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Food for the Soul

by José Augusto Suzano Magalhães
ublished the 21st of June 2021

A relaxing afternoon with my family in one of our favorite towns in Portugal turned into a photo that we all treasure to this day. I wasn't planning to take this photo, but that day I was hoping to capture one moment that represented everything that made this place so special to us: our food for the soul.

Nikon D50  .  Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G  .  f/10

This photo was taken on a family trip to the town of Nazaré, Portugal, formerly a tourist destination due to its beautiful beaches, cuisine and the famous women of the seven skirts. In the old days, the wives of fishermen sat on the beach all day, waiting for their husbands to sail home. To bear the cold wind blowing in from the sea, they wore seven petticoats to stay warm, wrapping the layers around their legs and backs. Women in Narazé still dress in this traditional way, although the skirts are shorter and have fewer layers these days. It makes the town quite colorful and unique since no other place in the world has this tradition, giving the area a real air of nostalgia. Nazaré is also renowned for its massive waves created by the Nazaré Canyon, the largest underwater canyon in Europe. It was one of those huge waves (100 feet/30 meters high) that the famous surfer Garrett McNamara rode to break the world record for the largest wave ever surfed.

"That's when I saw this scene: the expansiveness of the beach, the waves rolling in one after the other and the lone fisherman."

My family really enjoys going to Narazé, and on this day we decided to spend a leisurely afternoon, taking full advantage of our time there. I love photography, and I wanted to capture an image that represented everything that made Nazaré so special. That's when I saw this scene: the expansiveness of the beach, the waves rolling in one after the other and the lone fisherman. It seemed to me that the fisherman had come to the beach, not to actually catch fish but to find peace and tranquility. In that moment I knew this was the photograph I had been searching for.

The light was fantastic! It was a late autumn afternoon, and the sun was very close to the horizon and at a 90-degree angle to me. I instinctively composed a picture of the fisherman, a tiny being in the vastness of the beach, in his loneliness, trying to feed his soul with answers. To me, what makes this photo work is that the beach was deserted since it was the end of an autumn day, and when I look at this scene I am reminded of how I felt when I was there.

"Suddenly the moment arrived: I knew I had found my "food for the soul," and it was precisely then that I pressed the shutter button."

After I composed the image and set my Nikon D50 to Manual mode, I waited for the fisherman to launch the fishing line into the sea and reposition himself at the edge of the water. I then watched the breaking waves and the pattern that the white foam made, creating a beautiful geometry in that gorgeous golden hour light. Suddenly the moment arrived: I knew I had found my "food for the soul," and it was precisely then that I pressed the shutter button.

I looked at the camera's display and thought: This is exactly what I want. Of course, both my wife and my daughter also wanted to see the picture, and I received the most varied reactions from them: the colors look fantastic; the foam from the waves is so beautiful; there is such vastness. I asked them if this was the "food for the soul" that encapsulated everything we love about Nazaré, and they both nodded yes. All three of us agreed then that the world is stunning, and we should all appreciate and preserve it.

We travel in search of beautiful, idyllic places around the world, but beauty is everywhere. In fact, most of the time it's right in front of us. This city is a fantastic place to take good pictures because it has beaches, hills, typical and narrow streets, and numerous restaurants, bars and craft retailers. Because of its beaches and huge swells, it is also very common to see surfers and people practicing other water sports. It is visited by many tourists in search of the seaside and the delectable seafood cuisine. You can even find nets laid out on the beach, loaded up with sardines that are drying in the sun, soon to be cooked and sold.

"What's most important, if you want to capture an image like this, is to make sure you have all the necessary requirements: an amazing scene, a camera, an objective and heart."

There are pictures that we as viewers look at and think: Only a professional photographer with expensive equipment could have taken this photograph. But that is simply incorrect thinking. Of course, a photographer with training, experience and top equipment is more likely to capture striking images that make us stop to contemplate, admire the beauty and imagine traveling to places we have never been. But throughout my life, I have seen photographers with good equipment capturing ordinary photos and others with mediocre equipment capturing beautiful images. What's most important, if you want to capture an image like this, is to make sure you have all the necessary requirements: an amazing scene, a camera, an objective and heart.
Normally for landscape and nature photos, I shoot in RAW format; for anything else I shoot in JPEG format. This specific image, though, I shot in JPEG. This was a family trip and we were taking many family photos, so I didn't have much space to shoot in RAW.

I processed the image in Photoshop CS5.

1) I adjusted the contrast and exposure using the Levels tool.

2) I made minor adjustments using the Selective Color tool to make the white foam on the sea and the greens and blues of the ocean look more realistic.

3) In the end, I applied a bit of sharpness using the Smart Sharpen filter (Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen) with Amount set to 65 and Radius set to 0.6.
1) It is true (most of the time) that a good image is the result of great preparation and spending a lot of time to capture the photo; however, it isn't always this way. "Food for the Soul" is proof that if you only have average equipment and are unprepared, you can still get the picture you seek.

2) This photo was captured while my family and I were enjoying the afternoon in a great place and a scene unfolded right before my eyes. Obviously there are many types of pictures that cannot be shot this way. Under most circumstances, make sure you have appropriate equipment, assistants, studios, filters, tripods, knowledge of the weather, etc.

3) If you like photography, don't let anything prevent you from shooting and try to always learn more. Many times, right next to you, there are plenty of reasons to shoot that work really well and make you happy.
I was born on September 6, 1967, in a village called San Pedro da Cova in Oporto District, Portugal. I still live in this village. Ever since I was very young, images have fascinated me. I spent hours looking at pictures, imagining the stories behind them. As a teenager, missing classes to see films by the great American, French and Italian filmmakers was a common occurrence:  I was always so intrigued by the cinematography. But it wasn't until much later, when I was about 34 years old, that I bought a Nikon D50 DSLR. Since then I have studied the work of great photographers, read some technical books on photography and I've done many experiments with my D50. I never attended a photography course, though; I am an autodidact.

Some of my photos have been published in national photography magazines. I have won some small competitions, but nothing on an international scale. I take pictures because it gives me great pleasure to freeze the emotion of a scene and to be able to transmit the same emotion to others, making them eternal. For me, some of the most important things in life are memories.
I read the article with great pleasure. An impressive story and a striking image. Congratulations !