Barcelona at Night

Av. de Gaudí and Sagrada Familia

Towards the end of our Catalonia trip we decided to return to Barcelona. I had been intrigued with the idea of photographing the Sagrada Familia at night and our previous visit did not present the opportunity. We had one discretionary night open so we booked a room at Hostemplo which was a 10 minute walk away. Before our trip I had studied the map to see if there were some obvious locations to capture a view of the whole facade. There is a park facing the Nativity Facade, Placa de Gaudi. There is another park facing the Passion Facade the Placa de la Sagrada Familia. The Nativity Facade captures the morning sun and the Passion Facade the evening sun. Both of these locations offer good views, although not entirely unobstructed. You’d need to get in the air above the trees in the park, or on top of one of the apartment buildings opposite the park for an unobstructed view. Nevertheless, it’s always fun to look for a new angle and a new perspective. I found a location on Av. de Gaudi that I thought captured the feeling of Barcelona at night.

On our previous stay in Barcelona I had the opportunity to explore La Rambla and some of the area around the Cathedral.

For night photography I put the camera on a tripod and I typically capture multiple exposure to process using an HDR program on my laptop. Blending multiple exposures gives a bit more control over the extreme contrast range you can have at night with streetlight or spotlights and dark shadows. Blending images where people are moving can be a challenge, but one of the programs I use, Photomatix, has some powerful tools for dealing this ghosting.

Sagrada Familia

May 29. 9:00 AM. We’re in line for the tour of Sagrada Familia. We purchased tickets months ahead of time and I did some research to figure out what would be the best time to photograph the project. Photographing the whole building is a challenge. This is a work in progress with construction cranes towering over the structure. In looking at photos in tourist information I can only assume that some effort went into removing the construction cranes and other construction infrastructure in Photoshop.

The Nativity facade faces east, which where we found ourselves for the start of the tour and the best light is morning. The Passion facade faces west, which is best photographed in the afternoon.

Construction of The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família began in 1882 under the guidance of Antoni Gaudí. The goal is to complete the construction by 2026, the one hundredth anniversary of Gaudi’s death.

Security to get into the tour is on par with airport security. No knives, liquids, and such. Backpacks go through an x-ray machine, and you walk through a scanner. My knee brace set off an alert and I was pulled aside. Staff was very courteous.

After picking up our interpretive handsets and putting our day pack in a locker we took the elevator up the tower and climbed back down a never ending spiral of stairs with occasional impressive views of the city below.

Inside the basilica one needs to keep in mind that this is a working Church and some sense of reverence is required. Here the genius of Gaudi’s design becomes apparent. The columns of multicolored stone rise up like trees and branch into smaller supporting limbs. Gaudi referred to this as the forest. Gaudi’s inspiration in the architecture of nature and natural forms and his devotion to his faith become apparent wherever you look. A stunning example of Gaudi’s architecture. And even with the construction there are so many interesting details to photograph that there is no shortage of subject matter for the camera.

Those who look for the laws of Nature as a support for their new works collaborate with the creator. – Anoni Gaudi

La Pedrera

May 28. Our first day of touring in Barcelona starts with a tour of La Pedrera, one of the architectural wonders created by Antoni Gaudi. Casa Mila, or La Pedrera as it is commonly known was built in the early 20th century. Construction began in 1906 and the building was finished in 1912. Well worth the tour if you are visiting Barcelona. Get your tickets ahead of time though. We arrived at 9:00 am, a little flustered since we started off on the wrong direction on our walk, and then discovered that we had left the tickets in the motel room. Internet connection was sparse so we had trouble pulling up the confirmation email on Joann’s iPhone. It seems that the clerk at the counter was gracious enough to believe our story and we were able to tour. The tour is self-guided with handsets to listen to narration about the features of the building. Gaudi in known for drawing inspiration from nature and his devotion to the Church.

The tour starts on the roof of the structure with the fanciful design of the roof vents. From there you go down the the attic where you can see the rib like structures that support the roof. The attic served as the work area for servants. The building itself was designed as an apartment building.

From the attic you go down to one of the apartments which is furnished as it might have been in the early 20th century.

Sea Ranch Exhibit

Treve at The Sea Ranch exhitit at SFMOMA.

May 7, 2019 2 pm. We are at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art touring an exhibit “The Sea Ranch.” The exhibit ends on June 2, so if you are a fan of architecture and California modernism this exhibit is worth seeing.

Sea Ranch is a development on the California Coast about 100 miles north of San Francisco. Architect and planner Al Boeke envisioned a community that would preserve the area’s natural beauty. Boeke hired landscape architect Lawrence Halprin to create the master plan which grew to encompass 10 miles of the Sonoma County coastline. The development is considered a beacon of modernism on the Northern California coast. The first building was completed in 1965 and the development was envisioned as a progressive, inclusive community, guided by the idealistic principles of good design, economy of space, and harmony with the natural environment.

The design guidelines require that the buildings become part of the landscape. Exteriors are unpainted wood or muted stains and the roofs lack overhanging eaves.

We found the exhibit to be quite interesting with many photos and drawings and some of Lawrence Halprin’s original notes and photos by Morley Baer .

At the moment there are some 1800 homes in the development with many of them serving as vacation rentals.

Chasing Frank Lloyd Wright: Oak Park Walking Tour

On October 2 we arrived in Chicago to start our “Chasing Frank Lloyd Wright” tour. We spent our first few days in Oak Park, on foot. We took Uber from the Airport to our B&B, staying at an AirBnB listed as “Victorian Gem in Heart of FLW District,” on the corner of  Forest Ave and Superior. A lovely place to stay and close to many FLW houses. There are about two dozen of Wright’s houses within walking distance. We managed to visit a few. First and foremost is Wright’s house on the corner of  Forest and Chicago, a block from where we were staying. Build in 1889.

We visited this house as part of a tour offered through the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Photos were permitted on the tour, so I used my little Sony RX100 to capture some handheld images. Next door to the house is Wright’s studio, built in 1897.

And a short walk around town will take you to a number of Wright designed houses. These houses are all privately owned and not open for tours, although you can walk the neighborhood to view them and you can take photos from the sidewalk.

The Parker house, built in 1892, is one of Wright’s “bootleg” homes, one of several commissions Wright took under the table while working for Sullivan & Adler. Sullivan eventually dismissed Wright for his transgressions.

If you happen to have the opportunity to visit Oak Park and you are looking for a self-guided tour check our this link on Curbed. There are also a few phone apps you can use.  A search on the iPhone comes up with a Oak Park walking tour with the title “Frank Lloyd Wright Tour.” I didn’t discover this until recently, but I’d certainly give it a try. We used a printed guide we found in our room at our Airbnb. There’s also an app called the “Wright Guide,” which includes a comprehensive list of FLW projects. A must for any Frank Lloyd Wright Fan.

And of course there is the Unity Temple which is one of Wright’s most famous projects; a ten minute walk from Frank Lloyd Wright’s house. Keep in mind this is a operating place of worship. Visitors are welcome and photos are permitted, but you’ll want to check ahead to make sure you time your visit when you have access. We visited the temple as part of a paid, guided tour. I also returned to the Temple in the evening because I wanted to photograph it at dusk.

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Chasing Frank Lloyd Wright: October 5

Our day started out with a walk across town to pick up a rental car for the next part of our journey. We had a light rain, but not enough to deter us from a walk. Along the way we crossed to Continental Divide, a high point from which water on the west side of the divide flows to the Mississippi and water to the east flows to the Great Lakes, with the exception of the Chicago River which had the direction of it’s flow reversed with a little help from the City of Chicago and some creative engineering in 1900.

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Once we picked up the car we were off to Kankakee, Illinois to see the B. Harley Bradley House, one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs. The house sits on the bank of the Kankakee River, a very peaceful setting among majestic trees. But first it was breakfast at the Courageous Bakery & Cafe. Excellent food and good coffee. It’s about an hour and a half drive from Oak Park to Kankakee. The route we took was on highways, with grey skies and occasional light rain.  Not much to see along the drive.

We had a very personalized tour with just two of us and the docent. By now we’re beginning to understand the language of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture; his sense of the connection to nature, organic architecture, with the housed rising up out of the landscape like sturdy trees or rocks, the use of vertical lines and the overhanging eves.

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Designed in 1900, this is one of Wright’s first Prairie style houses, With the style emphasizing a plain composition, a low horizontal aspect and low pitched roof with overhanging eaves. We were originally scheduled for a 1 pm tour, but we arrived a bit before noon, and were able to get an early start. We spent about an hour and a half in the house, and when we finished the tour at 1:30 we were ready for lunch. We headed downtown and had lunch at Rigo’s Place, one of the restaurants recommended by our tour leader. Just outside the restaurant we admired the murals painted on several of the buildings.tjp_1916_3284

After lunch we weren’t quite ready to leave. We wanted to explore the river a bit, so we went back to the Bradley House and took a tour up and down the river on a little electric Duffy boat.

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Taliesin West

Our travels took us to Taliesin West today. We had purchased tickets ahead of time since we were planning on being in Phoenix today for a family reunion. We booked the “Details Tour,” which was a two hour tour covering some of the details of the architecture. Photos are permitted on this tour, so it as a treat to capture photos with my little Sony RX100.

Frank Lloyd Wright established Taliesin West in 1937 as his winter home and school in the desert. Today it is the main campus of the School of Architecture at Taliesin. I was surprised to find that the buildings seem to be a bit rough hewn, which seems appropriate since the location was a laboratory for design and experimentation and much of the facilities were built by Frank Lloyd Wright’s students. The location was very remote at the time it was built and the design reflects Wright’s love of nature and philosophy about how design should interact with nature.

For anybody interested in architecture, design and nature this tour is a must.