Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ivan Cajigas shows us why he's looking forward to returning home to Puerto Rico later this year

Although his home is in Puerto Rico, neuroscientist Ivan Cajigas has been working in Germany for the past three years. "While in Germany," says Ivan, "I've been able to visit several European regions, but I have not had many chances to photograph Puerto Rico itself. So I thought I would show Singh-Ray fans how my filters captured some of the amazing scenery we have back home.

'Puerto Rico is a tropical island in the heart of the Caribbean. It is a place whose mood flows from the sun, palm trees, and a constantly fresh breeze -- a place where every single breath is full of ocean winds and the humidity of the tropics.

"The island is a US territory and possesses the only tropical rainforest in the United States. El Yunque National Forest, which covers 28,000 acres of dense forest land in the northeastern part of the island, is part of the United States National Forest System. It's located only 30 minutes away from the capital, San Juan. For a nature photographer, El Yunque is truly a magical world. Greens are dominant, flowers line the winding trails, and the sounds of bird songs and flowing water surround you.

"The mountain streams of El Yunque include a large number of waterfalls -- many of them easily accessible to hikers. An example is shown in the first image. As can be seen, the rocks in the Puerto Rican rainforest are rich in textures and shapes and have a dark tone which contrasts well with the water's glow and the vegetation’s vibrant green. To capture this shot I used a Canon 5D Mark II with a 24-105mm f/4 lens. My LB ColorCombo was on the lens to accentuate the contrast, highlight the rich green color of the tropical rainforest, and provide full color saturation to the wet rocks and foliage.

"One of the benefits of living on a small island is that diverse landscapes coexist within a very convenient distance. For example, the north shore of Puerto Rico is very close to the rainforest. This coast offers many possibilities to the seascape photographer. It is mainly rocky and is hit by powerful waves that constantly alter the scenery. Whitewater streaks and pseudo-waterfalls are very frequent. When I first visited the location shown in the second image, the waterfall created by the waves breaking on the rocks caught my eye. However, that first day I could not get the shot I wanted. What I did get that evening was an inspired idea for a composition to try the next day at sunrise. The plan was to use the waterfall as a diagonal line pointing at the sun. Basically, at first sight, the silkiness of the water in the foreground traps the viewer's eye which consequently moves along the rock that points at the sunrise. To balance the bright light from the sky, I used a 3-stop Reverse ND Grad filter. This shot was taken using a Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8.

"Puerto Rican landscapes are often very intimate. In order to get the best out of them, its important to decorate elements with the right light. It’s possible to acquire spectacular images in places that at first sight do not seem to have much potential. The beach shown above is located in the west coast of the island. This part of Puerto Rico is known as one of the best places to watch the sunset. As seen in the third image, the quality of light is simply delightful. I was lucky to capture this gorgeous sunset last spring. The idea behind the composition was to create three different planes (foreground, midground and background) using the rocks as compositional elements. As in the previous image, a 3-stop Reverse ND Grad was essential to capture the complete range of tones of the scene."

Ivan will move back to his homeland in December. From then on, he will dedicate more time to photography and work on some related projects. He also plans to explore and capture the beauty of the natural treasures that Puerto Rico has to offer. He will be more than happy to talk with anyone interested in joining his adventure.

IvanCajigas.com | Flickr | Facebook

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