Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Granada with National Geographic Expert Tino Soriano

Hola todos,

In the time since our last post we have been busy doing un monton of interesting things. Our time with Tino was jam packed with lessons and photographic moments. Tino is an incredibly warm and kind person, and it shows in his photos. He spent time sharing his technical knowledge of the art and relating innumerable stories of his interesting travels and experiences, but perhaps the most important lesson he gave us was that photography must have a story to tell, and in order to tell it accurately and fairly, the photographer has to establish an open relationship with his or her subject. Tino’s ability to interact on a personal level makes him a master at that, and the students saw this and learned from it.

On our first day with Tino we spent time exploring the old silk market near the cathedral and the Albaiycin, which is the old Arab and Jewish quarter that is characterized by its steep, narrow, and winding streets and its spectacular views overlooking the Alhambra from the Mirador San Nicolas. Tino mixed this in with a number of different lessons on specific photographic concepts.

On the following day we visited the Parque de las Ciencias, which is a modern day science museum that is characterized both by its exhibits as well as its modern architectural style. It was a day that yielded a number of photo opportunities and gave the students a brief background on the history of Al-Andalus, the Muslim caliphate that gave Andalucia its name and which is omnipresent in the architecture and culture of Granada and the south of Spain.

Our time with Tino was spent learning about photography and then implementing those lessons, whether it was in a private flamenco studio that has produced some of the most famous flamenco dancers in Spain or exploring the city itself. It was an amazing time, but it also seemed to pass too quickly, and before we knew it, Thursday came around and it was time for Tino to leave. The students and teachers both were sad to see him leave, and it was touching to see the emotion on the faces of both Tino and the group when they said their goodbyes.

There wasn’t a lot of time to reminisce, however, because the following day we were all fortunate to be able to participate in a once in a lifetime activity. We were allowed to visit a Toro Bravo ranch and watch while one of the most famous matadors in Spain, Salvador Vega, and a couple of fellow toreros tested out the fierce nature of six different young cows in order to determine whether or not they were of useful breeding stock. It was an unforgettable experience.

We followed that up with a trip to the Arab baths (which everyone loved!) and On Assignment work in Granada and the surrounding area. We are integrating ourselves in the rhythm and culture of life here in Granada, and it will be strange to leave when we do. We leave tomorrow for the Alpujarras and the small villages within. Until next time, un abrazo.

Hasta pronto,

Davin, Megan, and National Geographic Student Expeditions Spain