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Cowboys & Crocodiles II – Words and Pictures of My Own

I know everyone is probably getting tired of seeing pictures from this cowboys project, but I did want to post a few of my own.

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. São Carlos and Faz. San Vicenté 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 Guimarães. 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. Promissão, Luis and his wife at Faz. São Carlos, and Gabriel and the other cowboys at Faz. San Vicenté. Thank you all for the warm hospitality and welcome.

Of course there is also Iara and Duto at the wonderful Faz. Carandá along with Buiúi (BooYoo) and the other cowboys there. I also want to say a special thanks to my friend André Thuronyi at Araras EcoLodge for all of his help, hospitality and friendship. It was André’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.

A Pirhana fish jumps in the water as horses thunder through at Faz. Ronco do Bugio.

Gonçalo leads cattle through the water using a traditional horn at Faz. Ronco do Bugio.

Cattle follow Gonçalo into the river as he leads with a horn under beautiful cloudy skies at Faz. Ronco do Bugio.

André Thuronyi works out his prize stallion at Faz. Ronco do Bugio.

A young cowboy surveys the pasture from horseback under rain clouds at Faz. Promissão.

Cowboys ride champion horses along the winding road to Faz. Promissão.

Cowboys herd the original Panteneiro cattle along a pasture at Faz. Promissão. Promissão 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.

Tatiko chases a cow with lasso in a corral at Faz. Promissão. He was roping the cow for branding.

Tatiko struggles with a cow after the branding iron is applied at Faz. Promissão.

A cow struggles to free himself as smoke rises from it’s hindquarters after branding at Faz. Promissão.

Smoke rises from burning hide after a cow gets a face brand at Faz. Promissão.

Branding iron is hot enough to burn wood.

Shadow of cowboy on the wall as he curls a lasso at Faz. Ronco do Bugio.

Cowboy with lasso reflected in mirror at Faz. Ronco do Bugio.

A traditional horn on a saddle originally used for dipping water from streams but now mainly ornamental.

Cowboy reflected in river at Faz. Ronco do Bugio.

Lasso competition under rainy season clouds at Faz. Ronco do Bugio.

Cooking in a very traditional farm kitchen.

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.

Another interesting sky as lightning strikes during a storm over Faz. Carandá.

Buiúi and Umberto heat the branding iron over an open flame at Faz. Carandá. I almost burned the rubber off my camera making this picture!

Smoke rises from the hide of a colt as Buiüi applies the hot branding iron at Faz. Carandá.

Umberto wrestling with a colt for branding.

Umberto sits by the fire at twilight under stormy skies at Faz. Carandá.

Luis at Faz. São Carlos.

Luis in his bedroom at Faz. São Carlos.

Luis and his wife pray in their private sanctuary at Faz. São Carlos.

Light streams into the darkened sanctuary through cracks in the ceiling.

Cowboy on horseback as the sun rises under stormy morning skies at Faz. Carandá.

Cowboy Josah in the morning sun at Faz. Carandá.

Umberto and Josah work the lassos at Faz. Carandá.

Umberto’s beautful smile.

Tuiúiúi (Too-Yoo-Yoo) snaps up a fish.

A hawk gets ready to spread it’s wings and fly.

Here’s one of me under the ornamental polished skulls of some original Pantaneiro cattle on display at Faz. Promissão.

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.

  • November 24, 2008 - 10:37 am

    LUCIA - Master Greg,
    I have to summarize your photos into a single word:
    Fantastic !!!!!
    Spend a week with you in the Pantanal was a great learning!
    I wish you much success!
    Regards, Lucia

  • November 24, 2008 - 10:54 am

    sergio - An amazing collection of work. Masterful combination of story telling an stunning imagery.


  • November 24, 2008 - 12:47 pm

    Paul - Amazing Greg, just beautiful! When are you doing this again? can I come? 🙂

  • November 24, 2008 - 12:49 pm

    greg - Hey guys – thanks for the notes!

    Paul – yes we are doing it again. We are thinking perhaps April? You are welcome to join us!


  • November 24, 2008 - 2:38 pm
  • November 24, 2008 - 2:39 pm

    Gene Whitmer - I have added a link from my blog. Impressive work.


  • November 24, 2008 - 6:09 pm

    Stephanie Sherwood - Your work is outstanding! So Captivating! I LOVE IT ALL.

  • November 24, 2008 - 7:50 pm

    ben chrisman - great job again. i would have been a happy photographer to get that fire photo with the horse in the background.

  • November 25, 2008 - 2:44 am

    Mike - Breathtaking work, Greg. I feel like I learned a lot about photography and exposure just from viewing your photographs. Thank you for creating these marvels.

  • November 25, 2008 - 11:02 pm

    cliff mautner - You have some serious skilz, my friend. Wonderful use of light and texture. Love the compression on so many, and the selective focus in others. I could stand to see a bit less of your mug, though! I know you worked your butt off but the story was worth it. Beautiful images.

  • November 27, 2008 - 11:57 am

    Izan Petterle - Dear friend Greg.
    This work you have overcome your limits, it’s a breath taking experience for us to watch and enjoy these marvelous pictures. I am looking forward to have another of these expeditions next year. You are always welcome down here in the jungle, it seems that you are not a foreigner anymore in this region, you are shaped for this kind of work. You are bom pra caralho!
    Grande abraco.
    Izan Petterle

  • December 4, 2008 - 9:41 pm

    Mary G. - GG,

    I have just one word for you…photoorgasm. Your creative energy displayed in these images is endless & timeless. You’ve gone beyond the decisive moment, creating unique pieces of art weaved together to tell an amazing photo essay.

  • December 17, 2008 - 11:51 pm

    Joe G - These are my new inspiration. My favorite includes the guy with the horn. But a close second, is the one with André working out his prize stallion. You get major difficulty points for this one. How did you not get kicked? The framing is world-class!

  • January 14, 2009 - 11:24 pm

    GIULIANO - Master Greg i´m really impressed , i live next to pantanal and i never saw anything like that before, i like your style and you´re a reference to me, next time i want to come too! can I come? 🙂

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