Photography

Jessica Mezey With Gossamer Wings At Foz Do Douro

Jessica Mezey

You’re not seeing things. These three images are one shot with different editing. The beach shoot with Jessica included this wooden pier off the boardwalk around Foz do Douro — a typically unbusy spot, even in the summertime. Probably because it’s typically gusty, which for our purposes makes an excellent natural wind machine for motion. A performer like Beyoncé has to carry motorized ones with her on tour, to make her look like she’s in a perpetual shampoo commercial. (And sometimes those machines try to eat her, but she keeps singing.)

Anyway, I posted three versions of this one photo because I couldn’t make up my mind which one to show. When it comes to editing, photographers favour a speedy work flow and I’m no different. But since this is my blog, I’m showing several versions to illustrate how a single image can carry several different moods based on colour (or lack of it). There’s even digital cross-processing in the one above, and I haven’t applied this style to any photos in years (mostly because it was a fad).

Talking about photo editing is only marginally more exciting than talking about document editing — would I do that to you? — but occasionally I enjoy posting the different versions to ask people to make up their own minds which one they prefer. The answers always surprise me; I can never predict them. If you have a preference, let me know in the comments.

Other posts from that same shoot:

Foz Do Douro With Jessica Mezey
Tiny Dancer, Dancing In The Sand
My Dog The Photobomber

Jessica Mezey
Jessica Mezey

August 8, 2015
Album: Portugal [Summer 2015]

Porto In Black and White, With Jessica Mezey

São Bento Railway Station, Porto | model: Jessica Mezey

After the colour blast that was yesterday’s post, it’s time to give the cones a break and switch to monochrome. Because I work so much with colour, I forget to play around in black and white. It’s taken some years to figure out the situations when black and white work better than colour, and thankfully in the digital age it isn’t necessary to make that decision before shooting. (The last time I shot black and white film was in high school!) Colour photos can be converted in post-production, with an array of options for black and white conversion: channel-mixing, contrast, or HDR if that’s your thing. It may seem counterintuitive, but converting to black and white does not make editing a whole lot easier except for one thing: white balance.

These photos were all shot the same day with Jessica Mezey in the historic centre of Porto, which in the height of summer makes it challenging to keep the tourists outside the frame. São Bento Railway Station (above) was the busiest of these three spaces, but we got what we wanted and none of the security people asked us to leave, which is always a good thing.

Note to self: post more black and white!

City Hall, Porto | model: Jessica Mezey

Câmara Municipal do Porto

Torre dos Clérigos, Porto | model: Jessica Mezey

Torre dos Clérigos

August 10, 2015
Album: Portugal [Summer 2015]

Tiny Dancer, Dancing In The Sand

Praia de Matosinhos / model: Jessica Mezey

I have a pile of great shots from last Saturday’s beach shoot with Jessica Mezey, but I’m only posting two for now since I’m buried in editing these days. There’s a line in Elton John’s song “Tiny Dancer” that goes “Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand…” that came to mind for this post. (It’s hard to believe this song is from 1971. Saying that makes me feel slightly less old!)

Praia de Matosinhos / model: Jessica Mezey

August 8, 2015
Album: Portugal [Summer 2015]

“Tiny Dancer” by Elton John

Blue jean baby, L.A. lady, seamstress for the band
Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you’ll marry a music man
Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand
And now she’s in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand

Jesus freaks out in the street
Handing tickets out for God
Turning back she just laughs
The boulevard is not that bad

Piano man he makes his stand
In the auditorium
Looking on she sings the songs
The words she knows the tune she hums

But oh how it feels so real
Lying here with no one near
Only you and you can hear me
When I say softly slowly

Hold me closer tiny dancer
Count the headlights on the highway
Lay me down in sheets of linen
You had a busy day today

Hold me closer tiny dancer
Count the headlights on the highway
Lay me down in sheets of linen
You had a busy day today

Blue jean baby, L.A. lady, seamstress for the band
Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you’ll marry a music man
Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand
And now she’s in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand

But oh how it feels so real
Lying here with no one near
Only you and you can hear me
When I say softly slowly

Hold me closer tiny dancer
Count the headlights on the highway
Lay me down in sheets of linen
You had a busy day today

Hold me closer tiny dancer
Count the headlights on the highway
Lay me down in sheets of linen
You had a busy day today

Sunday With Boats and Mannequins in Gaia

Cais de Gaia / model: Jessica Mezey

My frenzy of photoshooting with Jessica Mezey continued through the weekend, this time across the river in Cais de Gaia and an apartment at Praia de Lavadores. One more photo shoot tomorrow and then we can collapse in a heap.

More to come once the shutter stops.

Shazequins by Shaz Bilyard / model: Jessica Mezey

August 9, 2015
Album: Portugal [Summer 2015]

Jessica Mezey In The Colourful Streets Of Porto

Jessica Mezey and the Portuguese heart by Hazul in Cedofeita

My shoot with Jessica Mezey, dancer and model, turned a few heads today as we juxtaposed her with some of the most vibrant street art in the city. I pass by that Portuguese heart on a regular basis and I knew I had to incorporate it into a shoot. Here’s an outtake from today’s session.

Happy Friday!

Editing Poll: To Crop Or Not To Crop

Vinhais, Portugal

Easter Sunday, enroute to mass in Vinhais (click to enlarge)

Photography can tell a story in multiple ways using techniques like cropping or colour or bokeh, but especially cropping when there’s people involved. Because of the influence cropping has on the way a photo is perceived, there are times when I’ve been stuck on a picture, trying to decide whether to crop things out or leave them in. When I haven’t been able to decide, sometimes I’ve uploaded two versions (or more) because it was easier. How I managed to survive five years of wedding photography I do not know, because I was faced with this dilemma constantly!

A few weeks ago, I posted a little poll on my Facebook page about the two versions of this picture, to ask people which one they preferred and they could feel free to say why. My little editing polls are few and far between, but I’m always surprised at everyone’s answers. There’s never a clear winner, and everyone’s preferences vary wildly. Reading the responses indulges my curiosity about what people are thinking when they see pictures, and gives me ideas for cropping in-camera.

I don’t know why I forgot to post the poll here, too, but it’s never too late to do it since there are no deadlines. Whether you’ve participated on the Facebook page or not, I’m curious to hear your views on which crop you prefer and why.

Vinhais, Portugal

April 5, 2015
Album: Easter 2015 Road Trip (PT/ES)

Flashback Friday: Grand Central Station, NYC (March 2005)

Good Friday at Grand Central Station

Good Friday at Grand Central Station

One of the advantages of documenting my own life in a blog format is that I can choose a point in time and revisit it, for whatever reason. I decided to go back 10 years in my photo archives for this post, to have a look at the pictures I was taking and cringe critique myself. I’ll be the first to say they are technically rather terrible, although I did edit the one above for my Tumblr header, so at least it was somewhat salvageable.

10 years ago I was living in the USA, a two hour drive from New York, and I was there often to photograph and explore the city. At the time I only had a low-end point-and-shoot camera (Canon A80), but if I were using the cameras I have today back then, I probably would’ve taken the same pictures. Probably similar compositions, even from the same vantage point. This is why I tell people who are learning photography that buying a DSLR right away isn’t absolutely necessary. In fact, shooting with a compact digital camera is the best practice situation before graduating to a DSLR, because you form your own compositional style without worrying about the operation of the camera or its heft. Then, once you know what kind of pictures you want to take, you can start adding more control to the pictures by upgrading equipment.

Photography technology is changing all the time, but pictures have always been about content and how the brain interprets the image through the viewfinder. When I was at Grand Central Station on Good Friday in 2005, I remember how chaotic it was with people rushing to catch a train somewhere for the Easter weekend. I don’t think it was rush hour yet, and it was already quite busy. These were the camera settings:

ƒ/3.2 / 11.4mm / 0.5 sec / ISO 50

I shot without the flash, which slowed down the shutter enough to make for some nice motion blur. I especially like the photo below, because one person stood still long enough to get more or less in focus, while everyone around her is moving. You’d think this would be a simple scenario at a train station, but finding a person motionless without people directly around to block the line of sight in the busiest train station in New York City on one of the busiest days of the year is not as easy as it sounds.

I’ve had 10 years since this photo to improve my equipment and figure out my style and come up with an editing process. I’ve improved my equipment (although very slowly), and learning how to edit has been very painstaking (I’ve pulled out a lot of hair), but I think the one thing that has changed the least over time has been my composition style. I’ll probably need another decade to decide whether this lack of change is a glass half-empty (stale!) or a glass half-full (consistent!), but the picture-taking will roll on regularly, regardless.

Original post: Good Friday. Manhattan. Jewtopia.

waiting

waiting

March 25, 2005
Album: New York City [March 25, 2005]

São Bento Railway Station At Blue Hour

São Bento Railway Station, Porto

I’ve talked about blue hour before, most recently to show pictures from Poland, but I don’t think I’ve shown many blue hour photos here in Portugal. One of the reasons why blue hour is a good time to shoot architecture is because it’s the best shade for the sky to contrast with the deep orange/yellow of the sodium vapour lights used on buildings and street lamps. In RGB (digital display), blue and yellow are complementary (opposite) colours. When the night falls, that second colour disappears into black and the mood completely changes.

Try it out on a well-lit building of your favourite vintage, with or without a tripod, and let me know how it goes.

January 10, 2015
Album: Portugal [Winter 2014/2015]

Coimbra Bathed In Sunset Gold

Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro (Coimbra, Portugal) (3)

I took these photos in Coimbra two weeks ago, around the courtyard outside the Museu Nacional Machado de Castro. I didn’t actually visit the museum, because the light was just too good to go indoors both times I went by. This was also one of those situations when two or three photos seemed inadequate to capture the magic of light and shadows. This is a selection, you’ll find more in the Coimbra album.

Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro (Coimbra, Portugal) (2)

Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro (Coimbra, Portugal) (1)

Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro (Coimbra, Portugal) (4)

Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro (Coimbra, Portugal) (5)

Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro (Coimbra, Portugal) (6)

Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro (Coimbra, Portugal) (7)

Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro (Coimbra, Portugal) (8)

Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro (Coimbra, Portugal) (9)

Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro (Coimbra, Portugal) (10)

Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro (Coimbra, Portugal) (11)

Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro (Coimbra, Portugal) (12)

December 6, 2014
Album: Coimbra, Portugal [Dec 2014]

World Press Photo 14

World Press Photo 2014, Forum Maia (7)

I’ve written about World Press Photo before, blogging three years of exhibits at Brookfield Place in Toronto when I worked across the street at Royal Bank Plaza (200 Bay).

World Press Photo 2009
World Press Photo 2010
World Press Photo 2011

This annual photojournalism exhibit shows in 100 venues in 45 countries, but I was still surprised to find out (via search on the World Press Photo website) that here in Portugal there is no Porto venue, only Maia. Tomorrow is the final day of the exhibit, so I scurried over to Fórum da Maia to check out this year’s installment.

If you have never seen a World Press Photo exhibit, I would recommend not eating directly beforehand. Apart from technical skill, the photos in the exhibit are curated for emotional impact and if you are particularly sensitive, it could impact your ability to keep the latest meal down. The exhibit covers world events of which natural disasters and warfare are typically the most graphic, but I also find the man-made disasters make my stomach turn, too — in 2013 that would include the collapse of the Rana Plaza in Savar, Bangladesh, where the death toll reached 1,129.

But one of the first set of photos I viewed hit much closer to home for me: Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The photo above by Philippe Lopez of France carries the following description:

18 November 2013
Tolosa, Leyte, Philippines

Survivors carry religious images, ten days after Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the central Philippines. One of the strongest typhoons ever recorded, Haiyan raged through 47 provinces, causing immense destruction. Over a million houses were damaged, half of them totally destroyed, and more than 4 million people were displaced. Large areas were left without electricity or an adequate water supply for weeks, and the devastation of infrastructure made food distribution and medical services difficult. Many people made their way to less-affected areas, such as the capital Manila, and some cities reported a near doubling of their populations.

The exhibit covers more than headline news, however, there are human interest stories and portraiture (although to a lesser extent), the natural world and wildlife, too. No need to bring airline-grade sick bags to World Press Photo, it’s merely a very small caution about a certain section of pictures. The rest are more thought-provoking than nausea-provoking and definitely worth at least an hour of viewing time. But for heaven’s sake, save your appetite for later!

World Press Photo 2014, Forum Maia (5)

World Press Photo 2014, Forum Maia (6)

World Press Photo 2014, Forum Maia (4)

World Press Photo 2014, Forum Maia (3)

World Press Photo 2014, Forum Maia (2)

World Press Photo 2014, Forum Maia (1)

December 17, 2014
Album: Portugal [Autumn 2014]

Nightshots In Coimbra

Coimbra, Portugal

Another couple of photos from Coimbra, this time some night shots of a chestnut vendor busy plying his trade. (It doesn’t look like it but he was actually quite busy; I waited for the customers to exit the frame first.)

I’m of two minds whenever I shoot under sodium vapour lamps (street lamps): try and colour-correct, or convert to black and white? The problem is that sodium vapour lamps give off such a strong orange — and monochromatic — glow that it’s difficult to capture the mood of street lighting without making everything look awash in orange and lacking in detail. The alternative is to cool it down as low as I can go (2500 Kelvin for me) to get the whites closer to white, but that doesn’t look right either, much of the time — it depends on the type of lamps. LED lights are a whole other colour-correction problem, and if I have both in one picture I throw in the towel and convert to black and white.

Coimbra, Portugal

An Unedited Sunrise

gailatlarge-GEA_1860

This is so rare I can’t remember the last time I’ve ever done it, but here are two shots of this morning’s sunrise straight out of the camera — no editing whatsoever. You can even see the dust/dirt marks on the lens that I usually clone out.

I’m sure there are photographers who would HDR these to death (can you tell I’m not a fan of heavy HDR?), but nature does just fine on her own.

gailatlarge-GEA_1854

Edited versions in the album: Portugal [Autumn 2014]

Blue Hour In Poznan, Poland

Pozna?, Poland (3)

I’ve talked about the photographic term golden hour before on the blog, but I don’t think I’ve mentioned blue hour yet, which is hard to believe since it’s some of my favourite light of the day (the cooler side of twilight). Most people like lots of light, but I like this in-between stage, too. You can find out more about when and how to shoot blue hour here.

These photos were taken in Poznań Old Town a month ago (was that a month ago already??), on a sponsored press trip to Poland.

Poznań Poland (1)

gailatlarge-GEA_0715

October 2, 2014
Album: Poland Press Trip 2014
Trip sponsor: Polish Economy Promotion In Canada
Organizer: M Promotion

10 Years On Flickr

at Flickr's 4th birthday party in San Francisco, March 2008

at Flickr’s 4th birthday party in San Francisco, March 2008

The internet 10 years ago was an entirely different space than what we’re used to now. The big players were AOL, AskJeeves, and MSN Messenger — can you believe it? 10 years as a user of any website is like 50 human years… or something like that. A really long time. Services come and go, gain popularity and fizzle out of the public consciousness in no time, only to be replaced by yet another service. 10 years ago I remember setting up my first gmail account, which was only by invitation back then, and then giving out invites to other people. I remember people trying to auction invites on eBay!

Another major web player that took a big hit to the solar plexus over the years is Yahoo, which bought the photo-sharing service Flickr in March 2005 from the founding company, Ludicorp, a Vancouver software company that was building an online game. At that time I was living partly in Vancouver, which is how I ended up at the going-away party. Flickr was still developing its service, and Yahoo’s purchase caused such a ruckus amongst the anti-Yahoo crowd that people wondered whether Flickr would survive the inevitable changes. By this time, Flickr had built up the community features (comments, groups, contacts) to the point where people became very invested not only in its photo-sharing features, but its value as a social network.

mostly Caterina

with Flickr founders Caterina and Stewart, May 2005 (Flickr’s Going-Away Party, Vancouver)

Through Flickr I’ve made both real-life friends and online friends, and met a ton of people. I cannot say for sure how many, but it was at least a hundred people between all the places where I met up with Flickr users (Vancouver, New York, Paris, San Francisco, and more). I happened to be in San Francisco for Flickr’s 4th birthday party in March 2008, and the last Flickr meetup I attended was a couple of months later in Toronto. Some were serious photographers, most were hobby photographers, some went from hobbyist to professional in just a few years. I saw a bunch of people become very famous through Flickr and were offered commercial opportunities for their work.

It’s quite amazing to track all the changes in photography over the years and the changes in people’s lives through the images they upload. In 10 years of uploading I’ve now got more than 35,000 photos on Flickr’s servers and although the latest ones are far better quality, I still enjoy wandering through the archives and seeing more than a decade of my own life via pictures.

Two years ago I wrote about my 8th Anniversary on Flickr, including my first pictures which were uploaded months after I joined (June 2004). Today I had a look at my archives and stats to see which pictures have been viewed the most, and they’ve been the same for years and years, which leads me to thinking the stats feature is broken, but nevermind. It’s a curious list — all of these pictures were uploaded between 2004 and January 2007, except for the cake picture which was uploaded in January 2009. I’ve uploaded at least 10,000 photos since then!

Screen shot 2014-10-16 at 1.50.47 AM

Anyway, numbers aside, the reason why I continue to use Flickr is this: All Rights Reserved, by default. Unlike Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks, the ownership of the photo belongs to the photographer, not the service. There are other reasons I prefer Flickr, but that’s the big one, and the tools I use for it (eg., Lightroom plugins). I’ve used other services like 500px, but they have their downsides, too. Most of my blog links to Flickr because it kept the domain bandwidth usage low for years, but it’s less of an issue now. Now, it’s a matter of finding files, and it’s much easier to find things if I have them in one place. With 35,000+ images stored in servers with tags and metadata, searching by tag makes it faster to dig through the archives.

At the end of the day, using multiple services is time-consuming and everyone wants their workflow to be as short as possible. 10 years on, so many things have changed and online services have become more competitive, which is good for the consumer. But the caveat is that the features must be over and above what’s already available — a user simply isn’t going to move a huge archive to another service unless there are major advantages and incentives on the other side. So far, I haven’t seen enough reasons to move (yet) and disrupt this entire site by breaking the image links and hyperlinks. The amount of work involved to repost the images doesn’t even bear thinking about, unless I want nightmares. I’m hosting more photos on my domain’s servers these days but the albums are large, so I keep them in Flickr (which has unlimited storage).

I doubt there are many of us super-early Flickr users around, still uploading at the same rate as the beginning, 10 years ago. The internet is a fickle place. Or rather, internet users are a fickle bunch. I’ve been on Twitter for over five years and even I’m surprised it’s been that long. After a 10-year relationship with Flickr, they should be buying me a tin anniversary ring on Etsy!

a Flickr a day keeps the doctor away

Saturday Smörgåsbord In Porto

street art in Porto

street art in Porto

I gave up on a more descriptive title for this post because today was such a mixed bag of activity that it defied a title. Our main plan was to check out the Festival Internacional de Marionetas do Porto (International Puppet Festival of Porto), but we wound up seeing a puppet show only at the end of the day and spent the rest of the time walking around and visiting the Centro Português de Fotografia (Portuguese Centre for Photography). There is always so much going on in Porto — all year — that I find it’s often easier just to show up around the centre and stumble upon events spontaneously than to try and fit them all in through rigorous planning.

These photos are just a smattering of what we saw (and ate) today, including street art, exhibits, churches, and Galician food. The rest you’ll find in the Autumn 2014 album.

heritage tram at Clérigos (Porto, Portugal)

heritage tram at Clérigos

heritage tram (Porto, Portugal)

Tram 22 on Rua de Santa Catarina

heritage tram (Porto, Portugal)

Rua de Santa Catarina

Rua 31 de Janeiro (Porto, Portugal)

Rua 31 de Janeiro

Praça da Batalha (Porto, Portugal)

Praça da Batalha

capoeira in front of Sáo Bento Station (Porto, Portugal)

capoeira in front of Sáo Bento Station

street art (Porto, Portugal)

Porto has no shortage of street art

pimento padron (Galician specialty) in Largo São Domingos (Porto, Portugal)

pimento padron (Galician specialty) in Largo São Domingos

(Porto, Portugal)

street cats and street art

(Porto, Portugal)

Clérigos and heritage tram

Igreja de São José das Taipas (Porto, Portugal)

Igreja de São José das Taipas

Igreja de São José das Taipas

Igreja de São José das Taipas

The rest of the photos are from Centro Português de Fotografia, where we happened upon the launch of two exhibits: TOET, The Other European Travellers, and a tapestry rug, which you’ll see further below (I’m still searching for info about this rug!).

Centro Português de Fotografia (Porto, Portugal) (21)

Centro Português de Fotografia’s courtyard doubles as a football pitch

Centro Português de Fotografia (Porto, Portugal) (13)

map of Europe, in photos (Exhibit: TOET – The Other European Travellers)

The TOET exhibit — The Other European Travellers — is a project of contemporary stories of mostly southern Europeans who left their homelands for countries further north in Europe to work. The travelling exhibition is a compilation of personal archives, from family albums and collections:

THE OTHER EUROPEAN TRAVELLERS is a photographic project developed by a selection of european photographers with the support of a group of experts and reknown artists.

This initiative – supported by EU Cultural Programme – aims to explore through a map of contemporary stories, the experiences of european citizens and their families who, for economic reasons, left their countries of birth to starting a new life in new lands.

TOET focuses on migrations between 1950 and 1980, mainly from south (Spain, Portugal, Greece and southern Italy) to central and northern Europe (France, Germany, UK and Belgium).

TOET aims to recover the memory and the collective imagination of these citizens, key figures in the construction of modern Europe, and also intending to offer an artistic and archival legacy for future generations, using the image as a vehicle for transmitting experiences.

TOET has been conducted by 1 coordinator, 3 co-organisers and a network of european cultural institutions.

As an expat and migrant several times over, this exhibit was very interesting to me. My favourite part was the one below, by Alberto Rojas Maza, of Spain:

Centro Português de Fotografia (Porto, Portugal) (14)

postcard magnets (Exhibit: TOET – The Other European Travellers)

Paint, Paint, Paint!

In 1958, and after finishing his studies of medicine, my uncle Enrique (1932-2009) left to Mannheim in Germany, where he started to do odd jobs until he could exercise his profession as a doctor in a hospital. He stayed there ’til 1965. Throughout this period, and in a permanent manner, he sent a series of postcards to his brother, Antonio (1930-1994), an artist who lived in Seville. The majority of the postcards depicted paintings from the museums he visited in his free time. Antonio “deposited” those postcards among the pages of an Art encyclopaedia, which I received years later through my father.

Centro Português de Fotografia (Porto, Portugal) (15)

magnetized postcards written by the artist’s uncle to his brother in Spain (Exhibit: TOET – The Other European Travellers)

The building that houses the centre used to be a jail back in the day… can you tell?

Centro Português de Fotografia (Porto, Portugal) (16)

artist’s opening

Centro Português de Fotografia (Porto, Portugal) (17)

artist’s opening

Centro Português de Fotografia (Porto, Portugal) (18)

taking in the views

Centro Português de Fotografia (Porto, Portugal) (19)

spy cameras

Centro Português de Fotografia (Porto, Portugal) (20)

Centro Português de Fotografia has a modern jailbird (hand by Paulo)

October 11, 2014
Album: Portugal [Autumn 2014]

Lamego Cathedral

Sé Catedral de Lamego (Lamego, Portugal) (1)

I wasn’t planning to visit Sé Catedral de Lamego because I thought mass had already started, but Paulo had stepped in for a while and emerged to look for me with assurance that I had time to go in. The cathedral is large as you can see from the exterior, but I was able to take a few interior pictures and join them in the garden once the service was underway.

The oldest parts of the cathedral date as far back to the 12th century, but as with Portugal’s other early religious monuments, Lamego’s  underwent major restoration work over time — in this case, during the 16th and 17th centuries. Personally, I found the mix of styles made the cathedral more architecturally interesting, but after nine centuries of remodelling I suspect the current look would make the founders roll over in their graves!

Let’s go in…

Sé Catedral de Lamego (Lamego, Portugal) (2)

The photo below is the kind of journalistic moment I always hope for but find generally elusive, because of timing and situation. By that I mean I either don’t have the right light (cathedrals are typically very dark), or I’m not able to find a position that puts me at a respectful distance from the people I’m photographing (cathedrals are typically cavernous and I don’t have a long lens), or there is no organist playing to drown out the sound of my shutter in an echo chamber. But when the stars align and the venue is favourable to photography, I am in photojournalistic heaven.

Sé Catedral de Lamego (Lamego, Portugal) (3)

The other puffy clouds in my photojournalistic heaven include the availability of light and shadows in this cloister, and the textures, colours and scenes I found within. The cloister is undergoing renovation, but I was able to move around half of it freely as it was empty apart from the three of us.

An excerpt from Visit Portugal: Sé Catedral de Lamego

The tower windows are the oldest surviving feature, with their delicately carved capitals providing one of the finest examples of the twelfth-century Romanesque style of architecture. In the sixteenth century, the bishop D. Manoel de Noronha ordered the upper part to be added, leaving his coat of arms as his own personal stamp. The remarkable façade was added in the same century: it has the form of a triple portal, bringing together Renaissance and Flamboyant Gothic features to create a beautiful whole.

Inside the cathedral, the cloister, dating from the same period and decorated with small, elegant arches, provides an example of the transitional style of architecture leading from the Gothic to the Renaissance. The same bishop D. Manuel de Noronha ordered the building of this cloister in 1524, together with the chapels of St John, St Anthony and St Nicholas, the door of the latter chapel being a remarkable piece of iron work, housing the tomb of its founding bishop inside. The predominant decorative style inside the cathedral is eighteenth-century baroque. A large skylight in the centre affords a gentle light over the three naves.

Diocese of Lamego (only in Portuguese): http://www.diocese-lamego.pt/

Sé Catedral de Lamego (Lamego, Portugal) (4)

The cathedral’s vaulted ceilings have beautiful frescoes painted by Nicolau Nasoni in the 18th century, but I also found great joy in the contrast of blue and white scenes in azulejos next to the three-dimensional baroque scenes in one of the small chapels in the cloister (which one this is, I could not tell you).

Sé Catedral de Lamego (Lamego, Portugal) (5)

Sé Catedral de Lamego (Lamego, Portugal) (6)

Sé Catedral de Lamego (Lamego, Portugal) (7)

Sé Catedral de Lamego (Lamego, Portugal) (8)

Sé Catedral de Lamego (Lamego, Portugal) (9)

To get a proper view of the mix of architecture requires a full loop around the , but in this series of photos I’m missing the south side, which happens to be the best side to view the ancient tower, unfortunately. In the two photos below, you can see the top of it on the right side.

Sé Catedral de Lamego (Lamego, Portugal) (11)

Sé Catedral de Lamego (Lamego, Portugal) (12)

Sé Catedral de Lamego (Lamego, Portugal) (13)

Sé Catedral de Lamego (Lamego, Portugal) (14)

Sé Catedral de Lamego (Lamego, Portugal) (15)

Holiday Weekend: Assunção de Nossa Senhora 2014
August 15, 2014
Album: Lamego, Portugal (Assunção de Nossa Senhora 2014 Festas)

Serra do Pilar By Night

Serra do Pilar in Vila Nova de Gaia (Porto, Portugal) (1)

Last month we were at Serra do Pilar in Vila Nova de Gaia to see fado singer Gisela João perform on the first night for Cais de Fado. By day, Serra do Pilar is a facility of the Portuguese Army and closed to the public, but on occasion it opens up to serve as an event venue. If the name Serra do Pilar sounds familiar, it’s also next to a monastery which has a terrace with the best view of Porto over the Luís I Bridge. I only started shooting from that viewpoint last month, and since then I’ve been back at every opportunity for more.

I carried two cameras with me the night I took these photos, switching between the two depending on the lighting conditions, using the FX body for the performance and the DX body for the wide angles. Night shooting is a real challenge, and the only time I’ll bump up the ISO from its lowest position. If the ISO is above 400, I’ll typically run the photos through a noise reduction program. Event night shooting is especially tricky: mixed lighting throws off the white balance, motion blur has to be controlled, lights and shadows are constantly moving around. I shoot manually 100% of the time, and it’s tough to get the settings right every time, in-camera. Yet, I get such a kick out of it, because when it works it is really gratifying. (I sound like such a masochist!)

Enough tech talk, back to the photos. You’ll find more in the growing Cais de Fado album.

Serra do Pilar in Vila Nova de Gaia (Porto, Portugal) (4)

Serra do Pilar in Vila Nova de Gaia (Porto, Portugal) (2)

Serra do Pilar in Vila Nova de Gaia (Porto, Portugal) (3)

Serra do Pilar in Vila Nova de Gaia (Porto, Portugal) (5)

Serra do Pilar in Vila Nova de Gaia (Porto, Portugal) (6)

July 24, 2014
Album: Cais de Fado 2014

Babyface

babyface @ gailatlarge.com (1)

I’m editing photos I shot more than five years ago in Germany, with a camera I no longer own (Pentax K100D), and seeing how differently I shot back then. The edits are improvements, but there are things I cannot adjust, such as focus and to some extent the skin tones. Live and learn, right?

One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is my love for photographing both ends of the age spectrum, that is, the vintages and the babies. I mean, just look at the range of expressions here — he isn’t even talking, yet you can see how curious and interested he is in what’s going on. And those baby cheeks are irresistible! I may have better equipment these days but my favourite subjects will always shine through the hardware.

babyface @ gailatlarge.com (2)

babyface @ gailatlarge.com (3)

babyface @ gailatlarge.com (4)

Arrábida Bridge, Porto

Arrábida Bridge (Porto, Portugal)

20 sec, ƒ/18, ISO 160, 17 mm

There’s a vehicle bridge called Arrábida that spans the Douro River between Gaia and Porto, which is also the bridge closest to where the river meets the ocean. On Saturday Paulo and I met Carlos in Porto to shoot the last rays, and I suggested that we head towards Foz, otherwise we’d run out of light too quickly and we’d have to move closer to catch the sun disappearing over the horizon. On our way there, I spotted the Arrábida Bridge and suggested we stop to shoot it. The light was wrapping all around it, and since it’s well into December, the light would not hang around much longer.

The Arrábida Bridge is currently 50 years old. At the time of its completion in 1963, it was the largest concrete arch in the world.

Arrábida Bridge (Porto, Portugal)

I find this bridge unusual in that the design of the span is concentrated on the underside rather than the side or above, as most bridges are. From the side, Arrábida looks rather plain and there really isn’t anything to see when you’re driving over it. But the advantage of this as a passenger in a vehicle is the open view to the ocean. When there are spans in the way, just try and get a clear shot of the view — sometimes it’s next to impossible if the spans are close together or the moving vehicle is going too fast. But the real beauty of the Arrábida bridge is best viewed from below, by passing boats or pedestrians. It’s as if the engineer, Edgar Cardoso, turned the concept of modern bridge-building upside-down: utility and functionality on top, aesthetics on the bottom.

I’ve shot a lot of bridges over the years and I typically have to position myself higher to get the best view, because bridge undercarriages are generally unsightly. It can also be a bit perilous to look up since bridge traffic vibration can dislodge debris, not to mention the danger of getting hit by litter thrown out of cars (which peeves me to no end)!

Arrábida Bridge (Porto, Portugal)

It took a heavy tripod with a ball head and 18 seconds with a wide lens to capture the top and bottom photos, and I was able to get water reflections in the top photo. Since I uploaded this picture, people have commented on its resemblance to a corset back (familiar to me after dozens and dozens of weddings, and wedding dresses!) or a zipper. Do you see something else?

Saturday Preview: Sunset and Night-Shooting In Porto

Arrábida Bridge (Porto, Portugal)

Arrábida Bridge

Preview shots because Saturday was filled with a series of activities but my chest cold is sending me to bed now, in protest. More to follow.

an appliance shop window (Porto, Portugal)

an appliance shop window

Igreja da lapa, Porto

Christmas concert at Igreja da lapa

Christmas lights in Porto

Christmas lights in Porto

Album: Portugal Autumn 2013