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© 2017 John Kiely        john@purlieu.photography             Phone +447736849388

El Puerto de Santa Maria.

November 2, 2018


After driving 1827 miles from Mossley, thats a total of 51 hours behind the wheel, we have arrived in Cadiz. We started with Black Rock Sands in North Wales to meet up with our friends Emma and Jim. A night in Kent before the Eurotunnel was followed by two stop overs in France and three in Spain before reaching the start point for our exploration of the Spanish coast.


The camp site that we are basing ourselves from is in El Puerto de Santa Maria, close to Cadiz.  We are all new to this area so have no preconceived ideas.  The campsite itself looked promising on the website, but sadly doesn’t live up to our expectations.  It is a bit of a motorhome car park with very little shade.  On the plus side though it has woodland on two sides. An area consisting of mainly small conifers borders the beach while parkland behind the site gives a greater variety, including eucalyptus.  


Walking through the park early in the morning the low sun is diffused in the clearing mist.  Tonally this image is starting to move away from the heavier tones of my UK work, the change of format seems to be encouraging me to look at a wider vista, in addition the use of a 50-115mm zoom lens as opposed to 80mm increases my options.


I decided to force myself to leave my comfortable shooting routine.  I packed the Hasselblad 503CWD away and started to use the H3D instead.  Firstly it isn’t square, so I have to change my normal compositional style, and secondly it has a prism, so shooting at eye level instead of from the waist.  My initial shots are moody black and white, no change there then!  It inspired my friend Kevin Horn, a photographer living and working near Marbella, to comment 


“Only you! Only you can come to the place where Picasso discovered

colour and do black and whites!”


I guess he has a point.  When I start to edit, after a couple of days shooting, I discover that some of the images do not really work in black and white.  Maybe finally I am getting out of the rut that I had become entrenched in.  This leads to a bit of soul searching.  The aim for this trip is an exhibition and a book, so do I shoot colour of black and white?  Maybe it is best to continue with an open mind and see if the locations guide my work practice.


The white building is actually the local police station but this image feels much more isolated.  I tried converting it to black and white, but it just didn't work, it needs the warm tones of the eucalyptus to offset the greens.


One thing that is going to feature in my work is the light, it seems to have a greater clarity than the slightly defused light at home.  Texture and form seem emphasised, especially working early morning and late afternoon.  Most of the days feature too high contrast in the woodlands, plus it is a little warm for my English development.  


 I was so caught up with the diffused light ad the patches of highlights in the foreground that I didn't notice the graffiti on the left hand tree.  The wall in the distance is also covered in graffiti.  In this case the colours distracted and took your eye straight to the back of the image.


The denser canopy of the conifers occasionally gave way to eucalyptus.  This gave me the opportunity to play with the pools of light created.  Dark foregrounds feature quite a lot in my work, I like to add a barrier that you have to pass through to reach the subject.






 Walking through the woods late afternoon adds a different dimension.  The low sun streams through the trees and just highlights sections.  This light is very warm and just didn't work colour, the warm orange looked at odds with the deep green foliage.


 Not sure if colour or black and white works for this image, both have their strengths.  I think the colour has more drama and has a positive feel, while the black and white is more sombre.

I shot this eucalyptus a few times, but never really managed to capture the metallic feel to the tones.




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