Why Are There Fewer Blog Posts These Days?

Dulcinea. Barcelona, Catalunya, 2017
The Modern Dulcinea. Barcelona, Catalunya, 2017

 

Since we are in the midst of a relocation from Boulder, Colorado to Barcelona, Spain, you will notice that I have been a bit less active with blog posts these days.

No worries. I’ll pick up the pace again once we get settled across the sloshing sea, likely sometime in late September. 

In the meantime, feel free to peruse the nearly five years of blog posts already in the archives. Consult the “Topics of Interest” column for something that might pique your curiosity.

Also, although sales of physical prints will be curtailed until I get the shop set up again, electronic versions of images will still be available via email or Dropbox.

[NOTE: Despite the slowdown in activity over the next few months, you can expect a fair number of Colorado 14er reports and related images later this summer as I try to complete those climbs before we leave.]

Around the Block in Barcelona (Our new home!)

Window on the Dawn. Parc del Forum, Barcelona, 2015
Window on the Dawn. Parc del Forum, Barcelona, 2015

 

‘Tis true–we will be moving to Barcelona sometime this summer/fall! Our new apartment awaits us on Carrer Provença in the L’Esquerra de l’Eixample area of downtown Barcelona!

Collons!

I am certainly more of an outdoor, smaller town, guy than a city guy, so this transition will be interesting. Thankfully, there is plenty to do and see within a few hours (and often much closer) of Barcelona: rock climbing, hiking, white water, via ferratas, snorkeling and scuba, sunning on the beach, quaint villages, interesting landscapes of all kinds for the photographer, and so on.

Out of curiosity, though, I thought I would take a very close gander at our new neighborhood in l’Eixample. To that end, I took a little exploratory stroll, starting at the entrance to our apartment building, at Calle Provenza 162, and walked around the block, noting in my little book the different businesses that were to be found. Normally, going around the block would take you about 5-7 minutes, but I took about 30 minutes with all the note-scribbling and such.

The quantity and variety of businesses turned out to be waaay more extensive than I expected. If you have never lived in a cosmopolitan city, it will likely surprise you as well.

Moving clockwise around the block, here is everything I encountered… Click to continue as the list is looong!

Corky Vodka Shots and Camera Movement

There is always much blab and jabber of getting the mostest-sharpest image you can possibly get out of your camera. And there is certainly a time for that.

But, there are also circumstances when you might NOT want that sharpness. In fact, maybe you want to go to the opposite extreme and throw in a whole lot of movement and blur–on purpose.

I do have one previous blog post on this subject in which I talk about this very thing: Deliberate Blur, June 1, 2014. You might want to check that out, too.

The idea of deliberately moving the camera for a special effect occurred to me once again whilst we dined at a small place in Barcelona called Café-Bar Restaurante Reñé at Carrer del Consell de Cent, 362. It used to be a very well-known and tasty pastry shop years ago (starting in 1910) and they have thankfully retained the wonderful, 1920s-era, wooden-marble facade and interior imported from Cuba. A beautimous place, for sure. 

What caught my photographer’s eyeball was the neatly arranged and nicely illuminated rack of Corky-brand vodka flavors on one wall (and, yes, someone actually drinks this stuff). It was just begging for some creative experimentation. So, this is where I went with it…(all shot with the Sony RX100iv).

First, you could try your standard well-focused shot, maybe bumping up the ISO to give you an adequate shutter speed to compensate for the fairly dim indoor lighting. Instead of shooting the subject straight on and symmetrical, though, I chose to aim at an angle to add at least a little dynamism to the picture. And I started things off at the bottom left with a bottle that appears to be out-of-place. The colors were obviously very attractive and, for me, the major element of the composition:

Corky Vodka Shots, #4. Café-Bar Restaurante Reñé, Barcelona, 2017
Corky Vodka Shots, #4. Café-Bar Restaurante Reñé, Barcelona, 2017 (1/30th sec, F7.1, ISO1600)

 

Next, maybe you could try keeping the angle idea but doing some small, sharp, rotating movements just as you snap the shutter:

Corky Vodka Shots, #5. Café-Bar Restaurante Reñé, Barcelona, 2017
Corky Vodka Shots, #5. Café-Bar Restaurante Reñé, Barcelona, 2017 (1/8th sec, F4.5, ISO100)

 

In this one, I tried to center the camera on one particular bottle and then rotate the camera around that chosen center point as I snapped:

Corky Vodka Shots, #6. Café-Bar Restaurante Reñé, Barcelona, 2017
Corky Vodka Shots, #6. Café-Bar Restaurante Reñé, Barcelona, 2017 (1/8th sec, F4.5, ISO100)

 

If you do the same thing as in the previous example, but twist the camera around at a faster rate, this is what you might get. Experimentation and multiple “takes” with various movements and shutter speeds is the key:

Corky Vodka Shots, #2. Café-Bar Restaurante Reñé, Barcelona, 2017
Corky Vodka Shots, #2. Café-Bar Restaurante Reñé, Barcelona, 2017 (1/2 sec, F7.1, ISO125)

 

A straight vertical motion might render like this. You’ll see this technique used by some photographers when shooting trees or flowers to create sort of a ghost-like effect:

Corky Vodka Shots, #7. Café-Bar Restaurante Reñé, Barcelona, 2017
Corky Vodka Shots, #7. Café-Bar Restaurante Reñé, Barcelona, 2017 (1/8th sec, F4.5, ISO100)

 

I could have spent a good half-hour playing with the myriad possibilities, but the patrons probably would not have enjoyed the gringo with the camera lurking around their tables for so long. So, I called it quits after maybe a dozen images or so, a selection of which you see here.

Postscript: I wonder…if you have consumed a large quantity of these flavored vodka shots then perhaps all the blurry photographs I have posted here will actually be in focus, sharp as a tack??? (Except the very first one, which will actually look blurry to the alcohol-affected brain.)

Gentrification (and Tourism) in Barcelona, the Case of Vallcarca

Vallcarca, #11. Vallcarca, Barcelona, 2017
Vallcarca, #11. Vallcarca, Barcelona, 2017 (“Vallcarca…For the people…”)

 

I suppose every big, popular, and growing city has its gentrification issues. In New York, it looks like Brooklyn is well on its way and Harlem is next on the “shopping block” for well-off and motivated investors and retirees. 

Even small towns are not immune…Boulder (Colorado), Jackson (Wyoming), Traverse City (Michigan), Portland (Maine), to name a few. The common cadence: long-time residents being pushed out due to rising real estate prices and general cost o’ living. Some places, like our fine burg of Boulder, recognize what is happening and have attempted to ameliorate the process with “affordable housing programs” for people who ordinarily wouldn’t be able to live there–you know, poor, low income folks like firemen, policemen, school teachers, and so on.

Here in Barcelona, the barrio known as Vallcarca, uphill from Plaza Lesseps, has been the epicenter of a similar fight. Their chief complaints:

–Real estate speculation and development (much of it corrupt!?) which threatens to force out long-time residents.

–Urban growth master plans that don’t necessarily take into account the desires of the local population.

–An emphasis on tourism which also threatens to permanently alter the face of this neighborhood.

Perusing Google, I came across a doctoral thesis that examined this very topic in excruciating detail (382 pages!):  Prácticas y poéticas de un barrio en transformación: el caso de Vallcarca en Barcelona, by Marco Luca Stanchieri (November, 2015). Read through it if you would like further info, including some interesting background on the okupa movement in Barcelona, their philosophy and activities.

Some images…

Save the old nucleus of Vallcarca…Barcelona is not for sale…” implores the large mural, in Catalan. Many empty lots, from the initial phase of de-construction, can be seen in the area–eventually to be converted into large apartment buildings, unless the resistance somehow prevails. The 2008 recession stopped a lot of this development–for now–and many open spaces are currently used for sports, walking the dog, and social gatherings: 

Vallcarca, #8. Vallcarca, Barcelona, 2017
Vallcarca, #8. Vallcarca, Barcelona, 2017

 

Some impressive urban art can be found along the walls of these vacant lots:

Vallcarca, #6. Vallcarca, Barcelona, 2017
Vallcarca, #6. Vallcarca, Barcelona, 2017

 

The electric hippo-triceratops (is that what it is???) is one of my favorites–found in yet another vacant lot:

Vallcarca, #3. Vallcarca, Barcelona, 2017
Vallcarca, #3. Vallcarca, Barcelona, 2017

 

A close-up of another impressive mural. The paper poster says, in Catalan: “Together we build the neighborhood in which we live…Neighbors, wake up, Barcelona is not for sale.

Vallcarca, #10. Vallcarca, Barcelona, 2017
Vallcarca, #10. Vallcarca, Barcelona, 2017

 

Núñez, get out of this neighborhood…Enough [real estate] speculation.” So says the graffiti on this wall. José Luis Núñez was president of Barcelona’s famous football (soccer) team for 22 years but, more relevant here, he is a major real estate developer. Núñez, along with his son, were recently fined a few million Euros and then spent some time relaxing in prison–their reward for being found guilty of bribing tax collectors and of tax evasion (“Caso Hacienda“). Currently, the father-son team is back at the construction and development business.

Vallcarca, #7. Vallcarca, Barcelona, 2017
Vallcarca, #7. Vallcarca, Barcelona, 2017

 

The poster on the left says,”Núñez and Navarro…guilty of the destruction of Vallcarca…we don’t forget…we don’t forgive.”

Vallcarca, #9. Vallcarca, Barcelona, 2017
Vallcarca, #9. Vallcarca, Barcelona, 2017

 

Here and there, throughout Barcelona proper, you may run across the attractive advertising signs for ex-felons Núñez and Navarro. Their slogan: “Building Barcelona together.” Obviously, not all would agree, especially up the hill in Vallcarca.

Vallcarca, #15. Barcelona, 2017
Vallcarca, #15. Barcelona, 2017

 

A more direct insult: “Not Núñez, nor Navarro…Capitalism Fuck Off!”

Vallcarca, #13. Vallcarca, Barcelona, 2017
Vallcarca, #13. Vallcarca, Barcelona, 2017

 

More slogans, this time the theme of tourism infiltrates and rears its cranium…”For a neighborhood for all locals…no tourists, no hostels, no excavators…Tourism kills the neighborhood…In Vallcarca we don’t forget…Don’t let Núñez and Navarro build on top of the homes that they themselves tore down!…Speculators out of the neighborhood!…Núñez and Navarro guilty of the destruction of Vallcarca…we don’t forget…we don’t forgive!

Vallcarca, #12. Vallcarca, Barcelona, 2017
Vallcarca, #12. Vallcarca, Barcelona, 2017

 

And just in case the anti-tourism message didn’t get through, here’s an especially in-your-face version. If you have walked Las Ramblas or tried to shove your way through La Boqueria market recently, you may sympathize. Barcelona can indeed appear to be inundated by gangs of red umbrella-following tourists, many coming from the parade of monster cruise ships that dock regularly at the port.

Still, don’t fret if you have travels plans to Barcelona. My experience has been that most locals you meet are actually quite friendly and accepting, and will kindly give you directions to wherever you might be headed (especially if you can toss out a few words in Catalan rather than Castellano/Spanish, or English!).

Vallcarca, #14. Barcelona, 2017
Vallcarca, #14. Barcelona, 2017