Barcelona Photoblog: September 2007

September 30, 2007

Spanish Souvenir: The Bull-Parade

Mosaic bulls in souvenirs shops in Barcelona
This is an all-in-one souvenir, a bull, for bullfighting tradition followers abroad, designed and dressed the cowparade way. The curious thing is that instead of a bull hide this one has trencadis or mosaic in a clear allusion to Gaudi and other art nouveau artists. And the sort of blanket in the way of saddle must be the Spanish flag although it has the same colors as the Catalan flag. So ambiguity eliminates all barriers in order to sell and keep everybody happy. The history of mankind.

September 29, 2007

A Purple Fantasy: Bubbles at CosmoCaixa, Barcelona

Purple Fantasy: Bubbles at CosmoCaixa, Barcelona [enlarge]

Purple or magenta, the point is that this image is to be regarded more as an abstraction. I decided to follow one of those typical bubbles inside a lava lamp, you know, the ones that hypnotize and make you look like an idiot. The place CosmoCaixa again. This is more some sort of experiment and not exactly a lava lamp I guess but it reminds me of the old fashioned contrivance.

A Brief History of the Lava Lamp by Spacehopper.

How to make your own Lava Lamp

September 28, 2007

Plasma Ball Detail at CosmoCaixa Science Museum, Barcelona

Plasma Ball Detail at CosmoCaixa Science Museum, Barcelona[enlarge]

This is a detail of a plasma ball at CosmoCaixa Science Museum. Many of you have seen these balls that seem like octopuses or aliens extending their tentacles whenever someone dares to touch the surface of the crystal sphere. It was hard to take this picture since I had to avoid the use of flash on the reflecting surface and I had no tripod with me at the moment to gain stability and look for more natural light in the dark pavilion. I hope you like the result. The tiny star-like spots are just reflections on the ball that I did not edit to keep the cosmic look of the image.

Now to enrich our scientific knowledge a little bit, a definition of
[YouTube video].

September 27, 2007

Sea Urchin Skeletons or Tests at CosmoCaixa, Barcelona

Sea Urchin Skeletons or Tests at CosmoCaixa [enlarge]

What looks at first sight like a submarine photograph, the kind you would see when those robots scan a deep oceanic bottom with their spotlights is nothing but a cross section inside a crystal box full of sea urchin skeletons or tests at CosmoCaixa, an interactive science museum in the upper side of Barcelona (address: Teodor Roviralta, 47-51). Cosmocaixa is modern in design, and good in quality but above all it is fun for kids who discover that science is not just a boring book with entertaining pictures here and there, but a fascinating world full of mysterious experiments, amazing optical illusions, curious instruments and what is best, things they can touch and play with to obtain magic results. If you come with your children to Barcelona this museum is a must. This is a Google Earth snapshot where you see CosmoCaixa's location and also a closer look. As to my picture and sea urchins, I thought this cross section offered nice textures and made you think in a way about evolution of species and science.

Here is a short video to get an idea about the experiments: Defying Gravity

September 26, 2007


Inflorescence [enlarge]

Some green in the middle of so many street photos may be good for Barcelona Photoblog's health. This inflorescence is not precisely my best picture but I like the tall stem and the way it stands out in this vertical photograph. So far so good, have a great weekend.

September 25, 2007

Thirsty Turist in Barcelona

Thirsty Turist in Barcelona [enlarge]

Just for a change I publish in today's post this sepia image of a turist I came across last weekend while I was visiting a wine fair just in front of Port Vell. The man was carrying a cup for the wine and a bottle of water inside his bag. It was pretty hot that afternoon and the sun was quite annoying. Nevertheless the light coming in his direction was fantastic and considering the haircut, tattoos and necklace I thought I'd better give it a try with my camera for my people photography collection.

Here are two old posts with cool hairstyles: Skamania and Social Distortion

September 24, 2007

La Merce 2007 Celebrations in Barcelona, Capgros

La Merce 2007 Celebrations in Barcelona, Capgros

Besides the splendor of La Mercé 2007 celebrations at night by the fountains of Montjuic I can only show you what happened in the afternoon at Port Vell. As usual giants and capgrosos (big heads) gathered to start the parade that serves as an early introduction to the big night show in front of the multicolored fountain that moves to the sound of music and the fireworks. For some us the real party starts too late and the site is packed with people. When you have kids crowded places late at night are practically impossible to attend. I hope you like capgrosos which are present in many Catalan celebrations all year long.

September 23, 2007

Marina and History Museum of Catalonia, Barcelona

Marina and History Museum of Catalonia, Barcelona [enlarge]

There in the background the History Museum of Catalonia and part of the Marina. Appart from the museum this is an important zone of restaurants and specially recommended is the one of top of the building not only because it is a good restaurant but because of the magnificent views.

September 22, 2007

La Fura dels Baus: Naumon Ship at Port Vell, Barcelona

La Fura dels Baus: Naumon Vessel in Port Vell, Barcelona -Enlarge

As I am behind schedule with my posting so I will just show the whole version of yesterday's image: The Naumon ship of a La Fura dels Baus theater company. Notice the figure of the giant lying on the deck.

September 21, 2007

The Rusty Anchor of the Naumon in Port Vell, Barcelona

The Rusty Anchor of the Naumon in Port Vell, Barcelona [enlarge]

To start let's say that this is just an anchor, a rusty anchor against a very bright background. But it happens that the anchor belongs to a ship and the ship is called Naumon. Naumon belongs to Fura dels Baus, an important theater company in Barcelona that among other things organized the opening ceremony for the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992. It is complex to talk about La Fura in just a few lines. No matter what they do it is avant garde, polemic or at least innovative.

La Fura del Baus Naumachia: Part 1, La Fura del Baus Naumachia: Part 2, La Fura del Baus Naumachia: Part 3, La Fura del Baus Naumachia: Part 4, La Fura del Baus Naumachia: Part 5.

September 20, 2007

La Pedrera or Casa Mila by Gaudi: Balconies and Ironwork

La Pedrera or Casa Mila by Gaudi: Balconies and Ironwork

Casa Mila by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi is logic defiant, even hard to frame properly with the camera!.

This modernista house is also known as La Pedrera (quarry) and has been featured in my blog several times.

Today I just want to concentrate on that set of irregular balconies with elaborate and impossible ironwork.

As you notice, the stone is cut and aligned in such manner that the balcony appears to undulate, like foamy waves that cast seaweed upon the shore.

Of course the seaweed would be the floral adornments in the wrought iron.

Gaudi was commissioned by the industrialist Pere Milà to build Casa Milà in 1906 and finished it in 1910.

It's a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1984 and thanks to Caixa de Catalonia (the bank that bought the building) it was restored and opened to the public in 1996.

September 19, 2007

Mermaid Captured in La Rambla, Barcelona

Mermaid Human Living Statue in La Rambla, Barcelona

This mermaid was captured with my Nikon D70s while fishing for human statues along La Rambla, Barcelona. Fishy things there were indeed in the sea of tourists, like pickpockets or trileros trying to swindle people with cards, but those were dangerous species to play with. Besides I felt charmed and subdued by the irresistible chant. I tried to tie myself up to a lamp post and covered my ears like some modern Ulises but then she pulled out a small jewel box covered in shells, insinuated a smile and I succumbed. One more euro!

September 18, 2007

A Marvel of Marble Human Statue

A Marvel of Marble Human Statue [enlarge]

This is for me one of the greatest human statues at Las Ramblas de Barcelona. It was hard to capture white colors properly. As you know the ccd of the camera can be fooled by bright or dark surfaces thus making the picture too white or too dark depending on which surface you focus. The guy was smiling at me after I gave him one euro. Sometimes a picture is worth the money and these street artists really deserve it.

Note: Barcelona Photoblog has been invited to be part of Saatchi Gallery Online, a free showcase for photographers and a world leading interactive resource created for the art community. See some of my pictures here at Saatchi Online.

September 17, 2007

Giants in Catalonia: The Eagle

Giants (Capgrossos i gegants) in Catalonia: The Eagle (Aliga)

This is a detail of an eagle, the eagle that represents the city. Yes, it is not a closeup on a small adornment but a figure taller than me (anyone of course!) which can be admired among other giants in the Palau de la Virreina building at La Rambla, 99. This is the original figure from 1999 by Xavier Jansana. You can also see its replica at the popular site known as La Casa dels Entremesos

Long ago in medieval times when theater and religion used to go hand in hand in the form of mystery plays staged in the streets, giants began to play an important role in Catalan towns. One of them was the figure of L'Aliga (eagle). In spite of not being as tall as the rest of the figures, the animal was a symbol of the corresponding city and its municipal authorities, thus the crown, and was mainly used to receive important personalities that came into town. The eagle is often holding a white pigeon in the menacing beak. There was a time when the pigeon was alive and was to be eaten by participants later on. 

L'Aliga is the only giant that is allowed to dance before the altar in church and there are specific procedures to observe when walking her in processions.

September 16, 2007

Tango Dancers in Las Ramblas, Barcelona

Tango Dancers in Las Ramblas, Barcelona [enlarge]

After some hieratic figures of human statues I decided to show you the tango dancers of Las Ramblas, Barcelona. They definitely make up a much more dynamic image. There isn't much to say here, only that you can find them almost at the end of the street near the sea, more or less next to the wax museum alley. The middle sidewalk along Las Ramblas seems to be less crowded in that area and some interesting quick performances take place. I was lucky to find a YouTube video with the same couple dancing in Las Ramblas, it is called Tango Dans La Rue

September 15, 2007

Human Statue in Las Ramblas, Barcelona: Elf or Vulcan?

Human Statue in Las Ramblas, Barcelona: Elf or Vulcan? [enlarge]

Yet another human statue in Las Ramblas, I wonder how many they can be! This time I can't really tell what he is, an elf, a goblin or a Vulcan like Mr. Spock from the Stark Trek saga. At the moment of shooting he was not working. In fact he was smoking and had this vacant stare into space way beyond his future customers. I bet he was thinking about what a crap this job can get to be. But then he seemed to sigh and started finishing his makeup. For the point of view of people photography these artists make a much striking picture before or after they pose, because that's the precise moment when they reveal their true personalities, their souls.

September 14, 2007

Spanish Paintings in Las Ramblas, Barcelona: Collage

Spanish Paintings in Las Ramblas, Barcelona: Collage [enlarge]

Here is a collage of Spanish paintings about topics such as bullfighting and flamenco plus some everyday scenes of Barri Gotic or El Raval streets, two quarters nearby Las Ramblas in Barcelona. Paintings like these are frequently ignored by Barcelonians and I guess this happens in other cities like say Paris, London...,but they obviously trap tourists like ants on a sugar lump. I don't say it isn't art but they are mostly centered on cliches and contribute to enhance them. When we visit Paris or London they do the same to us and we bite on the bait! Come to think of it I would do the same if I were to paint for money. So this is not the artist's fault, it is the cultural authorities' responsibility to promote a more representative art without forgetting, and I stress this, the cliches which are also part, in this case, of Spanish culture.

September 13, 2007

Seasoned Human Statue Sitting in Las Ramblas, Barcelona

Profile of seasoned human statue in Las Ramblas

Yet another street artist or human statue I captured while walking down Las Ramblas towards the sea. The weathered man was sitting on this chair showing off his painted clothes and glasses while he read a book. I couldn't really tell if he was sleeping or watching you drop a coin on the can cause his eyes were hidden behind a thin orange coat of paint in the middle of the spectacles. The whole disguise made him look elegant, like some famous writer, maybe he was some sort of Kafka. He wouldn't say being a statue and all.

September 12, 2007

Street Artists in La Rambla, Barcelona: Human Statue

Street Artists in La Rambla, Barcelona: Human Statue - Vegetal Equilibrium [enlarge]

As I said yesterday I took some new pictures of street artists performing in La Rambla, Barcelona. Human statues that turn around and make funny faces, wink an eye, freak you out with a sudden movement or hold a ball on their fingertips while they elegantly pose for your camera as this man, dressed like a tree or some kind of deity, maybe trying to suggest a fruit and the equilibrium Mother Nature needs nowadays to survive.

Recommended: I would like to recommend Olivierdestroy whose artwork I came across today at Flickr. Some may like him, some others not so much but you won't remain indifferent. Note: requires to be logged in.

September 11, 2007

Flower Bouquets at Flower Stall, La Rambla, Barcelona

These colorful flower bouquets I found at one of the flower stalls along La Rambla

It was a holiday in Barcelona as today it was the day of Catalonia, that is, La Diada that happens to coincide with the anniversary of the terrible events of the twin towers on September 11th or what we all know as 9/11. 

I went to see if I captured some new images of street artists so abundant in the area and I managed to take some pictures in the end. I will show you in coming posts since on second thought I preferred to post the flowers to honor 9/11 victims and commemorate our Diada.

As you probably know it is common to find flower stands along this famous street, in fact this part is called Ramblas de les Flors or Flower Ramblas because of the big assortment of flowers. 

There is a great offer of bouquets, made not only of natural plants but also of dried colorful flowers, some of them even painted.

Here are some links to examples of some flower bouquets of Las Ramblas, Barcelona as shown in other posts:

  1.  Flower Bouquet at La Rambla dels Flors
  2.  Carnation Fresco in Flower Stall
  3.  Flower Stock Photography
  4.  Small Colorful Bouquets of Paper Flowers
  5.  Purple Flower Fantasy in Las Ramblas
  6.  Pink Flower Fantasy in Las Ramblas

September 10, 2007

Sailboat Coming In Barcelona Port

Sailboat Coming In Barcelona Port [enlarge]

A sailboat coming in Barcelona Port towards the marina at Port Olympic. While on board of a Golondrina (swallow) which is the name of the sightseeing boats in Barcelona harbour, I took this picture of the vessel sailing past our wake. There in the background, you can see some tiny fishermen at the far end of the port's mouth. For a better idea about this area please follow this link to my Barcelona port label.

Recommended: Today I would like to suggest a new search engine implemented on top of Barcelona photoblog. This is a Google searchbox customized to look up for photography terms. It feeds from top photography sites and it is going to grow as I increase the number of sources. If you know about top-notch photography sites please drop me a line and I will add them right away.

September 09, 2007

Classic Marionettes at Tibidabo Amusement Park: Clown

Marionettes at Tibidabo Amusement Park
Marionetarium at Tibidabo Amusement Park

Since one picture wasn't enough here is a second marionette: the Clown. In fact at Tibidabo they have a workshop where experts make new marionettes for the park and preserve the old ones which are part of Herta Frankel's collection.

Herta was a famous Austrian puppeteer that came to Barcelona in 1942 and became very well known for her TV series for children.

Tibidabo's show only lasts about half an hour but you are going to see authentic collectionist antiques there. The place is called Marionetarium.

September 08, 2007

Classic Marionettes at Tibidabo: Trapezist

Classic Marionettes at Tibidabo: Trapezist

These are classic trapeze marionettes you can admire inside Tibidabo Amusement Park.

The trapezists were hanging from the ceiling on our way to the small room where the marionette show was about to start.

I am sorry if the picture appears to be upside down. There are many flaws because the image was snatched in a hurry. It was totally forbidden to take pictures of the marionettes.

September 07, 2007

Gold Fish by Frank O. Ghery, Barcelona

Gold Fish by Frank O. Ghery, Barcelona

The Gold Fish or Peix D'Or by Frank O.Ghery near Hotel Arts and Paseo Marítimo is located in the middle of a complex of restaurants, shops and discos known as the Olympic Port which is one of the most visited spots in the city specially at night. Check a previous post with the Gold Fish silhouette in the distance. The sculpture built in 1992 for the Olympic games acts as a canopy for some of the restaurants and a fountain in the underground floor.

September 06, 2007

Red Flowers in Memoriam

Luciano Pavarotti: Red Flowers in Memoriam [enlarge]

How much I admire a person with a gift. Not the mundane kind of gift like when you have a talent to make money or to memorize the yellow pages, but the sort of gift that transforms an individual into a unique person, a historical character, a reference for generations to come. Most people have to die first so others become aware of their imprint on history but a few are lucky enough to leave this world with the satisfaction of not being just a number but an idea, a spirit, a name, flowing in the stream of the collective mind till the end of times. I did not have any particular reason to post these red flowers today but one item of news called my attention this morning: Luciano Pavarotti dies at 71. One single headline lost in a sea of tragic stories but ladies and gentlemen we should rise and give his eternal soul a stand-up ovation and throw a thousand red flowers in memoriam.
Una Furtiva Lagrima - Luciano Pavarotti

September 05, 2007

Keith Richards and Woody Allen - Paper Mache - Barri Gotic, Barcelona

Woody Allen and Keith Richards in Papier mache, Barcelona store

Is it possible to see Keith Richards and Woody Allen in Barcelona, both in the same room, considering that the only thing in common that they have is they are weird and play an instrument? 

I had the chance to live such mystic experience in front of a souvenir shop in Barri Gotic, but both celebrities were made of paper mache. I had my doubts with Keith though!. Keith cost about 220 euros as I read on the tag hanging from his "cigarrette". 

Don't say it wouldn't be great to have one of these somewhere around the house just for the fun of it, if affordable of course.

September 04, 2007

Palau Sant Jordi Sports Center and Concert Hall in Montjuic, Barcelona

Palau Sant Jordi Sports Center and Concert Hall in Montjuic, Barcelona [enlarge]

Palau Sant Jordi, not far away from the tower in yesterday's post (yes, that white tip is not on the roof) is a totally different building both in design and functionality. This time we are facing a wide almost square building (see the Palau Sant Jordi on Google Earth) that in spite of looking big standing at the entrance, seems to be terribly flat from the distance as proportions are deceiptful in the enormous square of the Olympic ring on Montjuic Hill (check Palau Sant Jordi in an old post to see what I mean). Palau Sant Jordi was meant to be a sports center and as such was inaugurated in 1992 for the Olympic Games in Barcelona. Nevertheless, designers were wise enough to conceive the facilities as a multiuse space that can shift from a skating rink to a tennis court, a swimming tank, a basketball court and what's best, an important concert hall where famous bands and singers have performed. The building was designed by the Japanese architect Arata Isozaki & Associates. Find out about what other important works by Arata Isozaki here: Arata Isozaki & Associates via Emporis.

September 03, 2007

Santiago Calatrava's Montjuic Communications Tower, Barcelona

Santiago Calatrava's Communications Tower, Barcelona

This is Santiago Calatrava's Communications Tower standing against the sun in the middle of the big square at the Olympic Ring on Montjuic Hill. The structure is located near Palau Sant Jordi sports center, Picornell swimming pools and the Olympic Stadium. 

When you think of this artist, Calatrava, you think about impossible structures of steel and glass that resemble skeletons, carcasses with exposed ribs, sails, etc. In this case we are just talking about a 136 meter high tower that was meant only for telecommunications. But still it doesn't look like one of those horrible antennas full of dishes. It is weird I know but elegant at the same time. 

The tower's white steel structure with the tip tapering like a flame, does recall the Olympic torch or perhaps the jet engine of some extraterrestrial airship and oddly enough it doesn't stand in the way, maybe because of the line of nearby columns illuminated at night or the immensity of the square that evokes Soviet or Maoist grandiloquent and megalomaniac architecture. I digress. 

Some brief facts about Calatrava then: Born on July 28, 1951 in Valencia, Spain, he studied architecture in the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura (Valencia) and later on took post-graduate courses in civil engineering in Zurich. His work is well known all over the world so I will not deal with the many projects in his prolific career that you can consult in the following useful links:

September 02, 2007

Door Ironwork at Casa Mila or La Pedrera

Door Ironwork at Casa Mila or La Pedrera

This is a frontal view of the fabulous ironwork door at Casa Mila aka La Pedrera by Gaudi.

Check this great link: Iron and Metals in the Works of Gaudi

September 01, 2007

Nativity Façade: Herod's Soldier Slaying Baby

Nativity Façade: Soldier Slaying Baby

This sculptoric group or scene on the Nativity Façade at La Sagrada Familia is by far one of the most sinister and dramatic representations I have ever seen in sculpture: Herod's soldiers at Bethlehem are sent to kill all boys under the age of 2.
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