travel

Why forest photography?

What kind of photographer are you? Are you concerned about the characteristics of your camera and creating technically perfect photos, or do your images convey a deeper message and you are more interested in how a photo makes the viewer feel?

Qué tipo de fotógrafo eres? Te preocupan las características de tu cámara y el hecho de crear fotografías totalmente perfectas, o prefieres transmitir un mensaje más profundo y te interesa más cómo le hace sentir a vuestro espectador?

It’s true that we all lust for better gear and sometimes feel that a different camera or a new lens will somehow improve our work. I feel that very often, but then I realize that I already have the gear I need in order to create photos that I like (remember to ask me if I believe these words again in a month).

Es verdad que todos queremos tener un equipo mejor, y que a veces una cámara diferente o un nuevo objetivo puede de alguna manera mejorar nuestro trabajo. Yo también siento eso muy a menudo, pero luego me doy cuenta de que ya tengo el equipo necesario para crear las fotos que me gustan (vuelve a preguntarme si sigo creyendo lo mismo el mes que viene).

I’ve never been a technical person, in fact, I don’t care much about having the latest technology and therefore I don’t need an extremely powerful camera either. Most of my work is slow paced, I like to walk around and compose the shots carefully and only then, I shoot in ONE SHOT mode and I focus and recompose all the time. But I must confess that I like having and investing a bit more in a nice lens, often primes.

Nunca he sido una persona que sabe de técnica, de hecho, no me importa mucho tener lo último en tecnología, así que tampoco necesito una cámara potente. La mayor parte de mi trabajo lo hago a un ritmo pausado, me gusta dar vueltas hasta dar con la composición. Utilizo el modo One Shot y siempre utilizo el punto del medio para enfocar y después recomponer. Sin embargo, debo confesar que me gusta tener e invertir un poco más en un buen objetivo, a menudo en focales fijas.

My photos are usually dark and moody, I mostly watch the sunrise from work and I’m usually tired to try to photograph the sunset. Therefore, I can only hope for cloudy days, and even then, I prefer rainy and foggy mornings so that I can I add a bit of atmosphere to my photos. I feel that my photos may not be technically perfect but I really want them to spark a feeling or some kind of emotion in the viewer.

A menudo mis fotos son oscuras, la mayoría de veces veo el amanecer desde el trabajo y normalmente suelo estar muy cansada como para querer fotografiar el atardecer. Por lo tanto, solo me queda esperar a los días nublados, e incluso entonces, prefiero que sean mañanas lluviosas y de niebla para poder añadir un poco de ambiente al trabajo. Creo que mis fotos probablemente no sean técnicamente perfectas, pero lo único que pretendo es que hagan sentir o transmitir alguna emoción al espectador.

When I photograph wide landscapes and I travel to other countries, I want to inspire others to do the same, to get to know the world we live in, to learn about other cultures… But when I photograph forests at home, I think is when I mostly show what’s going on in my mind.

Cuando fotografió grandes paisajes y viajo a otros países, mi intención es la de inspirar a otros que hagan lo mismo, que conozcan el mundo en el que vivimos, que aprendan de otras culturas. Pero cuando fotografío los bosques de casa, creo que es cuando más hablo de mí misma y de lo que hay en mi cabeza.

Why woodland or forest photography? I really don’t know. It’s true that I live surrounded by forests and that’s exactly what the landscape looks like here. Also, due to my work, I spend a lot of time driving from one place to another and I also have a hectic schedule. Though sometimes, in the mornings, I have a few hours when I can head up to the forest and escape a bit from the busy life.

Por qué fotografiar bosques? Realmente no lo sé. En parte es verdad que vivo en una zona con preciosos paisajes y con muchos bosques. También debido a mi trabajo, paso mucho tiempo conduciendo de un lado para otro y también tengo un horario complicado. Aunque a veces en las mañanas, tengo unas horas libres en las que puedo subir a algún bosque y escapar del ruido de alrededor.

I believe that’s how it all started. I use the time I am surrounded by nature to clear my mind and thoughts, and I can’t express how important that is for my (our) mental health. It’s all quiet and paused, the wind moves the leaves and it all feels good. I always bring my camera, because I can barely predict when and where the fog is going to show up. But if it’s a foggy day and it’s not raining heavily, you’ll probably find me wandering around the forest, usually near home.

Así es como creo que empezó todo. Aprovecho el tiempo que estoy rodeada de naturaleza para liberar mi mente y los pensamientos, y no puedo expresar lo importante que es eso para mi (nuestra) salud mental. Todo está tranquilo, el tiempo se para, el viento mueve las hojas y todo hace que me sienta bien. Siempre llevo alguna cámara encima, ya que apenas puedo predecir dónde y cuándo va a aparecer la niebla. Pero si es un día con mucha neblina y no llueve mucho, probablemente me encontrarás dando vueltas por algún bosque cercano a casa.

Composition in the forest is not easy, in fact I feel it’s pretty difficult compared to other areas of photography. Landscape photographs have to portray a sense of depth, usually there are several elements that take the viewer from one point to another in order to help turning a three dimensional scene into two. Therefore you need a strong foreground, usually a single element and often in the center of the image because the eye tends to drawn to it.

La composición en el bosque no es fácil, de hecho creo que es bastante más complicado en comparación a otros tipos de fotografía. Las fotos de paisaje tienen que transmitir una sensación de profundidad, normalmente hay varios elementos que llevan al espectador de un punto a otro con el fin de plasmar una escena tridimensional en dimensional. Así pues, es necesario que haya un primer plano lleno de fuerza, normalmente de un único elemento y a menudo ubicado en el centro de la imagen para hacer que el ojo empiece a rastrear la imagen desde ahí.

A forest is full of busy and messy scenes, so it’s not easy to organize the different elements. As I mentioned before, I always try to find an interesting foreground, something else in the middle and then the background. If you have fog, take advantage of it, since it will help you eliminate distractions and simplify the scene. Another trick when you have too many elements is to use a wide aperture; yes, most of my forest photos are shot at f/2.8 or so. Not only do I blur the stuff in the background that I don’t want to show, but I also get more light in the scene, which often lacks when you are surrounded by big trees and you are deep in the forest.

Un bosque siempre está lleno de escenas con muchos elementos, así que no es fácil organizarlo. Como he dicho anteriormente, siempre intento tener un primer plano interesante, algo que le siga en un segundo plano y finalmente un fondo. Si hay niebla, no dudes en aprovechar para hacer fotos, ya que siempre te ayudará a eliminar distracciones y a simplificar la escena. Otro truco es que cuando tienes muchos elementos, siempre puedes utilizar un diafragma de bajo valor; si, muchas de mis fotos de bosques las disparo a f/2.8. De esta manera ayudo a hacer que aparezca más borroso aquello que no me interesa y además consigo más luz, cosa que siempre falta cuando estas rodeado de árboles altos y te encuentras dentro de un bosque.

Here is a recent example.

Aquí tienes un ejemplo reciente.

Now, I’m sure that many people will think that I’m shooting in the wrong way, or that I shouldn’t photograph landscape photos with such a wide aperture… But, do I care? Not really. Does it help me achieve what I’m looking for? Totally. Does it tell some kind of story? I sure hope so.

Estoy segura de que mucha gente creerá que disparo las fotos de una manera equivocada, o que no debería de hacer fotos de paisaje con un diafragma tan pequeño… Pero, es algo que me importa? Realmente no. Hace que sea posible lograr lo que me interesa? Totalmente. Cuenta algún tipo de historia? Espero que sí.

Most people advise to “get it right in camera”, and I try to do that of course, but taking into account the way I’m going to edit afterwards. If my work is moody, and that morning the light in the forest and the ambiance was dark, I’m not going to take a bright and airy photo. Plus, the camera I usually shoot with has a better recovery for shadows than highlights, so I usually underexpose a stop or two to get the mood in camera.

Mucha gente aconseja que “expongamos bien en cámara”, y obviamente yo también intento hacer eso mismo, pero siempre teniendo en cuenta cómo voy a editar después. Si mi trabajo es un tanto oscuro, y en esa mañana la luz del bosque y el ambiente era tristón, no haré una foto con mucha luz y alegre. Además, la cámara con la que normalmente trabajo, recupera mejor las sombras que las luces altas, por lo tanto yo sub expongo un paso o dos para llevarme un poco de atmósfera en cámara.

Each of us has it’s own tricks and different ways to express ourselves. Are these the rules that you need to follow so as to get photos like mine? I don’t think so. After all, photographing forests is kind of a therapy to me, and probably doesn’t have any meaning to you. I just hope that in doing so, I can instill some kind of feeling in the viewer, because that’s all that matters in photography.

Cada uno de nosotros tiene sus propios trucos y maneras diferentes de expresarse. Son estas las reglas que tienes que seguir para conseguir unas fotos como las mías? No lo creo. Después de todo, fotografiar bosques es un tipo de terapia para mí, y probablemente no tenga ningún significado para ti. Lo único que pretendo es que con un poco de suerte pueda transmitir alguna emoción al espectador, que al final, eso es lo único que importa en la fotografía.

Trip to southern Spain

I've been to the south of Spain a few times, but never on a proper cultural holiday. So this is what we did last week on a quick 5 day road trip around Merida, Sevilla, Zahara, Grazalema, Ronda, Setenil de las Bodegas, Granada, Sierra Nevada, Alpujarra granadina, Consuegra and Toledo. It was great to spend sometime with wonderful friends, visit lovely places and eat delicious food. I definitely want to go back again very soon because I feel like there's so much more to explore!

Since we mostly visited towns and cities, I barely took any landscape photos. However, I concentrated on photographing quaint and colorful corners and streets of these places. What do you think?

Camera: Fujifilm XT2 // Lenses: 16mm f1,4 and 23mm f1,4

Faroe Islands

We went on a 21 day road trip from the Basque Country all the way up to the Faroe Islands and it was the best type of adventure to heal our minds and hearts. These are some of the memories from this wonderful place. 

Winter wonderland in Switzerland

One week roaming this beautiful country in our van

And just like that we are back from Switzerland. We left one week ago and we got back home last night. This was our third time to this beautiful country and the third time we traveled around its quaint little towns in our van. 

The first day we drove for over eight hours and we stopped near Lyon (France) to spend the night  on one of those big gas stations along the highway. We were very close to Geneve but my husband had been working the morning shift and we were tired to continue driving. After a good night sleep we ventured onward to one of the most beautiful valleys in the country, a place we visit every time we return to Switzerland, a tiny village called Lauterbrunnen. This time though, we took a train that goes to the Jungfrau (4158m). This train goes all the way up to the highest train station in Europe at 3454m, but we decided to stop in Wengen where the views where already incredible.  

This valley is very close to Interlaken, another favorite spot of us. Interlaken is a little town in between two lakes and there are tiny villages around them, just like this one below, called Iseltwald. 

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The next day, we drove to the other side of the mountains of the Jungfrau region. Our plan was to take a cable car all the way up to the viewpoint of Eggishorn (2927m) from where you can sit and stare for hours the Aletsch glacier. Unfortunately, once we got there, they told us that the top was covered in clouds and that it would be impossible to see anything. The worst was that it was already Tuesday and the rest of the days except for Friday (our last full day) the weather forecast said we would be having rain and snow. I have to admit that made us a bit sad, but it also pushed us to change our plans and search for other wonderful locations to explore. 

Until we made it to Italy. That is one of my favorite things about Europe... it's so easy to have breakfast in one country, lunch in another and spend the night on a third one. And all of them are so unique and beautiful.  We drove along Lago Maggiore (Italy) and suddenly we were surprised by the beauty of a little town called Cannero Riviera, and we didn't think about it twice, we found a camping by the lake where we spent our third night. 

It rained all night, and the sound of rain against the roof of the van was so relaxing... But when morning came we needed to get back on the road to drive through Valle de Verzasca. We were surprised by the magical fog over the lake and the mountains. The colorful towns along the road had such a unique mood. It was truly special, and perfect for the kind of photos I like to take. 

Our first stop of the day was in Lavertezzo. I'm sure you've already seen photos of this quaint little village of only a handful of houses and emerald color river that flows through the entire valley. 

The color of the freezing water and the big stones of the river are already perfect, and the stony bridge that connects both sides of the river is pretty unique too.

At the end of the road that crosses Valle de Verzasca, there were mountains also covered in fog. But that whole morning, even with pouring rain was so beautiful. We had to stop every few kilometers to take in the views around us and photograph a bit more. 

In the afternoon, we drove the to the famous town of Sankt Moritz, the famous ski station in Switzerland. On our way there, we were greeted by a white landscape, with frozen lakes that made everything feel so desolate, yet so peaceful at the same time.  

The next morning it was already Thursday, and even though it was still raining and snowing, we wanted to get closer to the Aletsch glacier and Zermatt area, because we were expecting good weather for Friday. So we woke up in time to watch the sunrise over a lake and then headed out towards Fribourg to spend the day and get some chocolate and cheese there... Always a must, if you are in Switzerland. 

On Thursday night we slept on an empty camping by the town of Fiesch. We watched the sun go down and stars lit up what would be the coldest night of our trip. We had static heating installed on our campervan so we slept pretty warm and comfy though. 

The next day, the sun rose around 7.30am and we got ready to get to the top of Eggishorn and then drive to Zermatt to catch a train to the Gornergrat glacier where we had lunch looking at the famous Matterhorn. 

I think it was the perfect ending to our week exploring the beauty of Switzerland. In the end, we were able to see everything we had planned, and a bit more. That's the best thing about roadtrips, you never know what lies ahead, and the road is part of the journey too. 

All these photos were shot with the Fujifilm XT2, along with the XF16mm f1.4, XF23mm f1.4 and XF18-55mm.

Edited with Forged presets by Tribe Red Leaf Studios who were kind enough to team with us and support us through their Field Trip Program. I'm very grateful to be part of such a wondeful collective. 

Hope you liked our little adventure!

See you soon!

 

 

 

 

 

How I achieve this moody look in my forest photos

Outdoor photography isn't easy. There are many factors that make this style really challenging, but today I'm going to concentrate on just one: Mood. I often read comments on my photos that say something like "Oh I love the mood in your photos", but what does this really mean?

I'm very specific about the kind of photos that I like to take and make. I have already mentioned in other blog posts, that I like to go out when it's dark, cloudy and foggy. There is something about that eerie and mysterious look that I'm really attracted to. I feel that the sense of adventure is greater in those conditions. I don't know really know, maybe it's because of the place where I live (Basque Country), where rain and clouds are a constant in our lives and I'm just comfortable shooting in the rain. I guess that somehow, having grown up in an environment like ours, has played an important role in the style of photographs that I enjoy shooting, and I'm very grateful for that. 

I always carry a small camera with me and this helps a lot, because whenever the conditions are right (for the kind of photos I like to take) I always have a tool available in my car. I'm lucky to live surrounded by beautiful forests and mountains, so in less than a thirty minute drive, I have all these locations that you see in the photos below, for myself. I'm usually the only one out there, probably because people don't find rainy weather exciting to go out and shoot, so it's always a pleasure to wander around these places in silence. 

Other important factors of my photographs are how I expose and edit. I like dark shadows and vibrant colors. How do I achieve that? By under exposing while I'm taking the photos and playing with the curve tones and the different sliders of colors in Lightroom. Many people have told me that I under expose a bit too much in camera (sometimes even a couple of stops), and then during post processing I open up the shadows quite a lot. For many photographers, this may sound a bit contradictory, because they prefer to get the correct exposure when they are out in the field. However, I find editing as important as the actual process of taking the photo, so I've put in a lot of hours to develop an editing style that I really like and that works for my photos. 

Over the years I've created a bunch of presets, and most of the photos you see here are based on a couple of those. Once I apply the preset, the next step is to adapt the sliders to each photo. The same happens with the new Forged presets that I use and were created by Tribe Red Leaf Studios. Their colors are incredible, but when you buy presets from others, you need to adapt them to your own work, because the light, atmosphere, textures and subjects are different in each session. Even if I put my presets up for sale, you probably wouldn't be able to get the same tones as I do, unless you also exposed and took the photos in the same kind of light and conditions that I work in. 

There are some repetitive factors on my photos, the locations I shoot, the conditions in which I photograph, the way I expose in camera and the kind of presets I apply in editing. I know that that's what differentiates my work from yours, and I really believe that each of us should have our own techniques and should work to find a unique look. This is not easy, because we are constantly flooded by the same kind of photos, in the same kind of places and with similar styles... But at least, we should try to overcome this and create something different and one of a kind.

It's important to know how the weather conditions affect the way a place looks, therefore, I always recommend to go back to the same place and shoot over and over in order to learn when it's best to choose one location or another. Yes, sometimes I'm lucky and I'm rewarded by these beautiful scenes even when I wasn't planning on it, but a lot of the times I just head back home with an empty card. And that is still fine, because the little walk in the forest is always perfect to clear your mind and to connect with nature.

So, tell me, what do you like to photograph and what are your favorite conditions to photograph in? Let me know, I'd love to hear!