Monthly Archives: April 2018

Under Gray and Lowering Clouds

This morning I hoisted my camera backpack, and headed out into gray weather with lowering clouds. During the course of this day I was to experience torrential rain, steady hail, and occasional shafts of brilliant sunshine.

Before I get into today’s adventures I want to show a few images from Portmarin, where I spent the night. Whatever the politics of rebuilding this submerged city were are hard to know from this distance (it happened in the 1960s), but it truly seems too bad that this historic town was destroyed.

Here is the rebuilt fortified church, and some of the crossings of the River Mino, the river that was damned to submerge the town.

Rebuilt Romanesque Fortress Church © Harold Davis

Crossing the River Mino © Harold Davis

Besides the volatile weather, it was a remarkable walk today, with pine forests, an ancient ruined citadel that predates the Roman conquest of Iberia, and finally a country room with lace curtains!

Pine Forest © Harold Davis

Castromaior Citadel © Harold Davis

Lace Curtains © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Walking in the Gardens of Galicia

Today I walked from Morgade to Portomarin, a somewhat bigger town. Portomarin seems like an interesting place. It was completely rebuilt, brick by brick, in the 1960s, when the original townsite was flooded to make a reservoir in the Mino River. Supposedly, when the water is low towards the end of the summer, you can see the tops of the original buildings breaking the surface in the lake that laps the town’s shoreline. You’d never know the town is essentially modern. From the castle-like church to the main street’s arched arcades it looks ancient. Anyhow.

To get here I walked on paths and country roads through stands of forest, fields in flower, and beautiful, romantic vistas. The weather was intermittent sun and rain, with a period of really steady, windy, and cold downpour. It is beautiful indeed to walk in the gardens of Galicia in the spring!

Galician Fields in Bloom © Harold Davis

The Camino de Santiago is well patrolled by horse-mounted members of the Guardia Civil, not that I would have any safety concerns. Every so often there is a buffet for pilgrims, free, with hot coffee and treats, with optional payment if you care to donate.

Buffet for Pilgrims © Harold Davis

This is all too much like paradise, and my pilgrimage isn’t even completed. The only flies in my ointment: I still don’t have the suitcase that Iberia Airlines lost (by local account, Iberia is very good at losing things), and there is quite a bit of mud along the Camino this time of year. As we used to say in my long-distance backpacking days, Lord Muckmire has stretched his magical hands from Mordor and touched the path, but good!

Notes: My suitcase just arrived. Yay! I was taking a shower when there was a loud series of knocks on my room door. Slinging a towel over my naked body, I opened the door to find the landlady rolling the suitcase. Nice to have warm clothing and my tripod again. Iberia Airlines may be good at losing things—in fairness, they were also good at finding me and delivering my suitcase in an obscure location along the Camino. Good bye flies in the ointment, I am content.

Posted in Photography

First Day on the Camino

Yesterday was my first day hiking on the Camino de Santiago. I walked roughly twelve kilometers from Sarria to Morgade, a small hamlet.

Twelve kilometers is about seven miles, and it doesn’t sound like much. But I feel it!

It was really pleasant walking, with paths, country roads, high scuttling clouds, and intermittent chill and sunshine. The photo below of the Camino meeting a country lane gives the idea.

Meeting of the Ways © Harold Davis

As I expected, there were many fellow pilgrims on the trail. Mostly, they were Spanish, but some were from England, Sweden, and elsewhere. I’ve yet to meet any other Americans, but I have learned to say “Buen Camino” to everyone I meet on the way (it’s the ritual greeting specific to pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago).

Santiago de Barbadelo © Harold Davis

Besides the pastoral countryside, I passed through a number of hamlets, some of which were stocked with convenient expresso machines, and old historic buildings, like the Romanesque church from the twelfth century shown above.

At each of these stops whether for coffee or a church, the idea is to get my Credencial del Peregrino stamped, as proof that I have passed this way. You need two stamps a day to get your pilgrimage certificate in Santiago. Some locals take their stamping duties very seriously, and stamp, sign, and date my Credencial. Others are more like, here’s the stamp and a pad, go for it! I actually enjoy the process of getting my thingee stamped (I did this also on the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trail in Japan and of course it makes a great souvenir and memory jogger).

Notes: In case you are wondering, my suitcase still hasn’t caught up to me. I miss my tripod, and I could use some clean underwear and socks (this may be TMI). Also, my legs have been cold on the trail, and I could use some warmer clothes. But otherwise, less is more, and I am not really very unhappy about this. Onward pilgrim!

This story wasn’t posted yesterday because the wi-fi connectivity wasn’t up to it. Today I have arrived in Portmarin, a bit more of a town, and am able to connect to the world.

Posted in Photography

Beginning my Compostela

Today I arrived to begin my pilgrimage walking to Santiago de Compostela. I am to start tomorrow morning from Sarria. As you can see in the image, the River Sarria running through the middle of town is peaceful, but my traveler’s adventures were not entirely so, as I’ll explain below.

River Sarria © Harold Davis

In the early morning, the bus picked up our group at the Mas de Garrigue after a wonderful week’s stay. It seemed like forever—and no time at all!

Leaving the group at the Toulouse airport, I headed for Santiago de Compostela via Madrid. Unfortunately, Iberia Airlines wouldn’t check my suitcase through and said I had to retrieve it in Madrid and recheck it (a service would be bringing the bag each night to where I would be staying).

So of course my plane from Toulouse to Madrid ran late, then my bag got lost somewhere in the Madrid airport. I ended up having to race the entire length of the huge Madrid Terminal 4, the last one on the plane just as the doors were closing. Of course, my awol suitcase, whereabouts unknown, didn’t make it with me.

Well, a little bit of hardship is probably a good way to begin a pilgrimage. It kind of seems fitting to be stripped to my essentials as I begin, though I do miss my tripod, which was packed in my suitcase. I am hoping my suitcase will catch up with me sometime in the next two or three days at one of the places I am staying along the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage trail. I gave Iberia the details, and they promised to find me.

On the fairly long drive from Santiago backwards to Sarria at first the road crossed and recrossed the trail. Then things thinned out, and the vastness of the walk I am undertaking became apparent to me (I think I had discounted the distances when I thought about this from home). It took a while even by car to get here.

In Sarria, I had a nice dinner at a pub around the corner from my hotel, and bought a second pair of socks for my hardworking feet, an inexpensive raincoat just in case, and a clam shell (the pilgrimage symbol) to decorate my camera backpack.

Posted in Photography


This is the ancient and magnificent Pont Valentre in Cahors, France and its reflections in the Lot River on a clear day with still water.

Geometry © Harold Davis

Posted in France, Monochrome

Dandelion in Calvignac

Wherever I am, I cannot resist a nice dandelion! This one was in Calvignac, in the southwest of France.

Dandelion in Calvignac B © Harold Davis

Dandelion in Calvignac A © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers

Morning at the Mas de Garrigue

Waking up at the Mas de Garrigue, out my window I saw the soft light of morning on the wisteria vine on the tower. Every detail here is close to perfection, what a wonderful place to be privileged to spend some time!

Morning at the Mas de Garrigue © Harold Davis

Posted in France, Photography

Carmelite Chapel Ceiling

I photographed the ceiling of the Carmelite Chapel in Toulouse, France with my 8-15mm fisheye set to rectangular fisheye mode (meaning the 15mm setting, at 8mm this lens captures a circular fisheye image). The camera and lens, mounted on my tripod, were pointed straight up.

Carmelite Chapel Ceiling © Harold Davis

Posted in France, Photography

Blue Bottles

At the Brasserie where I had a late lunch of poached salmon and ratatouille after flying in from Madrid to Toulouse, I saw these blue bottles lined up on the bar with nice cross-lighting. On my way out I snapped a photo with my iPhone, and later processed the image in Plastic Bullet, Waterlogue, Snapseed, and ImageBlender.

Blue Bottles © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Above the Gran Via

The grand hotels and stately buildings in Madrid have to be seen to be believed, and they are often best seen from above the ground floor. This image of the decorative balconies along Madrid’s Gran Via is a composite of eight images—to manage the extremes of the dynamic range—and was made on the fourth floor. Actually, the fifth floor by US designation (here in Europe what we’d call the first floor is floor zero, and one-off discrepancy between the continents).

Above the Gran Via © Harold Davis

Posted in Monochrome

Stamp Lady

I got into Madrid this morning about 10AM, and with my door-to-door transit time approaching 24 hours, and the +9 hours time zone shift, I am definitely feeling asleep on my feet despite a few hours of sleep on the flight from Newark to Madrid. Still, I managed to get out and explore parts of this vibrant and exciting city earlier today with my camera. Now the task is to stay awake until dinner!

The upper image shows a statue in the Plaza Mayor, with the exterior covered with laminated postage stamps. The location is appropriate, because the Plaze Mayor is used to this day as a periodic open-air market for philately enthusiasts.

The lower image was taken with my iPhone, and processed in the Waterlogue and ImageBlender apps. The door shown is around the corner from my hotel on the Gran Via.

Stamp Woman © Harold Davis

Door in Madrid © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Apple Blossoms

From the median strip of nearby Arlington Avenue we clipped some branches from a beautiful, blooming apple tree. Arlington Ave is too busy for my taste, and one has to be careful of cars zooming by when one does this clipping business, but some of my best photographic subjects have come from this location—such as this cherry branch, and this blood-drawing thistle.

If you look closely, you’ll see a patch of lichen on the lower left of my light box arrangement. I particularly like this touch, because I feel it adds apparent verisimilitude to the composition.

Apple Blossoms Daze © Harold Davis

Apple Blossoms on White © Harold Davis

Apple Blossoms on Paper © Harold Davis

Apple Blossoms Inversion © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photography


Oxalis is a modest plant, considered more weed than flower. The Oxalis shown here is Oxalis stricta, also known as yellow woodsorrel or sourgrass. In season, this Oxalis grows in profusion around here in vacant lots, underneath trees, and on hillsides. It’s quite edible, and great for chewing on with contemplation. When I am in “human cow” mode and chewing on my cud of Oxalis, it is pleasing that sourgrass does not really live up to its name. It is not sour, at least not so much.

Oxalis A © Harold Davis

Oxalis B © Harold Davis

Oxalis C © Harold Davis

Related recent images: Street Grasses, Decorative Grasses, and Blades of Grass.

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Garden Flowers with Proteus

Most of the flowers in this light box arrangement come from our garden, except the Proteus. We do have a beautiful Proteus bush in my garden—Leucospermum ‘Scarlet Ribbons’—grown from infancy when my kids were also infants, to maturity now. But the Proteus in this image came from a store. The flower, that is, came from the store: not my kids!

Garden Flowers with Proteus © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers

Yum and thanks!

These wonderful chocolates arrived today! Truly, I did nothing other than dispensing a little photography advice to deserve them. So thanks Jarek! Photographed with my iPhone and processed in Snapseed.

Click here for iPhoneographs on my blog, and on my Flickr stream.

Posted in iPhone, Photography