Tag Archives: Basque Country

Panorama of San Sebastian in the Morning

A bit later, after photographing the Biblioteca Municipal, I walked further out along the beach.

Panorama of San Sebastian in the Morning Light, Basque Country, Spain
July 2016, panorama from 3 horizontal images, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 44mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 0.4 seconds, ISO 31, tripod.

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I wanted a panoramic view of the city, one which would encompass the Old City, the port, and Monte Urgull, the hill which dominates San Sebastian. Given its height and its location, the hill was used for many years for the city’s defense. Since 1950, however, Monte Urgull is most well-known for its 12 metre long statue of Jesus at its crown.

By the time I found a spot which would allow me to capture everything I wanted in one shot, blue hour was waning and the first hints of morning’s golden hour were breaking through the horizon. Against the soft hues of the beach and sky, the brilliant green of the hill was striking. As the sun rose higher, the clouds began to glow a golden pink, and the sculpture of Jesus seemed illuminated from within. Centered within the panorama, it made an imposing image.

From this vantage point, it wasn’t difficult to see why San Sebastian is one of the Basque region’s most loved cities. The city is a mixture of old and new, sacred and secular, man-made beauty juxtaposed against nature’s handiwork. And for a few moments on an early morning, I was lucky enough to capture all of it one shot.

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Biblioteca Muncipal, San Sebastian

It’s fitting that in 2016’s San Sebastian is European City of Culture, I chose to take a photograph of the Biblioteca Municipal.

Panorama of Biblioteca Municipal Central in the Morning, San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain
July 2016, panorama from 5 vertical images, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 24mm, aperture f/8, shutter speed 2.5 seconds, ISO 64, tripod.

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I walked to the area in early morning, with the first tentative rays of sunlight beginning to break through the night sky. In the quiet of an early morning, with the area mostly to myself, the structure made a striking picture.

It is also fitting that in a city known for its abundant and energetic nightlife, nearby nightclubs were still bustling, even at this early hour. The nightclub on the left was particularly busy, with revelers still spilling out into the street. In the stillness, I spotted a man alone on a bench, his head in his hands. I couldn’t help wondering if he was one of the club’s patrons, a man whose party had come to an unpleasant end. I imagined he must have quite a story to tell.

Looking away from the clubbers, I focused the photograph on the library, with the city hall in the foreground. Waning darkness and the soft glow of streetlights lent the shot a soft, subdued quality. As the last of the night’s partiers trickled into the street, I packed up my equipment, pleased with the shot and silently amused by the man on the bench.

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Kursaal Bridge, San Sebastian

I was excited to see San Sebastian, one of the jewels of Basque country. The city is nestled into a crook of the Bay of Biscay, and is famous for its green hills and beautiful beaches.

Kursaal Bridge and Urumea River Embankment in the Evening, San Sebastian, Spain
June 2016, panorama from 3 horizontal images, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 24mm, aperture f/8, shutter speed 25 seconds, ISO 100, tripod.

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It’s a city of many personalities and moods, both youthful and laid-back and sophisticated with an Old World vibe. At virtually any point in the storied city, it is impossible not be charmed by its beauty.

I arrived in San Sebastian at nightfall. The city is particularly lively after the sun goes down; it’s a modern, innovative city noted for its culture, particularly its film festivals. But I was interested in another side of San Sebastian — I wanted a quiet moment to see the city apart from its nightlife.

I strolled through the Old Town along the Urumea River embankment. I stood at the foot of the Kursaal Bridge, looking across the river at the conference center of the same name. It’s a bit of a jarring juxtaposition: two cube-shaped, modern structures perched along the fringes of the Old Town. The buildings are controversial: beloved by some for their modern sensibilities, derided by others for obscuring the beaches and for their incongruity in the graceful Old Town.

I wasn’t here as an architecture critic. I wanted to capture the Kursaal Centre and the river by early evening light, and set up my tripod at the base of the bridge. The buildings may be a bit out of place, but against the river, I found them fascinating in early nightfall.

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