I didn’t expect to leave Peace River after eight months.
There were several competing circumstances, which eventually led to my decision to change jobs. I have now been in my new home, Whitecourt, Alta. about 300 km southeast of Peace River, or 175 km northwest of Edmonton working at the Whitecourt Star, the weekly newspaper in town, for just over a month.
More to come on Whitecourt, though in another post – for now a wrap up of Peace River.
Below is the text of my final column in the Record-Gazette, it sums up my feelings on leaving the town pretty well. Below that, are a bunch of photos from the summer in Peace River, June – until my departure in early September.
From the Peace River Record-Gazette Sept. 10, 2014
Well Peace River this is it for us.
This will be my final column in the Peace River Record-Gazette and this is the final issue I will be working on.
Starting this Wednesday I will be taking up a position at the Whitecourt Star.
Peace River will forever hold a special place in my heart. Not just because this was my first full-time job in journalism but because Peace River is a truly special place.
This is a town where a trip to the grocery store can involve seeing the northern lights, deer, or a moose or two.
It’s a place of immense natural beauty coupled with great opportunity. Not every small-town is like that.
One of the indicators I noticed are the number of young professionals in town who are from town. The number of kids who move away for post-secondary then return to pursue a career here must be disproportionate, compared to other similar sized towns.
What it says, is that even after ‘getting out,’ seeing the world, and living in the city, lots of the youth still want to come back.
That really says a lot about this place.
What is stunning is the self-awareness of the people here as well. Many of the people I talk to understand not only what a gift a place like this is but also the responsibility it entails.
You see that in the community groups that spring up and the ability of the community to fundraise for certain projects.
Urban centres would pay untold amounts of money to have this kind of community spirit and Peace River has it in spades.
It’s going to take a while to digest all the things that Peace River has taught me.
However, to everyone in this community I want to say thank you, thank you for reading, thank you for caring and thank you for being you.
For all of us here at the Record-Gazette, you stay classy Peace River.
– Adam Dietrich
Well that’s it.
Next post will be about Whitecourt I guess.
It’s been four months since I updated this blog – I think that is some record.
This will be the first part in a four part series catching my blog up to the point where I’m at.
My previous post, just Instagrams and my own personal story left off with my arrival in Peace River, Alberta. Where I started work as THE reporter – photographer at the Record-Gazette newspaper.
The Record-Gazette serves the town of Peace River and its surrounding communities.
It’s a beautiful town – in the middle of nowhere – a small bastion of progressive principles in northern Alberta. Which is odd because we’re in the heart of Conservative oil country.
There is an incredibly strong sense of community here. People work long hours, then volunteer to coach soccer, ref hockey, fundraise, or run some sort of non-profit. Despite the fact that the town is near the heart of a swirling oil and gas controversy, and has experienced some abhorrent environmental and social behaviour from that industry in the region decades ago, the people who live here – in Peace River – see themselves as guardians of a valuable commodity and a pristine wilderness setting.
That dichotomy – and the conflict that comes with it – has made Peace River into a very interesting place to live.
There is an enviro-friendly café that serves great coffee down the road from a major oil company’s office. There is a Yoga studio and wellness store across the road from a western menswear store (with a huge selection of cowboy boots).
This first photo came from my first week on the job solo, in late February. We have a weekly feature called ‘Seniors of the Peace.’ Essentially I sit down with a senior, any senior who wants to tell me a story about their life, and I do my best to tell it.
I liked the idea – though at first it intimidated me a lot – Betty-Lou was the first one I interviewed, her story is here.
My first couple of assignments were school-related events. This one was from a diversity day event at Good Shepherd, the local Catholic elementary school.
Crossing into March I was still VERY green. One of the ironies early on was, while I had strong sports photography skills, I had terrible sports writing skills, more of that in part three though.
This photo required me to get up early, truck out in cold weather and was never published – it’s not even a great pic. But it was a sentimental one to take for me. The war in Afghanistan began when I was in Grade 7. I remember growing up with the conflict on the constant periphery of Canadian society, culture and politics. Regardless of your views on the war it’s shaped Canada dramatically. Peace River High School was going to lower their flag to half-mast at sunrise on the day of Canada’s withdrawal. Unfortunately we’re in a valley and at sunrise the sun hadn’t come over the hills so we were in one big shadow. I remember thinking about where I was when airplanes of soldiers landed over seas – there is so much that has changed, everywhere since then.
I shot a lot of hockey this winter. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, I am in northern Alberta after all. My ONLY issue is, the lighting at the local arena sucks… the bulbs are all on different colour balance settings, so it is actually IMPOSSIBLE to get a clean looking white balance. Also there aren’t any port holes in the glass for cameras and it looks like they’ve never washed the puck marks off the glass.
THAT BEING SAID – the North Peace Navigators is another sign of Peace River’s uniqueness – the ‘Navs’ took the cup this year, first time in six years in the Northwest Junior Hockey League (NWJHL). I arrived just in time for the start of playoffs and despite the lighting/glass issues I got some fun photos.
This goal was disallowed. Lol.
In neighbouring Grimshaw they have a newer arena with consistent white balances, I photographed a minor hockey game there.
But then that minor hockey series returned to Peace River.
The senior feature has given me a chance to learn about Peace River and the area from people who have lived here for decades, their stories range from happy, sad, heartwarming, full of lessons and everything in between. It’s also a chance to do a quick on the spot environmental portrait once a week.
When I spoke about Peace River’s dichotomy earlier – the Alberta Union of Public Employees (AUPE) office is two stories up and directly across the road from the local Progressive Conservative MLA’s constituency office. Which mean AUPE’s office is LITERALLY looking down on the MLA.
In March, in minus 18 weather, AUPE and other supporting unions came out to picket new changes to public service pensions and labour negotiating rights.
And then more hockey, this time it was the Navs final game of the playoffs, the Record-Gazette published a photo gallery here.
Went looking for some creative crowd shots between periods.
This puck got caught in the netting, with a boost this little girl went home with a game puck.
And finally the ‘jubo shot,’ photojournalism slang for ‘jubilation shot,’ basically a photo of the celebration. My FAVOURITE part of shooting sports tournements is when the team wins and media/league people come on the game/ice surface, it’s the only time it’s allowed and it makes me feel bad ass. BUT you’re there to work, so I took a bunch of pics.
Finally March was capped off with a trip to the Underground Music society’s monthly show. It’s musical proof of that dichotomy I mentioned earlier. This is a country and western/classic rock town. But the Underground brings in bluesy, jazz, new rock stuff – it’s Peace River’s official underground music scene.
Coming into March I truly felt out of depth and green. By the end of it I finally felt like I wrestled the workload down and had gotten on top of it. That feeling definitely carried into April.
On the more personal side.
One of my first days here, while walking to my car, a heard of deer came rushing by. Later in the spring I found them grazing on the lawn outside my building.
This is the view from highway 2 heading into town, basically what it looked like when I drove in.
This is the mouth of the Heart river near my place. These are deer tracks over the ice in the winter.
When I first moved out here I was dating a girl who lived in Macklin, Sask. at the time. During one of my trips there we ended up in Denzil, Sask. which just felt like Corner Gas.
Right here, these are the essentials of my job, technology-wise.
Once again car problems, this time it was a frozen battery, but it was the start of a cascade of problems…
Peace River was beautiful in the winter, I thought. Locals kept saying, “wait until it gets green.” That was a fair statement, but still, it was nice here in the winter.
A little over a week after I started at work I was in a local gas station paying for gas. The guy in front of me was buying the Edmonton Sun and the Record-Gazette, which had my first cover on it. I felt pretty awesome standing in line behind him.
Finally my companion, Cat. She’s adjusted to life out here by peeing on everything, we’re working on that. But I know she has an affinity for high places so I found a way to put her bed on a perch. She likes being able to look down on me.
Next will be about the month of April, posted on Monday July 14.
This blog post will deviate in several ways from my typical ones, it will be a bit more personal and candid than I typically am. That being said, everything about me, and my online presence including this blog, which I have maintained in some capacity since 2009, may also change dramatically at some point in the near future.
If you are only here to look at picture of my road trip, by all means please scroll down, there will be info in the captions, which should provide context.
Part One: From lost 18-year old to staff reporter
In reality this story began on the edge Lake Osoyoos in the southern Okanagan Valley in British Colombia in late June 2007. I was 18, less than three weeks out of high school and four provinces from home.
As a diversion from more school I had applied for the Canada World Youth exchange program, a six month international youth community service exchange. We were in Osoyoos, ten random Canadians from across the country, each matched with a counterpart from Uruguay. We lived with host families and worked as volunteers in the community during the days. We came from all walks of life.
A week and a half into the program, I was walking down towards the lake on a very warm, dry evening getting to know a guy named Dave Stacey, he was from Stephenville Newfoundland and a student at Memorial. He was taking a break to do this exchange.
We smoked cigarettes and talked about the different types of winter Ontario got versus Newfoundland, then he asked me what I wanted to do.
The question stunned me, I was on this exchange to escape that. So I told him that, he looked at my camera hanging on my shoulder. A Canon 10D with a 35-85mm f/4-5.6. It was a piece of crap in current terms, but in that time and place it was a show piece.
“What about photography?” He asked.
“Oh,” I said, “No I’m not interested in that, I just wanted to have a decent camera for this and my dad was switching formats so he sold it to me cheap.” I said.
He paused for a moment then spoke.
“There’s more to photography than photography, you ever thought about photojournalism?”
“No,” I said, truthfully I didn’t know what that was.
“Oh man,” he said, “It’s photography for newspapers, magazines, documentary, like National Geographic.”
My ears perked at this. As the program wore on there were a lot of things that happened but I will come back to that later.
I knew nothing about photography, but I had a camera. And so for the rest of the program I started fiddling with the settings figuring out what the shutter did, the aperture did etc. I didn’t have ready access to photography teachers or the internet at the time.
When I came home in December of 2007 I was 19, I thought I knew everything and my focus centered on escaping again. I started working as a temporary laborer in Guelph while living at my parents to save money. When I had the funds I left for Southeast Asia.
Again, the details of these three months could fill pages. But I realized something, I thrived on the sense of adventure, I could socialize well, and I was smart.
In September 2008 I arrived in Ottawa to begin my Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. I had really grand intentions, however, I quickly filled my plate with school, work and the Charlatan.
The Charlatan, the school newspaper became my second home. I sat on the couch and absorbed the conversations of the editors and the writers. Many of whom are successful journalists today. I felt so fortunate to be surrounded by such talent.
However, I was motivated by visuals I never really considered writing.
It was also during this time that I started this blog.
When I left Carleton it was with the worst of mixed emotions I had achieved a lot. I had been published nationally multiple times, I had out-filed the wires on a few big assignments, I had a front page of a national newspaper, and more covers of the Charlatan than I could count. I had a partner, someone I loved deeply, and I had friends, really I had a family of people.
I look back on the years 2009-2011 with the uttermost fondness and joy, I can’t begin to describe it. Simply put I thought I would never leave Ottawa completely.
Then one drunken night in 2011 happened, it was May, the playoffs were on and I was at the Georgetown pub with some friends watching and drinking. Suddenly my friend Joel Eastwood, who had been like a brother and a somewhat kindred spirit throughout Carleton, turned to me and passed me his phone.
On it was an email from the Carleton school of journalism apprenticeships advisor passing along an email. The email was looking for a photojournalism student who spoke both English and Spanish to participate in an expenses covered six-month exchange.
I told him so send it to me so I could look it over the next morning, sober.
I never thought I would get it, I applied on a whim. Yet there I was standing in a bus shelter at 5am in January, sick, sleepless, wearing everything warm I had to bring to Costa Rica.
It was one of those biting Ottawa winter nights in Early January, -35 plus wind-chill. I had spent the night refusing to sleep because it was my last night in the apartment I had shared with my girlfriend Yamina, an there was a big part of me that regretted leaving.
When the time came to leave, walking out the door and down the road to the bus stop was indescribably hard. That whole 48 hour period and trip to Costa Rica was a blur of sad and tragic feelings mixed with the greatest joy and excitement.
I was moving to Costa Rica for six-months to be a reporter-photographer at a local newspaper there.
After I arrived I felt like I was immediately over my head. I hadn’t written much before, I knew only the basics of actual written reporting and my Spanish was not good enough to keep up.
Somehow I made it, and I learned a lot along the way and produced some good work.
When I returned to Canada I was now on a mission.
I started attending Loyalist College in January of 2013 as a fast-track student, meaning I could skip the first semester. My first priority was to find a summer job.
In the end it came down to one job left at Toronto Community News. A collection of nine newspapers owned by Metroland Media, which operated out of the same newsroom. The final candidates were myself and one of my best friends a guy named Chris King. In the end I got the job.
As I settled in, I had a mix of feelings. I’d never done anything this cool, yet my success felt tempered because I knew Chris was still looking for work.
He found summer work as a reporter at a local newspaper in Whitecourt, northern Alberta. When we moved in together for our second year of Loyalist and started talking about our summers, I had to confess, I was a little jealous of his experience.
I wanted to work in Alberta, drive across Canada and be a local reporter suddenly.
Then it happened, in early December I had the week of all weeks. My car broke and had to be scrapped, my girlfriend of three years broke up with me two days after planning a surprise birthday party, I found out I had failed to get an interview for the Globe and Mail summer job and I failed one of my classes.
I felt like I’d gone from being on top of the world in August, to considering giving up in December.
Then January happened.
Over December I had made peace with my lost interview opportunity, spoken with a prof and done some extra credit work to pass. I had replaced my crappy old Mazda 626 with a modded out Acura Integra with a stick shift, and I was starting my final semester.
I couldn’t help but feel depressed though. So as an exercise I started applying for jobs on Jeff Gaulin’s journalism job site. I genuinely expected nothing to happen.
I continued to live my life, I fell in love again with a girl who I had just met. She pretty much literally fell out of the sky. As we got to know one another it turned out we were in very similar places in life, love, ambition, career and goals. She’d been in Alberta for the previous few years, and had returned east after the rug was pulled out from under her to regroup around friends and family.
Just as life in Belleville was starting to improve though I got an email.
It was from the editor of the Peace River Record-Gazette, in Peace River Alberta asking if I was free for an interview.
It’s hard to describe how I felt, this was a version of a dream come true. The job included a lot of writing and I had my doubts. However, I agreed to the interview.
Two days later I found out I had the job. It had taken seven years, almost, from the time I decided being a photojournalist would be an interesting career to the point where I was accepting a full-time staff job as a Multimedia journalist.
Part Two: From Belleville, Ontario to Peace River, Alberta
I gave myself a week to pack up in Belleville, then a few days in Guelph to see my family and finish preparations. At the last minute I decided to take the family cat Coco.
My final week in Belleville was intense. I suddenly became aware that the friendships I had formed weren’t just out of convenience, I was actually going to miss these people. Then there was Cynthia, she basically spent the week at my apartment, we weren’t anything official yet, but it was still painful to leave everyobe on some level.
Then I got sick from exhaustion. I waited an extra day before leaving, on Saturday February 8th I hit the road.
My first stop was Sudbury, I have family there but didn’t have time to pay them a visit, thankfully I saw them all recently at Christmas. I stopped by Big Nickel Mine for a photo, because it is such a huge attraction, then continued on. That night I pulled into Sault Ste. Marie Ontario around 9pm and crashed for the night at a Super 8 Motel.
The next day I hit the road early hoping to make it to Thunder Bay. I was now in a part of the province I’d never really seen before. I remember loving that day of driving so much, the roads were clear and dry the scenery was beautiful and it was the first time I saw Lake Superior.
I rolled into Thunder Bay around 9pm, this time I was staying with friends of a former co-worker. Natalie and I had worked together at a café in Guelph called With the Grain the year before. Now a student at Lakehead University, she had friends who had a couch I could sleep on. That was amazing.
The day was going just fine until I got to Ste. Anne about 45 minutes east of Winnipeg. I decided to take a picture of the sunset over the prairies, it was my first time seeing it, and I misjudged the shoulder and found myself in a ditch.
Some ‘friendly Manitobans’ came by with a truck and a chain and pulled me out, we said our goodbyes and I was on my way.
Then it happened again.
I figured I would get a second picture, because now the sun was touching the horizon. So I pulled over preparing to do a three-point turn. And once again found myself in the ditch. I was livid, mostly with myself. I screamed at the prairies, then tried to jack my car up to put it on my floor mats to get out.
It didn’t work, I tried shifting the weight in the car, using kitty litter everything and in the process I burnt out my radiator and overheated the engine. Now it was minus 45 Celsius, my heater was broken the winds were picking up and it was dark.
I never took the second picture.
I called CAA, it was almost two hours before I saw a truck.
When CAA came they helped me out, then I drove to Winnipeg. The whole way there my windows kept fogging up, the defrosters weren’t working, the engine sounded off. I was so worried, stressed and I could no longer feel my toes but I was 100% focused on getting to my friend’s house safely.
As I pulled onto their street my engine light, maintenance light and oil light all came on and my car started stalling while I was shifting, normally my engine would stall at under 400 rpm now it was stalling at anywhere between 400-1500 I had no idea what was wrong. I decided I would deal with it the next day.
The next morning it wouldn’t start. The battery was frozen, I called CAA again and there was a tense moment where I was worried the engine wouldn’t turn over because the car was now literally out of oil. With the fried radiator the engine had been overheating while I drove 75km to Winnipeg, it had burned off all the oil.
We poured some in, the tow-truck driver connected my battery to his charger and I got in my car. I said a small prayer (something I NEVER do) then turned the key. The engine sprang to life and at that moment I could have almost cried I was so happy.
I followed the CAA guy to a local shop and dropped my car off. It took them just over a day, but they replaced that radiator, put in more coolant, and checked the car over. There was one little issue: the running lights and blowers weren’t turning off, even with them turned off the key out and the fuse pulled.
It suddenly became clear the previous owner has rewired the entire car. It took the mechanics 4.5 hours to fix it. I walked away with a functioning car and $1050 poorer.
Now though I wanted to explore Winnipeg.
Richard and Melissa are two of my oldest closest friends. We met in 2007 during my exchange, Richard was from Ottawa and Melissa was from Winnipeg. During the program I watched them fall in love. Since then they’ve gone to school together, lived together, had a baby together and this summer are getting married, I get to photograph it.
Without question they let me into their home, fed me and gave me and my cat a place to stay.
I saw Portage and Main, The Forks, the Toad in the Hole, St. Boniface and downtown. Not a bad little tour.
The next morning I rolled out of Winnipeg. While my trip there had been tarnished by an expensive Instagram, a frozen night on the prairies and some bad memories of a previous relationship, I did realize something: I really liked the city, it was beautiful and the vibe I got was right up my alley. Plus now that I had dealt with the negative feelings there I felt like there was space to come back and rediscover the city. I can’t wait to do so.
Winnipeg was a far more significant stop in my journey than I had ever intended it to be.
I continued across the Prairies now crossing into Saskatchewan, it was also my first time in that province. I suppose this goes without saying but I have NEVER seen a place that was so flat in my life. Their license plates say “Land of the living sky,” I understand that now.
I rolled into Saskatoon around 8 and met up with a friend of mine, Alexandra Stang. We’d gone to university together and I knew her through the Charlatan. She had actually officiated the election where I was elected photo editor. That was 2010, it felt like a lifetime ago.
We chatted and she gave me a list of spots to check out in Saskatoon. So the next morning I went and checked them out. Saskatoon was another city that very pleasantly surprised me.
Now I felt like I was nearing the end of my journey, certainly it was the end of 800km+ days. That afternoon I drove the three hours from Saskatoon to Lloydminster, a city where the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan literally runs through the middle. My friend from Loyalist, Jeff Peters, work there as a reporter at the Lloydminister Meridian Booster, he’d moved out here almost a year earlier.
It was nice to see him and get a feel for the work he was doing, I thought it was a bit of a preview for my upcoming work life. We checked out a highway accident and a children’s play.
The next morning we had breakfast, then spent three hours looking for my cat, which had gotten loose in his house and hid herself. When I finally had her I hit the road to Edmonton.
Only two hours away, I rolled into town completely exhausted. I pulled into the Super 8 there and spent the night. It was noticeably warmer here, only about -5. I decided against touring the city, I was too tired and Edmonton is only 4-5 hours from Peace River, I figured I’d be back.
I slept in late and almost missed my checkout. I rushed out the door and hit the road. I was so excited to get to Peace River, I may have had a bit of a heavy foot cruising down the Trans-Canada.
Finally I turned north.
And if I’m being totally honest here, for the first time it actually hit me. As the mileage markers for Peace River continued to march along the road in front of me, so did the faces of my life in Ottawa, Belleville and Guelph. Ontario is the only province I have ever called home. I grew into independence in Guelph, I grew into adulthood in Ottawa and I grew into maturity in Belleville.
Tears rolled down my face as I motored north of Valleyview.
The sun was setting and the roads were getting worse. I was growing more and more anxious, desperately wanting to be in Peace River.
Then suddenly I came over a hill, below me sprawled out along the floor of a valley was a small town with a frozen river that sliced through the middle. I had arrived in Peace River
That night I met the office manager here, Shelly, she took me out for dinner, told me about the community and the people. It was a really nice introduction to the town. That night I slept in my own apartment.
I’m now here, I’ve been at work for just over a week. I think I’m starting to get the hang of it. As I move forward here I will post about my experiences in the town.
For those of you who read this whole post, wow, just wow, I hope you enjoyed it.
The blog will return to it’s normal format, whatever that is, starting next week.
The posts will DEFINITELY be shorter going forward.
Well here we are in 2014. I haven’t really been into the blogging much these last few months, however, I have a really good reason: I’ve been insanely busy.
The irony though is I actually have less to show for it than I normally would… The latter half of this past semester was focused on writing, multimedia and longer form photo pieces. Meaning while I was busy it was doing things, like calling sources, conducting interviews and video editing as opposed to just taking pictures.
I am feeling a little more refreshed after the winter break and upon my return to Belleville my roommate and I and stumbled onto some news. This morning after breakfast we noticed a huge plume of smoke rising about eight blocks away and decided to check it out.
Frankly Chris (my roommate) and I hesitated to leave, it was minus 30 today and we’re still on vacation. However, we ended up trekking out. By the time we got there the fire department had already cordoned off the block.
I spoke with some neighbors who were huddling in the cold, they speculated on the cause of the fire. They also told me everyone made it out safe, with the possible exception of one of the neighbors cats.
We didn’t stay long because of the cold. However, sitting at my kitchen table editing I was able to watch as the smoke plume dwindled over the course of an hour or two from the comfort of my own home.
Now, rolling back the clock a bit to early October, we had a news video assignment due for multimedia class. We had to find a community event and shoot and edit a short news video about the event. So I did some research and found a small concert series that was kicking off an eight-month season of monthly shows featuring local musicians. It was a really fun assignment and good chance to further improve my video skills, which is a medium I am growing to love more and more.
As October wore on I dove into one of our major, and cross-platform, assignments. It was called Sense of Place and we had to visually connect a Belleville resident with a significant place in their life in town.
I found Lois Foster, a wonderful lady who has become one of the cities best known archivists (which is important in a small town with a big past). Her home was once a veterinary hospital staffed by her and her husband, they ran the clinic for 40 years before her husband died nine years ago. She still occupies the house that they shared and worked out of.
At the time I thought it was a really touching story about love, commitment and devotion and their story reminded me of my own maternal grandparents.
Underscoring this whole term has been a news photo assignment we needed complete. The spot news assignment requires you to get a photo of an unplanned news event. Really the only challenge is in finding the event, after you show up just get a good angle/vantage point and wait for the decisive moment.
I had a big telephoto on that, to give you an idea of what I mean here is a photo from my Instagram that I took showing the view I had without a telephoto.
In addition to videos and stories, I’ve been working on a documentary project about the issue of gender dysphoria, which in a nutshell, is a disorder where someone is born the wrong sex. The story is a work in progress and I have more images here. Below is a portrait of the subject of this story, a trans-man named Martin.
That project sprang from one I started working on last year, also for class, on a drag queen in Ottawa named Savannah Couture. I have a written profile and photo story here. However, when it came time for us to do our final video this semester I thought it would be interesting to go and check out one of her performances with my camera, below is the result.
Also please check out this group project I had the pleasure of collaborating on, it’s a sweet story about a former CN brake man who now runs the Belleville model train society.
Finally with the passing of 2013 I feel it’s time to declare a theme, for me, it was the year of the car. In January 2013 I bought my first ever car, a 1996 Mazda 626 DX. It was a gutless, featureless, rust-bucket that cost less than most of my lenses. But she bore me safely across 50 000km (Largely from trips to Ottawa) and through my summer in Toronto. In October the problems started. First a leaky tranny line, then the exhaust rusted off then I was told the engine sub-frame was rotten and needed replacing (about $1000…) however, when they took it apart I was informed the rust had spread further than they knew, in short, it was terminal. We went for a final ride, and then I stripped her of her logos and useful components before dropping her off to be scrapped.
It took a month of concerted effort, but it was worth it, for the same price I paid for my 5D mkII I found a 1996 Acura (Honda) Integra RS, so for you Honda nerds that means there’s no Vtec, although I don’t care because I don’t wanna burn oil, use premium fuel or need to drive at 5500 rpm with any regularity. That being said, the previous owner added a short ram air intake, heders, custom exhaust and three strut bars. The car has a lot of power for a 1.8L and literally floats on air around corners and because it’s a hatchback, I still have the same cargo space I had in my 626. It’s also the first manual transmission I’ve ever driven, and I am hooked, I never want to drive automatic again.
So last semester was a tough one, but standing on the edge of 2014 with a bad ass new car, and a confident set of skills I’m pretty excited for what 2014 has in store.
My time here as Metroland’s summer photography co-op student at Toronto Community News is over. Today is my last day, my last assignments have been filed and tomorrow I’m moving things to Belleville. School orientation starts this week and it is going to be a crazy year.
I’ll start this blog post in mid-August. Two Thursday’s ago I went to Albert Campbell Square in front of Scarborough’s Civic Centre. It was India’s independence day, so the local Indian community came out to celebrate.
As the sun was setting it was a great time for pictures, with some dramatic light.
Also interesting dances with great symmetry can make nice pictures.
And then Ghanafest was happening in North York. A colourful day celebrating all things Ghanian.
On Sunday I went to a car wash in Parkdale (over)run by zombies. The Toronto zombie walk was there washing cars in blood, then soap, although one zombie told me blood was preferred over soap…
I capped off the day with a trip to a multicultural street festival on Eglinton Avenue. It was actually pretty empty and low key when I got there, however, I found these steel drummers performing under and awning and the main drummer
When I returned next week on Thursday I started off heading to the renaming of Toronto’s island ferry terminal. It was renamed for the late-leader of the opposition Jack Layton.
Members of his family, unions and supporters were on hand, and they unveiled a statue of him riding a tandem bike.
It’s the back to school season as well. So I was sent to shoot a portrait of a school principle in a newly renovated wing of his building. I confess portraits are still a weaker point of mine, I thought I would be shooting more of them this summer but I didn’t. We tried a couple of things but I figured this one was my favorite, nice and simple.
In a sure sign my summer was ending, later that day I was sent to cover an exhibition game between the University of Guelph and University of Toronto baseball teams.
The day after was a day of ethnic celebrations. The Toronto Chinatown Festival kicked off with politicians, Chinese dragons and traditional music.
Later that day I drove north to Downsview Park and Rastafest. It was a hot day in direct sunlight, but pretty interesting nonetheless.
And finally this past Sunday I started down at the beaches, where an organization called surfers healing has been running a free day camp for autistic children. The camp pairs up kids with a pro surfer who teaches them how to stand up paddle.
That afternoon I was in east Scarborough at a private home for a fundraiser for the Scarborough Terry Fox run. There was a family of five there who all agreed to either have their heads shaved or dyed to help raise money.
And with that I’m signing off. My next post will be about the return to school.
On Monday I was just leaving the office as some nasty storm clouds rolled in. I started to drive home and after I got off the highway it became apparent this storm was more intense than a regular one. I spotted a road off to the side where cars were trying to push through more the 3ft of water in some cases. Not realizing then how widespread the flash floods across the city were I found a parking lot a little further down, threw on my rain gear and went to work. The pictures turned out great and ran on the front page of the York Guardian and inside all the others. I felt vindicated for my unpaid over time, which had me standing waist deep in water.
The greatest part though was the irony I encountered. An hour before the storm, one of the reporters in the newsroom made a crack about journalists being soft these days coming out of school. Soft, pfft.
The weekend before was very busy, very hot and also very wet I found myself with eleven assignments over the two days, although that’s common on weekends. There was the Taste of Lawrence festival in Scarborough, which featured performances and food.
There was a baseball game that was very nearly rained out, and I had to devise a system to stay dry while standing in a field in a rainstorm.
Then there was the Italian Festival, which happened to get soaked in heavy rains while I was there.
The weekend though began with fun in the sun at the Heatwave Charity volleyball tournament. Metroland had a team, and their own photographer (me).
Prior to the busy weekend though I spent my Friday evening wandering around Ford Fest, the Mayor’s annual BBQ, it was a very interesting assignment for me.
Earlier that week I went to Ottawa for fun, and even earlier that week was Canada Day. I took lots of flag waving pics in Scarborough, but my favorite one for some reason was this one below. It never even ran I just like it for some reason.
Prior to Canada Day I had, had another busy weekend. Including a soccer tournament called the Robby. It had been a long time since I photographed soccer but I felt like I fell back into it quite well. This one ran on the front page of the City Centre Mirror.
The week before many of the assignments were about the run-up to Canada day. Like the Canada Rocks event which was hosted at the Scarborough museum, and where I took this picture. This and the Capoeira photo of Jimmy doing the flip were my two favorites from the last two weeks.
And before that? Well that’s detailed in the previous post. Anyway for now it’s back to work.
It’s been just over a week since my job officially began here at the Toronto Community News. It’s been a fun and challenging week, with a steep but manageable learning curve.
I should start by saying Toronto is the biggest city I have ever lived and worked in. I grew up In Guelph and Milton, so I’ve visited Toronto often and the cultural impact of the city on southwestern Ontario is huge. Living in the shadow of the city is different than living in the city itself.
However, once I find myself on assignment there’s no much that makes working in Toronto different than working in other towns. I should point out through my beat is mostly community news. The company that owns Toronto Community News, Metroland Media Group is a subsidiary of Torstar media. Torstar’s flagship publication is the Toronto Star. So while I’m in Toronto most of the events I shoot are at the community level, or typically the things that the Star wouldn’t catch.
So I approach each assignment with an old acting adage ringing in my ears, “There are no small parts assignments only small actors photojournalists.” In my first week I covered multicultural festivals, cricket events, a midget level baseball game, a regional track meet, the tall ship festival, Guyanese independence day, one of the Toronto Jazz Festival events and community fundraisers to name a few.
Most of the papers publish on Thursday’s some like the North York and Scarborough Mirror’s publish on both Tuesday and Thursday. I had Tuesday and Wednesday off this week so when I came in this morning I got to see my pictures in print. This isn’t the first time, but it’s the first time in a while and it is still exciting to see your pictures in print.
With this introduction aside here are some pictures running loose in reverse chronological order.
On Sunday I only had four assignments, however, they were mostly outside and Toronto was under an extreme heat and humidity advisory for the day. I averaged drinking a litre of water per hour just to keep hydrated. Considering the athletes at the baseball game and track meet I photographed though I don’t think I can complain.
It was my first time shooting baseball at any level. I really liked it. I like the sport anyways and it’s great for pictures. Hopefully I will shoot more baseball games this summer and get better.
After the baseball game I rushed out to Centennial College’s progress ave. campus for the Toronto Guyanese community’s celebration of their independence day. Guyana was celebrating their 47th year of independence and their President happened to be in Toronto visiting that weekend so he came by to visit the celebrations.
My Sunday though had started out at York University in the morning. There was a regional high school track meet hosted by the Royal Canadian Legion. In the 40+ degree heat, running a 100m or 1600m race is not my idea of fun. Photographing it was good though.
I also got my first cover photo with Metroland there, the photo below ran on the front page of the Tuesday edition of the North York Mirror, hopefully there’ll be more of these in the following weeks.
This photo was me trying different things, while I have no issue getting the ‘standard’ images required. After that it’s fun to play around and try new things and new ways of telling the story.
My Sunday was capped off with a nice walk around the Fairbank Village area of Toronto near Eglinton and Dufferin streets. There was a multicultural festival on the street that day. While actual cultural activities seemed to be lacking there were food and buskers.
The day before had me running all over town for six different assignments. Once again most of them were outside except on this day instead of extreme heat it was periods of thunderstorms.
This photo was from a block party neighborhood event; the rain kept most people home or seeking shelter under things.
I was also able to catch part of the Toronto Jazz Festival, at one of the satellite shows at the Shops at Don Mills. There was a performance by the Toronto based Dixie Demons, it was pretty fun, despite the small crowds and rain.
On the Friday before I was asked to go and shoot the Redpath Waterfront festival, a four-day festival along Toronto’s waterfront featuring a fleet of tall ships. They also had events and performances; one of these events was a Flyboarding demonstration. Which was one of the coolest things ever.
Personally though I was interested in the ships. About ten years ago I sailed aboard a ship called the STV Fair Jeanne, which sails out of Ottawa. I distinctly remember being on watch at 4am in the middle of a rainstorm in June, under sail into Toronto harbour as the sun slowly started to rise behind us. The event lets people who may be interested tour the ships and get a feel for them before they all move onto the next stop and the Fair Jeanne was there this year too.
Last Thursday was one of my first officially assigned assignments at a small community park in York. The Jays Care Foundation, or the charitable wing of Toronto Blue Jays, had just refurbished a local ball-park, they had some community leaders and two former Jays on hand for the event.
They also had some of their trainers on hand to offer up a skills clinic to local kids.
When there’s down time and during the first day or two I was asked on occasion to go look for enterprising or feature pictures. These are standalone photos of daily life in the city. Sometimes they can have a newsy focus though it’s not needed. An example would be weather pics on a hot or rainy day.
Feature hunting as it’s called is just walking around taking pictures and talking to people, not a bad way to spend a few hours on a working day.
It’s been a diverse week and while the past week was mostly settling in I think the next few will go well. I look forward to shooting more and posting more, and if you’re in the Toronto area check out the Metroland Mirrors you might see my pics.
I have been an inactive blogger for sometime. I think in February I thought life couldn’t get busier than it was but that changed in March, when I had an assignment (at least one) due every day for the entire month. By April things started to slow down, and since May it’s mostly been a waiting game.
However, while things in April started to slow, I had also begun my chase for summer work. Initially I began with high hopes, at one point in mid-April it seemed like there were at least three reasonably likely prospects with different newspapers. Those petered off and by mid-May I began fearing I’d have to find work outside photography for the summer.
So I travelled to Ottawa, there I found work as a student house painter. On the day I was supposed to start working though I received an email offering me a job with Metroland’s group of newspapers in Toronto.
While I start tomorrow I realized I hadn’t posted a blog update in months. First I was too busy, then I was too lazy and on summer vacation and finally my computer was in for repair. So now I’ll catch up.
My last blog posted was at the end of February, so I’ll start in February in Ottawa.
In mid-February I photographed the Ottawa Fashion Week for FAJO Magazine. It was an interesting affair and my first time shooting anything in the fashion world. While most of the weekend was spent at the end of the runway, I was able to get some interesting moments and get a tour backstage.
My trip backstage was brief, I was only allowed ten minutes but it was fascinating to see what happens behind the scenes at a fashion week event.
Most of my other February exploits are detailed in a previous post here.
As March dawned the second years began finishing up their final projects in preparation for their end of program internships. The first years meanwhile were trying to keep from drowning in tedious assignments. The program is four semesters long and semester two and three are notorious for their intensity.
On the second weekend in March I returned to Ottawa to photograph the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Final 8 men’s basketball championships. It’s Canada’s version of NCAA final in March.
The games were hosted at Scotiabank place in Ottawa, and they were very well attended. As a student at Carleton I photographed this tournament twice before for the charlatan, Carleton’s student newspaper, you can check out some of those pics here for a look at some of my older stuff. I was flooded with nostalgia, especially because several friends from Ottawa were also there photographing the event it felt a bit like a working reunion.
For a while it looked like it was going to be an Ottawa vs. Ottawa final, but The University Ottawa Gee Gees didn’t quite make it. The Carleton Ravens won again making it a record number championship wins in CIS history.
Next weekend I drove a carload of Loyalist students past Ottawa to Montreal for the annual anti-police brutality protest. The protest was begun 17 years ago in response to suspicious deaths at the hands of Montreal police officers. However, in the years since, the march has attracted a more dubious reputation as an opportunity to confront the police directly on the streets.
After last year’s student protests in Montreal new legislation had been passed. In addition to the more controversial Loi 78, Montreal passed municipal laws requiring rally organizers to submit march routes in advance for approval from the police. If not then the protest could be declared illegal and that gave the police sweeping powers of arrest. Which is exactly what happened, as soon as marchers began assembling the police declared the protest illegal and began dispersing it and making arrests.
Loyalist students, completely by accident, went en masse to Montreal. There were about 23 of us in total. We stayed at hotels and spent a few hours chasing columns of police who were chasing the scattered protestors around the downtown core.
I ended up in a CTV News clip during one of the several on street interactions with the police. You can view it here, I’m on the left of the screen taking pictures when the police charge, it’s at the 48-second mark in the clip.
Just before 7pm, two hours after the protest started, the scattered protestors and police now converged at the intersection of Rue Sainte Catherine and Rue Saint-Andre. The police formed a kettle and closed ranks.
Partly by chance and partly because of experiences learned from the G20 I jumped back, narrowly avoiding a gloved hand that was pulling people in. As we found out later 15 Loyalist students were caught up in the kettle.
Some were released on the street, after Montreal police filmed them, and took down their info. They were told they’d be mailed a $640 ticket and to return home, that if they were found out on the streets again that night they’d be arrested, spend the night in jail and face possible criminal charges. Those not released on the street were loaded onto a repurposed city bus and taken to various precincts where they were processed and released. By 10:30pm we had confirmation that everyone was out and everyone was safe. By the numbers Loyalist students, there to photograph the demonstration, accounted for 8% of total arrests that night.
Everyone in my car, myself included, avoided the kettle and arrest and the next day we were all cheerfully headed back to Belleville, where Loyalist College is located. Along the way as we were passing Napanee, which is near Belleville, we spotted a huge plume of smoke rising from a field off the highway. We pulled off the highway and found the source of the fire, a barn in a farmer’s field and began taking pictures. The timing was convenient as we had a spot news assignment, any news that is not scheduled, due in class in two weeks time.
Later that week came the second round of advisory board meetings of the year. Advisory board is a once a semester picture review with photographers and editors from newspapers and newswires across Canada. I sat down with four different people and showed them the same sets of pictures, I heard four different critiques ranging from, “Yeah! This is great!” to, “None of your pictures are memorable.”
The most useful piece of advice I received was to stop pursuing things I thought others wanted to see and instead go with my gut more. So I decided to try and do that, although I was a little uncertain what that meant, I thought I had been going with my gut before.
Around this time we had a whole host of different projects to work on, from videos to picture documentaries, and once a week a lighting assignments. One of the more interesting lighting assignments was the environmental portrait. Which is a fancy way of saying a portrait in a relevant environment… So a firefighter in a fire hall, or a doctor in a hospital. Ours was specific, we had to find either a CEO or business owner, a blue collar worker or a luthier (someone who repairs stringed instruments, specifically lute based designs). I was in Ottawa one weekend, so I started phoning luthiers in the city and David (below) agreed to pose for a photo.
A week later I found myself once again in Ottawa. It was now the end of March, school was truly slowing down and I was trying to find a way to keep busy. So I returned to photographing the drag queen Savannah Couture. Savannah had agreed to let me photograph her before during and after performances a few times and the project had been universally well received amongst the advisors I met with.
Savannah started drag professionally only a month earlier, but with the help of her brother, who also happened to be a well-known queen in Ottawa, she was able to secure a regular weekend performance at Edge, a well-known gay bar in Ottawa.
A drag performance is essentially three parts, the first is the dress, which needs to compliment the queens own style and the song choice. The second is the performance, which is generally a lip sync set to music, song choice determines clothes, hair make-up and the dance itself, and most queens won’t repeat songs, every weekend it’s something new. The final part is audience interaction, like at a burlesque show in part drag is a celebration of sexuality, and so queens interact with and tease audience members usually as part of the show.
On this night there were three individual queens who performed and a fourth, Savannah’s brother and drag mother, who MC’d the evening. The night ended with all four of them dressing like the girls from the Lady Marmelade music video and performing the song as a quartet.
I had produced far better performance pictures that night than I ever had but I also recognized the familiar symptoms of artistic burn-out starting to set in. All of my pictures looked like crap, or that’s how I felt at the time. Scrolling through contact sheet after contact sheet they all looked uninspired. I began to understand what the advisor had meant about photographing things as I felt others wanted to see them. As the end of semester began to wind down I started focusing more on the multimedia projects I had to do, and writing.
In the final week of classes I received a call from the Oakville Beaver, they had been one of the many places I’d applied for a summer internship with. I had been selected for a working interview of sorts along with two others. So I scheduled a day to come down to the 905 and work for the Beaver for the day. In addition to a job interview I was asked to photograph two assignments as a freelancer, one for the Oakville Beaver and one for the Burlington Post, they both work out of the same office.
The first event was a children’s French ‘rock’ concert with Gregg LeRock, I remembered going to a similar show with a guy named Etienne who had songs like, “Etre is to be not, not, to be…” and other such clever things. The kids seemed to genuinely like it though which was the point after all.
Next I had to hop on the 403 and race to Oakville for a presentation at a local public school about a new energy use and education initiative that was being launched in the region.
A week later I was told I didn’t get the job. Later that afternoon I applied for another job at Inside Toronto another paper owned by the same company. After an interview there and a few more weeks of waiting I was offered a paid-summer internship there.
Starting Monday I expect to be busy for at least the next calendar year. This internship has me working full-time until I start school, then I enter into the most important and competitive parts of the Loyalist program and hopefully that leads to an internship and summer job next summer. All of that is to say I spent the last week watching cheap made-for-tv documentaries on Netflix and playing computer games, biking, reading and generally having a pretty ideal summer break.
Fortunately I have a friend who has agreed to rent me an air mattress in a corner of his bachelor’s apartment near High Park and the Junction. So for two months I’ll be living the dream… of sorts.
So with a new job in hand, motivation, functioning computer and period of artistic burn-out conquered, hopefully I’ll be inclined to blog more regularly. I think the summer’s going to be a good one.
This Loyalist PhotoJ program is pretty intensive…
As of right now I have a few projects ongoing and essentially an assignment due every school day in March. I should clarify this is not me complaining, but rather just me remarking on a fact. Frankly I’m relishing the pace and pressure, although this week (break week) has been a much needed respite. It’s allowed me catch up on homework and sleep, resume blogging and reinstall Civilization IV (because it is better than V).
But I digress…
The week before break week I finally got around to shooting the local OHL team, the Belleville Bulls I timed it so I got to see them play the Ottawa 67’s, the OHL team from the city I lived in for the last several years. I wanted to see the Guelph Storm, but they’re in a different division and don’t play Belleville very much.
The game was good although incredibly high scoring with the Bulls winning 8-5. It was also pretty dirty, a few fights and some nasty penalty-deserving plays in the third period. I’ve never photographed hockey at this level before, really the only practice I had was with the Carleton University Ravens and they’re just not as fast or aggressive as their OHL counterparts. It also gave me the chance to practice in game filing, meaning I shot the first period then found a spot, pulled out my laptop and edited and captioned my pics from the first period before the start of the second.
I spent a lot of time trying to anticipate plays rather than follow the action, goalies make for great places to anticipate.
This photo is missing a few elements to make a good pic for a newspaper, but as just a picture I like it.
At the risk of inundating this blog post with hockey pictures I will cut it off there and continue.
The weekend before I was once again in my adoptive hometown of Ottawa. This time I went to Edge Nightclub, up above Sparks and Bank St. with some friends for a special outdoor drag show. The club is Ottawa’s only gay nightclub, I’m told there are many gays bars and places with a bar/club but Edge is the just nightclub place. It’s also home to one of Ottawa most successful drag queens Icesis Couture.
It was a frigid affair, hosted on Edge’s rooftop patio, you could hear the music two blocks over on Metcalfe St, and the club had put out heaters on the patio, but I would argue there were not enough.
The performance was pretty awesome, although I was told Icesis’ hair was tamer than it normally is…
The day before going to Ottawa Justin Trudeau came to Loyalist College as part of a promotional tour. The college had secretly arranged an emotional presentation for Trudeau, which you can view here, you can also see me in action at the start of the video while he’s walking down the hall. The reason I’m not going to talk about it is I missed the golden moment, I had to leave the presentation early because I had to get to a class, and though for this I would have skipped class I couldn’t really. The week before car trouble had me stranded in Ottawa for a week and I skipped a bunch of classes, following that I felt I couldn’t skip anymore. Plus my teacher’s reaction when I said might be late went like this:
“Hi, so I might be late I’m shooting Trudeau.”
“Yeah… so is everyone else.”
“Get your pics quickly and come to class”
So I left when I thought the thing was almost over, still cutting it close, and while I was in class Trudeau gets presented with a photo and tears up. Again check the link.
During the weekend before while staying at my friend’s place I was able to complete my spot news assignment. I was at his place on Flora St. when I saw on Twitter that a car had flipped on its roof a block away at Bronson. I raced out and snapped some pics of the fire crews righting it and towing it away. I also got a chance to talk to the driver, who was unscathed amazingly. He said he swerved to avoid a car and clipped the edge of the snow bank and then the car flipped.
Stepping back further into January, I skipped school on 28th of January. I don’t normally do that but I was in Ottawa that weekend and I found out there was an Idle No More Day of action on the Monday. I was also buying a car that weekend. So Monday morning I photographed the protest, which was much, much smaller than the one two weeks earlier, then bussed out to South Keys to pick up my fancy not-new ’96 Mazda 626, oh yeah. It runs pretty nicely and I got to test it out driving back to Belleville that night, the snow in the day turned to sleet and freezing rain that night and a 2.5 hour drive became four.
Also that weekend I assisted a friend on an engagement shoot on the Saturday, we were in Alymer Quebec and I noticed tons of ice fishing huts. The next day I came back with my gear to shoot what Loyalist calls ‘feature photos’ basically just a fun photo of things happening. In this case because we had so much leeway I borrowed Loyalists 300mm f/2.8 which is a big obnoxious white lens weighing 2.5kg (5.6 lbs), I also own a 2x teleconverter which doubles the focal length of your lens, so I wandered around with the 600mm and discreetly photographed ice fishers. Our news photography teacher loved the ridiculous telephoto and wanted to know if I’d ever stacked converters, I haven’t yet…
That weekend though I was mostly in Ottawa for Raven’s basketball, I was trying to get four assignments done in one weekend and I succeeded, sports feature, sports action, sequence photo and portfolio. Talk about efficiency, three classes, four assignments in two games.
The second game I was specifically looking for features, so I spent little time shooting the game and more time shooting everything else.
That was the second weekend in Ottawa shooting Ravens basketball, the previous weekend I decided to come up for something to do and ended up doing that. I also managed to double up on another assignment, for news photography we had to shoot a collector for what is known as an ‘environmental portrait,’ basically a person known for something photographed in the context of that something. In this case the something a collection. My friend’s roommate collects ‘physical media’ meaning DVD’s, Books and Comics, and has one big shelf dedicated to each collection, alphabetized, I ended up using the pics for our portfolio class and our lighting class in addition to news photography.
After shooting the portraits I went to Carleton to shake the cobwebs out of my head. It had been a year since I photographed any sports, not including surfing. And frankly I was surprised how quickly I fell back on the saddle. I spent a lot of time watching Dave Smart the coach whose animated coaching style made basketball games during my four years at Carleton that much more entertaining.
That brings me all the way to the week following my last blog post, when Idle No More was still headed off at full steam. There had been a day of action the previous week with thousands of people in the streets and a historic meeting between Indigenous peoples, the Crown and the State. That was followed up with the promise of a day of action and that the next Wednesday blockades would happen all across Canada.
There is a Mohawk reserve, Tyendinaga, near Belleville, it’s where I get my gas (avg $1.20/L) and it is also the location of a CP/CN rail line intersection. I found the whole situation immensely interesting. As photographers and journalists we spent the day trying to figure out where and when this would happen. When we found out where the blockade was we had to walk through back woods trails to get to the intersection. A few falls, bruises and cold, wet feet later we found the blockade, although they were absolutely not happy that we were on their land taking pictures.
This is where I found the situation more interesting, technically the rail lines are federal property, but they run through a reserve. In this case the rail line carries Via passengers from Toronto to Montreal and is a pretty important one, but I understand why the police mostly stood back and watched. As it was the protestors hung around for a few hours and made their point, which was that they have the power to do this, then left and things continued on.
As I mentioned March will be a busy month and April will be a lot of wrpping up. For my part though it was nice to have a few days at least to check out mentally and play Civ, but I think those days are past time to get back to 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…
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.
This one from when Yamina (girlfriend) came to visit me the second time in May.
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.
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.
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…
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….
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.
Also hung out with this wonderful lady.
See what I mean? Great sunsets…
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.
Autumn must really be coming and for the first time since January it actually feels cold…
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.
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!
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.
There was also a small island off the coast that reminded me Jurassic Park…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s done. Gio is working for Voice of Nosara and I am on the Caribbean coast one the other side of the country.
My last few days were an odd mix of nostalgia, excitement, limited sleep and booze. I tried to pass on everything I’d learned in six-months to my replacement Gio and at the same time we spent each night drinking and getting to know each other. It’s funny, though we’d never met we know many of the same people back home. To give you and idea of how small the photojournalism community in Canada is.
My trip here was epic, and started when Gio drove me from the Voice of Nosara office, where I’ve lived for the last six-months to a friends house a few kilometers down the road where I was spending the last night. I had a bag with me and he had his gear bag so I had to sit on the luggage rack and face backwards. I watched Playa Guiones and all the places I’ve come to know so well fade into the night as we sped away. It seemed like the most appropriate metaphor.
Saturday morning was early. I didn’t get to sleep until about 12:30 and I had to be up at 4:30 to meet the bus in time, shortly after 5am. Tired and nursing a small hangover I set out for Nicoya, then San Jose. When I arrived in San Jose I realized the last time I had been there had been in late February to meet my girlfriend Yamina at the airport when she arrived for her first visit. It was only five months ago but it feels like a lifetime ago.
I transferred bus stations, the Caribbean bus station was about eight blocks away, had some lunch and boarded the final bus to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca in Costa Rica’s eastern-most province. I arrived shortly after 7pm and took a taxi to Rockin’ J’s hostel, which is sort of like a warehouse of drunk tourists. I plan to take it easy and enjoy the chill vibe during the day though. I’m on a very tight budget now.
In addition to the standard dorm or private options, this place lets you rent a tent or pitch your own.
They also let you rent hammocks or hang your own. Aside from camping with your own tent or hammock renting a hammock is the next cheapest option, so I jumped on it.
The different warehouses border a central courtyard which is nice and relaxed
Did I mention the gaudy mosaics?
The next photo was taken just inside this entrance.
Before I went east everyone told me the Caribbean was a very different place from the west-coast. I’ve been here less than 24 hours and already know they’re right.
When I said, ‘warehouse for drunk tourists,’ I meant all of it. I woke up around 9am and walked to my locker where two girls were drinking a litre of wine, their conversation was mostly about how they’d been drunk all day the day before too. I left for an hour to buy groceries and when I came back they were gone, but the empty bottle (which had been full) was still there. Then I went to the beach.
I miss Nosara already, the people, the place and the beauty. I haven’t travelled a whole lot around Costa Rica, but every place I have been to palls in comparison. Still I am excited to be coming home, though not excited to be coming home broke and in debt. However, with five months in Guelph before I need to go back to school hopefully I can save up some coin and make a dent in the debt.
Ultimately it was totally worth it though. And I know I’ve left the paper in good hands with Gio there, if you want to keep up with his travels in Nosara check out his blog.
On Tuesday I will catch a bus back to San Jose I hope to stay in the same hostel I stayed in during my first two nights in Costa Rica back in January. Then on Wednesday I’ll taxi or bus to the airport and leave for Canada.
Until then I’m going to take it easy on the east-coast, where reggae pours out of every bar, black guys with dreadlocks cruise through town on beach bikes and every other place sells Caribbean style fried chicken. Not a bad place for my retirement from Voice of Nosara.
It’s the final stretch for me in Nosara now. A week from now I plan to be in the Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, in the eastern province of Límon. Until then I’m finishing up a few final stories and assignments and rounding out the things I wanted to do here.
So, last weekend I finally got to Samara, some 25km from Playa Guiones where I live, I left Friday night and returned Sunday. Without a functioning quad I had to take the bus though, which requires going about 30km out of the way and transferring buses.
I stayed at a place called Las Mariposas. Their dorms, at $15 a night, were expensive for Central America but affordable for Samara. The place was nice and the people were good.
Overall I prefer Nosara, the big thing is the beach. Samara’s is crowded and the sun doesn’t set over the ocean. From Guiones to Ostional, 6km north, there is a turtle refuge for the Olive Ridley sea turtles who lay their eggs there. So there is very little beachside development, save for a handful of lots who have concessions from the government.
I also saw the biggest land crab I’ve seen yet. It crawled into the hostel grounds and ended up trapped in a case of empty beer bottles. We tried to help it free but it freaked out, fell down and ran off.
He was big enough to arract the attention of people walking by.
Sunday morning I was up at 5:45am to meet one of the editors. When I told her I was going to Samara, she asked if I could come on a finca tour Sunday morning to take pictures for an article she’s working on for next print issue. Samara is close enough to Nosara that we cover events there too.
A finca is a plantation basically, as well as a colonial status symbol brought over by the Spanish, they exist all across Latin America. In this case this one is overgrown, with some small-scale logging. The owners, who bought it a few years ago, want to use the jungle space they have as an eco tour business.
So we were given a short version of the tour and walked for two hours, mostly through a river because they haven’t cut many trails. We saw lots of cool stuff, but there was only one pictures I really liked.
Rewinding a little bit, earlier that week on July 4th I helped shoot another wedding. I’m not really going to post pics here though. Instead i’ve made some site changes, the navigation bar at the top now links to my twitter account, my new facebook page, and two new blogs I set up and linked here, portfolios and weddings.
Check them out they’re part of my effort to expand my online presence and commercial photography business. However, I will include one picture from my most recent wedding, it’s not in the album on my weddings page though. It’s what I would call wedding B-roll, but I really like this photo.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Next post should have some pictures of my Nica-adventures.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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…
These fiestas are crazy… people in and out of the ring.
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.
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.
The conductor was great, he was so emotive I had a hard time filing down pics.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And then they were drunk.
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.
No big deal just some horses racing along the beach for some reason.
Raising the flag at Triple Crown.
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…
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.
Knee surfing, a new sport?
No budget woes here…
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 www.voiceofnosara.com (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)
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.
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.
Some of the scenes were shot at Pelada beach, about 15 minutes walking from my house.
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.
There was a doubles ride which seemed like a bad idea…
remarkably no serious injuries…
However, a decline in attendees was bad news for food vendors and games operators.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As I said, the set-up was unreal…
And some fire dancing…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 elpais.cr and my preview about the Triple Crown Surf contest was just reposted to insidecostarica.com
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.
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…
There were long walks on the beach after sunset…
And a trip into the jungle on ziplines…
The guides were pretty awesome people.
Complete with a sarcastic sense of humour…
Our last night was so romantic, they should make a movie.
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.
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.
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.
Some of the areas were accessible via bridge.
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.
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.
The walk down and up the crater was killer though…
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This one was my favourite because of the faces.
I also saw the paper copy for this month; I have about 90% of the photo credits in it… Now its back to work.
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…
Those birds were huge… but they weren’t the only ones.
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.
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.
Then the sun started to set in earnest, so I made my way back…
***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.
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…
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…
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.
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…
As I said.. less reading more photography…
Sunsets here are beautiful, though I think I’ve stated this before.
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.
This time I used the 5D, shooting at 6400 ISO gives you a lot more more leeway, just fewer fps for catching peak action.
Finally the sun hit the horizon and everyone just kind of stopped to watch it.
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…
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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…
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…
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.
And of course there were lots of horses. I spent some time on a farm in Uruguay in 2007 which cultivated a real appr