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

Red, a daily life picture

I have a defect, I have the habit of always observing everything, obsessively, maybe too much. My eyes never rest, because a good photo can happen everywhere, at any time, even when you are on the escalators of a hypermarket.

I immediately saw the photo: that red skirt, the red basket, and that hand with a small tattoo and the silver bracelet.

A good photo should give you questions… who is this girl? What’s that tattoo means?  What’s in that basket? Simple questions that belong to a story, a daily life story. And just a few seconds to snap it.

Red

This picture has been taken with an iPhone6s, post edited on the phone with Adobe Photoshop Express, watermarked with Phonto, then saved and shared.

Thanks,
Sabino

Leica SL with Helios 44-M4 58 f2 in a swirl of lavender …

One of the reasons why I moved to Leica SL is the ability to use old lenses with an M42 mount, as I own several, bought for a few euros from the flea markets in Europe.  The manual focus then is very fast and accurate thanks to the zoom function in the fantastic electronic viewfinder of Leica SL.

Said so, whenever I have some free time, I pick one of the M42 lenses from my special box and I’m going out to try it.

Yesterday, on a nice Sunday afternoon, I mounted an old Russian lens, produced in huge quantities in the ’50s, and so very easy to find at the flea markets (usually attached to a Zenit camera) or on Ebay markets for a few euros. I own two Helios already, but there are many variations on the market.

The one I tested is the Helios 44-M4 58mm f2.

The peculiarity of this lens is the rendering of the out of focus also called “bokeh” that, besides being pleasing, has a particular vortex effect.

Here is the lens paired with my Leica SL with a Novoflex adapter for the M-42 mount

 

Looking through the electronic viewfinder of the Leica SL

 

Lost in a swirl of lavender…

While walking, I’ve found a nice bush of lavender (now is the blooming season) and this is the blooming period, so I played around with the flowers and the bees.. here are the pictures, always at full opening, so f2.

 

In these last photos, you can clearly see the nice swirly bokeh that is a peculiarity of this lens.

Conclusions

Well, I’m pretty sure from now on I will always keep this lens in my travel bag to use it exclusively at the maximum aperture, f2 and have that unique vortex behind the subject.

Thumbs up for the Helios 44-M4 58mm!

Thanks for reading and soon,
Sabino

Featured! New photo publications in Uk and Italy…

Selling on the stock photos agencies as Fotolia and Shutterstock it is great but it has the downside of not knowing who bought my pictures and where they will be printed and published. So, time to time, either I do a research on my name on Google, or someone just writes me saying “hey, I’ve seen a picture there that seems one of yours…”.

And here are two new features that iI discovered in these days, coming from UK and Italy.

1. Featured in a Shopping Center giant installation (Italy)

In this case, my daddy reported me this, while walking in this huge shopping center, Auchan, in Casamassima, province of Bari, south of Italy, the place where I came from, actually. He spotted this giant print promoting my region and he immediately recognized as my photo, also because he was with me when I shoot it, in 2013.

I well remember this shot as it was the first time in my life I forgot my camera equipment at home while traveling to the south of Italy. Don’t ask me how it happens, but I realized that I left the bag at home when I parked at the airport, so it was too late…. Imagine how shocked I was… 🙂

Hopefully, I had my first ever bought reflex camera still at my parent’s home, an old Canon Eos 450D with a zoom lens Tamron 17-50 f2.8

Here is the original picture that was shot in Puglia region, in the countryside around my hometown, Mola di Bari. It’s about ancient olive trees in a field of red and green salads.

Canon Eos 450D – Tamron 17-50 f2.8 at 30mm

Here are some few more shots from that day:

2. Featured on The Telegraph (UK)

Today, while searching on Google typing my name, I spotted this new feature. Anyway, this is not the first time my pictures appear on this famous magazine. Probably they always check and buy pictures from my portfolio at Fotolia. A happy customer then 🙂

The online pages of The Telegraph, in the Travel section, have published an article about Malawi, Africa, featuring a couple of my pictures.

The full article can be read here:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/africa/malawi/articles/malawi-amazing-facts-about-the-country/


These pictures were taken during my wonderful and unforgettable overland journey between Malawi and Zambia with AfricaWildTruck, a great specialized travel agency based in Malawi.

If you dream a trip to Africa, I highly recommend it!

More success stories on my website

If you want to see some more features or success stories, I’m collecting them on my personal website here:

http://www.sabinoparente.com/p745087375

That’s all for today. If you spot one of my pictures on the web or in real places,
please do not hesitate to report it to me, I will be very grateful.

Grazie mille,
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

That is my choice: Leica SL

After several weeks of dubbing, googling, reading reviews and watching videos on YouTube, it was enough to have an advice from a very good friend of me, Ryu from Newoldcamera to illuminate the way to choosing the right camera to pair with my Leica M. As already mentioned in the recent post (HERE), I came to the conclusion that the Leica M with the Summicron 28mm ASPH f2 is the perfect camera for the street photos, while I needed a professional body for all those commercial shots, such as the still life of products and food, studio portraits and landscapes. In addition, I was in great need of a system that would allow me to adapt third-party or vintage lenses, having so many at home, and having wi-fi transmission of photos directly to a mobile device, phone or tablet.

And so let me now welcome this wonderful jewel, Leica SL, the highly discussed professional mirrorless camera from Wetzlar.

Why Leica and not Sony

To be honest, I had never considered Leica SL as a choice, perhaps because there is not so much hype about it, (also because is already 2 years on the market) but I was more inclined to the Leica M10, eventually.
Then for several weeks, I was investigating about the Sony Alpha 7II or 7RII, thinking it was the best solution on the market. And I was almost convinced to go to for the new Sony Alpha 9, the latest release and, apparently, according to the reviews, a technology perfection.
But something within me has always made me desist, and this is something inside the Leica world and its extraordinary quality and stability., no matter what camera model is. I have to admit, I’ve never used Sony, so mine are only assumptions and I can easily make a mistake in my judgments, but the last thing I’m looking for is a trandy camera full of buttons, ultra-advanced features, ultra-fast raffle and, above all, full of marketing arguments.

But, the aspect that more than any other, keeps me attached to the Leica system, is the quality and performance of its files. I do not know how to explain it, but the three-dimensionality of the images, combined with the beauty of the out of focus plans, I’ve never found something so perfect in the systems I used in the past.

Leica makes me feel safe and serene. Yes, It cost so much, of course, but worth every penny you invest on it, believe me.

Leica, an essential system. Let’s only focus on pure photography

Finally, I adore the essence and minimalism of Leica bodies, as I adore the Apple style, where they are very similar. As I’ve said so many times in the past,

With the Leica I can concentrate only on photography, the camera becomes a beautiful and functional extension of my body, without being a bulky protagonist.

The Leica SL is a jewel of design, a unique, clean body, without any labels on those few buttons. No distraction, just the essential.

My first impression

Frankly speaking, this time I completely trusted the advice of my friend Ryu from N.O.C., without ever having tried this camera. I expected to be much bigger and more clumsy in some way, but the grip in the hands is great and pleasant, as well as very stable. The body is also very thin, being a mirrorless, so it does not clutter more than so.

Of course, I espect to find some defects, but I cannot tell you of any, for the moment. I did not have time to try it yet, I gave a quick look at the 4.4Mpx viewfinder and quickly used the touch screen, and everything seems perfect to me.

The real stress test, from tomorrow, in Andalusia.

Now I just have to try it and luckily, from tomorrow I will be on a road trip to Andalusia, for 10 days, so that is a perfect opportunity. I have no native Sl lenses so I will use my Leica M lenses and maybe M42 lenses, thanks to the adapters.

The only problem is that I only have one night to get in touch with the car and understand how it works.

So, keep following me as in the next 10 there will be a lot of new pictures and cool stories to tell.

A presto,
Sabino

All about FOOD: follow my new profile on Instagram


Here’s a good news for those who follow me and shares my same passion for food: I’ve decided to start a new Instagram profile, just and completely dedicated to my culinary theme photography.

For those who did not know it, Food is one of my favourite subjects, after street photography and people, and in this new feed you will find all my photos made during my studio sessions, so still life, but also videos and photos made during my travels, especially in local markets.

The profile to follow is sabinoparente_food and the link below to my feed.

https://www.instagram.com/sabinoparente_food/

Follow me many! Buon Appetito,

Sabino

 

One year with a Leica M: would I make this choice again?

We all know, photographers are never happy and there is no perfect camera out there, because, especially when talking about professional photography, each application requires a different type of camera setup. That’s why it has led me to make a series of reflections that you will read below about the goodness of the choice made exactly a year ago when, due to a strong lack of “Full Frame”, I decided to sell everything about my Fuji kit to make the big and challenging step to the Leica M expensive world.

Why I decided to move to Leica M

It was not a simple choice because I used the Fuji X system for four years and I was completely satisfied. I still think it is one of the best on the market. But there was something missing for me, the full sensor, or full frame. Not only because of the deeper depth and richness of the details, but also because the reduced sensor, APS-C, did not allow me to fully use the vintage lenses that have been adapted, dimming them into their original focal length. So without taking it for long, I bought a Leica M, typ 262, the model without live view and video.

In Thailand, with a Fuji X-E1

In Morocco, with a Fuji X-E2

In Japan, with a Fuji X-T1

In Vietnam, with a Leica M

After exactly one year of intense use, would I make this choice again?

If I had to base my judgment on the first three months, I would doubtless say NO!
I think that for anyone, got used to fully automatic reflex systems, switch to a rangefinder system, it’s almost a self-punishment. In the first months of use I came to hate it, everything seemed unnecessarily difficult and tedious, and the out of focus shots were wasted.

But once fully learnt, when the mutation occurs, first of all, mental than physical, in conceiving differently the way photography is done, well, I started toreally love my Leica M. That’s how I felt more and more comfortable and comfortable and the best results were also achieved. I really enjoyed the discretion and quality of both the body and the final photo, and also the excellent battery life. Moreover, its extraordinary ability to operate in full manual with the zone focus technique. A Copernican revolution for me, which led me to look back and understand what really photography is, its essence, basically built by three simple parameters, aperture, speed and iso, with the final picture built in mind.

Scicli, Sicilia – Leica M with the Sum 28mm, the perfect combo for street photography

Vietnam, Hoi An – Street candid portrait with a Leica M and Elmarit 90mm

Polignano, Italy – Street candid portrait with a Leica M and Sum 28mm

But I was still missing something…

After the period I was totally in love with my camera, in the next six months, I began to feel something was missing… First of all, I did not have the opportunity to adapt the third-party or vintage lenses because of the absence of the live view. Furthermore, I did not have the wi-fi, allowing me to immediately transfer photos to my mobile and then upload them to my social channels or blog. And last, I missed the opportunity to make proper macro-photography, also due to the for the absence of the live view. Cuold I live without those thing? Mmmm… maybe not…

In short, I missed a certain level of versatility, from my camera

I tried using Leica M for commercial jobs such as still life and food as well as landscapes, but the result was not satisfactory because It was not so simple and easy. On the other hand, I got amazing results when I pair the Leica M with the Summicron Asph 28mm f2,, to tell a story or to capture a time of life on the roa, or for pure street reportages,.

Landscapes with a Leica M

Food photography with a Leica M

My conclusions

After a year of use, I realised that the Leica M is the perfect system for street photography. Simply the TOP! It is in this field that Leica M reveals itself as impeccable and fun to use and I really love that.. To date, if I have to go out on the street to capture local life, an event or a street market, I have no doubt, I bring with me the Leica M with the Summicron Asph 28mm f2 or. in case, I alternate with the also great Summicron 50mm f2 to make some candid portraits.

Ma per tutto il resto, credo che sia meglio un sistema più completo, moderno,versatile e automatizzato.

My conclusion is that YES, I would buy again the Leica M,
BUT, pairing it with another pro camera for anything other than street.

So I decided that my perfect combination would be Leica M (maybe the M10) for everything that’s street, event, market, while for all commercial and / or studio shooting, still life products, I have to pair with another camera. For this reason, is already about a month, I’m considering all the possibilities, digging into Leica, Sony Alpha and Canon. Yes, the new Sony Alpha 9 is a possibility, but I feel it more like a trending camera/brand that everyone wants to have because it is cool ….

Leica M typ 262 – Why yes

  • Dimensions and discretion, perfect for street and travel photography
  • High quality of Leica M lenses
  • La bellezza dei piani fuori fuoco Leica. Non so spiegalro, ma la resa è molto piacevole e realistica.
  • The simplicity and usability of the M system
  • Very good battery life (around 600 shots)
  • The richness of the DNG files, easy to manage in Lightroom and rich in information especially in the shadows.
  • In general, the non-devaluation of Leica material. The tranquillity of an investment that can be recovered even after years.

Leica M 262

Leica M typ 262 – Why not

  • No Live View
  • No Wi-Fi
  • No video (not a minus for me, though)
  • Can not adapt third-party lenses
  • Not  possible to do Macro
  • In general, The high cost of the Leica world, any modification or change, that is a lens or a small accessory, costs so much.

That said, here’s how I’ll change my equipment

All these thoughts have brought me to a decision:

I must have two professional cameras dedicated to the two specific areas of photography I work in.

  • Travel e Street Photography: Leica M 262 / upgrade to Leica M10
  • Commercial and Still life (Food):  TBD (Sony Alpha/Canon/Leica?)

Surely there will be news short, but in the waiting, I would like to read some of your advice or experiences

A presto, grazie
Sabino

Back from the Leica event, in Wetzlar, I learned that … (impressions)

The new Leica M10 is a very good camera, really…

Ok, don’t need to go up to Wetzlar to know it, but, to see it and test it, in the place in which it was conceived, it has another effect. The new Leica M10 is a thought product, reasoned, tailored to the photograph, like a perfectly cut and stitched suit by a tailor. The body, in addition to being accurate in every detail and massive in the hands, heavy the right, has very few external buttons, only the ones you need to do photography. The viewfinder, wider and brighter, takes you immediately to the center of the stage,  eliminating all kind of distractions. It is a camera built “only” to do photography. Photography, in fact. Let’s Just focus on that, please.

The high prices of a Leica M, are justified, for heaven’s sake.

It was enough to take a tour through the production line of the Leica M, in the headquarters in Wetzlar, Germany, to understand how professional, how much attention to detail, how much humanity and especially manuality is inside each machine or lens produced by Leica. I saw workers painting (to apply the “coating”) manually each lens of an objective, checking the bodies maniacally in every detail. Products are not created in a mass-production through cold automated systems, but there is still much human intervention at every step of the production process, a good percentage of combined experience and crafts. In short, every Leica M and M each goal, has its own soul and its value, not only material. Congratulations to Leica.

Photographers, the greater they are, the more humble they become.

The more they believe how great they are, the more arrogant and obnoxious they behave. And, in photography today, there’s a lot of presumption, as well as many deluded people. When I find myself in an event full of photographers and enthusiast, I always see too little passion and so much ego. Rarely open to sharing, such presumption to teach and defend their sacred knowledge on photography … From the series, I am what I am, and you are less than nothing…

A photographer becomes great because it is simply expressing his passion and his enthusiasm in telling the world that surrounds him and in the photography itself. And he loves to share it. A great photographer is a humble person, who deeply loves photography and photographing, in its most simple and classic gesture. The rest, techniques, rules, certificates and awards, are only masks and frills, not always necessary. Every great photographer that I have known and/or listened to, from Scianna to Koudelka, from Sessini up to Meyerowitz, was always struck by the simplicity, passion and above all the enthusiasm with which describes his experiences and knowledge. I never heard them talk about techniques, rules, and prizes.

The photograph of the great, has the simplicity and enthusiasm of the little ones.

Joel Meyerowitz…

… A 78-year-old boy, full of energy and contagious enthusiasm, in a great shape. I felt a lot older than him. An extraordinary person and unique photographer. Chapeau.

I will definitely buy the Leica M10.

I do not know when, but I know that it will be my next camera! M10, a round perfect number, as 40, the age that I will reach and celebrate this year. Coincidence? I do not believe 🙂

Buona luce e a presto,

Sabino


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