The Water Battle – Carnival in Ponta Delgada

By Paulo Monteiro

The city of Ponta Delgada is located on the south coast of the San Miguel Island, in the Azores archipelago. Every year, on the afternoon of Carnival Tuesday, the city’s coastal avenue is the scene of a very peculiar battle: participants throw plastic bags full of water at each other, but it is also common to throw water with buckets.

Many of the revelers travel in trucks that travel along the avenue for about five hours. Others participate on foot. The trucks stop in front of each other and a battle ensues between each of the teams and between many of the participants who are on foot on the avenue.

Almost everyone protects himself with helmets, as water and bags are thrown with considerable force. At the end of the battle, all groups proclaim victory. During the afternoon, many people go to that avenue to watch the battle.

This practice has been challenged by environmental groups, as there is a risk of plastic bags falling into the sea, with the inherent damage to marine life. In recent years, the City Council has taken measures to prevent the bags from reaching the sea, and removes them as quickly as possible.

Before this water battle, in the 20th century, in the same city, there was a flower battle, with paid access, and whose revenue was put into to social causes.

The Water Battle, Carnival in Ponta Delgada, San Miguel Island, Azores, 2010.
The Water Battle, Carnival in Ponta Delgada, San Miguel Island, 2011.
The Water Battle, Carnival in Ponta Delgada, San Miguel Island, 2012.
The Water Battle, Carnival in Ponta Delgada, San Miguel Island, 2012.
The Water Battle, Carnival in Ponta Delgada, San Miguel Island, 2012.
The Water Battle, Carnival in Ponta Delgada, San Miguel Island, 2013.
The Water Battle, Carnival in Ponta Delgada, San Miguel Island, 2013.
The Water Battle, Carnival in Ponta Delgada, San Miguel Island, 2013.
The Water Battle, Carnival in Ponta Delgada, San Miguel Island, 2014.
The Water Battle, Carnival in Ponta Delgada, San Miguel Island, 2014.
The Water Battle, Carnival in Ponta Delgada, San Miguel Island, 2014.
The Water Battle, Carnival in Ponta Delgada, San Miguel Island, 2014.

For this work, I used an Olympus OM-2n, equipped with a motor winder, and a Zuiko 35mm/2.8 lens fitted with a medium yellow filter. I used manual exposure, with f/11 aperture and hyperfocal focus, as it is very difficult to focus in these circumstances. For added security, I decided to tape the focusing ring together. The film used was Kodak Tri-X, which I developed in an E-76 developer made by myself. The equipment was protected with a rain sleeve. I protected myself with a helmet.

You can find more from me on my website here

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About The Author

By Paulo Monteiro
Paulo Monteiro was born June 1963, in São Miguel Island, Azores, where he currently lives and works. He has been a photographer since 1985. He has developed long term projects about various subjects, such as popular religiosity, profane festivities, architecture, landscape, Nature, or the world of work. His work has been published and exhibited in Portugal and abroad.
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Comments

Daniel Castelli on The Water Battle – Carnival in Ponta Delgada

Comment posted: 24/08/2023

Thanks for sharing this with us. Looks like fun to be involved, and your shots captured the excitement and wetness of the day. The OM film system was a superb collection of gear.
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Paulo Monteiro replied:

Comment posted: 24/08/2023

Thank you Daniel. It was fun, but quite dangerous.

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Geoff Chaplin on The Water Battle – Carnival in Ponta Delgada

Comment posted: 23/08/2023

The photographs capture the mood, atmosphere and violence of the event brilliantly! Thanks for the warning - a place and time to avoid!!!!
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Paulo Monteiro replied:

Comment posted: 23/08/2023

Thank you Geoff.

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Erik Brammer on The Water Battle – Carnival in Ponta Delgada

Comment posted: 22/08/2023

These are superb photographs, Paulo. They show so much action and positive energy - as interpreted by me anyway. :-)
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Paulo Monteiro replied:

Comment posted: 22/08/2023

Thank you Erik.

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Andrew on The Water Battle – Carnival in Ponta Delgada

Comment posted: 22/08/2023

Very cool images from an event I have never even heard of!
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Paulo Monteiro replied:

Comment posted: 22/08/2023

Thank you Andrew.

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Roman Dubravský on The Water Battle – Carnival in Ponta Delgada

Comment posted: 22/08/2023

This would be a good opportunity to use a Nikon Nikonos camera...
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Paulo Monteiro replied:

Comment posted: 22/08/2023

Too expensive.

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