Most of this weekend was spent doing a camera workshop with António Sá, a extraordinarily talented and charming Portuguese photographer who spends part of his photography time sharing skills and places with others through workshops and photo tours.
This workshop focused on the camera and aimed to make us more familiar with the functions of the digital camera. Once a reasonably competent amateur, I’ve felt that since I got a digtial camera I really got trapped in autofocus mode and lost most of the little sophistication I had. This workshop was really what I needed. The first few hours were really liberating in a way that I can’t really tell without feeling slightly stupid. Switching off the auto-mode and learning that Tv means shutter speed priority and Av means aperture priority didn’t take many minutes and it took me right back to where I was when I left my dear old manual reflex Minolta ten years ago.
Then I learnt a few new things too, such as how to make use of a slow shutter speed and moving the camera with a moving object. This was one of my more successful attempts. I love the feeling of a spring morning the photo transmits.
The workshop was spectacular and I warmly recommend attending any of the events that António organizes together with his wife Ana Pedrosa, whether a workshop or a photo tout. You will learn and enjoy in good company, wine and coffee won’t be missing and you will be in places which are always worth visiting. This time I got to know a place where I had never set foot in the town where I’ve lived for nearly fifteen years. Espaço Mira is something absolutely unexpected, beyond the words I’ve got right now.
There’s even a hint of spring.
The greyness is no coincidence. Since Christmas, we’ve lived in a near continuum of drizzle, downpours, showers and rainstorms.
In front of Museu do Carro Eléctrico, one tram made way for another while I was watching.
As Lent is coming up and with that my yearly effort to declutter my mind and organize my life, I think distilled and smooth is quite a good ambition.
Anglers took advantage of the low tide which lowers the water level this close to the river mouth, despite all the rain. The Arrabida bridge in the background, as stylish as in any weather.
On a Sunday when January slides into February without the raining pausing, I find it immensely liberating to walk through a city which is shabbier than myself.
Weeks like these, one needs faith for the washing to dry.
Sunday mornings by the riverside in Porto brings very different cultures together as the early morning Sunday anglers meet the young hipsters heading for the after-hours bars or eventually heading home.
And then the very mixed group of people going for their early morning constitutional, ranging from noisy all-geared-up men on their fancy bikes to discrete local women who simple put on their comfortable shoes and start walking.
I love being part of that mix. It doesn’t matter that I’m a foreigner with a camera, there’s room for my type as well.
Mid-October 2013. Later in the year than this I’ve never swum in European waters, but I’ve long dreamt about taking late baths in the sea. Yesterday the temperature of the water and the air was the same, nineteen centigrades. The occasional early-morning-walker on the boardwalk, a fisher on the cliffs, but I was the only one who undressed and walked into the water. Soft, welcoming, nearly no waves. And completely carefree: no need to think about sunscreens, the risk that someone would steal my things or even about having to wriggle decently into my clothes.
A month ago I swam in the biggest Swedish lake together with my cousin. On the way back, he remarked that it was odd I didn’t have a car, that he had difficulties imagining not being able to take the care somewhere else. He has a point, but I might as well ask how one can live in a place where a one hour walk doesn’t take you to the ocean.
Porto is a city of backyards. Front gardens are very rare, and the network of streets is organized around large blocks of long and narrow plots completely enclosed by the surrounding streethouses. The only way to access a plot is usually through the house it belongs to. To the visitor the city appears as being made by brick and mortar only, whereas behind all this there is a lot of green. It took me a long time to discover, since this green is not only inaccessible to most, it is also mostly invisible, save for occasional and rare opportunities to peer through a hole.
What these holes reveal may very greatly. Too often it’s an abandoned piece of land, overgrown with weeds, or one mistreated by human hands, concrete and junk. But this Sunday afternoon backstreet hole revealed a well-tended vegetable garden. (The roof behind it less so…)
This caught my attention yesterday as I walked back home with my groceries. Incidentally it is at the top of the same street the woman selling fish is starting to climb on the previous picture.
Is this laundry or a message?
She was already on the job, I was on my way to mine when I met her. I don’t know for how long we will have these women in the streets of Porto. There are not many of them left and I don’t think any new ones will take up the business. She’s carrying fresh fish in two large basins, one on her head. She will walk the smaller streets of the neighbourhoods of small houses that start in the end of this street. stop at the same places at what is probably an agreed-on time where the old women of the neighbourhood will join her to get their daily fish. I’ve never bought anything from her, but I don’t doubt the quality. In a seaside town in the country where most fish per capita in Europe is consumed there is no way you can do business with second-rate fish.