1. Banyoles (Pla De L’Estany), Catalunya, España
The big day has arrived. I was born in Barcelona, n the district of Poble Sec, as Joan Manel Serrat, and this Mediterranean enclave will be an excellent starting point for my World Tour, apart from the fact that the Olympus headquarters for Spain and Portugal is there. I have chosen dates that assure me a mild spring in the northern hemisphere and a progressive autumn in the southern countries.
Nevertheless, I will be photographing around lake Banyoles, next to home, for the very first time. This decision allows me to calibrate the OM-D EM-1 Mark II. This is a latest model and despite the fact that I controls how it works, since it is very similar to its predecessor, every time I open a camera I need a few days to adapt. It is like a new partner, I must understand it, know the reaction of its electronic bowels to my requests, check its celerity and delve as much as possible in its features. We have to be good friends. From the start, the camera meets my expectations. It is very fast, and most importantly, I can use it without a tripod at amazing speeds and come out with very clear images. Its stabilization system is incredible, which allows me to limit the automatic sensitivity to a maximum of 1600 ISO, although there would be no problem raising it if necessary. At 1000 ISO, I photographed a little house among the reeds, by hand, at 3.2 seconds. It is impossible to obtain these results with another camera without the help of a tripod.
Such an achievement brings about the first premises to this initiatory journey: I will make photographs in close to no light conditions. It will be interesting to see the response of the Olympus Mark II in the dark alleys of Hong Kong or the sunsets of Rio de Janeiro. In another moment, we will see the importance of giving a sense to your work.
Why photograph next to home? One of the most interesting tips I have received from my teachers is to photograph the place where you live. It is obvious that your sense of appreciation for the new is accentuated in different environments, what happens when you travel. The new sharpens the perception. A Christian cathedral, a Buddhist temple, a tropical forest, a paradise beach, exotic features, a colourful market… everything is more attractive in the eyes of a person who lives, for example, in an urban environment and moves around concrete buildings and peak-hour traffic jams. It is only logical.
Paradoxically, it is harder to improve as a photographer when faced with an unfamiliar environment. The normal thing is to leap into the commonplace, focus on what is superficial, within everyone’s reach, because the brain, repanting in its comfort area, orders “do not entertain yourself, take the photo fast and you will see more things”. Stopping, remaining several minutes or perhaps hours in one place, waiting for time to uncover its secrets, is the tribute paid by those who seek to grasp the essence and do not conform to the mere presence of things.
That is why it is very important to photograph your surroundings. In an ideal situation, every day. To get used to observing beyond the superfluous. Your house, your street, your neighbourhood, your village, your city… all of them are highly photogenic, which is almost invisible to its inhabitants. The mind prioritizes what is new and diminishes what is familiar. Try to be a good photographer where you live and you will be a good photographer where you go to.