born to die.



My public library has a huge collection of music cds, so I usually browse and pick up whatever catches my eye. Born to Die: The Paradise Edition was one of those curiosity grabs—since I had seen Lana Del Rey in a lot of magazines, but had no idea what she sounded like—and now I'm obsessed with it. Whenever I feel like listening to music, I find myself turning it on, and it takes me to my happy place.

La Sagrada Familia.



One of the things that was a must-do for us during our trip to Barcelona was to visit La Sagrada Familia. Construction on this uber-famous basilica, designed by Antoni Gaudi, began in 1882 and is projected to be completed in 2026. The ongoing construction was very evident—workers were hanging off the building—and added to the surreal atmosphere. Our tickets, which included the tower view, were expensive, but I hardly minded since the ticket sales fund the construction. How cool to contribute even a tiny bit to such an amazing building.


I'd read to buy the tickets online beforehand to avoid long lines, but the truth is if you don't buy them ahead of time you may not be able to get in not matter how long you are willing to wait. We thought we would buy them right before getting in the taxi to go over, but that whole afternoon was already sold out—and this was a non-weekend afternoon and wasn't the high tourist season. Thankfully, we had more free time and bought our tickets for the next day instead.


We got to La Sagrada Familia about an hour early, but couldn't enter until the time on our tickets, so we went to the gift shop first rather than on the way out. I bought a small guide book and was able to read it while we were waiting to go in. We also spent a lot of time just circling the outside and viewing La Sagrada Familia from all of the different angles. We had to pick ticket times for entry and for the tower separately, and it took a bit of research to figure it out what to do since it wasn't clear. We picked our tower time for 15 minutes after out entry time, which was perfect since—unlike several other famous churches I've visited—the tower is right inside the building. Our initial thought was to pick a tower time for when we thought we would be done inside the basilica (a couple of hours after entry?) or to plan to do to the tower first. I'm so glad we stopped and looked it up; if we had bought a time before the entry time, we wouldn't have been able to get in to access the tower!



The tower was a highlight of our visit, however, it is tight at times, especially with strangers crowded in front and behind you, so not recommended for the claustrophobic. It also wasn't very clear which way to go at one point, and everybody was sort of walking into each other and having to turn around. It's really, really high; there were a few spots jutting out that you could walk out onto, but there was no way I could and I'm generally not afraid of heights. It's pretty cool to look out of the tower at the city views, but also just to see the facade up close.



The inside was crazy breathtaking—the beauty of that stained glass, that ceiling, the colors and layers. Pictures can't capture it and words can't describe it, and I'm just so grateful to have been able to see it with my own eyes.



La Sagrada Familia is truly massive and there are just so many details—turtles, lizards, candy, magic numbers, and storm trooper helmets (Gaudi inspired their design) to name some of the oddest.


We spent a few hours looking around, and I don't even think we saw all of it that was open to the public. Whatever your religious beliefs, this building is a work of art—there is has never been and will never be one like it in history. I'm usually not a big see-the-sights person, but this was a truly extraordinary exception.

2nd roll (of 2016).

I got back my second roll of film (of 2016)!







These were all taken with my Nikon FA and Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/2.8 lens on Lomography Color Negative 400 film. I love the FA—although I've read that some people don't. I bought it a long time ago to take some beginner photography classes, and I don't know if it's just sentimentality and familiarity, but I think this camera is awesome. I was happy with the way these photos turned out, although I'm not crazy about the lomography film at all.. I'm hoping I like it better with a different camera, since I already bought six rolls of it.










I truly love having just a few prints in my hand, and not 500 files to sort through, delete, edit and decide whether to get printed. I hope that when I pick up my digital camera again, I can use it more like I do a 35mm camera. Maybe I should turn off the viewfinder? Or switch to manual focus?



And now, a tangent:

I had a hard time composing my photos this time, I kept saying everything's so close. I don't remember ever feeling that way about this camera and lens, and I think it's because for the last few years I've exclusively used a Sony Cybershot RX100. The difference between the RX100's 28mm wide angle and a 55mm focal length is pretty significant and I definitely prefer the wider angle. So, I decided to get another lens for my FA. Man, prices have increased in the last decade! An FA body—in worse condition than mine—and the 55mm  f/2.8 lens I used for these pictures are now double what I paid for them—at the same used camera store! I didn't want to invest very much money into a new lens, so I bought the cheaper Nikon Series E from ebay. We'll see how that goes.

(In 2010, I bought an AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 lens for my Nikon D40 digital SLR in an attempt to like it more—I've never cared for that camera—but I didn't understand that because of the crop factor on DSLRs I was basically still getting a normal 50mm focal length. I still don't like that camera. I wish I had just bought an old-school Nikon 35mm lens back then, rather than the DX one, so that I could also use it on the FA now, but you know, hindsight...)

When I took photography classes back then, nothing made sense to me. I struggled just to understand and remember all the details—ISO, aperture, shutter speeds—and how they interconnect. This time around, all that information seems intuitive—I think it found a home and settled in over all these years—so now I can look up stuff like focal lenghts and have it make sense when it wouldn't have before.

1st roll (of 2016).


I got my first roll of film back! This was the first film that I shot with my vintage Canon Canonet 28 from Barcelona (the New Canonet 28, a 35 mm rangefinder that originally sold in 1971 for a bit more than $50, around $300 in 2016 dollars). I was so pleasantly surprised by these photographs. And—unbelievably from the state of those black seals—there were no light leaks.





The photos are a lovely blend of sharp and dreamy, and almost look like there's some hint of tilt-shift effect applied.  My husband even commented that the scenes don't look real. Of course, we're comparing them to what they looked like in real life, but you may be able to see it when compared to a digital pic from the same time and almost exactly the same angle:

The photo below was taken with the Canonet 28, the one under that with my digital camera, a Sony Cybershot RX100. Film is better, no?



I'm not sure if it's the film or the camera, or both, but I love it. I asked the guy at Nostalgic for a color film and Kodak ColorPlus 200 is what he sold me. He called it cheap but good, and I really wish I had bought more rolls from him since it appears to be discontinued. I hadn't used ColorPlus before, and I also hadn't used a speed under 400 for as long as I can remember, so I'm not sure how much the film and film speed contributed to the overall look. Anyway, this little camera was so easy to use—just point, focus, and shoot—and I'm in love with it! Let me be perfectly honest though, there were times when I just couldn't get the shot. There is a sweet spot, light-wise, for using the Canonet 28 and I'm still learning when I shouldn't even bother taking it with me.

Remembering that I knew nothing about this camera when I bought it—I originally had my heart set on an autofocus camera—and decided to completely trust the guy at Nostalgic, I'm even more thrilled. Why can't my local photography shop be more like that? I won't even get into my experience getting this film developed here at home, suffice to say I'm still looking for a good lab.  More information about the Canonet 28 can be found here.