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Photography Travel

Valencia: My first Mascletá!

I’m reporting in from Valencia, Spain where I am currently documenting an amazing festival called Las Fallas.

The famous Fallas is Valencia’s most anticipated annual festival, featuring the ear-splitting Mascletá celebration which happens every day from the beginning of March until the end of the festival on the 19th of March. Each day, strings of hundreds of large firecrackers are hung by local groups in the town square. At 2pm sharp each day, thousands of onlookers and party-goers gather in the main square, Plaza del Ayuntamiento, to enjoy the explosive choreography of the petardos, the lighting of hundreds of firecrackers in all of their cadenced power and glory. Fireworks artists are allowed to use a maximum of half a metric tonne of black powder in their show as they compete for the best Mascletá.

mascleta 027 Las Falleras Mayores on the balcony of city hall getting ready to announce the lighting of the fuse.

mascleta 025 The crowd gathers at the Plaza. The barricaded area behind the tall fence is filled with fireworks.

mascleta 029-6 mascleta 029-12It was amazingly loud during those 6 minutes of non-stop explosions in the sky. I captured it on video while holding my camera over everyone’s heads.

La Mascletá in Valencia, Spain from Carol Watson on Vimeo.

I’ll be back again tomorrow to see what the next team of pyrotechnic freaks offers up to compete with today! My goal is to get to the plaza early and get in closer.

Photography Travel

Zion in Color Infrared

Yesterday, I posted a series of color landscape images from my day in Zion. I also had my converted Nikon D300 color infrared camera with me and captured Zion in infrared too. You’ll notice the different color spectrum when you compare them to the natural color images I posted yesterday. Welcome to Planet Infrared. zion ir b02 zion IR 112-Edit zion ir b03 zion IR 087-Edit zion ir b05 zion2 IR 026-Edit zion2 IR 034-Edit zion2 IR 028-Edit zion2 IR 038-Edit-2 zion2 IR 047-Edit zion2 IR 058-Edit zion2 IR 082-Edit zion2 IR 067-Edit zion2 IR 091-Edit zion ir b06 zion2 IR 114-Edit zion IR 040-Edit zion ir b01 zion IR 047-Edit

Photography Travel

24 Hours in Zion

While on a trip to Las Vegas last month, I decided to get away from the strip and all the glam of the city and head out into nature.  I rented a car, loaded up my cameras, and headed to Zion National Park, Utah, about a  2.5 hour drive from Las Vegas.  Being late January, the park was not crowded at all and the traffic was minimal. The weather was cool, but not cold, so I enjoyed spending the day photographing the beautiful landscapes in the canyon.

I booked a room in Springdale at the Hampton Inn (very nice and in a gorgeous setting) and spent the night so I could shoot more images the next morning. I was treated to a light rain and low clouds the next morning so I was able to photograph the landscapes in totally a different light and mood.

I enjoyed my 24 hours in Zion and definitely plan to go back again when I’m in Las Vegas, but I will stay longer so I can explore the park on foot as well as by car.

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Goodbye, from 5875 miles away…

Today, in Debrecen Hungary, my friend Timea is being laid to rest.  Although her physical being has left us after her courageous battle with liver disease and cancer, her beautiful and gentle spirit will live on. I will always remember her fondly. Here is a small pictorial eulogy that I dedicate to Timea’s family. Ég veled, Timi.
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Life in Mexico Photography

Pozos: Beautiful Sawdust Carpets

Sawdust carpets or alfombras de aserrín are one or more layers of colored sawdust and/or other materials laid on the ground as decoration. The tradition of decorating streets in this fashion began in Europe and was brought to the Americas by the Spanish. The tradition is still found in Mexico especially during Semana Santa (Holy Week) and Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).  Traditional carpets in Mexico and Central America are done with colored and uncolored sawdust; however, various other materials are used with it and sometimes in place of it. These include flowers and flower petals, pine needles, rice, fruit, colored earth, ashes and other usually organic materials.

The Dia de los Muertos events in Pozos included the building of a beautiful alfombra de assurín that ran from the Parroquia all the way to the smaller cathedral at the top of the hill. There were many young people from Pozos who created the designs along with guidance from the older residents. I photographed as they carefully poured the sawdust onto stencils and lightly sprayed it with water to prevent it from blowing away. They also had to keep an eye on the local street dogs to keep them from walking on the sawdust and undoing what they had completed. It’s a lot of work, but the result is worth it!  It was beautiful.

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Here’s a short video that I shot to give you a sense of all the activity around building the sawdust carpet:

Day of the Dead – Building the Alfombras de Aserrín from Carol Watson on Vimeo.

Photography Travel

A Rainy Day in Hungary

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”

— Rabindranath Tagore

Dedicated to Timea.

Images photographed on rainy days in Budapest and Debrecen, Hungary.

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The Color Palatte of Infrared Photography

I’ve been photographing in digital infrared (IR) for nearly 15 years and for the last two years, I’ve been playing around with color IR after having two of my Nikon cameras converted to 590nm and 720nm IR cameras. I thought I’d provide a sample of the different color palattes you can achieve in Lightroom and/or Photoshop.  I shot these images from the apartment in Vancouver in November when some of the leaves were turning color and falling from the trees.

Here is a color digital infrared image directly out of my camera.  You’ll notice the red cast.

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I edited the image in Lightroom using a preset that I created to neutralize the red cast which helps you see how the foliage becomes cotton candy blue in IR. Here’s the resulting image:

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Another technique I use is to bring the original image into Photoshop and use the Channel Mixer to swap the red channel and the blue channel. This will change the foliage to warm colors rather than the cool blue:

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The color palatte I choose for the final image will change depending on the composition of the photograph and the elements in it.  Which does your eye prefer?


Happy Birthday to me…

There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why. — William Barclay

This image was shot at Motherwell Ranch in Colorado.  The Rainbow Huipil was created by Lena Bartula and she kindly let me use it for my conceptual shoots. Sophia, the model, took on each part of the shoot with such fearlessness. This image is part of an ongoing series called “Tethered”.



Happy Holidays!

Seasons Greetings from my two dogs: Igor, the Boston Terrier and Ali, a street dog that we rescued last year.

Igor is used to having me dress him up and so he’ll keep still for a portrait (despite never looking impressed with the whole situation).  He’s such a character.  On the other hand, Ali, our street waif, is not sure about this dress-up thing and, by nature, does not sit still.  It’s tough to get a portrait of her.  It’s a shame, because she’s such a pretty dog.

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Beauty Photography

Winter Solstice Portraits

It’s the winter solstice and I decided it was a good day to host a small celebration with some of my female friends here in Pozos. I invited them to spend the afternoon “to celebrate our beauty together”.  We started out with some champagne and snacks. Then, I introduced them to EVER Skincare products during facials for each of them. Following that, we had a light make-up session and I wrapped up the afternoon by taking a classic portrait of each of them. My goal was to encourage them and told them, that despite their reluctance to get in front of the camera “at my age“, it’s important to exist in photographs for yourself and for the people who love you. Given their response to the final portraits, I would call the event a success. Each of these women are beautiful, inside and out.  I’m happy to call them my friends.