start of the second round of the Triple Crown Surf Contest. Before Tourism hit the area, fishing and ranching were the two biggest economic activities. Some ranchers now offer sunset horseback rides for tourists.

No big deal just some horses racing along the beach for some reason.

Maikol Alvares Helps to raise a banner for the Triple Crown Surf contest from the top of the judges boat.

Raising the flag at Triple Crown.

A sea taxi sits waiting in Garza bay, sea taxi's are used to transport people from shore to fishing boats which anchor further out. This is due to tidal changes, however, for the purposes of the Triple Crown Surf Contest they ferried people from shore to the boats further out.

That guy later ended up driving me back to shore.  When I got in the boat I noticed three empty beer cans on the floor and one in his hand.  As the boat pulled away from the judges boat he a) finished the beer he was drinking b) threw that can in the ocean (unlike the others c) opened another, then d) lit a cigarette…

Maikol Alvares dives into the water in preparation for his heat in the second round of the Triple Crown Surf contest on March 18. The contest was Costa Rica's first offshore surf contest of this size.

The unfortunate part was that I couldn’t actually see the contest.  Even from where the boats were the surfers were on the horizon, it was way too far away for a decent shot.  So I focused on the side show of the floating crowd.  After about two hours the contest was still going on, I was exhausted and there were no more pictures to take, I figured I would go home and take a nap, so I hoped on a sea taxi and went to shore.

I got home and started making lunch, literally just as I put it in the oven the Nosara firefighters called.  It turns out there was a field fire in the neighbourhood of Santa Marta, started by someone burning trash, once again the wind carried it into a field and started a slow burn of a field.   I went home filed a story and went to sleep finally.

Since then I worked on a few other smaller things.  I covered a police briefing with community members, the arrival of a new police car, a preview for a reggae concert in the nearby town of Samara.  In the interim while writing stories I’ve been working on a personal project and trying to make interesting pictures… so here are some sunset and nature pics.

A woman rides into shore on her knees on a surfboard at Playa Guiones on March 29.

Knee surfing, a new sport?

A man walks along Playa Guiones at sunset on March 29. Sport fishing is gaining in popularity amongst tourists in Nosara.

No budget woes here…

A howler monkey looking for food in a tree. The howlers are considered endangered, as well as some of the slowest monkeys. They communicate by howling, which sounds like a dog bark or warthog, they can be heard up to 3 miles away. This one was camped in a tree not 15 metres from my front door.

No big deal, endangered animals hang around outside my apartment.

Anyway that’s all for now.  For a better look at what I’ve been doing with Voice of  Nosara check out (although new recent updates mean you have to scroll way down to see my stuff 😦 two days ago I dominated the top of the page)

Paz siempre,

Adam Dietrich

A busy week

I’ve now been back in Nosara for about two weeks.  The First week was a slow ease into things but last week, starting on Thursday, was incredibly busy.  There was a movie opening, a concert, a surf tournament and a few articles and multimedia pieces I had to do coupled with a sudden fire that sprang up Sunday night.

I think the easiest way is explain is to go through this chronologically.

From left to right, Emiliana Garcia (Voice of Nosara editor), Dennis G—mez (one of the producers of 'El Fin'), and Miguel G—mez (director of 'El Fin') set up a projector for the screening of 'El Fin,' a Costa Rican dark comedy bout the end of the world. The screening was hosted at the Nosara rodeo grounds on March 8.

On Thursday March 8, the Voice of Nosara had organized an event with a Costa Rican filmmaker.  The Movie, ‘El Fin,’ which is a dark comedy about the end of the world caused by a speeding asteroid, was played.  We couldn’t find a big enough sheet or a suitable theatre so instead the film was projected on the side of a truck.  We had some 350 chairs and 400 people showed up to watch the movie.  Personally I enjoyed it; it was really well written, funny and yet dark.

About 400 attendees watch the screening of 'El Fin' under the stars on March 8. Nosara has no theatre so the film was projected onto the side of a white truck.

Some of the scenes were shot at Pelada beach, about 15 minutes walking from my house.

An attendee watches a scene in the film 'El Fin,' which was partially shot in Pelada Beach, one of the beachs of Nosara. The screening, on March 8, was projected onto the side of a truck outdoors to about 400 people, including the films director and of the producers.

The next morning I was up early for an interview.  The local Montessori school is bringing a 90-piece symphony orchestra for a free performance in Nosara; it’ll be the first time a show like this is put on.   The organizers are all parents of children at the school, so I had to meet them before they went to work for the day.  The interview went well, although transcribing it was fun… I hate transcribing interviews anyway and trying to do it in a foreign language is just that much more tedious.

However, there wasn’t much time to work on it, that evening was the opening night of the second round of Nosara’s fiestas.  The first round, held January 28, had been one of my first assignments with Voice of Nosara.  I’d be lying if I said I was pleased with the pictures I got from the first round, they sucked.  Partially that was because I was still figuring everything out then but that’s not really an excuse.  In the intervening month and a bit I had sent photos out to different photographers for critiques, people were generous with their time and responded, I took all the advice I received and kept it in mind and came away with what I considered to be a pretty good showing, especially compared to last time.

A rider is tossed but attempts to maintain his composure as he falls off a bull during the opening night of the second round of the Nosara fiestas on March 9. Audience size was down considerably from the opening night of the first round held on January 28.

There was a doubles ride which seemed like a bad idea…

A rider is tossed from a bull during a doubles ride on the opening night of the second round the Nosara Fiestas on March 9. Although assisted out of the ring the rider did not suffer any severe injuries.

remarkably no serious injuries…

A potentially deadly game ends in bruises and a sore head. The rider was riding doubles on a bucking bull without a helmet and was run over after ring tossed.

However, a decline in attendees was bad news for food vendors and games operators.

Carnival games operators wait for participants to play during the opening night of the second round of the Nosara Fiestas on March 9. The night was tough for vendors at the event which experienced a dramatic decline in attendees compared to the same event hosted a month earlier on January 28.

I got home from the fiestas around 11:30 then started editing, I wanted to stay on top of it otherwise I knew it would catch up.  Importing my photos, took twice as long as normal because I accidently broke my card reader so I’ve had to use the camera to import.  However, I did download a trial version of Adobe Lightroom 4, it has gotta be the most powerful photo editor I’ve ever used.  I finished up around 2am and went to sleep.

At 6:30am the next morning I had to get up to meet my ride to the Triple Crown Surf contest, the first of three surf contests.  This one was hosted at Playa Ostional, some 15km from my house and because the quad needed repairs I was getting a ride from my bosses friend.

Stone Van Timmeren, cuts the top of a wave during the first heat of the the Triple Crown surf tournament hosted at Ostional beach near Nosara, on March 10.

Upon arriving I saw something I haven’t seen in a while… other photographers!  There were three of them, all setting up big tri-pods.  Curious, I got talking with one guy who told I needed at least a 400mm lens to be able to properly shoot surfing… I hate when people tell me this, “You can’t shoot such and such, because you don’t have such and such.”  It happened for years shooting basketball at Carleton, and I more than made it work.

Christian Santamaria, carves through a wave during the third heat of the first day of the Triple Crown Surf contest held at Ostional beach on March 10. Points are still being tallied but those who have enough will advance to the second round on March 17.

By the numbers here’s the advantage: All the surf photographers were using 7D’s, whose sensor is slightly smaller than my 1D, this meant that a 400 on their cameras had a true focal length of something like 620mm.  The longest lens I have is a 135mm, I also have a 2x teleconverter, which doubles the focal length to 270mm.  On my 1D its true focal length, because of sensor size, is 320mm giving them twice the reach.  My solution was to wade into the water up to my waist further proving that you don’t ‘need’ a 400mm to shoot surfing.

Selena Moberly rides ahead of huge crashing wave during the third heat of the first day of the Triple Crown Surf contest hosted on March 10 at Ostional Beach near Nosara. The contest had about 55 contestants making it one of the biggest surf contests ever hosted in the area.

I got home in the early afternoon; exhausted I edited some pictures then fell into a deep sleep.  I woke up just in time to get on the shuttle bus headed up the hill to the 4th Annual Caricaco music festival hosted at the hotel Tierra Magnifica.  The set up was unreal, it looked like one of those shots of an after party location in Entourage, the OC or the Hills.  There were projectors with fancy light patterns, and open pool in front of the stage, sushi bar etc.  The eight bands that played were also excellent.  My favorite was one of the local acts called ‘Calle.’  They played ska and did a really good job of it.  The lead singer, who wore an Alexisonfire t-shirt, also happens to be the general practitioner in Nosara… Small town.

Psychedelic lights projected onto a wall at the side of the Tierra Magnifica Hotel in Nosara. The lights were part of a series of elaborate decorations at the 4th annual Caricaco Music festival on March 10.

As I said, the set-up was unreal…

On another much larger wall a live view of the concert is projected onto the side of Tierra Magnifica Hotel. Throughout Caricaco people were in and out of the pool as well.


Nosara's ska band, Calle performs during the 4th annual Caricaco music festival. There were eight bands of varying genres.

Crazy fans…

A fan screams during a performance by the band 'Calle,' a ska band from the Nosara area during the Caricaco music festival at the Tierra Mignifica Hotel on March 10. Alejandro Gutierrez, Calle's lead singer, is also a medical doctor in Nosara.

And some fire dancing…

A fire dancer performs during the fourth annual Caricaco music festival, poolside at the Tierra Magnifica Hotel, held on March 10. You can see the full-moon in the middle of the fire circle.

It was capped off with fireworks before the last band, although I asked for the names and even offered digital prints they flat out refused and started making-out.  Bah.

A couple (name not given) watches a display of fireworks during the 4th annual Caricaco music festival held at the Tierra Magnifica Hotel on March 10.

By the time I got to sleep again it was close to 2am, although this time I wasn’t able to edit before bed, I was too tired.  The next morning I wanted to sleep but there is construction across the road from me and they start with power tools at 6am everyday and go until 7pm.  I was up so I started editing pictures and working on a video for the Voice of Nosara website, I’ve started doing more multimedia, its not something I’m good at or comfortable with yet, but I need to learn and the practice is good.

Sunday night I was looking forward to being able to relax again.  However, literally just after I finished editing photos from the night before and having decided to make dinner I received a text message from my boss saying the dump had caught fire and she was looking for a ride for us to get there.

We got there just as the sun went down, which made pictures fun.  I used my flash a bit, but in the pitch darkness it just ended up flooding the scene and destroying the drama in the pictures.  The Nosara volunteer fire dept. barely has functioning hoses much less a system of flood lights, however, in one area they were using the light of a pick-up truck to work by, I settled in there to shoot some silhouettes and actually came away with one picture I’m fond of.

A firefighter with the Nosara volunteer firefighters dismantles a fire hose by the light of a pick-up truck. At 12:30pm March 11 the firefighters responded to a call at the dump, after fighting the fire for seven and a half hours the Nicoya firefighters arrived. However, flares-ups began again and the fire continued to smoulder under the trash over the next few days. The Nosara fire department, which runs on donations and volunteers, says several of their hoses were damaged by shards of broken glass in the dump.

Monday was tying up lose ends.  I finished captioning pictures and re-edited a few and finished a multimedia piece on the fiestas.  Then Tuesday I returned to the article about the symphony, the interview now four days old it took a while to get into writing it, and then I finished a multimedia piece on Caricaco.

Yesterday after finishing everything off I decided to unwind a bit by going to the beach to read.  While there I spotted some locals climbing the trees.  Snapped a photo then went over to chat, they ended up offering me a coconut fresh off the tree, sooo good.

Victor Ovanado, sits a top a four metre high palm tree on Guiones beach on March 13. using his feet Ovanado kicked down ripe coconuts, which could be cracked by a machete. Once cut open they offer a nectar called, 'coconut water,' which as well as rehydrating a person is highly nutritious.

Today I’m treating like Sunday, as a day off.  Then starting tomorrow I wanna get a head start on an article I’m doing freelance, it’s a travel piece I hope to sell to Canadian media.  After that I have several events coming up and I’d like to be ahead of the game for once so I think I’ll contact the people involved in organizing them ahead of time.

Below are some links to the stories from the last couple of days including links to the multimedia pieces.

Caricaco music festival

Triple Crown Surf contest

The Fiestas

The dump fire

The screening of ‘El Fin’

Also the Voice of Nosara has started working with other Costa Rican papers, mostly online stuff.  We share stories that are relevant with them and they do likewise.  The idea is to create more web traffic.  One of my photos was used on and my preview about the Triple Crown Surf contest was just reposted to

So that’s it this week, coming up there’s a second round of the triple Crown Surf contest this Saturday.  Saturday night is a picture story about St. Patricks at the Black Sheep pub, the only Irish-style pub in Nosara and on the 20th fiestas come to Garza a town 10km away.

Paz siempre,


Into Nicaragua

Well, it has been a long time since I posted.  Mid February was a little slow I was working on a few different stories but not much too exciting happened.

Then the last week of February my girlfriend Yamina came to visit, we had a pretty excellent time here, lots of beach time and seaside drinks.  Then suddenly she was gone.  Although I didn’t really have time to miss her right away…

Some dweebs playing photographer at a restaurant we ate at, the guy on the right was hanging out a restaurant in a speedo, enough said.

There were long walks on the beach after sunset…

Yamina on a walk home shortly after sunset.

And a trip into the jungle on ziplines…

Some good form coming towards the end of the third line.

The guides were pretty awesome people.

The ride over to the start of the course was in the back of a truck, the guides were super fun and super cool.

Complete with a sarcastic sense of humour…

The first line of the course

Our last night was so romantic, they should make a movie.

Beachside campfire, weenie roast, sunset, box of wine oh and the moon.

The day after she left I had to go to Nicoya, the capital of the province Nosara is in.  The paper wanted some stock photos of the of the members of town council there for future stories about their decisions.  It was nice and easy, I was also asked to shoot some stock pics of key places in the city.

In Nicoya the main Catholic church at night with a parishioner on her way to the alter. The framing in this photo isn't what I wanted, I saw the picture just as it was happening and had to race to pull my camera outta my bag, I shot this then took a step to the right to re-frame but she had taken her seat already. It drives me a little nuts. Its a weak excuse but I like the picture enough despite the error to include it.

The next morning rather than going back to Nosara I had to leave the country because my visa had expired.   When you enter Costa Rica you’re supposed to get a visa good for 90 days, however, mine was only good for 40 days, although I’m not sure why I think it was because I didn’t have a return flight booked.

So I left Nicoya at 6am for Liberia in northern Costa Rica then caught another bus to the border town of Peñas Blancas.  I walked across the border and hit two snags: first I got screwed changing money, I changed $50 and the guy that did it took a $20 commission, then I left Costa Rica, at the Nicaraguan immigration booth I was dealing with my visa, just before we were finished the border guard became somewhat sketchy and quiet and told me I need to pay extra because my passport was dirty.  While it is true there’s a coffee stain on it, that hasn’t been an issue for Canadian, American, Costa Rican or Peruvian authorities, this ass was soliciting a bribe.  So I made him repeat himself then said I didn’t understand and asked him to explain exactly what he needed.  It’s a technique I used in Cambodia to minimize or limit bribes required for border officials, making them state loudly and clearly, “I want you to pay me $X because your passport is dirty.”  The idea being, the guard won’t want to be overheard by superiors or coworkers, the tactic worked and he growled at me, stamped my passport and I was on my way having only paid the prerequisite $12 for a tourist visa.

I got into the town near by and looked for a bus, I found a brightly coloured school bus headed to the capital, I hopped on board and we pulled out.  The town of Peñas Blancas on the Nicaraguan side was like the wild west meets shanty town, people selling stolen watches, wallets and homemade food.

The bus dropped me off on the side of a highway about a kilometer from the hostel I was staying at.  The hostel was located in the village of Poste Rojo, about 10km outside of the larger town of Granada.

One of the more conservative "chicken buses" in Nicaragua, so named because people on occasion bring on chickens.

Poste Rojo is a series of tree houses in the jungle.  They rent small cabinas, private rooms, dormitory beds and hammocks, the latter was only $4 a night so naturaly that’s what I took.

Sunset from the reception area of Poste Rojo Hostel.

Some of the areas were accessible via bridge.

The suspension bridge at Poste Rojo Hostel.

My bed…

Can you imagine anything more relaxing? Nah me neither.

I slept well enough.  In the mornings though between the sun, Howler Monkeys and Cicadas it was hard to sleep in past 7am.   The sound made by thousands of Cicadas during the day is completely deafening and I had a mild headache by the end of most days, thankfully at night they go quiet.

A big spider with a Cicada it caught. The spider lived in the hole above the light, after catching and killing the Cicada it took it five minutes to maneuver the body into the crevice. Nature is gross but cool.

The day after I arrived was free rum night, yes all you can drink free rum…  Everyone seemed to either black out, vomit or both… I didn’t though, I know how to drink without making an ass of myself.  The party included a cow costume with a hole in the udder to feed rum out of and a visit by the Nicaraguan police…  The cops, however, were dissuaded from doing anything when the hostel owner offered them beer and rum and a pack of cigarettes, they then joined the party.  We took turns wearing their helmet and holding their shotgun for photos, then the cops sorta joined the party for a little while, I’m still not sure what to think about this.

My last full day in Nicaragua I joined a few other backpackers, two girls from Tilsonburg a guy from Germany, a guy from Sweden and a Nicaraguan-born Canadian, headed to a dormant volcano.  The volcano, now called Laguna Apoyo has become a huge lake and is one of the deepest lakes in all of Central America.  The water was beautiful, bath-tub warm and didn’t have salt!  After a month and a half of the surf and salty pacific, a fresh water lake was amazing.

Yeah that's me standing in a volcano...

The walk down and up the crater was killer though…

Some of the people I met at the hostel. The lake was at the bottom of the volcanic crater a full 40 minutes walking uphill to get out, needless to say we were a little exhausted.

The next morning I headed back on what became one of the most epic single day treks of my life.  By the numbers: it was eleven hours, six cities, five buses, 2 countries and about $5.  I also had trouble at the border, again, the Costa Ricans wouldn’t let me in because I didn’t have a copy of onward travel.  I explained I only had a confirmation number for an electronic plane ticket, I couldn’t find an internet café to print out the number so instead I purchased a bus ticket from San Jose to Managua good for one year and then they let me in.  I’ll need to leave again in three months to renew my visa anyway, so now at least I have a ticket direct from San Jose to Managua, next time I go I’ll bring a copy of my itinerary with me.

Interesting point too about Nicaraguan buses, they’re recycled school busses from North America, the one I rode from Poste Rojo to a town near the border actually said the words “Canadian Bluebird” in it and the emergency exit signs were in French and English (neither of which is widely spoken in Nicaragua).  I wondered if maybe I’d been on the bus before, perhaps headed to a field trip as a young kid?

A strange piece of home in a a faraway land... The photo was taken on my cellphone though because I didn't feel comfortable pulling out a $4000 camera setup on the crowded bus...

When I got back to Nosara I had dreams of a quiet beer and Skype with the girlfriend, however, that was not to be.  My boss and the other reporter were at the office.  Voice of Nosara has set up something big in August and she wanted to celebrate, so we got a bottle of Glenfidditch and went to a bar in town, bought some pizza and got a little silly.

This morning it was back to work, preparing an article about an upcoming surf competition and looking into some confusing rules relating to the Nosara airport terminal.

I promise I will try to update more often.

For now though that’s it.

Paz Siempre,

Adam Dietrich

The Red Cross and fire

I spent the last Thursday to Sunday with the Red Cross unit here in Nosara.  Here is some key background about healthcare in Nosara: Healthcare in Costa Rica is universal, provided by the state.  Doctors and hospital services are allocated based on population size and density.  In Nosara, a town with a fluctuating population (due to tourism) health service are few.  The Red Cross (a non-governmental organization) set up to provide basic, essential, paramedic and emergency services.  However, due to the lack of adequate healthcare in the region they have slowly become the main providers of health services in Nosara and surrounding areas.  They cover everything from pregnancy, injuries, illness, even hospice services.  The government only reimburses the Red Cross for emergency services and the organization itself survives on donations and volunteers.  As a result, the Red Cross in Nosara has had to cut back on non-essential services in recent years.  The people of Nosara put the blame on the Red Cross, in reality the government has failed to provide adequate healthcare to the people of Nosara and are content to let the Red Cross shoulder their blame.


Victor Hugo, a full-time paramedic, answers the phone, this time its not an emergency but someone with the flu. Due to a lack of proper healthcare services in the Nosara region locals often turn to the Red Cross for minor health concerns. Despite the fact that it costs them money, money the state won't pay back, the Red Cross answers every call as if its an emergency,


Thursday: A simple affair, I followed Victor Hugo, a full-time paramedic, as he went about his evening shift.  Thursday’s are typically slow. He dealt with a dog bite and a sick infant then made dinner and relaxed.


Victor Hugo, one of three full-time paramedics at the Nosara Red Cross cleans and dresses a dog bite in the Santa Marta neighbourhood of Nosara. Although rabies has been eliminated from Costa Rica, dog bites are a major issue in the country infections can develop after.



Following the dog bite, Victor Hugo fills out an emergency report in his ambulance. Although the Red Cross operates independent of the Costa Rican state, the state health insurance provider will reimburse the Red Cross for emergency services. This is part of the states national healthcare strategy, these forms are vital for receiving reimbursement from the state and thus maintaining Red Cross operations.



After a long day Victor hugo eats dinner in the Red Cross office in Nosara. Shifts can be 8-12 hours and the office is open 24 hours a day, staff and volunteers nap in the dormitory's just to the left of Hugo. Further left, volunteers review notes from the days board of directors meeting before sending them to the Red Cross central office in San Jose for processing.


Friday: A quiet day for most of it.  In the evening I hoped in the back of a local’s SUV with Hugo.  The Red Cross has limited ambulances and on Friday they were all out (one was in repair, two were making trips to the nearest hospital, 60km away and the fourth was on a call).  The SUV took us to a house in Santa Marta, a neighborhood outside Nosara, inside a family’s matriarch was dying of emphysema.  Hugo told me after she had a week, maybe less.  He hooked her up to an oxygen tank, explained its use to the family and left.  I didn’t shoot a single frame, something about it seemed wrong, as there were 15 members of the family standing around me watching.  Although I had permission to take Hugo’s picture, I did not have the matriarch’s permission, I chose to respect her privacy.


Ilse Lopez Juárez, the office administrator takes a break from filing receipts and accounting to clean and dress a wound from a motorcycle accident. The staff at the Red Cross (three full-time paramedics, one administrator and 18 volunteers) is severely over worked due to a lack of political interest in extending healthcare services to Nosara.


Saturday: Another slow day, the crew at the office busied themselves with maintenance and cleaning.  At dusk I followed David Perez Montiel, a volunteer paramedic, to the Nosara soccer field.  The Red Cross sponsor’s a kids soccer team as part of a community outreach effort, he brought pop to give out to the kids at the end of the game.   That night the Red Cross had six different calls and had to make two trips to the hospital in Nicoya, 60km away.


Gustavo 'Pelon' Díaz, a volunteer driver and mechanic washes down an ambulance. Volunteers have their uniforms paid for and are given free meals while on shift. Despite that, Díaz says he volunteers to give back to the community and because he likes the people he works with.



Carlos Villalobos Espinoza (in red), president of the red Cross committee in Nosara fills out an emergency report, while volunteer paramedic Gabriel Chavarria Acevedo looks on holding supplies. In the room, volunteer paramedic David Perez Montiel attends to a patient with epilepsy. The patient was later transferred from his home in Nosara to the Nicoya hospital, 60km, away for treatment.


Sunday Morning: I was offered breakfast, consisting of fried pork and fried cheese in a tortilla, as well as a trip home to Guiones beach in the ambulance.  On our way back, as we rounded the second to last corner, the road was filled with police and firefighters.  I realized this was the fire my boss had texted me about earlier that morning.  Because there hadn’t been any injuries the Red Cross wasn’t called, I asked them to stop and I hopped out and started shooting.  Unfortunately, I missed the flames, which had been doused by 8-8:30, I arrived at 10:30 and was only able to catch firefighters dousing hotspots.


Firefighters from Nicoya work to douse a few remaining hots sports at a fire just outside of Nosara. Volunteer firefighters from Nosara had the blaze 80% under control by the time 'professionals' arrived from Nicoya (60km away). The cause of the fire remains unknown, one volunteer freighter speculated that a power line fell on dry leaves while the property owner blamed arsonists.


This one was my favourite because of the faces.


Firefighters from Nicoya work to douse a few remaining hots sports at a fire just outside of Nosara. Volunteer firefighters from Nosara had the blaze 80% under control by the time 'professionals' arrived from Nicoya (60km away). The cause of the fire remains unknown, one volunteer freighter speculated that a power line fell on dry leaves while the property owner blamed arsonists.


I also saw the paper copy for this month; I have about 90% of the photo credits in it… Now its back to work.

Paz siempre,

Adam Dietrich

Days of sun and boredom

The last couple of days have been real slow, I didn’t shoot anything on the 30th.  However, all of that changes today, I’m headed out of the office for four days and living with the local Red Cross unit until Sunday.

In Costa Rica, there is universal access to health care, although the state covers most healthcare costs and processes, paramedic work is carried out by the Red Cross then billed to the state insurance provider.  In Nosara there is an issue though, many of the locals understand that the Red Cross provides paramedic services, however, when they call sometimes there’s no answer…  The reason is because all emergency services are routed through the 911 system here, which is based out of San Jose, the number most people call, is the administrative office of the Red Cross in Nosara.

Really its an issue of popular misconception… why call 911 in San Jose, when the Red Cross is in Nosara?  Except the number for the Red Cross is their administrative line…  So the idea of this piece will be to dispel some popular myths about the Red Cross and hopefully open up the organization to people here.

For me it’s an opportunity for a hell of a picture story, maybe some multimedia too.  The access is pretty incredible, as the Red Cross station is staffed 24 hours, I’ll be with them the entire time and I’ll likely be following them on calls.

In the interim here are some photos for yesterday… I camped out at the edge of the beach, read a lot and shot some random stuff and more sunsets…

A man wades ashore with his fishing net empty after an unsuccessful attempt, while birds, I think a type of Heron? continue to look for fish. Everyday right before dusk the edges of the beach are filled with locals fishing.

Those birds were huge… but they weren’t the only ones.

A.... I think they're some kind of Turkey Vulture? Circles over the ocean looking for fish

The moon too is consistently visible in the sky from about 2pm on.  Its kinda cool to see them both there as the sun and the moon control the tides and thus in a way, beach life.

The moon, clearly visible at about 4pm.

Low tide reveals these sea rocks everywhere, worn and shaped by the ocean into weird shapes.  In the pools left by the ebb tide there are tiny crabs and minnows.  I picked up a seashell thinking it looked nice… it turned out there was a hermit inside.

A man makes his way across the beach shortly before dusk, in front of him is a field of sea rocks which will be covered by the tide in about an hour.

Then the sun started to set in earnest, so I made my way back…

An elderly couple watches the sun set in some beach chairs they brought out.

And another…

a man standing in the shallows watches as the sun dips below the horizon.

***The following contains camera talk, follow the hyperlinks to better understand***

I recently watched a PBS documentary on Ansel Adams, perhaps one of the most famous fine art photographers in history.  He belonged to an informal group of photographers (painters have ‘movements’ photographers have ‘clubs’) called ‘the f/64 club.’  So named because they would shoot landscapes at f/64, which means the aperture of the lens is super small, which means the depth of field is huge which means the area in focus is huge.  Back then too (the 20’s) film (or rather glass plates) had really low light sensitivty, well below what we would call ISO 50…  Until now I’ve never had a lens combo that lets me shoot at f/64, they’ve always capped out at f/22.  However, the 135 and the 2x extender make this possible.  So just after the sun went below the horizon I found a rock, stabled the camera on it, set it to ISO 50 (the lowest I can go), f/64 and a 30 second exposure.  The low light sensitivity meant really smooth tones, the slow shutter speed turned the ocean to fluff and the narrow aperture made everything sharp enough.

A rock sits in the surf just after sunset. I can't wait until my medium format gets here, I have some Ilford Pan F plus (50 ISO) to use...

Then I decide to cast myself in the photo.  I set the timer and ran in.  The distance from camera to rock was about 75-80m so it took me  just a little more than the 10 second timer to run in, however, because of the 30 second exposure I still had time.  Looking at this photo though, I think it too should be in black and white…

Nice end to the day

Well thats it.  My boss will be here in about an hour, then I’m off to Nosara.  I intend to post this coming Sunday, which I’m sure will be a  long night of editing…

Paz siempre,

Adam Dietrich

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,


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…

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.