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Verena Popp-Hackner – Barrika Coast, Spain

December 20th, 2008 Posted in Southern Europe, Uncategorized

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verena_portraitI arrive at Barrika in truly bad weather. Leaving all the photo gear in my campervan, I go for a scouting hike, looking for possibilities to get down to the coast, which seems to be mostly steep rocky cliffs. I find a few interesting and promising spots, however I realize, that low tide is not yet late enough for me to allow good evening photography. Since it’s raining cats and dogs anyway, I decide to use another two days to drive along the shoreline, stock up on provisions and prepare all filmholders, clean cameras etc.

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Being back in Barrika, it still rains and rains and rains. Asking the camp host I get the great info that this will last at least another three days. However, on my first evening at Atxabiribil the rain stops for maybe an hour just before dusk! I hurry to a spot I have marked before, where strange rocks look like tails of huge crocodiles or even dragons… I manage to get two shots, shooting very close to the breaking waves and keeping the shutter open for 20 or 30 seconds each time. I actually can’t really measure it exactly, having to look out for incoming waves but knowing from similar work I have done in New Zealand, it doesn’t really matter so much with Velvia film. After the second take, it is already too dark to focus on the groundglass and the rain starts again… I’m really happy to have managed those photos, for one I have a feeling they will turn out quite interesting and for another reason, who knows how long the rain will really last.

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The next day the campground gets flooded and I have to move my campervan to the only dry, or at least stable, ground in the area – the parking lot. Next day the weather is repeating the same trick again: around 5 p.m. the clouds lift and for maybe 90 minutes I get wonderful photo light near Barrika. It really pays off to have hiked the coast before to know where to go to really quickly, when the conditions are suddenly promising.

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Rain for the next 3 days and it seems, that somewhere out on the Atlantic ocean a storm has passed, as the waves are getting higher and higher each hour. Finally the rain stops for longer periods and I can start taking photos again. Waves are really huge now, maybe 3 metres, and I always have to keep an eye open for those occasional sneaker wave. It sure is not the most equipment-friendly environment as I’m working in salty spray all the times and sometimes being splashed by a wave. Photos do show only half of the experience as the thundering noise of the breakers all around me is always keeping me alert and intimidated. I sure love it, though…

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Next morning brings nice weather and out of nowhere, surfers are hitting the beach in mass numbers!!! Now I not only have to be careful to avoid risking the equipment in the surf, I also have to be extremely careful not to get one of those surfers in my compositions… The surfers are driving me nuts, leaving stuff on the beach, which would be in my pictures and I start shooting at locations which are really, really risky – very exposed cliffs - and after another 2 days I feel like I have given my best. I have another mission just coming up – shooting in Parque Nacional de Pyrenees, so I don’t want to risk loosing my equipment here. It’s been an interesting but sometimes nerve wrecking experience and I don’t think I would have ever gotten here, if not for the Wild Wonders assignment. I mention this, because, very often landscape photography with large format cameras is considered such a contemplative work (which it can be), but I truly wish people could join me on a trip like this too, to see what it really can take to get just a few photographs that might work!


Please note that blogs reflect our photographers' opinions and not necessarily those of the directors of Wild Wonders of Europe.

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  1. 6 Responses to “Verena Popp-Hackner – Barrika Coast, Spain”

  2. By Sandra on Dec 21, 2008

    That coast is just extraordinary … and the story and the images really convey the atmosphere.
    I’ve seen quite a lot of images of this part of Spain lately and I’d really like to go there and see the place for myself.

  3. By Jaak on Dec 23, 2008

    Unexpected scenery…
    Nice pics.
    So surfers don’t like rain?

  4. By Renato on Jan 9, 2009

    Hi,

    Really stunning set of photos! Thanks for sharing

  5. By Michi on Nov 12, 2009

    Hi Verena,

    admire your really heroic fight … ;o)
    But nethertheless it has paid off, the pictures are great !!!

    All the best,
    Michi

  6. By rob on Nov 9, 2010

    Like all art forms the harder the battle to get the perfect results makes the finished article so much more appreciated. by the way your images are dramatic and naturally beautiful.

  7. By barrician on Aug 2, 2011

    Hi,

    thanks for sharing so wonderful work. I live just some minutes from that place and i have to say you have make me see it in another way. many times we do not apreciate what we have. Those others who love the photos, don’t miss the place.

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