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Posts tagged “España

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.

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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

Bridge-ish

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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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,

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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.