Monthly Archives: November 2008
My wife says enough already with the cowboy stuff. Time to post some wedding images. Here is one of my favorites from 2008. No need for a lot of words on this one. The pictures say it all.
Ari + Rahman
May 25, 2008
(This is the seventh and final article highlighting student work from the recent PhotoExpedition Brazil.)
Herculano Bernardes – “The Beautiful”
What can I say about Herculano Bernardes? He is a true character full of love and life.
When I first met him I asked Herculano what he did for a living. “I am a vagabond” was the answer. How fitting a description.
Herculano was a returning student, along with Roberta Cadore, from our first PhotoExpedition in August. It is amazing that he made that trip at all. Herculano stumbled across Izan at a booth at PhotoImage Brazil and on the spur of the moment, decided to board a plane the very next day for our 8 day adventure. He was a film shooter. He had no digital cameras so he bought the gear he needed on the spot to make the trip.
On this trip, we are greatly in his debt. Herculano was not only my friend and student on this trip, but also volunteered his 4WD Land Rover Defender truck to assist in our journey. He and I spent the first week together, photographing the cowboys at Faz. PromissÃ£o in the days before the workshop officially began. Herculano speaks no real English, and I speak no Portuguese, but somehow we managed to communicate. We shared many laughs, had a lot of fun, ate some great food, and drank many beers. Herculano definitely never met a beer he didn’t like.
One thing I can say about Herculano is that he is a true friend. I have enjoyed watching his work improve the past few months.
“Participating in this workshop is a mixture of adventure and expedition. This workshop sponsored by Izan Petterle and Greg Gibson to the Pantanal of Mato Grosso, is a unique experience that through teaching and practice and aims to create a more professional photographer. Gaining knowledge of technique and concept developed by them on this production of documentary photography makes the apprentice to develop its own style.
Three things I learned are 1) to shoot with telephoto lenses, 2) to shoot action, and 3) how to use white balance effectively to achieve different results.”
- Herculano Bernardes-
This trip was very different from the August trip. In August, which is the dry season in Brazil, we had beautiful sunrises and sunsets every day. The light was always crisp and full of color.
November is the start of the rainy season and one of the things we wanted to reflect in the images as part of this ongoing project is the change of seasons.
While it did rain the first few days I was there, it didn’t rain at all during the workshop. In fact, during the workshop things didn’t look much different from August, except that we had low lying clouds every morning and afternoon. As a result, we never had the crisp, colorful sunrises and sunsets that we had in August.
The main difference was that things were a lot greener. The large open water area where we photographed most of the caiman’s (Brazil’s version of the crocodile) was filled in with vegetation and we couldn’t even see the caiman’s in the water there. The really big difference however, was that it was hot. I mean really hot. Overall I did pretty well with the heat, but there was a day towards the end when I had no air conditioning and my shower went on the fritz briefly. I just couldn’t seem to cool down that day and my energy was sapped. It was also a day we did some exciting things at Faz. SÃ£o Carlos and Faz. San VicentÃ© and I was just off my game. It was a little disappointing to have an off day in the middle of this exciting trip, but after two weeks of hard work I guess it’s bound to happen, especially in 110 degree heat.
One thing that never ceases to amaze me about the Brazilian outback is how warm, open and friendly the people are. At all of these ranches the people welcome us in, offer us food and accommodate us any way they can. They never ask for anything in return.
At left is me shooting the cliffs at Chapada Dos GuimarÃ£es. That’s a ThinkTank modular belt I’m wearing to carry my gear.
The picture at right is a little self portrait I took during a boating trip on the Rio Claro. Anyone visiting the Pantanal MUST do a trip on the river with Peixinho, the river guide at Hotel Mato Grosso. Peixinho is one of the real characters of the Pantanal. While I was taking the picture of myself, he would do something different and silly behind me each time. I didn’t know he was doing these things until I looked at the images later. I was just trying to get a nice image with some blur in the background! What a laugh. In this picture he’s giving me a double thumbs up with a Piranha in his mouth.
I want to thank my friends Paulo and Maria at Faz. PromissÃ£o, Luis and his wife at Faz. SÃ£o Carlos, and Gabriel and the other cowboys at Faz. San VicentÃ©. Thank you all for the warm hospitality and welcome.
Of course there is also Iara and Duto at the wonderful Faz. CarandÃ¡ along with BuiÃºi (BooYoo) and the other cowboys there. I also want to say a special thanks to my friend AndrÃ© Thuronyi at Araras EcoLodge for all of his help, hospitality and friendship. It was AndrÃ©’s idea to produce a book on the Pantaneiro Cowboys and he has been extremely helpful in facilitating our needs.
My good friend Herculano Bernardes was my chauffeur and confidant my first week in Brazil. Herculano doesn’t really speak English and I don’t speak Portuguese but for some reason we had no problem communicating during our 4 days together. Herculano was a student at our first PhotoExpedition in August and I could see a lot of improvement in his work during this trip.
Of course, I also want to thank my great friend Izan Petterle for his friendship and hospitality. Without him, none of this would be possible.
Overall this trip was not quite as productive as the August trip. We were very fortunate in August to make a LOT of nice images in just 5 short days. However, the images this time are still very good, but very different. Perhaps a little more personal since I felt more at ease photographing the Pantaneiro people the second time around.
GonÃ§alo leads cattle through the water using a traditional horn at Faz. Ronco do Bugio.
Cattle follow GonÃ§alo into the river as he leads with a horn under beautiful cloudy skies at Faz. Ronco do Bugio.
Cowboys herd the original Panteneiro cattle along a pasture at Faz. PromissÃ£o. PromissÃ£o is the only ranch in the Pantanal that still raises the original full blooded breed that was indigiounous to the region. Most farms raise an Indian cattle known as Zebu.
One thing we did see was some very interesting skies. Here the sun is reflected off storm clouds as it finds a small hole in the cloud cover to peek through along the Transpantaneira Highway.
Umberto sits by the fire at twilight under stormy skies at Faz. CarandÃ¡.
Trying to communicate with Chako, Branco and Branco’s son Ital at Faz. Ronco do Bugio. I don’t speak Portuguese, and they don’t speak English (well, actually Chako does speak some English) so communicating is often a comical series of gestures.
Duda Escobar is a special person. It was Duda who brought me to Brazil and opened the door to this tremendous adventure and opportunity.
Duda is not a photographer. She is the show manager for PhotoImage Brazil, the largest photography convention and trade show in Brazil. After years of dealing with photographers, this was her first time venturing out on a photographic journey.
“I am an city person and not a photographer. My pictures from this trip are quite ordinary. I seem to twist planes, look for undesirable angles and love cuts that would irratate the most liberal editors.
My familiarity with professional cameras never went further than the many interviews in which I present features of new models that are being introduced at PhotoImage Brazil.
I must admit that waking up at 5am was a piece of cake. However the 45 degree celsius heat and the required ritual before departing was a sacrifice! I needed a miraculous potion of sulfur soap to keep the ticks away, sunblock to allow my skin to keep it’s pale and anemic color, and citronella spay covering my body to keep away the mosquitos instead of a French perfume, which would attract them. This miraculous potion made me feel like a mummy each morning.
I found out that knowing all the camera’s resources amounts to nothing. The real challenge is being able to use everything within the confines of that magic box as fast as the light changes, the sun sets, or the clouds change their shape. The horses galloping through the water do not freeze like in the movies. Everything passes in front of the lens in a fraction of a second – and there it goes – a picture that could have been breathtaking.
I photographed with no agenda. I only wanted to capture something with the camera that enchanted my eyes and enhanced my emotions.
I experienced outstanding moments on my own. One special morning, when ordinarily I would have liked to stay in bed a little longer, I heard a noise outside that reminded me of the blue macaws I very much longed to see. I quietly left the room with my camera and followed the sound. All of the sudden I saw the sky. It was filled with big dark clouds and the sun was trying the tear them open to present itself. I felt overwhelmed before this dramatic painting and before I realized it, I had run far into the middle of a field in my pajamas. I did manage to take this opportunity to capture this magnificent scenery.
Greg and Izan have some kind of symbiosis of talents that can hardly be explained.
Greg is from Washington, DC – USA and Izan is from Alegrete in the South of Brazil. Their passion for photography has made them friends. They are undeniably masters. They balance creativity, technique, emotion, and physics.
We had incredible opportunities as students and we were pushed to our limits, all of us.
Greg and Izan devised solutions from thin air, with all the competence and experience any true creative visionary would have. The engineered fully functional studios from scratch. Riders, cowboys prancing with ropes, primitive and enchanting wood stoves, mysterious candles and lights. They revealed that a hard working people with a burdened history, stern faces and callous hands can be just as delicate and gentle in a act so simple as peeling a fruit.
We feasted on photography all throughout those 8 days with our senses fully stimulated and enhanced.
I would like to say how grateful I am for you, Greg and Izan having pushed me to go on the Transpantaneira Expedition. Greg – thanks for saying “Duda you are going on a PHOTOGRAPHIC expedition – it is unacceptable for you to NOT take pictures.” Thank you dear Marta for lending me your camera.”