It’s 2015 and my blogging had a momentary lapse while I was busy travelling and organising my year, which by the way started out awesome … in Rhode Island. It was my first time there and definitely not my last… When you travel a lot, there are places that tug at your heartstrings until you have surrendered a piece of yourself to it…and that is the feeling that draws you back time and time again, with the promise of new discoveries and parallel happiness from your last encounter.
It was a mini-vacation with just enough photography – winter days with temperatures as low as -16 Celsius coupled with high wind chill, which makes for some nice, cozy New England indoor days. The times when I did venture out and risked numb fingers and frozen ears were all worth it as my trek was focused on one of my favourite subjects … lighthouses! One of my best friends laughed when I said that to him and under his breath I could hear the mutter “lighthouses are the new train tracks”; then proceeded to inform me that it was a cliche subject for photographers. I didn’t know that and honestly it still doesn’t matter to me, cliche or not. As I said to him, I’ve always had a lighthouse obsession even before I was into photography – to this day, it brings me a sense of calm … a feeling of standing strong and weathering the storm; maybe that’s exactly how I needed to start this year…standing strong.
I have shot quite a number of lighthouses over the years, but this trip was unique in its timing and circumstance and I enjoyed being there more than I will even try to convey. So along with battling the elements and shooting my first set of lighthouses in winter, the photos have their own special emotions anchored to them, feelings of new beginnings, re-discovery of self and holding firm.
Yesterday morning, as I pulled my covers close and snug for what felt like a few moments, my alarm clock went off … 5:30 am on a Sunday morning. Torrential rain was pouring out of the sky and I heard a distant thunder crack like a whip and then … “beep, beep, beep (get up Nisha)” my alarm clock continued to sing. Groooaannnn…
I struggled for a moment to remember why (oh why) was I getting out of this warm, heavenly bed at 5:30 am on a rainy Sunday morning … and it hit me … cause that is what I do (or what I used to do anyway) … Trinidad Nature Photography Tours had invited me to visit the waterfalls of Cumaca (after Valencia) and I had spur-of-the-moment said yes, because it was a place I hadn’t been since I was 16. The photos of it still looked beautiful and my eyes longed to see the falls again, where I had stood with my father more than a decade ago …
As we drove there, the place was dark and gray and our tour guide Dale insisted that there was a break in the clouds and that blue skies were surely on its way – he was right, somewhere in the midst of the northern bleakness, there was a hint of hopeful blue and we pressed on … after the first steep hill though, I was breathing like a dragon out of fire and had to stop as I got dizzy and certain I saw stars among the trees of that dense forest … my comrades such troopers waited for me as I tried to catch my second wind … too late to turn back now (plus the shame of being unfit) enough to help me muster up a “let’s do this!”
Half hour later we arrived at the first waterfall and with timed perfection, the downpour started, we scampered to grab garbage bags and cover all the gear. Dale said it was a passing cloud and I walked out into the water and plopped myself down. This was it, paradise … I sat there in the cold water, rain falling on my face and I felt like I was a teenager again – like any minute I would look up in the forest and see my dad clearing some branch away, smiling down at me – it was a wonderful moment in time to be transported back to – worth the trip already. The water was still clean…and I was thirsty…and it tasted like heaven after that almost grueling hike. The last of the clean water was quickly replaced by silt filled water as the rain continued and the passing cloud…didn’t pass. It felt like almost an hour later, until we were able to take out our cameras and grab a few shots … and I mean definitive stolen moments as the rain threatened to start again.
We ascended the waterfalls as the drizzle started back, one by one already soaked from the rain, gear covered in plastic bags and Dale somehow managing to keep a single rag dry to help us wipe our lens – he was the saviour of the day in my book. Thanks Dale!
By the time we were ready to ascend to level three, I packed my gear away … it was really pouring down and I couldn’t risk the loss … so safely stowed my stuff and proceeded to venture up and get a view of the top falls (sans camera). It was absolutely breathtaking – all of it. I didn’t need my camera, the view is imprinted in my brain, but one day soon I will be back to share it with all of you … for now, I will share these …
And then the drama of leaving started … the water level rose so high, we had to wait to cross the river at several points – and when we did, the current was so strong that we had to form a chain and stay close, the gushing water pushing and threatening to sweep us in its wake. At one point, I stayed anchored to a rock, as Dale assessed how safe it was to cross up ahead … that’s when I saw a huge snake being washed downstream … it was momentarily a few feet away from me and my paralyzing fear and great respect for them took over and I gingerly uprooted myself to make myself move closer to the others… so this was me, trying to wade through waist high water, camera bag in one hand, tripod and machete strategically in another and when I was almost there, the raging water helped me out by taking the machete and carrying it downstream in a rush … I now owe Dale a machete … Sorry Dale!
I made it to another rock and as I tried to get better footing, my camera bag (luggage wrapped in garbage bags) started rolling down the rock I placed it on and I frantically caught it just before it hit the water … yes enough drama to last another week. We walked down the swollen raging river, close to the edge as much as possible … it had risen so high in such a short space of time that everywhere looked different, even though we were back on the same path. Thanks to the teamwork of the group, we made it back safely to the car, a few bumps and bruises but safe. Quite an adventure for a Sunday morning indeed … As I made my way home, sleepy and tired, looking forward to crawling back in my bed on this still gloomy, rainy day … I felt happy …
I was browsing through some of my images from Nassau, Bahamas yesterday and fell in awe of the colour of the ocean once again. These magnificent blues and opaline greens that rivaled our own Caribbean tones. So deep and intense, you would envisage there were unimaginable things lurking beneath yet so beautiful it seemed to draw you in… In Tobago, the hues are lighter, feel more friendly and seem to be shallow for great expanses … maybe true … maybe another illusion … and even though the intensity is milder, the saturation is still magnificent.
So this is usually my dilemma … I absolutely, absolutely love black and white images but it is not something you would see as often from me and that is simply because as a landscape photographer, I am usually torn up about processing images … is it my duty to present it as I see it or shall I convert it to black and white and let my viewer share another emotion captured in that moment? Like I said torn …
So today I share two images of Nassau’s Paradise Island lighthouse, taken the same day but with colour changing up the story a bit. The above image was taken just as the last of the sun’s light faded away. I was standing at a height where the wind was constantly whipping my scarf around my neck, while I braced myself on a cold piece of a metal pole for support for lack of a tripod, on a 15 degree evening (now add windchill) constantly rubbing my nose to warm it up as I clicked a few, more in awe of the view than trigger happy.
The image on the bottom was taken earlier that morning. In addition to black and white, I am a big fan of film photography and in my little mind, this is how it might have looked had I any film skill. It was a gloomy morning and the mood was more somber which now comparatively made the evening light (above) even more fascinating. The ocean was angrier, the wind stronger (my nose warmer) and the constant crash of the waves …soothing.
So which one appeals to you?
I can never decide which one appeals to me more … the beginning of a new day, a fresh start to everything, a new chance to do it all better … or … at the end where you get to shelve all your cares, hang up your hat and reflect … renew.
In any case, sunrise and sunset are the favourite times of day for most people, especially landscape photographers. We would drive for hours to get to that “spot”, then sit for as long as it takes through mosquito bites, disagreeable weather and many disappointing days where the light isn’t quite right… all for that moment that makes it all worth it.
The shot on the left was taken one morning before 6 am on the East Coast of Trinidad, on a very rough beach called Rampanalgas Bay or known by the locals (and surfers) as Dead Man’s Cove. It’s one of my happy places because of its purview of scenic areas along the beach. I have shot it for years and always find something there with new appeal.
I remember the drive getting there that morning … the mad rushing, eyes almost fixated on the sky which at one point was awash with grey, threatening to burst into rain and then I got there … and the colours started unfolding and it was all worth the mix of expletives and prayers along the way. When I look at the photo, it still reminds me of getting out of the car and hearing the sea pounding into the sand, spraying in all directions and the mad dash to conceal camera from salt water, the sprays making the already cold morning …colder and then … within minutes of the sun rising, the extreme heat that hit, didn’t even feel like it crept up, it was just sudden. Mere moments and the glory of it all was over, making way for bluer skies, with the hint of more threatening clouds in the distance.
On the right is one of my most photographed places, especially for sunset… simply because it’s not only the closest accessible West location (15 minutes from my house) but because there is something extra magical about the sun and sea coming together, at any time of the day! I have had many talks with the fishermen and was not surprised to learn that they don’t notice the colours anymore (no matter the time). One guy said “it just means the work changes or time to leave yuh know”.
By the way that is one of my tips if you are out to get a good shot. Safety first is always the priority and to me a big part of that is being at very least courteous to the people there, after all you are stepping into their domain. It goes a longer way than you will imagine. Always be aware of your surroundings though and never feel so comfortable that you lose that awareness. Yes, these moments are few and gone as quickly as they appear, but don’t glue your eyes to the back of the camera … the first reason why not (listed above) is awareness and the second most important (for me at least), there is nothing quite like simply enjoying this moment that you are witnessing… sometimes we shoot and shoot and never take the time to inhale all this beauty presented and what it might mean to us in the grand scheme of things. Do you just want a pretty picture or can you also truly enjoy the splendour of this “great-to-be-alive” moment? Is there connection and meaning to it? What are you really seeing and want to portray? Sometimes that thought process itself can change your final output.
So until tomorrow, I wish you beauty in the form of colourful sunrises and sunsets and all the beautiful blues and hues in between … may the day deliver you both new beginnings and the opportunity to bring closure to others …
Being a landscape photographer, one of the things I am constantly exposed to is the death, decay and rebirth of the natural world. One moment you are beholding a most momentous scene and in a minute it’s no longer there, a sunset for example. While the sun rises and sets the next day (and the day after that) some of our destruction is more permanent and we are left with the memories of what was … It is one of the reasons I love doing what I do, preserving a piece of something in time, a snapshot of the way things were and maybe even how we wish it can be again.
The image in this post was taken a few years ago, yes yes it’s throw back Mondays already… forgive me as I have only just started to discuss some of the things I set out to. It was taken in a place called Ravine Sable and is located in Central Trinidad. A few years ago a local newspaper (The Trinidad Guardian; January 2012) reported that when one of our major rivers (the Caparo River) bursts its banks due to bad weather, the water made it’s way into this uncontrolled mining area where the earth subsequently caved in and led to the creation of a huge canyon which “sequestered” almost 300 million gallons of water.
Since then, the area has been toured several times by politicians with the promise to conduct relevant “geo-technical investigations” to determine the feasibility of transforming this lake to a viable source of potable water … promises that never materialised itself it seems, but I would be very happy to know that I am wrong and that something has been done, but I don’t hold much hope for that …
The image is entitled “Earth and Sky Converse” and I spotted it as the evening started to fade and after hours of walking around shaking my head at the destruction all around, feeling more helpless than anything that this was all I could do … In my imagination, the tree and the cloud are having a conversation about how sad it is that all this destruction has taken place – the tree just stands there and watches as its days are numbered and eventually it too shall perish into the canyon, while awaiting the promise of something better … the cloud can do nothing but offer it’s sympathy as it moves on to fulfill its own destiny of by-passing many other scenes like this … of death, decay and rebirth, before it too is absorbed back into the natural order to finish its cycle. A moment between friends… lamenting things beyond their control … and in that moment there is despair and hope and promise and reality … what do you see in this moment?
When 2014 started, I claimed it as my year … I said this was the year that I was going to take my photography to another level and thus far I haven’t done so bad. Through two months in the hospital (between Canada and here), kidney surgery, losing several loved ones and last week my mom suffering a stroke, the year itself still looks good. One thing they tell you about going through events like these that I can confirm, everything else pales in comparison. Those stressful days at work, those crazy drivers on the road, waiting in line for terrible customer service are nothing comparatively… you certainly gain yourself a new perspective.
So I finally realized that blogging is the next thing I want to do consistently, but with my schedule ( a full time I.T. job and weekend photography gigs), it really comes down to choosing what needs to be done and when … to get anything else done at all. So it’s been a struggle thus far but one I hope to overcome with proper time management (cue huge yawn), let’s just say for now I am committed to trying 🙂
Here are three of my favorite gigs for the month of August (other than my previous post on the racetrack) …
So hopefully, you will hear from me on a weekly basis starting now (if not sooner), as I try to give blogging (another) proper chance. Wish me luck …
When I was a kid, my dad took me to racing all the time at Wallerfield. It was a noisy magical place full of fast cars, burning rubber and happy people. A memory that stayed throughout my teen years and beyond. I started driving at age 13 and it was something inspired by those experiences there and I know it wasn’t just me… going home from any event meant racing other “inspired” patrons, strangers all united by the love and need for speed. I don’t remember how much of the races I attended were sanctioned or not, but in a blur it felt like we were always “getting away” from something in some mad dash and that was simply exhilarating. The influence transcended into my early adulthood, where I became involved in rally driving, both in the driver and passenger seats for a short chapter of my life’s nomadic experiences.
Long story shortened, the track was closed down in 2006 and I hadn’t been there since maybe a year (or two) before that. When it closed, I remember feeling both sad and angry and wishing I had gone to more events, like something taken for granted until it was taken away…but Motorsports in Trinidad wasn’t a cohesive body back then and some say it sadly still remains fractured: in-fighting ultimately leading to a death of something that worked for the youths in a positive way.
Yesterday, they re-opened the track for the first event in almost a decade to host the 2nd round of the CMRC, with competitors from my beautiful Trinidad, as well as from Guyana and Barbados and and with it came both hope and nostalgia and the chance to be back there again and naturally I welcomed the opportunity. I went there to do photography, but most times I didn’t shoot because I was busy simply enjoying something that was now returned and familiar, childhood nostalgia, thoughts of my dad, the smell of oil, gas and rubber and the sound of some sexy cars.
The weather held up after some early threats of rain, although I got the feeling that no matter what the weather, the fans would have braced it to be there.
The Speedway Motors Renault Megane Trophy (pictured above) was the star of the day, touted as the first of it’s species here in Trinidad … it was just what the fans needed to keep them on their toes. It’s first race was a spectacle to behold as it’s only competitor (an Evo 9) broke down on the final lap, prior to which they ran a very tight race. I must say I was especially impressed by the Evo’s driver, who certainly held his own in the corners. Along with many others, I would have loved if he’d had more time on the track.
The drag car demos were not as impressive as I had hoped since the surface wasn’t up to par for them to put forward their best. Other than that, the crowd loved the show put on by the Trinidad and Tobago Drift Association, but I left amidst the smoke to beat the traffic … hopeful that this wasn’t the last time I would see Wallerfield and who knows, maybe there’s a chance that she’d be restored to her former glory and become again that Motorsport destination the fans long for …