Travel

Photos: Portraits of Biking in Patagonia, Piedra Parada, Chubut, Argentina

Friday January 31st, 2014 06:10 PM

Biking in Patagonia, Chubut, Argentina. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

The first thing that many people pack in their holiday bag is a camera. It certainly was for me for many years as I went about recording happy times in exotic places. My wife remembers how, even on our honeymoon, I’d be up at the crack of dawn to snap photos in the best light.

But when I turned professional that changed. Holidays are a time to rest from work; to recharge batteries; think about the ‘big picture’, perhaps. And that, for me, means a break from photography. I’m happy to make do with just my camera phone or an old, small, light camera that the kids can muck about with on the beach.

There are exceptions, however, and a trip to Patagonia last November one of them. How could I not take at least one camera? And I was glad I did, if just for the three days I spent cycling near Piedra Parada in Chubut, Argentina. Mario Gadda, a friend who runs Tracción a Sangre cycle tours in Peninsula Valdés, had told me about the incredible desert scenery of the Chubut valley, exemplified by Piedra Parada, a 300m tall chunk of lava from an extinct volcano. The landscape reminded me of Arizona, but without the tourists.

For me, among a group of cyclists, it was also a chance to take some photos of people doing what they love, my favourite type of portrait photography.

Biking in Patagonia, Chubut, Argentina. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Biking in Patagonia, Chubut, Argentina. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Biking in Patagonia, Chubut, Argentina. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Biking in Patagonia, Chubut, Argentina. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Biking in Patagonia, Chubut, Argentina. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Biking in Patagonia, Chubut, Argentina. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Biking in Patagonia, Chubut, Argentina. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Biking in Patagonia, Chubut, Argentina. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Biking in Patagonia, Chubut, Argentina. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Biking in Patagonia, Chubut, Argentina. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org Biking in Patagonia, Chubut, Argentina. Photo by James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Photos of Riad Idrissy, Fez, Morocco

Monday July 30th, 2012 12:02 PM

Riad Idrissy, Fez. Foto © James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Standing with the stray cats on the dusty street outside Riad Idrissy there’s no hint of the scale and beauty of what lies within. Located in the heart of the labyrinth of ancient passageways that make up Fez Medina, a UNESCO world heritage area, the front of the hotel looks like just every other door.

However, step inside and it’s hard not to be swept away by the splendour. The four ornately decorated rooms are located around a central internal patio open to the sky. Each is huge with 4m high ceilings which are carved or painted. When you lie on the bed you feel like the ranks of the nobility that once owned it.

It’s difficult to take a bad photograph of such a splendid place. But also it’s difficult to take a photograph that really captures the magic. I think the trick to finding the soul of something is to spend time getting to know it. So Robert Johnstone, the manager, closed the hotel for four days and we tried different shots in different light. Once we’d done the hotel, we moved on to the adjacent Ruined Garden which is due to open as a restaurant in September.

It would be a great place to get married. And if you do, let me know I’d love to take your wedding photos there!

Client testimonial: “your shots are so fab…….very pleased”.

Riad Idrissy, Fez. Foto © James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Riad Idrissy, Fez. Foto © James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Riad Idrissy, Fez. Foto © James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Riad Idrissy, Fez. Foto © James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Riad Idrissy, Fez. Foto © James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Riad Idrissy, Fez. Foto © James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Riad Idrissy, Fez. Foto © James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Riad Idrissy, Fez. Foto © James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Riad Idrissy, Fez. Foto © James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Riad Idrissy, Fez. Foto © James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Riad Idrissy, Fez. Foto © James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

The Ruined Garden, Riad Idrissy, Fez. Foto © James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Robert Johnstone in the Ruined Garden, Riad Idrissy, Fez. Foto © James Sturcke | www.sturcke.org

Wedding photographers descend on Astorga, Castilla y Leon

Tuesday January 17th, 2012 04:02 PM

Taller La Mirada, Astorga, Castilla y Leon

How do you unlock your creative juices and improve your abilities to take emotionally moving and intimate photographs? This was at the heart of a course for wedding photographers that I attended last week in Astorga, Castilla y Leon.

Taller La Mirada was hosted by the Brazilian wedding photographer, Vinícius Matos, whose work has attracted worldwide admiration in recent years. Aside from being an excellent photographer, Vini argues that you improve through an honest self-assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. Only by understanding what holds you back can you learn how to move forward, he reckons.

On the first day the 12 photographers were sent out blindfolded – so they’d use their other senses for a change. The next two days were devoted to documenting 12 local people as they went about their daily lives, including a policewoman, politician, artist and elderly lady in a retirement home.

My job, as photographer of the course, was to follow all 12 photographers as they went about their tasks. Apart from the photos here, you can see my three-minute show of the course on You Tube.

The photographers on the course were:

Paolo Bocchese,  Virginia Gimeno,   Rares Pulbere,

Susana Barberá, Sergi Escrivá,  Alfonso Azaustre,

Horacio Arriaza, Santiago Vega,  Albert Pamies,

Daniel Garcia Lopez, Nelson Philipe, Antonio Luna Castaño.

Taller La Mirada, Astorga, Castilla y Leon

Taller La Mirada, Astorga, Castilla y Leon

Taller La Mirada, Astorga, Castilla y Leon

Taller La Mirada, Astorga, Castilla y Leon

Taller La Mirada, Astorga, Castilla y Leon

Taller La Mirada, Astorga, Castilla y Leon

La Concha beach, San Sebastián / Donostia, País Vasco

Friday April 1st, 2011 09:01 AM

Foto de Donostia

I was last in San Sebastián seven years ago and, being the height of summer, the beach was choc-a-bloc. Standing room only, almost. I was back again last week putting together a piece and set of photos for Get Lost, an Australian travel magazine.

Despite the temperatures being no higher than mid-teens there was no lack of activity along the city’s famous beach, La Concha. In the port, fishermen fixing their nets and retired fishermen, like Miguel and Inocencio, both in their 80s, who were drawn down to the water’s edge in much the same way as they had been most days over the past seven decades.

Along came Felix, back from a canoe trip. The first thing he did after disembarking was jump in the water. “It’s phenomenal,” he said, “but chilly”. Felix was fully wet-suited up but back on the beach I found Ovidio, marching out of the surf. He was just in his bathers. He told me that he swam every day, despite the sea temperature being around 10C.

I’ve just read the late Roger Deakin’s, Waterlog. It’s a wonderful story of eccentric swimming around Britain’s seas, lakes and bogs. Deakin believed the cold water swimming had both mental and physiological health benefits.

So I thought I’d have a go. Due to the shallow slope of the beach, by the time I was knee deep I’d already lost the feeling in my feet. I dived in and came up arms flailing before settling down in some sort of stroke for 10 minutes. I felt the cramp in my foot just as I was wading back up the beach. But, oh, what a sensory experience. And with the added bonus of there being plenty of space on the sand to recover afterwards.

Foto de Donostia

Foto de Donostia

Foto de Donostia

Foto de Donostia

Foto de Donostia

Foto de Donostia

Foto de Donostia

Photos of storks in Alfaro, La Rioja

Monday February 28th, 2011 05:35 PM

Cigüeñas blancas de Alfaro, La Rioja

The dawn was crisp with frost and the sky a pink-tainted red. The Ebro’s waters flowed fast and silently round a 90 degree bend in the river and, not far away, a woodpecker was at work. But something was missing…

The natural reserve of Sotos del Ebro near Alfaro, La Rioja, is famous for its birdlife. This morning there were cormorants, ducks and herons but its most celebrated visitor, the white stork, was almost entirely missing. A few had gathered in the shallows on a far river bank but the purpose-built nesting sites perched on top of high telegraph poles appeared unused.

But the storks were not far away. It was just that I’d been wrong in assuming that I’d find them in the nature reserve. In fact the skies above central Alfaro were swarming with gliding, swooping storks as they set off and returned to their nests on the church and other tall buildings.

They had recently arrived from their southern winter grounds. Most had paired up and claimed preferred chick rearing spots. Many were mating and afterwards performed their extraordinary post coital routine of stretching their heads up and over their backs and, with chins skyward, emitting a loud synchronised chatter (see the fourth picture below).

I don’t know why they’re in the town not the countryside. Maybe it’s because, just as many rural villages in northern Spain have been abandoned as their human residents migrated to the cities, they prefer urban life.

Cigüeñas blancas de Alfaro, La Rioja

Cigüeñas blancas de Alfaro, La Rioja

Cigüeñas blancas de Alfaro, La Rioja

Cigüeñas blancas de Alfaro, La Rioja

Cormoranes en Reserva Natural Alfaro, La Rioja

Cigüeñas blancas de Alfaro, La Rioja