Ponte Romana, Ponte de Lima, Portugal

The beautiful Ponte Romana, or Roman bridge, is just one of the highlights of the delightful little village of Ponte de Lima.  There’s always something going on in the town, from concerts and art shows to an annual auto rally.  But the bridge was what touched me.

It was raining the day we visited, but sometimes there are benefits to photographing in the rain.  Colors stand out more against the darker skies.  In this photo, the yellow umbrella really stands out.  The other colors- the yellow street lamps and the red roofs of the church and buildings on the opposite side of the river, are also quite striking.

On the bridge

Braganza Palace, Guimarães, Portugal

I like unusual angles.  This photo of the Dukes of Braganza Palace in Guimarães was taken from high atop the walls of Guimarães Castle.

I like how the moss on the castle walls tie in with the green grass around the palace and I like how the walls frame the palace.

Guimarães is a beautiful city, full of history.  It’s called the birthplace of Portugal, because the country’s first king, Afonso Henriques, we born here.

Palace from Castle

Fishing Paraphernalia

Many years ago I experimented with still life photography.  I enjoy fishing and decided to use some of my fishing gear to create a photograph.  This was shot on Kodak Ektachrome film.  I arranged the items on the deck and used a white cloth screen to diffuse the light and to minimize shadows.  The photo is about 30 years old.

Fishing Still Life

Ponte de Lima, Portugal

Ponte de Lima is a beautiful little village in the north of Portugal.  It was raining when we visited, but we didn’t let the weather keep us from enjoying the beauty of the town.

Rainy days can make a scene rather monochromatic.  In this case, the green farmacia sign, with it’s reflection on the wet pavement, and the red planters on the right add a little color to the scene.

Rainy Street Scene 2

Coimbra, Portugal

The old city of Coimbra is built on a hill, with the University of Coimbra at the top.  You can see the back of the Joanine Library at the top right.  It’s interesting how virtually every usable inch of the hill has been used.  An interesting ride is to take the small electric bus from the University and ride down the narrow, winding little lanes to the bottom.  It’s almost as good as a roller coaster.

There’s a lot that I like about this picture.  I like the bright colors of the buildings and sky.  I like the clothes hung out to dry on the yellow building.  People actually live here.  I like the rough stone wall in the bottom center, topped with a precarious looking staircase.  And I like the graffiti at the bottom right of the photo.

The building in the bottom left is also interesting to me.  I like the way the window arches seem to point up to the top of the hill.  The statue on the top corner of the building is enigmatic.  Is it just there for art’s sake or does it symbolize something?

Coimbra is a fascinating city.

Old Town

Branches

Another example of how you can find beautiful things anywhere.  We have a tendency to see things at eye level.  Sometimes just changing your viewpoint can result in a rewarding photograph.  Looking up through the branches of the trees gave me this interesting view of a small piece of the world.

Old Tree

Solarization

This photo was a happy accident.  I have hundreds of photos, many of which are nothing special.  I was experimenting with this using Color Efex Pro 4, a part of the NIK Collection, a series of plugins for Photoshop.  I usually just use the plugins to clean up and enhance photos; it’s rare that I radically change a photo.  In this case, though, I was able to take an ordinary photo and turn it into something much more dramatic.

Solarized Cabin

Slave Quarters, Stagville Plantation

Stagville Plantation, in North Carolina, was one of the largest plantations in the south.  By 1860 the plantation held close to 30,000 acres and nearly 900 slaves.  These cabins are original structures and housed several dozen slave families.  The cabins were very basic- one large space with no heat, no beds, no privacy.

After the Civil War, many of the slaves stayed at Stagville as sharecroppers.  Their descendants are still residents of Durham County.

Stagville Slave Cabins

Cat Nap

This cat is napping in a sunny spot at the Mercado do Bolhão in Porto, Portugal.  We went to several markets in Portugal and there seemed to be cats at all of them.  The cats serve a purpose.  They keep the market free of ratos.

Cat Napping

Fado ao Centro, Coimbra Portugal, March 2018

Fado is the national music of Portugal and our first experience with the music was in a small cultural center just a stone’s throw from  the Torre da Almedina, at the base of the stairs known as “the Backbreaker,” Rua Quebra Costa.

Fado ao Centro is dedicated to promoting the Coimbra style of Fado.  Coimbra Fado came about when male students at the University would stand in the narrow lanes of the city and serenade their sweethearts, who would listen from the window above.  This tradition has influenced the Coimbra style of Fado in several ways.

First, unlike the Lisbon version, only men can sing Coimbra Fado, and they should be students or former students of the University.  The performers wear the students’ traditional black suit and cape.  Second, the singer is accompanied by a Portuguese guitar and, sometimes, a classical, or Spanish guitar.  In the much more liberal Lisbon style the music is sometimes accompanied by piano, drums and other instruments.

Coimbra Fado’s songs are usually love songs, though occasionally a political protest song makes its way into the play list.  Finally, because of the intimacy between the singer and his beloved in the window above, clapping is not the way to show appreciation.  The proper way is to clear your throat, as if trying to get someone’s attention, kind of like the young girl’s father might do when discretely telling the gentleman caller to move along.  The girl would show her appreciation by turning her lights on and off several times.

The performance was wonderful.  The musicians were top notch and the music is moving.  There is a narrator who explains a little of the history of the music and what each song is about, and the room is full of photos and posters celebrating the artists who made Coimbra Fado famous.  For those interested, you can pick up CDs recorded by Fado ao Centro as well.