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Sentidos, Asturias a Flor de Piel (SENSES. FEEL ASTURIAS!)

Asturias a flor de piel (SENSES. FEEL ASTURIAS!)

FORMAT: 26X34cm
392 PAGES.

This is José Díaz’s second book. He published it himself, supported by the Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente Foundation, whose president, Odile, wrote the preface. It is a profound and intimate work, which gives us a close look into human relations, the people of Caleao and José’s personal experiences. It is a catalogue of special places and unforgettable moments. The images in this book are especially vivid, due to the size of the pages and its original layout. As for the words, the author gives us his particular point of view about life, progress and welfare state, praising a come back to the origin, to what is genuine, to the universal and timeless values and reflecting on the current relationship between men and nature.

Nature appears in this book with all its strength, always accompanied by the author’s thoughts or considerations. However, we find the most touching part of this work in the portraits of local people, captured with an almost brotherly tenderness. These images are able to transmit the profound and sincere love that has grown between the author and those people.


Each of the five senses is a philosopher”, Ramón Llull.

It took me a long time to realise that what gives full purpose to my experiences in Caleao is the possibility of capturing them, and even improving them, through photography. I noticed this one day, when I was checking all my equipment one last time before leaving the village towards my cabin and I got really disappointed when I discovered that the batteries of my cameras were flat. In all these years, I don’t remember even one day when I walked so apathetic, even scared about the possibility of missing the opportunity of a great picture. I was affraid to raise my gaze, in case I would see a wild animal and I couldn’t take its picture. Even the landscape, that I wasn’t able to portray, seemed to me empty and fleeting.

There are few things so rewarding as getting home and carefully examining in my computer each and every one of the pictures, reliving with renewed energy the exact moment when they were taken. Even though I have thousands of images, I can remember exactly the spot where there they were taken, as well as the moment when and the thrill of doing so. I feel the camera as an extension of my body, another one of my sense organs, recipient of the subtlest stimuli and the most moving perceptions.

I need to share those experiences that feed my soul and make me devote myself to nature photography, feeling more excitement everyday, in spite of the long hours and the effort behind each picture. Many times, that is the real pleasure, which is totally worth the long walk, the early start and the hard work. Thanks to passion and hope.

At first I intended to write a book as a tribute to the people of Caleao, as a thank you for the knowledge and humanity that they pass on, and in recognition of that cultural and personal, but also natural, legacy, that we can all enjoy today.

However, I realised that all these extremely humble people didn’t want any prominence, and what at the beginning was going to be the main content of my book, ended up being another one of its chapters. In today’s world, often ruled by vanity and pride, this is one more sign of the human quality of these people. I must admit though, that their portraits were the most difficult pictures to take. Many times, I felt like I was overstepping intimate boundaries and that I was making them feel awkward or uncomfortable, which was the last thing that I wanted.

For this reason, in order to fill the book with content, I decided to use my experiences and unwittingly became the central character of this project. The title of this book, SENSES, passes on my intentions and my philosophy: that we are to feel what’s in front of us through our senses and perceive it intensely. As Paul Valéry once said “the deepest thing in man is in the skin” and I believe that it is through the five senses that we should approach nature so that we can fully enjoy it.

It may sound strange, but with time, my senses have become sharper. Actually, they keep awakening, granting me with extremely subtle perceptions that I couldn’t see before. My hearing easily picks up the sounds of the animals moving through the forest, the wind stroking the land and the streams running down slopes. My sense of smell heralds encounters with my wild neighbours, even weather changes, and feels the plants and trees breathing. My eyes don’t miss anything. They can very easily recognise every change and movement in the surroundings, discovering animals, so well hidden, that later, they are difficult to find even in the pictures. And every time I lie on the ground, my sense of touch allows me to feel the earth’s heartbeat through the trees, the moss and the stones.

I also enjoy the delicacies that nature gives us in the form of food, such as hazelnuts, walnuts, chestnuts, plums, apples and blueberries, water and air, and, above all, honey, one of my true weaknesses. The act of biting a piece of honeycomb and letting it melt in your mouth is a unique experience.

Apart form enjoying this sensory universe, I try to exercise the common sense, which, in my opinion, should be one of the pillars of mankind and should guide our society. Along the last decades, we have entered an irrational and dizzying dynamic that is distancing us from the essence of life and people. We have turned our backs to the basic and simple things that the people from rural areas still treasure. And it is necessary to restore more sustainable behaviours, far from today’s disposable culture, and human relations that are more sincere and authentic. I can find all this in Caleao and I feel lucky to have this close connection with many of the essential values of life.

When you live between the city and the countryside, you realise that our so-called welfare society is taking the wrong turn. We can’t achieve progress at any cost and ignoring our common sense. If we want our future generations to enjoy life and this planet, we must change our morals.

In spite of the extremely serious harm we have brought to our natural environment, we still have time to make it right and look for new, less aggressive, development patterns that acknowledge our elders’ experience and wisdom. And we also have time to redesign this often pathologically ill society so that we can pass on good values to our descendants.

As for me, I confess that I have found “my place in this world” here, in the centre of the Redes National Park. However, in Asturias there are endless places as magical and attractive as this. It is an exceptional land due to its natural treasures and strong identity, culture and traditions. When I leave the Principality of Asturias and say where I come from, people always respond in the same way: they show their recognition towards this land and its people, and they admit that among us they have enjoyed themselves like nowhere else on earth. People from Asturias are welcoming by nature, and also generous, funnily sarcastic, friendly and cheerful, which makes foreigners, with their different temperaments and peculiarities, fall for this land. This is also why Asturians who have been forced to emigrate, desperately long for their homeland and its always close to their hearts.

In short, it has been, and still is, a great privilege for me to have learnt from the people from Caleao a different way of understanding life, how to savour every single moment and enjoy every small detail, and, above all, how to realise that the important thing in life is not what you have, but what you are.

Behind the beauty.

Once again I face the difficult challenge of writing words for a book with images that leave us wordless. Contrary to what the author thinks, the fact that he has chosen me again to write the preface of his second book, as I did with the first one, not only is a tremendous honour for me, but also a great responsibility. I have witnessed how a hobby has turned into an endless source of beauty, persistence, patience, sensitivity, generosity and intuition. I have also seen how José himself has changed, as he explains in these pages. As for myself, I can’t say enough about his unique and one-of-a-kind books. I know well some professionals in this field and many books that show extraordinary landscapes and animals of the world. However, José’s pictures never cease to amaze me when I first see them, because he manages to take me to the time when he captured those fragments of space-time. For a moment I forget where I am, I travel to those hidden places and I can feel the intense and immense gaze of the animals that see me; I can fell the cold or the rain, I can smell the environment and hear the thick silence and all its shades. José is truly able to intimate with the intangible and indescribable quality of nature and he invites us to awaken our senses, get inspired and think about Life.

For this book, José asked me to write something similar to the editorial I wrote for an issue of the Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente Foundation Magazine, called “Agenda Viva” (living schedule). However, I find it very difficult to go back to previous texts and use them as a base for new ones. Every texts comes to me the way it does, considering each situation, context and circumstances that make me write it. For that reason, I decided to reproduce it here completely, in order to share with José and with all of you who are reading these pages some of my ideas, that I hope will help appreciate the true essence of the beautiful images in this book. I would also like to thank José for his supporting and encouraging words about the work we do from our Foundation, for watching us so closely, for his kind gesture towards Agenda Viva and for being able to show, better than anyone, how I feel when I immerse myself in the sceneries of Redes.

Behind the beauty of the images in this book lies an ideal usefulness, shaped during millions of years of evolution. Each individual, each species, each environment, each element gets inevitably entangled with their surroundings, making a self-regulating whole that generates the optimal conditions for life. How much we must learn from nature! It flies in the face of logic that, at some point of our brief history, we decided to start a fight against nature, a battle lost beforehand, with the paradoxical aim of dominating the environment and subduing it to our rules, going against our own survival. It is completely counterintuitive to waste a library of wisdom, millions of times bigger than the library of Alexandria, not only by turning our backs to it, but also by unfortunately destroying it for future generations.

In a planet full of essentially adverse conditions, life not only appeared, but it has slowly been conquering the environment until it has created the ideal conditions for a dazzling diversity to flourish. How can nature turn scarcity into abundance? How can it use the energy to feed all its diversity without producing any residues? How can it find more and more effective ways to use the resources in order to get a richer and stronger whole? The answer to those questions is what we should look for in the living library of planet earth. Our best and more talented erudites should be trying to translate the equations that have proven successful after millions of years of trial and error. However, here we are, clumsily and stupidly creating the energy that feeds a pathological need for consumption at the expense of our future, almost our present already.

Following a terrible and counterproductive economic strategy, we have borrowed from nature and humanity with no intention of ever clearing a debt that we keep putting off. At the same time, we turn our backs to the signs that tell us that this is not how the system of life works. And why do we insist on ignoring nature’s well of abundance and knowledge? Is it so difficult to see the difference between the beauty of a system that works, like for example a forest, and another system that goes against common sense, like an open-pit mine, an incinerator plant or a nuclear energy plant? I don’t think it is trivialising to say that sometimes, the deepest and most eloquent lessons hid behind a shield of beauty and simplicity that makes them make even more sense. We can’t accept the arguments that defend that autodestructive pattern anymore. It is not true that this pattern is the only one that can guarantee food, energy and money for all. The opposing argument is within the reach of our sleepy senses.

Not only there is abundance in nature for all of us, but ALSO we can all together create more and more, for the greater good. That is the only system that, together with some control and real life boundaries, keeps generating forever, guided by the creative drive of life towards increasing wealth and strength. Balance is found in the middle between appreciating the great opportunity of being alive and being humble enough to know that we are only a trace, with barely any impact on the whole. There is so much to learn about how to live, how to survive, how to grow, how to be…! We need much more humility to understand ourselves in time and space, and much more pride to defend our stolen future.”

Odile Rodríguez de la Fuente.





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Mi cabaña, Mi mundo.
Redes de Ensueño

Format 30x29
300 pages.

This book, prefaced by Odile Rodríguez de la Fuente, tells the story of the author’s awakening to wild nature, his discovery of Caleao and Redes National Park, the time when he first acquired his cabin and his enthusiasm while restoring it, how much he enjoyed it afterwards, both alone and with his family, his first face-to-face encounter with a wild animal and his need to express, immortalize and share that experience…

Lights and shadows; textures; looks; woods; insects; water; snow and fog; and lastly, autumn are the chapters which make up this first book: a visual itinerary that moves harmoniously and poetically through its incredibly beautiful pages. Each photograph shows the day and time when it was shot, as well as a short caption about the author’s experience, feelings or intention while taking it. In the general introduction, as well as in every one of the small texts that open each chapter, the author is able to transmit how he himself has surrendered to the breath-taking beauty of nature in Redes National Park and has remained enchanted by this dreamscape ever since.


The renewal of my love for nature was clearly determined by my encounter with José Mª Fernández Díaz-Formentí a few years ago. He is the best photographer I have ever met and even a better person, and in some way, he is responsible for this project.

I grew up fascinated by constant trips to the wilderness and that fascination was the seed that has now grown to be my passion, especially in the Redes Natural Park, declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO. In some way, this natural space and its unique beauty definitely seized me. For that reason, I spent many years longing to find a cabin there, surrounded by forests and streams of pure and clear waters, away from the noise but not too far from my home, so it was easy to go. After many attempts and eager searching, and thanks to a friend who owns a cabin in the mountains of Caleao, in the municipality of Caso, my dream finally came true.

The cabin was beyond all my expectations and after a hard restoration process, months of frenetic work and with the invaluable assistance of a neighbour from the nearby village, I was able to finish it. I didn’t want to lose a minute, and finally, in August 2005 I was able to spend a fortnight there with my wife and children. I remember those days fondly. From that moment on, I did my best to combine my work and family life with the great pleasure of spending time there. I worked hard Monday to Thursday, hoping to have my Friday afternoons free so that I could get away and just walk around the area. I convinced my family, or more accurately, I negotiated with them that we would spend there at least a weekend per month all together. There we spent many long weekends, some Easter holidays and one Christmas season. Until these trips became a sacred ritual for me: I wouldn’t mind if it was day or night, hot or cold, raining or snowing…

I fell in love with photography during those walks. First, with landscapes and then discovering the vastness found in small details, carefully examining the depths of the forest and all their magical inhabitants. I was fascinated by how much life I found as I studied every inch with the curiosity of a little boy: flowers, lichens, fungi, insects, etc. I met worlds of colour, magically perfect geometries and designs, that truly inspired me, many times also when doing my job.

Finally, as a result of what we may call my first face-to-face encounter with a wild animal, I felt the thrill of being able to capture them in the wild. That feeling, very difficult to describe, is what encouraged me to go on. Practise, effort and, above all, an almost zen-type of patience, gave me the experience required to know how to choose the right place and the right instant, most times fleeting like a shooting star, to capture such encounters, usually at dawn or twilight. I had two main tactics: to stay completely still for several hours hidden behind a tree or into the thicket; or to move really slowly, with utmost silence and attention, for many hours through the same places where I had seen an animal before. There wasn’t even one dawn or twilight when I didn’t go out to try TO photograph fauna. This is how, after hundreds of walks and hikes, I was able to get a wide archive of my encounters with my wild neighbours. Sometimes, I was even able to recognise individuals by their unique features. They became such an important part of my life that I was almost ready to give them personal names.

I took me some time to decide to write this book. Especially after seeing Chema Formentí’s works. His wonderful pictures, second to none, were accompanied of nice, simple and impeccably written texts. Oddly enough, it was Chema who most praised my pictures, which was really motivating for me. Actually, I think that was the final push I needed. The first idea was to prepare a book with images of wild animals in freedom, Especially roe deer, as well as deer, foxes, wild boars, wild cats, etc. And also some pictures showing special and curious moments I lived. Now that it’s finished, I would like to apologise for the low quality of some of the images, due to the necessary adjustments I had to do in my camera in order to take pictures in situations of very low light such as dawns and twilights in the depths of the forest. This doesn’t intend to be a book of conventional great pictures, but a book to show and share special moments and experiences, special places, special neighbours, in a sincere and, above everything, very personal tone.

Cervantes said that the fountain pen is the language of the soul; and so is my way of telling about those moments I lived and sharing them with those people who are ready to look at them with the same emotion.

Preface by Odile Rodríguez de la Fuente for the book My cabin, my world by José Díaz.

This is a story of coincidences and astonished looks, of happiness and acknowledgement.

I met José by chance. In that dreamscape of Redes. Our friendship, new but strong, led to that kind of relationship where two people know each other almost without speaking. In that place, suspended in time, our eyes met, astonished by the beauty that tears the hearts of those who discover Redes. Our emotions contained because we knew we had come across an infinite treasure. There we shared our excitement, amazement and happiness.

Years later I find myself writing these words and saying proudly “the important thing is not what you say, but what you do”. José, with craftsmanship and patience, has been able to reveal the essence of Redes. He has crystallised that feeling of astonishment, that passing glow, that breath of life and hope. That everlasting beauty and that earthly strength, deep and revealing that is found in each and every one of us, in all and in everything.

This book is a present. A humble sign of gratitude from a man who has been given a gift. The gift of being happy and knowing it. The gift of seeing diamonds where most of us only see stones. The gift of listening. Of listening. Of listening.

And I don’t want to steal any space with my words to those frozen moments that appear on every page. To that personal story of recognition. To the trip that he describes so closely that we all see ourselves walking like JosÉ’s shadows, following his footsteps. I can just participate as witness to a process, in order to emphasise the shades, the lights and shadows that José has been able to capture.

All of you who come near these pages must learn about the eyes through which you are seeing what you see. You must look at this book with time and respect so that you can unravel all there is. You will probably feel the magic… You will understand they way and the reason why the observer is related to what he observes, the effect they had on each other, what they have exchanged and how that encounter changed them both and is now changing you who are looking at it.

Moments, hours, days, weeks, months, years. From the infinite time of those instants to the passing time of all those patient years. Time unfolds for those who seek to find themselves in what surrounds them, in the beauty all that is around. With silence and serenity a bond grows and one gets entangled in the webs of the visible and the invisible. One becomes part of those webs and can see, feel and touch the pulse of life. One becomes part of the moments too, and that is why these pictures can make us shudder and experience all those feelings.

But, what is José’s reality? What’s his world like? What’s the world like for those who know how to see? You have started an awakening path. A path of constant permutation and generosity. I thank you in the name of all the people that you have made fall in love with your dreamscape Redes. I thank you for making us dream. For showing to us that it is possible. For being as giving as our beloved nature.