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.
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.
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?
Here’s a common pigeon from Plaça de Catalunya in the heart of Barcelona. It’s a fun place to watch the craziness in all directions.
It had just rained, and that’s when the reflections are best. I used the Platypod to get a low perspective and shot this at f2.0 which creates big colorful bokeh balls in the background. It’s a technique generally used in portraits, so I guess this we could consider this a bird portrait.
The pigeons are used to people feeding them they’ll come right up. They have almost no fear of humans. A little boy next to me caught one in his hands and then released it. I only had the desire to capture one with my camera. I got several shots, but I think this is my favorite.
They have it all wrong because I think ice cream is the real gateway drug. And besides, it’s highly addictive.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Walking towards Plaça de Catalunya, we passed this shop. It seems Halloween is popular in Spain as well, or maybe just in retail. Nevertheless, I was dressed as a tourist.
This is Barcelona’s shopping district, and there is no shortage of things to see. The Barcelona Apple store is right next door and, man oh man is that a nice store; good thing I didn’t go in. Shopping and I don’t get along well, shopping always wins.
Speaking of which, we were headed to La Ramblas to get Crystal her Espadrilles. Whenever we return, we go to Toni Pons in the Latin Quarter to get Espadrilles. They are less expensive in Spain and, they are made locally. While she was doing that, I went to take photos. The only problem with that is that I can lose track of time, but somehow I managed to snap out of it and meet her just as she was exiting the store with a big bag of shoes.
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.
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.
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.
That building on the mountain is a church known as Santa Cova de Montserrat. What’s impressive is that it’s only accessible by trail. Also, it’s very near the Abbey of Montserrat in the Catalonian region of Spain. When I took this photo, I was standing not far from the abbey on an overlook near the top of Montserrat. To get up the mountain, we had to drive a precariously steep and winding road.
The landscape here is extreme and, try as I do, still can’t imagine how places such as this get built. The construction must take many generations. Projects like this are not something we are likely to see again.
The Abbey of Montserrat is just an hour from Barcelona, and you can see the outskirts of the city in the distance. We didn’t plan it right and arrived in the afternoon which meant we only had a couple of hours to explore. But now that we know, next time we’ll spend the day exploring much more of this unbelievable monastery in the mountains.