In the heart of it...

Manifestation is a very real and powerful tool. Similar to my trip to London and Paris , I could see Barcelona coming. I could not see it in all of its detail, but I "knew" I was going to travel there and was starting to proclaim things about it beforehead. In particular, I was quite confident about making it to an FC Barcelona match. 

It was December 30th, 2017 and some friends from high school whom also live in Pasadena, CA, were gracious enough to invite me over for dinner. They are avid travelers so the topic came up and I was pleased to share that I had a trip to Spain in the works. They asked what I planned on doing and my usual response is "just walk the streets and enjoy the architecture..." which I love to do, but for Barcelona, I added a little detail. It was something along the lines of, "I also think I'll go check out an FC Barcelona game while I'm in town..."

Up until this moment, the ONLY preparation I had made for the trip was purchasing the round-trip flight. No hotel yet, no spending money, no plans. The trip was barely real. Who knew if I'd follow through or if it would come together in time...

If you're reading this, you can tell that my words came true. It was an incredible experience. What a way to take in the experience of Barcelona by watching their beloved, world -renown, soccer club. The energy an excitement began right away outside of the stadium, the illustrious, Camp Nou


Once inside the stadium, the atmosphere and energy were electric and I happily made my way to my seat:


I ended up purchasing the ticket through StubHub and it was from a season ticket holder with a GREAT VIEW. I was shocked to be so close. 


Game on! 

FC Barcelona won this day, against Athletic Bilbao, by a score of 2-0. I was somewhere in between just being a sports fan and enjoying the game, and of course being a photographer and trying to grab shots. I've not photographed sports very much, but with the relatively close seat, it made it easier. I was working with a 24-120mm and zoomed as closely as possible. I will say two things about the images before just letting them fly. First, the start of the game was around 4:30pm local time, so the stadium cast a shadow over itself. I embraced that in post and it made for some really fun contrast shots, with players in intense sun and shade. The second thing....

The lesson of the Lens Hood 

You've seen professional photographers before, I'm sure. You've probably looked at their camera and lens for a moment. You may have noticed at the end of their lens is always a...barrel of sorts, some kind of attachment that's not covering the lens, but seems to be protecting it in some way:

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That barrel is a lens hood. It's actually pretty useful. It's function is to block light that's coming into your lens at the steep angles and prevent unwanted lens flares. You've probably seen a lens flare: 

Sometimes this effect is intentional and used to dramatic effect (see: any Michael Bay or J.J. Abrams movie) and like anything in art, it's a matter of taste. For the most part, lens flares are considered unwanted and distracting. I like them from time to time, when shooting a sunrise or sunset or an interior space like a church (like the shot above from the Sagrada Familia. Post coming soon!) It's all about intention: crafting and controlling the lens flare.

Lens hoods, again, are good because without one, light has a chance to dive into your lens at a weird steep angle and cause an unwanted lens flare:

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In practice, as a photographer, you should always use your lens hood. I...admittedly...have gotten lax with that policy. They come off in your camera bag, they are loose, they fall off the lens sometimes...I started to notice after a while that my normal practice was to just leave the lens hood in my bag and shoot without it.

But what about lens flares? I even had a friend ask me about that while in Seattle.  I kind of shrugged, because 99.95% of the time I've not had a problem. No weird flares. But on this day, the snake bit me. I was enjoying the game, snapping away, naturally checking my monitor from time to time and saw it; this beautiful little rainbow in the corner of the images. Sigh. I'll say no more. You'll see it and you'll know exactly what it is. All that said, what a game to watch:


A couple of crowd shots of a post-goal reaction. Love this first guy, hailing the crowd:


Gotta love sports/press photographers and their massive zooms:



You can't go to an FC Barcelona game and not talk about Lionel Messi. Born in Argentina, playing for Argentina's national team in many World Cups, but professionally playing here in Barcelona for FC, he is considered one of the best footballers in the world. He draws a lot of comparison to another famed footballer, Diego Maradona, because of their Argentine roots, great ball handling skills, and overall success in spite of their relatively diminutive height, 5'7" and 5'5" respectively. 

There's not much else to say other than it was cool to see such a great talent play live, and capturing a good number of images of him from this vantage point:


Again, what a fun experience. I'm so glad I put it out in the universe that I would come to see this game, and thankful that God moved to bring it together. Camp Nou, thanks for the memories:

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