Funny story. Last night I was hanging with my boys. First, a big shout out for winning the Austrian baseball championship. Seriously, congrats guys, hats down. Besides that, boys, sorry, but it's Baseball, and it's Austria, so take it easy. If you need somebody to hit that ball next season, give me a ring. I'll cover my eyes to keep things fair, Haha, have to laugh myself at this point. Ok, back on topic.....but seriously I would smack that thing. Convinced.
So I just returned from Nicaragua, and we were talking about my experience and my pictures. It was really, really good to get so much positive feedback and warm words. I know, I know, they are my friends but still. When you are in the sphere of arts, every single positiv word helps so much. By being "out there", you are giving away a piece of yourself, making yourself vulnerable and up for evaluation. Even if I think: "I like my pictures and that's all that counts", there will always be opinions that cut close to my soul. It's not that I would stop liking my pictures if everybody else said they didn't, but it would make me think twice about whether this is something I can live off. I guess the only thing left to say then would be: "Guys, you are not ready for my outstanding art yet. Wait another 100 years and you too will be there" Luckily, at this point I am not so far away and funny enough this is the perfect transition to what I was going to say in the beginning.
My friends and I were looking at my pictures and when we arrived at one of my speed blurs, both of them go "Nah, really don't like that one so much", Instantly, I was like "Whaaaaaaaat, those are probably the sickest pictures I have" So I started asking myself......" Are they not ready for my god damn speed blurs yet? Can't they see the beauty in them? Do they need some more LSD to get it!?. So we continue talking and they tell me:" It looks so photoshopped, so fake"; My pupils widen, "Photoshooooooopped, What do you meeeeeeean!?" All my images are color corrected and edited to a certain extend, but I NEVER have made an image blurry or any other obvious manipulation. So this is why I want to share and explain, how I shot these speed blurs so that you might be able to view them in a different light. Lets skip a couple of those 100 years ;). I also want to mention that for photographers and surfers, this might not be a baffle at all. But if you are from Austria and are neither familiar with waves nor photography, then there is some room for explanation.
I consider speed blurs my signature work. I love the esthetics of it, the feel, the smooth and softness of the image. To me it feels like silk, it feels like I could dream away for hours looking at them. It's seriously getting lost in an ocean wonder world. I love shooting them because you actually need some skill to do it. Speed blurs are basically long exposure shots where you move the camera horizontally. I use exposure times from 1/30th of a second up to 1 second and I like to be zoomed in at 100mm or more. Since you are working with long exposures you most likely have to close the aperture as far as possible (High f Number). Because of the amount of light coming in you have three options. Shooting at sunrise, sunset or using filters. The possibilities are endless and there is so much experimenting and exploring that goes into the shot. When there is a surfer on the wave it gets really tricky, but interesting. You are trying to match the rhythm of the surfer so he stays in focus only blurring the wave. Wonderful.. Here is a little step-by-step guide to help ensure that you get that perfect shot.
1) Put the camera on the tri pod
2) Stand in front of an ocean with waves
3) Put the camera on timer mode so you can start moving the camera before the exposure starts (that helps to keep it all clean and steady)
4) Look for beautiful light, reflections, backwash, contrasts, and sets of waves
ps. Immer schoen locker bleiben
Going down that Volkano hill was one of the biggest missions of my life. Imagine, sliding down the back of an active volkano with at least 150km/h, estimated. You got no other choice. "S*" is going down in the back, explosions everywhere and your only chance of saving your life is to strap this wooden board to your feet and race down the black ash. Of course, it is not only the boiling hot lava, but screaming Nicaraguan guerillas are after you as well. On massive sledges with machetes and machine guns. Half way through you gotta stop because there is this in black dust covered, half-naked, blonde girl, that broke her foot, and obviously, you have to save her life as well...........
That, oooooooor something like that, was what my experience was like. In Austria there is a good saying that we use when people start fantacising. It goes something like: "Und dann bist aufgwacht und's Bett war nass" I guess this would be a good moment but hey, you gotta get yourself excited, right !? Anyhow, the actual experience was still cool..
The volkano, "Cerro Negro", was last active in 1998. Walking up the hill with a 10 kilo wooden plate on my back, 40 degrees, no shade, wind blowing so hard that you can't figure out whether you are moving or not; Huh, I just love hiking. Ok, ok, I am just a lazy complainer. The walk was rewarding and the views from the top really stunning. Everybody was wearing those funny green and yellow suits and with the goggles you totally looked like you jumped out some computer game. Most people were going down on the sledge, just Tahniya and me choose the "snowboard" option.
Honestly, I would not have had the guts to go with the board because they said it's really hard. I was more in for the fun, speeding down straight, sledge thing but then Thaniya was so determined about the boarding that I said to myself:" Hey! Come on now Constantin. You are from freaking Austria. It's an embarressment to you country if you let the girls from Brooklyn board down by herself" So it happened and it turned out to be a really cool and especially challenging experience. You really gotta lean all your weight to the back and it's much more effort to turn the board and gain speed. The ash is pretty unforgiving as well. My next goal is Rio 2016. Havin recognized some Nicaraguan blood in my grand-grand-grand-grand mothers heritage, I have changed snow for ash and am now professionally preparing for the summer Olympics in Volkano downhill. Not officially recognized in Austria, this trending sport it fiercly competitive in Nicaragua and will put me through weekly qualifications. You can now support my cause and as always, change the world on facebook. If you like the pictures please also like my page
As always, thanks for reading!
ps. keep on riding, keep on smiling
pss. If you are around Leon and looking to try it out, contact Tierra Tours
So where did we leave off? Ah, I just got out of the water, it's anywhere between 8 and 10 am. Sometimes Alex and me will drive to a hostel around the area that has the best and biggest smoothies ever. Alexe's brother works there and for about $1,50 you will get at least a liter of ice cold, banana-chocolate flovored milk shake. After spending three hours in salt water, the smoothie feels like an orgasm to your taste buds. It's time for hammok and chill out.
Once we get back to the camp, Sara our german chef has already prepared the most amazing breakfast one could imagine. And trust me, I am not just saying that. All the people (women), who have ever been trying to cook for me and that especially includes my mom and my aunts, know that I am not always a happy camper. Most of the times I know better, which in reality, I don't of course. All meals at the camp are great and that is considering, that there is days where I eat no meat at all (which is quite crazy for me). Even though Sara often cooks vegitarian, I haven't found a single possibility to complain.
After breakfast the typical move is to navigate towards the hammok. There is a total of 6 at our camp and they are not only comfortable but also have a view over the ocean. Just in case you still have enough power you can always cancel the siesta and jump out front for a couple more waves. There is a big thing about hammocks in this country and you will see them everywhere. I have seen construction workers hang them up on the side of/under their trucks to sleep during midday. Every straw hut will have one and many locals actually use them as their "real" beds. Basically there is no beds, there is hammoks only.
The afternoons and evenings are pretty quiet around the camp.There is no bars or anything that you could really visit. It's the time when I read, edit my pictures, write my blog and work on my Master thesis. It's good to have some time to set back and reflect. Not that I turn on my brain all too often but once in a while it doesn't hurt. Of course I miss friends and family sometimes but everybody around here is really nice. It is definitely a good and healthy learning experience. On good days, the onshore winds quiet down in the evening and I have another quick surf. If not, I definitely jump in the water, body surf for a little while and enjoy the sunset. Reminds me a lot about Greece and my favorite place for vacations. Sacrifice is part of life and sometimes you gotta take opportuities as they come.......even when you will miss something you love. The next picture always helps me to put on a smile again :)
We had a couple days without clients and took the opportunity to explore Leon, which is one of the bigger cities around. We went volcano boarding (yes, sliding down on ash on a thing that is somewhat similar to a snowboard) and it was an awesome experience. That and more for next week.
Stay sharp and keep on riding.
It has been two weeks in Nica now and there are so many different things to tell that it is hard to find a beginning. I will start with describing a typical morning. Usually I wake up between 4:30 and 6:30, depending on the tides. For some reason it has been really easy to do that. For the last year I was struggling to get up before 10am, so this is a positive surprise for me. The motivation of finding epic waves almost every morning is probably a big factor. It's always clean and offshore in the morning and when there is swell, you will have good waves. Guaranteed.
Another thing is the warmth. It is warm all day, every day. The morning is the coolest time of the day and therefore especially enjoyable. Once the clock hit's 9/10am it starts getting really hot and at midday I look much like a sweaty pig. The upside to this is that the water temperature around here is amazingly perfect. It's even a bit warmer than in Greece for example. You need no wetsuit and can just jump in the water at any time.
After a cup of tea, Alex and me drive to the best spot around the area. Alex is the local Nica kid that works with Thunderbomb Surfcamp. He is an amazing surfer and also a really nice guy, who knows the area better than anybody else. He takes us to a spot called ............, that is still somewhat secret. It's a heavily barreling beach break similar to Supertubos or Hossegor. That said, I definitely have taken more beatings than actually made barrels. Snuck in a couple but mostly I got the lip to the head or some other kook mistake :D. Fortunately I have lots of time to improve over the next two month.
To get to the spot, we take the 4x4 and maneuver on offroads through the jungle. Well, I guess there is no other option because there are only offroads around here. Once we arrive to the beach we are greeted by a million dogs that race the car. We stay at the beach all morning until about 9/10 am. I mostly split my time 50/50 for shooting and surfing. It is super nice because nobody tells me when to shoot or when to surf. I am quite free to arrange my time and if I don't want to shoot I don't have to.
Recently I have done some filming in the water and the footage is amazing. As much as I love surfing, it really gives me joy and pleasure to be shooting in the water. It's a nice feeling to get a beautiful wave on camera because they are sooooo powerful and majestic. You have to sit right in that critical spot and once the wave breaks and the lip starts pounding the sand.......OMG......the sound is just addicting. I will try to record that for you but imagine it somehow like "bbbbuchhchhchchchchchch", with a grindig and deep "ch".
Ok, that's enough reading for now but it's just 10am, so there is much more to tell. To see where it all started, click here.
Time to go surfing.
Coming off this great time in Portugal and looking forward to spending the summer with friends and family, it wasn't an easy decision to move to Nicaragua. In the end, everything happened really fast and some of you might not even know where I am. F*, I don't even really know myself yet :p. On this note, I am really happy that I could spend a couple of days in Vienna with my brother, sister, cousins and good buddies. It was as always, amazing. And it felt as always, home.
Ever since I started surfing, it has been a driving factor in my decisions. If you are a surfer, you probably know what I am talking about. Once the bug bit you, you are hooked. Oversimplified, I moved to Cali because I wanted to learn how to surf, I worked as a surf instructor in Portugal becsause I wanted to stay close to the ocean, I completed my Masters in Lisbon because there is dozens of good waves around. And now, I am in Nicaragua.
However, it is always about more than just surfing. It is about an experience, it is about a challenge and it is about developing a set of skills. To me, Nicaragua is the chance to develop my photography and live my passion in a professional manner, to dive into a new culture and experience a country where issues are other than choosing the right dress or driving a nice car. It is my chance to get back in shape, wake up at 6 am every day, and think and reflect upon my life. I am here to enjoy my time, make friends and of course, surf some of the best waves in the world.
Sooooo, many of you are probably curious about what's going on at this remote place. I am located in the northern part of Nicaragua, somewhat close to a town called Chinandega. Walking the streets today felt a bit funky because we were basically the only gringos around. There is no tourism here and it takes a bit getting used to being the only "chele", as they call you. Without a doubt, it is a whole other world that I will try to bring close to you in the next couple weeks.
The camp is located 40 minutes away from Chinandega. Where we live, there is absolutely nothing you would call modern civilization.
I am not going to tell you too much yet, but one thing is for sure. Thunderbomb Surfcamp in Nicaragua has an amazing location with epic surf just in their backyard. From my bed, it takes me about 30 seconds to find perfectly peeling lefts and rights. It is offshore every morning and the best thing is that there is not a single soul out there. Well, somethimes Jonathan, the freaky but absolutely charming and warmhearted owner, tries to sneak some of my waves.........but that's ok, for now. As I also want to say thanks to him, for believing in me and giving me this opportunity.