Sunday, October 19, 2014

Drive By Shootings: On To The South Of Spain and Malaga

Good Morning Everybody,

Spain Map3Yesterday we finished a 6 1/2 hour drive from Valencia – Oh! What a beautiful city! (more later) – down to Malaga, Spain, playground to the rich and famous.  We are neither but were told that some of the most expensive shops in the world are just down the road. I’ll have to steer LaDawn clear of those shops.  It’s not the “shopping” I mind – I love shopping, It’s the “buying! ;~)

One thing I want to mention right up front is that Spain is a beautiful country to drive through.

Spain landscape1

After last year’s trip through Central Europe, Austria was my country of choice for outright geographic beauty.  But after driving 3/4’s of the way around Spain LaDawn and I are both amazed at the diversity of geography and widely varied landscapes during our journey.

Groves

The drive from Valencia to Malaga presented and entirely new set of fabulous vistas – from orange groves to rows and rows of olive trees, from bulls on the hills to castles in the sky – it was a magnificent drive! 

Bulls on hills

Castles in the sky

As we drove south we climbed our way into the mountains.  The mountains in the distance were snow covered – in southern Spain!

Snow capped peaks

As we continued to add on the miles – about 300 of them the geography changed to deserts, foothills, and mountains that looked more like what you see in Southern California and Arizona. It was desert-y farmlands and small rural communities for mile after mile.

Southeast Spain

The views were just fantastic!

Motion blurDAZNOTE: Let me point out that “drive by shooting” shooting can be quite frustrating.  Just as you press the shutter button, the car will hit a bump in the road and you get a picture of the sky instead of the intended landscape.

More disappointing is that when you finally download your Shutter Priority Modeimages to view them they are filled with “motion blur”.  Check out the image to the right taken at 1/250 second – it’s pretty blurry. That’s because the objects closer to the camera just out the car window are traveling by at a much greater speed pass the lens than the landscape objects in the distance.

My easy solution to this problem is to kick up the ISO to at least 800 ISO and set the camera to Shutter Priority (Tv) mode setting the shutter speed at 1/1000 second.

LaDawn tried to capture a bit of the varied beauty as we flew down the road at about 80 MPH. Oh, and fellow travellers were passing us even at that speed.  Yes, all photos were taken by LaDawn in this post.

We finally arrived Fuengirola, Spain – a small town just west of Malaga – and the location of the Heritage Resorts at Matchroom Country Club where we will be staying for a week. We finally got settled in about 8:00p.m. Needless to say, it was a long day. 

As occasionally happens along the way on those trips through so many European countries internet connectivity issues can be very frustrating.  That is definitely the case on this stop. I’ll do me best to stay connected and get a few posts up this week including a photo re-cap of both Valencia and my Barcelona Master Class which went great, BTW.

We attended the resort briefing this morning and got the lowdown on best places to get some great photographs.  We’re planning a few photo excursions this week so stay tuned.

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Hey gang, that’s it for me today. Look for my Barcelona Master Class re-cap in a few days.  I think you will enjoy it.

Adios for now, David

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Travel Update: Lourdes, Barcelona, Valencia and 7,000 Images Later!

Good Morning Everybody,

Spain Map2Whew!  We have really been rockin’ this trip since I last checked in with you.  Check out the map to the right – it shows our travels so far. Photo count after 25 days  – just over 7,000!!

We had planned to land in San Sebastian and spend a few days in one of Spain’s most visited tourist destinations.  Well, it was a bit TOO visited for us and we blasted out of there after only 20 hours from checking in. Our accommodations were less than spectacular and the street noise right outside our second story window was meant for more party type twenty year-olds.

IMG_6252-EditNo problem though.  After a slight modification in travel plans we headed to Lourdes, France.  You know – one more day, one more country.  Boy, do we love traveling through Europe.  Our visit to Lourdes was fantastic.  Lourdes is one of the great pilgrimage cities of the world with about 1,000,000 faith based visitors a year to see the holy grotto of the Virgin Mary as it appeared to 14 year old Bernadette.

Saint Bernadette is one the Catholics most revered saints.  Her story was told in the 1943 Academy awarding winning movie, “The Song of Bernadette.”  After being there in person, it is definitely on our “watch” list.

Lourdes1

Regardless of your faith, this is a must see destination in Europe. The masses (see above photo) of Christian faithful pouring into the main square after the 9 p.m. candle light parade is awe-inspiring!!!  Our one day stay was way to short.  Lourdes is definitely on our “return visit” list.

Next it was off to Barcelona, about 5 hours away, with a beautiful misty mountain drive through the Pyrenees along the way.

Misty Mountains

We arrived into Barcelona about 3:00 p.m., got settled into our very nice apartment near the historic Gothic district, and prepared for a week of eating, sleeping, and living photography with around 20 other like minded individuals. Barcelona is one of our favorite cities in all of Europe and we were really looking forward to our time there.  This vibrant city provided a perfect background for our Master Class.  Below is a photo of the class instructors, (Clay Jarod and myself) class attendees, models and a few spouses captured at the very prestigious 5-star El Palace Hotel, one of the premiere hotels in the city complete with it’s Caelis restaurant, a Michelin rated restaurant.  Yes, we do eat well during our International Master Classes

Master Class 2014

The cool thing about this year’s Master Class is the fact that we had attendees from around the world including India, Taiwan, Canada, Ireland, Nigeria, Brussels, and the US. It was an awesome week.  I’ll plan on getting a post up in a few days featuring several images from the week – you’ll love it!

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Hey gang, that’s the quick update for today.  We just arrived in Valencia, Spain’s third largest city after Madrid and Barcelona, late yesterday afternoon and this looks to be one happening city.  It kind of reminds us of a more compact Barcelona but still bustling with cafes, shopping, history, and gleaming new buildings.  We are here for four full days and are heading out in just a hours to begin exploring.

Stay tuned.

Adios for now, David

Saturday, October 04, 2014

”Santiago Sunset”

Santiago Sunset

”Santiago Sunset
©David A. Ziser

Here is another image I captured a few days ago while in Santiago, Spain.  As we were settling-in for the evening, I peered out the window and was amazing to see this striking sunset over the rooftops of the city – remember our 6th floor apartment? It was a spectacular scene.

I also loved how I could pick up the sunset’s reflection in the skylight right below me.  I knew the image needed to be a very wide angle shoot to get the result I wanted. I grabbed my super wide Sigma 12-12mm and began shooting away.

Because of the extremely wide tonal range I made a few images using my Canon 5D Mark3’s built in HDR mode.  I love the result. Hope you do too!

Camera specs: Canon 5D Mark III fitted with Sigma 12-24mm lens at 12mm, F6.3 at 1/250 second, ISO 1600. Camera HDR mode Auto, Art Standard 

Enjoy!  -David

Unbelievable Architecture and Wide Open Spaces: Traveling Across Spain’s North Coast

Good Morning Everybody,

Spain MapIt has been a few days since we checked in and I thought today would be a good day to bring you up on our photographic travels so far.  The map shows our travels since arriving in Spain just two weeks ago. I’ve highlighted our stops.

Today marks the completion of our second week of travels through Spain and Portugal. I am just shy of making 4000 exposures so we’re averaging just over 285 images/day.  There should be some good ones in there somewhere;~)

Since leaving Santiago on Sunday we have made our way around the top corner of Spain and stayed a few days in Oviedo – the capital of the Asturias province of Spain. What are they famous for in Asturias? Bean stew called fabada stew and hard cider – yes, we had to try both.  I have to say, I’m a bigger fan of the bean stew which was delicious!

Ayre3

Another highlight of our stay in Oviedo was the magnificent Ayre Hotel shown above.  This place is without a doubt one of the most amazing architectural structures in the world. Just hit this link right here to check out more of the fabulous views of the inspiring building.

Ayre2

It was just a cool place to stay and worked as a great home base as we traveled throughout the area.

Another highlight of our Asturias visit was a day trip we made to Covadonga, gateway to the home of the Picos de Europa or Peaks of Europe and the location of the Our Lady of Covadonga shrine built into and on top of a solid stone edifice in the mountains.  I always ponder how they built those structures back in the non-mechanized days of old – simply amazing!  Here is an HDR image of the shrine below. BTW, I chose to make an HDR image because of the wide range of tones in the scene.  Hope you like it.

Church on mountain

After a brief visit to Gijon, Spain – home to one of Spain’s most popular beaches – we made our way across the north coast of Spain, through the mountains and along the coast for what turned out to be a spectacular drive through some of the most beautiful scenery in all of Spain. Like I said, we should have a few good portfolio images in there somewhere.

We landed in Bilbao, Spain two days ago  – home to the fabulous Guggenheim Museum, below, hailed as one of the world’s most spectacular buildings, and designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry. We have been soaking up the sight, sounds and culture of the city.

Guggenheim Bilbao2

Yesterday we made a trip into the oldest wine growing region of Spain, the famed La Rioja. Once again the scenery was magnificent.  We stuck around to nearly sunset in order to pick up the light sweeping across the vineyards.

Rioja1

Rioja3One thing LaDawn and I love about our travels are the folks we meet along the way.  Unlike Napa Valley in the US, you don’t just show up at a winery, belly up to the bar, and have a few sips of vino.  In La Rioja you need to call ahead to make a reservation for a tour and/or tasting. The extra prep was well worth it as we met a couple from Russia and another couple from the UK and had a wonderful time visiting and touring the Eguren Ugarte winery.

Today we are off to San Sebastian, our last stop before catching up with Clay Blackmore and Jared Platt for our Master Class in Barcelona next week – more on the class later.  Here is a panoramic view from Wikipedia showing one of the most visited places in Spain.

San Sebastian1

Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  I hope to get another post or two up over the weekend so please stop back.

Have a good one and I’ll see you soon, David

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Rooftop Serenade: A Creative Exercise

Good Morning Everybody,

6th Floor SantiagoIn this post I wanted to share with you some of the photographic pleasures I find from traveling. We had just spent a full day traveling the historic streets and sights of Santiago and were happy to get back to a beautiful apartment in the heart of the city.  Now there is one thing I need to point out about our AirBNB apartment – it was on the 5th floor which actually means SIXTH FLOOR in Europe. And, get this, no elevator. Yes, we had to make the climb everyday often more than just once!  Talk about your daily workout ;~)

Anyway, it was this 6th floor elevation that works into today’s post.  After the the climb to our apartment and getting comfortable by a large window overlooking the city I settled in with a nice glass of one of Spain’s fine red wines and just took in the view.

That’s when it struck me – I began seeing the rooftops in more of “macro-mode” looking for little isolated vignettes of composition, color, line, and texture.  I grabbed our little Canon SX50 camera with it’s super zoom lens (24-1200mm) and began shooting away.  It was a wonderfully creative experience for me. I’ve put together a small collection of my favorites from the session.  I think the visual result gives you a backdoor peek at this historic medieval town.  I hope you enjoy!

Hey gang, That’s it for me today. Stay tuned more to come.

Adios for now, David

Monday, September 29, 2014

Santiago: Pilgrim’s (and Photographer’s) Paradise

Good Morning Everybody,

TouristsWe departed Santiago de Compostela, Spain yesterday after a wonderful and magical stay. For those of you that don’t know about this exciting location, this is the ending point for the famous Way of St. James 500 mile pilgrimage. The town was packed with pilgrims everywhere who had made part or all of the journey. Let me say, these are not you sandal footed monks of the past.  Many of today’s pilgrims are wearing the latest in fashionable footwear and hiking gear ;~)

StaircaseAnyway… our stay was fabulous.  Once we arrived we immediately parked the car – you could not drive into the historic, Olde Town, part of the city.  The parking garage was about a 5 minute wake from the apartment so we left the large suitcases locked in the car and carried my camera bag, computer bag and one small suit case to the apartment as Emilio, our host, suggestion.  Good thing we did too – the apartment was on the 5th floor!!!! We never would have made it with the large 50 lb. suitcases.

Needless to say, the views from the top floor were amazing. We found ourselves looking across the rooftops of the city and directly at the famous Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela towers.

Pilgrims on Roof

After getting settled in we were off to explore the city which was teaming with visitors, pilgrims, and tourists everywhere.  It was truly buzzing with energy. I loved it!!! People, from many, many nationalities, were just taking it easy and relaxing in any number of the many cafés sipping on a coffee, beer, or glass of delicious Spanish wine.  LaDawn and I walked the streets and enjoyed the sights, sounds, and colors of this vibrant community.

BotafumeiroWe haven’t visited many museums this trip but always take in the famous cathedrals along the way, Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela was no exception. We quickly discovered that on the evening of our arrival the cathedral was going to swing the Botafumeiro, the famous, and one of the largest in the world incense burner hanging in front of the main altar.

Incense is burned in this swinging metal container, or "incensory". The name "Botafumeiro" means "smoke expeller" in Galician. BTW… the Galician language continues to be widely used in this part of Spain, second to Spanish and both are inter-mixed frequently. The Botafumeiro is suspended from a pulley mechanism in the dome on the roof of the church . The current pulley mechanism was installed in 1604 and requires approximately 8 men to work the system.

0001_Porto-DZ2_4935

The present Botafumeiro is made of an alloy of brass and bronze and is plated by a very thin layer of silver attach the rope to the Botafumeiro with a set of "sailor's knots". I have to tell you, it is quite the sight to see this 180 pound silver blazing object swinging from one end of the church to the other is unbelievable!

 

Here is a YouTube video shows what an unforgettable ceremony it was.  Just look at the crowds looking on as well – this is a BIG deal in Santiago!!!

Like I said, quite a sight!

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Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  I’ll do a follow up post featuring several of our favorite photographs for all you photographers out there. Enjoy the rest of the day where you are and I’ll see you soon.

Adios for now, David