Madrid, Through The Looking Glass

Off and on for the past year, I’ve been working on this photo essay on streets in Madrid. It’s one of those things that you’re never quite sure you’re finished, but I thought it’s been long enough now, time to show it. There is no Photoshop involved and no double exposures or anything else. Just images I found with my eyes and took with one click of the shutter. Some of them are almost abstract, with multiple layers of reflections. It takes a while to ‘see’ these image opportunities as a photographer, because everyone living in cities is so used to seeing reflections that you just tune them out and no longer really even see them. I made a video out of them, and put them to a song that I like by the very talented Andrew Bird, who plays Carnegie Hall next week. It’s really best to watch it full screen. (After hitting Play, it’s the bottom-right button.) Let me know whether you like it in the comments below. Thanks for having a look and please share it with your friends!

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With the Retiro it’s not Goodbye, it’s Hasta Pronto

I recently moved away from my favourite place in Madrid, the Parque del Gran Retiro, a green oasis in the heart of the city.

There were reasons, and some justifications, too. The new apartment was bigger, with nicer floors, and lots of storage space. Those things can eventually become non-negotiable. Plus we got something of a deal on it because my cousin Jaime lived there until he decided to move with his family to Switzerland (that’s another story, and I’ll get to that sometime). Had we not taken it over the rent would have gone up but the point is, it’s a beautiful apartment in an old building in Chamberí, right downtown. Besides, we were ready for a change.

The problem was leaving the Retiro. It’s not like it’s far, you can walk there in 45 minutes from the new place, but it’s not just outside your door, either. At first Miss A and I tried to justify it by saying, ‘we’ll still come here all the time, it’s not that far’ but eventually we stopped pretending. On an average night when we just want to get out of the house we’re not going to the Retiro. We’ll miss having it so close, but that’s how it goes when you move to a different neighbourhood. You prefer some things, and miss others, hopefully in the right proportions.

The Retiro is relaxing not only because it’s a beautiful park with lots of trees and birds and away from the chaotic traffic of downtown Madrid, it’s also relaxing because that’s where other people relax. It’s catchy. There’s the young couple canoodling on the grass near the fountain, the old, well-dressed man reading the paper on the bench, smoking his pipe. On the promenade the inline skaters slalom through tiny pylons on one foot, dogs chase and sniff each other, and senior citizens languidly turn the pedals on stationary bicycles. There are cafés throughout the park, and they’re almost always busy, either with people sitting quietly, maybe reading a book, or groups of friends having beers. Everyone has a great time. It’s hard not to.

Images ©Mike Randolph, All Rights Reserved

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Party in Pamplona

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The party gets underway at the Café Iruña in Pamplona. Click to see larger.

Pamplona’s Fiesta de San Fermín, the fiesta to end all fiestas, is underway again. Hear about all the insanity in my latest podcast.

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Jamón, The Podcast. Part One

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My good friend Graham Roumieu, a very accomplished visual artist, made the above illustration for my podcast cover art. (And this one blinks every five seconds. Cool, eh?) I think it’s perfect. Funny but also elegantly simple and incisive. Thank you Graham!

In this first of a two-part series about jamón Iberico de bellota, I talk about the history of pigs and pork with author Mark Essig. If you are a fan of food and history, buy his book (see the affiliate link below). It’s impeccably researched and written in a plain, clear prose style, making it both enjoyable to read as well incredibly informative.

Get a taste of it by hitting play on the podcast link below. I hope you enjoy and thanks for listening!


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Mallorca: Lost and Found

The GR221 trail is easy to follow, but only in some places.

My friend Guillermo and I are hiking the GR221, a trail that follows the northern coastline of Mallorca. At least we hope we are. We’re definitely hiking the coastline of Mallorca, but whether we’re on the GR221 is impossible to know. What is incontestably true is that we’re in a densely wooded valley and not where we want to be. It’s been a long day. We want to be in a town. Any town. Any town with a bar, I mean. One that serves cold beer and hot food and has a patio, preferably with a view of the Mediterranean since that’s why we came here, after all.

Instead of finding a town, however, we find yet another mountain. Worse, our mystery trail goes up it. We’re tired and sore and sweaty and so the thought of yet another uphill slog—there have been many—can only properly be described in language that I never use in public, but you get the idea. The only upside is that we must be fairly close to where the trail meets the road.

It takes us an hour to trudge up the mountainside. When we finally reach the top we can hear the traffic on the road–so close!–but there is one very big, very disconcerting problem. There’s a giant gate blocking our way, about twenty-feet-high and framed by two stone pillars equipped with a thicket of barbed wire.  Continue Reading →

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The Alhambra: The Poetry of Geometry

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An Afternoon In Ávila

A month or so ago, I went to the walled city of Ávila with some friends and family for lunch. Of course, I took my camera with me, as I always do. I didn’t have a lot of time to shoot–hey, the famous (and delicious) steak from there is huge and takes a while to get through–but I still managed to get a few shots I like.

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Paella Valenciana

Paella-ValencianaMy podcast on paella is now up! Listen to it here and sign up for the free recipe below. Adapted from the winning recipe of one of Spain’s greatest paella chefs, two-time Word Champion Julián Garcia. Trust me, you can taste the difference…

Get the authentic recipe for Paella here for FREE!

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New Podcast: The Spanish Food

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Chorizo and manteca colorada hang in the market in Cadiz, Andalusia.

With my photo book of Spain finished, I’ve been wanting to take on a new project and I’m happy to announce that it’s already online: The Spanish Food podcast! Episode numero uno is ready to download on the iTunes store here. (If you don’t have iTunes, you can also listen on Soundcloud, or right here on my own site.)

It was an easy choice for me. I love podcasts and I love Spanish food. I’ve asked a lot of travellers to Spain how important food is to them and for most people it’s not just important, it’s everything–the central thing around which all other activities are planned!

And podcasts are such a great way to, well, consume content about Spain. You just download episodes to your phone or iPad and then you can listen whenever and wherever you want. Think of it as radio on demand. And there’s something special about listening to high-quality audio. It’s been called ‘the most visual medium’ for good reason. It transports you to another place, and the sounds and words excite the imagination like nothing else.

So please join me on this new adventure. If there’s anything in particular you would like to know more about, leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

The Spanish Food

A mouthwatering new podcast from Spain. Sign Up for free updates on new episodes plus tips, recipes and more...

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Last Chance!

A Spanish mastiff, guarding a flock of sheep in the woodlands of northern Burgos, seems a bit worried about my sudden presence at the side of the road, taking pictures. Mastiffs in Spain may not be used to photographers, but are very friendly dogs, which is a good thing since they roam freely and many hiking trails crisscross their territories. They are not so friendly to wolves, however. Photo ©Mike Randolph

As of this moment, there are only 38 hours left in my Kickstarter project, a photo book on Spain, and the funding has reached 121 percent of my goal. Success! Thank you to all who have participated, and for those of you who haven’t yet, there’s still time! As a way of saying thank you to all the backers of the photo book, in addition to your name going in the credits as a photo editor, for a limited time I’ll be offering prints at super low prices. This is a one-time thing and these images–240 of them–will never be offered at this price again. Exclusive to backers of my photo book. Only a few hours left, so don’t miss out. They also make great gifts for the Spain lover in your life.

Thank you all once again. We did it together!

Un saludo muy cariñoso desde España,

Mike

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Spain by All of Us

Stallions fighting at the Rapa Das Bestas in Galica, Spain. For more information on my upcoming photo book on Spain (eight years in the making), check out either of the links below. Photo Mike Randolph

I’m excited to announce that after eight years of working towards a photo book of Spain, the day has finally arrived! Kickstarter, the popular crowdfunding website, launched in Spain today, and I wanted to be up there on the very first day. And I made it, so I’m very happy. But of course, it still has to be funded!

If you have a few moments, please take a look at the Kickstarter website to read about the project.

But first I want to say thank you for reading this blog and leaving comments. Getting your feedback and knowing that you enjoy seeing my images has been a huge source of inspiration for me. Also, seeing which images get more feedback than others has been very interesting. And it also gave me an idea. I’m not sure this has been done before, but I am going to let all my Kickstarter supporters choose which images go in the book. So instead of Spain by Mike Randolph, it’s more like a book by all of us, because everyone together will edit the book. I think it’s a pretty cool idea, I hope you do, too. It’s a small way I can thank you, and I hope you’ll participate. Check out the project for more details.

I also included many of your comments on this blog in the Kickstarter campaign. Sorry I couldn’t include you all! But a heartfelt thank you to everybody who has followed me over the last three years.

Wish me luck! And muchísimas gracias!

Mike

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Springtime in Southern Spain

Click on images for a larger view. Photo ©Mike Randolph

Last week a reader wrote to tell me that my photo of the horseback rider on the cold, wet mountain trail in Asturias was beautiful, she loved it (thank you again P), but that she wanted to see images of spring because it’s been a hard winter in Toronto, Canada, where she lives.

Since I know what that’s like, I get it. This is urgent. Continue Reading →

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Remembering La Alberca

2014. Two women negotiate the cobbled streets of La Alberca, Spain. Photo ©Mike Randolph

 

When my parents came to visit in Madrid last year, they brought with them some of my old photos, a box of a few hundred slides I’d set aside years ago. It was a random sampling of the uncounted thousands of Kodachromes and Fujichromes I have sitting in the not-so-archival environment of my parent’s damp basement in Toronto.

There are a lot of things I prefer about digital photography over film, but film has digital beat when it comes to looking at old photographs. You get to hold the actual original thing, for starters, and you can see it without having to plug anything in. Slides can’t be perfectly copied in a keystroke, they’re one of a kind. And for that same reason, you see them only once in a while. They get put into deep storage and get forgotten about until they surface sometime later, like artefacts from the past.

There was one slide in particular that caught me eye. Continue Reading →

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You Lookin’ at Me?

If you’re the kind of stork that wants to see rather than be seen, this wildlife observation tower in the province of Caceres, southwest of Madrid, is a great place to build a nest. Photo ©Mike Randolph

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The Wild West of the North

On a cold sleety day, a horseback rider makes his way along a trail in one of the wildest corners of Spain, the region of Continue Reading →

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