Laguna Colorada

Sometimes compositions don't need to be too clever. I had a beautiful red lake in front of me with really stunning light. But I was searching for a dramatic composition and I simply couldn't find one.

Photographs work on many levels and often for different reasons too.

Surely it's enough to document a place for what it is?

I loved the light and I loved the colour of the red lake (created by the sediments being stirred by the Altiplano winds).

I just couldn't find a strong composition.

It is what it is.

I gave in to what it was and somehow, I'm no longer angst about not finding that killer composition.


While I was in Bolivia, I was taken to a remote village where no tourists go. jose007

The 'road' to the village was a test of nerves, even though we were in a 4WD vehicle. What surprised me the most was that when we got there, I couldn't help but notice a bus that had managed to travel the same impassible road.

I stayed for a long weekend, under the stars, in my tent, very, very cold for the first night. The family I was staying with offered me a Llama skin to put over my sleeping bag. It was rather heavy but a welcome reprieve from the high altitude cold.

Anyway, I'm digressing a wee bit here as I attempt to set the scene for this shot.

This is a picture of José. He's a farmer of Alpaca and Llama. His sister and brother all live in the same farm and he has never been to La Paz or to any other town outside of his small village. I woke up on the first morning there to find him standing in his doorway watching everyone, like he'd never seen people before. I introduced myself and asked him for his picture. What I loved about the whole exchange was that he had no preconceptions of how to stand, how to look and didn't go into that terrible 'cheese' mode that most people go into when presented with a camera. He simply didn't change one bit, so this is a shot of him, with me standing perhaps about a foot away from him.

I love the shallow DOF when using the Contax 645 f2 lens up close. I think this was shot at f4 to make sure that most of his face was in focus, while at the same time, render his bomber jacket with a creamy out of focus bokeh.

El Arbol de Piedra

On the Bolivian Altiplano, I photographed El Arbol de Piedra (the stone tree) around 6am. el-arbol-de-piedra

I had to retreat to the 4WD and sit in the warmth because my hands had gone so cold that they had become unresponsive. I couldn't operate my camera. It was a stunning revelation because I wasn't aware of it being cold. I'm not sure if this was because I was suffering slight altitude sickness problems anyway, but at the time I thought it was just that temperatures at higher altitudes just 'felt different' from the cold I know so well in a Scottish winter.

I dug out the contact sheet of film yesterday and this was the one that really stood out. It was shot a little bit earler than the rest and the light was just a bit more magical. Wish I'd laid off on the polariser though, but all the same, I'm happy with this shot.

Dali was apparently inspired by this very location and now that I've been there, I can exactly see how.

I shot this with a Mamiya 7 and I can't remember if it was wide angle (50mm) or standard (80mm). But I do remember not using a Grad filter because I found that the landscapes in Bolivia seemed to have the same luminance as the skies did. I don't know why that should be.

Just one of the many strange things I found different about shooting this landscape, compared to any other I've done so far.