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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pedestrian Crossing, Barcelona

Pedestrian Crosswalk, Barcelona [enlarge]

Pedestrian crossing, downtown Barcelona. Sign on pavement warning about traffic accidents in the city. Take care on the street and step with the right foot into 2011. Best wishes and good luck for all.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Barcelona Photoblog Wishes you Merry Christmas 2010

Christmas scene - Village Detail [enlarge]

With this detail of a small scale holy scene captured some years ago at Pedralbes monastery in Barcelona, I want to wish you a "warm" Merry Christmas in the company of your beloved family and friends.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Romanian Gipsy Woman Scrutinized

Romanian Gipsy Woman, Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona [enlarge]

Romanian gypsy woman begging for money on Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona. Two guys on modernist bench scrutinize her with wary look, murmuring something as she goes. Black guy wearing suit in the back seems like a body guard, waiting for someone. People on the left coming out of the shadows in their daily routine during lunch break. Different stories that connect for an instant. All in all, a quite common Barcelona scene.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Man Walking Past Coliseum Cinema, Gran Via, Barcelona

Man Walking Past Coliseum Cinema, Gran Via, Barcelona [enlarge]

Man walking by Coliseum movie theater at Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 595 in Barcelona, one of the last single screen cinemas in the city with capacity for an audience of 1689 people. Conceived by architect Francisco de Paula Nebot in 1923 it has been run by Balaña movie chain since 1958. It used to be Paramount Pictures' showcase cinema during its golden years. The building is basically a theater at present with several plays on schedule. Check official site here (Spanish)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Portraying Beggars in Photography

Portraying Beggars in Photography [enlarge]

Portraying beggars in our images, shooting at them pointblank, is tough. One should always be aware that our mission is to denounce and not to profit on people's misfortune. No matter how good your intentions are, it will always be hard and there will be a thin line between photo journalism and privacy invasion, between social report and unnecessary overexposure of the weak. Who are we to judge? No one.Will it help grow awareness? Certainly, yes. The camera is just a silent witness, a mere reflection of an instant in our collective reality as captured by one individual. There are so many moments out there that need to be recorded for our collective mind to be more self conscious!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Girl Smoking On The Corner, Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona

Girl Smoking On The Corner, Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona [enlarge]

In the winter, at noon, the sun in Barcelona is not that high and the light can be as good as that you have by the end of any summer afternoon. Watching people from the shadows of less illuminated streets and trying to capture their sunbathed bodies, their backlit silhouettes with the camera is fascinating for photography enthusiasts. Today, an anonymous girl, surrounded by the smoke of her own cigarette on some Passeig de Gracia corner. Maybe you would like to check my Flickr photoset on street photography

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Balloon Over Houses, Vic, Catalonia

Balloon Over Houses, Vic, Catalonia [enlarge]

Everything here is authentic, the houses surrounding a square in Vic, the balloon promoting a travel agency...except for the skies who were in fact quite gray and dull. I had to add some graduated blue effect (nik Color Efex Pro 2.0), some pink near the balloon and still they don't look very convincing. I do like the roofs and the brief appearance of the basket between the walls though.

Casa Mila: Face-Like Roof Figure

Casa Mila aka La Pedrera: Face-Like Roof Chimney [enlarge]

Resuming Casa Mila posts, this is another astonishing figure by Gaudi that reminds me of those enigmatic monolithic statues on Easter island (Isla de Pascua) except for the fact that this one is hollow and is one of La Pedrera's roof chimneys. Admiring this beauty will cost you just 11€ (Audio guide takes an extra 4€) with 10% discount in case you arrive on the tourist bus.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Man Coming Out of Subway

Man Coming Out of Barcelona Subway [enlarge]

And now for something completely different, a man coming out of Diagonal subway station in Barcelona, hands in his pockets, lost in his own thoughts perhaps. This shot shouldn't have seen the light. You know, sometimes you insist on a particular image, you spend a lot of time trying to edit it and then when you are about to post it, something is just not right and there you go again applying some more effects but the picture was wrong from the very beginning and that in photography is not very good practice. But I kind of like that lonely man coming out silently on the subway escalators and voila, this is it.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Medieval Crafts: Spinning Yarn on a Drop Spindle

Spinning Yarn on a Drop Spindle Medieval Fair, Vic, Catalonia, Spain[enlarge]

Watching spinners and weavers at their craft in medieval times must have been quite amusing I guess. Having the opportunity to enjoy such an old trade nowadays, performed with very similar skills handed down from one generation to the other, in the same scenario, is priceless. As I promised, here is picture taken in Vic during the Medieval Fair celebrated last week. It is not the first time Barcelona Photoblog features medieval crafts so I recommend you check the archives. Maybe you want to learn something today, well, here's a How-to Spin Yarn on a Drop Spindle video. In case you are quite interested, check Technology in the Medieval Age

Thursday, December 9, 2010

La Pedrera: The Gaudinian Mastery of Geometry

Casa Mila or La Pedrera by Gaudi [enlarge]

Antoni Gaudi, a genius of architecture and superlative artist dominated geometry like few others. In modern times he would certainly be working in the video game industry as a designer creating 3D virtual worlds with due respect to the obvious differences of course. This is the roof of renown Casa Mila, which is, together with Casa Batllo and Sagrada Familia, one of the best samples of Gaudinian creative and geometry aware imagination. In black and white the lines are more evident as in some sort of charcoal sketch. Many more pictures, coming soon.

Note: FNAC Wishlist (Local contest for Spanish bloggers )

Any blogger posting a wishlist that amounts 2011 EUR or less on FNAC products before Dec 31st may win 2011 EUR. So here are the products I would ask Santa to bring me from FNAC and maybe you could ask him too:

Sony Kit 46HX800 3D + PS3 + Gafas + Emisor + GT5 1 849 €
Sony DVPFX750B DVD Portátil de 7" 139 €
Sunset Park. Paul Auster 17,58 €
Total amount = 2005,58 €

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Kid Portrait: Spontaneity

Kid Portrait: Spontaneity [enlarge]

There was this long bench and the daughter of some friends was running towards my camera every time I pointed at her. It was like some kind of game for her in which she was supposed to shout and improvise some sort of attack. She came running like hell and I had to shoot fast and take the lens away from her. There was no posing, no strategy because we were playing games and we were accomplices. Complicity with the subject generates spontaneity and that is gold in kids photography, specially if it is a portrait.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Rabbit and Pumpkins, Medieval Fair, Vic (Osona), Catalonia

Rabbit and Pumpkins [enlarge]

Today I visited the Medieval Fair or Market that is held every year in Vic, capital of Osona. I highly recommend this event to learn about medieval trades or crafts, get in contact with Catalan history and try local food which is an excellent sample of our cuisine. If you are on a diet please refrain from attending this fair. Further ahead I will talk more since this rabbit and pumpkins image is not very illustrative.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Romanians in Barcelona: Finding People Behind Stereotypes

Romanian woman and her son, Barcelona [enlarge]

Behind every immigrant there is a story and not precisely that of a successful individual that found a good job, started a family and managed to be a respected citizen with access to all civil rights. There are immigrants that 'integrate' themselves (awful term to refer to 'you should not bite the hand that feeds you' or 'when in Rome do as the Romans do') and there are others who 'choose' not to do so (or better said, they will never be accepted by 'respectful' citizens, either local or ex-immigrant). Of course, this a delicate topic and there is gray in between black and white. Standing on the 'wrong' sidewalk, whether it was your choice (hard to believe), because you lost the last train, entered a bad streak of luck or simply were born on the other side, will entitle you to receive great doses of rejection and a journey to limbo, the realm of absolute oblivion. And being on the dark side means you will stop believing in man's justice, in fairness, in humanity, in the love of others, in rules not because you chose to but because they sent you there. And why do I say all this, well because there are stereotypes in our society for all that looks different and does not 'integrate' and no country is safe except the 'pure respectful citizens' (not quite clear who belongs and who doesn't yet). There are Latin, Black, Chinese, Moorish, Pakistani, Eastern Europe people and they are all very well classified in our rotten minds in a scale of preference. Nobody talks about the person behind the stereotype, they are rarely given the opportunity to 'adapt themselves' and are treated differently, with a biased criteria. The moment we stop categorizing individuals we will be much better people, or should I say, persons. The image today, a Romanian woman and her child. And this is a link to other Romanians living in Barcelona. What are you going to do, misjudge them or try to find people behind the sterotype?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas Abstraction

Christmas Abstraction [enlarge]

Please don't try to figure out what this is. Well, it used to be a floral adornment at the entrance of some Barcelona hotel to welcome this cold month of December, the magic time of the year but judging by the way I caught it, it is hard to tell. And that's precisely what it is, an abstraction, out of focus red fruity balls and glittering golden branches against the blue sky and the hotel marquee. Have a nice December everyone!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Seidel and Naumann Sewing Machine in Barcelona Shop

Seidel and Naumann Sewing Machine in Barcelona Shop [enlarge]

Who has not seen one of those everlasting sewing machines still working like brand new decorating grandma's house? I still remember a veteran Singer parked somewhere at Mom's bedroom. And what about those marble top tables with sewing machine legs. Anyway, here is an authentic beauty, a vintage Seidel and Naumann model. Judging by the decals it seems to be Serial No. 2107675 sold through the company's London depot although the one in the other site's picture has only one spool pin. Perhaps an expert could help with the exact model. I liked the shop display, the illustration hanging on the wall, the combination of black and white, the shadows from the trees nearby and the whole sober decoration with a vintage sewing machine as the main subject. I thought to myself you would like to see something different today.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Are Photography Composition Rules That Strict?

Tourists looking for directions, Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona [enlarge]

Composition in photography is not as strict as you think. The so called rule of thirds, the golden section rule, the diagonal rule and others can really make your pictures draw the viewer's attention and gain in quality but, and there is always a 'but', sometimes you can break composition at will simply because the nature of random subjects getting into your viewfinder are really distracting. Who says I was applying any rule here?. In other images, isolated subjects help conveying your idea better as in this one: Tourists looking for directions

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Catalonian Parliamentary Elections 2010 in Times of Crisis

Catalonian Parliamentary Elections 2010, Jose Montilla, PSC Garantia de Progres [enlarge]

November 28th, 2010, Sunday morning, Catalans wake up amidst the fanfare of parliamentary elections time. Global crisis effects and the polemic ridden mandate of the Tripartit a triumvirate of left parties composed by Partit Socialista de Catalunya (Socialist Catalan Party), Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (Republican Left of Catalonia) and Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds (Initiative for Catalonia Greens), clearly create a general apathy atmosphere among voters although many are conscious that polls favor perhaps conservative and centrist nationalist party Convergència i Unió (Convergence and Union) according to some sources, something that obviously content their electorate but not opponents who fear abstention will incline the balance even further. One thing is certain, as usual, Partido Popular (the right), may be punished yet another year because of their lack of vision and understanding of the Catalan reality. Today, 135 seats will be disputed amongst 39 candidatures in Catalonia, but only a few (about 8) have real possibilities to get seats. Once the Parliament is created, the new President of the Catalan Government will be elected. This Sunday morning we will certainly say goodbye to the left coalition as even in case of victory, its members are reluctant to unite again, and perhaps we will have to say farewell to PSC and President Montilla (the face on the back of the tourist bus in the image above), the scapegoat in these turbulent times of crisis. From my personal point of view, non of the opponents can offer a credible program and I do not think they will or are able to approve laws that get us out of this mess. Some of them give me the creeps like CIU and some others give me the creeps and make me wanna puke like PP, with due respect to their voters who obviously are free to choose. Being myself on the left side of this equation I sincerely have no idea what to vote but I shall vote anyway for fear of what my abstention would bring. Everybody please vote! By the way, famous soccer match FC Barcelona - Real Madrid that was supposed to be played this Sunday is to take place now on Monday due to the elections and at least a majority of us will agree in one thing, supporting Barça!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Smoking Time, Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona

Man smoking sitting on modernista bench, Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona [enlarge]

No, this is not a tobacco commercial. It is just an anonymous citizen enjoying the sacred moment of the lunch break in the quietude of some modernista bench along Passeig de Gracia. He is contemplating the shop windows in that sort of induced hypnotic trance that only cigarette smoke can provoke, specially under the light of the sun. I quit smoking long ago and I advise you to do the same. I am sure you would enjoy a moment of relax much better by taking a deep breath with a pair of sound and clean lungs.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Color Circles Detail on Art Nouveau Door, Barcelona

Detail on Art Nouveau Stained Glass Door, Barcelona [enlarge]

After much thought and realizing my weekend photo walks were practically nil, I've decided to sacrifice lunch time at the office to go downtown (Passeig de Gracia is about 5 blocks away from work) and enjoy doing what I like most, street photography. So while the archives pile up and run amok, just exaggerating a little bit here, why not start with a colorful abstraction to draw your attention and stimulate the senses. This is a detail of an Art Nouveau stained glass door you can admire inside Casa Amatller, that other house next to more popular Casa Batlló. Here is the ceiling at Amatller modernista house and a window detail.

Drilling La Pedrera: Risking Art Treasures in the Name of Technology

Drilling next to La Pedrera - Preparations for Tunneling Machine during AVE Speed Train Works[enlarge]

If you want to visit Barcelona this month of November and you expected to take wonderful pictures of La Pedrera or Casa Mila standing across the street you will be quite disappointed. As you probably know Barcelona will be connected to France by AVE trains (AVE stands for Alta Velocidad which means High Speed and at the same time ave means bird). The line between Madrid and Barcelona is already operational while the works from the Catalan city on to the French border are underway after years of delay (expected to connect with the European high speed network in 2012). You probably know as well that recently they were very near Sagrada Familia with the tunneling machine and there was a debate on whether this would affect the Cathedral foundations or not. The fact is that the choice was finally made and Adif the company in charge had to built a protective wall to strengthen the area. The same protection was recommended by a group of experts to be implemented right next to La Pedrera. As you can see in the image they are already drilling to make the 32 pillars which will create a smaller protective wall and it is expected that Barcino, the tunneling machine, arrives here in coming months. After watching the drill approach so ominously over the famous façade I can't help thinking somebody somewhere in some dark ministry office must have screwed it up badly when they let the speed train go along Mallorca and Provença streets (UNESCO gave the international approval) risking our cultural patrimony in the name of development and technology.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Diagonal 00 Tower Reflected on Barcelona Forum Mirror

Diagonal 00 Tower Reflected on Barcelona Forum Mirror [enlarge]

Architectural abstraction showing brand new Diagonal 00 tower reflected on one of the many mirrors hanging from the Forum building in Barcelona. My daughter says people will not tell what is what here but I trust your imagination. Anyway this is about shapes. Have a nice new week everyone!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Alternative Energy: Hybrid Car and Barcelona Solar Panel

Barcelona Solar Panel and Hybrid Car [enlarge]

It is no secret that the relevance of the word green has grown exponentially in the last years. At the beginning, it was basically a nice label to stick on many products, just another manipulated concept like bio, healthy, all-natural, organic or reduced-fat and companies, by nature reluctant to invest extra money in more expensive technology just to save the planet, grew richer while doing nothing. Lately, the trend slightly changes due to their own clients' pressure, the growing awareness that something must be done to find alternative ways, alternative products, alternative energies and so they started paying attention, just when somebody kicked them in the place that hurts them the most, their pockets. Who would have thought some years ago that the car industry was going to make hybrid cars? Yes, they would play with some concept car, show us very futuristic projects that ended up in the paper shredder. Not that they are greener than Al Gore now but something's cooking in the market. So as you can guess, the moral is that it is our duty to exert more pressure on monopolies so they respect environment, invest in alternative energy sources and make greener products. Of course we could get rid of monopolies, but that's another story. Our picture today, a contrast in appearance between solar panels and cars, is not so, as this happens to be one of those new hybrid cars. In fact, they were filming this spot to promote the brand and I took profit of the situation. With a little luck I've found the car model: Honda Fit Hybrid. I think this video is more illustrative: World Debut of Honda Fit EV. But I am sure that what the industry is making for our planet is still as little as this vehicle looks in comparison with the solar panel in the Barcelona Forum area.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Walking the Dogs in Barcelona

Walking the dogs [enlarge]

Some posts call for a lot of words, a lot of information and such is the case of yesterday's article and many others are just images of daily life, snapshots, frozen moments that speak for themselves. In a way I prefer these sort of pictures, spontaneous acts of human activity like taking the dogs out for a walk. I was lucky there was this staircase from which you have a nice view over the forum area, right next to the famous big solar panel by the sea. A tiny couple getting lost in the distance along the many paths drawn by the floor tiles towards the sea, accompanied but the silence of the trees and the light.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Skyscrapers in Barcelona: Diagonal 00, The New Telefonica Headquarters

Diagonal 00, The New Telefonica Head Office, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

It is no secret that Barcelona skyline is changing, specially near the coast. Even locals are surprised when in just a year interval they come across new skyscrapers here and there. That's precisely what happened to me today. What was just a small rhomboid base with three or four floors and a bunch of workers had turned into a magnificent jewel of modern architecture, fragile in appearance, with no pillars inside but just an exoskeleton, an external framework of beams, defying the strong winds of this esplanade in Barcelona waterfront. Diagonal 00 located on the corner of Carrer del Taulat and the start of the Avinguda Diagonal, will hold all the administration offices and the future R + D headquarters of Spanish telecommunications company, Telefónica. The rhombus stands next to that small blue triangular building known as the Forum by Herzog and De Meuron, and the Spiraling Tower, designed by Zaha Hadid. Massip-Bosch Arquitectes Studio designed these 24 floors of glass and steel that will rise 110 metres over Barcelona city. It was supposed to be inaugurated this year and I would say they are giving it the final touches by the way it looked today.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Antoni Tapies Foundation, Arago Street 255, Barcelona

 [enlarge]

Weird places well deserve weird, psychedelic approaches. I have walked past this building a thousand times and a thousand times I haven't been able to take a decent picture. First because you have to stand on the opposite sidewalk of carrer Aragó which is a very wide street, second because it is wedged in between two awful buildings and last but not least because those wires on top, which were conceived by Antoni Tàpies himself do break all the harmony of lines with the beautiful Art Nouveau façade by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner. So I thought, what the heck, I've got to give this a colorful touch. The result expresses not awe as in awesome, but rather as in aw...ful. I realize I am committing sacrilege here by trying to judge the artwork on the roof and the awkward appearance of an artistic sanctuary as it is Fundació Tàpies. In fact it is a magnificent building constructed between 1880 and 1885, one of the earliest samples of Art Nouveau in this part of the city, that breaks up with traditional 19th century eclecticism, introducing elements like iron and exposed brick, the latter evidencing clear Muslim influences. The place held the Montaner i Simon publishing house up to 1981, the most important in its field for decades (120 years of history) that became Antoni Tapies Foundation in 1990, acquiring category of historical monument in 1997. But what to say about Antoni Tàpies i Puig (he will be 87 next December 13, 2010), the incommensurable Catalan painter, sculptor and lithographer besides the fact I don't like the Cloud and Chair, 1990 sculpture on top of the building, well you better find out reading his biography at the official site: Antoni Tàpies Biography (Fundació Antoni Tàpies)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hermes, Old Banesto Bank Building, Barcelona

Hermes statue, Banesto building, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

As seen from Rambla Catalunya, one of the two Hermes sculptures on top of old Banesto and Caja Madrid building watching over Plaça Catalunya. The Greek god of commerce, eloquence, invention, travel, and theft!, messenger of the other gods, used to be a symbol of those times in which people believed in trade, markets and banks but now looks sad and doomed to abandonment. Yes, this is the same building (shown in this previous post) that recently was occupied by members of an anti new world order group. Built from 1942 to 1947 by Eusebi Bona Puig, and specially distinguished by its austerity from an architectural point of view, Banesto building or Banco Español de Crédito is no match to another building by the same architect like La Unión y el Fénix at Passeig de Gracia. I've seen both Mercury statues a thousand times and never paid much attention to them. I think I was more interested in the blues skies and a brighter future.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Carrer Bonsuccés and Ramblas dels Estudis Corner, Barcelona

Carrer Bonsuccés and Rambla dels Estudis Corner, Barcelona  [enlarge]

Capturing the mood of Barcelona streets is one of the main goals of this blog. I forget more than often where the city true essence lies, in the narrow alleys and the multicultural crowd, in the bars and the artists, in the markets and the food, in the noise and the light, in the canopies and the promenades. Here is Carrer de Bonsuccés as seen from Las Ramblas. To be more precise next to Nadal pharmacy at Rambla, 121, a chemist's dating from 1850. As you can see it is a long busy street. It extends until Carrer de les Ramelleres and Plaça del Bonsuccés, from there it turns even narrower and becomes Carrer d'Elisabets till it gets to Carrer del Ángels near MACBA, the contemporary art museum of Barcelona. In the foreground, the ever present police. But why don't you walk this route on the map?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

This is not Crisis, It is Capitalism!

Banesto Bank Barcelona: Protest sign against Capitalism [enlarge]

It is rather ironic that an emblematic building like Banesto's bank headquarters in Barcelona was recently occupied by anti new world order members defying police forces, wielding their particular urban guerrilla war. Progress, evolution, sometimes does not go hand in hand with peace, that's a fact in history. How many times have we seen students start a revolution from what seemed to be chaos and anarchy. I am not justifying anyone here. I see them destroy businesses, banks, burn garbage containers, make barricades, destroy cash dispensers, throw Molotov cocktails. The more I look, the less I understand the wrath. I just see people that reject the system because it sucks but I notice no real plan to make a better world. They just want to wipe off this one. But then again, who knows, maybe this is the new way of organizing a revolution, no parties, no unions, no leaders, no nothing, just plain rage against the machine. I must be getting too old to understand. Although it is true that when the people is overburden with oppression spontaneous revolutions tend to appear and I think that global exploitation generates anti global power movements. The scenario has shifted from a local level to the international arena and we are unable to appreciate what's happening if focusing the problem from local perspectives. Of course, inside a movement like this there are the violent ones and the rational members, what we would call the intellectuals. I prefer not to judge them although if I were sure they could make this a better world and this was the real revolution I would support them. One thing is certain, this is not just a crisis, this is Capitalism and because we live in a Capitalist system we have cyclic crises. No one said that socialism or communism were better though, cause they simply lack an economy that makes sense. If I knew what the answer is! Democracy is so corrupted!. By the way, the Pope was here today. It was for a good cause and it is great that that action made a lot of people happy and comforted their hearts. But I certainly distrust the church as an institution and it is very, very difficult to justify all that money treasured at the Vatican, when just a small portion would solve half of this planet's problems. I mean the intention was good in the beginning but now I simply can't see the result. True religious people are those who work anonymously directly with the poor in the wildest places with no luxury, no art, no palaces, no gold. You will have to excuse me today if I talk too much and I sound irreverent both with power and its antithesis but I wanted to get it off my chest.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ramblas Lady Statue Lost in Her Own Thoughts

Ramblas Lady Statue [enlarge]

I do not know whether she impersonates a flamenco dancer or an opera singer but as I said in a previous post human statues in Las Ramblas are much more interesting when they are offstage, when you see the person behind the character. Lost in her own thoughts this lady is in some way acting, she is in the middle of yet another performance, the most difficult, the most demanding, trying to make a living in the real world.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Big Brother in Las Ramblas: Crime Ridden Streets or Privacy Breach?

Street cameras at Las Ramblas, Barcelona [enlarge]

Anyone that has visited or lives in Barcelona is perfectly aware of the fact that Las Ramblas is not the safest place in the world. The more crowded it gets the more pickpockets per square meter there are. The situation was getting so bad that extra surveillance was imperative and there came the cameras. As a result of this, you see less suspicious faces (thieves have this peculiar look when they are just about to steal) that undoubtedly are neither tourists nor locals in their daily routine simply because they have been pushed to neighboring narrow alleys away from big brother's perimetral vision. Once again punishment prevails over prevention. The root of petty offenses and misdemeanors lies many times in poverty, precariousness and exclusion and that should be the target point of our authorities before metastasis arrives.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Casa Dolors Calm by Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas, Rambla Catalunya 54, Barcelona

Casa Dolors Calm by Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas, Rambla Catalunya 54, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

Rambla Catalunya in Barcelona is splattered with architecture jewels of different styles and periods, most of them illustrious samples of Modernisme or Catalan Art Nouveau. In fact, there are more here (over 20) than along neighboring street Passeig de Gracia. One that I specially admire is Casa Dolors Calm by Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas that dates back to 1903. The distinguishing wood and glass gallery and the floral motifs on the façade are worth mentioning. Here is an interesting link to many representative buildings in our city where a small pic shows a front view. As you see the original is rather sober in appearance so I decided to add some infrared color that highlighted the glass panes and the wooden framework of the gallery. Maybe you are interested in other works by this artist like: Casa Bruno Quadros or the Arch of Triumph (Arc de Triomf)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Colmado Quilez Barcelona: Vodka Bottles

Colmado Quilez Barcelona: Vodka Bottles [enlarge]

Vodka bottles of different brands beautifully arranged inside one of Colmado Quilez's window displays at Rambla Catalunya, 63, Barcelona. In fact, they have 110 varieties of vodka on sale in an adjacent store. I have chosen this grocery store image, first of all to show you the place described in the link above and second but not least, to make an imaginary toast with you, all those visitors that give Barcelona Photoblog a reason to exist, that compensate for all the last four years of hard work, of late night efforts, of roaming the streets in search of unusual sights, of candid shots, of street photographs, of Catalan art, of traditions and whatever subject that  brightens up your existence for a minute or two. Stats are just relative numbers and have to do with vanity, with competing with our peers in a way but they also have to do with self assurance and recognition. One or two days ago, Barcelona Photoblog reached the magic figure of 1.000.000 visits in four years and what better than sharing some virtual bottles of vodka with you. Here's to your health, cheers!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Flamenco Colors: Dresses and Shoes

Flamenco Colors: Dresses and Shoes [enlarge]

The colors of flamenco are generally flashy and come in bright, happy combinations although sometimes they maybe more discrete (completely white with just a touch of another color for example). Polka dots (sp. lunares) are very common on these tight dresses that enhance body shape. The many flounces and specially the elegant shoes are worth mentioning as well as the shawl, the flowers on the hair and other adornments like earrings and bracelets. The flamenco dresses on this picture are not definitely the best on the market but I liked the line of shoes. I have to say that this is not a flamenco tablao where you hear the characteristic feet stomping (zapateado), as they were dancing what is known as Sevillanas. The image was captured in Torre Llobeta park, Nou Barris, Barcelona

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Font de Canaletes in Las Ramblas: FC Barcelona's Totem

Font de Canaletes in Las Ramblas, Barcelona [enlarge]

I don't know in your city, but some Spanish soccer teams have this special place to celebrate victories, or better said, a meeting point for their fans, usually in open spaces around a fountain or a roundabout. In our collective memories that special object or place becomes some sort of ancestral totem, an emblem to tell adversaries that we have won and everybody should show respect. Of course, this sounds pretty boastful, but you know what I am talking about, in 2010 we still use the language of the tribe, we have an area for our rituals and we dance around our totem, chanting menacingly to scare away evil spirits and daunt our foes. FC Barcelona enthusiasts concentrate around Font de Canaletes a small modest all-in-one water fountain and lamp post with a lot of history in Las Ramblas, maybe not as opulent as their main rival's favorite place, you know who I am talking about, but a totem that talks of brave people that deserve a lot of respect. Long live FC Barcelona!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Casa Juncosa, by Salvador Viñals i Sabater, Rbla. Catalunya, 78, Barcelona

Casa Juncosa, Salvador Viñals i Sabater, Rbla. Catalunya, 78, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

Casa Juncosa at Rambla Catalunya, 78 built by Catalan architect Salvador Viñals i Sabater in 1909 is one of those many buildings that locals tend to ignore (why do humans take things for granted immerse in their monotonous existence as they are? why do we lose that feeling of surprise?) but visitors evidently admire. Although Salvador Viñals (1847-1926) was considered a Classicist architect his work evolved towards Noucentisme and in certain cases you see slight touches of Modernisme here and there in his prolific catalog of buildings. Worth mentioning are Torre del Marques (1911) or Casa Oller (1891)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Marilyn Monroe Human Statue: The Backstage

Marilyn Monroe Human Statue, Las Ramblas, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

If human statues in Barcelona could stand all over the city at will, then this guy impersonating Marilyn Monroe, would certainly have chosen the air vents on Passeig de Gracia sidewalk not very far from Las Ramblas. Instead of that, he must compete with a bunch of other statues. You have the impressive rivals that are really hard to beat and many others that are simply ridiculous, way too many recently. Because my friends, crisis sharpens your survival skills and the boat is already full of survivors. Local authorities have plans to limit statues, starting January next year, to just 30, selected by their quality and working in two shifts (15 in the morning and another 15 in the afternoon) that will perform in a restricted area down Las Ramblas away from Plaça Catalunya, exactly between Pla de la Boqueria and Arc del Teatre square. Artists will be asked to send a CV and imitations of animals or characters carrying weapons will be banned. Let's see how it all ends as some attempts of regulation were made in the past with no success. Hey, I almost forgot Marilyn. You know what, I prefer to capture those moments when living statues are in the intimacy of the backstage sessions, when you can see the real people, lost in their own thoughts, maybe wondering what the heck they are doing on a pedestal all day without twitching a muscle. As I always say, please help the artist behind the statue. Don't pretend they are part of Las Ramblas decoration.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Art Nouveau Treasures: Casa Mila aka La Pedrera, Barcelona, Spain

Casa Mila aka La Pedrera, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

We had seen the façade, we had the balconies, the door, the roof but we forgot to show you Casa Mila (La Pedrera) from inside. Come to think of it, there is more from this mind-blowing building by Gaudi to be portrayed in Barcelona Photoblog, I am sure. It takes some trouble to show the shadows properly without blowing up the skies so I spent some time playing with the settings in my Nikon, and still it needed some editing in CS4. Anyway I've seen much better versions of this photo on the web. To learn more: La Pedrera and Casa Milá facts and history. To really appreciate it from all angles: Mila House Flickr slideshow

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI Visiting Barcelona in November, 2010

Detail of religious mosaic at Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona [enlarge]

Maybe some of you still don't know that Pope Benedict XVI will stop in Barcelona next November during his two-day stay in Spain. Yes, His Eminence is visiting us to consecrate Sagrada Familia. As I've said many times, I'm not a religious man although I believe there is something or so says my Facebook profile. What that field of energy, entity, dimension, realm, plasma, astral world could be is beyond my imagination and I tend to look at it from the heart aka soul. I studied some philosophy, and believe me, it was kind of materialistic and agnostic. If I try to explain the world according to those teachings, everything is so damn logical! Besides, I believe in science, in the big bang theory, I accept that the universe is not finite with the same innocent faith that many others accept God, that is, I cannot explain it but I accept it. I also accept Darwin and oppose 'new' creationist theories, specially some conservative people behind them! But,hey, in spite of all that, it would be so great that there is life after death, that you could go to a parallel place somehow. As you grow older it is not strange that you seek some spirituality to find answers, to get some peace of mind. My spirituality as you see is far from the main stream of religion. In fact, it is nothing but a tiny affluent, but it works for me and so, I live in communion with this universe and beyond. If faith in the unknown makes you happy in this life no matter how absurd its nature is then let's welcome mysticism but beware of blind faith, beware of institutions, of powers, cause that is a creation of man. Oh, I almost forgot, yes, the Pope is visiting our city. Did you know that besides Sagrada Familia, the visit will include a center called Obra Benefico Social del Nen de Deu and that is about five blocks away from my house! According to a Spanish cardinal 500,000 people will receive Pope Benedict, 30,000 chairs will be placed outside the cathedral and 6,500 will be allowed inside the church...It is not hard to calculate that if Sagrada Familia will be crowded then the scenario in my small Nou Barris quarter is going to be chaotic and apocalyptic. By the way, the image today is a detail of one of the mosaics on the façade of Sant Pau Hospital near Gaudi's famous cathedral.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Montserrat Mountain Detail in Black and White

Montserrat mountain in black and white [enlarge]

I've tried to rescue a bad image, originally taken in color that I thought deserved an opportunity just for you to contemplate the impressive eroded monoliths, the capricious carvings mother nature has left on its walls, the convergence of lines coming from every angle that altogether constitute what is known as Montserrat mountain. Maybe you ought to check these posts: Montserrat, the Jagged Magic Mountain and Montserrat, The Serrated Mountain.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Catalan Pubilla and Dancing Partner

Catalan Pubilla Dancing with her partner [enlarge]

There was a very similar image in Barcelona Photoblog of a young maiden or pubilla dancing in Monistrol, a town at the foot of Montserrat mountain. In that old post I explained what a pubilla or an hereu are and I also talked about the dance and garments. As the previous picture had a vintage effect (kind of daguerreotype), in this one I preserved colors for you to compare.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Orange Jelly Candy Detail

Orange Jelly Candy Detail [enlarge]

Here's a detail of some orange jelly candy in a market stall in Barcelona. You can also check these gominolas in green. Fall is already here so orange is that kind of color that gives us the mood of the season. I wish autumn comes as sweet for you as these candies. Have a nice week!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Clock Tower Detail, Sant Pau Hospital, Barcelona

Clock on Sant Pau Hospital's church spire [enlarge]

Sant Pau Hospital is by far one of the most spectacular examples of Catalan Art Nouveau or what is known as Modernisme. Plenty of posts in Barcelona Photoblog fully cover this historical place from almost every angle. At the main entrance, you face a graceful spire, rather thin if compared with similar church architectural structures in my opinion and taking into account the considerable dimensions of its clock. I've seen many images of the entrance and the remarkable spire but I always wondered what it would look like from a very short distance. This is the result with some evident color treatment to enhance its beauty. In case you want to know more about Sant Pau Hospital by Lluis Domenech i Montaner and other artists please check: Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau posts or all the images in one set on Flickr.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Candle Holder Wooden Toys

Candle Holder Wooden Toys [enlarge]

Yet another curious wooden figure I came across in one of those markets outside Barcelona (there are many out there which are only set during local celebrations). Here are three candle holder wooden toys in a row with selective focus on the one in the middle. Hope you like the result.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Black Olive Bread: Yet Another Catalan Delight

Black Olive Bread [enlarge]

It is very common in Catalonia to dress up dishes with the magic touch of some small slices of black olives. They appear on top of salads, fish, pizzas, cocas and so on. These buns look yummy with that tasty garnish so I thought they might be a good teaser for your stomach this weekend. Check this black olive bread recipe and maybe you can try it at home.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fresh Goat Cheese Rolls

Goat Cheese Rolls [enlarge]

Fresh goat cheese carefully wrapped in straws in a small local market near Barcelona. There is nothing more appealing to my avid cholesterol-ridden organism than cheese in any of its forms. Personally I prefer them cured but wouldn't say no to these little whims. I am sure you agree with me that what's bad for your health tastes great more than often. Why didn't Mother Nature give us lettuces rich in saturated fat, with plenty of LDL (Bad) Cholesterol so we massively fed on zero calorie goat cheese? Here is a good comparative of bad vs good food. They obviously just don't get it! Do they?

Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is merely philosophical. The author does not instigate others in any way to keep soaking their nachos in guacamole. He is just wondering, what if?

Stencil Graffiti: Faces on Door, Barri Gotic, Barcelona

Stencil Graffiti: Faces on Door, Barri Gotic, Barcelona [enlarge]

Stencil graffiti on some door somewhere in Barri Gotic, Barcelona. Some signature to the left. Two faces. A couple perhaps? Who knows? I like the mood. The mood of simple things that denote bigger concepts like friendship and love.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Birds of Pray: Golden Eagle, Catalonia, Spain

Birds of Pray: Golden Eagle, Catalonia, Spain [enlarge]

For bird enthusiasts and passionate animal lovers here is this Golden Eagle specimen. There was a very similar image in Barcelona Photoblog in the past but I could not resist publishing a second shot. Maybe it has happened to you that you visit some place, take a good series of pictures of the same subject hoping to catch that special moment and just a couple of them out of ten completely satisfy you, perhaps even just one. Then you get home and for some mysterious reason choose the wrong shot to use in your post. Well, sometimes those forgotten images well deserve a second chance. Whatever the final choice is, this is a magnificent animal and you could admire her too if you visit Cim d'Aligues (Eagles' Peak).

Note: Members of Cim d'Àligues' page on Facebook have made this important clarification: 'It's not a golden eagle, it's a young Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca)'. Thanks so much for correcting my mistake!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Small Tower, Cardona Castle, Catalonia

Small Tower, Cardona Castle, Catalonia, Spain [enlarge]

Maybe you remember my post about the Cardona castle where we talked about this jewel of Catalan history, maybe the most emblematic medieval castle in Catalonia. An inexpugnable stronghold under siege on many occasions but never conquered by force and devoted to protect not only its illustrious lords, the Cardona family, but the salt mines in the valley nearby. A very good sample of the evolution of defensive techniques from medieval to modern times in our country. It is precisely the last fortress to surrender to Philip V troops, the last redoubt of the Catalonian supporters of Charles VI of Austria in the War of the Spanish Succession, in 1714. The remains of a small tower outside the castle talk of its privileged location on top of a promontory and make us think of a thousand battles.