The Rain in Spain Falls Mainly in the Plains

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Well… I don’t know if that is really true… but what I do know is that it is darn sunny in Spain… and I love that! In fact, the sun is piercing… especially in the South. So Gene… get on with it… what is this all about? Well…this blog is mostly about the sun and since I have oodles of photos from sunny Spain, I thought I would revisit them and hopefully pass on some photo instruction at the same time. I had a student once and one question he asked after we returned “stateside” was this… “I live outside of Phoenix and it is a blazing sun ball most of the time… what do I do?” Quite simply, I told him to roll with it. Make lemonade out of the lemons you have been given. But really… no matter what time of day it is… from the warm glow in the morning… through the scorching harsh shadows of mid-day to the wonderful softness of late afternoon to the long exposure in the evening… just roll with it. There is beauty in every second of every day… no matter what the weather is. But let’s go over a few shots … taken in Spain… during the mid-day. What the sun gives you are shadows. Use them as an art form. As shapes. Here are a few examples. And hey you iPhoners and simple camera people… you need to read this because Mr. Sunball doesn’t know or care what kind of camera you have. This post is all about learning to embrace what is in front of you.


I love this. It is not quite Mondrian… but heh.. it is close. I love the shadows of the harsh light in direct juxtaposition to the color squares. Do you need a tripod for this? Heavens no. Do you need a special lens? Nope. All you need is a keen eye and a love for composition in order to balance the squares and shadows.


Does this one need a special lens… no sir ree bob! This is a classic Spanish scene in one of the many Pueblos Blancos in Southern Spain. With the sun so bright it is sometimes a good idea to run for the shade just to see what might be of interest. Even there the sun still illuminates the white walls and the worn street stones. Introduce some “leading lines” and a dramatic composition is achieved. Click. Check out the thickness of the walls! Wowzer.


And what would a trip to Spain be without a visit to the windmills? Great stuff. But often you can use the painted white stone to be a canvas for the interesting shadows cast by the blazing sun. Walk around a bit in order to discover an interesting composition and …. click. This time I used the” arms” and body of one of the windmills to “frame” a couple others. You can do this with any camera… if you just spend a few minutes walking around and viewing the subject from various angles. Don’t worry… be in no rush… they haven’t moved in hundreds of years.


When I was in Spain a few years ago, I saw from the motorway a group of strange looking white structures not too far out of this tiny village. I circled around and made my way back. And I am so so so glad I did. The group of low white structures turned out to be a cemetery. I was there for about 20 minutes shooting angle after angle after angle. It was simply stunning. After I was finished I dropped a few Euros into a donation pot… said a tiny prayer of thanks and left. The shapes were amazing. The crosses were almost primitive. The sun was so bright. It was honestly difficult to shoot a “bad” composition. Moral of the story? Stop and explore. And shoot a lot with an eye for dramatic composition.


I am a sucker for curved shapes and “framed shots”. Throw in the contrast of light versus dark and voila… I am one happy camper. When you are out… and you don’t have to be Spain… Hoboken will suffice… look around and find angles that most people don’t see. You will be rewarded for your efforts. Believe me.


And when you find some interesting colors or shapes… just wait… something or in this case… someone will come along and turn your interesting wall into a dramatic photo. Find. Compose. Wait.


And of course… look up! The sun didn’t help make this photo dramatic… the architect did that hundreds of years ago. I just picked the right time of day to have the sculpture in silhouette against the light-covered interior of the church. Amazing stuff.


Of course… any where… any place… any time… a great face is a great face. I waited for the gentlemen to turn his head just so. And when it was placed against the dark background… I squeezed the button. It is not the best profile of a man I have ever seen… but it is indicative of a Spanish gentlemen sitting in the park on a sunny day. And what is wrong with that?


And if and when you are in Bilbao… in Northern Spain.. you have to visit the Guggenheim Art Museum. It is stunning of course with its titanium reflective skin. Great in the early evening as Mr. Sun hits it with its golden rays. A long lens is best if you are after shapes. I was. 200 mm.

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The modern museum sits in great contrast to the architecture of yesterday. Yesterday… meaning about a thousand years ago. I shot this in color… but in the end I changed it to black and white because I wanted to visually show the dark arches against the lighter ones without the terra-cotta color grabbing too much attention. Spain is such a wonderful country to photograph. The contrasts are everywhere. Ancient versus super modern. Light against dark. Perfect. OK… here is one more before I go:


In the town of Mijas, the burro is king. They are everywhere. In parades. In fields. And in my photographs!

Happy trails.



One thought on “The Rain in Spain Falls Mainly in the Plains

  1. I can always count on you for a little photography inspiration. Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos and tidbits. I always learn something.
    I’ve recently come to the conclusion, chefs are artists too and I’ve developed a tremendous respect for those gifted in the kitchen. Any plans for Fame to share her expertise?

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