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Sandboards of Joaquina

Back in 2007, before Bromley, before becoming a wedding photographer, I was living in South Brazil and doing a very different job. But my life-long interest in photography was taking off like never before. In part the sheer vibrancy and interest of my adopted country guaranteed that, but the main factor was the arrival of digital cameras. All of a sudden it became possible to take far more photos at completely negligible cost – once you had the camera, anyway. With one of the classic super-zoom compacts in my hand (the Lumix FZ20, bought for around £240 in 2005), I learned fast. The camera only had 5 mega pixels, but the Leica lens feeding that little sensor was probably the most fun bit of glass I’ve ever used.

Sandboards Joaquina pranchas Bromley Kent wedding photographer

We lived in Florianopolis, on Santa Catarina island. The long island has a backbone of hills, with beaches to suit every taste – from little sheltered Adriatic or Aegean-style coves facing the mainland to long stretches of sand hammered by Atlantic breakers. A couple of lagoons add to the diversity of landscape, and between Joaquina beach and the Lagoa da Conceicao are sand dunes. The beach itself is the best on the island for surfers – the dunes are the best place in South Brazil for sand surfing. And for sandsurfing you need sandboards…

Surfers tend to own their own boards, but sandboarding is a more informal activity, and most people hire a sandboard from the guys at the dunes. The sandboards stand in rows, waiting for clients ready to make the long walk up the dune before  sliding down.

The photo I love came during a day showing visitors around the island. To be honest I hadn’t intended to stop at the dunes – too much else to see – but as we passed I saw the boards lined up and asked if I could jump out of the car for a quick photo. This is the shot that made the cut – and made canvases and prints in a fair few homes.

There were two groups of boards – one set in rather boring rows of the same colour and the other more mixed up and interesting. I moved round them fairly fast, my view of the boards broken by two girls walking through the shot obliviously. I took the photos in 51 seconds, and got quickly back to the car to continue the tour.

Technical/editing bit: with a scene like this – brilliant sub-tropical summer sunlight, light sand and white clouds, you have to expose downwards to avoid burning your highlights out. Clouds are not like streetlights – you want their shape and detail to be preserved. So the full set of pics shows just how dull they looked coming straight out of the camera. The job in the edit is to get back to the impact of the scene as you saw it.

My son, Tom, on a sandboard at Joaquina back in 1998
Pentax SLR – Boots slide film

That picture of the sandboards paid for the camera – but even that wasn’t the most successful shot of the day. That will have to wait for another blog piece – suffice to say that it was one of those perfect, early summer, Santa Catarina days which made you savour every minute. Perfect!

Saudades da Ilha – saudades dos meus amigos brasileiros – saudades do verão!

This is the fourth image in a series – favourite pictures with their stories. The camera used is more or less irrelevant, though I will include the data. If anyone wants a print, drop me an email or use my contact form.

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