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Archive for January, 2010

You already know it before going. The Scottish weather is dynamic and impossible to forecast. You know it, but it is still quite puzzling when you experience it first hand. During our stay in the island of Skye this winter we had quite a photogenic weather. Lot of snow, lot of frost on the rocks and vegetation all day long, and very windy days with moving clouds that left the sun peek through gaps giving lots of possibilities of “transient light”, as the scottish photographer Ian Cameron so well describe…

This image was taken on the very first day of 2010. After a night dancing (or trying to dance) traditional scottish music, drinking whisky and listening to life music full of bagpipes in the village of Breakish we got up at 6 in the morning heading to the Trotternish area in northern Skye. Thick clouds and some little rain did not encourage the idea of getting something for the sunrise, but there we went, up the mountain, to get a proper viewpoint. Scrambling up the hill wading through thick snow and braving the wind turned out to be a perfect solution for a New Year day hangover. One hour later, with a pumping heart and panting lungs we reached  a preselected elevated point from where the main Old Man pinnacle got aligned with another nearby pinnacle, increasing its impression of height and simplifying the outline. Tripod set, composition found, filters in place and little towel on it to prevent condensation, we just needed to wait. The funny thing is as sunrise time approached, the clouds fell on us and we found ouselves surrounded by thick fog. Not a single view, just a blank grey space and a shivering wife. Forty minutes later, a nice glow started to light the snow, and we crossed our fingers. Then magic happened, and for several minutes the sun played hide and seek with the landscape, being reflected in the loch and later on lighting the summits of the Cuillin mountains in the distance. This image represents the starting moment when the cloud cover started to rise and tore off slightly, letting the rising sun pierce the sky and giving us one of those unforgettable moments that make landscape photography a blessing more than a hobby, activity or profession. After taking some images with the digital camera, we set the panoramic beast on the tripod and spent some velvia film. One hour later, we got down to our car with a perfect gift for the new year 2010 in our cards and rolls. Is there a better way to start the year?

 Thanks for reading and great light to you all.

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I just received one of those nice emails yesterday, telling me that my winner image at the Natures Best Windland Rice 2009 photo contest has been selected as one of the 12 images used for the Natures Best 2011 Calendar. Thousands of copies of this calendar will be distributed, and to get associated to one of the best nature photography contests in the world is really a pleasure indeed!

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As we came back a week ago from Scotland, I am still going through all the developping (lots of film this time), scanning, classifying and raw post-producing. I hope in a couple of weeks I will have my website updated. Meanwhile, I am working on a mini-article about the trip there. Lots of gorgeous opportunities…Scotland in winter is truly magical.

For this week I am posting one of those images that are the product of a chase by the photographer. Some might say most of the images made by landscape photographers have been made by the weather and light alone, falling on the land and captured by the passer by. Well, that is the work of the landscape photographer indeed. The only thing is that a good landscape photographer will try to render a view of a place which does not depict the place itself in a documentary way, and that connotes other things than the pure denotations of the place. The landscape photographer looks for transmitting emotions, which could be a fascination for nature, a sense of freedom, mystery, awe, sadness, adventure… Another thing that should not be forgotten is that in the same way a studio photographer chooses his light and sets up his lamps and reflectors, the landscape photographer looks for that specific light he is after and that will render the landscape in the way he needs it to express the idea he has in his head. Exactly the same thing as in the case of a studio photographer, but with one minor difference: the landscape photographer cannot switch on the lamp, and will need to go to the same selected viewpoint again and again till everything falls into place.

This image represents very much what I am  talking about. If you look at it, surely ( I hope) you wont see just a number of hills and the sea. You might feel fascinated by the raw power of nature, the vastness of the land and the drama given by a composition of extreme weather, extraordinary light conditions and a simple but effective and well balanced composition. You might also “see” the spirit of Scotland in it, even if you never went to that place. You might “feel” the sound of the waves, the wind blowing, the cormorans screaming, the smell of the sea. You might get transported to that place, and you might even want to buy a ticket flight to the Highlands straight away. If that is the case, my goal as landscape photographer is achieved. 

The viewpoint that appear in this image was searched during the first 6 days on Skye. I was looking for a different view of this well photographed and known island. I did never see an image from this perspective of the Cuillin mountains, and that made it much more satisfying. I never see any point in going to the same known viewpoints to repeat the very same composition other photographers have made, and it is the fact of looking for your own compositions that makes photography so exciting. Once I found this composition, so well adapted to the panoramic format, I went to this very place, at the top of a cliff by the ruins of an old castle, again and again. On the third time, the very last day, fireworks lit the sky. It was one of those moments that will stay with me forever…

Image made with the 617 film panoramic camera and rodenstock sironar 180 lens with velvia 50. Scanned with Imacon scanner and with no PS corrections at all. On the original image, you can see the chimney of the little cottages (invisible in the little image here below) and the sheep grazing in the distant hills…

 Thanks for reading and great light to you all.

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After many months of submissions, evaluations and paperwork, I am very glad to say that I have signed contracts with some of the major photographic agencies at an international level.

From now on, a substantial part of my work will be represented by Getty Images from US, Biosphoto from France, Oxford Scientific and Photolibrary from the UK, Aflo from Japan and Prisma Online from Switzerland. Getty Images is nowadays the leading photographic agency in the world and focuses on generic imagery of all kinds. Biosphoto and Oxford Scientific are the major specialized on Nature photographic agencies in France and the UK respectively (and at an international level) and Aflo and Prisma Online are the biggest generic agencies in the japanese and swiss market. Even if these times have seen major changes in the stock industry, it is still essential to team up with the best players in the market so that you can leave them the selling and focus on the shooting.  For the time being my images are smoothly arriving to the agencies, so that they will start appearing on their catalogues in some months time.

At the same time this year I will be (at last!) starting to fill up my personal Rafael Rojas Stock gallery, where everybody interested in my images will be able to browse, pay and download the images for commercial-editorial use of any kind under licence.

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I bring you here one of my last articles about photography that has appeared on a monothematic book about “Art and Nature” edited by the National Orchestra of Spain and just released the last 18th of December. All over its almost 350 pages,  a number of artists of different fields were selected to write and analyze the influence of Nature in art.

I felt very honoured to be selected, as in the book my article is rubbing shoulders with others from guys like Alvaro Siza (world famous architect), Rafael Argullol (spanish writter and philosopher) and Juan Carlos Marset (poet) amongst others. As you can imagine, I was due to talk about nature and photography. A very broad subject indeed, that should be approached from a general point of view, apt for everyone. 

In case you are interested, you will find here attached the pdf containing the original article with some of my photographs accompanying the text. I must apologize for those who do not speak Spanish! As this is the original article, the text is fully written in Spanish. I will try to translate the article as soon as I have a couple of free hours, but for the time being here there is the original version. A last comment: the images on this article look of reduced quality, as this is par of a strongly compressed pdf file. This time, the interest is in the text I might say!

Click here to download the pdf file of the article!

Thanks for reading and stay tuned, I have some things to tell you about Scotland in winter as soon as I have some time to develop my images and come back home!

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