Archive for the 'Portugal' Category

23
Oct
14

How we craft our lives, part 1

I have a few excuses for not blogging for such a long time. (Teaching, leading tours, working, writing, too much time on airplanes, LIFE.) None of them is sufficient. But I’ve also been at a loss for a meaningful subject. It hit me three days ago at the end of an equine photography workshop that I taught in California: community.

I have a mentoring client that has shaped her whole life around the idea of community. That has always seemed perfect to me for her photo work and projects….but I hadn’t thought about the concept in relationship to what I’ve been building. What else am I doing but that when we are gathered together to learn, to create and explore? And then that idea is compounded when I hear my students say “well let’s get together in Seattle and….” and “I’ve created a Facebook page to post images each month and you’re all invited”.

When a class comes together and builds on the friendships and community created during the workshop and extends that into their everyday lives, for a teacher, it is the most gratifying thing to behold.

It happened as well with a group that was traveling with me (and my co-leader, the indefatigable Arthur Meyerson!) in Portugal. They enjoyed each other’s company during the trip and have continued their dialogue after their long journeys back to real life.

I have my own community too, well, communities. My mentoring students keep me in touch with other work and other inspirations. They push me as much as I encourage them! And my own mentors are generous with their time and conversations. But this summer I’ve seen that I need to nurture my communities a little more. My students (they are always teaching me!) have shown me the value and I am grateful for the strong reminder.

So though photography is a solitary pursuit, demanding quiet, thoughtful intention, we can be part of a raucous, joyful bunch! I’m going to craft more time in my life for these days of joyful sharing.

Here are some images from Portugal, from California, and from Whidbey Island. All created this summer, in a community of friendship, photography, and inquiry. More to come in part two.

And for those thinking of returning or coming to the next equine workshop at Barbier Farms in June….OR on a trip to Portugal with me in 2015….here is some food for thought. My thanks to John Paul Caponigro for writing about his experience in a most elegant way.

http://www.johnpaulcaponigro.com/blog/12327/return-to-the-same-well/

 

22
Apr
14

sun, flowers, Lusitanos

The winter rains have given way to the glory of spring. I’ve had the great luxury of photographing beautiful horses in flowers and dappled sun these last two weeks. It is marvelous to be out each evening in the woods and pastures after what seemed like interminable rain!

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Carlos Oliveira on Talisman, PSL.

 

There is something about these cork trees (quercus species) that I love. I keep thinking that someone in a toga will step from behind one. Silly? Perhaps. But this landscape says ‘human history’ to me. And for the last 500 years, the cultivation of the cork oaks has combined with the breeding and selection of the Lusitano to create a land and heritage that is Puro Ribatejo. And yes, I know….togas are much older than 500 years. But so is the cultivation of cork oaks here in the Ribatejo.

And speaking of togas, here is an interesting fact: Julius Caesar made his fortune near here in Alcacer do Sal (by harvesting salt) and with this strength of fortune and his army, became Emperor of Rome.

Enjoy the photos. I’ll be back this weekend with more, after the festival in Alter de Chao.

 

 

23
Mar
14

more driving from the Iberic Cup

I went back to Companhia das Lezirias for an hour or so this morning to photograph more driving. It was pretty amazing to watch the precision, power, and speed! Congratulations to all the competitors. I heard competitors from Belgium, Spain, and Portugal being called to the piste…but I think I saw some French and German flags as well. If any of my readers know the participants, please pass along the link! And congratulations/parabens to Companhia das Lezirias for a beautiful venue and event.

21
Mar
14

some driving fun and a Presidential visit

It couldn’t be too long until I had a post about horses, right? Today I photographed some preparation for the Iberic Cup championship in driving. Teams from France, Spain, Belgium, the US, and Portugal will compete this weekend for the Cup as they build momentum to the World Championship in September.

The landscape at Companhia das Lezirias is a favorite place for me so I had a LOT of fun. I know the place well, have friends there, enjoy the great restaurant ( A Coudelaria ) and it’s where friends stay when they come to visit me here in Portugal. I say all this just to give a nudge to you if you are considering a visit! I’ll be going back tomorrow and Sunday so come back and visit the blog next week. I hope you enjoy the photos.

Oh, and the President of Portugal visited today along with the Minister of Agriculture for International Forest Day. It was a marvelously low-key event.

25
Nov
13

Golegã, Portugal, Part 2

Following five wonderful days at Golegã enjoying the Lusitanos and the festive atmosphere, my ladies were ready to ride! For four days we had the privilege of riding and learning from a number of Senhor Pedro Torres’ horses. Ulisses and Trinco (European champion this year with Bruno Pica) taught the ladies the feeling of the upper level movements including 2-tempis, piaffer and passage.

The weather was perfect along the shore in Cascais. Perhaps a little breezy one day, but sunny and bright. We were also treated to a demonstration with retired world-champion Oxidado and Pedro’s new star Ahoto. Everyone remarked that it was tremendous to see the capability and athleticism of the Lusitano in full display. This seemed to be the theme for the entire trip.

Everywhere we went, whether at the Portuguese National School of Equestrian Art, sitting on Carlos Oliveira’s exquisitely light Botero and Talismá, or watching Ana Batista try new mounts for Tauromachie, we marveled at the horses. The Lusitano’s unique ability to offer brilliance and strength while maintaining a calm and willing attitude is the quality that engenders the great respect for the breed.

Enjoy the photos…and think about coming to Portugal to experience the finest Lusitanos and training. I have private trips available throughout the year, including riding opportunities and photography intensives with exclusive access. (keron@keronpsillas.com)

23
Nov
13

Golegã 2013! Part 1

I am woefully behind with my blogging. So in order to catch up I will begin with a fun subject: Golegã, the Lusitano Fair that happens every year in November. I was host to seven marvelous ladies this year who were eager to soak in all the pageantry and excitement that the Fair brings. And of course, they are all lovers of the Lusitano!

We began with a trip to visit Carlos Oliveira and his gorgeous Lusitanos. After some tack shopping at Mundo Equitacao with Catia, Maria Joao, and Maria Helena, we made our way north to our lodgings. For the first six days of our trip we stayed at Ourem Castle, in the Pousada and at Casa Alta Royal Lodge. Both are highly recommended!

The sights and sounds of Golegã must be experienced to be believed. There are horses everywhere, of all levels of breeding, training, and turnout. But the strongest impression is one of a shared love for the Lusitano, this National Treasure. Riders in traditional dress complete the picture of this elegant animal. As the day lengthens into night, the sounds get a little louder and the Ginja flows a little easier! It is, after all, a festival! But it is also a competition. Congratulations to all the breeders. The classes this year were super competitive!

Though my ladies were keenly interested in all things Lusitano, we did make time to visit some local cultural sites, including Tomar and the Convento do Cristo. It’s just one of many UNESCO World Heritage sites in Portugal…but probably my favorite. The mysterious history of the Knights Templar and outstanding architecture examples culminating in an explosion of Manueline style captured everyone’s imagination.

After our week in and around Golegã we went to Cascais for a four-day riding intensive with World-Champion Working Equitation rider Pedro Torres.  More about this amazing experience in the next blog. Until then….enjoy the photos from the first week! And if you look under November 2011 on the list of posts to the right, you’ll see more images from Golegã. Thanks for checking the blog!

 

27
Sep
13

playing in the light & a gallery show!

I am happy to say that I am back in Portugal for several weeks. I’ve been feeling a little ‘down’ about not photographing enough, so I did something about it!

Photographing in an indoor arena is always tricky. And knowing we were going to visit Senhor Manuel Braga to photograph horses in his picadeiro gave me more than my usual apprehension. I remembered that the footing in this particular arena is nearly black. Oh well….nothing to do but try! When I arrived I had a big surprise though…just the week before, Manuel had replaced the footing and now there was a lovely white reflective floor!

It was late in the afternoon so the light was slanting and a little warm. Horses were presented and ridden and photographs were made. I was generally happy with the result when in came a gorgeous young black stallion. Manuel turned him loose for me to photograph him in liberty, saying “he is very expressive”. This was an understatement!  The horse was a fabulous mover and he loved playing with Senhor Braga and Pedro. I was a very happy photographer.

There are some straight shots, a black and white conversion, and two with my favorite Flypaper Textures! Enjoy….more from the last several weeks coming soon!

If you are in the West Virginia/Maryland/Virginia area, there is a great photography show coming up in Martinsburg at the newly minted Berkeley Art Works:  October 3 through October 27 in the gallery at 116 North Queen Street.  I’ll be showing proudly but humbly with Mark Muse, Frank Robbins, Rip Smith and Robert Clark. I’ll miss the reception, but just manage to see the show when I return to West Virginia after some work in Brasil! I can’t wait. My fellow photographers have taught me a great deal and I am a big admirer of their work.  Passion for learning, for printing, and capturing the light unite us though our visions are wildly diverse. Go see the show!

05
Sep
13

great interviews: Sam Abell and David Alan Harvey

Click on this link for a great interview with my friend and mentor, Sam Abell.  And here’s another: Story Matters. Thank you to Jonathan Blaustein and Story Matters for the interviews. And thank you to Honey Lazar (click this link to see her amazing project, Loving Aunt Ruth, along with a stunning body of work) for bringing the first to my attention.

I continue to be inspired and stunned by the creativity and quality of photography being produced around the globe. This week I came across a great Street Photography site (on Facebook) that has me itching to shoot in Lisbon. My biggest question is how do I fit it in to an already overloaded schedule? I struggle with this each day while remaining grateful for all the opportunities that stretch out before me.

Enjoy these links…I’ll be back in a few days with a discussion about a portrait series….stay tuned…and go make some photographs!

Oh! one last one: David Alan Harvey interview in Vice. Here’s the link to David’s burn. online magazine.

new work from Sam Abell

new work from Sam Abell

 

an old favorite

an old favorite

 

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Filipe Correia, Portugal, from Streetview

David Alan Harvey from Visura Magazine

One of my favorites from Honey Lazar's Loving Aunt Ruth project.

One of my favorites from Honey Lazar’s Loving Aunt Ruth project.

 

09
Jun
13

a Lensbaby walkabout, Obidos!

In preparation for my upcoming class (July…Pacific Northwest Arts School), I popped my lensbaby on and had a great walkabout. My intent was to create images of intimate subjects as well as medium and wide landscape shots. It was great fun with a non-focused focus.  Ha.

All the photographs were made in Obidos, Portugal. Obidos is a lovely village near the coast, about an hour and a half north of Lisbon. It was probably settled hundreds of years before the Romans occupied the area. The walls of the fortress/village went up around 700 A.D., and were strengthened under King Dinis I. In July the whole town turns into a medieval festival.  I was glad to be there on a quieter day. The best part? Walking and creating with two dear friends visiting me in Portugal! Thank you, Riley and Karen!

Browse the images in the slideshow mode. I’ve added some of the thoughts I had while making the images. As always, comments most welcome.

And a reminder…there is still space left in Arthur Meyerson’s second week….and Robert Stahl has space in his September workshop. You couldn’t go wrong with either of these gifted, caring teachers. I have the great pleasure to be assisting Sam Abell and Arthur Meyerson again in August. A special thanks to Lisa and Karen for the fantastic program they have developed at PNWAS!!!

05
Jan
13

The tree

“Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?”  ~Walt Whitman

I’ve been blessed to live with magnificent trees throughout my life. As a child my world was bounded by a great maple for climbing, an ancient half-shattered walnut, and a pear tree that brought wasps in summer to devour its decaying fruit. There was also a great cedar tree that was home, periodically, to Stanley, and later, Ethel. These were blacksnakes that terrorized my mother, were pets to my father, and mysterious challenging beings to me.

Later I lived on the side of a mountain adjacent to the Appalachian Trail. The vast forest was sheltering and nurturing. Terms like BTU’s, cord, cured, and standing dead became important to a household that heated primarily with wood. But the woods also held mystery, challenge, and triumph for two growing boys.

A mighty oak stands sentinel in what was my backyard for the fifteen years I lived on my farm in Shepherdstown. I watched it spread its canopy and offer its shade, increasing each year until it covered what once was a bed for sun-loving lilies, bee-balm, and peonies. Summer evenings brought dinners outdoors. Candlelight and dancing fireflies from its branches illuminated the smiles of guests faces. Heavy mast years warned of big snows in the winter and the yard would become a feeding ground for far too many deer and squirrels. But the animal I enjoyed most was a club-footed crow that sat on a branch near my bathroom window. He cawed at me for years, especially during winter months. Listen! he said. Listen to the moonlight make its way through the branches and the crinkly soft crunching of the snow. Listen to the quiet.

I live now in a land of cork oaks and olives. What they lack in stature they trump all others with their history of partnership with the land and its inhabitants for several thousand years. The rhythm of life is largely unchanged for the people that harvest the olives and cork. I’m enjoying it visually. But I am also in-tune with this rhythm and what it means to live by the seasons.

I’m going to write more about this in my next blog. For now, here are a couple of tree pictures from many years past, and a few I made two days ago. Enjoy. A dear friend from home keeps me updated on the Sycamore near the railroad and the mighty oaks at the turn at Hendricks farm.  I hope you have special trees in your life too.

22
Nov
12

a common thread

My life has been immeasurably enhanced by living and working with horses. In the past several years I have traveled to beautiful places and met lovely, inspiring people that share the common thread of a love for horses. In the last three months I have been in Spain, France, and Portugal for extended periods. The opportunity to become part of the rhythm of  daily work with animals has re-awakened my love of living with horses. This part of my life has been dormant for nearly eight years. My stallion, Fol Amour, is retired (he’s a very spry 29 years old!) and living in California. I see him often, but not daily. Winston Churchill said “there is nothing so good for the inside of a man as the outside of a horse”. I have always known it, but it is alive in me once more.

While traveling in Europe, often I steal away to favorite esoteric sites to photograph and absorb the mystery. Tomar, Sintra, and the Convento dos Capuchos are a few of my favorite spots in Portugal. I’ve included several new images from these spots.

Here is a small gallery of images made since September. Most of the horses are the beloved Lusitano….but the breed is not the most important part of a horse. The teaching, grace and acceptance that all horses have to offer is their unique gift to mankind. As always, I welcome your comments and questions.

Next up: a report of a wonderful trip through the South of France and then on to Paris for the Four Schools performance!

 

30
Jun
12

Horses give us the wings we think we lack

I have had a super busy three months, with many miles logged on 777’s and the like. But wherever I land, I have the pleasure to be with beautiful horses and even more beautiful people. It makes all the hard work worth it! As I am sitting here in Cotia, near Sao Paulo, watching the setting sun rim everything in gold, my thoughts turn to grace and good fortune.  As a photographer I sometimes complain that all I ever get to photograph are horses. First, it’s not exactly true, and second, how ridiculous!  They are spectacular beings that have brought so much beauty to my life! How utterly human to be a bit ‘bored’ with this from time to time. And again, how ridiculous. So I’m giving myself a good kick in the pants and adjusting my attitude. The time will come when I am somewhere else on the planet and engaged in another photographic endeavor. But for right now I can only say ‘thank you’.

For my photographer readers….forgive the lack of editing? I am offering this gallery to my horse-lover friends! It is a collection of images from Brasil, Portugal, and Apassionata in the US.  Enjoy!

18
Nov
11

a traveler’s tale and the threads of history

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber

I am a student of history. What began for me, in the winter of 2000, as a fascination with medieval history, and particularly the history of the Knights Templar, has brought me to Tomar, in Portugal. It is one of the oldest Templar sites and one of the best preserved.

When I decided to come to Golegã for the Lusitano Festival, I thought briefly about visiting Tomar and then let it go. After all, I had serious work to do! When it came time to find a room, the best option – as Golegã was completely booked – was a lovely B&B in a little village called Vargos. Vargos is exactly half way between Tomar and Golegã. So I chuckled and booked the room. Over the years I have become used to the synchronicity of the Universe and am only mildly surprised (but always delighted) when it surfaces. Arriving in Lisbon after an overnight flight through London, I found myself in a rental car in pitch black night with tons of traffic in a driving rainstorm.  Fun, right? With nothing to do but move forward, off I went with a GPS in search of a tiny village.

I arrived in the Vargos after several hours…no problem…but where was Casa dos Vargos? There are no numbers….no visible street signs….no lights. After a little scrambling on the Iphone for an email and number I located and called Dona Pilar, the proprietress of Casa dos Vargos. In no time I was warm and dry in a tremendous salon.  I can’t call it a room. The ceiling was at least 16 feet high and the furnishings were tasteful and very very old. I was happy and relieved.

As I was trying to settle in to sleep, I read from the various literature in the room about the majesty and antiquity of Tomar. I resolved to go there before I visited Golegã the following day. Below you will see a gallery of images from the town of Tomar as well as the Convento do Cristo, which was the original 11th century fortress, church, and seat of Gualdim Pais, Master of the Order of the Temple in Portugal. The Convent of Christ has been home to many other important people, including Prince Henry the Navigator.

The Templars are famous, or infamous depending on your point of view, for many things, but most notably for the occult wisdom they were said to possess. Many people believe this wisdom was the basis for the Masonic Order and the Rosicrucians. During my time in Scotland in 2002, 2003, and 2005, I traveled to various villages in search of traces of this order, and to uncover connections with the aspect of the Divine Feminine in sacred and theological traditions.

Now the story returns to the present. After my visit to Tomar and the Convento do Cristo, I had to get to work in Golegã! I put all thoughts of mysteries and investigation aside….until Monday morning when Dona Pilar asked “have you seen the chapel?” What chapel? I had no idea what she was speaking of.  At that very moment I was stuck in a quandary about what to do next and where to go…..but I went along with her, happy for the distraction. We went out the door and around the courtyard while she was explaining that the home had been in her family since the 16th century…and that I was going to view their private chapel.  “It is full of the most beautiful Azulejos….all very old and of very high quality…you will see, it’s lovely!”.  Lovely doesn’t begin to describe it.  Dedicated to Saint Anna, the artist had created a vision that enhanced the architecture of the church, fitting every piece in a tapestry of depth, detail and perfect symmetry. I was entranced. Upon leaving, we turned to have a last look at the door and Dona Pilar says oh so casually “Oh, have a look at the cross.” I lifted my head to see the cross on the tower and it was a perfect Rose Cross.  With my mouth open I turned to look at my host and she said, “oh yes, they are very rare. As you may know, they were destroyed all across the country, but as this was a private chapel, it was left alone.”

What does any of this have to do with anything?  Just this personal observation: when I am unsure of my next step or searching for the correct path, I am almost always given an assurance of some sort to ‘move forward’. This was one of those instances. It was the trip to Scotland in 2005 (for a deeper investigation of Rosicrucian philosophy and evidence of the Divine Feminine teaching in architecture) that got me started in photography. I have come a long way since then, but I remain grateful for all the guideposts, the mystery and abundance of the Universe, and for the care of people like Dona Pilar.

Images below from Tomar, the Convento do Cristo, from the Cistercian Abbey of Alcobaça, and the Casa Dos Vargos. Thank you for taking the journey with me.

17
Nov
11

Golegã!

 

 

Now, after many years of wanting to visit, I have been to Golegã during the Festival of the Lusitano. Golegã: home to a number of legends of Lusitano breeding, including Manuel Veiga of Quinta da Broa, and Manuel Assunçao Coimbra.  As a longtime student of Mestre Dominique Barbier, I have been familiar with these names and have regarded them as the height of perfection for the classical Lusitano. Tracing bloodlines from Broquel to Larapio, one of Dominique’s stallions, has been a pathway through breeding and cultural history in Portugal (and Brasil) for the last fifty years. Dominique’s original stallion, Dom Giovanni, was also a horse by Broquel.

But Golegã surprised me in so many ways.  It was not just a history lesson or homage to the great breeders. It is a living, breathing, celebration of all things Lusitano. The rich culture surrounding this great horse is multi-faceted, and as a living organism, it is in a state of constant change. One thing remains the same; the festival is held each year over the Festival of Sao Martinho on the 11th of November.

I am still catching my breath from all the excitement, imagery, sounds and smells. Golegã was THE complete sensory experience. Hooves clip-clopping on cobblestones, with breath from nostrils and steam from flanks mixing with the smoke from roasting chestnuts….all competing with the cries of children wanting to pet the horses and the calls from one friend to another over a pulsing crowd, creating a marvelous cacaphony. I hope the pictures will give you a sense of the vibrancy of the Lusitano Festival. It has been a rich harvest for me and a rare instance of the reality far exceeding the dream. I am truly blessed.

My favorite moment from Golegã? That’s easy…the conversations and camaraderie all built around the love and passion for a great horse. Having dinner in a very small restaurant and meeting people from all over Europe that knew each other through the Lusitano, coming together to enjoy the festival, was a memorable night. It reminds me that the world, though vast in size and full of wonder, is made small, even intimate, by the connections we share and create with others.

Tomorrow I’ll put up a small gallery of images from Tomar and the Convento do Cristo, along with a few from the Cistercian Monastery at Alcobaça.

25
Jun
11

Abundance

The trip to Portugal and Spain was one of abundance. Everywhere I turned was a feast for all the senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Although I no longer like this word, it was dizzying.

But the strongest feeling I got was one of connection. Of course I am at home with the horses no matter on which continent I find them, but watching a bullfight?? or visiting the village of Goléga, and Mestre Nuno Oliveira’s old manege, a Flamenco performance in the Gitane area of Jerez, the famous Bodegas of Terry and Domecq, and then the Convento dos Capuchos?  Each location was filled with a familiarity or sense memory for me that was suprisingly strong and completely unexpected. My challenge during this trip was to make meaningful images AND hold as much of the experience in my heart as possible. This can be very difficult when so much is packed into such a short time. In one day we saw a performance at the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art, had lunch on one of the most beautiful windswept beaches I’ve ever seen, visited a monastery built into the rocks at the top of a mountain, traveled back in time to visit the Manege of Mestre Nuno Oliveira, and finish the night (very very late) at a Fado restaurant in the Alfama district….smack in the middle of the celebration for the Feast of St. Anthony.  And on top of that, I needed to make meaningful photographs of all the participants enjoying their trip.

I always remind myself that when I am working, I am happy to get ONE picture a day that reflects what I have seen and felt. It is hard to put into words the satisfaction I feel having created an image that speaks to me.  If I had to use one word I would choose affirming. A successful photograph affirms my connection with the subject and in a very real way, my connection to life. This experience of being in the flow of BE-ING is one of the most rewarding parts of photography. As my friend and mentor says so often, “photography is a great way to BE in life”. He’s right.

It’s often demanding and tiring, especially during a trip like this. Folks are snug in their beds by 2 am and I’m up downloading images and cleaning cards and gear, preparing to be ready to go again at 8 am. Looking, with intent and a desire to see deeper is tiring as well, but often rewarding.

I’m at home now, working through a mountain of files, and video too, and trying not to think (yet) about the next trip.  As always, thanks very very much for checking the blog. Please do tell a friend or two about it. Wishing you an abundant feast for all your senses. ~ Keron

 




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