Barcelona Photoblog: December 2017

December 31, 2017

A Toast to Catalonia for New Year's Eve 2017

Cava Pink Cups by Juve i Camps

New Year's Eve 2017 is here and it well deserves a big toast for Catalonia in a turbulent year that has not been pleasant to anyone.

No matter what your political views are, you have to agree with me that this is a beautiful land that has done great things for this country, whatever you consider your country to be. 


You may be on the Spanish side or the Catalan side. Perhaps you are somewhere in between, you feel Catalan and Spanish. You may believe in an independent republic or you may believe in a Catalonia that is part of Spain. You may trust in the Spanish constitution and its 155 article or you may not...and whatever your opinions, your beliefs you have the sovereign right to think so because this is a democracy, right? And you will certainly agree with me in that violence only generates violence, hatred only generates hatred, not only on governmental instances but at family level as well.

As I said before, Catalonia is a wonderful extension of land inhabited by extraordinary people that love to work hard to make ends meet and dream of a better society to live on so let's raise our cups in honor of our beloved territory with one of our best products Catalan cava!

Happy New Year's Eve 2017 and Happy New Year everyone!

December 23, 2017

Tuna Tataki for Christmas Main Course

Tuna Tataki served on a bone marrow by Carlos lorenzo - Barcelona Photoblog

Are you trying to come up with ideas for your Christmas main course, do you really want to surprise your family with something totally off the beaten track in these times of religion inspired celebrations?

Then why don't you go for an authentic Tuna Tataki, the Japanese way.

As you know Barcelona Photoblog works around the inspiration of an image to make up a story and I had this beautiful tuna tataki photograph I took in one of my favorite spots in the city:

The chef there surprised me with this exquisite presentation of small tuna cubes dipped in ponzu sauce adorned with wasabi pearls and some caviar served on a bone with its marrow.

I was already a fan of tataki  (Japanese たたき: "pounded" or "hit into pieces"). I remember having my best ever tataki made with almadraba tuna, in a Rio Tinto mine restaurant in Huelva. Man, was that something!!!

And so I decided to take some self teaching. I have seen the most weird recipes on the web but I fell in love with a very simple one made by a real Japanese chef, no pretentious high class cuisine stuff, who prepares the fish fast and totally for dummies. In my opinion the important thing is how to sear and slice the tuna. The following video will show you how.

 These are the only ingredients you need:
  •  Slice onions
  •  Wakame seaweed (I can skip this)
  •  Corn Oil (or Olive Oil in my case)
  •  Scallions (like a thin calçot)
  •  Cucumber
  •  Ponzu Sauce
  •  Micro green leaves like Shiso for example
  •  Tomato and a slice of lemon for decoration

Here is Hiroyuki Terada in his Diaries of a Master Sushi Chef

By the way, while you are at it, why not learning at least basic japanese Kana symbols, with the Kanji Study app for Android or for iOS. I killed a lot of time on a plane once learning this. Or perhaps you can take your first steps with Duolingo Japanese course.

Happy different Christmas everyone!

Best wishes

December 18, 2017

Create the Best Photo Effects with Movavi Photo Editor


Movavi Photo Editor: Photo Effects

Are you taking the first footsteps in the long road of photography and photo editing? Do you have experience but you don’t have time enough for long sessions using topnotch complex software or perhaps your budget is too low to even think of buying the latest suite everybody is talking about? If any of that is true then you’ve come to the right place.

I would like to recommend to you a very solid all-in-one tool that is fast, intuitive, incredibly easy to use and what’s best, affordable! This tool is the Movavi Photo Editor and among its many strong points I would like to place emphasis on the photo effects which is the main reason I fell for this software.

In a world in which social media claims for striking images to stand above the crowd, sharing pictures that are edited with the right effects and doing it fast can help you create a style of your own or may give more strength to the ideas you want to transmit.

The Effects option is an exquisite selection of multi-purpose filters that range from Classic to Color fantasy, as you can see in the capture below. 

Photo effects with Movavi Photo Editor

The Movavi Photo Editor 5 effects allow you to create that striking vignette in one or two clicks, a result that otherwise would take working with layers or using a plugin in other products.

Adjusting the intensity with the sliders you can tune up your latest shot using the Classic - Lomo effect or the Retro – Nosferatu to produce highly attractive images or perhaps if you prefer softness you may apply a gentle warm bokeh in the Texture section.

Photography is like painting sometimes so a Gauguin or El Greco filter can turn you pic into a masterpiece.

And last but not least, a special mention to the Tilt-Shift effect inside the Artistic module that you miss sometimes in similar products.

The fact that there is a list of the most popular effects all in one place saves some time while at work. And the Surprise Me button might come up handy when you are not sure about what effect to choose.

To finish I have to say that what I enjoy the most is to have a preview of all the effects applied to my image on the right panel next to the original so I anticipate results.

Other features

Here are some other great features of the Movavi Photo Editor:

1- It comes with a clean interface:

In any photography working space you need to have a certain order so your workflow is logical and you don’t get distracted by too many windows. Having all at hand and organized is a most.

2- There is a brief introduction

A long welcoming tour can be overwhelming sometimes although newbies need some leads as to where is what. This software handles that by implementing an easy 8 steps guide which is more than enough for starters.

3- Visual help on the most difficult tasks:

This tool does many, many things, in an almost insulting, simple and robust way, but you need to know how to remove an object or change a background sometimes for example. To take care of that you have a comprehensive user guide and how to section in the top menu plus some extra visuals while you work for fast understanding of the procedure.

4- Drag and drop images

The program allows you to drag and drop images besides the usual browsing and gives you the possibility to resume the last edited picture prioritizing speed in the creation process.

5- Comprehensive list of file formats

Movavi inputs most common image file formats, including RAW and TIFF files although it cannot output GIF for example. For the full list check the User Guide.

6-A wide range of editing options for a budget:

There is a wide range of post processing options in the editor but I will concentrate on the ones that I find more useful to me as a photographer and social media enthusiast.

Here is my selection besides the unbelievable photo effects mentioned above:

Adjust: Usual adjustment options with sliders. All in one set not in different modules like in other programs. I love the so called Magic Enhance option on top that works superbly to save you all the tweaking with wonderful results.

Retouching: Did you ever need a fast retouching tool for those freckles in your subject’s face, cleaning that dust spot in your skies or whitening those unnatural yellow teeth? This option solves that last minute annoyance in seconds when you are sharing pictures in Facebook for example, a couple of clicks and voila.

Object Removal: With different selection tools you can swipe out an entire object leaving no trace of it. While the process takes place, you get nice trivia info on photography topics on screen.

Change background: But what about if you want to throw away the whole background that is ruining the fantastic magic moment of your model? This tool works neatly in this respect. Maybe you need to learn how to use the brush or the lasso tool but you have a visual on top to explain how it works.

Possibilities are infinite with Movavi Photo Editor. The ability of sharing to Facebook directly from the interface is awesome. I think some more popular networks would be appreciated in future updates though.

I hope this article is useful to you and helps you make the best out of your pictures!

December 11, 2017

Christmas Catalan Caga Tio Will Not Only Bring Presents

  • Caga Tió is a Catalan Christmas tradition. 
  • It involves a log that is fed scraps of food and then hit with a stick to make it "poop" presents. 
  • The presents are often turrón, a traditional Catalan sweet. 
  • The origins of Caga Tió are unknown, but it is thought to have originated as a pagan fertility ritual. 
  • Today, Caga Tió is a fun way for Catalan families to celebrate Christmas and pass on their culture to the next generation. 

 Here are some additional facts about Caga Tió: 

  • The log is typically decorated with a face and a hat. 
  • There is a traditional song that is sung while hitting the log. 
  • The presents are usually hidden inside the log or under a blanket. 
  • Caga Tió is often celebrated on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

The second best Christmas gift delivery entity, after Santa Claus, at least in Catalonia, is as you well know by now, Mr. Caga Tio, expression that in the English world is timidly translated as Pooping Log. Let's not fool ourselves, in Catalan it means, shitting log. Once clarified such euphemistic interpretation, let us proceed.

Compared to Santa, alias Noel, or Nicholas, Caga Tió is less handsome and much more sun dried in appearance, a hard looking fellow, not very valid for Christmas shopping publicity campaigns!

But what is the story behind this local hero aka tió de Nadal (navidad)?, come with me and let's find out:

Caga Tió, the Pagan History

First of all, let us make one thing clear, a tió is different from tio which means 'uncle'. In Catalan, a tió is a big log.. And so this is the story of a log, a big thick chunk, that since time immemorial has been chosen from a pile of wood in the farm houses, called masias here in Catalonia, to make a fire to stand the hardships of winter. It was not any kind of log though. Usually it was a soca, that is a tree stump.

There was a point in time, in which that stump, which was burning from December to January, was not only a mute comrade of oh so many winter nights, but eventually became an object of veneration and its ashes were scattered around the house and the fields as a sort of offering to the sun and the benediction of crops.

It must be said that nativity festive celebrations didn't start till IV century AC to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus but the cult of the burning log in your hearth, is a pagan ritual that started way back in time.

When did the log turn into a small buddy with barretina (traditional Catalan hat) and four legs?

It seems that it all began as recently as XVIII or XIX centuries, in the mountainous rural areas of Catalonia. People decided that this figure would no longer have to be burned, but it was supposed to be at home safe and sound, for kids to beat with a stick at will and which eventually would yield presents, like a mother delivers a son, or the earth gives her fruit. Caga tio, I would say, is a cheap kind of Christmas in itself.

What is the liturgy around caga tio?

In the most pure Pagan way and with permission of Christianity, the child log, is laid somewhere in the house and is pampered by parents and children alike by providing him with food to later cover him with a blanket and hit him mercilessly while singing a popular song, like a tribe honoring some deity.

After the punishment, the poor wooden figure, plays to be God, and showing forgiveness, gives out presents among parishioners, in this case, elated kids.

When is Caga Tió supposed to materialize at home?

Our Christmas log, though ugly, is the antithesis of Mr. Scrooge, he, (or she) represents generosity, love and couldn't be more of a familiar guy, as he is supposed to be at the house from December 8th until Christmas day. Not like his always busy, polar partner, that is almost late for the party every year.

What particular presents does 'el tío' bring?

According to the song, Caga Tío brings, almonds and nougat when it is well fed and happy, but herrings or other salty stuff at the end of his hard laboring or if hungry. Kids are sent to another room, in theory to pray, after each beating. In the meantime, parents do their thing so the log keeps giving birth till exhausted.

What do Catalans expect from Caga Tió this season?

Well, this question goes out of the script but we might as well ask tío more than just presents. I ask him to give us a wise solution to the Catalan problem, a nice candidate we can root for in coming elections and the demise of the current Spanish corrupt government.

In a way, they think we are a Christmas log that is generous after being beaten to death, but every God, has his own wrath, so one day we will give them what they deserve, and what should be yielded by a pooping log.

December 06, 2017

Fill Your Books For Your Photography Business This Festive Season


The festive season is a time where families reconnect, and everyone’s diaries are filled with festive parties, local events, and family meals. A lot of people want to be able to document these special, sentimental events in high quality, so photographers are in high demand. It may be hard to stand out from the competition, especially if you are only just starting out. Here are some services you can market, along with your qualifications and photography style, to ensure your bookings are filled to the brim. 

Festive Photo Booth

For work parties and family get-togethers, where the alcohol intake is high, and everyone lets their hair down a little, a festive photo booth can be a really nice touch. A photo booth with fun, festive themed props and costumes gives a relaxed and unique feel to the obligatory “everyone in” photo and gives something extra on top of the usual photography services. Having the service open throughout the evening means individuals, and couples, can have their own moment in the evening captured intimately, rather than the event photos which could have captured them with their mouth full from the buffet, or in an unpleasant light. This can also help to bring in a little more profit, as you can offer instant prints for individuals to take home on the night at an extra cost.

Follow Around Photography

For events that pull the mass crowds together for Christmas like Winter Wonderlands, Festive Amusement Parks, and Santa's Grottos, it may seem like personal photos are not an option. However, letting a family hire your services as a follow around has a lot of perks for both you and the family. When out with the family, there is always that one person behind the camera who always gets missed out from every photo. The ‘designated photographer.’ This service means natural, un-posed moments - like laughter - can be captured including the whole family. Having a lightweight camera, like this mirrorless camera, that has a built-in image stabilizer, will mean you are still producing top quality images even when in the hustle and bustle of a large, popular attraction. You can also offer services on top - like putting an album together of the pictures taken - to bring in a little extra profit. The exclusivity of this service and extremely high quality means you can charge a premium price. Just be sure to have an open conversation with your client about what may, or may not, be possible with this type of service. You can also take this opportunity to find out more about them and what kind of photos they like seeing themselves in.

Midnight On New Year's Eve

When the year becomes new, and the spectacular fireworks begin - a special moment is always shared between couples and families. Capturing this moment themselves can not only be unsuccessful - blurry and low quality - but also pulls them away from the moment, making it less intimate and memorable. Offering a service that captures this moment will help you stand out from the competition, as few people are prepared to set aside their own New Year’s celebrations in order to work. Being such a prestigious night, this will also classify as a premium price service.

Hopefully, this has given you some ideas how you can help your photography services to stand up against your competitors this season.
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