Travels in Spain:
Andalusia, Barcelona and Madrid
This post accompanies the photographs in the gallery for Spain
in the Travel section of the Portfolio.
As you will see from viewing the work and reading the descriptions below,
this "travelogue" of sorts is more about my experiences along
the way rather than a description of where
to go and what to see.
I am happy to have you along for the journey.
As you stroll easterly along Alfonso Street in Seville, you’ll first pass the Museo de Bellas Artes and then the bus station at Plaza de Armas at the foot of the Cachorro bridge. There, along the canal, colorful murals decorate the walls along the canal. The most alluring of the lot, with her blue coif, I call “Dona Azul”.
Taberna del Papelon of Seville, very red and active, begs to be photographed. So oblige I did. The passersby caught my eye, as well as the unusual window reflections and the blue accenting taxi sign. Although too chilly to sit outside, once the shutter was tripped, the tapas inside, as well as the chorizo, wine and cheese offered a second reward.
The elevation of the Metropol Parasol in the old quarter of Seville allows for a rooftop view of the city. Here, as evening sets in, the golden hued domes and steeples-- set against an evening’s graying sky-- speak to a city of significant history and charm.
As you cross the footbridge on your way to La Mezquita (the medieval Islamic Mosque of Cordoba) you will find yourself transported back in time by the mesmerizing music of the “Animador”. I was struck by the color of his accordion, his classical Spanish persona, his sweet face.
Witness a religious procession in Seville during Holy Week: Here, brawny young men, the “costaleros”, frequently laboring types working on the docks, parade through the city carrying a metal and wood-beamed “float”, often weighed down by religious figures, statues and biblical scenes. During the practice run depicted here, I found the position of the various hands uniquely symbolic.
This was the nickname given to Manuel Jiminez Moreno, the famous bullfighter from Seville. This detail was taken from the statue in Alameda Square, placed there by the mayor of Seville. The fine decoration of the “suit of lights”, especially the montera (bullfighter’s hat), and that haunting look, caught my eye.
The cities, villages and neighborhoods in Andalusia offer a divergent array of tastes and styles in everything from architecture to costume to cuisine. Sometimes the contrasts can be found side by side as in this photograph of entryways.
In the Albaicin neighborhood of Granada, first settled by the Romans and later by the Moors, winding, narrow, stone-covered streets still exist today as they did a thousand years ago. During the day and evening hours in this quaint section of town, the streets are bustling with shopkeepers and shoppers, locals and tourists, and children at play. In the later hours, some still find themselves afoot, as captured in this dramatically toned scene on Pages Street.
Nerja, a beach resort along Spain’s Costa del Sol, sits on a promontory overlooking the Mediterranean Sea with the Sierra Mountains as a backdrop. In addition to the cliffs, coves, and hillsides, the changing weather patterns in the off-season make for fertile seascape photography. This series of three picturesque scenes and the two surfside shots are just a few of the many opportunities available to those with a photographic bent.
The old district of Frigiliana, a small village in the mountains north of Nerja, was settled by the Moors and is known for its architectural style typical of the craftsmen who settled there. The town, built on a hill with steep-stepped and winding alleyways, narrow cobbled streets, and white-washed houses offers a glimpse back in time. From this perch, the Andalusia countryside glistens below.
On an early spring day when the bright sun enticed people from their homes, I was seated at an outdoor café on the Plaza de la Merced in Malaga, the city where Picasso was born. My view of Picasso’s Les Femme d’Alger-- a mural on the rear wall of the Casa Natal de Picasso (the house in which the artist was born)-- caught my eye. But the art was obscured by the sign that came between us. I thought, rather than move my table, I would just incorporate the sign into the photo. I think it works much better that way.
Just about every rule of photography has been trashed in this shot. The subject is uncertain, the composition defies reason, and the saving graces of beauty or “meaningful message” remain elusive. But street photography sometimes is more about capturing an unspoken experience of immediacy, place or sensation than it is about following the rules. There was just something about this particular visual frame that said to me, “take it”!
Here’s a “friend” of mine who I photographed over a period of several days. I found him in dramatic poses, gesticulating as he cavorted about the beach. This particular display captured the essence of his “work”. Was he communing with a higher power, living out a fantasy, or was he an actor rehearsing for a play? Maybe the wine bottle tells the tale. When we met sometime later, much by accident, there was little unusual about him other than that he had left his sandals on the beach and commented that it was a very good wine.
The long walk up the spiraling road to Alcazaba, the 11th century citadel atop the city of Malaga, is rewarded by many beautiful vistas of the city and beaches below. While some views remain completely unobstructed, others deny you much visual opportunity at all. In “Malaga Heights”, the dense foliage and early blossoms of spring conceal the distant views, surprising us instead with the splendor within arm’s reach.
When surrounded by so much natural beauty it is easy to forget how much imagination and creativity can be found in commercial art and design. In this storefront in Barcelona the graphics of this Nike sneaker display, with its image of the runner in the background intrigued me. I found it extremely effective in communicating its message which is what inspired me to document it.
This image, shot in a Barcelona market, is a reminder that art-- if we are willing to see it and to take the time to do so-- exists all around us. Here, a commonplace and mundane event—drinks for sale-- when viewed at the right angle and with the proper lighting and presentation, can become a work of art. Capturing one of these images serves as a reminder to me of how much I am missing everyday. I pledge to keep my eyes open.
Antoni Gaudi’s architectural achievements can be found throughout the city of Barcelona. Here, on Passeig de Gracia, you will find Casa Batllo, one of Gaudi’s many masterpieces. Although not the primary subject in this photo, there is a glimpse of the building in the far right corner. It was while visiting Casa Batllo that I captured this highly unusual street scene primarily centered on the motorcycles and the array of reflective mirrors in the foreground. I softened the feel of the background to emphasize the varied reflections.
This could be Barcelona’s answer to Venice Beach, CA. With the turbulent sky as background, the postures and positions of the young men and their colorful apparatus and attire created a photographic opportunity. The shot is taken from a low vantage point, enhancing the dramatic effect of the photo.
The unusual combination of elements in this photograph make it unique. The dramatic and colorful sky, the curious shape of the building in the distance, the glistening reflections of light on the water, and the ambiguous activity on the water’s surface come together to create an almost mythical or illusory image. Taken in the evening in Barcelona, it was the last shot of the day with available light.
Few shots shout “Madrid” like this one with its narrowing linear perspective. The architecture and rust-colored hues capture the classical style so familiar to the city. This picture, shot in early evening, was taken just blocks away from the famed Plaza Mayor.
In this black and white shot, a man alone, in black coat and hat and white scarf, stands poised on a balcony gazing down at the street below. The juxtaposition of the human figure with the building in stark muted white adds contrast and drama. The repetitive nature of the stylized windows and dark railings adds another layer of interest. All these elements materialize in a candid serendipitous moment.
The best way to mark the end of an exciting journey is to do it the same the way we bring closure to a fine meal: with a delectable sweet. This candy shop window in Madrid, with its exquisite lighting, colorful display, and textured candied-strands serves as a fitting exclamation mark. In Spiral Hues, a cropped close-up of the candy in the window converts the recognizable object to an abstraction.