Barcelona Photoblog: November 2010

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

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!

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.

November 24, 2010

Color Circles Detail on Art Nouveau Door, Barcelona

Detail on Art Nouveau Stained Glass Door, Barcelona

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 starting 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.

Watch this beautiful modernist lamp at Amatller House or take a glimpse at the indented façade by Puig i Cadafalch

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.

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!

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.

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.

November 15, 2010

Skyscrapers in Barcelona: Diagonal 00, The New Telefonica Headquarters

Diagonal 00 or ZERO ZERO, The Telefonica Head Office, Barcelona, Spain

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.

Update: Learn more about the final result Diagonal Zero Zero today

November 12, 2010

Antoni Tapies Foundation, Arago Street 255, Barcelona


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)

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.

November 09, 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?

November 07, 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.

November 04, 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.

November 01, 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.
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