Steet life in Portugal.

I’m just back from a couple of weeks touring round Portugal.  We had an excellent time but it was very strange to get back to the UK last weekend (1st October) and find the weather was the same as it was in Portugal: 29C!

I had decided to travel light in a photographic sense, so took my Samsung WB650 superzoom travel compact and my Panasonic GF1 with the 20mm lens.  Both were small, and very useful for street photography.  Many of the places we went to had a lot of tourists, so someone with a camera was not too conspicuous (most of the  time), but more of that later…

"Watching the students" by Derek Gale

The University year had just started in Portugal so there were a lot of students taking part in new academic year activities.  This portrait was taken, with the GF1, in a square in the city of Coimbra, where there was a traditional students’ band performing.  The band was being videoed and there was quite a crowd watching.  I spotted this man standing alone in the entrance to a pensao.  It’s not clear from his expression whether he approved of what was going on or not.

"Triangle of caps" by Derek Gale

These three men were walking together in Lamego near the Douro Valley.  I was fascinated by their “uniform” of dark clothes and  cap; it was over 30C at the time.  They were taking an interest in everything and spent a while looking at two workmen digging a hole in the road.  They were walking together but weren’t always close together.  I waited till they made a good shape, with their bodies linked by their shadows.  I like the way their arms are in almost the same position but their legs are very different.

"High Noon" by Derek Gale

This image, of a train guard and a cleaner reflected in the train window, was shot in Pocinho.  It’s literally at the end the line from Porto along the very scenic Douro river valley.  The town had a Wild West feel about it, with a couple of cafes, an abandoned narrow-gauge railway, and a very bleached out look to the landscape.  I’ve reduced the saturation to match.  The guard wore various tools of his trade on his belt, and here he was standing a bit like a cowboy.  They were having a vigorous discussion about some aspect of the train’s cleanliness.

"Just one little push..." by Derek Gale

Here is the Douro river this time in Porto.  You can see a Port wine transport boat on the river, now in use carrying tourists, and the Port wine lodges in the background.  There were a lot of tourists around, and clearly that can attract crime.  These two Tourism Patrol officers were studying something over the edge quite intently, and the mischievous thought went through my mind that one little push could get both of them into the river.  I decided against it.

"Secrets" by Derek Gale

I mentioned that there was a lot of student activity in Portugal.  Part of that seemed to involve the senior students humiliating the new students.  In Evora and Coimbra what we saw looked good-natured. In Porto there seemed to be more of an edge.  The new students were wearing yellow T-shirts and scarves and the older ones their black academic dress, including large black cloaks.

There was a very large group of students by the side of the river in the very busy town of Vila Nova de Gaia opposite Porto.  Some senior students were doing something to a younger student behind a barrier of dark cloaks.  I took this image with the GF1 and a moment later the girl on the left had run up and was screaming at me, and I mean screaming.  I assume she wanted me to not take any pictures. She was too late of course… Surely if you are doing something that you don’t want people to take pictures of you shouldn’t do it in a very public place in broad daylight?

It’s all part of the fun of street photography!

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