Went to Brazos Bend State Park to practice with my 300mm f/2.8 lens. Attached a 1.4x teleconverter for the extra reach. It was a beautiful day for photography and my first time to visit the park.
Archive for the ‘Sony A99’ Category
This is the event that the whole Las Fallas festival leads up to. All those fantastic Falla sculptures are burned to the ground. There’s no way to see them all. You pick one you want to watch and stake out a spot. We chose the one named “Que se mueran los feos” which translates to “May the ugly ones die”. It cost over 100,000 Euro to build. It is located just north of the dry river bed and is easy to get to from our hotel and has the added benefit of not being in a cramped little street corner or the one in the city center, all of which are very difficult to get to and very, very crowded.
This is what our Falla looks like in all of its pre-Crema glory
We arrived just before midnight to stake out our spot. The burning was only about 20-30 minutes late as we waited for the fire men to get in to position. There was a sudden detonation of some aerial fireworks and then the lights went out and this happened.
We walked back to our hotel exhausted, but satisfied. Tomorrow we head off to Madrid to spend the night and the fly back to Houston for some much needed rest and relaxation.
The Cabalgata del Fuego (Fire Parade) is one of the highlights of the festival. The Falleras parade down the street followed by an amazing group of pyrotechnic specialists who put on one heck of a fire show. Words can’t really describe this event. Hopefully my photos will convey the spirit.
We were pretty tired after this, but we needed to stay up for the Crema which happens at midnight, give or take. That will be in the next update.
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.
Later in the evening we found this restaurant called Alma del Temple that was simply fantastic.
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.
Today Cynthia woke up in pretty bad shape. While the one eye is getting better, the other is starting to have trouble. She is very fatigued and in need of rest.
We had scheduled lunch with our friend Manel who we met during our first visit to Valencia. When he arrived at the hotel Cynthia simply didn’t have the energy to accompany us. This was unfortunate as Manel speaks little English and I speak little Spanish. Cynthia usually acts as the translator, but today we were on our own.
Manel and I had a good time using our iPhones to make the more difficult translations and it was a fun morning, if not slightly comical.
We made our way back to the hotel so I could check in on Cynthia and so that Manel could make his way to his other commitments. When I check with the desk clerk, Cynthia had left a note saying that she was feeling better and had walked over to the park to enjoy some sunshine and fresh air.
When she did make her way to the room she was looking to be in pretty good spirits, but confided that while sitting on a park bench and enjoying the various dogs and birds passing and flying overhead she apparently looked so sad and pathetic that a passing cyclist stopped and offered her food (which she politely declined).
Suffice to say, she was mortified. It took me some time to convince her that she did not look like a wretched, diseased homeless person with a bad eye.
Since Cynthia was feeling better we decided go for a walk and get some lunch. We enjoyed sitting outside the restaurant and soaking in the sunshine.
After lunch we went back to the room and had a siesta.
When we woke up we were both feeling a bit better. I wanted to go to the City of Arts and Sciences to take some photos and Cynthia was going to go see some things she wanted to see. I ended up making a short trip of it as the City of Arts and Sciences was having some kind of event and I couldn’t really get the shots I wanted. When I got back to the hotel I ran in to Cynthia who was excited that she was able to photograph an unusual pigeon we had spotted a few days ago.
We suspect he has been painted by someone. The bird seems ok and flies around the plaza without a problem.
We took the rest of the afternoon and evening to do some more site seeing. We’re still not 100% but we’re not giving up.
Tomorrow and Monday are the days of the Ofrenda when the women of Valencia parade in to the Plaza Of The Virgin and offer to her their prayers and carnations. The carnations are used to make Mary’s gown. It’s quite a site.
Today, to our surprise, the sun came out again. There was still enough cloud cover to indicate that rain was still a possibility, but we ventured out without our raincoats or an umbrella anyway.
From the Reina Sofia we made our way to The Prado to see even more masterpieces.
This museum contains the definitive Goya collection. It is also home to Las Meninas by Velázquez which is always worth seeing in person. Sadly, no photos allowed in this museum.
We walked down Paseo del Prado taking in the sites. We stopped and had some lunch and the went off in search of the Caixa Forum to see the living art wall which is an outdoor vertical garden green designed by French botanist Patrick Blanc. This wall of green has 15,000 plants of 250 species covering a 460 meter square wall.
While we were admiring the wall it started to rain a bit so we made our way to the subway to go back to the hotel and have a siesta. I have to say, the siesta is now my favorite Spanish tradition.
After sleeping for a few hours we made our way to the Metropolis for some night photography.
It was cold, but we had a great time shooting the Metropolis and the Plaza de Cibeles
After the photo session Cynthia and I found our way to a lovely tapas restaurant and had a fantastic dinner and a bottle of wine. We sat down around 9:30 and left around 11:30. Dinner comes late in Madrid.
I just acquired the Rokinon 8mm f/3.5 HD Fisheye Lens with Removable Hood. It doesn’t quite give a full circular fisheye result, but it comes close on my new full frame Sony A99. Plus, it’s relatively inexpensive when compared to the Sigma. It yields some rather dramatic results and I think it will be a lot of fun to play with. The focus peaking feature of the A99 combined with the large live view screen allows for greater manual focus control.
It’s our last day in Munich. We head home in the morning. As much fun as this has been, I am ready to come home and so is Cynthia. Munich and Salzburg have both been great destinations and we have had such a good time, but we both look forward to not carrying around our heavy packs and having to put on and take off our heavy coats and scarves and hats.
We woke up this morning to temperatures well below freezing, but with lots of sunshine and blue skies so we decided to go to the BMW complex wich features a museum.
I have to say, this museum was one of the highlights of the trip. It is well laid out and very engaging. It’s like history meets science meets modern art.
The entire history of BMW was on display and it looked really cool seeing it presented in this venue.
After touring the museum we made our way back to the hotel to recombobulate and then treated ourselves to a very nice, very leisurely lunch/dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant.
We spent the rest of the day just relaxing and packing up. Our flight is at 7:00 am so we’re getting up pretty early to get to the airport.
We are starting to wind down. Tomorrow is our last day here before we make the trek back to the U.S. and I think we are ready to be home.
The sun was out today. Bright, clear skies greeted us as we found our way to the transportation museum. We arrived around 9:00 and, as it turns out, they closed at noon so admission was free.
They had some interesting vehicles on display, All the way from bicycles to trains.
We took our fill of the museum and then found our way back to the hotel room and then went for some lunch. After lunch we went to the Isar River for the ritual releasing of the Zippy feather
The sun was shining so nice, but was on the way down so we took the opportunity to shoot some pics down by the river.
After this we went back to the hotel room and kicked off our shoes and relaxed for a few hours. After that we went back out and had dinner and a beer at the Hofbräuhaus
Cynthia is not a beer drinker, but decided that she would try one since we were there.
To her credit, she managed to drink half of it and even said it tasted good.
After dinner we went back to the hotel to get some more rest. The temperature outside right now is 17° F so we’re content to hole up here and save our strength for tomorrow.
It has been snowing pretty steady now for the last few days and it is building up. The city is covered in white. I have not had any experience with this much snow and I have to say, it is a lot of fun. Of course I don’t have to deal with it in any practical sense, being as I am a tourist and will soon be returning to balmy Texas soon enough.
The Glyptothek is a museum which was commissioned by the Bavarian King Ludwig I to house his collection of Greek and Roman sculptures. It makes for an interesting stroll. It’s not too big and it is well laid out.
From there we headed back in to the snow to walk to the Alte Pinakothek which is one of the oldest galleries in the world and houses one of the most famous collections of Old Master paintings on the planet. Suffice to say, we saw some really amazing paintings. Notable artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Anthony van Dyck, Peter Paul Rubens and El Greco to name but a few. Check out the link above to read more about the gallery and the works that are housed there.
After taking in all that the Alte Pinakothek had to offer we made our way to Pinakothek der Moderne which is a modern art museum.
Now frankly, I don’t get modern art. Most of it is not very compelling. But it was interesting to walk around this space and see the exhibits.
I will confess, I was rather amused at one display which was part of a modern design exhibit that featured 80′s era computers.
And I was mildly excited to get to see a few original Andy Warhol paintings. I suppose mostly because it was a name I recognized.
By the time we had finished touring these galleries it was rather late in the afternoon. We found our way back to the area near our hotel and found some food.
I will say this, walking around in the cold takes it out of you. Between the freezing temperatures and the wearing of pounds and pounds of winter clothing combined with moving in an out of the cold it wears me out.
We rested up for a few hours then went back out to just walk in the snow amongst the booths in the Christmas markets. It is still very idyllic with the snow on the ground and the warm lights glowing from the booths.
Today we visited the Munich Residenz, the former royal palace of the Bavarian monarchs in the center of the city of Munich, Germany.
We first stopped by St. Peter’s Church, but they were holding services so touring the church was not allowed.
We moved on to the Munich Residenz to tour the facility and also to visit the Schatzkammer der Residenz (Residenz Treasury) where they keep the crown jewels.
Fot me the best part of this destination was that Antiquarium. Since we are early risers, we managed to beat the crowds which allowed for me to take some of my best photos of the trip.
I even took a photo where I placed my camera on the floor and set the timer and walked away. This allows me to properly expose the photo without motion blur. Much in the same way you would do if you used a tripod.
This and many others can be found in my “Camera On The Floor” set.
After the Antiquarum, which was a very long tour as it turns out, we headed over to the Schatzkammer der Residenz to see the crown jewels.
Since it was practically next door and well after noon we decided to try our luck again at St. Peter’s Church. By this time the services were over and we figured we could have a look around. I particularly wanted to see the jewel encrusted skeleton of St. Heilige Munditia.
We found her right where the guidebooks said she would be. Unfortunately, she was behind a metal grate. I had to push my camera through the bars to get a reasonable photography. I am just lucky I didn’t drop the camera.
After our tour of the church we headed back to the room.
After resting for a few hours we went back out (in the snow) and found some dinner. When we were leaving the restaurant we noticed it was no longer snowing so we went to the hotel room and grabbed the tripod so I could try some night shots at the Marienplatz
It decided to start snowing again so we came back to the hotel room for the night. All in all, today was a VERY good day.
Today was an adventure. We tackled the metro and used a combination of the subway and the tram system to get ourselves out to the Nymphenburg Palace. We managed to sort it out and only headed off in the wrong direction one time. And it only took us a stop to realize it. After that it was smooth sailing.
The temperature when we got out there was around 19° F. It had snowed the night before so everything was dusted in white. Plus, the sun was out and the skies were blue with a few clouds. We have not seen much sun lately, so this was very exciting.
The palace looked fantastic as we walked from the tram stop. As we got closer we saw the pond was icing over, but that there were some thawed sections filled with swans, ducks, geese and seagulls.
We didn’t have any food for them, but we enjoyed watching them even though we were freezing. I only almost slipped on the ice and fell in once.
Inside the palace it was warm and we took ourselves on a self-guided tour. As palaces go, it was interesting to see, but not too terribly interesting to photograph.
Once we were done with the palace we caught the tram back to town and found some lunch. Being Sunday, many things like the better restaurants were closed. We eventually found something.
After going back to the room and warming our weary bones we decided to go out and try some night photography.
Upon exiting the hotel we realized that it was snowing very hard. I thought I would still give it a try, but didn’t have much luck. I need to do this shot again when it is not snowing.
We walked around a bit and took on the snowy scene. It is very Christmasy when the snow is falling and the lights from the market stalls are glowing in the darkness.
The best photo of the night came from Cynthia while using my iPhone.
Another attempt will be made tomorrow.
Today we went to the Deutsches Museum. This took up much of our day as the place is really quite large. It is on par with the Smithsonian in Washington DC.
Lots and lots to see. Including an Enigma Machine
Also, the geek in my was happy to see a very well preserved UNIVAC 1, the first commercial computer produced in the United States
After spending the day in the museum we had a late lunch/early dinner at a little Italian restaurant near the hotel.
From there we walked over to have a look at the Hofbräuhaus. I had been to the one in Las Vegas so thought I should see the original.
Sadly, today’s activities were not filled with many photographic opportunities. I don’t do well shooting in museums. But I did come away with one shot I really like. This is the spiral staircase inside the Deutsches Museum.
Time to rest up for tomorrow. Did I mention it is VERY cold here?
We caught the train from Salzburg to Munich today. For anyone who might be doing this in the winter, be aware that the Salzburg train station is pretty much an open air building with no heat and nowhere to sit. If you get there early you have to go to the coffee shop to get warm and you will pay through the nose for a coffee. Lesson learned.
The train took us through what I have always imagined the European countryside to look like in winter. Vast expanses of snow and forests full of snow covered evergreen trees and houses with snow on the roof and smoke rising from their chimneys.
We arrived in Munich and caught a cab to the hotel and checked in. I was able to purchase a SIM card for my iPhone 5 so I have data and a local # if I need it. Way cheaper than paying roaming charges, that’s for sure.
We walked around this evening just to get our bearings. We also found a grocery store to lay on some some supplies like water, cookies and that sort of thing. Items we like to have in the hotel room for easy snacking.
Cynthia quickly found a mobile chocolate shop
I hope to get some great night photos while we are here. This is just a sample of what it looks like in the Marienplatz
This was our last day in Salzburg. Tomorrow we catch the train back to Munich. I think I have seen enough Krampus to last me a lifetime.
Today we woke up to snow. And it was snowing hard.
We headed out to Linzergasse which is north of the river from us. We had walked past an archway that looked interesting and thought we would explore it.
On the way across the bridge I wanted to take a photo that captured the conditions we were walking in. Note that this is a color photo. The snow blotted out all the color and left me with what appears to be a black and white image.
I continued to shoot some pictures of the area to try to capture this snow even the best I could. This is the result of shooting the same scene at three different exposures and merging them together.
As you can see I was able to coax a little color out by using this technique.
We reached Linzergasse and found the archway and entered. As it turnes out, there was a road and some steps leading up the side of the mountain.
It didn’t seem overly treacherous and the snow was not falling so hard so we climbed.
This photo was actually converted to black and white, though it didn’t have much color to begin with.
Like the day before, the climb took us up above the city for some spectacular views. But this time there was snow on the ground and snow on the city which made it look very pretty.
We continued along the trail, enjoying the views and the snow. We even stopped to make a snow-krampus
As we walked the trail was getting a little tougher. Steps leading up and down, covered with ice. We thought we would come to a point where we could go down and off the mountain. Then we can across this sign
I don’t read German and neither does Cynthia. But we took it as a sign (no pun intended) that we might want to check our map. As it turns out, we had found our way on to a hiking trail that looked to go all the way around the mountain. We decided to head back the way we came and get off the mountain. No sense breaking a leg on the side of frozen mountain in Austria with spotty cell service.
We found our way back and had some lunch and rested up a bit before doing some more wandering that included attending some kind of Krampus for Kids event in front of the cathedral. The event included several dozen school children all dressed in home made Krampus outfits.
Kris Kringle came out with a particularly large Krampus with a basket on his back and the children posed for pics with St. Nick while sitting in the Krampus basket. I wish I was a kid and could get my photo taken in a Krampus basket!
We knocked around for a bit more and found some dinner. Snow came and went. Mostly it was nice, but there were some icy patches and I tried to wipe out one time. But I was able to recover before falling on my butt. It was a close call.
Tomorrow we catch the train back to Munich.