José Fernández García is a landscape photographer from Spain. He lives in the magnificent region of Asturias located at the northern most part of Spain, along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, which is mostly known as the Cantabrian Sea. He is an expert in astrophotography and his knowledge of the coastal area of Asturias is one of the best. When he is not working as a medical physicist at the Central University Hospital of Asturias (HUCA), the main hospital of the region which is located in Oviedo, he never misses an opportunity to visit and photograph these amazing locations. He won first prize at the 2nd astrophotography contest organised by the Astronomical Association of Gran Canaria (Spain) and sponsored by the Canary Islands’ Institute of Astrophysics (IAC).
He has published several articles about photography, including those that appear in the Spanish Association of Nature Photographers (IRIS) and the online magazines called La Naturaleza Habla (LNH) and Extraordinary Vision. He has held many talks about photography in the Spanish regions of Asturias and León.
The friendship with Photonica3 was born out of pure chance and is getting stronger over time thanks to great cooperation and mutual esteem. There is no doubt that José is an expert photographer of the Asturian landscape and he has inspired many photographers worldwide who wish to come and explore these magical places.
Circumstances are said to be shaped mostly by the fate we come across whilst we go about our lives. From a photographic perspective I completely agree, when I was 16 years old I was fortunate enough to meet a photographer, enamoured of the mountains, who showed me the local places and traditions of Asturias, some of them already forgotten, and above all the art of photography.
As he used to tell me, you take photographs with your mind, not with a camera, and that is how I started composing mental photographs before owning a camera myself. Asturias is where I take many of my photographs. For those who are not familiar with this part of northern Spain, I have to say that it is truly and genuinely a photographer’s paradise. Despite its small size, we can still find landscapes filled with high-mountains, rural areas where local traditions are disappearing one by one and, above all, coastal landscapes with many undiscovered and deserted spots.
For this reason, I have been focusing on coastal photography over the recent years, which has allowed me to discover locations of great beauty that, thanks to the Internet, have also been enjoyed by other photographers. Obviously, my first photographs were taken using reversal film and degraded filters in order to reduce as much as possible the dynamic range of the scenery. I continued to use these when I moved onto digital photography, but I never quite liked the end result I was achieving. In a lot of cases it would alter the lighting of the original composition making the photos appear unreal.
A few years ago I adopted the technique that uses luminosity masks and with this I have truly been able to capture my own interpretation of the scene in my photographs. As with most landscape photographers I believe that the message we are trying to convey in our pictures is the beauty of nature. This is achieved by enhancing nature’s beauty searching for the ideal weather and light conditions, which makes this whole process even more challenging.
For this reason, your only option is to plan as best as you can and hope that luck will come your way. In coastal photography, tides add a whole new level of difficulty. In Asturias sea levels can differ 4 metres between high tides and low tides giving you no more than a 45-minute window to take a photograph and if experience has taught me anything, it’s that a good photograph is achieved by returning to the same place over and over again.
As I have mentioned before, this coastal landscape is characterized by its solitude and you can spend many hours on its beaches without spotting a single person except for certain locations where you might see the odd photographer. This feeling of loneliness is enhanced by the lack of telephone signal so it is very important to be really careful and avoid any accidents. The solitude I find in these places is a key factor as it helps me admire and imagine the beauty that lies before me.