Travel: TIBET

In year 2007 I spent three weeks traveling around CHINA. After visiting noisy, polluted pre-olympic Beijing, and before flying to the over-crowded hyper-consumerist pre-earthquake Chengdu, I visited TIBET.

It was one of the most intense experiences I have had in my entire life.

Two Tibetan Nuns (The Jokhang)

Two Tibetan Nuns (The Jokhang)

The place, the people and their habits, the mood... even the altitude (Lhasa is 3.650m above the sea level)...! Either the place invades you, and you feel immersed and caught forever, for good, or you are out in the next 24 hours.

Prayer Flags

Prayer Flags

The Tibetan temples are the the most photogenic I have ever been to, and number one, my favorite, the place I want to be in when I am not happy and I need colorfulness is The Jokhang. I must admit I almost cheated on my dearest Hagia Sophia (in Istanbul), which is my absolutely favorite place in the world, where I want to be when I need serenity. But that's a whole different story...

The Jokhang Rooftop

The Jokhang Rooftop

Nuns

Nuns

Devotees

Devotees

Monk (Deprung Temple)

Monk (Deprung Temple)

Monk (Shigatse Temple)

Monk (Shigatse Temple)

Down the streets of Gyantse

Down the streets of Gyantse

Monk Apprentice

Monk Apprentice

Flee Market Salesman

Flee Market Salesman

Two Tibetan Girls

Two Tibetan Girls

My friend Elif was kind enough to showcase the pictures above at her company booth at Bread and Butter. Thanks Elif!

P.

Travel: CHINA

In year 2007 I spent three weeks traveling around CHINA. As usual (everybody would), I took my camera with me. But i didn't take any laptop, hard disk drive, or other digital device to download and backup the pictures. When I came back home and I could finally review all of them together, as a whole, I realized that China had affected and infected me: chaos, contradiction, disorder, randomness, dispersion (as opposed to concentration) are words that can be used to describe both the country and my pictures.

The Kid

The Kid

In two words: I failed.

Don't ask me to describe the country (or my pictures); I can only talk about glimpses, highlights, scenes. My perception, my opinions, my view, are partial, segmented, faceted, torn, broken. It is like a dream lit by a stroboscopic light. There is no coherence.

Only two conceptual statements remain in my mind:

Hong-Kong has a horizon (past and future):

Looking at the Distance

Looking at the Distance

Shanghai is about the relationship between the people and its spaces (as in Barcelona):

Shanghai Street

Shanghai Street

One of those three weeks in China, I travelled to TIBET. Now that is a whole different place!

P.

Photo: BARCELONA IS BLUE

Barcelona is BLUE.

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Barcelona is Blue because of the sea and because of the waves and the noise they make.

It is Blue because of the sky and the sun and the clouds.

It is Blue because there's a horizon, and there's sunlight.

Barcelona is Blue because we are Mediterranean people. Or is it the other way around?

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Barcelona is definitely BLUE.

Or is it BLACK and WHITE?

P.

Photo: BARCELONA IS BLACK AND WHITE

Barcelona is BLACK and WHITE. It happens in Black and White. It was designed in Black and White. People live in Black and White, and many of its inhabitants know it. And they are happy about it, because it relates to its intensity.

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Barcelona was founded more than 2.000 years ago. As many other cities that are as old, it works in layers. There is a pre-roman layer and there is a roman layer and a romanic, and there's also a gothic and a baroque. And then, of course, uniquely to our city, there's Gaudí and all the other modernist architects and garden designers and craftsmen and sculptors and painters. And then there's us.

You know the cliche: old towns in Europe are full of contrasts. Barcelona is no exception.

That applies to ancient buildings on narrow streets packed of old people, who have lived there for all their lives, a couple blocks away from new non-residential skyscrapers on really straight avenues.

But it also applies to the shades and shadows created by the the sunlight enhancing the textures of different shapes and materials, often washed away by rain and time.

Barcelona's old town (Ciutat Vella) is divided into three neighborhoods. One of them is El Borne, in which I lived for fifteen years, actually until a year ago. Living there is like living in a village, but more exciting culture-wise and much more aggressive safety-wise. My friends were at the same time amazed that I could live in such area, and astonished that I was happy to be there. Ok. Let me fair: The area is unsafe! Period. But it is so only for foreigners (that includes tourists and barcelonians from other neighborhoods). I used to joke with friends who belong to the latter: dangerous people live in my area and work in yours! Carrying a camera around your neck would attract a few eyes; carrying it hanging from your shoulder would attract even more (it's easier to pull). I use to wander around Ciutat Vella every weekend, and very often I would take a camera with me. For a certain period, I would even go out at night (around 2am or later) with my camera and pocket full of Black and White film, and look for contrasts to take pictures of, the one at the beginning of this post being one of them. I must admit that the camera of choice would usually be my Nikon F4, designed to take pictures, but so robustly built that could also be used to hammer nails on walls or as a nutcracker. Or to defend yourself from a blow and hit back (which, by the way, I never found myself doing).

The following pictures were taken from my home. If you ever happen to be at a rooftop in Ciutat Vella, just look around and you will discover a multitude of worlds.

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Barcelona is definitely in BLACK and WHITE.

Or is it BLUE?

P.

Photo: LAX TOWER / THE BIRD

I once won the first price of a photo contest. Our Col.legi d'Arquitectes de Catalunya organized it first Digital Photography Contest for Architects sometime around year 2004. Subject: Architecture (really???!!!)

A short time before, around 2003, we travelled to L.A. to visit my friend Peclar.

When we arrived in the airport I was worn out, after a 14 hour flight from London, and a previous flight from Barcelona. Peclar was taking care of suitcases and car trunks. I looked up and there it was. The picture was there, waiting to be taken.

LAX Tower / The Bird

LAX Tower / The Bird

For those who have never visited L.A., there is a 3-legged-spider Calatrava-looking (though it was not designed by him) building, right on LAX International Airport, known as LAX Tower. Although many people believe it has some relationship with airplanes, it is actually a restaurant.

The picture is heavily based on composition and crop. The building structure is made of some kind of white concrete or enameled iron. The subtle contrast between the lit / unlit surface, and the blue California sky makes the picture look like its actually a watercolor painting.

The contest was sponsored by a really big Japanese hardware company. I as a first price, I got a laptop. I had gotten myself a laptop of the same brand (by coincidence) only three months before, so I sold it and I bought the first half of my "girlfriend".

My girlfriend, of whom my wife knows absolutely everything, is my beloved LEICA M6. She is more than a camera. She is (or I should say, was, since film labs have become a luxury I cannot afford) the closest I have had to a sixth finger on my right hand, or a third eye stuck on a piece of metal. She made me grow up photographically like nothing else in this world. For a long long time, I only used black and white film in it, and she made me learn how to see in black and white. Photographically, I am what/who I am, in a big percentage, because of her. It took me some six months to save the money for a Sumicron 35mm lens, and that's all I used and all I needed for a long long time.

We were a happy couple of three.

P.