Story Time Sunday: Sagrada Familia Finally

For today’s Story Time Sunday, I will be sharing my trip to the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain.

For a long time I had wanted to visit the Sagrada Familia, since I was a teenager doing textiles for GCSE and learning about the famous basilica in Catalonia. I was absolutely fascinated by its design and architecture.

It took nearly ten years for that to come into reality, which happened in April 2016 (while travelling around Spain) when I finally achieved my dream to finally go inside!!

So what is the Sagrada Familia? What’s the history behind it, and most importantly who was the man with the plan?

Antoni Gaudí was a Catalan architect, known for his modern architectural style of work – most are located in Barcelona. He was well known for his individuality and creativity twists, also for his use of ceramics, stained glass and carpentry.

Seven of Gaudí’s famous buildings were selected as UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, some including Park Güell, Casa Mila and Sagrada Familia.

Construction of Sagrada Familia began in 1882, which is still unfinished as of 2021, plus during my two visits to Barcelona in 2011 and 2016 with cranes still visible. It is expected to be completed by 2026, delayed yet again due to the ongoing pandemic. It will also mark one hundred years since Gaudí’s death in 1926, aged 73 after being hit by a streetcar in Barcelona. He is buried in the crypt inside Sagrada Familia.

I don’t exactly remember what day I went, but I had gone past it a few times during my four day stay and prior to going inside. I even photographed the outside a couple days before my visit.

To access the Sagrada Familia, I had to purchase the tickets from the tourist information centre (or tourist office). I had to choose a time slot when I wanted to go in. This was probably done to regulate on how many people could go inside at a time. I did come a little earlier than scheduled on the actual day, so to pass some time I had a hot chocolate at the Costa Coffee directly opposite. I was actually shocked to see a Costa in Spain!!

Anyway, once I got inside I was so amazed; it was absolutely beautiful and breathtaking, it felt so surreal due to the modern touches and detail. Gaudí allegedly said: “My client is not in a hurry,” possibly referring to God, also remarking on the long construction process. No wonder and not surprisingly, Gaudí probably had his focus on this project for so long. He had wanted the outcome to come out the way he had envisioned, but sadly only a small percentage was from completion when he died.

I spent some time walking through the basilica, carrying my heavy Canon DSLR and admiring my surroundings slowly – from the colourful stained glass windows to the perfectly carved ceiling. I couldn’t simply leave Barcelona without stopping by Sagrada Familia – that would be impossible, but I finally did it after all these years.

The Shot that has a thousand stories, probably one that I am most proud of

I would like to return again soon, since it was worth the four days, but this time I will be taking my film camera and some colour film!!

I would highly recommend anyone, who is planning on visiting Barcelona, to make sure you go to Sagrada Familia. It’s something to add onto the travel itinerary and worth the experience.

Take care and stay safe

Story Time Sunday: Valentine’s In Valencia

Story Time Sunday is a new feature on my blog, where I will be sharing a few personal anecdotes or interesting tangents from my life over the years. Most of them aren’t exactly photography related, although I will be sharing some photos and images in some posts.

My Story Times will be posted on the last Sunday of every month. I will try my best to make them short and sweet; something lighthearted and fun before the start of the new month.

Today’s Story Time Sunday is a throwback from February 2015, when I spent Valentine’s weekend in Valencia, Spain. I just wanted a break from university for a few days. Spoiler alert: this wasn’t a romantic getaway!!

Flags United: Valencian Community flag (left) and the Spanish flag (right)

My friend Zulaykha, who I have known since secondary school, was residing near the city at the time, where she was living with a host family. She was an assistant for a programme called CAPS, a language school helping Spanish children speak English, while taking a gap year from university.

We arranged to meet up during the weekend to go exploring around Valencia. We went to the famous huge indoor market, Mercado Central (translated as ‘Central Market’), where there were numerous stalls selling fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, dried foods and nuts – to name a good few.

For lunch we went to a small cafe, this is where I had the city’s most famous dish, paella. Mine consisted of rice, lobster (I believe), beans and a few vegetables. I was impressed, not to mention glad that I went out of my comfort zone by trying the local cuisine.

My paella dish was delicious. Whenever I go to Spain I would have a big pan of the stuff!!

Soon after we went to the Museum of Fine Arts, close to the city centre. We probably spent over an hour or so there, exploring a few rooms of various artists from over the centuries, including Spanish painter such as Francisco Goya, plus Valencia’s renowned artist Joaquin Sorolla.

My time with Zulaykha ended in the early evening. It was nice to meet up with her after all these months. Where she was staying was an hour away by train, so we said our goodbyes at the main station before I headed back to my hostel. I wouldn’t see her again until later on in the year back in London.

Now by myself, I spent the last couple of days exploring the city (again), the beach and hopping on the tour bus. I would also take photos of the wooden doors, something that really fascinated me, especially with the craft, patterns and design.

I decided to spend my final day at the City of Arts and Sciences (better known in Spanish as ‘Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias’). Thanks to the tourist pass I had, I went inside for free. I started off at the Museu de les Ciences Principe Felipe, where it housed many scientific artifacts and displays such as the human body, biology, physics and climate change.

Afterwards I went to L’Oceangrafic, literally opposite the science museum. It’s similar to an aquarium, but actually it is an oceanarium. I saw plenty of sea creatures and mammals, as well as many exotic fish and exotic birds.

L’Agora: opened in 2009, opposite Museo de las Ciencias Príncipe Felipe and next to the Assut de l’Or Bridge
L’Oceanogràfic: bigger inside than out

My time at the museums ended, so I went to the nearby beach, which I had already been through there a few times by then. I went to a bar there to have tapas – and it wasn’t the best; mine was lukewarm and not as appetising. The nuts I had at the side were a bit of a saving grace, at least it was nice.

I flew back to London on Monday morning, on the same day my dad had returned back to Jamaica some hours earlier. 

It had been almost four years since going to Spain at that time. It was nice to go again and go to another city along the coast.

Took a snap of this man, who was reading a Valencia guide book while near the beach!!

I did enjoy my time in Valencia. It was worth the weekend break; I think I covered what I had to do in a short amount of time with no itinerary at all. If I could, I would certainly return again, possibly work my way around the region heading towards Barcelona. Most likely stay for a week or two…

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: Alhambra On My Mind – Canon EOS 500n with Kodak Colorplus 200

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be discussing shooting Kodak Colorplus 200 on the Canon EOS 500n.

Another travel throwback, this time in Spain. In 2018, I travelled to the region of Andalucia, down South, where I went to Seville, then Cordoba and ended in Granada. It was a nine day trip, which began with a wet start in Seville, as it had been flooding days before my arrival. Thankfully the weather improved once I reached Granada, where I would go to the Alhambra!!

Alcazaba at the Alhambra

I took nineteen or eighteen rolls of Kodak Colorplus with me, and two rolls of Rollei Superpan. I used Superpan twice (with an orange filter) in Cordoba and in the Alhambra, only in the Nasrid Palace.

Although at times the weather wasn’t the best during the day, Colorplus made up for its 200 ISO at night and in low light. Normally I would use a higher speed film, however Colorplus surprised me quite a lot, even when it came to printing. I will touch upon it later on in the post.

I spent at least three hours slowly exploring around the Alhambra, with camera on tow and also four rolls of film on me for each place. To start off with, my lens was initially out of focus as it had been on manual mode but realised it straight away, then put it on automatic. My aim was to capture the natural light, plus the closer detail on the wall of patterns and Islamic art. It wasn’t an easy process though, as of course there would be a lot of people wandering around surrounding the main structures and sights, such as the Court of The Lions.

That was the best shot I could get of Court of Lions. I wanted to avoid having people in my shots

Nevertheless, my adventure continued for a few more hours, going through Alcazaba and finishing at Generalife in the afternoon.

I had been taking many shots of Moorish architecture for the past week, which is famous in the Andalusian region, also other places around Spain and beyond in Morocco and Tunisia. Good examples of the Moorish style in Spain are the Mosque-Cathedral in Cordoba, and the Alcazar in Seville. I visited both places and even photographed them. I was very fascinated by the architectural structure and style, since they are an important part of history. I wanted to pay attention to the greater detail when photographing those places.

I rarely discuss the technical side of using a camera on my Tried and Tested Thursdays, maybe it something I should start doing in the future as they play an essential part in photography. The lens I have been using for many years, since buying the SLR, is a wide angle 28mm – 80mm. Wide angle lenses have their benefits as they are great for general use, also its versatility for being able to zoom in closely. One of main advantages of this lens are taking landscapes, skylines and the framing.

I managed to fit all the flags in a frame. I don’t know what shutter setting I used here, but I wouldn’t doubt it was a fast speed seeing how the flags froze in this shot

For the Alhambra, I wanted everything to fit into one frame. I wanted to take landscapes and portrait shots from a distance, such as the views of Albaicin and other surrounding areas.

A man admiring the Albaicin views

The 28mm – 80mm is pretty much my ‘default’ lens throughout the years. Almost 99.9% of the Thursday features, that has been shot on that lens with the Canon EOS 500n – colour or black and white.

The Kodak Colorplus had worked absolute wonders. It was truly the icing on the cake on that particular day in the Alhambra. The colour quality overall was better than expected, not a lot grain for day, night or even low light. Not to mention, it was very consistent. The colour vibrance was warm with a small tint of an orange feel, when shooting palaces like the Alhambra or Alcazars in Seville or Cordoba. There was no editing on Photoshop or further tweeks, everything came out straight from the Epson scanner.

When it comes to printing in the darkroom, the process could go either way depending on what you want to achieve at the end of it. This could be fun, challenging or frustrating along the way. I produced a few colour prints a couple years back, mainly from the Spain trip but not all negatives. I did make some gloss prints from the Alcazar of Seville, although similar to Alhambra in terms of architectural style, the results gave me a chance to see what settings I could use when printing; ranging from contrasts, tones and filters to use in the enlarger.

Results may vary, of course but it is something I would definitely consider doing in the near future with the Alhambra negatives when it comes to darkroom printing. It has certainly been a long while…

Take care and stay safe