15 photos of the amazing Mezquita de Cordoba, Andalusia (with a Leica SL)

As already mentioned in my earlier post about Cordova, the Mezquita is the most famous spot of this nice city in Andalusia, other than being the most important testimonies in Islamic culture in Europe.

In this post, I show you my best 15 photos I have taken with my Leica SL

15 Photos of the Mezquita de Cordoba

– 1 –

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

– 2 –

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

– 3 –

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

– 4 –

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

– 5 –

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

– 6 –

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

– 7 –

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

– 8 –

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

– 9 –

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

– 10 –

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

– 11 –

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

– 12 –

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

– 13 –

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

– 14 –

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

– 15 –

Leica SL + Pentacon 135mm f2.8

Conclusions and photography reflections

The Mezquita is a very nice spot for photography, full of interesting details. I had the chance to visit the inside of the ancient Mosque, but I could not enter the tripod so all the photos have been made with the Leica SL, hand-held, and ISO 800.

The main issue I had, other than the very low light, it was the presence of tourists scattered all around and, you can imagine, invading any framing I tried to make. I love placing a human being in my pictures, but It should add value to the shot.

To make some nice pictures I had to really move a lot and act very quickly, shooting as soon as I had no people walking in front of me.

At some point, I thought that the only way to get rid of the tourists was to have long exposure time, but I had no tripod!

So I found a nice spot, placed my leather bag on the floor and stabilised the Leica SL on it.

That was a good idea though, the final photo was indeed very good. (picture nr. 1 of this series)

 

About you, which picture from this series do you prefer the most and why?

I would highly appreciate your comments.

Thanks for reading,
Sabino

Discorvering Cordova, photos and useful tips – Andalusia on the road

The third stop of my trip on the road to Andalusia is the historic city of Cordova, serenely lying along the Guadalquivir river and at the foot of the Sierra Morena.

In contrast to the most dynamic Granada and Seville, Cordoba is in fact very quiet. Life around the majestic Mezquita and in the alleys of the Jewish quarter of Juderia, named World Heritage by Unesco, runs at a mild and quiet pace.

Cordova in one day?

Yes, the city of Cordoba could be visited even in one day, as it is not too big and everything can be reached in a few minutes walk. But the serenity that transmits this place invites you to spend much more time, because, I assure you,

stroll along the Guadalquivir shore or cross the beautiful Roman bridge at sunset and then dine at the tables of one of the many great restaurants in the historic center, is a regenerating experience.

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

The Mezquita

Built by the Omeya princes, between the 8th and the 10th centuries, this mosque is one of the most important testimonies in Islamic culture in Europe as well as an extraordinary example of Moorish architecture.

As happened to other mosques in Andalusia, the Mezquita was converted after the Christian conquest, in the Cathedral from 1523.

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

Free admission at the opening!

Being the most popular and visited site in Cordoba, I planned to visit and photograph it as soon as it was open to the public. The cost of the ticket for a visit without a guide is 8 € but, with pleasure, once on the spot, I found out that the entrance is free for those who access the opening, so at 8:30.

Unfortunately, though, there was already a fair group of visitors so my enthusiasm dropped instantly as soon as I got in. The inside of the Mezquita is very beautiful and impressive with this set of columns and bows but as soon as the visitors are scattered, it has become very difficult to make decent photos. Also, it is not allowed to enter the tripod so I had to hold the ISO high and hand-held.

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

At some point I sat on the ground and placed the Leica SL on my bag to give it stability, and took some photos with slow exposure time to try to somehow eliminate the tourists presence.

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 Asph

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

The Juderia and some street photos

Juderia is perhaps the most famous Jewish quarter in Andalusia. Losing yourself in its white lanes is the best thing to do to enjoy it at best. But also here, as in Granada, there is not much life around, everything is static but clean and finely decorated. For a street photographer like me, it is almost boring.

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

Plaza de los Capuchinos

This was for me one of the most striking and photogenic spots of Cordoba, for its mystical atmosphere. A small and cute little square with theCristo de los Faroles, a crucifix illuminated by eight lanterns, and the convent of the Capuchin friars.

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2.8 ASPH

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2.8 ASPH

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2.8 ASPH

Plaza de la Corredera

This square, have a very similar architectural style than the one in Madrid, and is the most extensive portico of Andalusia. A large rectangle enclosed by three-story residential buildings, in which hundreds of balconies are aligned. Very beautiful and photogenic.

iphone 6s

iphone 6s

Hotel in Cordova

My accommodation experience in Cordova was fantastic because the hotel I chose turned out to be really great in all aspects, so I highly recommend it:

Hotel NH Cordoba Guadalquivir (Esperia )

Strategically located, just a few steps from the Roman Bridge in an area with free parking and a beautiful view of the Mezquita. Large double room and huge bed. Nice also the rooftop pool, small but very pleasant.

iPhone 6s

My photography, in Cordoba. How did it go

To be honest, nothing special and memorable. Street photography opportunities were very rare. I alternated all the lenses, trying to stimulate the look with different focal length, but in the end, the subjects were almost always architectural.

I may say that, speaking on photography, Córdova, it is not a place that has stimulated me particularly.

The most beautiful photo opportunity?

Definitely the panoramic photo at sunset on the Roman bridge and on the Mezquita, from the roof of the hotel NH Cordoba Guadalquivir, from which I had a privileged and unique view. Although this is not my favorite type of photography, at least I justified bringing the tripod with me, as this is the only place I used it.

Leica SL + Pentacon 135mm f2.8

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

 

Conclusions

Did I like Cordoba? Yes, much, especially for its quiet and relaxed atmosphere. As in Granada, I was disappointed by Juderia’s Jewish quarter for the same reason: I expected a more genuine and loud life. Maybe I still have in the eyes and in the heart the life in the Moroccan Medina, and this influences my expectations a lot. But certainly the global vote on Cordoba remains positive.

Vote: 7

If you need more information, do not hesitate to contact me, I will be happy to answer you.

Thanks for reading,
see you soon,

Sabino

 

 

25 photos that brings you inside the stunning Alhambra in Granada

After telling you about my experience in Granada, today I bring you into an authentic wonder of architecture and history, declared Unesco’s Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 1984: the Alhambra.
(I will not write here the history of this place as you can easily read it on Wikipedia.)

Instead, I want to describe it through the photos I took with my Leica SL and consequently through the emotions I felt, the environments, atmospheres, and details that struck me most.

Most of the photos were taken inside the Royal Palace, Palacio Nazaries, the most beautiful Islamic building in Europe, a series of rooms and patios in the most classic and sophisticated Moorish style. A real wonder.

Unfortunately, I can not write the aperture value for each shot because I used old and uncoded lenses, so the camera doesn’t show it.

The following first picture was taken by Mirador de San Nicolas at sunset, on a tripod, with an old Pentacon 135mm f2.8 with M42 mount, a lens that gave me amazing results on Leica SL.

– 1 –

Leica SL + Pentacon 135mm f2.8 

– 2 –

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

– 3 –

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

– 4 –

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

– 5 –

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

– 6 –

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

 

– 7 –

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

– 8 –

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

– 9 –

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

 

– 10 –

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

– 11 –

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

– 12 –

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

– 13 –

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

– 14 –

Leica SL + Pentacon 135mm f2.8 

– 15 –

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

– 16 –

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

– 17 –

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

– 18 –

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

 

– 19 –

Leica SL + Pentacon 135mm f2.8 

– 20 –

Leica SL + Pentacon 135mm f2.8

– 21 –

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

– 22 –

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

– 23 –

Leica SL + Summicron 50mm f2

– 24 –

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

– 25 –

Leica SL + Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH

Conclusions and photography reflections

With so many tourists around, it is very difficult to take special pictures. Even wanting to insert the human element, which I usually love to do, I can not isolate it from others, aside from being, the tourist, not especially photogenic.

In this case, the only way to make the photo interesting is to use the cinematic technique of the “fifth”, a predominant element set in the foreground but out of focus, as in photo N.11, where the child makes almost unnoticed the presence of other people in the background.

Photo N.5, on the other hand, is the one where I managed to get what I wanted, that is to isolate and insert a distinctly human element in a frame that characterizes and identifies the place. I saw the image as soon as I entered that room, but I only had a few seconds to shoot, because then it was a continuous flow of tourists passing by, outside and inside.

For the rest, I have focused more on the beautiful architectural details, often placed above me and thus free from other disturbing elements.

About you, which picture from this series do you prefer the most and why?

I would highly appreciate your comments.

Thanks for reading,
Sabino

Discovering Granada, 4 walking routes and useful tips – Andalusia on the road

The first city I visited in the Andalusian region is Granada, one of the most important provinces and home of the famous Alhambra, an ancient Arab citadel (medina), then conquered by Christians and now an UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage.
In this city, with a strong Moroccan atmosphere, there is so much to see and, above all, to explore, but beware, it is also full of climbs and downs, so be well trained!

Traffic jam, just entering Granada

Arrived late in the evening, after the desert of Tabernas desert and the beautiful landscapes of the Sierra Nevada, the impact with the city was quite traumatic due to huge traffic jam: to drive the last 7-8 kilometres, we needed almost an hour. But we are in Spain, and here it is never too late, not even to go out and eat. So, left our luggages in the great Abadia hotel, just a short walk from the cathedral and centrally located, we immediately went out to the street in search of refreshment.

Calle Elvira, Moroccan atmosphere between Tapas Bar and The houses

The most famous street for tapas and cervezas is, without a doubt, Calle Elvira. This narrow street, in the centre of Granada, is less than a kilometre long and has plenty of tapas bars, tabernas, souvenir shops, Kebabs and the houses. It feels to be in a Moroccan village and until late in the evening the atmosphere is cheerful and vibrant.

Choosing where to eat, with so wide offers is always difficult, but we had a good address for a fresh seafood and so we headed to the Bar Los Diamantes , in Plaza Nueva, right in time before it closed.
About this tapas bar, I’ll talk deeply in a dedicated post, but I can tell that the food is just great!

Walking route N.1 – Plaza del Triunfo> Plaza Nueva – 850 m

Below is the route map. By clicking on “More options” you will be directed to the detailed route on Google Maps.


Best of Granada, in one day

Having a full day available, here’s what we did to visit Granada at its best.


Morning –  Alhambra and Albaicin

After a nice and sweet breakfast in the small bakery / pastry shop La Tentacion, we walked to the beautiful Alhambra, without a ticket, hoping to find some still available at the ticket office (read below). There are obviously city bus services, as the citadel is on top of a hill, but walking, albeit almost uphill, is very enjoyable and lets you discover and photograph glimpses that you would not otherwise see by bus.

Tickets purchased (€ 14 per head), we spent a couple of hours visiting the Generalife, the wonderful outdoor garden, crowded with tourists. The visit to the Royal Palace, Palacios Nazaríes, the most important and scenic, is set by fixed entry times and our turn is at 2:30 pm, so we split the Alhambra visit at two different times of the day.

Walking route N.2 – Plaza Nueva > Alhambra – 1.5km (mostly uphill)

Below is the route map. By clicking on “More Options” you will be directed to the detailed route on Google Maps.

Pastelleria – La Tentacione

Pastelleria – La tentacione

The view of the city on the actual Alhambra route

A nice graffiti art of Alice in Wonderland, along the path to the Alhambra

The beautiful gardens of the Generalife within the Alhambra

The beautiful gardens of the Generalife within the Alhambra

L’Alhambra

L’Alhambra

After leaving the Alhambra around 11 am, we headed, always by foot, to the Arab district of Albaicin, along with a long and deep descent leading to the banks of the Darro River. From here, it begins to climb through a labyrinth of narrow, clean and decorated lanes with flowers hanging on the walls. We are in the Arab quarter. The most frequented area in this neighbourhood is undoubtedly the Mirador de San Nicolas, from where you have a stunning view of the Alhambra and where most panoramic photos are taken. But it is not yet the right time, so we continued to explore the area around.

Walking route N.3 – Alhambra > Albaicin- 1.5km (long descent and then uphill again)

Below is the route map. By clicking on “More options” you will be directed to the detailed route on Google Maps.

The long descent that from the Alhambra brings to Albaicin

The long descent that from the Alhambra brings to Albaicin

 

The view over the Alhambra from the Mirador San Nicolas

 

Plaza Aliatar, a nice spot in the Albaicin

Detail of a Moresque style window, in Albaicin

Albaicin

Albaicin

Before returning to our visit to the Alhambra, we had lunch at the Tabernas La Cueva de 1900, with great tapas based on Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, tomato sauce, bread croutons with ham and a glass of red wine. A very good restaurant near Plaza Nueva I recommend for a stop & go.


Afternoon – Alhambra (Royal Palace and Alcazaba)

At about 2pm we returned to the Alhambra, this time by bus (1.20 €) for the visit to Palacios Nazares and Alcazaba. Despite the time, we still found many tourists, confirming that this site is always crowded, regardless of the time of the day. After a long wait under a burning sun, we finally entered the Royal Palace and the wait was gratified. The interiors are gorgeous, in the typical Moorish style made of arches and gorgeous stone ornaments. The visit is very pleasant and the halls are very photogenic, as well as fresh. Too bad, because of the presence of so many tourists, it was difficult to take particularly interesting photos …

After exiting the Royal Palace, we visited the Alcazaba, the military area, the Alhambra defence and surveillance centre and represents the oldest part of the complex. To get in there, you need to show your ticket.
From one of the towers you have a great view of the city and suburbs of Albaicin and Sacromonte, so it’s worth it.


At the end of the visit, at around 4 pm, tired by the heat and the intense half day we had, we returned to the hotel, walking for about 2km for a well-deserved rest of almost 3 hours.

Details of the wonderful Moorish decorations inside the Royal Palace


Evening – Tapas in the Albaicin, sunset at San Nicolas and Zambra in the Sacromonte Gypsies district

Refreshed and rested, at around 19:30 we went out to walk back to the neighbourhood of Albaicin with final destination the Sacromonte gitano district where we will attend the  Gypsies Flamenco called “Zambra” in the tabernas Venta El Gallo.

First, however, we stop at the Mirador de San Nicolas for the classic Alhambra photo at sunset. The route once again is beautiful but everything is uphill. It starts from Plaza del Triunfo, where there is a beautiful Moroccan door, Puerta de Elvira, the starting point of the famous tapas road (see below). This door reminded me of Bab Boujloud in Fes, Morocco, which is, of course, more beautiful and scenic, but for a moment brought me back there.

Arriving at the San Nicolas Mirador, I found a huge crowd of tourists and photographers ready to capture the sunset scenery. With a pinch of difficulty and with the experience gained on so many trips, I managed to make room for me and take a spot in the front row, but I had to wait almost an hour without doing anything before the sun began to fall.

But now I’m no longer a landscape photographer, or rather, this is not a picture that I’m thrilled as in the past, so I left the place before the sun was completely over.

The Zambra show waited for us in a few minutes, and for me it was much more important from a photographic point of view, or at least I was hoping for it.

And this high expectation has been fortunately confirmed:

The Zambra’s dance, the Gypsies flamenco, overwhelmed me and I left with the goose bumps at the end of the show. Wonderul, full of suffering, passion and rithm. Unforgettable. I would see it again and again, a thousand times.

Obviously in Granada there are several shows of Zambra, more or less touristic places are all along the Caminito de Sacromonte. Now I do not know how the others are, but that of Venta el Gallo has been incredibly beautiful and nothing touristy. I talk about the show itself, not the place, anyway cute. But I will discuss this in more detail in a separate article.

Walking route N.4 – Plaza del Triunfo > Sacromonte – 2.1km (mostly uphill)

Below is the route map. By clicking on “More options” you will be directed to the detailed route on Google Maps.

Waiting for sunset on the San Nicolas Mirador’s Alhambra

The stunning view over the Alhambra

Zambra dancer in a relaxing break

The “Venta El Gallo” restaurant in the Sacromonte gitano district

A gitanos Family

The stage, a few minutes before the show


By summing up, the best of Granada and some helpful advice

The Alhambra 

Of course, the main attraction of this city is undoubtedly the Alhambra, although afterwards, after my experience, there is another attraction for which I would happily return to Granada, the Zambra.
If you look around the various sites, they will tell you that you need to buy the ticket for entry several days in advance, online, because the number of accesses is limited every day.
This is true, especially if you do it like me and try to buy the ticket a day earlier, probably finding it all sold out. However, it’s also true that the limited number of entries relates only to the visit to the Royal Palace (Palacio Nazares), while the whole citadel and then the gardens of Generalife and the Alcazaba are always available.

Now, I do not know if mine was just lucky, but considering that the ticket office opened at 8:30 am, I arrived around 9:30 am and there were several still available tickets for entering at 14:30 (There are 3 pre-established visit slots). Of course, it’s not the ideal time of the day, either for the heat or for a photographic point of view, but I always like to think that any situation can offer great photographs and I do not have to force the case.

My best pictures are always the most casual and instinctive ones.
So do not be discouraged if you can not book the ticket in advance, you probably will find one at the tickets counter desk.

5 useful notes to remember about the Alhambra

  1. Opens at 8:30h
  2. Always crowded and very large. Consider 3 to 4 hours for the visit.
  3. There are fountains with drinking water at various points.
  4. With one ticket you can go in and out several times in the day, except for the Alcazaba and the Royal Palace where you can only enter once.
  5. We arrive from the center of Plaza Neuva with the C3 minibus at the cost of the bus ticket (1.20 € on the bus) (much better to walk on foot, 30 minutes walking)

The arab district of Albaicin

The Arabian district of Granada, also named UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage, stands on a hill in front of the Alhambra. Losing yourself into its beautiful streets is the best way to explore and photograph it.

5 useful notes to remember on the Albaicin

  1. It is advisable to visit it from 19:30 onwards when the light is warmer and the temperature is less strong
  2. Very nice walk from Albaicin to Sacromonte.
  3. Do not miss the sunset on the Alhambra from the Mirador de San Nicolas
  4. Great tapas bars or restoraunts, from Plaza Larga to Calle Panaderos
  5. Souvenirs. Negotiate the prices, high for tourists. I’ve got a magnet, from 3 € to 2 €

Accomodations in Granada

Here I can only bring my (great) experience with the hotel Excellent our Abadia hotel, central located and with a coffee machine to use for free in the lobby. The rooms are not large but very clean and overlook a beautiful patio where you can relax. The Hotel staff is very nice and helpful. Highly recommended.

The nice patio of the Abadia hotel

My photography, in Granada. How did it go

Unlike what I expected, I did not take a lot of street photography here in Granada. The Arabian quarter, Albaicin, where I expected a more local and genuine life, is actually a tourist area, with well-groomed streets and postcard scenarios. This aspect has disappointed me a bit, which does not mean I did not like it, indeed, but from a photographic point of view it turned out to be uninteresting. I did mostly panoramic, landscapes and details, especially during the visit to the Alhambra.

The most beautiful photo opportunity?

The most beautiful and intriguing photos I made during the Zambra show where, thanks to the fact that I sat in the front row, I had the opportunity to photograph the artists without having other tourists in between. Here I used the Voigtlander Skopar 21mm to capture the whole scene, but also the Summicron M 28mm and 50mm f2, and even the Pentacon 135mm f2.8 to try to capture some details. You will see the pictures in a dedicated article.

In this situation I discovered the convenience of the zoom function in the Leica SL electronic viewfinder, which facilitates the manual focusing even in moving actions and with complex lights as in this case.

 

Conclusions

I liked Granada? Yes, of course, even if I expected, as I said before, to find more real and true traces of an ancient Moroccan medina, which unfortunately is not. That said, the Alhambra remains a wonder to see and the Zambra show worth a trip to this beautiful Andalusian city. I did not mention the Cathedral of Granada, because unfortunately, for lack of time, I only saw it from the outside and quickly. In one day and a half, you can see the best of Granada, but the ideal would be to stop for two full days.

My rating: 6.5 (9 for Zambra only) 🙂

If you need more information, do not hesitate to contact me, I will be happy to answer you.

Thanks for reading,
see you soon, Sabino

18 photos of Tabernas desert, photographed with a Leica SL

After telling you the story about my experience in the desert of Tabernas, it’s time to publish the photos taken with my new Leica SL.
This was the first opportunity to use the camera, because, as I wrote in a post a few days ago, I received it only two days before leaving for Andalusia, without even having time to familiarize with all the settings and the buttons.

Love at first sight – Impressions at first use …

Well reassured by the praise and excitement of my dear friend and supplier Ryuichi from NOC, the first impressions of use of the Leica SL have been very positive, more than I expected. Honestly, switching from the beautiful Leica M to Leica SL, I was concerned about losing that great handling and discretion typical of the M. But no, no..

The Leica SL in the hands is very enjoyable and is not “fat and big” as I often reads around, indeed. It’s a bit taller, but much less deep than a dslr, for instance.
The menu, in the typical Leica style, is very simple and intuitive, and this has certainly facilitated its first use.

But, not having much time to explore all the settings, before I start shooting, I’ve made sure I set the most important parameters in order to avoid any bad surprises once I download the photos, later on at home.
The button I just loved and made me happy is the small joystick on the back that lets you zoom in the viewfinder and then focus very accurately.

The viewfinder then, is so much stuff, wide, bright, and with a fantastical definition. I did not clearly feel the lack of an optical viewfinder.

Which lenses

For this photo session I used the following lenses, with a Novoflex adapters:

  • Leica Summicron M 50 f2
  • Voigtlander Skopar M 21mm F4
  • Pentacon M42 135mm f2.8

18 photos of Tabernas desert, photographed with a Leica SL

(post production with Adobe Lightroom)

 

Summicron M 50mm – f6.8 – 1/320 sec. – ISO 100

Summicron M 50mm – f8 – 1/400 sec. – ISO 100

Pentacon 135mm – f6.8 – 1/320 sec – ISO 100

Pentacon 135mm – f6.8 – 1/320 sec – ISO 100

Summicron M 50mm – f8 – 1/320 sec. – ISO 100

Pentacon 135mm – f8 – 1/160 sec – ISO 100

Summicron M 50mm – f5.6 – 1/320 sec – ISO 100

Pentacon 135mm – f6.8 – 1/500 sec – ISO 100

Pentacon 135mm – f8 – 1/200 sec – ISO 100

Voigtlander Skopar M 21mm – f11 – 1/320 sec – ISO 100

Voigtlander Skopar M 21mm – f11 – 1/320 sec – ISO 100

Summicron M 50mm – f8 – 1/320 sec – ISO 100

Summicron M 50mm – f4.8 – 1/125 sec – ISO 100

Summicron M 50mm – f4.8 – 1/400 sec – ISO 100

Summicron M 50mm – f4.8 – 1/400 sec – ISO 100

Summicron M 50mm – f5.6- 1/250 sec – ISO 100

Summicron M 50mm – f8 – 1/320 sec – ISO 100

Summicron M 50mm – f11 – 1/320 sec – ISO 100

[call_to_action title=”Browse%20the%20complete%20gallery%20or%20buy%20any%20of%20my%20pictures%20by%20visiting%20my%20online%20portfolio%3A” button_label=”Go%20to%20sabinoparente.com” button_url=”http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sabinoparente.com%2Fp834448093″ button_new_window=”1″ style=”style-c” /]

 

Grazie e a presto,
Sabino

Tabernas desert – Travel stories from Andalusia

The very beginning of my road trip in Andalusia was immediately wonderful. After landing in Alicante and made a stop in the ugly city of Torre Vieja we left the coast and the landscape started to change often becoming ever more arid and hilly. Although the final destination was Granada, I had already planned to cross and take a short break in the desert of Tabernas, province of Almeria. The way to get there is very easy, and as it approaches, I felt like I was experiencing the same beautiful travel emotions I had through the canyonland and desert in the States.


Video


The Andalusian desert landscapes are very similar to those in the west US. My adrenaline climbed up as soon as I felt the smell of beautiful photos.

Along the way, flat, arid land alternates with endless fields of small olive trees and then red rock and formations similar to the Arizona’s “mesa” and “butte”. We even cross a Route 66 petrol station alike. My emotion grows, along with that feeling of “wilderness” that frees the soul from all the stress accumulated in the everyday routines at work.


Video


 (all the pictures in this post have been taken with an iphone 6S)

My first landscapes photography in this journey. Fields of olive trees…

The road from Alicante to Tabernas

Here, the road trip in Andalusia, begins…


The desert, once upon a time in the West

The Tabernas Desert, is very famous for having been, in particular in the past, the favorite location to shoot numerous western films.

Sergio Leone, the unforgettable Italian director, one of my favourites among others, has shot masterpieces here as A Fistful of Dollars(1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965) and Once Upon a Time in the West (1968).

We arrived in the afternoon, around 5pm, when the sun is still high and literally burns the rocks and the ground already dry. In the area, there are several Cinemas Studios, which have become theme parks. Unfortunately, what I wanted to visit, Fort Bravo, was closed to the public because they were shooting some scenes of a movie. Ok, next time then….

But it’s not a drama, because the landscape around, rough and natural, is incredibly beautiful. Driving around a little at random, I stopped to photograph some of the nicest spots. At this hour of the day, around 17:30, the light becomes warmer and less sharp, an ideal condition when photographing landscapes

Another stop to photograph a beautiful desert landscapes

Selfie time!

Selfie also for my brand new Leica SL


The abandoned western movie set

At some point, along with the road, I spotted what is probably a part of an abandoned old western movie set: a saloon alike house, or rather just the main facade. Around, some dry whitewashed trees and agave plants. A spot I cannot ignore, so, of course, we parked and walked through this dry and pungent countryside.

The abandoned set

For a moment, we felt we were catapulted into an old village in the west and I was expecting in a moment to hear the sound of the hooves of a horse, ridden by a cowboy with old spurs boots.


Ready to finally use intensively my new Leica SL

Back to reality, I finally started using intensively my brand new Leica SL for the first time, both for landscape photos with the Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH or for nice portraits (of my wife) or details with the Summicron 50mm f2 and the Pentacon 135mm F2.8 M42, which fortunately I just put on the bag a few seconds before leaving. At the first use, without reading anything from the manual, the Leica SL results really easy and comfortable, but the most useful feature I discovered and enjoyed is digital zoom through the small button on the back, that allows you to focus precisely with ease and speed. With the small Leica M and the rangefinder focus mode, it was more difficult.

Walking in the arid field toward the movie set

Detail of the arid ground

The adapted Pentacon M42 135mm f2.8. It gives great results on the Leica SL


The city and the castle of  Tabernas

Before leaving the desert and drive through the gorgeous Sierra Nevada to get to Granada, it is well worth a visit to the ruins of the Tabernas Castle that overwhelms the sleepy town.
Access to the site is free, indeed, everything seems completely abandoned, there is no barrier or gate to cross. Just leave the car in the free parking of a small sports center and walk up to the top.
Once on the top, the ruins themselves are nothing special, but all the best offers the view of both the town, overlooked by the rocks behind it and the desert view. Unfortunately, for time issues, I could not wait for the sunset… I imagine it would have been wonderful.

Sadly, I had to leave the desert, but this short break made me discover a truly unique and spectacular area of Spain, and I promised myself to photograph It again on a dedicated trip.


Video


The car we used for this road trip

The way up to the castle

The city of Tabernas seen from the castle


Conclusions

I highly recommend spending a few days in the desert of Tabernas and the Sierra Nevada because they have nothing to envy to the most renowned and scenic West US deserts.

This European desert is definitely a must-see location for landscape photographers!


6 great tips to note down:

  • The distance from Alicante Airport to Tabernas is around 277 Kilometers, there are several speed limits below 100km / h during the route.
  • The highway is quite new and in perfect condition.
  • Don’t miss the view from the Castle of Tabernas at sunset!
  • Visiting the ruins and the area around is totally free
  • Main photography subjects: landscapes and textures
  • Recommended lenses for this area: wide angle for endless landscapes and telephoto (90mm or 135mm or more) to capture the beautiful patterns that form in the desert and among the rocks.

Grazie,
a presto, Sabino

Trip to Andalusia, what I liked and what not…

I have just returned from a trip on the road to Andalusia, southern Spain, and with still hot emotions and feelings, it’s time to make a balance and tell you what I liked most, and what less.

Journey details

Lenght: 10 giorni (9 notti)
Flights : Ryanair –  Hahn-Alicante / Malaga – Hahn
Rental Car Hertz – Seat Ibiza
Itinerary: Alicante > Tabernas > Granada > Cordova > Sevilla> Cadiz > Nerja > Malaga
Distance covered by foot: around 300Km
Churros enjoyed: around 30
Cervezas drank: around 50 🙂

What I liked most

  • TABERNAS DESERT – Just get lost in this desert with beautiful arid landscapes and you can discover abandoned set of old Western movies.
  • SEVILLE – I do not know if “the perfect city” exists, but this approaches a lot: sunny, vibrant, clean, active and beautiful, so beautiful. The city is very safe and extremely tidy and clean and seems to be built around the needs of the citizen. Dedicated cycling paths, no traffic in central districts, modern architectures perfectly integrated into the urban plan, offering endless venues and events.
  • SEVILLE  – Breakfast with Churros and hot chocolate at “Bar Comercio”. Local and relaxed environment.
  • SEVILLE – The Alcazar palace, heaven on earth. Relaxing.
  • SEVILLE – The delicious tapas of the tabernas “Blanco Paloma” in the Triana district. The best tapas in Seville.
  • SEVILLE Flamenco show, sensuality and passion at the pure state. Ahhhh
  • GRANADA – The Sacromonte gitanos district, in the evening, to explore and live in every nuance.
  • GRANADA – The Zambra show, the flamenco of Gitanos, an overwhelming and suffering dance, unforgettable experience.
  • GRANADA Seafood tapas from Los Diamantes in Plaza Nueva
  • CORDOBA – The tranquillity and peaceful atmosphere of this city that you can safely visit on foot in one day.
  • CORDOBA – The Mezquita, both inside and outside, is very beautiful and photogenic.
  • CORDOBA – The Goat Cheese ice cream with Pumpkin Jam and Nuts Cocina 33: Simply Delicious!
  • CARMONA – A surprisingly beautiful Pueblos Blanco, full of white lanes and churches. Worth a visit.
  • CADIZSunset over the Atlantic Ocean seen from Playa de la Caleta. The peace of the senses
  • CADIZ – The sunset over the Cathedral offering a postcard view
  • CADIZ – Dinning at the “La Bodeguita de Plocia tabernacle with fresh fish and seafood
  • CADIZ – The rich and abundant “Mercado Publico”, both fresh fish, fruit, meat and salami.
  • ANDALUSIA – Landscapes along the Pueblos Blanco’s Road, from Cadiz to Malaga. Wonderful.
  • ANDALUSIA – Moorish architectures, Moroccan or Arabic atmospheres that you breathe on everywhere. Maybe It’s because I have a weakness for Morocco, a land I truly love.
  • ANDALUSIA – Drinkingn a Cerveza in any tabernas, accompanied by delicious tapas.

(All the following pictures have been taken with an iPhone 6s)

Seville

Seville – Plaza d’Espana

Churros and Chocolate – Bar El Comercio – Seville

Alcazar – Seville

Alcazar – Seville

Alcazar – Seville

Tapas – Blanco Paloma – Seville

Tapas – Blanco Paloma – Seville

 

Sacromonte – Gitanos

Sacromonte – Gitanos

Zambra, the Gitanos dance

 

Tapas – Los Diamantes – Seville

Tapas – Los Diamantes – Seville

Cordova

Cordova

Cordova

Cordova-Mezquita

Cordoba – Mezquita

Cordoba – The goat cheese ice cream – Cocina 33

Carmona

Carmona

Cadiz – Sunset over the Cathedral

Cadiz – Sunset over the Atlantic Ocean

Cadiz – Seafood at “La Bodeguita de Plocia”

Cadiz – La Bodeguita de Plocia”

Mercado Publico – Cadiz

Mercado Publico – Cadiz

Landscapes in Andalusia

Landscapes in Andalusia

Landscapes in Andalusia

 

What I liked most

  • Ronda – This spot deserves the first place among the biggest disappointments of this trip. A hyper-touristic city, maybe perfect for those who love shopping. The main sight is a Roman bridge, impressively huge, yes, but for me, it is not worth a visit. Overrated
  • Setenil de las Bodegas – Another well-publicized destination but in my opinion, it does not deserve a more than 15-minute visit, or rather, it does not deserve a detour along the itinerary. Yes, there is the peculiarity of the rocks that almost swallow the houses, but it really is two 30-meter narrow streets, including bars and shops. Boring
  • Frigiliana – Another destination often mentioned and recommended for the area around Malaga, but to me insignificant. A small fortieth tourist village that has nothing but a dotted street and many tourist bars. Anonimous.
  • Malaga – I knew it already and it was just a confirmation. A brutal city and invaded by buildings that take the breath away from the sea.
  • Torre Vieja – We just stopped here for a break. Mamma mia! what an horror, a flashy example of urban rape, with the coast overwhelmed by imposing and ugly buildings. How to kill the sea.
  • The espresso, from Cadiz to Malaga, is it long and served in a glass. Not the italian way. No No No
  • Seville – The torture, aka “La Corrida”. The bulls fight. On this subject, I’ll write a separate article because no, there can not be so much brutality at the service of the show.

Setenil de la Bodegas

Ronda

Conclusions

By eliminating any useless premise, I immediately tell you that my final judgment is YES, I like it! Andalusia is a truly wonderful land, full of life and character, fun and easy to explore. It has a lot to live and to see, not only for Moorish architecture and breathtaking scenery.

Andalusia is to live intensely in the warmth and smiles of its inhabitants, in the slow and peaceful life of its Pueblos Blanco, in the intense sunlight and in its hot evenings between tapas and cervezas

Is it enough for 10 days?

For a first taste, of course, yes, in Andalusia, the days live longer as in the summer season there’s sunlight until more than 22. The first thing I thought when I came back to my daily life in Luxembourg is that here, we live only half of our lives.

In Andalucia you will never say “it’s too late” as we always say here, where everything ends and goes off after the 18th. You’ll maybe say “it’s too soon”, because everything starts from 10 onwards …

But 10 days are not enough to see everything calmly because this region really offers a lot, each city has so much history and wonderful architectures of Muslim or Christian heritage. Just the desert of Tabernas deserves a separate trip, especially for photographers like me, or for those who simply love trekking and wild excursions.

Finally, for me, Andalucia is definitely a place to live, Seville or Cadiz, who knows, perhaps in the near future!!!

 

Muchas Gracias, Andalusia!

Sabino

10 days in Andalusia, with a Leica SL and…

There it is, like a night before the exams, the eve of a departure is always rich in adrenaline for me. The questions are always the same: what do I put into my bag? Or, worse, which bag I choose for this trip ….?

Not happy, I’ve added another relevant change to a few hours from this trip, a new camera, the Leica SL. Now, I just have a few hours, an evening, to learn how to use it, to understand where all the various commands are. A small risk that I take with pleasure because the journey on the road in Andalusia is a perfect opportunity to see it seriously at work.

Let’s start from the itinerary

Everything starts from Alicante, southern Spain. From there, with a rental car (Hertz), we will cross the Andalusian region by going through the Tabernas desert, Sierra Nevada, Granada, Córdoba, Sevilla, Cadiz and Malaga. My reference guide, like any trip, is the Lonely Planet, always helpful and full of good advice. In this wonderful region, there is so much to photograph, I have to skip something, but I prefer to have a travel pace not too tight and stressful. In planning, in fact, I’ve been able to set a stay of two nights in each place.

I did not read too much about what to see, because I prefer to make me surprise and guide you from the sensations of the moment, so I already know that every place will turn him long and wide.

What kind of photography do I want to get?

Before choosing the tools, it is very important to have a good idea of what are you going to see and, above all, what you want to photograph. Unfortunately, the temptation is always that of wanting to bring all the best gears with you, but for a journey on the road, with an average temperature close to 40 degrees, It is better to be lightweight and have everything under control rather than losing pieces along the way.

As far as I’m concerned, on this trip, I expect of doing many landscapes and street photos. Converted to focal lengths, it means I probably need 3 to 4 lenses, considering I do not use the zoom lenses. The telelenses, in my case 90mm or 135mm, probably will be the least used ones.

Which bag?

The choice of the bag is crucial for a trip where I plan on moving very much on foot and under a burning sun. Choosing a wrong bag, uncomfortable, can adversely affect photography as well as the vacation. It is very important for me to feel comfortable and the bag must not contain too many things and too many pockets.

Access to what is needed must be fast and easy.

For a few years, I always use the “messenger” model because it is what gives me more freedom in the movements while looking also elegant. The Sling model, for example, I excludes a priori because, in such a hot place, having the shoulder always covered would make me sweat a lot. Said so, here are my three bags, two Ona and one Lowepro, one in leather and the other in canvas.

Lowepro is the most spacious and complete, black and canvas material, is the least elegant of the three. It’s also very deep. This bag is mostly used in those situations or journeys where I do hiking or need to carry more gears. For this journey, it’s too much in everything.

Ona bags are much more comfortable and elegant and allow me to also go out in the evening without really looking like a photographer, so I prefer them. Between the two, the one on the right, the Brixton model, is more spacious but a bit too rigid, which makes the inner pockets practically unusable.

In the end, the choice fell on my favorite, albeit small but soft, compact and very elegant, the Leather Prince Street. Traveling with this bag is really a pleasure, but it can only contain a small camera, certainly not a reflex.

it’s pretty damn beautiful

Which camera?

Here the doubts have fallen almost immediately. I would have liked to bring them both, but I want to be focused on the newcomer, the Leica SL, so to better discover it and try it out the best. It will not be a long journey so I do not want to have too much material to handle. For this time, let the Leica M 262 rest at home.

Which lens?

With my new Leica SL, I can finally use all of the M42 lenses I’ve bought in the various vintage markets. Unfortunately, however, I had no time to test all of them, so to be on the safe side, I’ll take the M lenses:

  • The Voigtlander Skopar 21mm f4 – landscapes
  • The Summicron 28mm f2 ASPH – Street
  • The Summicron 50mm f2 – close up and portraits
  • The Tele-Elmarit 90mm – close up and portraits

What accessories to complete?

And here’s the rest of the accessories that complete my travel photo bag. In the picture above ther is also a Pentacon 135mm f2.8 which I then decided to leave home. (post edit: just couple of seconds before leaving, I dropped this lens in the bag! And ways an incredible great decision!!! )

  • Tripod (this is off the bag)
  • 5 batteries
  • A power bank for my iPhone
  • Shoulder strap
  • Cleaning kit (air blower, cloth, brush)
  • Leica M / Leica SL  – Leica M42 / Leica SL Adapters
  • Small Moleskin
  • 4 SD cards
  • A selfie stick
  • The faithful Lonely Planet

The battery charger stays in the suitcase.

Now let’s put everything in the bag

As you can see from the pictures above, everything fits in the bag without big problems. Considering that the camera will always be in my hands, in the end, I will even have room to put a bottle of water while I’m around.

Conclusions

It was not easy, but hopefully, I managed to really only get the essentials gears without overloading the bag. The rest of the job will be done by my heart and my eyes, hoping for another unforgettable journey full of beautiful photographs.

A presto,
Sabino

Juana la loca, quality tapas in Madrid

Today we are Madrid, enjoying a fun day out, walking between “las callas” of the city. At the end of the day, at sundown, we’ve started to feel that’s relentless desire to eat tapas, those delightful snacks or finger food, typical of Spain, excellent for an aperitif but often abundant even for a dinner, accompanied perhaps with a good “vino tinto”.

But, how to choose from the vast jungle of bars and restaurants and avoid the most tourist and low quality ones?
Luckily, I have a good name on my travel notes, and tonight I want to give it a try foryou! 🙂

Juana, la loca!

Pintxos bars, (from “pincho“, a term used in north-central Spain, the cumulative tapa), Juana la loca, is the ideal place for those who like to eat well without spending a fortune,
Surely, there are cheaper tapas bars nearby but, in my opinion, the high quality of food, the refinement in the choice of menu and the exquisite presentation of dishes, it is not for everyone.

Only one negative note: be patient, because it’s a very popular place so you may be forced to also long waits (in our case only, half an hour)
I recommend you to visit their website and eventually to book beforehand.

Where?

Juana la loca, pinchos bar – Madrid /quartiere La Latina, Plaza della Puerta de Moros 4 – Website: http://juanalalocamadrid.com/

‘Must try’ dish

Their special tortilla stuffed caramelized onions (if I’ve digested, go easy!).

ciao e alla prossima,
Elena