Ice Cream

They have it all wrong because I think ice cream is the real gateway drug. And besides, it’s highly addictive.

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La Rambla Ice Cream
A woman holds an ice cream cone in Barcelona’s La Rambla at night

I want to be in Barcelona at La Rambla on a warm night having an ice cream cone. I can be clumsy with food, so I got a small cup instead. There’s something about walking around with ice cream; for the time it takes to eat, reality gets suspended, and you have not a care in the world.

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We were walking back to our hotel after spending time in the gothic quarter, and I was randomly snapping photos of people and vendors. For me, this captures some of the magic of that night, and believe me; there is always a bit of magic here. But now looking at it again, I think it might be time for ice cream. Not that I’m addicted or anything like that.

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.

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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.

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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.

Angry Seas

Isn’t it funny how we anthropomorphize all things? Here are some defiant colors against the¬†angry Mediterranean.

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The tempestuous Mediterranean as seen from the port of Barcelona
The tempestuous Mediterranean as seen from the port of Barcelona

I do it all the time with animals, but between you and me, I think most animals have emotions, so it doesn’t seem like such a stretch. However, sometimes I do it for the weather or inanimate objects; then I’m surely projecting my own feelings into the world. The sea can’t really be angry, can it?

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As we journeyed out into the North Atlantic, things got worse. There was a hurricane a long way off that roiled the ocean. The winds across the deck were seventy-five miles an hour, and the swells fifty feet high. At that time I looked out at sea from the comfort of a massive cruise ship and tried to imagine myself on a small ancient craft crossing the ocean in the midst of a storm. Admittedly I had feelings, but I’m pretty sure the sea had none at all. And that was maybe, just a tiny, bit, scary.

More Rain

You’ll forgive me if I post another photo of the rain. Personally, it’s something I can’t get enough and just think it’s kinda cool.

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A rainy October day in Malaga Spain
A rainy October day in Malaga Spain

Taking photos in the rain is akin to low light photography, the weather has a way of creating a mood. In Europe, it’s enhanced by the architecture of the old streets.

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This was taken on a rainy October day in Malaga when I got soaked to the bone. About a year or two prior I did the same thing in Solerno. Back then I bought an umbrella from a vendor who magically appeared as soon as the rain started. I paid too much for the umbrella and then lost it on a bus. I’ve since given up on umbrellas when taking photos. Besides, it’s not really feasible to hold an umbrella and take a picture, unless you have three arms.

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.

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

Plaza de la Merced

It might be an understatement to say it was raining cats and dogs in Malaga. But that’s of little consequence when you traveled over four thousand miles to get here.

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Plaza de la Merced
It was raining cats and dogs in Malaga Spain.

I was determined to go out, come hell or high water. The universe obliged and gave me high water. I wore jeans, a light rain shell and got utterly soaked. The bus pass in my pocket was unreadable and plastered flat against my iPhone. When I showed it to the driver, she seemed more worried about my phone than the pass. Thankfully, iPhones are water resistant these days.

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Speaking of which, I’ve read a lot about how the Sony a7RM3 is “water resistant,” so I decided to put it to the test. Imagine standing under a sprinkler. A little moisture got onto the lens mount, and the camera started giving me error warnings; however the camera and lens continued to operate, and I didn’t lose any shots. The camera got soaking wet. When I got back to the ship, I let it dry for a few hours, and it was perfectly fine. I suspect a tighter lens fit of a pro-grade GM lens would have eliminated that issue, but I was using the consumer grade 85mm f1.8, which I love as a lightweight travel lens.

All in all, I had a blast and, it was a good test of equipment and perhaps, my own craziness.

The Rain in Spain

Last week we were in Malaga for a day as our ship made it’s only port of call before crossing the Atlantic. As luck would have it, it rained cats and dogs, which was perfect for my purposes.

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The Rain in Spain
A rainy day in Malaga, Spain

I like shooting at night, but if I have to take photos in a European city during the day, rain is my next best friend. It puts everyone a little out of sorts as they rush to and fro with umbrellas. It also creates that nice sheen on the ground to add a little extra something to the image. The only catch is you have to be willing to get wet, which I did, beyond a reasonable doubt.

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I had been here previously when I was about eleven years old. When I saw the section of the city that faced the port, little bubbles of long lost memories began to percolate. My conscious mind has long folded over those early years, but it would’ve been nice to have an old photo to help free more bubbles. Nevertheless, I was struck with the desire to return and explore a little more. So I will plan on that, and when I do, who knows what I might uncover.

Street Studies

Here is a shot like the one I posted last week from the central section of old Montpellier. As with that other shot, this is from the day I wandered around taking photos of people walking the narrow streets. I could do that every day if I lived in an area like this, but I don’t so I have to take a lot while I’m there.

Street Studies
A street scene from old Montpellier

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I processed this to make it look like the shot was at night even though it was midday. Transforming it like this is a personal preference of mine, and it creates a slightly different narrative for the image. For me, these types of images are studies in mood, lighting, and effects. I do them to satisfy my curiosity as to how far I can take a picture from its original exposure.

more from Europe

Aside from the processing, what makes a shot like this is the combination of the narrow streets, the curve of the leading line, high walls and the people. That’s a combination that’s generally found only in Europe. That is why I really would like to get back there more often. Maybe I can work something out. <knock on wood>

Urban Symmetry

This image was taken in central Barcelona from the rooftop of the Grand Central Hotel. At first glance, you’ll notice symmetry in the picture. That’s because I’ve mirrored the image, and then painstakingly altered it so that the equality is incomplete. In effect, I’ve taken something that was perfectly reflected and added randomness.

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Urban Symmetry
This mirrored image creates a sense of confusion on closer inspection

There are plenty of mirrored artifacts, but depending on how you look at it, it might play tricks on you. Our brains quickly suspect its a mirror, and then our eyes begin looking for proof. Depending on where in the image you look, it may not confirm your first impression.

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The photo is an exercise in abstraction and deception. It’s a time-consuming exercise to produce, but it’s fun at the same time. My purpose is to hint at one thing while throwing you off the trail and forcing you to figure it out. I hope you don’t mind a little harmless deception in the name of fun.