Tuesday, April 17, 2012

When Ivan Cajigas returned from Spain's Broken Coast, he had captured a bit more of nature's beauty

Puerto Rican neuroscientist Ivan Cajigas currently lives in Frankfurt am Main, in Germany, which allows him to pursue his passion for nature photography on trips to some of Europe's most scenic areas. "My current plan is to continue exploring and capturing the essence of beautiful scenes around the world.

"Last fall, I had the chance to visit northern Spain and go on a brief tour for three days along the coast of western Asturias and two days in Cantabria, in the zone of the Costa Quebrada (Broken Coast). Spain's northern coast is unique because the ocean's powerful waves have carved cliffs and shaped impressive rock formations that make spectacular compositional elements along the shore. The first image of this story features one of Spain’s natural treasures, the mammoth-like rock called El Castro de las Gaviotas (The Seagulls' Rock) which is famous among Spanish photographers.

"When we arrived at La Huelga beach it was still dark and we were hoping to get a decent sunrise. At first, the weather did not look very promising. All we could see by that time were overcast skies. I spent around half an hour trying different compositions and exposure settings. While I was fine-tuning the settings of my camera, the sky unexpectedly opened and the sun delighted us with gorgeous soft light. To capture this image, I used my LB ColorCombo (mounted on my Tokina 11-16 lens) to accentuate the colors of the scene. I set the following parameters in my Canon 7D: f/22, 6 sec., ISO 100. The 6-second shutter speed allowed me to portray the water as a more smooth, forceful flow. A 2-stop Reverse ND Grad was added to balance the light from the sky and the foreground.

"During the trip, I also had the chance to visit Liencres, a small coastal town approximately an hour away from Llanes and close to the Santander airport. Liencres harbors Costa Quebrada, one of the most impressive seascapes in Spain. I went to shoot sunset on a Sunday afternoon. At first sight, Costa Quebrada looks breathtaking. The power of the ocean is evident as waves hit the rocks with no mercy.

"There were no puffy clouds that afternoon but instead, Mother Nature delighted us with a beautiful sunset. As the sun was setting, I took advantage of its position and the location of one of the large rocks in the water to create a diagonal line to bring depth to the image. The sea mist and a 3-stop Reverse ND Grad were sufficient to control the intense sunlight. To shoot this image I used a focal length of 14mm, an aperture of f/10, the shutter was open for 0.3 seconds and the ISO was set to 100.

"Costa Quebrada is a place full of compositional possibilities. The next morning we went to a spot facing La ArnĂ­a beach in order to shoot the sunrise. The constant fight between water and earth has sculpted a parallel sandstone deposit 'flysch' with lines that I used to create additional depth and to guide the viewer’s sight to a particular place in the image. In this case, I used them to make the observer focus on the sky. The sunrise was simply amazing that morning. The sky was painted with red, purple and yellow brushstrokes. That instant did not last very long, but it was definitely one of the most powerful sunrises I have ever seen. My Singh-Ray 3-stop Reverse ND Grad was essential to capture the palette of colors and textures from the sky. The camera settings I used were: f/8, 0.6 sec., ISO 100.

"Two things were critical to obtain the three images shown in this story. The first was being in the right spot at the right time, and the second was using the right tools to balance the wide range of light levels in each of the scenes. The latter would not have been possible without my Singh-Ray Graduated Neutral Density filters. Thanks again Singh-Ray."

Although Ivan has been using Singh-Ray filters for a relatively short time, he has already produced a collection of fine photos from both his homeland of Puerto Rico and his temporary base in Germany. Follow these links to see more of his work:

IvanCajigas.com | Flickr | Facebook