JOSÉ RAMOS, NEW VANGUARD PROFESSIONAL
We are proud to announce the newest member of the Vanguard Professional Team: José Ramos.
José started shooting twelve years ago, and his passion grew so strong that he chose to express himself and pay homage to the beauty and power of the surrounding world through his art. He is currently dividing his time between working as a photographer and as a doctor (psychiatrist in a Lisbon hospital), which requires great dedication to be able to develop his skills in both areas. So far this has been possible through very strong commitment and discipline - at the expense of sleeping hours - and is only bearable because of his intense passion for both subjects.
He has been published in several international photography magazines, won international photo awards, runs workshops and photo-tours in Portugal and sells fine art prints all over the world.
José has prepared a photo essay to give us an introduction to his work and technique... his website manifesto states the following:
"When the aesthetic power of Nature meets a man's vision of the world, creation takes place and images become the crystallized hybrid product of this encounter. Travelling and endlessly searching for the light, the silence and the lessons of the landscape, here I present you my vision of the world as seen through my eyes and soul, hoping I can at least take you there just for a moment, to the moment which lies so intense in my memory..."
"The Spirits Return"
" When synchronicity starts turning the wheels of time and gathering the elements, magical things can happen in front of our eyes."
This is one of my favorite Northern Lights image, made in September 2015 in the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon in Iceland.
Arriving to the Keflavik airport at 1h15m a.m. and then sleep inside the car is quite a harsh start for such an intense trip. Doing 140 km to Seljalandfoss on the next day and then having to return to Reykjavik due to a broken tripod of my companion (obviously not a Vanguard!) added to the exhaustion. Fortunately the third day of the trip made it all worth it, as we had incredible sunset light in the Glacier Lagoon and then three hours of fantastic Aurora activity in the skies. Quite curiously, we were the only ones shooting there, making it all even more special.
This is a very special image to me because it’s not every day that you have the honor of witnessing both the Northern Lights and the Jokulsarlon glaciers lit by the moonlight coming from behind. Like I stated in the initial conceptual sentence about this image, this is synchronicity at its best!
Sony a7R + Zeiss 16-35mm f4, ISO: 1600, Exposure: 30 seconds, Focus: Manual, Wireless Shutter, Release, Tripod
"Choose wisely, and never forget to leave some space for the soul to breathe…"
Following a request from an international photography magazine, I decided to do a remake of my photo "The Doubt". It's without a doubt one of my most successful photos ever, but the original quality wasn't good enough for extremely large prints, due to some shake in the pier while I was doing the long exposure. As the photo I took next had a similar composition and much better fine detail I decided to update the image.
This is an image made in one of my top 3 favorite spots in Portugal, called Carrasqueira Palafite Pier. This is a fantastic palafite pier built by local fishermen to anchor their boats. It's one of the few constructions in the world using this technique, and its endless wooden paths are a true landscape photographer's dream. Finding this place during a warm sunset and high tide will create endless composition possibilities. Unfortunately it is very difficult to be able to have it all in just one afternoon: sun location, clouds, captivating light, technique, sharpness, proper gear including a solid tripod and, of course, being there. Fortunately it all happened in that magical afternoon, making this a very special image to me.
Sony a77 + Sigma 10-20mm, Exposure: 30 seconds, Aperture: f9.5, ISO: 200, Manual focus. Custom, White Balance, Tripod, remote shutter, 3 stop ND Grad, 4 stop ND.
"Massive amounts of extremely turbulent waters suddenly meet the endless abyss of Detifoss, with liquid chaos ensuing right after the fall. The Universe seems to have its strange ways of always creating order out of chaos, and witnessing such water apocalypse giving birth to a steady and serene undulating river, makes me wonder if we, as humans, are right now steady streams or rather turbulent waters, headed to somewhere less chaotic."
After spending an incredible day at Seyðisfjörður, where we witnessed the best weather ever in Iceland, with the sun shining and 20ºC temperatures, we decided to head to the East side of the famous most powerful waterfall of Iceland (and Europe) – Dettifoss – with brief stops along the way to capture the landscapes. We arrived to the Dettifoss parking lot at night, and were greeted by extremely strong winds, that made the simple task of keeping a car door open seem like a gym session. We planned to shoot the Dettifoss west side by sunrise, so we didn’t wanted to be caught unprepared next morning, and did a terrain recognition during the night, to get a feel of how long it would take to arrive to the waterfall. After walking for 15 minutes we could finally hear that familiar dense rumble of gigantic amounts of water, and there she was, waiting for us the next day. We returned to the car and managed to eat some sandwiches and the essential Pringles, and went to “bed”. The car was constantly balancing due to the wind, which made sleep not as comforting as needed.
The phone alarm set off at 5h30 am, and then I had to go through the usual ritual of trying to do a caffeine-CPR to my comatose morning body, with massive amounts of awful soluble coffee. We got dressed in a hurry and there we went. Contrary to our predictions, the sun took much longer than expected to rise above the east side, so we had to wait about 1.5 hours under extreme wind and cold, where only the incredible vision of the waterfall would soothe the aversive body sensations. Finally the sun showed up, and this is one of images captured in that morning. As usual, all physical punishment is worth it in Iceland!
Sony a7R + Zeiss 16-35mm f4, Exposure: 1 second for the foreground; 10 seconds for the waterfall and sky, Aperture: f/14, ISO: 100, 4 stops full ND; 4 stops soft ND Grad, Tripod, Wireless remote shutter, Terrascape filter bag.
“The Majestic Mountains”
Photo made on the last day of the Iceland trip, in September 2014. This was the third time in three days we tried to photograph this location. That meant going west and east several times, from Jokulsarlon to this location, and this photo was only made possible after hundreds of accumulated kilometers. Time was extremely unstable during the trip (which is quite normal in Iceland), and it was extremely difficult to photograph these mountains under decent conditions.
Fortunately there is this one little precious thing called Icelandic Weather Forecast Site (vedur.is) which is actually quite accurate for the current day (any longer than that will quite simply be called mystical divination). After two frustrated attempts, and while we were shooting on the Jokulsarlon beach on the last day of the trip, I decided to reach my iPad and check for the weather forecast. To my surprise, the Vestrahorn area was one of the few with sunny/cloudy weather in the whole Island, during a short two hour period, from 16h to 18h. Once more, a decision to abruptly change plans had to be made, and off we went to Hofn at 14h30m.
This spot is not easy to find, but our previous tries made it easy to reach the spot. The weather was quite nice, even though some menacing clouds seemed to be approaching from the west, in perfect accordance with the vedur.is website.
We finally arrived, and there they were, the imponent Vestrahorn mountains. I had seen this place in so many images before, but nothing could quite compare to actually being there. If it weren’t enough to have such beautiful mountains rising out of nowhere, touching the Atlantic ocean, there’s also a vast plain at its feet, covered in water during high tide, which will work as a perfect mirror for the mountains. One more photographic paradise in Iceland…
Unfortunately the tide was quite low, and it wasn’t easy at all to find a decent spot to shoot. I can only imagine that this place is an absolute dream with high tide (well, it already is this way…). This is one of the photos from that afternoon. We stayed for as long as we could, and the landscape addiction made us leave way too late for the airport. There were still 500km left to Keflavik and we still had to pack everything. As if it weren’t enough, Jokulsarlon decided to show us its most intense display of light during our return, and we had to make an extra stop. The end result: a speeding ticket arriving to our house one month after we left Iceland!
Sony a77 + Sigma 10-20mm, Aperture: f/11, ISO: 50, Exposure: 1 second, Filters: 3 stop soft ND Grad, Wireless remote shutter, Tripod.
“Nothing shines forever and falls will always be unavoidable. Nevertheless, there’s also a lot of beauty down here…”
Photo made in one of the amazing beaches of Vila Nova de Milfontes, located in Alentejo (south of Portugal). I always wanted to photograph a starfish under a warm and intense sunset, but never managed to find one. During this afternoon I met a very enthusiast fishermen who quickly started making conversation with me, showing great pride in the beauty his hometown landscapes. I talked with him about my desire to be able to shoot a starfish, and all of a sudden he is pulling me with him to a much farther place where he is sure I will find them. The sky was becoming fiery red and I just hope he would pull it off. As you can see by the image he certainly did and it was such a please to witness and capture this incredible scene. Places like these aren’t just beautiful, they are real treasures!
Sony a77 + Sigma 10-20mm, Exposure: 30 seconds, Aperture: f/8, ISO: 100, Tripod, 3 stop ND Grad; 4 stop ND, Manual focus.
With the unique ability of being at the same time one of the most powerful waterfalls in Iceland, as well as certainly the most elegant, Skogafoss is one of the best examples of natural sublimation, where the thunderous water is suprisingly transformed into a smooth flowing river. I felt I could witness this place for days on end, and never get tired of doing it.
This shot was made on the 6th day of the 2014 Iceland trip. I had been shooting a gorgeous mountain off the beaten path in the south on the day before, during sunset, and decided to head to Skogafoss during the night, to be able to have enough time to shoot both Skogafoss and Seljalandfoss the next day. Fortunately/unfortunately it was raining a lot as soon as I woke up, so I opted to stay inside the car and sleep a bit more, as my body was starting to get exhausted. The rain kept pouring, although with less intensity, so I decided I just had to leave the car and try to shoot.
This is probably my favorite waterfall in Iceland, due to the simple fact that you can be right next to the area where that massive amount of water fall on the ground. You can feel the huge amount of water spray dozens of meters before reaching the waterfall, and when you finally get really near… well… it’s absolute water hell! Imagine the heaviest rainfall you can… now imagine it coming from every single direction… now imagine the thunderous sound of the water crushing the rocky ground… now feel that unique and pervasive tingling sensation of being near something that just feels too big and powerful, making you feel tiny, microscopic, insignificant… well, that is Skogafoss, and it just feels great.
After shooting Godafoss, Dettifoss and then Skogafoss, I could confirm that some kind of divine creature must have participated in sculpting this Island… There just too much unique beauty, to be able to imagine it as a byproduct of chaos and randomness. Then I went to Seljalandfoss, and this certainty just became even stronger.
As you can easily imagine, the weather wasn’t at its best during this day. Absolutely overcast sky and constant light rain. Once more the usual trouble to protect the camera and clean filters between every shot. From a certain distance, it was outright impossible to do even short exposures.
This waterfall has been photographed thousands of times by excellent photographers. Even though I already said I do not actually mind in repeating angles which have already been made, as every photo is unique and different, I wanted to use the river course and it’s pebbles to create something partially new. This involved soaking my legs once more in frozen water, but I just had to try to capture the simmetry between the lower part and the top sky, to contain and enrich the waterfall area. Went for a darker post-processing, with strong contrast, avoiding too much saturation and concentrating on the contrast between the rock textures and the waterfall.
Sony a77 + Sigma 10-20mm, Aperture: f/9, Exposure: 13 seconds, ISO: 100, Manual Focus, Wireless Remote shutter, 3 stop soft ND Grad; 4 stop Prostop IRND, Tripod.
Visit Jose Ramos' web to learn more about his work!