Valencia – Day 4 Addendum

Cynthia did the smart thing and rested most of the day. We did go out in the afternoon as the Ofrenda was beginning. It seems all the marching bands pass right by our hotel so sleeping was futile.

The Ofrenda is when all the people of Valencia put on their traditional costumes and parade in from all corners of the city to offer flower to build the statue of the Virgin Mary in the cathedral square.

After chasing the Falleras for awhile we decided to go to the City Of Arts And Sciences so I could take some night shots.

City Of Arts And Sciences

City of Arts and Sciences

City Of Arts And Sciences - Fisheye

City Of Arts And Sciences

City Of Arts And Sciences

Later in the evening we found this restaurant called Alma del Temple that was simply fantastic.

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Everything was presented well and the restaurant itself had a nice atmosphere. Oddly, the music playing over the sound system was 80’s gothic new wave. Bands like The Cure and Joy Division with some Brian Ferry and the like sprinkled in. I enjoyed it quite a lot and asked our waiter about it. Turns out it was his selection of music. I let him know I appreciated it and that seems to please him to no end.

We had a bottle of wine and enjoyed our meal and finished the evening off with a coffee and postre (desert)

After this we were pretty beat and called it a night.

Rome – Day 4 – Vatican Museum

After our audience with The Pope we headed over to the Vatican Museum. This was around 12:30 and the crowds were out in force. We had acquired our ticket vouchers online and, as it turned out, we pretty much walked right in.

You have to be careful when visiting the Vatican Museum. There are tons of people trying to convince you to buy a tour and skip the line. This may be a good idea if you don’t have your voucher already in hand, but is a total scam if you do.

Also, this area is crawling with gypsies. I saw a guy nearly get pickpocketed in this area our last visit in 2005. They’re good at what they do, but this one fumbled the pass when she was handing the wallet off to one of her accomplices.

The Vatican Museum is crowded and hectic. We wanted to see the Sistine Chapel and I specifically wanted to see the spiral staircase.

There’s a lot of really fantastic art to see. And some areas are not too crowded.

Vatican Museum

But the trek to the chapel is where it starts to get bad. It is literally a cattle call.. A throng of humanity shuffling down a long and ever shrinking corridor until you reach the chapel.

Vatican Museum

Vatican Museum

Eventually you do end up in the chapel.

And sadly, there are no photos allowed in the chapel.

At this point we were pretty beat and the crowds were just too much so we made our way to the exit. Even this was a long walk. But we did end up at the magnificent spiral staircase which was something I *really* wanted to see and photograph.


Vatican Museum Spiral Staircase

We headed back to the hotel to get some lunch and relax for a bit. The rest of the day would be pretty casual as we’re winding down to come home.

Valencia – The City Of Arts And Sciences

The City Of Arts And Sciences (Valencian: Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències, Spanish: Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias) is an amazing architectural complex designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela and it is THE thing to see if you ever get to Valencia Spain.

We took a trek out to the complex on our visit two years ago and I got some pretty good photos so I was keen to give it another whirl with my new gear and my (hopefully) improved photographic skills.

This time I decided to get there before sunset and shoot during what is known as the “golden hour of photography” which is that time between when the sun goes down and it gets fully dark. I think the results are pretty good overall.

This first shot is straight out of the camera with no post processing

City Of Arts And Sciences - No Gimmicks

The reset of these were done using HDR processing where I combined three separate exposures and combined them using tone-mapping software.

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Barcelona – Day 3 – Part 2

After collecting ourselves back at the hotel room we headed out and braved the metro to go see La Sagrada Familia, a cathedral designed by Antoni Gaudi. Construction began in 1882 and is not expected to be completed until 2026.

The structure is amazing to see in person. I was particularly happy to have my very wide angle Sony 16-35mm lens with me to capture a few images. These are both done using HDR techniques that involve taking 3 separate photos, each with a different exposure setting, and blending the images together to create one high dynamic range image that brings our the detail and evens out the overall exposure.

Sagrada Familia - HDR

La Sagrada Familia - HDR

And later that evening for a night shot

Sagrada Familia - Night Shot 2

Brennan’s Houston

I shot this on request for my friend at Studio RED Architects who were strongly involved in the rebuilding of Brennan’s here in Houston. You might recall that Brennan’s burned down during Hurricane Ike.

Shot from across the street using the A850 and the Zeiss 24-70mm.

21 second exposure at f/13.

The neon sign wasn’t finished before the grand opening and if you look closely, the gas lanterns are also not complete.

Brennan's

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Brennan's

Copenhagen – Last Full Day

The last day in Copenhagen. New Years Eve. We’d wanted to go to the Nationalmuseet (National Museum) after running out of time the previous day (read: we couldn’t find it). Alas, it was closed due to the holiday

We figured not much would be open and decided just to walk around for awhile which lead us to the Børsen (Stock Exchange) building which features a tower formed by the tails of four dragons twined together

From there we spied the telltale tower of Vor Frelser Kirke. If you look closely you’ll see there’s a spiral staircase that goes around the outside of the tower.

It’s open to the public, but not at this time of year….

Even more unfortunate, the church was closed for the day but we did spend some time outside shooting pics.

From there we walked leisurely back to the hotel and upon arriving asked the hotel concierge for a recommendation on a place to get a traditional Danish meal and we were directed to Cafe Nytorv just off the Strøget. It was a charming place and the food was delicious. We ordered Carlsberg beers and snaps as our beverages. Cynthia is not a beer drinker. She hates it in fact. But she decided to be adventurous and ordered one and when she took the first sip she found that she actually liked it.

She did not, however, like the snaps. I had to drink hers as well as mine. Drat the luck! 🙂

After lunch we walked a bit more but then headed back to the hotel to pack and get ready for the fireworks.

Copenhagen Day 5 – The Rundetårn

We headed off this morning to climb The Rundetårn (The Round Tower) which is not too far from the hotel. Cynthia really likes to climb things when we travel. Fortunately, the tower had a mildly sloping ramp that winds up most of the 130 feet to the top. There is a set of small stairs at the very top which are tight and difficult to manage when there’s too much two way traffic.

The fish-eye lens made for some really good photos inside the tower.

About halfway up we found this little alcove. The sign says Kissing Corner in Danish and there’s a piece of missletoe hanging from the ceiling.

Once to the top there’s a pretty spectacular view of the city

Another successful adventure!

Copenhagen Day 4 Part 2

As I noted in my previous post, I had not met with success in my efforts to capture the Copenhagen Opera House at night. When we had gone out to the waterfront it was a Sunday night and the building was dark. Checking on line I saw that there were performances all this week so on Tuesday night I loaded up the camera bag and the tripod and headed out to try again.

This time I got what I came for.

Copenhagen Day 4 Part 1

Today dawned bright and sunny. Still cold, but blue skies and sunshine. We had wanted to take the train over the Öresund Bridge to Malmö Sweden and this seemed to be the day to do it. Trains leave every 20 minutes or so and it takes about 30 minutes to get there.

We have no Swedish Kronier and we don’t have a map and we don’t really know what we want to do when we get there. My primary interest was crossing the bridge, which is half tunnel and is an architectural marvel. Plus I like the idea of making this a two country trip.

On the way over to the train station I grab a shot of an art installation on loan from Poland called the Tree Hugger Project.

We get to the train station and pretty quickly sort out getting out tickets and finding the platform to catch our train. There’s some confusion as there’s a train at the platform already, even though our train is not due for 15-20 minutes. We finally see a sign that says in three languages “Do Not Board This Train”.

The ride to Malmö is kinda of fun and exciting for me. For Cynthia, it is rather terrifying. She really hates being underground. And the recent London/Paris Chunnel passenger stranding which was all over the news didn’t help.

Malmö is quite charming. We set off toward the city center and explore our surroundings.

After walking for awhile I mention to Cynthia that I’d really like to see the Turning Torso which is an example of Deconstructivism architecture.

We could see if from the train coming in and I had a rough idea which direction it was, but as I mentioned before we don’t have a map and no Sedish Kroner to pay for a bus or a cab so we just walk. After a short time we spotted it in the distance.

We had hoped to walk a short distance and get a clear view of the building for a good photo, but it seemed no matter how far we walked, there was always some buliding or another in the way.

We kept walking and did eventually walk right up to the Turning Torso after traversing (on foot mind you) the industrial district of Malmö Sweden.

I will tell you this, it was worth the walk. I got some great photos!

Memorial Hermann Hospital

Looks like the new Memorial Hermann building I wrote about previously is nearing completion. I can only speculate as to why there are beams of light shooting skyward. Perhaps these are transporters that deliver the souls of those who don’t make it to their great reward. I was unable to verify if there were equivalent beams of light headed in the other direction emanating from the ground floor or basement.

Memorial Herman

La Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias de Valencia

It was worth packing a tripod just to get these extended exposure shots of The City Of Arts And Sciences in Valencia, Spain.

City Of Arts And Sciences

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City Of Arts And Sciences

City Of Arts And Sciences

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City Of Arts And Sciences

City Of Arts And Sciences

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City Of Arts And Sciences

City Of Arts And Sciences

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City Of Arts And Sciences

City Of Arts And Sciences

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City Of Arts And Sciences