Tag Archives: Basque Country

Dragonstone, Bay of Biscay

You might have seen this place before. This rocky outcropping on the northern coast of Spain has made appearances in Game of Thrones as Dragonstone, the ancestral seat of the House of Targaryen. The filmmakers, of course, used computer graphics to add the Targaryen castle at the island’s peak, as well as the occasional dragon flying overhead.

Dragonstone, Gaztelugatxe and San Juan Church in the Morning, Basque Country, Spain
March 2018, single shot, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 16 mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 242 seconds, ISO 64, ND 10-stop filter, tripod.

You can buy this photo as Fine Art Print >>




But even with that modern technology and computer animation can do, I was unprepared for Gaztelugatxe, crowned at its highest point by San Juan Church. The island wasn’t my primary interest on this particular jaunt; I went with the intention of photographing the rock formations for which this stretch of coastline is famous.

But it’s impossible to be near this part of Spain’s coast and not be entranced by Gaztelugatxe. That’s the effect that the island has on people — it simply isn’t possible to look away. It isn’t difficult to see why the filmmakers behind Game of Thrones chose this location; perched on a jagged sliver of rock on the edge of Europe, it feels far removed from the modern world. It seems to exist in another place and time.

I photographed the rock formations but soon realized that the island itself would make the best photographs. To get this shot, I climbed 50 meters up an adjacent cliff. It was a vertiginous climb up a barely-usable path and it involved a certain degree of danger, but it was worth it. It was early morning and the last of the mist was burning away. The tourists and hikers had not yet arrived. From my vantage point, Gaztelugatze seemed to hover just above the water, ethereal and beautiful, tethered to the mainland by a ribbon of rocks and a manmade bridge.

I got the shots, packed my camera, and prepared to climb back down the cliff and back into reality.

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Guggenheim Museum in the Evening, Bilbao

I was fortunate to spend the early part of this year traveling in northern Spain, where the city of Bilbao served as my gateway to the country. It’s a fascinating city filled with incredible architecture, and the countryside beyond Bilbao is equally striking.

Salbeko Zubia Bridge and Guggenheim Museum in the Evening, Bilbao, Spain
March 2018, crop from panorama from 5 vertical shots, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 16 mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 5 seconds, ISO 64, tripod.




The coastline of northern Spain is as breathtaking as one would imagine — I find the contrast of intricate harsh rock formations against the deep blue of the sea to be especially beautiful. I was enchanted by this rugged edge of Europe and as you’ll see in the coming weeks, it was very much a working holiday for me. I was drawn again and again to the coastline, camera and tripod in hands, and I hope you enjoy my upcoming fine art collection as much as I enjoyed photographing that striking landscape.

Within Bilbao, it was the architecture that most interested me. Once an industrial city, Bilbao transformed itself over the last couple of decades into a sleek, modern city known for its innovative architecture. Principal among the city’s landmarks is the Guggenheim Museum, the work of acclaimed American architect Frank Gehry. With its shimmering titanium coating and soaring lines and curves, the Guggenheim is instantly recognizable, an iconic city landmark.

One of my first photographs of the Guggenheim was in early evening against a slightly overcast sky. I wanted a photograph that captured two of the city’s landmarks — not only the museum but the Salbeko Zubia Bridge as well — with night slowly falling over the city. I think the lights of Bilbao reflected in the facade of the Guggenheim are particularly lovely, and an appropriate way to remember this inventive city.

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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.




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.

You can buy this photo as Fine Art Print >>




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.




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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