Porto In Black and White, With Jessica Mezey

São Bento Railway Station, Porto | model: Jessica Mezey

After the colour blast that was yesterday’s post, it’s time to give the cones a break and switch to monochrome. Because I work so much with colour, I forget to play around in black and white. It’s taken some years to figure out the situations when black and white work better than colour, and thankfully in the digital age it isn’t necessary to make that decision before shooting. (The last time I shot black and white film was in high school!) Colour photos can be converted in post-production, with an array of options for black and white conversion: channel-mixing, contrast, or HDR if that’s your thing. It may seem counterintuitive, but converting to black and white does not make editing a whole lot easier except for one thing: white balance.

These photos were all shot the same day with Jessica Mezey in the historic centre of Porto, which in the height of summer makes it challenging to keep the tourists outside the frame. São Bento Railway Station (above) was the busiest of these three spaces, but we got what we wanted and none of the security people asked us to leave, which is always a good thing.

Note to self: post more black and white!

City Hall, Porto | model: Jessica Mezey

Câmara Municipal do Porto

Torre dos Clérigos, Porto | model: Jessica Mezey

Torre dos Clérigos

August 10, 2015
Album: Portugal [Summer 2015]

Summer In Porto

summer in Porto, Portugal (1)

Officially, there is one month left in summer but I can already feeling it winding down a little bit as September looms. August is when the Portuguese take their holidays, typically the whole month. Family-run restaurants are shuttered, tourists swarm the cities while the natives have escaped, and villages swell as emigrants return for their festas which celebrate saint holidays. It’s a very different atmosphere in August.

I shot all these Porto-branded photos at the F1H2O weekend; the weather was extremely favourable during each of the event days. In fact, the whole summer has been consistently hot and sunny with very few cloudy days (we had a run of four overcast days in a row recently, which stood out as unusual) and hardly any rain at all. Good for most except the bombeiros (firefighters), who have been battling a greater number of fires this year, especially in the north and centre of the country.

This being my second summer in Portugal, I’ve got a better handle on where to go and what to do. It’s par for the course, but also good timing for the friends I’ve hosted since May, all first-time visitors to Porto. There were six in May, one in June, a group of six in July, and this month brought a new challenge: a pair of tweens.

Achievement Unlocked!

Today we had to drag everyone to the airport at 4:30 in the morning to get them to their boarding gate on time, and two flights later they made it to Germany. Once I got the update, I breathed a sigh of relief that our week of hosting two 12-year olds in a foreign country without their parents was a success (read: without incidents). This has been in the calendar since March, and at some points since I racked my brain to recall what age 12 was like, but it was simply too long ago — more than 30 years! It was my last year in Winnipeg, I was in Grade 7, I read a lot of books, and the summer I turned 13 we went to the Philippines. That’s about it. If you can remember that age clearly, I applaud you!

Needless to say, hosting kids is very different from hosting adults: there are no port wine tours or tastings, not the same sort of sightseeing, and I brought them everywhere and back home versus sending them to places on their own. There was even a requested trip or two to a shopping mall (and you know how I feel about those), where Paulo and I saw a movie and called it a date while the girls power-shopped.

I’ve known one of the tweens all her life and the other was her classmate, who I didn’t know. If there was such a thing as a Life CV, I would put “tweensitting” near the top! Because it must be said: the prepubescent brain is a mystery, with a No Adults Allowed sign at the entrance. But at least I can say we survived the week, which I call a reality check for parenthood.

What’s Next?

I’m hoping now that our hosting calendar is all crossed off for the year, we can get in at least a couple more road trips before the summer ends in a month. I’m working on a couple of big projects and have a family shoot coming up, too.

There’s a week and a half left in August, I hope you’re enjoying it!

summer in Porto, Portugal (2)

summer in Porto, Portugal (3)

summer in Porto, Portugal (4)

summer in Porto, Portugal (5)

July 31-August 2, 2015
Album: F1H2O Grand Prix of Portugal 2015

Sunday With Boats and Mannequins in Gaia

Cais de Gaia / model: Jessica Mezey

My frenzy of photoshooting with Jessica Mezey continued through the weekend, this time across the river in Cais de Gaia and an apartment at Praia de Lavadores. One more photo shoot tomorrow and then we can collapse in a heap.

More to come once the shutter stops.

Shazequins by Shaz Bilyard / model: Jessica Mezey

August 9, 2015
Album: Portugal [Summer 2015]

Open House Porto 2015: Piscina Das Marés

Piscina das Marés, Leça da Palmeira (Porto, Portugal) (4)

This weekend is the First Edition of Open House Porto, an architectural initiative that is part of Open House Worldwide (Doors Open in Toronto is similar). 42 spaces around Porto, Vila Nova da Gaia, and Matosinhos are open to the public at specific times and the event offers guided tours either led by volunteers, architects or specialists.

We visited four sites today, the first of which was Piscina das Marés in Leça da Palmeira (Matosinhos). I first saw these pools in some random aerial footage shot by a drone (similar to this; see also this) and I searched on a satellite map of Porto to find and photograph them. But it was my first winter, and Paulo informed me the pools are only open in the summer. Then before I knew it, Summer #1 came and went and I had to wait for Summer #2 to get around to it. Open House Porto made it easy — and free — for me to tick this one off the list, finally.

The Piscina das Marés has two pools with filtered sea water, the larger one for adults and the smaller one for young children. Each one is built into the natural rock formations at a lower level from the road and only pedestrians notice part of the pools if they know where to look. Renowned Matosinhos-born architect Álvaro Siza Vieira designed it this way to preserve the view to the ocean. The Piscina is one of his earliest projects (1961-1966) along with nearby Boa Nova Restaurant (formerly Tea House), and in 2006 both were declared National Monuments.


I found a documentary video on Vimeo (6mins) that delves into the architectural philosophy behind the construction:

We attended the first guided tour with a specialist at 9am as they were opening, so the bathers were just beginning to arrive. It’s a popular spot, but if you’re an earlybird you will get the worm in Portugal because the Portuguese are not morning people — the parking lots along Avenida da Liberdade were still mostly empty at 9 o’clock. I predict we’ll be back here before the summer’s out, but with swimsuits and without the cameras.

Piscina das Marés, Leça da Palmeira (Porto, Portugal) (1)

Piscina das Marés, Leça da Palmeira (Porto, Portugal) (2)

Piscina das Marés, Leça da Palmeira (Porto, Portugal) (3)

Piscina das Marés, Leça da Palmeira (Porto, Portugal) (5)

Piscina das Marés, Leça da Palmeira (Porto, Portugal) (6)

Piscina das Marés, Leça da Palmeira (Porto, Portugal) (7)

Piscina das Marés, Leça da Palmeira (Porto, Portugal) (8)

Piscina das Marés, Leça da Palmeira (Porto, Portugal) (9)

Piscina das Marés, Leça da Palmeira (Porto, Portugal) (10)

Piscina Das Marés
Avenida da Liberdade
4450-716 Leça da Palmeira

Website: http://www.matosinhosport.com/gca/?id=440
Tel: 22 995 2610
Email: geral@matosinhosport.com

HOURS: June-September, every day 09:00-19:00

Lat: 41 ° 11’34.40 “N
Long: 8 ° 42’27.58 “W

July 4, 2015
Album: Portugal [Summer 2015]

Porto, Granito e Sonho: Street Theatre On Rua Das Flores (photos)

Porto, Granito e Sonho: Street Theatre On Rua Das Flores (1)

This is a pictorial continuation of yesterday’s post of video clips from Porto, Granito e Sonho, a series of theatre performances between São Bento Railway Station and balconies above Rua das Flores depicting the history of Porto and brought to life by Locomotiva, a six-month arts project by the City of Porto. It was a production on a rather grand scale, with five directors and around 400 theatre performers (professionals and students) from ACE Escola de Artes / Teatro do Bolhão and other performing groups such as Alunos da ESAP, Coral Amigos da Música de Espinho, Coral de Letras da UP, UATIP, and more. Although the video clips do a better job of showing theatre than photography, these performances yesterday were very physical and musical — you wouldn’t need to know Portuguese to enjoy them.

Locomotiva’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/portolocomotiva

What I also find interesting is how well Rua das Flores is set up for this kind of theatre, with balconies on most floors. It made me wonder how easy it was to arrange access to the balconies, since the street is now flourishing with businesses and some of them are short-term rental apartments. It’s mostly a pedestrian street, and the crowd watching the performances from below weren’t given notice where the performers would be next, it only later became apparent that the action flowed from the train station down the street towards the river.

Rua das Flores has seen tremendous growth over the past few years, with extensive renovations turning the street into a hive of commercial activity. When I first arrived, Rua das Flores was fairly empty, but now it’s one of the busiest streets in the city, buzzing with tourists and trade. I hope no matter how busy the street gets, that it keeps the balconies open for street theatre.

Porto, Granito e Sonho: Street Theatre On Rua Das Flores (2)

Porto, Granito e Sonho: Street Theatre On Rua Das Flores (3)

Porto, Granito e Sonho: Street Theatre On Rua Das Flores (4)

Porto, Granito e Sonho: Street Theatre On Rua Das Flores (5)

I have always made a point to focus on the arts in this web space wherever I’ve lived, but I do so especially here in Portugal. Why? Because there is this tendency for governments to cut arts funding in time of economic hardship and Canada is guilty of this, but that is not the case here in Portugal, a country where you’d expect the governments to cut all funding indefinitely. Instead, there are cultural events happening all the time, and the municipalities and regions in Portugal continue to promote the arts to a degree I’ve never seen in Canada, where event producers must turn to the private sector and beg corporations for sponsorship. Of course, arts stories like this don’t ever make it to the news, so readers outside of Portugal who rely on news never get the full story of what it’s truly like to be here. Little blogs like mine exist, in part, to fill in the gaps.

Porto, Granito e Sonho: Street Theatre On Rua Das Flores (6)

Porto, Granito e Sonho: Street Theatre On Rua Das Flores (7)

Porto, Granito e Sonho: Street Theatre On Rua Das Flores (8)

Porto, Granito e Sonho: Street Theatre On Rua Das Flores (9)

Porto, Granito e Sonho: Street Theatre On Rua Das Flores (10)

Porto, Granito e Sonho: Street Theatre On Rua Das Flores (11)

June 27, 2015
Album: Portugal [Summer 2015]

Porto, Granito e Sonho: Street Theatre On Rua Das Flores (videos)

Porto, Granito e Sonho: Street Theatre On Rua Das Flores

My errands in Porto today led us to a street theatre event in the city centre called “Porto, Granito e Sonho”, performed around São Bento Railway Station and Rua das Flores. Afterwards, we also bumped into a friend while we were having dinner in Miragaia and stayed late, which means I have just one photo for this post and the rest are video clips taken by my phone until I have time to upload the pictures. (Because I’m older now and everything seems to take forever.)

(There are four video clips below, which you may not be able to see if you view this in an RSS reader.)

June 27, 2015
Album: Portugal [Summer 2015]

A New View In Porto: Casa Da Música’s Roof Terrace

Casa da Música's terrace view

Even after living in Porto for a year and a half, I still couldn’t say I knew Casa da Música all that well. I’d visited a few times and the most I’d seen was a symphony rehearsal, not even an actual concert.

But today that all changed. Now I know it probably better than most people in Porto!

Casa da Música is having an Open House for the next few days to celebrate its 10th anniversary, and through a chance retweet, I discovered that they were offering free technical tours of the building during their anniversary program. I’ll explain more in the post how it came to be, but I ended up on not one but two tours of CDM today, one this morning of the public spaces (in French) and another in the afternoon of the personnel-only spaces (in Portuguese). As a result, I spent a total of about three hours actively touring the entire building: the nooks and crannies, control rooms, storage rooms, filtration systems, rehearsal spaces, racks of costumes, rooms of instruments, sheet music, and banks of computers keeping track of lighting and sound and air temperature and humidity. I’m a production geek and love to see behind the curtains.

But after all that I could really use some sleep. Tomorrow I’m going on a Porto Food Tour because I won a giveaway on Nelson Carvalheiro’s blog, which means I’ll have some new food spots to share with you afterwards. This photo above is my latest discovery after exploring Casa da Música: they have a roof terrace with an incredible view! (Here’s what it looks like from above.) I loved it so much I returned there four times through the course of the day. I’ve never heard anyone mention this spot before, but now that I know about it, I will be back!

April 10, 2015
Album: Portugal [Spring 2015]

São Bento Railway Station At Blue Hour

São Bento Railway Station, Porto

I’ve talked about blue hour before, most recently to show pictures from Poland, but I don’t think I’ve shown many blue hour photos here in Portugal. One of the reasons why blue hour is a good time to shoot architecture is because it’s the best shade for the sky to contrast with the deep orange/yellow of the sodium vapour lights used on buildings and street lamps. In RGB (digital display), blue and yellow are complementary (opposite) colours. When the night falls, that second colour disappears into black and the mood completely changes.

Try it out on a well-lit building of your favourite vintage, with or without a tripod, and let me know how it goes.

January 10, 2015
Album: Portugal [Winter 2014/2015]

Aduntorium Non Constant 2

Aduntorium Non Constant 2 (Porto, Portugal) (3)

DaVinci Gallery, Porto

Exposição/ Leilão de arte, com vista à angariação de fundos para a Liga Portuguesa Contra o Cancro-NRN
Exposition / Art Auction fundraiser for Portuguese Cancer League
DaVinci Art Gallery, Porto
November 29, 2014

This is my second year to shoot Aduntorium Non Constant; last year’s event was spread over the entire weekend (Friday to Sunday):

Exposição: Aduntorium Non Constant (2013)
Aduntorium Non Constant: Leilão/Auction (2013)

This year the event format was modified to accommodate the expanded volume of artwork available for auction (nearly triple the number of pieces), shortened to two days, and the location moved from Matosinhos to downtown Porto. The exhibit and auction took place today, and tomorrow is the second day of the exhibit with a silent auction for the remaining works of art. All pieces were donated by the artists, as was the venue and the base materials given to the artists. Two representatives from the Liga Portuguesa Contra o Cancro were on hand to introduce the event and encourage bidders to donate generously.

There are a LOT of pictures still to edit and upload, but I’ve got a list of the sold pieces and will give upload priority to photos of pieces which aren’t sold yet. Eventually the photos of all the artwork will be added to the album, so check back for additions:

Album: Aduntorium Non Constant 2

Aduntorium Non Constant 2 (Porto, Portugal) (1)

Aduntorium Non Constant 2 (Porto, Portugal) (2)

Aduntorium Non Constant 2 (Porto, Portugal)

The full album is best viewed as a full-screen slideshow:

[full-screen slideshow]

Saturday Smörgåsbord In Porto

street art in Porto

street art in Porto

I gave up on a more descriptive title for this post because today was such a mixed bag of activity that it defied a title. Our main plan was to check out the Festival Internacional de Marionetas do Porto (International Puppet Festival of Porto), but we wound up seeing a puppet show only at the end of the day and spent the rest of the time walking around and visiting the Centro Português de Fotografia (Portuguese Centre for Photography). There is always so much going on in Porto — all year — that I find it’s often easier just to show up around the centre and stumble upon events spontaneously than to try and fit them all in through rigorous planning.

These photos are just a smattering of what we saw (and ate) today, including street art, exhibits, churches, and Galician food. The rest you’ll find in the Autumn 2014 album.

heritage tram at Clérigos (Porto, Portugal)

heritage tram at Clérigos

heritage tram (Porto, Portugal)

Tram 22 on Rua de Santa Catarina

heritage tram (Porto, Portugal)

Rua de Santa Catarina

Rua 31 de Janeiro (Porto, Portugal)

Rua 31 de Janeiro

Praça da Batalha (Porto, Portugal)

Praça da Batalha

capoeira in front of Sáo Bento Station (Porto, Portugal)

capoeira in front of Sáo Bento Station

street art (Porto, Portugal)

Porto has no shortage of street art

pimento padron (Galician specialty) in Largo São Domingos (Porto, Portugal)

pimento padron (Galician specialty) in Largo São Domingos

(Porto, Portugal)

street cats and street art

(Porto, Portugal)

Clérigos and heritage tram

Igreja de São José das Taipas (Porto, Portugal)

Igreja de São José das Taipas

Igreja de São José das Taipas

Igreja de São José das Taipas

The rest of the photos are from Centro Português de Fotografia, where we happened upon the launch of two exhibits: TOET, The Other European Travellers, and a tapestry rug, which you’ll see further below (I’m still searching for info about this rug!).

Centro Português de Fotografia (Porto, Portugal) (21)

Centro Português de Fotografia’s courtyard doubles as a football pitch

Centro Português de Fotografia (Porto, Portugal) (13)

map of Europe, in photos (Exhibit: TOET – The Other European Travellers)

The TOET exhibit — The Other European Travellers — is a project of contemporary stories of mostly southern Europeans who left their homelands for countries further north in Europe to work. The travelling exhibition is a compilation of personal archives, from family albums and collections:

THE OTHER EUROPEAN TRAVELLERS is a photographic project developed by a selection of european photographers with the support of a group of experts and reknown artists.

This initiative – supported by EU Cultural Programme – aims to explore through a map of contemporary stories, the experiences of european citizens and their families who, for economic reasons, left their countries of birth to starting a new life in new lands.

TOET focuses on migrations between 1950 and 1980, mainly from south (Spain, Portugal, Greece and southern Italy) to central and northern Europe (France, Germany, UK and Belgium).

TOET aims to recover the memory and the collective imagination of these citizens, key figures in the construction of modern Europe, and also intending to offer an artistic and archival legacy for future generations, using the image as a vehicle for transmitting experiences.

TOET has been conducted by 1 coordinator, 3 co-organisers and a network of european cultural institutions.

As an expat and migrant several times over, this exhibit was very interesting to me. My favourite part was the one below, by Alberto Rojas Maza, of Spain:

Centro Português de Fotografia (Porto, Portugal) (14)

postcard magnets (Exhibit: TOET – The Other European Travellers)

Paint, Paint, Paint!

In 1958, and after finishing his studies of medicine, my uncle Enrique (1932-2009) left to Mannheim in Germany, where he started to do odd jobs until he could exercise his profession as a doctor in a hospital. He stayed there ’til 1965. Throughout this period, and in a permanent manner, he sent a series of postcards to his brother, Antonio (1930-1994), an artist who lived in Seville. The majority of the postcards depicted paintings from the museums he visited in his free time. Antonio “deposited” those postcards among the pages of an Art encyclopaedia, which I received years later through my father.

Centro Português de Fotografia (Porto, Portugal) (15)

magnetized postcards written by the artist’s uncle to his brother in Spain (Exhibit: TOET – The Other European Travellers)

The building that houses the centre used to be a jail back in the day… can you tell?

Centro Português de Fotografia (Porto, Portugal) (16)

artist’s opening

Centro Português de Fotografia (Porto, Portugal) (17)

artist’s opening

Centro Português de Fotografia (Porto, Portugal) (18)

taking in the views

Centro Português de Fotografia (Porto, Portugal) (19)

spy cameras

Centro Português de Fotografia (Porto, Portugal) (20)

Centro Português de Fotografia has a modern jailbird (hand by Paulo)

October 11, 2014
Album: Portugal [Autumn 2014]

Arrábida Bridge, Porto

Arrábida Bridge (Porto, Portugal)

20 sec, ƒ/18, ISO 160, 17 mm

There’s a vehicle bridge called Arrábida that spans the Douro River between Gaia and Porto, which is also the bridge closest to where the river meets the ocean. On Saturday Paulo and I met Carlos in Porto to shoot the last rays, and I suggested that we head towards Foz, otherwise we’d run out of light too quickly and we’d have to move closer to catch the sun disappearing over the horizon. On our way there, I spotted the Arrábida Bridge and suggested we stop to shoot it. The light was wrapping all around it, and since it’s well into December, the light would not hang around much longer.

The Arrábida Bridge is currently 50 years old. At the time of its completion in 1963, it was the largest concrete arch in the world.

Arrábida Bridge (Porto, Portugal)

I find this bridge unusual in that the design of the span is concentrated on the underside rather than the side or above, as most bridges are. From the side, Arrábida looks rather plain and there really isn’t anything to see when you’re driving over it. But the advantage of this as a passenger in a vehicle is the open view to the ocean. When there are spans in the way, just try and get a clear shot of the view — sometimes it’s next to impossible if the spans are close together or the moving vehicle is going too fast. But the real beauty of the Arrábida bridge is best viewed from below, by passing boats or pedestrians. It’s as if the engineer, Edgar Cardoso, turned the concept of modern bridge-building upside-down: utility and functionality on top, aesthetics on the bottom.

I’ve shot a lot of bridges over the years and I typically have to position myself higher to get the best view, because bridge undercarriages are generally unsightly. It can also be a bit perilous to look up since bridge traffic vibration can dislodge debris, not to mention the danger of getting hit by litter thrown out of cars (which peeves me to no end)!

Arrábida Bridge (Porto, Portugal)

It took a heavy tripod with a ball head and 18 seconds with a wide lens to capture the top and bottom photos, and I was able to get water reflections in the top photo. Since I uploaded this picture, people have commented on its resemblance to a corset back (familiar to me after dozens and dozens of weddings, and wedding dresses!) or a zipper. Do you see something else?

Saturday Preview: Sunset and Night-Shooting In Porto

Arrábida Bridge (Porto, Portugal)

Arrábida Bridge

Preview shots because Saturday was filled with a series of activities but my chest cold is sending me to bed now, in protest. More to follow.

an appliance shop window (Porto, Portugal)

an appliance shop window

Igreja da lapa, Porto

Christmas concert at Igreja da lapa

Christmas lights in Porto

Christmas lights in Porto

Album: Portugal Autumn 2013

Wednesday Afternoon In Porto

Porto, Portugal

Last week I had arranged to meet a couchsurfer in Porto today for language exchange mixed in with some photowalking. The intention was to train my English ear for Portuguese with someone who isn’t family. Well, you know what they say about best-laid plans.

“Bring your camera,” I wrote in the email. I offered photography lessons/tips in exchange for his Portuguese to make it more of an exchange, since he already spoke English. It seemed imbalanced on my side, and when he said he wanted to learn more about how his SLR worked, I turned it into a photo-walking-talking excursion. This wasn’t a bad idea, but it led to very little Portuguese and a whole lot more English speaking from me to explain what the menus, dials, and buttons were on his camera. Which didn’t surprise Paulo one bit, when I told him later.

Porto, Portugal

Nevermind, I said. The Portuguese will come.

(This isn’t my first attempt at language exchange. A year ago, when my plans for moving to Portugal solidified, I found a Brazilian guy who offered to do a language exchange with me in Toronto. He’d just finished his graduate degree in Quebec City and wanted to improve his English and move to English-speaking Canada. Before he returned to Brazil we embarked on an exchange which was his Portuguese for business English and my reworking of his LinkedIn profile. We met at the Reference Library and he helped me find some European Portuguese language books/DVDs, which wasn’t easy! Portuguese language resources default to Brazilian Portuguese.)

Anyway, I didn’t take as many photos as I usually do since the purpose of the afternoon was talking versus shooting, but it was time well-spent in the photography department. Whether it’s through instruction or inspiration, I feel what you know should be shared with others.

Not to mention, you become more aware and on the lookout for unusual things, like this tree covered in crochet:

crochet tree in Gaia (Porto, Portugal)

crochet tree in Gaia (Porto, Portugal)

crochet tree in Gaia (Porto, Portugal)

crochet tree in Gaia (Porto, Portugal)

crochet tree in Gaia (Porto, Portugal)

And as you can see, Porto itself and the area surrounding the Douro River is very picturesque. It’s also very hilly, which means it has plenty of viewpoints and angles. And stairs! Great if you like the exercise. For the rest, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Nightshooting In Porto


After the Francesinha Festival in Porto Tuesday night, we made our way to the historic Guarany Cafe to meet some others for beverages. Its central location gave me plenty of opportunities for nightshooting along the way, an activity I very much enjoy (made even more joyful with FX, not just DX) but was one of the sacrifices at the altar of work for what felt like too long.

Living in Toronto, my urban nightshooting consisted mostly of contemporary architecture, streetscenes in different seasons, motion blur… you’ll see an assortment here, in Flickr. There’s an evolution in the photography, I believe, once residence is taken up versus just-passing-through. I haven’t yet created that mental list of places to return to for nightshooting, although bridges and bridges lit at night have a magnetic pull on my eyes. Lucky for me, Porto is situated where the river meets the ocean and thus has lots of bridges. The other thing about Porto is the dramatic layering created by its hilly streets. It avoids the horizontal skyline effect that Toronto has, due to lakeside Southern Ontario being very flat. Instead, Porto and the surrounding area is built on steep riverbanks, which give it a vertical as well as horizontal dimension. Here I often hold the camera in a portrait position to capture the layers.

I don’t take my working cameras everywhere, but I do take the mobile, although it doesn’t come anywhere close to the low-light capabilities of the DSLRs. With the tremendous wave of mobile phone pics flooding social media, there are murmurs and debate over the DSLR becoming too bulky and expensive and getting pushed out of the mainstream. It’s true these devices are bulky and expensive, for the average consumer. But whatever your heart’s desire will always prevail — if you think it’s too much work to carry around the equipment compared to what you are getting out of it, then the capabilities of the equipment won’t be enough to make you carry it around. There’s a big used market for these devices that people buy thinking it will make them like photography more, but end up on a shelf gathering expensive dust. Better for me — I buy from that market, to save money. The results are the same, whether a 100 shutter count or a 100,000 shutter count.

Contrary to perception, nightshooting doesn’t require a tripod unless the exposures are longer than can be achieved either holding very still, against a fixed structure, or setting the camera down on a fixed structure and using a self-timer to reduce the shake from pressing the shutter. All of the photos here were taken hand-held. I don’t like to carry a tripod unless I’m doing a very long motion blur (and if the object is going fast enough, it can be shot hand-held even with a point-and-shoot) or doing a longer exposure like lit objects at night. I’ve learned how to avoid using a tripod in most situations by finding substitutes, like postboxes.

Something I’ve come to appreciate these days in Porto with nightshooting is that I’m not alone here like I was in Toronto. Nightshooting should be done with other people, for safety reasons. As a female travelling solo around the world for many years, I assumed a lot of risk from shooting at night by myself — one particularly dangerous situation in 2007 outside the medina in Fez, Morocco, comes to mind — and I’m relieved to report no harm came to me. Some close calls, but nothing serious. For that I’m grateful, and I’m grateful to not be faced with this dilemma anymore (to shoot or not to shoot at night).

Guarany Cafe/Restaurante, Porto


São Bento train station, Porto



bus blur in Porto


Sunday At Serralves: Festa De Outono

Serralves (Porto): Sweetgum Tree Avenue

Serralves: Sweetgum Tree Avenue

Serralves is Paulo’s favourite garden in the city of Porto. We spent all of Sunday here, to take in an Autumn Festival (“Festa De Outono”) loaded with family activities. As you can imagine the park was teeming with kids, but most of the time it is very tranquil. Serralves is much more than a garden, however, it’s actually a very large complex and grounds which would take much more than one visit to explore.

Official site: Serralves (Portuguese), English version

Serralves (Porto)

From Wikipedia:

Serralves is a cultural institution located in Porto, Portugal, and one of the most important of all the country. It includes a Contemporary Art Museum, a Park and a Villa, each one an example of contemporary architecture, Modernism, and Art Deco architecture. The Museum, designed by Álvaro Siza Vieira, is now the most visited museum in Portugal (more than 300,000 visitors per year) and one of most relevant in the contemporary art circuit in Europe.

Serralves (Porto)

Serralves (Porto)

Serralves (Porto)

Serralves (Porto)

Serralves (Porto)

Serralves (Porto)

Serralves (Porto)

We’ll be back again soon, when there isn’t an event going on. I’ve started an album here:

[full-screen slideshow]

Portugal, Day 8: Porto Night Shots

Porto, as seen from Gaia across the river

Porto, as seen from Gaia across the river

Dom Luis Bridge & Gaia

Dom Luis Bridge & Gaia

We didn’t have a tripod, either! Not bad, if we do say so ourselves…

June 18, 2011
Album: Portugal 2011