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.

So Good it’s Scary

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.

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So Good it's Scary

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.

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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.

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.

Santa Cova de Montserrat

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.

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Santa Cova de Montserrat
A church that is only accessible by foot near Barcelona

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.

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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.

Carrer del Bisbe

This image was taken in the gothic section of Barcelona on my last night there. I was standing next to the cathedral listening to musicians and taking photos of people walking down Carrer del Bisbe.

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Carrer del Bisbe
Late night along the Carrer del Bisbe in the gothic section of Barcelona

Coming from North America, this is an enchanting place. I can’t describe it in words, I try with pictures, and yet it still falls short. You have to experience it for yourself. I’ll be going back in a couple of months, so I hope to get out in the gothic section again.

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Anyway, this is a street scene, a night scene, and an architecture scene all wrapped into a single image. I’m not sure what to call it, but it’s a lot of fun. For me, the appeal is shooting at night when everything takes on an almost mythical quality. You can imagine the same spot hundreds of years ago and see with your mind’s eye the same scenes, unchanged over the centuries.

Patch of Shade

This was taken on a hot day in Barcelona last summer. I had just arrived from hot Florida and went out walking. It was so hot I had to pause in the shade. As I did, I noticed others doing the same thing.

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Patch of Shade
Man in the shade in Barcelona

In fact, it seemed like everyone was doing the same thing, going from one patch of shade to the next. Maybe I should have just stayed inside with the nice air-conditioning, but that’s what I do at home in Florida. Here I was in photo safari mode and the coast of Spain was my savanna.

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As I took this, I was sitting across from a little restaurant on the pier. I was thinking it seemed odd that the main food on the menu was cheeseburgers and hot dogs; so much for European cuisine. But they had air-conditioning, so I seriously thought about going inside. Then my hunter instincts kicked in again and I moved on.

Two views of Cathedral of Barcelona

Here are a couple of shots inside the Cathedral of Barcelona. I took these on our first trip when we stayed right across the street. I walked over first thing in the morning, which was apparently a good idea because soon thereafter the crowds began grow. This cathedral is the centerpiece of the city’s gothic section and is a huge attraction.

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Cathedral of Barcelona 1        Cathedral of Barcelona 2

These were shot handheld because I didn’t bring a tripod. Actually, I didn’t think it would be allowed so I didn’t even try. But as I recall, someone else did have one. Nevertheless, I shot these with the help of stabilization on the Sony sensor and the images came out fine. I have two very expensive tripods, but I’m finding I use them less and less these days due to the advancements in the digital sensors.

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After looking around I went back to the hotel for breakfast. Then returned about an hour or so later. By that time the crowds were enormous. I was glad to have made the early visit and take these pictures. And maybe if I ever do that again I’ll bring a tripod, or maybe not.

Summer Nights in Barcelona

Here is a street scene from a section of Barcelona that’s not too far from the beach. I took this from a moving pedicab that we hired late one night from La Ramblas to the Hotel Arts. Our driver was a German fellow who biked all over Europe and stayed summers in Barcelona to work the pedicabs.

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Summer Nights in Barcelona
Summer Nights in Barcelona

Taking photos from any kind of moving vehicle at night is a challenge, but with a high enough ISO and a wide aperture it’s doable. And a pedicab is a lot easier to shoot from than a taxicab, although I’ve tried that as well.

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The days and nights we were in Barcelona were very warm. One of the things I like most about Barcelona is how people spend a lot of time socializing in front of little cafes and bistros. That goes for much of Europe but Barcelona in particular.

Two Hotels in Barcelona

Here is a shot from atop the Grand Hotel Central in Barcelona. I took this in the morning on my first trip here. Morning is a better time for these kinds of shots because around sunset the pool will surely be filled with guests sipping martinis or sangria, as the case may be.

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Two Hotels in Barcelona
From the pool at the Grand Hotel Central looking towards the Hotel Arts

Looking at this I just realized that the second building from the left is the hotel I stayed at on my second trip, the Hotel Arts. I should have known because there are no other tall buildings in this section of town. Perhaps unknowingly I was seeing reflections into future, or some such thing.

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I did come up in the evening with my camera, but it just wasn’t the same so I’m glad I was here at sunrise. This hotel is in the gothic section and that other one is along the beach, two completely different areas with their own character. About the only thing they have in common are martinis and sangria.