I’ve just returned from leading a workshop in the gorgeous rolling hills of Tuscany and next month I’ll be in Iceland to lead two workshops in some of the most stunning landscapes in the world. However, when I’m not travelling I often lead small or 1-to-1 workshops in my home city of Lisbon and on the coast here.
Street photography is for me one of the most trickiest aspects of photography to do well. It’s one of those things that seems so simple until you try to do it. The best street images create curiosity in the viewer, there’s the suggestion of a narrative; who is this person, what are they doing, etc, and also there’s a clarity and simplicity of composition that’s incredibly difficult to achieve when photographing complicated and dynamic city streets.
One of the things I’m most excited about doing in 2017 is learning how to use video more. There’s such a massive potential now with so many really portable high quality video cameras on the market, as well as the fact that Fujifilm have well and truly nailed video in their new cameras.
Of course this means learning a whole host of new skills, from shooting video and capturing good audio, to editing the footage and cutting music in. Then there are screen recordings, time lapses, there’s just a lot to learn and it’s going to take a long time till I’ll feel remotely competent.
Since I switched to Fuji last summer my passion for just going out and taking pictures again has been completely rekindled. When I first started photography around 10 years ago my first inspiration and images came from the coastline around where I lived.
It was photographing the local coastline that I learned about using a tripod, about long exposures, and about using filters. I loved the energy of the sea, and would head out to the beaches around Lisbon with my first dSLR and try to capture the water moving around rocks. It's a wonderful place for landscape photography, although some of the locations here can be a little challenging to get to. At Cabo da Roca, mainland Europe's most westerly point, a lighthouse sits atop 100 meter high cliffs that are constantly battered by the wind and waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
Over the course of this year I've been to some incredible beaches on Portugal's coast. While researching and shooting with my friend Rob for the Alem Lisboa guide book and hiking project we've been working on we've headed out to some pretty off-the-beaten-path locations, and Praia do Giribeto is certainly one of them. Located at the foot of what at first seem to be sheer cliffs, the beach is described on a local website like this:
"The access is via a dirt path by the villages of Assafora and Magoito that ends in a high difficulty trail on the cliff top, towards the sand. It's advisable to access the beach by sea."
On closer observation however there is a clear path going down which the fishermen use, and in the particularly steep places there's a rope to hold on to. So access isn't super easy, but it's not as tricky as beaches like Ouriçal and Aroeira further down the coast.
Corvo, oh Corvo. Population 468, the most isolated and small of all the Azores, and a place I'd wanted to see with my own eyes ever since I first saw images of it. Getting there though is not always straightforward. There aren't daily flights to its tiny airport, and the two boats that go there each day are often cancelled or late due to be weather. Our boat was a due to leave at 16h30, so we arrived at the harbour a little early only to be waiting until almost 19h before we left. I did mange to capture some shots and portraits of this gentleman who'd been an inhabitant of Corvo all his life.
The island of Flores is about as far west as you can go and still be in Europe, although technically it's on the American continental plate and moving 2cm further away from the European mainland each year. We landed in lovely sunshine, picked up the rental car and headed across the island to the cottage we'd booked in Faja Grande on the western side of he island. Flores is basically a large plateau, so going anywhere involves driving up and across the top. The road up has some fantastically dramatic scenery, but sadly once we reached the top we couldn't see anything as the cloud had descended so low that visibility was little me then 50 meters. When we reached the other side however we started to descend and as we dropped out of the clouds the views were magnificent. The cliffs are covered in lush vegetation and waterfalls tumbling down to the faja, the flat piece of land between the sea and the foot of the cliffs. It was late in the day and he sun had passed beneath the cloud and was saturating the cliffs in light and colour.
Alentejo is a large rural area between the industrial heartland of Lisbon and the developed coast of Algarve. We spent five days there over Easter to unwind and spend some time hiking in the countryside.
We spent the first couple of days in a small town near Sao Luis where we did a few hikes. The first was through dunes along the coast near Almograve. While we were walking there the light wasn't really conducive to landscape photography, although I did note a few excellent locations for coastal photography and the dunes that I'd love to return to photograph another day. I did spend some time photographing the flowers and plants that grow in the sand near the sea. I don't have a macro lens, but with some careful composition and a bit of patience I managed to get a few close ups I was happy with.
Despite having lived in Portugal for around 17 years I've spent almost no time in Porto, and as one of my plans for this year is to spend more time shooting different parts of my Portugal Teresa and I decided to spend a few days between Christmas and New Year in the second city.
I wanted to pack as light as possible, and this meant taking a minimal amount of photography kit. Fortunately with the X Series it's really possible to travel light as with my old dSLR system just a camera body and two zooms (a wide angle and telephoto) along with a tripod would already start to take up a lot of space and add a fair bit of weight. I took the X-T1 body instead of the X-T10 because of its weather resistance as I expected rain and also planned to do a sunset on a local beach.
Lello & Irmão bookshop in Porto was voted the third most beautiful bookshop in the world and the beautifully elegant gothic staircase and carved ceilings make it easy to see why. It's also become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Porto, thanks in part to the story that JK Rowling conceived the idea for Harry Potter whilst passing time in the café there. It's a tiny place and is constantly full of people, indeed you actually have to queue to get in, which makes photographing it quite problematic.
We've just spent a long weekend in the Peneda Geres national park, in the far north of Portugal. It's a place I've been told about so many times, and have wanted to see for a few years now, and it's also the best place in Portugal for autumn colour.
Having said all that, I didn't regard this as a photography trip. By that I mean, I hadn't spent time researching locations to shoot, partly due to the fact that I'd had no time but mostly because I just wanted to spend three days away with Teresa, relaxing, reading, eating good food and seeing a new part of the country. Besides, the weather forecast was terrible, and I seriously didn't expect that we'd get more than a couple of hours without rain.