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Photography Travel

Infrared Photographs: Faves from 2016

I traveled a fair amount again this year and my infrared converted Nikon D300 comes with me. I thought I’d finish up 2016 with my favorite infrared images from my travels throughout this year.

Zion National Park (left), Barcelona, Spain (right)

Santa Maddalena Val di Funes, Italy

Lago di Carezza, Italy (left), Passo Gaiu, Italy (right)

Passo Sella, Italy

Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain

Barcelona (left), Mineral de Pozos, Mexico (right)

Val d’Orcia, Tuscany, Italy

Near Cortona, Tuscany, Italy

Passo Giau, Dolomites, Italy

Michoacan, Mexico

Michoacan, Mexico

Check out more of my images by viewing my story on Steller:

Photography Travel

Las Fallas: The Sights and Sounds at Night

The Las Fallas festival in Valencia, Spain is filled with activity all day and is especially colorful, loud and bright at night. Every neighborhood comes alive with street parties, music, processions, loud firecrackers and crowds milling around the fallas monuments while eating buñelos or churros dunked in hot chocolate. The atmosphere at night was very festive!  Here’s some night shots I took during the 2016 Las Fallas festival in March.

The fallas monuments are lit up and take on a new mood after dark.

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The beautiful “Illuminations” shine brilliantly and light shows are choreographed to music. These huge lighting structures take up an entire city block and are several stories tall. So beautiful!!


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The massive fireworks display during Nit de Foc is well worth staying up until 1:00am to watch among the massive crowd near the Alameda.

nit de foc 01 nit de foc 02The grand finale, on March 19th, is the night of La Crema, when more than 700 fallas monuments scattered throughout Valencia are set ablaze surrounded by millions of spectators. There are a large number of firefighters carefully watching these massive structures burn and shoot flames high into the air, readily spraying water on them to make sure the fires stay under control and don’t damage nearby buildings. It was spectacular!

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Here’s a few videos of La Crema taken by people who had a much better vantage point to film than I did:

Falla Convento (the one on the corner of the street where we stayed):

The Main Falla in Plaza del Ayuntamiento:

Falla L’Antiga de Campanar:


Photography Travel

Valencia: Ofrendas and Falleras

For two days during the Las Fallas festival, the city of Valencia, Spain was abundant with parades of falleras and falleros in traditional costumes accompanied by musicians and bands.  Over 100,000 people from Valencia and surrounding regions brought offerings of flowers to the centre of Old Town Valencia to pay homage to La Virgen de los Desamparados (Our Lady of the Forsaken), the Kingdom of Valencia’s patron saint.

During the week leading up to the event, Valencians constructed a huge wooden monument of the La Virgen in the Plaza de la Virgen.  On March 17th and 18th, this wooden framework was soon filled in with thousands of bouquets of carnations during La Ofrenda de Flores. I became captivated with this amazing tradition: one by one, each of the hundreds of falla communities, dressed up in their best and most colorful traditional costumes, passed by the Virgin bringing their flower offerings. The flowers were gathered up and placed into the framework “cloak” by teams of volunteers. These processions lasted for two days, 9 hours each day from 4:00 pm to 1:00 am. The parades were quite joyful as the beautifully costumed groups danced and sang to folk music as they passed by the crowds who responded with shouts of “guapa”!  These processions were also quite emotional — I noticed many women wiping away tears upon reaching La Virgen and presenting their flowers.

La Ofrenda de Flores was a very inclusive tradition, with people of all ages participating — from babies, to the elderly, to the mobility challenged. It was an amazing event to witness and to photograph. My eyes fill with tears just thinking about how memorable it was to watch.

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Photography Travel

Las Fallas: Preparing the Fallas

Las Fallas is one of those large and wild festivals in Spain that should be on any festival-goers bucket list. What started as a feast day for St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters, has evolved into a 5-day, multifaceted celebration involving fire and fireworks. Valencia, a quiet city with a population of just over 1 million, swells to an estimated three million flame-loving revelers during Las Fallas celebrations. I’m one of those millions of people currently in Valencia to take part in this festival.

During Las Fallas, hundreds of exquisitely-crafted monuments called “fallas” are set up throughout Valencia. Each neighborhood’s falla can cost hundreds of thousands of euros and teams of artists have work on these for an entire year.  Valencians create these fallas, which are incredible works of art as unique, funny, satirical and thoughtful tributes to past year.

The fallas have been getting set up over the last few days using cranes, workers to assemble each piece and craftsmen to touch them up with paint.   They must be completely assembled by tomorrow morning and then the judging will begin. The best fallas will receive rewards. They will be on display until March 19th, La Crema, when (you might have guessed) they set them all on fire!

As I’ve strolled around the neighborhoods near me and in Old Town Valencia, I’ve been photographing some of the fallas as they are being assembled to give you an idea of the amount of work and the scale of the fallas.

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Food Travel

Barcelona: Foodlover Tapas Tour

While I’m here in Spain, I made a quick trip via high-speed train to Barcelona for a few days.  As part of one of my excursions, I signed up for a Foodlover Tapas Tour. Along with our guides Javier and Daniel, there were 8 of us hailing from the USA, Germany, Luxemburg and the UK. There were a great bunch and it was fun to share food and stories with them! Here’s photos of all the tapas I tried along with plenty of wine (of course).

Our first stop was La Boudequeta Provença:

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Octopus Salad, Ensalada de Pulpo

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Bread with Tomato, Pan Con Tomate

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White wine from the Pamplona region.

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Fried Anchovies, Boquerones Fritos

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Salt Cod Croquettes, Croquetas de Bacalao

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Fried Baby Squid, Chopitos

Stop number two was a few blocks away and a small rustic and intimate tavern, Taverna Mediterrania:

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A handcrafted Vermouth aperitif to start.

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Mushroom and Egg Omelette

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Ox Stomach Stew, Tripe Aita

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Steamed Mussels, Mejillones al Vapor

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More fried anchovies, Boquerones Fritos

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Chickpea Stew with Morcilla, Cocido

Our final stop of the night was Bardot in the L’Eixample district:

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Beef Croquettes

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Calamari and Beans

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Salt Cod Omelette

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Braised Oxtail

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Vegetable Risotto with Pancetta

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Grilled Beef Steak, Chuleton

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Postres — Chocolate Torte and Crema Catalan with Ice Cream

We finished off near midnight satiated and quite happy.  I really enjoyed the people in our tour group, and Javier and Daniel were great guides!  I’d do another Foodlover tour next time I’m back in Barcelona!

Photography Travel

Valencia: My first Mascletá!

I’m reporting in from Valencia, Spain where I am currently documenting an amazing festival called Las Fallas.

The famous Fallas is Valencia’s most anticipated annual festival, featuring the ear-splitting Mascletá celebration which happens every day from the beginning of March until the end of the festival on the 19th of March. Each day, strings of hundreds of large firecrackers are hung by local groups in the town square. At 2pm sharp each day, thousands of onlookers and party-goers gather in the main square, Plaza del Ayuntamiento, to enjoy the explosive choreography of the petardos, the lighting of hundreds of firecrackers in all of their cadenced power and glory. Fireworks artists are allowed to use a maximum of half a metric tonne of black powder in their show as they compete for the best Mascletá.

mascleta 027 Las Falleras Mayores on the balcony of city hall getting ready to announce the lighting of the fuse.

mascleta 025 The crowd gathers at the Plaza. The barricaded area behind the tall fence is filled with fireworks.

mascleta 029-6 mascleta 029-12It was amazingly loud during those 6 minutes of non-stop explosions in the sky. I captured it on video while holding my camera over everyone’s heads.

La Mascletá in Valencia, Spain from Carol Watson on Vimeo.

I’ll be back again tomorrow to see what the next team of pyrotechnic freaks offers up to compete with today! My goal is to get to the plaza early and get in closer.

Photography Travel

Barcelona – Oh My Gaudi!

During our Spain trip we made a quick overnight trip to Barcelona via high-speed train from Valencia. In 3 hours, we were in the playground of famous architect Antonio Gaudi. I planned our itinerary around his famous buildings. It was nothing short of amazing. Being in Basilica de La Sagrada Familia was magical. I have never been to such an spectacular place. I was in awe the entire time I was there. It’s still being constructed and is expected to be complete in 2026. I will plan on going back again when it’s done.

Here’s a series of infrared photographs of the works of Gaudi in Barcelona including La Pedrera, Parc Guell and Basilica de La Sagrada Familia (sans cranes). Color images and video will follow in upcoming posts.