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Nikon Owner Issue 20

Brazil the Road to Rio by Peter Spurgeon

Brazil the Road to Rio by Peter Spurgeon

Peter Spurgeon is a long-standing subscriber to Nikon Owner magazine. A photographer based in London, he belongs to London Independent Photography, City of London and Cripplegate Photographic Society and the Creative Swing Arts Collective. He shoots a variety of subjects, but his main photographic passion is to capture the essence of urban and natural landscapes with graphic compositions. He uses medium format (Mamiya RB67) and 35mm (Nikon F80) cameras. Proper Gander and Alamy image libraries hold his work. He has recorded a number of different events photographically including the Clerkenwell Literary Festival and rehearsals for the play 'Risk Everything'.

A Capoeria dancer leaves the ground and spins 360 degrees in the air. Diagonal cables frame Christ the Redeemer. Rainbows stretch in front of the breathtaking Iguacu waterfalls. Brazil offers many beautiful sights to the visitor and his camera. I was fortunate enough to spend three weeks there last year. Christo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) is the enduring symbol of Rio de Janeiro. Designed by the sculptor Paul Landoviski and completed in 1931, it looks out over the city with a serenity at odds with the buzzing energy of the streets below.

When photographing a global landmark such as this, the challenge is to capture an unfamiliar view of a familiar subject. Surprisingly perhaps to first-time visitors, the sky can often be overcast. In these conditions, concentrating on details rather than the wider view creates an image with greater impact.

Brazil the Road to Rio by Peter SpurgeonBrazil the Road to Rio by Peter SpurgeonBrazil the Road to Rio by Peter SpurgeonBrazil the Road to Rio by Peter Spurgeon

Most tourists stay near the famous beaches of Ipanaema and Copacabana, whereas we tended to stay in the business districts. In Rio that means the 'Centro' area, where smartly dressed business people can be seen marching determinedly past the high buildings along Avenida do Rio Branco. Praca Marechal Floriano is surrounded by colonial buildings such as the Teatro Municipal. As in many countries with a gulf between rich and poor, visitors carrying shiny imaging devices need to apply some common sense in public areas. After relaxing and letting down our guard, my friend's digital compact camera soon attracted shouts of "La macina! la macina!" ("Camera! camera!" in Portuguese) from two boys, but after some whistle-blowing from the police, the boys left empty-handed. In potentially difficult areas and especially at night, I used a disposable camera to capture 'people shots', as it was less likely to be stolen.

My guidebook described the nearby district of Lapa as "once a run-down area in the centre that was to be avoided at night, but now one of the trendiest districts to go for drinking and music," After trying to find a musical cafe called Carioca da Gama, we turned the corner into a very dark and deserted road. We later named this street the 'Street of Death'. At the end of the road a very helpful woman informed us that we had strayed into the Mafia area of Rio and that we should return to our hotel immediately. …

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