Alicante and The Hogueras de San Juan
Alicante and The Hogueras de San Juan
This week has been hot... hot and humid. It’s made it quite difficult to get out and about and I haven’t really had that many chances for photography.
When it comes to landscape photography the conditions have definitely been against me. The combination of the northern positions of both sunrise and sunset, combined with almost cloudless skies, have left very few opportunities for the right light conditions to make either coastal or mountain shots worth the effort.
However, this week is the celebration of the Hogueras of San Juan and that has provided some opportunities to do something a bit different.
A trip into Alicante mid week allowed us time to walk around and check out the Hogueras. Hoguera is the Spanish word for bonfire and, while these technically are bonfires (because they get burnt), these hogueras are something a bit special.
Beautifully constructed statues, the tallest around 20 metres (66 feet) tall, are set up in key locations around the city. Made from wood, paper, cardboard and various other materials these have been most of a year in construction. They are displayed for a few days and then, on Saturday night, the are burned in a great big celebration (building of the next years hogueras starts on the following Monday.
Although we have no plans to visit the actual burning, far too many people for my taste, it is interesting to go an see the creations on display.
We headed into Alicante on the tram and started off with a short walk down to the port.
At one end of the port, near to the replica of the sailing galleon Santisima Trinidad, were a couple of displays.
The first one was positioned on the quayside and was quite small but it had a some fun characters, a nice view across to a larger display and to the replicate of the Santisima Trinidad Galleon. I found an angle that worked with both the composition and the light, and enabled me to get a clear shot without people in:
We moved across to the larger display that was on a floating pontoon just between the Santisima Trinidad. This one had the title of Invasors (Invaders) and, again, I was able to avoid having any people in the shot by virtue of being right up against the barrier:
We then headed back up towards the city centre. Just up from the port and on a small pedestrian area near the road was another nice display. It was quite tricky getting a shot of this one. The position of the sun was very awkward and I had to use a very wide angle lens and shoot angled up to get a composition that I felt looked nice. Because of the wide angle lens I knew I would need to correct some vertical later so I tried to compose accordingly:
Some of the biggest displays are near to the town hall in the Placa de Ajuntament. This made for some interesting opportunities. First of all I had the opportunity to use the arches of the building to do a frame in frame shot of the biggest display. It changes the emphasis quite a bit but I like the way it came out:
A wide angle lens and a position looking up had an interesting effect on the perspective of this next shot. I had to straighten verticals again and I ended up doing a rather unusual crop on it (it’s a 1:2 format which I sometimes use for horizontal shots but I think this is the first time I’ve used it for a vertical) because I like the way it emphasises the height of the figure:
The buildings around the Placa acted nicely as very large reflectors and produced some quite nice light on the displays. It’s a busy spot and getting shots without people in was not going to be possible, I decided not to worry about that, they are just part of the atmosphere of the scene.
This one, smaller, display was tucked over to one side of the square near to a cafe. I quite liked having the buildings, the cafe and also the arched entrance to the square as background elements
Moving around to the cafe side of this smaller display produced an interesting view where I could have the small display in the foreground and the really big display in the near background, with the buildings forming quite a nice backdrop:
A bit of exploration down one of the side streets and we came across another set up with some great characters on display. I tried several different views on this one. It was another tricky one to get a nice angle on and, in the end, the Hawaiian shirt on the foreground character combined with the face of the large statue and the angled view of the mirror sold me on this particular angle. I would have preferred to avoid some of the elements on the edge of the frame but it was just not possible as there was so much going on on this display. Also I chose to not completely correct the verticals so as to avoid cropping too much out of the sides and bottom of the frame:
While we were in the area we decided to take a short walk up into part of the old town of Alicante. This involved a short walk and then a climb up some steps. It was very warm and humid and we were getting a bit tired at this point. We stopped off at a bar to get some much needed water and I did a quick explore up even more steps where I found a nice looking narrow street with some interesting colours in the buildings and the plants and pots. I was quite taken with the colours and overall scene and managed to get quite a nice shot of it, again choosing my composition so that I was making use of the light coloured buildings as big reflectors which really improved the quality of the light:
So that’s it for this week. A shorter post than normal but I am exploring some options for next week and we’ll just have to see what that brings
Until next time… Have a great week
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