Sony A99 II with Sony 16mm Full Frame Fisheye
Cynthia did the smart thing and rested most of the day. We did go out in the afternoon as the Ofrenda was beginning. It seems all the marching bands pass right by our hotel so sleeping was futile.
The Ofrenda is when all the people of Valencia put on their traditional costumes and parade in from all corners of the city to offer flower to build the statue of the Virgin Mary in the cathedral square.
After chasing the Falleras for awhile we decided to go to the City Of Arts And Sciences so I could take some night shots.
Later in the evening we found this restaurant called Alma del Temple that was simply fantastic.
Everything was presented well and the restaurant itself had a nice atmosphere. Oddly, the music playing over the sound system was 80’s gothic new wave. Bands like The Cure and Joy Division with some Brian Ferry and the like sprinkled in. I enjoyed it quite a lot and asked our waiter about it. Turns out it was his selection of music. I let him know I appreciated it and that seems to please him to no end.
We had a bottle of wine and enjoyed our meal and finished the evening off with a coffee and postre (desert)
After this we were pretty beat and called it a night.
After our audience with The Pope we headed over to the Vatican Museum. This was around 12:30 and the crowds were out in force. We had acquired our ticket vouchers online and, as it turned out, we pretty much walked right in.
You have to be careful when visiting the Vatican Museum. There are tons of people trying to convince you to buy a tour and skip the line. This may be a good idea if you don’t have your voucher already in hand, but is a total scam if you do.
Also, this area is crawling with gypsies. I saw a guy nearly get pickpocketed in this area our last visit in 2005. They’re good at what they do, but this one fumbled the pass when she was handing the wallet off to one of her accomplices.
The Vatican Museum is crowded and hectic. We wanted to see the Sistine Chapel and I specifically wanted to see the spiral staircase.
There’s a lot of really fantastic art to see. And some areas are not too crowded.
But the trek to the chapel is where it starts to get bad. It is literally a cattle call.. A throng of humanity shuffling down a long and ever shrinking corridor until you reach the chapel.
Eventually you do end up in the chapel.
And sadly, there are no photos allowed in the chapel.
At this point we were pretty beat and the crowds were just too much so we made our way to the exit. Even this was a long walk. But we did end up at the magnificent spiral staircase which was something I *really* wanted to see and photograph.
We headed back to the hotel to get some lunch and relax for a bit. The rest of the day would be pretty casual as we’re winding down to come home.
The City Of Arts And Sciences (Valencian: Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències, Spanish: Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias) is an amazing architectural complex designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela and it is THE thing to see if you ever get to Valencia Spain.
We took a trek out to the complex on our visit two years ago and I got some pretty good photos so I was keen to give it another whirl with my new gear and my (hopefully) improved photographic skills.
This time I decided to get there before sunset and shoot during what is known as the “golden hour of photography” which is that time between when the sun goes down and it gets fully dark. I think the results are pretty good overall.
This first shot is straight out of the camera with no post processing
The reset of these were done using HDR processing where I combined three separate exposures and combined them using tone-mapping software.
After collecting ourselves back at the hotel room we headed out and braved the metro to go see La Sagrada Familia, a cathedral designed by Antoni Gaudi. Construction began in 1882 and is not expected to be completed until 2026.
The structure is amazing to see in person. I was particularly happy to have my very wide angle Sony 16-35mm lens with me to capture a few images. These are both done using HDR techniques that involve taking 3 separate photos, each with a different exposure setting, and blending the images together to create one high dynamic range image that brings our the detail and evens out the overall exposure.
And later that evening for a night shot
On the 60th floor of the JP Morgan Chase Tower is an observation deck which is open to the public. It offers a very unique view of Houston and was a good excuse to break out the fisheye lens.
360 degree panorama of the former Enron Circle.
Even better, check out the animated interactive version. Click and hold your mouse in the image and move it around to see all 360 degrees.
Also had some fun manipulating the full pano into this warped image. Kinda makes me dizzy to look at it.