Saturday, June 30

Orange and Yellow Flowers at Sant Pau Hospital

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Beautiful small orange and yellow flowers which I have seen many times before but I can't identify myself. I can tell you where I found them though: Sant Pau Hospital in Barcelona, Spain. Of course they are quite common and grow in many more places. If you happen to know the name please let me know.

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Friday, June 29

Geometric Models by Gaudi: Polyhedron at Sagrada Familia Museum

Geometric Models by Gaudi: Polyhedron at Sagrada Familia Museum [enlarge]

Inside of Sagrada Familia Museum you can admire scale models which Gaudi used in the building of his cathedral. This polyhedron called my attention not only for the shape but for the small engravings, the texture and the pencil marks.

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Thursday, June 28

Mosaic Work Called Trencadis by Gaudi at Park Guell

Mosaic Work Called Trencadis by Gaudi at Park Guell [enlarge]

A closeup of a serpentine bench adorned with mosaic work known as trencadis at Park Guell, Barcelona. This technique of breaking tiles of different patterns and different shapes to compose a single mosaic was constanly used by Antoni Gaudi and his followers. I found this particular shard with some numbers on it which reminds me of notations made by master masons or stone cutters on ancient walls.

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Wednesday, June 27

Fast Ferry Barcelona - Balearic Islands at Barcelona Port

Ramon Lull Fast Ferry from Balearia Company sailing from the Balearic Islands among other destinations to Barcelona, upon entering at Barcelona Port

This is fast ferry Ramon Llull belonging to Balearia company. Barcelona Photoblog took the picture from the deck of a sightseeing boat. I am not pretty sure where it came from this time as they cover Majorca, Minorca, Formentera and Ibiza plus Valencia, Denia, Ceuta and Algeciras. The vessel can carry 479 passengers and a 100 cars, a big monster compared to our small Las Golondrinas boat. Far away on the horizon you can see the Jaume I cable car tower and almost touching the prow the blurry silhouette of Hotel Arts.

Hot today in Google: Zach Randolph. No, I am not covering NBA now, just recommending my Google Hot Trends Swicki.

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Tuesday, June 26

Guell Crypt: Caprice Supreme of Architecture

Guell Crypt: Caprice Supreme of Architecture - Modernist Ceiling by Gaudi [enlarge]

A supreme caprice of architecture: the art nouveau or modernist ceiling at the entrance to the crypt in Colonia Guell by Antoni Gaudi, who had been commissioned by Eusebi Güell the prosperous catalan businessman. Robert Hughes, art critic for Time, recently said he hates Sagrada Familia but loves Colonia Guell, the place where the crypt is. Of course we can object to that if we get carried out by the grandeur of the cathedral. Besides, experts see what we cannot see, no wonder they've been studying for years, although what we understand by art is a concept of man and not a law of nature so no one has the final truth. Anyway, it was about time someone cast a shadow of doubt over stereotypes concerning our city. I suggest you read the book by Robert Hughes: Barcelona.

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Monday, June 25

Curtain Call: A Backstage Insight

Curtain Call: A Backstage Insight

A backstage insight, this was what I wanted to portray when I captured these two artists before the curtain call. How does it feel when your work is rewarded with a big round of applause? How much time is there behind every performance? Rehearsals, blunders, stress and then the big day arrives. Nerves as usual make their best to ruin your act, your stomach becomes your worst enemy and you feel a sudden rush of fear but little by little your will overcomes your insecurity and you manage to seduce the audience with a great performance. And then you are there behind the curtain. You left the stage too fast maybe. Although it was not enough prize, you wait, still thinking things didn't turn out right, and then...they call you back, they ask for an encore with a standing ovation. How did our two artists feel at that very moment? Take a look at their faces, they speak for themselves.

Remember that you can always find fresh stories about the hottest trends in Google search right now thanks to Google Hot Trends Swicki on the sidebar. For example try Benoit murder tag. Maybe you can post something about some of the most uptodate topics on the web to boost your traffic.

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Sunday, June 24

Dizzy Flying Chairs Attraction at Tibidabo Amusement Park

Dizzy Flying Chairs Attraction at Tibidabo Amusement Park [enlarge]

Flying Chairs are common attractions in amusement parks or local fairs but I doubt they take you for a spin with such strength and so high as the Chairs at Tibidabo Amusement Park. Imagine your feet dangerously approaching the surrounding trees and your body on the verge of slipping away headfirst towards Barcelona City at the end of the mountain slope. More pictures of Tibidabo have been shown before in this photo blog but I don't remember any video: Watch Tibidabo Mix BkR Studio, a recopilation of attractions among which you can see the Flying Chairs not only during the day but also at night.

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Saturday, June 23

Sant Joan's Eve Firecracker Armageddon

Sant Joan's Eve Firecracker Armageddon [enlarge]

Sant Joan's Eve is not the best day for people with sleeping disorders. Unless you live far from civilization or up in the top floor of a tall building, you will find it hard to get a good sound sleep in Barcelona. As you know this celebration is about partaking with friends in the open at night fully armed with all the pyrotechnic gadgets you could afford to buy in the authorized stalls spread all over the city (they are on sale long before the day arrives). Firecrackers who had initially been heard during previous weeks, suddenly increase the number of decibels, dogs go mad, people get drunker than average, kids go to bed later than ever and the night becomes day, or better said hell on earth. The following morning as you can expect it is as quiet as a post nuclear scenario with just one exception, the constant swearing of the garbage men.

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Friday, June 22

Lorenzo Quinn: Beer Pump Sculpture for Barcelona Auditorium

Lorenzo Quinn: Beer Pump Sculpture for Barcelona Auditorium [enlarge]

One of the most artistic and impressive beer pumps I have ever seen (I've seen many!) is this sculpture that Lorenzo Quinn dedicated to L'Auditori of Barcelona (Barcelona Auditorium). The bronze sinewy arm holding a golden jar of San Miguel beer is just a tiny drop in the vast collection of the famous sculptor born in Rome in 1966, son of Anthony Quinn and Jolanda Addolori and brother of four. At present he lives in Barcelona with his wife Giovanna and their two sons, Christopher and Nicolás. He studied art at the American Academy of Fine Arts in New York.

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Thursday, June 21

Dangerous Wild Fauna in La Barceloneta Balcony

Dangerous Wild Fauna in La Barceloneta Balcony [enlarge]

Yes, it is a very messy picture from the point of view of photography so please refrain from judging it. Almost on the street level (you can reach it with your hands) there is this balcony right in front of La Barceloneta beach in Barcelona. Three different toy animals drying in the sun. At least that's what I thought since one of them, the Tazmanian Devil aka TAZ is held to the clothes line with pegs. On a second look, after checking the plants, the butane gas-cylinders and assorted trash you might think it is the closet as seen from a different perspective. Sometimes you don't know where to stack all those presents you "win" at the shooting gallery.

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Wednesday, June 20

Exclusive: Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn in Barcelona by Barcelona Photoblog

Exclusive: Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn in Barcelona by Barcelona Photoblog [enlarge]

Everybody knows that Woody Allen is in Barcelona picking up the best locations for his 2008 movie (according to some sources called "Midnight in Barcelona"). It is no secret that they start shooting next summer and that the main actors are Scarlett Johansson, Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem and Rebecca Hall. Of course it is not the first time Woody Allen visits Barcelona, where he usually plays the clarinet with the New Orleans Jazz Band. Admirers he has many, not only because he has a long filmography but also because of the intelligent humor, his talent as an actor, the peculiar psychological traits of his characters, the perfect scripts and the European flavor of his work as film director. I have always been a fan of his movies so the other day after coming out of Can Manel restaurant near La Barceloneta beach I almost fell flat on my, you know, when I saw Mr. Woody Allen, the one and only and Soon-Yi strolling along the walk on their way to Hotel Arts. Thanks God my wife and I were sitting on a bench trying to hardly digest a superb paella and gee, I was holding my camera, ready, with everything tuned up (can you believe that!). He was my first celebrity, I loved his work and I was there! I did not stop to think about politeness and even forgot to ask him for an autograph. After I was done, I turned round to my wife: "Did you see that? That was Woody Allen" - she said. "I know, I got it all here" - I remarked wearing a big smile. "Look at my hands", I was still trembling!
Here is another similar snapshot I took of Woody Allen and his wife, Soon-Yi.

*New: And talking about famous actors and great movies, here is a LINK to a topic which is hot right now in Google: AFI (American Film Institute) Best 100 Movies of All Times list for 2007. Guess who is number 35?: "Annie Hall," 1977.

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Tuesday, June 19

Birds of the Same Feather Flock Together

Birds of the Same Feather Flock Together [enlarge]

Of course if you intend to deepen into amusement parks you ought to deal with other fair attractions different from thrill rides, as it is the case of sideshows and sidestalls. Freak shows are something of the past now but you still have magic mirrors, fortune telling machines and classic string puppet shows in Tibidabo. As to the sidestalls there is not much of a difference with other amusement parks. This is the case of the rubber ducks. How many can you hook? Apparently easy if they only stopped moving for just one second!

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Monday, June 18

Funny Classical Musicians Drawings on Tibidabo Billboard

Funny Classical Musicians Drawings on Tibidabo Billboard [enlarge]

I rarely take pictures of another picture or sign, cause I think that if it is done is done, is not my work but someone else's but I found this funny and colorful, and worth showing. I just can't figure out who the artist was but his/her drawings are common in school books and tv cartoons in Barcelona. If anyone knows please drop me a line. The place where I took the photo: one of the side exits in Tibidabo Amusement Park (the way things are going I'll have to create a digital album on amusement parks and Tibidabo soon). Check labels to find out more.

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Sunday, June 17

Massive Tourism in Barcelona?

Massive Tourism in Barcelona? [enlarge]

Right under El peix d'or (Gold Fish) metallic sculpture, by Frank O.Ghery next to Hotel Arts, there is this small artificial pond or fountain where it has become customary for people to wade so as to alleviate the effect of the hot temperatures. In fact you generally see tourists doing this as they apparently are more affected by the humid weather in Barcelona. Not that I am against people relaxing by the fountain, not at least if you can admire living sculptures like these every now and then, but the heat, the sweat, the shabby appearance of a whole day by the beach (close by) and the massification of this area create a sudden feeling of being part of a surrealist dream, you know, with mirage effect included, thirst, dampness, a somewhat sick atmosphere that doesn't disappear till the next fall. I am exaggerating of course but those of you who have been here in the summer have gone through similar trances more than often. As you see there are pros and cons.

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Saturday, June 16

Amusement Parks: Roller Coaster Panic at Tibidabo, Barcelona

Amusement Parks: Roller Coaster Panic at Tibidabo, Barcelona [enlarge]

Hello, I am back again, but will be brief so I have time to catch up with the current date. This is a snapshot I took at Tibidabo Amusement Park in Barcelona. I did more or less what those automatic cameras do when you are sliding down a roller coaster, capture the panic expression in your distorted face. The only difference is that this picture was not for sale in the stall. I hope they find Barcelona Photoblog some day and download their photograph for free.

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Friday, June 15

Twisted Shapes: An Approach to Rebecca Horn's Sculpture

Twisted Shapes: An Approach to Rebecca Horn's Sculpture [enlarge]

This metallic cubic sculpture was made by the artist Rebecca Horn and it is a distinctive feature of La Barceloneta beach next to the quarter by the same name. Before showing my first photograph about this work I had seen it portrayed in a thousand ways. If you try to capture it as is, early or late during the day, when there is no one, it may look rather dull but the presence of people add up to the structure a little bit. It occurred to me that this man in that strange pose and the arched building maintained some ackward parallelism. On second thought now, I think that his fortune might be as twisted as the building itself, I just wish I was in a mistake. I remember someone said here that sometimes we tag people with our pictures without even knowing what their real conditions are. That is absolutely true.
You get a better idea in this Google Earth Map View of La Barceloneta Quarter and the tiny metallic sculpture by the beach.

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Thursday, June 14

Art Nouveau Balcony: An Integrating Modern Style

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As you know Art Nouveau distintive features are the use of ornamental shapes and patterns, mainly organic like these animals protruding from the balcony. Art Nouveau was as an international art movement with different names: Jugendstil, in Germany, Stile Liberty in Italy, Sezession in Austria and Modernismo in Spain. It integrates different streams in art and design. For example see this balcony, the abundance of motifs is almost Baroque in style and that bird might as well stand for a gargoyle on any gothic cathedral but at the same time all those characteristic natural elements seem to writhe and adopt impossible innovative forms breaking all previous canons. Most of all it is an emphasis on decorative arts based upon craftsmanship that goes hand in hand with symbolism, a consequence of industrial revolution, the constant search for modernity and the rupture with XIX historicism in arts.

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Wednesday, June 13

Succulent Plants: Cactii Family and Friends

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From the animal realm in last post into the succulent plants: the cactii. Not specially related to Barcelona unless you speak about Mossen Costa i LLobera Gardens, which contain one of the largest cactii collections in Europe, and what's best, out of a greenhouse, due to the peculiar microclimate next to the cliff wall of Montjuic mountain. The peaceful place is facing Barcelona port so you have a privileged view of the city and at the same time a comfortable blend of blue sea and green cactii to enjoy. As to the image, partipation to identify this particular cactus is open. I love succulent plants not just because you have Agave from where you get Tequila but because they make quite a good subject for a photograph, not only from the point of view of textures but of composition as well. Take this case, would you say I am crazy if I said I see a family here, a group of imaginary people whispering among themselves. As you see they have some hallucinogen effects too. Don't worry I'll call the shrink myself
Before they lock me away I will share with you five hot terms from the top 100 most searched terms today according to Google. Take a look at each of them in my brand new Google Hot Trends Swicki search engine. If you checked the full list everyday you'd find out that this is a mad world after all.

1. usopen.com
2. flag day
5. colgate recall
6. lisa ann taylor
9. paris parody

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Tuesday, June 12

Coleoptera: Stag Beetle

Coleoptera: Stag Beetle [enlarge]

This is a beetle, a stag beetle, if I am not in a mistake of course. I give you a link to a fabulous site specialized in entomology. The small insect belongs to the coleoptera order, and its scientific name is Lucanus Cervus. I don't want to cheat with the picture, the poor animal is as dead as the little piece of wood where it is clung to. A friend of mine showed me the "bug" he had found already stiff. We had the wood and a nice surface so I thought it would look great for my animal set on Flickr and for those interested in entomology or nature lovers in general.

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Monday, June 11

The Harp Player: How to Pull The Right Strings

The Harp Player: How to Pull The Right Strings_BW [enlarge]

I was dying about posting a BW picture again in Barcelona Photoblog but I just didn't have enough inspiration to find the right occasion nor the best subject. As a matter of chance, I happened to sit upfront in the small concert hall where my daughter was supposed to play the piano. It was a long program and many kids were to perform each one with their own instrument. What I never expected was to be so close, camera in hand, to this boy and his harp. He played the notes gracefully, with that self confidence only promising musicians of his age would have and not even my imprudent flash was able to deviate his attention or stop him from pulling the right strings on his way to success.
Two good links for the road: The History of the Harp and on a different line of content Harp magazine

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Sunday, June 10

Mosaic Serpentine Benches: A Landmark of Barcelona

Mosaic Serpentine Benches: A Landmark of Barcelona [enlarge]

This is I believe the third picture where I show serpentine benches by Gaudi located at Park Guell in Barcelona. These mosaic or trencadis-made wonders of architecture and design look specially attractive under the last rays of the sun. Although I am used to watching them I always enjoy them as much as this tourist lost in his own thoughts through the viewfinder of his camera.
To complete today's post I would like to suggest a couple of beautiful photographs by Diane Warner that I stumbled upon today. Bound to Prosper and Within You'll Find Me

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Saturday, June 9

Palau de la Musica Catalana: Modernist Ceiling

Palau de la Musica Catalana: Modernist Ceiling [enlarge]

Catalan art nouveau or modernisme at one of the most remarkable jewels of architecture in Barcelona: Palau de la Música Catalana, the concert hall. While you sit and relax at the cafeteria, look up and contemplate in detail all the different geometric lines traced with tiles on that modernist ceiling and the rich colors. I particularly like the flowers on those columns. Remember you can search for "palau" if you want to see previous posts of mine related to this place, like this: stained glass ceiling

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Friday, June 8

El Corte Ingles Department Store at Catalonia Square, Barcelona

El Corte Ingles Department Store at Catalonia Square, Barcelona [enlarge]

This is El Corte Ingles at Plaça Catalunya or Catalonia Square, one of the most important department stores in Barcelona and Spain. El Corte Inglés was named after a shop specialised in children's tailoring in Madrid back in 1890. Ramón Areces Rodríguez founder of the company, bought the tailor's shop and made it a private limited company in 1934. In the 60s El Corte Inglés began its expansion as a chain of department stores, the number of establishments grew in Madrid and new centers were open in Barcelona (the one in the image), Seville and Bilbao. Later on, it covered most provincial capitals in Spain and started diversifying its activities with a travel agency, Viajes El Corte Inglés, S.A.; an insurance company, Seguros El Corte Inglés and a chain of hypermarkets, Hipercor. The group also runs Supercor S.A. (supermarkets), Opencor (24 hours convenience stores), IT services, Sfera (clothing chain) and Bricor (DYS stores). From the point of view of a client, my opinion is that their products are more expensive than the average but they counteract that with an extremely efficient customer service.

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Thursday, June 7

MITORAJ: The Tuscan or Grande Toscano

MITORAJ: The Tuscan or Grande Toscano [enlarge]

The Tuscan or Grande Toscano (Toskanczyk in Polish, Igor Mitoraj's mother tongue) was first exhibited along with Ikaria and Tindaro in La Défense District, Paris in 1983, in fact, they were conceived for that part of the city based upon previous drawings by the artist. Now Grande Toscano is in Barcelona till July 2007 as part of an itinerant exhibition by this famous sculptor born in 1944 in Oederan, a town in the district of Freiberg, Germany, but of Polish parents. I took the liberty of applying some tonal treatment with an HDR software plus a little extra light with Photoshop to both the head in the frame which I think represents the heart or the soul of the Tuscan, and to the female bust coming out of Adam's rib according to what I interpret. Of course Igor if you disagree with such lay approach please let me know. To have a better idea I suggest you check my previous posts on Mitoraj. If you are a great fan browse Mitoraj pictures at Flickr or Mitoraj videos at YouTube.
Today's Pick: I have created a new swicki called Google Hot Trends Swicki. As you know Google is publishing the daily TOP 100 most searched terms in the engine so I thought I'd better follow in their footsteps using some search 2.0 :).

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Wednesday, June 6

Spider-Man 4: The Saga in a Claw Vending Machine

[ENLARGE] Spider-Man 4: The Saga - Tibidabo Amusement Park

Spider-Man is cloning himself for the next episode of the saga, Spider-Man 4 coming to a theater near you in 2009. In the meantime he is living inside a claw vending machine (or toy crane machine) at Tibidabo Amusement Park, Barcelona. What did you say? Yep, it is not funny, you are right. But hey, the moment you open your mouth and say: Spiderman your audience level hits the jackpot. Now that I had a bunch of them why not have fun with an innocent prank. Now seriously, these Spidermen toys looked great against the glass like posing for the camera. I don't know who arranged them in such a way but it must be hard to pick them up with the "crane", that small gadget with claws that always seem to be spread with butter. I am sorry about the reflections I couldn't get rid of them. If you like the result I'd be more than pleased.

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Tuesday, June 5

Log Flume Thrill - Tibidabo Amusement Park

[ENLARGE] Log Flume Thrill - Tibidabo Amusement Park

Tibidabo Amusement Park has been featured in Barcelona Photoblog many times, but this particular attraction had escaped from the lens of my camera: the log flume. Compared to other parks these are pretty modest attractions but being on top of a mountain and enjoying a panoramic view of Barcelona City adds up to the whole experience. From a narrow passage between a tree and the protective wall that prevents passerbies from getting soaking wet on their way to the park's exit, I managed to take a series of shots. It was fun cause I had to shoot and hide the camera every time logs hit the water. Big drops wouldn't touch me but a silent drizzle was constantly coming my way with some seconds delay. I will tell you now what I like about the image: Most of the times when you take snaps of people and they are aware of your presence they hide in their shells and wear a mask, but with moments like these you are able to capture for some seconds the real person underneath.
Today I stumbled upon: Meteora, Greece - eroded fantastic peaks upon which medieval monks built monasteries - and Space Lane by Dinyctics - impressive what you can do with a road photograph.

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Monday, June 4

Sweet Color Popcorn

Color Popcorn: Some Thoughts about Consumers and Industry

To introduce today's picture let me start with these facts via The Popcorn Board: Americans consume 17 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year. The average American eats about 54 quarts. No matter how unidentified you feel with the Hollywood style of watching movies, the fact is that our parents were used to it and we are even more addicted. I remember buying a reasonable amount that I swallowed about half way before the end of the movie, now you see people carrying incredible king size buckets full of popcorn (many times covered in caramel!) that they are unable to eat even if they spilled part of the content just by accident. And what do you think of the price? I don't know in the US but here in Europe we are spending almost the same amount of money on popcorn and coke as we pay for the movie. Well enough rant for today, let popcorn business grow, at least the entertainment industry will be less boring. Here are some good popcorn recipes suggested at the abovementioned site. In the image a close look at a stack of color popcorn in Tibidabo Amusement Park, Barcelona. I used a vignette with blur effect to accentuate texture.

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Sunday, June 3

Tibidabo Park: Tickles

Barcelona Tibidabo Park: Tickles

Spontaneous scenes make the best shots, at least for me and if they include hilarious situations, much better. On a recent visit to Tibidabo, Barcelona's Amusement Park, I spotted this guy entertaining the crowd. His outfit looked great for a picture so I came up closer. I didn't expect him to suddenly rub this small girl's armpit with his colorful duster, that was really too much to ask.

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Saturday, June 2

Car Stickers Collage

Car Stickers Collage

It is common practice to carry one or two stickers somwhere on the back of your car and they are generally not too flashy not too evident. Yet some others decide to sacrifice their visibility for the sake of art as in this image where a classic Volkswagen van has been littered with colorful stickers that say something about the owners' ideosyncrasy if you are able to understand it of course.

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Friday, June 1

Auto Reflections

Auto Reflections

My reflections on the side mirror of a classic car. Notice the iridescent orange coat of paint with polished finish that gives the auto an authentic 70s kind of mood. I don't like pictures with the photographer trapped inadvertedly in the image but they acquire a different dimension if we are part of the story somehow, accidentally or on purpose.

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