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Igrexa de Santa Maria A Capela

Not far south of Sobrado, tucked away in a peaceful glen, are the remains of a monastery from the 10th century. Most of the original structures are in ruins but there is a chapel on the site that is still in use. The monastery was built next to the Rego Pequeno and water still flows through the remaining structures.

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Another day at Razo

December 30th was a spectacular day here in Galicia so we headed west to spend another day on Razo beach. I took all my gear to make stitched images but the wild nature of the area doesn’t lend itself to that kind of photography. So instead I spent a lot of time “sketching” with my camera. Generally this doesn’t lead to much useful material for me. Better to come home with one beautiful image than a thousand poor ones shot from the hip.

Sometimes though it is just a good exercise to play and shoot without any expectation of coming home with a “keeper.” That is pretty much how this day went. But I’ll share a couple with you that I was happy I had the chance to see.

As I was taking these images it occurred to me how much like snowflakes the ocean is. Every fraction of second the scene changes and no two moments in time will ever be the same. There may be similar moments but it will never be exactly the same. And while thinking about this, there was just a little bit of guilt. The idea that I could capture the beauty of the sea and these moments seemed ridiculous. In the end I know I failed. Still I have a couple of souvenirs I can share. Something like bringing home shells for your friends.

Sobrado

Sarah and I were filming at the chapel at Ermita da Mota (you can see it in our video “Bread and Wine”on our YouTube channel Jane In Spain) when a bicyclist stopped to chat with us. He told us of a spectacular monastery about 30 minutes away that we just had to see.  His enthusiasm for this monastery was so striking we had to go find it.

Thirty minutes to the east of us is the town of Sobrado dos Monxes. It’s on the Camino del Norte. If you are a pilgrim walking the Camino de Santiago you may very well have stopped here to see the monastery and have your credentials stamped. We are not pilgrims in the sense of walking the camino of Saint James, but maybe our life here in Galicia counts as a kind of camino. No sé.

In Sobrado there is a monastery considered to be  a benchmark of the Baroque style. It is an active monastery but they are more than happy to let you in to explore. It is Galicia after all. Our bicyclist friend offered a spectacular description of the monastery but we were unprepared for the reality of it. Wandering around inside I had the sense that the structure was on the same scale as the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. It probably isn’t as large but it felt like it as every step offered a new grand vista or a new grotto to sit and contemplate in. There is no pressure to make your way through as you might on a guided tour. In fact the whole experience kind of insists that you take your time and carefully and deliberately explore every corner. For me, this is photographic paradise.

I’ve always felt that “seeing” is the first step to understanding what to photograph. Seeing isn’t the same as looking. It is a passive act in that you have to open up yourself and let everything about the place and your surroundings enter through all your senses. Listen, smell, feel the temperature of the air. Move slowly and watch the shapes and shadows interact. Watch how lines converge or diverge as you subtly shift from foot to foot. Sit, stand, walk turn. All this is what informs our vision. When you are open to seeing, The subtle beauty unfolds and shows itself. The moments may not last but while you are in them you will know what you want to photograph.

 

Jane In Spain

Living in Galicia has provided incredible new photographic opportunities along with some challenges. The culture and architecture are wildly different from where we came from. In New York I felt in tune with the buildings and places I knew and had a certain comfort with how I wanted to present those places and the scenes I photographed. Spain has given me a very different palette to work from and pushed me to learn new ways to look at my surroundings. Rich organic landscapes and structures give insight into how Galicians are tied to nature and the land. Everyday is a new exercise in seeing and feeling.

After living in Spain for a year we decided to start sharing these experiences by making videos about our life here. A few months ago we launched our YouTube channel Jane In Spain. Since then we have introduced a handful of videos and are currently working on a new ones. Interestingly, I found that my skills as a still photographer did not really translate to video. Creating meaningful content and telling an engaging story is far more challenging for me than crafting a single image. Fortunately my wife is a gifted writer and storyteller with a sensitive eye and a great capacity for helping others to see. These videos are a collaboration of our talents and a celebration of the beauty that we see here every day.

Praia de Razo

Praia de Razo

We spent a day on Razo beach in Carballo on the north west coast of Spain. Razo is a popular surfing destination and we had plenty of surfers to keep keep us company. I guess we had weather typical of the Atlantic coastline for December. Heavy overcast skies with dense misty air and lots of wind made for some excellent photographic opportunities. Here are a few images from the day.

Big Changes

In October of 2020 my wife and I sold our house and everything we owned and moved from New York state to Galicia, Spain.

After 10 months in Spain I’m finally getting around to taking care of some lingering details. For example a new website.