Non-Mall

I left my wife in a shoe store as I walked around taking photos in the old streets of Barcelona. This is not your typical mall.

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Non-Mall
A small street in the gothic section of Barcelona

There’s something pleasing about photos of people juxtaposed to the surrounding buildings; especially when the buildings are very old or very new. Even if the people are just going shopping, it’s better than hanging out at the mall.

more street photography in the gallery

Malls are becoming a thing of the past. Or, maybe, they are morphing into something else, less mall-like. I’m not sure I buy into that because as long as you have to drive to a mall, it’s still a mall. But I digress. Where was I?

Cool Hot Tub

In the solarium is this cool hot tub. I took this on the last night when everyone was in their rooms packing.

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Cool Hot Tub
From the solarium on Royal’s Symphony of the Seas

Even when the ship is completely booked, it’s large enough to find quiet spots if you know where to look. The solarium with its cushy lounge chairs and the Vintages wine bar are my favorite spots.

architecture photography from the gallery

For this shot, I used a 12mm wide-angle lens and mounted the camera on the ground with a Platypod. The Platypod is like a tripod for low perspectives. This is a long-exposure that would have been difficult to shoot any other way. With the Platypod it was a breeze.

The Palace

Here’s an early morning shot of the Palace of Fine Arts. I came early because I wanted to see it lit up, and, I was still on eastern time.

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The Palace
The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco

Because I was on a different time zone, it felt like mid-morning to me. Disassociation with local time is something I try to take advantage of when traveling. It allows me to get out early or late without much effort. Maybe that makes me sound a little lazy.

more from San Francisco in the gallery

A couple of years ago I worked on a panorama of this, but I can’t find it now so I must have deleted it. I vaguely remember not being too happy with it. Nevertheless, I’ve taken another stab at it, and this time I’m satisfied. This is only one frame, but it looks a little like a pano. I didn’t do much other than a bit of color balancing and a crop. I guess I just needed time to forget about it and try try again.

Picture This

Here is another shot aboard the Oasis of the Seas that I took with the Platypod. I really like the low perspective it provides.

Picture This
Picture This
Taken with a Platypod on board the Oasis of the Seas

These days I carry it everywhere I go. I never know if I’m going to need it, but it’s so small I’d rather carry it. I can get the same perspective with a tripod, but it takes way longer and way more effort. So much effort that I usually don’t bother. The Platypod Ultra is small enough that sometimes I just leave it attached to the camera as I walk around.

more architecture images in the gallery

Anyway, this was taken in the ship’s area known as Central Park. It’s my favorite place on the boat because it creates the perfect illusion of being in a tree line park. And when I’m on vacation, I don’t mind a little fantasy, especially when it’s lined with cool restaurants and a wine bar.

The Fritz

Ocean Drive in Miami Beach on a Monday night. And the later I stayed, the busier it got. I repeat, it was Monday.

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The Fritz
The Fritz on Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami

But then I shouldn’t be surprised, because when I’m on vacation, every day is Saturday and most of the people in South Beach are on vacation. So it could be Sunday, Monday or Tuesday night and the place is still going to be full of life.

more from Miami in the gallery

As I look at this photo, I wonder why they had two TVs set up outside? I get it with TVs in restaurants, but to set two up on the sidewalk seems a little extreme. It’s not enough that we are continually communing with our phones. I’m as guilty as anyone. But maybe it’s a good idea to get unplugged, if even for a couple of hours while we eat. Perhaps I’ll try that tonight, as long as there’s nothing important on.

St Marks Water Level

Walking back to the ferry late at night I stopped in St Marks Square to capture reflections. To get this shot, I held the camera right above the water.

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St Marks Water Level
Taken at water level in Venice, Italy

Nowadays, days I use a Playpod which is similar to a tripod with a small base you attach to the camera. The first time I saw it I didn’t know what to think, but I’ve had it for a few months now, and I take it everywhere. I like doing low perspective shots, and the Platypod excels at that, and it saves both time and the camera body. Before, I would use whatever I had in hand like a strap or iPhone to prop the lens up, and that takes time and patience to get it right. But the Playpod it’s like having a mini tripod at ground level.

more from the gallery

Anyway, we had a late meal along the canals and walking back there were fewer people than during the day. The next time I go back, I’ll probably sleep all day and walk around taking photos all night. And you can be sure I’ll be carrying my trusty Platypod.

Bo De Gracia

Having only one night, we had to find the best tapas in town. Fortunate for us it was just around the corner. In Barcelona, that’s any corner.

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Bo De Gracia
A view inside on of Barcelona’s best tapas bars

I really don’t think you can go wrong, but Bo De Gracia was especially right if that makes any sense. There were quite a few things we ordered, but I remember sardines and olives the most. My wife doesn’t generally like sardines, but we both had to split the last one. And the fresh green olives have a taste and texture I’ve never experienced in America. It was all washed down with a local Spanish wine that complemented everything perfectly.

more interiors from the gallery

But I’m a photographer, so I had to pick up the camera and take this quick shot from the bar where we sat. The only people here were us and this couple. Probably because it was early in the evening. Around nine or ten is when these places start to fill up. By “these places” I mean the worlds best tapas bars around every corner of Barcelona.

Elevator Bank

Why do we call it a bank of elevators? My guess is that at one time, only banks had lifts. Rest assured, this is no bank.

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Elevator Bank
Elevators on Oasis of the Seas

Royal Caribbean ships have elevator banks that are functional, stylish and serve as a showcase for hanging art. No two banks are the same which is not only refreshing but helpful. Helpful, in that, on some of the larger ships, it’s easy to get disoriented. Having distinct elevator banks helps with getting your bearings. I can’t tell you how many times I forgot whether I was at the front or back of the boat. Unless you’re up top or by a window, it’s almost irrelevant, but knowing which direction to walk for a meal is an acquired skill.

favorites from the gallery

Also, each night the crew replaces a floor tile in each elevator with the name of the day. So not only do you know which part of the ship you’re on, you’re reminded the day of the week. Little orientation hist never hurt anyone. Anyway, if memory serves me, this was at the back of the Oasis of the Seas, or was it the front?

Big City

When I see a big city, I’m like a deer in the headlights. I look up and can’t stop staring.

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The big city of Miami
The big city of Miami 

I’m fascinated by the perpendicular angles of construction, a million squares, layered and stacked in every direction. It’s a sensory rush that quickens my pulse and speeds up time; a big city high.

more cityscapes in the gallery

Maybe it’s of all the lights, or the mass of humanity, or the scale of it all. Whatever it is, I’m in not much use until I snap out of its initial spell. Perhaps there’s some part of our DNA that attracts us to a hive or colony or tribe. Or maybe, it just all the cool lights.

NBA Cafe

It’s odd seeing an American sports bar in Spain. Maybe the NBA is popular here, what do I know? Or perhaps it just caters to American tourists.

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NBA Cafe
An American sports bar overlooking La Rambla in Barcelona

I was in Barcelona for only a day, so I took pictures of everything and anything. These are the windows of the NBA Cafe on La Rambla.

monochrome gallery

Anyway, I just thought it was cool how the windows were outlined with neon lights. Like I said, anything and everything.