Water, surfers, mist and photography

With the International Water Day on March 22, I had a good excuse to photograph, the day before, two elements related to water: surfing and landscapes. Totally related, especially when mist is an element of the landscapes photographed.

This article is a free adaptation of one I wrote in Portuguese on my blog covering my activities for photographers. It takes new directions, although it is based on the same idea: water. Because on a single day I managed to photograph surfers on a stretch of the Atlantic Coast under some great Spring time sunshine and weather, crossed a Winter storm with hail and lightning and ended photographing a landscape bathed by light that reminded me of a delicate Spring or Fall afternoon, when clouds and mists cover the top of Sintra’s mountain range, encircling the Palace sitting atop an old volcano chimney.

There is a connection between the Ocean water and the water forming the mists present, many times, over the crests of the mountain: it’s the same water going round from the Ocean to land. Carried by the clouds, and then back to the sea again. So, there is a good chance some of the water surfers move through in one day, is the same as the drops of mist a photographer catches another day as part of the magic of this stretch of land I call home.

Being able to photograph, in the same day, surfers under the Sun and a landscape at day’s end offering a completely different mood, is not something everybody can experience within a couple of hours. For me it was a celebration day, both because it was my way to celebrate the arrival of Spring, and to create images that would suit the International Water Day.

The panorama image is built of some 7 images taken holding the camera, after a short walk from the place where I left my 4x4. I had to wait for the Sun to come from behind the clouds to get this image one of a few I took before the Sun disappeared behind another cloud on its way to kiss the Atlantic Ocean. This was one of multiple locations I had to choose from, always aware that by opting for this spot I was missing the opportunities and visions I would have from other places. Sometimes you just wish you could be multiple places at the same time. Still, I got one image that shows the magic of the place I call Atlantic Realm, and which I use as background for my photo tours with those wanting to discover a contemplative way of photographing the world.

On the original file the Palace atop the mountain appears slightly larger than here. This will give you an idea of the dimension of the original panorama, which is close to 14000 pixels wide

The surf photographs are the other side of the coin. Someone asked me recently if I was photographing surf as a substitute for birds. Although surfers do “fly”, sometimes, I’ve not given up on birds or any other of the themes I like to photograph. It just happens that I’ve photographed surf for decades, in fact I’ve photographed different water sports — from boat racing to wind surf — , so this is simply an ongoing activity.

As with birds, I am not a specialist, but I do know a few tricks and what interests me most: usually the peak of the action, that moment when surfers reach the top of their ride, sometimes to end it right afterwards. Photographing surf is a challenging activity which also works as a way to keep my mind focused on the action, a total immersion moment in photography. That’s part of the secret to get these images. And that’s something I’ve decided to share with those interested through a workshop of some three hours, just so people get an idea of how I create my surf photographs, working from the shore. And there is even a chance to use one of my EF 100–400mm lens during the workshop, by arrangement, if you’re a Canon user.

To read the article in Portuguese visit my Photography & Context blog, where you’ll also find a list of the multiple tours and workshops I’ve for 2016. Check also my website in English, for specific photo tours around the Lisbon area.

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