|| 937.479.5892


El Rastro

bean bags

bean bags I went to the El Rastro, the weekly flea market and walked around a bit. Here’s what I saw.

El Rastro Madrid Spain Vendors set up tables and racks all along this tree-lined street in addition to a couple surrounding ones. I wasn’t going for the shopping, but there were a few thousand roaming among the hundreds of tents.

newspaper man costume What!? He’s reading a newspa-what? Newspaper?  Is that one of those things that come from trees and have yesterday’s news? How’d he find one of those? That’s definitely worthy of tossing a few coins in his cup.

Flags hang from a tent at El Rastro, May 6, 2012, in Madrid.

The following frames are from various outings from previous weeks, not El Rastro.

A bird goes in to grab a piece of food Madrid I was taking a break in front of the Prado museum during a walk and noticed some pretty tame, hungry birds hopping around. I set up my camera with a MF 55mm f/3.5 macro lens and attached a cable release. While on continuous high speed, I lined my hand up with where I had the focus set. Once one of my feathered friends slipped into the sliver of in-focus area and came in to grab the food from my fingers, I hammered down on the release. This is the result.

Customers walk in Alcampo in Madrid Snap from my grocery store, Alcampo, in Madrid.

Comillas Pontifical University clock tower This is Comillas Pontifical University’s most recognized architectural feature. It’s equivalent to UD’s Immaculate Conception Chapel.


Walking the line

Arches on blue sky Madrid

I went out for a walk around town looking for lines. I found some.

Arches on blue sky Madrid

These arches were one block away from my flat in Madrid!

Puerta de Atocha trains

This is the Puerta de Atocha train station in downtown Madrid. It was the site of the terrorist bombing back in 2004 that killed 191 people.

I saw a picture online of this station when I first came to Madrid, and it took me months to finally get to the area. The station and surrounding buildings have lines, lines, and more lines. I highly recommend it to photographers visiting Madrid. And I didn’t even get talked to or stopped by any overzealous, First Amendment-trampling rent-a-cops or police officers like I would surely have encountered in the States! Fantastic!

Sky through the Puerta de Atocha Renfe station ceiling in Madrid.

Puerta de Atocha Renfe station in Madrid

Atocha Renfe station Madrid

Puerta de Atocha Renfe station Madrid

walking black and white Congreso de los Diputados Madrid

Leave comments, questions, and suggestions below!

Catch up with me on Twitter!

Semana Santa (Part 4 of 4)

Plaza de Espana boats

Easter Sunday Mass at the world’s largest Gothic cathedral? OK, I guess so.

After staying up late with my friends (coincidentally ran into them at the hostel), we were out the door before the sun was even through its last REM cycle. The mission objective: (good) seats. Our recon reported that Mass started around 9. We figured we’d need lead time of maybe an hour to beat the crowd on the most important day of the year at the third-largest church in the world within a very Catholic country. We wound our way through the streets of Sevilla and made it to the cathedral with plenty of time. By this time, the maintenance man was still doing his last-minute power washing of the side entrance.

Lamp at Cathedral

By 8:05 a.m., our side entrance finally opens. We’re there in plenty of time. We walk in and boom. This place is huge! While I haven’t seen the other biggest churches in the world, this one was certainly not your grandmother’s church.

It even is the home to Christopher Columbus’ tomb? Not too shabby.

After a few minutes of ohh-ing and ahh-ing at the tall, vaulted ceilings and seeing the processions pass through the church (see below), we started to think something was up. Why haven’t any priests been seen? There are only 40 people coming to Mass? It is Easter, right? After some murmurs move through the small congregation, we finally get word that our Internet-recon was bad. God gave us bad intel!? Mass starts at 11?! You mean we didn’t have to wake up at 5 a.m.? Awesome.

Brotherhood in costume

After blowing some time by filling our grumbling bellies with food and coffee at a restaurant around the corner, the time had finally come.

This time around, a familiar incense fragrance floated throughout the church as people were packing in and the organ began to bellow.

This time the two girls (two of our friends bailed after breakfast for naps back at the hostel) and I got seats in the second row on one of the wings. Not too shabby.

After songs- some familiar, some not- a few bows, a handful of handshakes, and a few faintly muttered Spanish phrases, I made it. First Spanish Mass= mission accomplished. Bonus points for it being on Easter… even if it does perpetuate the “Christmas and Easter Catholic” stereotype. If only Fr. Gene was still leading Sunday Mass at UD…

After some lunch and relaxing, I decided I had to find a place called Plaza de España that everyone was raving about. (I had hoped to stumble upon it the day prior.)

Plaza de Espana boats

Plaza de Espana arches

Plaza de Espana silhouette

Plaza de Espana from above

Spanish Flag

I could have spent hours there watching the light and shadows change. So many great lines, colors, and architecture. You might have recognized it from Star Wars Episode II.

After sweating it out in the Plaza, my friends and I had reservations for a flamenco show at a museum. Yes, the purists out there will scream and shout about that not being real flamenco, but hey, finding the authentic stuff was harder than it seems. While it probably wasn’t the world’s greatest, it was still an enjoyable way to finish up our last evening in Sevilla.

Flamenco dancer in motion

Flamenco dancers in Sevilla

After a pleasant dinner at an Italian restaurant near the cathedral, we ended up walking to Plaza de España again. I was only able to squeeze off maybe a couple dozen frames while trying to cradle my camera on the curved, colored, ceramic railing before a security guard scooted us out of the park due to closing time. I would have really liked to have had time to run to the hostel for my tripod and spend some quality time playing with the lights and water reflections. Next time, perhaps.

Plaza de Espana at night

With that, it was back to the hostel for some sleep, packing up and riding the high-speed AVE through the beautiful southern countryside to Madrid.

Spain = superb.

Semana Santa (Part 3 of 4)

Military through town

On the heels of a nice day trip to Cadiz, I found myself on another beautiful day in Andalusia with plenty of time. Excellent. Let’s shoot, shall we?

While this may not look like much food, this is my impression of an average Spanish breakfast. That’s a cup of café con leche (coffee) and bocadillo de jamón (Iberian ham on bread).

Before coming to Spain, I had only ever purchased/tried to drink a cup of coffee once before. It was a terrible experience, and needless to say, I didn’t finish the cup. When I got to Spain, I saw everyone always drinking café con leche. Hey, I came abroad to see how people do it over here. One day at school a few weeks back, I mustered up my courage and got myself a cup. After the first sip, my face cringed like a baby that just poohed his diaper. “How can you all drink this stuff?” In a spirit of penance, I finished the cup.

Right before the rain came in Cadiz yesterday, I ordered another cup hoping my mom’s assertion that ‘taste buds change over time’ would ring true. It did! And who knew, sugar helps! So on this morning, I ordered it again. I’m learning to like this tasty way of jump-starting the morning.

Cafe con leche bocadillo de jamon agua

Sevilla Bridge


Church and bird

Metropol Parasol

Red stands

Paso float

Jesus in B&W

Horned reflections

Too loud

Cross and sun

Que tal?
These floats aren’t driven by machine power; it’s all man power. As the floats wind their way through the brick streets, new groups of men trade places with the sweat-soaked ones that have been giving the float its feet.

Military through town

One more post remaining from spring break! Stay tuned!


Say “hey” on Twitter!

Semana Santa: Cadiz (Part 2 of 4)

Good Friday sunrise over Sevilla

If you missed part one, it’s here. I made a friend on the bus coming back from Granada. Mar lives in Madrid, but she’s originally from Cadiz. She offered to show me around Cadiz if I was in Cadiz the same day she was in the area. Personal tour guide? Yes, please! So on the second day in Sevilla, I was off to Cadiz.

I thought I woke up early, but after speaking with the front desk folks at the hostel, they said I’d have no chance of making it to Santa Justa station by foot in time. With many of the roads blocked for the Good Friday procession routes, my choices were take a cab or miss my train. Cool. Although the ticket wasn’t expensive, I didn’t to miss the train. As I was running to the cab corral a few blocks away, I grabbed this frame as the sun was throwing out some amazing light as it was streaming through the streets of Sevilla downtown.

Good Friday sunrise over Sevilla

After a cab ride that seemed to take forever with all the traffic and road closures causing more than enough congestion around the city, I made it to the station, and all-out sprinted to my train. Made it. Whew.

Once I got to Cadiz, within my second cup of café con leche, the ominous clouds that had been rolling in finally exploded. It rained, and it rained hard. Luckily within an hour or two, it cleared up and gave way to some beautiful light and a bright blue sky for me to play with all day.

Yellow Triangle Roof

Beach watch tower at La Caleta

Ocean in Cadiz, Spain

Deep blue skies courtesy of the Nikon 77mm circular polarizer.

Kitty on the stairs

Wavy and white at La Caleta beach

La Caleta Beach in Cadiz

Caged bird in Cadiz

Trees on the coast Cadiz

San Antonio church in Cadiz

Cadiz fountains

Sunset over the ocean in Cadiz

After a solid day of picture making and walking around, I was headed back to Sevilla on the last train from Cadiz. It was definitely worth a day trip, but it’s by no means big. One day was enough for me.

Santa Justa station in Sevilla

After a two hour train ride, I was back at Santa Justa station. I finally took time to work with all its symmetry and lines.

Virgin Mary float for Semana Santa in Sevilla

On my way back to my hostel, I ran into a paso (procession). This is what Sevilla is famous for. I’ll let Wikipedia do the talking here. What they don’t tell you on Wikipedia is that if you get caught in one of these processions, you better not have to go to the bathroom or have anywhere to be. A tour guide said he was trapped for hours during one of the pasos. They happen all week in Sevilla, but also to a lesser extent in other cities around Spain.

After a long day of shooting and walking (that seems to be the theme with my trips around Spain), I was beat and ready to hit the hay.

Next up will be from my second day in Sevilla.



Easy email update sign up is at the bottom of the page.

Add into your RSS reader.

Give me a shout-out on Twitter–@Leetol.

Comments, questions, etc. right below!

Semana Santa (Part 1 of 4)

Metropol Parasol, Plaza de la Encarnacion, Sevilla, J. Mayer H.

Metropol Parasol, Plaza de la Encarnacion, Sevilla, J. Mayer H.
Spaniards call Easter break “Semana Santa” (Holy Week). I was off to Sevilla and Cadiz in Andalusia in the south of Spain for a few days of picture making. This is day one and part one of the trip.

If one was to drive to Sevilla without stopping, it’d take just under 6 hours. I rode the high speed train on the right. At speeds near 186 mph, I was there in 2.5. Fantastic! These trains were smooth-riding, had more leg room than airplanes, two AC outlets at each couple of seats, bathrooms, a dining car, movies, complimentary headphones, and no small overhead compartments that I had to worry about getting my stuffed ThinkTank bag into. To top it off, there were no stops (at least on the trip there), and I got to see the countryside.

AVE, train, blur, window, track, Renfe

ave, sunrise, sun, cloud

The sun was trying to peek out midway to Sevilla on the AVE.


Lighter and a note from a poor person requesting money in exchange. Very often a poor kid will leave a note and a small pack of tissues on the Renfe train or Metro in Madrid when I’m going to the Cantoblanco campus.

Palm tree

Metropol Parasol, Plaza de la Encarnacion, Sevilla, J. Mayer H.

“Metropol Parasol”€ in Plaza de la Encarnacion in Sevilla, Spain. It was designed by J. Mayer H. and completed in April 2011.

This was one of my very favorite parts of Sevilla. It is the world’s largest wooden structure. I watched a video about it a few days ago, and found out there’s a walkway on top. I wish I would have known that was an option when I was there! Oh, and it only cost a cool 90 million euros to build!

Sevilla, costume, KKK, capirote

This is the traditional outfit that hundreds of men, women and children don for processions (pasos) during Semana Santa. Yes, they do look like the KKK. To be clear, these garments were Spanish before they were adopted by the KKK in the early 1900s.

queue, line, wait,

These people were all in line to get into a church on Holy Thursday. The line extended even further than is visible in this frame.


veil, Sevilla

This is part of the traditional outfit worn by many adult women in Sevilla during Semana Santa.

dress, veil, sevilla, semana santa, outfit, costume

chairs, seats

All of these chairs were set out for spectators for the famous Sevilla processions. There had to have been tens of thousands set out around the city.

tram, sevilla


My next post will be all about my day trip to Cadiz. If you have comments, drop them below. Thanks for stopping by.


If you’d like to get email notifications when I post new pictures, sign up at the very bottom of this page! No, I won’t spam you. If you’re into RSS like I am, that option is there too.

Spain General Strike, March 2012

flag, anarchy, spain, red, blue

29m, Huelga General.

I’m taking a politics of Spain class, and when my professor mentioned a nationwide strike, I got excited. He explained in his broken English that it had happened a couple times before with varying levels of effectiveness. As an adrenaline-seeking photojournalist, I was hoping for big things.

As most of my friends were prepping for their departures from Madrid and Spain for Semana Santa (Spring Break), I was planning how I was going to get downtown to cover the biggest protest Madrid has seen in years. Public transport was putting out notices of reduced services, flights in and out of the country were being canceled, countless businesses were closed, and at least one television station was not broadcasting regular programming.

As clocks struck midnight in downtown Madrid, there were already reports of protesters taking to the street to kick off the 24-hour strike. There were some reports of minor damage and fires, but people were definitely getting rowdy. Twitter was lighting up with hashtags of #29m and #huelgageneral.

metro, herrera oria, huelga general, commuter, passenger, madrid

A man walks through the turnstiles of the Herrera Oria Metro station.

Plaza de Castilla, Huelga General, Spain

Left: A flyer announcing a general strike throughout Madrid is displayed on a bulletin board inside the Herrera Oria Metro station around 9 a.m. Right: Afternoon commuters wait at the platform at the Plaza de Castilla Metro station. Passengers there faced some of the longest between-train wait times in the Madrid Metro system.

Classes were still on at Comillas, but I figured that I’d have an alternate day of learning. I came to learn about Spain, Madrid, culture, and people not just in the classroom but in the streets too. I was just hoping the trains were running so I could to downtown. Madrid Metro said about 30% of the trains would be running.

Police tape covers a smashed car window

Police tape covers a smashed car window on a side street off of Gran Via.

This busted window was the most destruction I saw the whole day. It was a much quieter here than in Barcelona where riots and fires broke out amid the protests.

protest, Spain, huelga, Madrid

Protesters young and old took over the streets.

The protesters went where ever they wanted. There were police officers surrounding the group. Wherever the protesters went, the police just shut down the streets or intersection. Traffic was forced to turn around and try to find another route through the city. Regarding the police, they were very well behaved. They let the protesters do their thing with minimal interference. I was glad to see them keep their cool.

Cibelles, Madrid, Spain, UGT, Protest, Huelga

Protesters gather in front of Plaza de Cibelles and the Madrid City Hall.

Young protesters march arm-in-arm to protest education cuts.

Huelga, Madrid, Spain,

Police officers line up in front of a store to protect it from protesters.

sticker, huelga, madrid, spain

Protesters walk through a street toward Puerta del Sol.

Protesters plastered what seemed to be every window and wall in the city with stickers regarding the Strike.

flag, anarchy, spain, red, blue

Protesters fly the Spanish flag and an anarchy flag in Puerta del Sol.

protest, Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain, Huelga, 29m

A protester pauses in Puerta del Sol in the early afternoon.

Puerta del Sol, protest, huelga, Madrid, Spain

Protesters yell at a store in Puerta del Sol that remained open during the Strike. The protesters marched throughout downtown chanting and aggressively pressuring store owners to close down their stores. With few exceptions, it worked (at least temporarily).

Left: A protester applies a sticker to the front door of a business in Puerta del Sol that told the public that the business was closed due to the Strike. Right: After pressure from the dozens of protesters chanting outside his door, a store worker pulls down the grate and closes the doors. Minutes after the crowd left his doorstep, he re-opened.

bus, autobus, Madrid, Puerta del Sol

Police talk to a bus driver whose route is blocked by a crowd of protesters outside Puerta del Sol.

tourists, Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Huelga, Argument, eating

Two tourists eating at a restaurant in Plaza Mayor are interrupted and confronted by protesters that disrupted restaurants all over downtown by stacking up chairs and tables in a mob-like fashion.

After a few hours of essentially taking a walking tour of downtown Madrid while photographing thousands of my closest friends, I went back home to unload cards, grab some food, and sit down until I head back out for the evening portion of the protests.

After I got a couple calories in me, I stumbled upon a website that had a safety advisory for Americans in Madrid. It said to stay clear of downtown because  there were going to be an estimated 250,000 protesting around 6 p.m. Wow! It was maybe 5:30 p.m. and it takes a good 45 minutes by Metro to get to the heart of downtown (and that’s with all the trains running). Needless to say, I hurriedly packed up and started for downtown.

metro, madrid, Plaza de Castilla

Commuters pack in a Metro car at the Plaza de Castilla station due to a reduced number of trains in service.

I’ve never seen more people stuff into one car than I did during the Strike. At Plaza de Castilla, wait times of 16 minutes weren’t uncommon. Normally, trains come every 4 minutes. This was the train I wanted to get on, but obviously, that wasn’t going to happen. It took me just under 1 hr and 30 mins to get downtown.

Madrid, Gran Via, Spain, Protest, Huelga

Hundreds of thousands of protesters fill Gran Via in support of the General Strike.

For people who know Madrid, this was taken in front of the Metropolis building. The crowd stretched all the way past Cibeles and started partially up the hill toward Puerta de Alcalá.

protesters, kids, ninos, Madrid, Gran Via, huelga, protest

Two young Spaniards show off their “justice” sign during the march to Puerta del Sol.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters pack into Puerta del Sol and the surrounding streets to hear speeches by union leaders.

The unions that backed the nationwide strike said approximately 900,000 people participated in the evening rally that concluded with the speeches. The media reported numbers significantly less. Regardless, trust me when I say that there were a ton of people. This was the biggest crowd I have ever witnessed or been a part of. Those people all the way down this street had no chance of getting into the main area of Puerta del Sol as it was already completely filled. At left is the famous Madrid bear and tree being used as a platform by resourceful photogs. (One of those guys is from AFP. He had a nice frame from there.) Here’s a shot from AFP that’s one of the only pictures I’ve seen of me from the day. I’m right between the A and F wearing plaid with a red backpack.

Puerta del sol, sunset

The sun set over Puerta del Sol as the union representatives were speaking to the crowd.

protesters, sign, Madrid, huelga, Spain, 29m

Eleven hours of shooting, numerous kilometers walked, half a million people or so, and over 2,600 frames later, I was done. I had a blast covering my first large-scale protest.

I emailed one of my professors the next day. He told me that out of the four groups he teaches on Thursdays, only 5 students made it (less than 1%) to class. I guess it was a good thing I didn’t go after all.

Lessons learned & keys to success for next time: 1. Bring twice the water you think you need. 2. Bring a monopod for the Hail Marys over the crowd. 3. Two camera bodies are a huge time saver. 4. Don’t forget to have someone take a picture of you in the sea of people. 5. Earplugs. Enough said. 6. If you know this is going to be history in the making, for a couple hours, rent a room in the hotel that surrounds the area to get a shot from this perspective. 7. Line up an editorial client beforehand so you can have a blast and get paid/published!

If you happen to be seeing this and want to license any of these photos or hire me in Madrid or the States, my contact info is at the top of the page.

Thanks for reading and looking! If you have comments or questions, feel free to leave them below.


If you’d like to get automatic emails when I post, just sign up at the very bottom of the page!

Granada, Spain

Weather forecast: sunny and dry. School/work: none. Three day weekend: of course. Perfect recipe for a weekend out of Madrid.

My friend from Comillas, Avery, and I decided late on a Thursday night last month that we should get out of Madrid. Just a few hours later, we were sitting on a bus headed for Granada in the southern autonomous community of Andalusia for the weekend. The trip only took four and a half hours of actual driving and took us through scenic mountains and pretty countryside. Regarding the transportation, this bus wasn’t your average American Greyhound. In fact, this cruiser put all Greyhounds to shame. It was on time, very clean, had TVs throughout, had no unusual stench, no mystery stickiness on the floor, and had comfortable seats. Pretty great for around 25€ round trip. OK, I’ll let some pictures do the story-telling.

I asked the front desk at the hostel (White Nest Hostel– highly recommended. Clean, extremely friendly, good location, free Wi-Fi, reasonable price, hot water.) where the best photo spots were, and she recommended a few streets north of the main drag that had some nice graffiti.

The hostel also recommended we hike up the hill across from Alhambra (Granada’s main attraction) to watch the sunset. Avery and I took some shots of each other that are in my Facebook album.

The locals hang out and drink, while the artisans sell their trinkets and jewelry to the other tourists that hear about this great spot (and have the endurance for the hike up the hilly, rough streets).

We booked the ~14€ tour tickets for Alhambra. It was definitely worth the $18.75. If you’re planning a visit, book the tickets one day in advance and have a solid 3 hours to see everything. We bought tickets for the 2 p.m. slot, could see everything, and the light was great throughout.

I took a peek through the Granada postcards and a coffee table book of photographs when we were downtown. They gave me some solid ideas on where to shoot.

This kind of detail was everywhere. Whatever you’re imagining as “everywhere,” triple it. The intricate designs were amazing.

It’s amazing to be walking through and shooting a 14th century castle.

After Alhambra, there’s also the Generalife Palace that is included with the ticket. We had to zip through this area to catch our bus back to Madrid, but I still managed a few frames.

There are rows and rows of olive trees much of the way to Madrid.

We had a great sky and sunset as we were riding through the mountains back home.

It was a fun weekend of picture-making and exploring.

A few comments on street shooting. It ain’t easy. There seem to be infinite options. Props to folks that shoot it and shoot it well. It’s an ongoing challenge for me. Street shooting makes me miss my sport shooting days at UD.

Thank you for stopping by!


Don’t forget to add “” to your Google Reader or other RSS reader.

Follow me on Twitter.

Retiro in February

bubble, Retiro, Spain, Madrid

bubble, Retiro, Spain, MadridI finally visited Parque del Retiro in downtown Madrid in late February. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Let’s just say the park exceeded my expectations. It’s April now, and I’ve gone back a couple of times. More frames from those times coming in a later post.

Tree, blue sky, Retiro, Spain, Madrid

Retiro, Spain, Madrid, People

"Florida Park", Retiro, Spain, Madrid, Sign

Retiro, Spain, Madrid, Glass, ceiling,

skater, rollerblade, Retiro, Spain, MadridThere were some rollerbladers skating in the street in the park. They were doing some fun stunts, like the limbo, for a small crowd of park-goers that were watching.Rollerblade, skater, strobist, Retiro, Spain, Madrid, ParqueI threw out a couple Speedlights and tried to make some frames. It seems that many college-age Spaniards know a little English. It’s convenient and helpful. They were fun to shoot and watch.

Rollerblade, skater, strobist, Retiro, Spain, Madrid, Parque

I don’t know if I have ever found a BMX-er, rollerblader, skateboarder, etc. who wasn’t cool with me taking pictures of them doing his/her stuff. Cool folks.

Thanks to the skaters for letting me shoot y’all. I’ll see y’all around.

Want to follow me on Twitter?

Trip to Toledo

Toledo, Spain, Architecture, Cathedral, urban, jamon, El Greco, "Ethan Klosterman"

Toledo, Spain, Architecture, Cathedral, urban, jamon, El Greco, "Ethan Klosterman"A few friends and I took a day trip to Toledo, a quick 48 minute bus ride from Madrid, a number of weeks ago. We just stayed a few hours. This is what I saw.

Toledo, Spain, Ceiling, architecture, convent, church

Toledo, Spain, skyline, city, view, lookout, vista, castle, river, bridge, El Greco

Toledo, Spain, skyline, city, view, lookout, vista,

Don’t forget to add “” (without quotes) to your Google Reader or RSS reader of choice. My posts will be delivered to you instead of the other way around. I highly recommend it.

Catch up with me on Twitter too.

Thanks for stopping by.

Puerta del Sol Protest

Read here for part one of the evening.

Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain, Espana, protest, austerity, social, urban, metro, El Corte Ingles, policia

After I was done looking through the four floors of art, I thought I would wander around downtown and see what I could find.

I walked for maybe 40 minutes and happened upon a street that looked much busier than all of the rest. A multitude of blue flashing lights piqued my curiosity. Police cars. For people who know me well, I’m a sucker for flashing lights. I’ve been known to follow police cars or firetrucks hoping to see something and maybe make a nice frame. Call me an adrenaline junkie; I won’t deny it.

Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain, Espana, protest, austerity, social, urban, metro, El Corte Ingles, policia, police, riot, armour

As I walked down the bustling side streets in the heart of Madrid, I found myself in Puerta del Sol. As I crept closer, I counted at least 18 paddy wagon-esqe vehicles supporting the 110-or-so observing officers. They were dressed in nearly full riot gear, minus the shields and helmets. They lined the street and surrounded the plaza, ready to quash any violence. I saw perhaps a thousand people in the large, public plaza. Disregarding the cold, no more than 26° F, at least a few hundred of those people were actively protesting, chanting, and yelling. There was passion.

Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain, Espana, protest, austerity, social, urban, metro, El Corte Ingles, camera

There was one man, who seemed to be a leader of the demonstration, that got the attention of one of the many news videographers that was covering the event. The videographer trained his camera on the protester. After an impassioned, whole-hearted plea, the man thanked the camera man with a hug and a big, Spanish kiss on the cheek. Without defense, the videographer accepted both.

The videographer looked at me and the people surrounding him and gave a shrug. It was like the protester broke through to the human behind the video camera, and he had to play it off to the people around him. From my perspective, it felt like the protester broke through the videographer’s emotion-resistant shield that many journalists wear when doing their job.

All of the protesters were chanting in Spanish, but from what I picked up, this was about their lives, their freedom. The protester’s on-camera plea gave me a feeling that something important was going on and they felt compelled to fight it. I could feel it, the videographer could feel it. Their pleas were engaging, even with the language barrier, that, for a second, I forgot I was there to document the event.

Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain, Espana, protest, austerity, social, urban, metro, mask

Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain, Espana, protest, austerity, social, urban, metro, El Corte Ingles, policia, police, riot

The crowd was generally peaceful. There were no bottles being thrown or people who crossed the line between passion and aggression. However, there was a subtle hint of tension between the 100+ cops and the large group of protesters. They seemed to be getting closer to one another. I think the other dozen or so photojournalists that were there could feel tension rising. There wasn’t anything blatantly obvious, but there was a certain hum among the journalists.

Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain, Espana, protest, austerity, social, urban, metro, sign, spanish

Not expecting to be out in the cold covering a protest, I was not dressed for the weather. Sensation in my fingers and toes was slipping away. Nothing big seemed imminent and having no desire to deal with numb fingers and toes due to serious frost bite, I decided to call it a night.

Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain, Espana, protest, austerity, social, urban, metro, El Corte Ingles, policia, panorama, panoramic

My first protest was a fun experience. I’m looking forward to shooting more. I’ve got a long way to go. Hopefully next time it won’t be -3° C so I can take more time to see and shoot.

Museo Reina Sofía

Museo Reina Sofía, art, museum, Madrid, Spain, Espana, culture, exhibit, Picasso

A couple of weeks ago, my roommates and I figured we better begin hitting museums while the weather was still less than ideal. Nighttime lows around 26F aren’t the best, but at least it rarely gets any colder than that during the whole “winter.” There’s plenty of more fun things to when it’s 75F than be in a mostly static museum.

All of us are in a course called Spanish Art in the Museums of Madrid. Class is one day a week. It’s essentially a high school-level art appreciation class. For example, on our first day of class, we talked about how to describe a painting. Mind blowing, right? I’m not complaining. Anyway, we had heard from various people, including our prof, that we have to see the Reina Sofia Museum.

Pros: We could talk about the art in class, could check it off the list, it is free at certain times, the building architecture is cool, it would us out of the apartment.

Cons: It’s “art,” it’s not very interactive, it’s guaranteed not to get the adrenaline rushing.

Well, the pros win. We went.

Museo Reina Sofía, art, museum, Madrid, Spain, Espana, culture, exhibit, Picasso, gallery

For the sake of brevity, it’s a museum. It’s much like any other place that is the home to hundreds of pieces of art. It’s white, sterile, and smells funny. Typical.

Some things that were cool. It did have cool architecture. From my observations, there was an old part and a new addition. The old part had large stone supports, decorative wall pieces and more. The new part features a fourth story patio that is a nice place to watch the sun set over Madrid through 7 foot high glass panels that surround the open-air deck that overlooks a courtyard ~40 feet below.

Museo Reina Sofía, art, museum, Madrid, Spain, Espana, culture, exhibit

Museo Reina Sofía, art, museum, Madrid, Spain, Espana, culture, exhibit, Picasso, patio, architecture, metallic, balcony, sky

Museo Reina Sofía, art, museum, Madrid, Spain, Espana, culture, exhibit, Picasso, terrace, patio, sunset

The museum got me thinking about the meaning of art. It got me questioning what is art? I found myself shaking my head numerous times throughtout my hours in the building. Some pieces just look like trash. Does this really belong in one of the most famous museums of Madrid? I guess that’s the beauty of art; its value changes with every person.

I struggled to make pictures inside the museum. Partially because of my opinions on the pieces. One piece did strike me as awesome though– Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica.” I had heard a few times that it’s big. Yeah, so what? Let me tell you, it’s huge! It’s around 25 feet wide, and over 11 feet high. It’s massive! How does one person even paint something that giant?

You’re waiting on my picture of “Guernica?” There’s the catch, the museum does not allow the general public to take photos of the painting. Why? Don’t know. There are two employees eying the whispering, awestruck crowd. They see you bring your camera up to your face? They’re quick to start walking over to you as they shake their finger and tell you “no photos.” I’m sure people get shots all of the time, but I held back. Plenty of images online. Here’s an image from the Museum’s Flickr page. They’re stingy with pixels; forgive them.

I did find one piece I liked. George Brecht is the artist.

Museo Reina Sofía, art, museum, Madrid, Spain, Espana, culture, exhibit, "george brecht", "sign of the times"

Simple and witty. My kind of art.

Museo Reina Sofía, art, museum, Madrid, Spain, Espana, culture, exhibit, courtyard

After looking through the courtyard a bit and snapping a few frames, I was finished with the museum.

Reina Sofia Museum: check.

Little did I know that some exciting things were happening just a few blocks away… See next post for deets and frames.

Monochrome Madrid

I got out of class last week and saw some light I couldn’t resist. Peter, my roommate, must have already left our downtown school so I figured I’d go out and get some sightseeing done. The temperature was pleasant, and I (of course) had my camera and a 17-35 with me. Winning combination. After asking a few of my classmates where they recommended, I got on the Metro a block or two away from school and headed toward the Puerta del Sol station.

Having no guide except for my offline map app on my iPhone, which is less than great aside from looking up Metro stops, I walked and wandered and chased the light. No time-consuming extra-currics to go to. No homework thanks to syllabus week. Freedom.

Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain, Espana, Metro, monumento, monuments

Since I was just walking wherever I saw things that looked interesting (and the light was right), I don’t know the name most of the things I saw. Feel free to help me out by leaving a comment at the bottom, and I’ll add them in.

Madrid, Spain, Espana, Metro, monumento, monuments, Plaza de Espana, Cervantes, Don Quixote

Why did I go black and white? I’m not sure. The light was changing a bit and B&W made things a bit more unified. Now that I think of it, it was probably the other way around. I put one shot in B&W and it only looked good that way, therefore everything needed to go B&W. I don’t hate it.Madrid, Spain, Espana, Metro, monumento, monuments, Plaza de Espana, Cervantes, Don Quixote, fuente, fountain

Madrid, Spain, Espana, Metro, monumento, monuments, Egypt,

Madrid, Spain, Espana, Metro, monumento, monuments, Palacio Real, Royal Palace

Madrid, Spain, Espana, Metro, monumento, monuments, trees, park

Madrid, Spain, Espana, Metro, monumento, monuments, cars, traffic

I’m always carrying at least one camera with me. More shots and stories to come.

Welcome to España

Just one week ago, I had just gotten my visa approved, picked it up from Chicago, packed my life into three suitcases weighing a grand total of 121 lbs, said goodbye to my friends and family, and made the jump across the Atlantic. After a long flight through the night, I safely arrived in Madrid, España. The last time I posted, I was still needing to pack and waiting for my visa to be returned to the States. A lot has happened since then. Not only have I changed zip codes, but I’ve moved into a new country with an unfamiliar language with new friends. Here’s what I’ve been seeing and doing.

Chicago O'Hare Airport

I got to wander around Chicago O'Hare for 4+ hours while Brenda and I waited for our flight to Madrid.

Chicago O'Hare Airport, Ibera, plane, airplane, jet, boeing

After a brief delay and much anticipation, our plane arrived at our gate. Needless to say, I was pumped.

Airplane, sleeping, comfort, jet, transatlantic

These folks had seats in the middle section. Fortunately for them, the flight wasn't full so they got to take a row for themselves. They didn't waste any time converting their three seats into a bed for the eight hour trip.

Airplane, city, lights, flyover

As we descended into Spain's Madrid Barajas Airport, we got a nice view of some city lights. Which city? Not sure.

"Brenda La"

This is my friend, seatmate, and housemate, Brenda. It was around 8:00 a.m. Madrid time, we'd been flying all night, gotten less than restful sleep, but we were excited to be on the ground. Side note: About Brenda's Hollister, she read on a Spanish fashion blog that Madrilenos love Hollister so she dug out her things from grade/high school. I have yet to see anyone wear any Hollister since we've been here.

Madrid, Spain, Espana, Barajas Aeropuerto, Airport, Architecture, yellow, symmetry

Madrid's airport is a traveling photographer's dream. It has fantastic architecture around every corner. I snapped a few shots while we were waiting for our bags to come through the carousel. I hope to take more time to capture its lines and shapes when I come in and out over the next few months.

Madrid, Spain, Espana, Barajas Aeropuerto, Airport, Architecture, yellow, symmetry

Spanish food, restaurant, pasta

After a long and unsuccessful day of searching for an apartment in Madrid, my four new friends and I had our first meal. I had pasta with a meat sauce and a Budweiser. It was delicious. I'm glad I went for something not so adventurous this meal, because I needed the energy for our apartment hunt.

Vodafone, Madrid, Spain, Espana

Brenda, Peter and Audrey at the Vodafone store. || With light fading and our energy levels dwindling, we decided to cut our losses with the apartment search for the day. We figured if we got cell phones, we could have one positive mark for the day. The language barrier has proven to be a challenge, especially when more than a few of us know less than conversational Spanish.

Calle de Santiago de Compostela, Madrid, Spain, Espana

Long exposure from down our street, Calle de Santiago de Compostela. || After we got tired of feeling pretty hopeless about finding a place to live, we contacted a housing broker that my friend, Joe, had used when he studied in Madrid. We contacted her on Friday night and by Saturday morning she had responded and was ready to set up a visit to a place that could house all five of us and was near a Metro station. Within minutes of seeing the place, we were sold. Our 15 story building is the first building (darker brick) in the right third of this frame.

Circo mundial, Madrid, Spain, circus, sunset, lights, tent, booth

During our walk around our new barrio at sunset, we stumbled upon the circus' setup.

Circo mundial, Madrid, Spain, circus, sunset, lights, tent, booth

There were hundreds of families with small children flocking to the event.

Madrid Metro, subway, train, tren, anden, Plaza de Castilla

We ride the Metro almost every day. More than a couple times we have spent numerous hours riding it going various places. It's incredibly easy to use. It's so easy that I've seen two blind people using it. If they can do it, anyone can.

Madrid, Spain, Espana, Fuencarral, shopping, urban, people

On our first Saturday in Spain and the last night we were still living in a hotel, we went out walking and found a great area that had a lot of people shopping and walking around.

After Peter, Brenda, and I lugged our bags up and down stairs through the Metro and the other girls taking the quick route via taxi (probably wiser) we moved into our fully-furnished five bedroom, 2.5 bath, two balcony, 10th story, soon-to-be wi-fi equipped apartment on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately all the stores were closed so grocery shopping was not possible. We managed to find pasta, spaghetti sauce and bread at a convenience store. Peter whipped it up and we had our first meal in our new home.

Alcampo, Madrid Spain, shopping, grocery, supermercado, la vaguada

Our new place is in a great location. We have a four story mall within a four or five minute walk. On the bottom two floors is a Meijer-like store called Alcampo. They sell everything from shaving cream to fresh meat to sheet sets to produce. It's overwhelming going to a new store that uses a different language on all the packages. Not only do I not have any brands to remain loyal to, but finding food I can make and trying to figure out what everything is presents a challenge. On top of all that, there is no logical flow to the traffic. Want to go all the way down to the other end of the store on the left side? Sure. Want to cut across everyone? By all means.

Peter, Tess, Audrey, and Brenda walking to the Metro. || Our nearest station is Herrera Oria. It's a quick four or five minute walk from our building. The Metro can take us nearly anywhere in the city. It's fantastic. Our neighborhood is full old people but also families with young children. In the evenings, there are dozens of people taking strolls to the many small parks that surround us.

Madrid, Spain, Mirasierra, mountains, view, high rise apartments

The view of the mountains from my bedroom window. || We don't live in the city per se. We technically still live in Madrid, but we're the second to last stop on the purple Metro line. One of the perks of that is that housing is much cheaper, things are quiet, and we can see the mountains from 10th story flat. Sunsets here are beautiful.

This is a panorama of what I see outside my bedroom window. The mountains from shot above are between the buildings just left of center of the frame. There are countless high-rise apartment buildings in the neighborhood. We live in a complex of around 8 or 10 buildings that share a pool and tennis and basketball courts. I'm really looking forward to when the weather gets a little warmer. Sure we've had average highs of 57F and lows around 32F, but I'm excited for 65 and 70F.

I’ve lived in Madrid for a week, and this is what I’ve been doing and seeing. I’ve gone through both the main campus downtown and my campus in Cantoblanco. I’ve survived a week of intensive Spanish classes. I’ve met people from all around the world like Ethiopia, Iran, Italy, Greece, France, Canada, Germany, Sweden, and more. Talking with people from so many different backgrounds and lifestyles is incredible. This is already a fantastic experience. I get to be here for five more months? Awesome!

I’ll have more photos and stories to share in the days and weeks to come. My apologies for this post’s length. I want to get y’all caught up about Madrid things.

Chicago, Chicago


Chicago, skyline, Sears, willis, tower, Lake michigan

For those of you who may not know, starting January 20th, I’ll be leaving my easy-going life in Dayton and moving to Madrid until the middle of June for study abroad. From Dayton and its 165,000 people English speakers to Madrid and its 5.1 million Spanish speakers

Crazy/awesome, I know.

My trip starts Jan. 19th and first takes me to Chicago for a five-ish hour layover and then finally off to Spain. Luckily I’ll have a travel companion the whole time. My friend, Brenda, from high school is also going to Comillas Pontifical University. We’ve coordinated our flights so not only do we have the same flights from the 937 to Chi-town and Chicago to Madrid, but we also are supposed to have seats right next to each other. Oh and we’re going to be in the same apartment!

So, does Chicago relate to this trip in any other way? Indeed it does.

If I were to describe the process of getting a Spanish visa with one word, I’d say it’s a breeze. All one has to do is make a trip to the nearest Spanish consulate, attend a five minute appointment, sign a few papers, pay the fees, and wait until the joyous day when you get the consulate’s notification that your visa is ready. There’s only one catch. Where is the nearest consulate to Dayton? Ding ding ding! Chicago, Illinois!

Dayton to Chicago

So let’s do the math, that’s 5+ hours up, 5+ hours back (that’s the first trip), then 5+ hour trip up, and yet another 5+ hour trip back. I’m no math whiz, but last time I checked 5 x 4=20. Twenty hours of driving just to get the visa. Wonderful!

Today is Jan. 10th. I leave on the 19th. I’m still awaiting my email from the consulate. In full disclosure, I didn’t apply for my visa until Dec. 16. My fault. Pardon my rant, it’s just that if I don’t have a visa, I don’t go to Spain!

I’ve been working on figuring out what we’re going to do for housing once we arrive and making sure my classes are being taught in English. (Yes, I know. I don’t know what I was thinking when I decided to live in a city that speaks Spanish. Who am I kidding; I’m not going to get very far on my three years of high school Spanish. Sorry Señora Adcock and Regan.) Flights booked? Yes. Passport? Yes. Visa? Hopefully, maybe, possibly, but technically no. Packed? I’ll plead the 5th on that one.

The shots above and below are from Dad and my first trip (ever) to the Windy City on a nice Friday in mid-December.

Garrett Popcorn, food, Garrett's

Upon recommendation from multiple Chicago friends, Dad and I made the stop into Garrett Popcorn. I recommend the caramel.

The lake from Willis Tower, Lake Michigan, Chicago, Illinois, skyline, Sears

Pops and I went up in the Willis (Sears) Tower. We lucked out on it being such a bright, sunny day.

Posts and photos from my European adventure are just a couple weeks away!