Merida, Spain – Ancient Roman Ruins

Merida, Spain is approximately two hundred miles southwest of Madrid and only a 3.5 hour ride from Lisbon. Tours of both Portugal and Spain often stop at this UNESCO World Heritage site to gaze upon the well-preserved ruins and monuments dating back to a time prior to the Christian era.

What makes Merida special among other cities on the Iberian peninsula is that it was one of the ancient Roman Empire’s most important cities and as such is home to numerous ruins. There are apparently more Roman monuments in Merida than any other Spanish municipality.

Just a short walk from the visitors center, the ruins become visible.

Distant view of the Ancient Roman Ruins of Merida, Spain

As we walked closer to the ancient structures, there were signs of the modern city which envelops this unique part of history (notice the rooftops and tower rising above the rim of the ancient walls in the background).


A closer view of the Ancient Roman Ruins of Merida, Spain

On the way to a central area, our guide pointed to a series of horizontal rocks (below) strategically placed in the middle of the “road.” Notice that there are three large structures that elevate well-above the surface. These served the purpose of our modern day speed bumps. Ancient vehicles would have to navigate these hindrances by slowing down to keep the wheels on each side of the middle obstacle.


Ancient Roman Speed Bumps

One of the two main attractions is the amphitheater. Visitor access is through the entry arch.


Archway leading to the amphitheater.

This is a view of one side of the circular area which is not fully restored.


Part of the  amphitheater partially restored

Perhaps this a better view from a bit farther away. The partially restored amphitheater shows the contrast between how it probably looked during the Roman Empire and how it was discovered; a then and now comparison.


A better view of the restored and unrestored amphitheater


Another view of the  amphitheater ruins

As depicted in many Hollywood films, this structure was used for gladiatorial combat. One can imagine the combatants walking through the entrance tunnels knowing what was facing them at the other end.


Gladiator tunnel leading to the activity circle of the amphitheater


Tourists walking through Gladiator tunnel leading to the activity circle of the amphitheater


 Opening of one of the tunnels leading to the activity circle of the amphitheater

With large crowds shouting for the victory of their favorite gladiator, the throngs needed a place to take care of their biological needs. A latrine area is pictured below.


latrine for attendees

As we walked through the restoration project, we noted some stones had a large “R” chiseled onto their face. The guide explained that the “R” signified that this was not an original stone, but a reproduction.


Restoration stone, not original

There were many original stones that have survived the centuries.


Many old original stones remain

Leaving the gladiator ring, we headed to the theater which is still used for summer productions.


Distant view of the theater nearby

Amid the scaffolding notice the statues between the columns. These are beautiful works of art representing this historic period.


A closer view of the theater, scaffolding and statues

Let’s take a closer look at some of these statues


Closer view of some of the statues


Closer view of some of the statues


Closer view of some of the statues

Some had names of their likeness (Tiberio Claudio Nero and Druso El Mayor)…..


Closer view of some of the statues

and Cayo Julio Cesar Agusto


Closer view of some of the statues

Walking through these old and almost unfathomable ruins, one cannot help being awestruck by the history and craftsmanship represented by these stone structures.


Beautiful ancient stonework

See a brief video of the Theater.

The areas immediately surrounding the ruins have been modernized with gardens, paths and water features. Rather than detract, they frame the Roman creations.


Light pink and purple flowers among the ruins


Gardens enhance the surrounding area

The importance of the UNESCO World Heritage site does note escape visitors as there are reminders throughout the town. This was a view from the front window of our bus. Notice the replica of a Roman column ruin at the center of the traffic circle.


Traffic circle with replica of a Roman column in the center

As with many magnificent finds such as this, there is often a yin and a yang. As the town plans for modern buildings, additional ruins are often uncovered. In many instances, construction must then stop and assessments made. This often delays, or in the worst case, cancels any renovations or building. As we can imagine, this must be very frustrating to current residents of Merida wanting to upgrade their properties.


Modern reconstruction delayed or canceled because of finding ruins

On the way out of town, we passed another impressive sight, a portion of the Acueducto de los Milagros (Miraculous Aqueduct). Only a small portion of the aqueduct bridge stands today. Many of the granite blocks were taken to be used on other structures before the aqueduct was a protected legacy.


Acueducto de los Milagros

Storks are fond of nesting atop tall structures and being an ancient, historical piece of history does not concern them. The White Stork is given protected status in Spain and many towns make sure they are cared for because they are of interest to tourists.


Storks nesting atop the Miraculous Aqueduct

Of course after such an excursion, we needed to stop for lunch. This is the Parador de Merida.


Parador de Merida - a fine lunch or dinner stop

The ride through the countryside to our next stop, Seville, was charming and picturesque.


Countryside on the way to Seville

Even the requisite rest stop provided intersting sights such as large pig legs and other meats offered for sale. One sign is for Paleta Ibérica Bellota, acorn-fed free range pigs. Interestingly enough hams from front and rear legs are differentiated: paleta is ham from the front leg while jamon would be from the rear leg. One famous producer is Fermin in Salamanca, Spain. (read more HERE)


Hams for sale at a highway rest stop

Learn more about The Roman Theatre of Mérida HERE

 

Next stop, Seville


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Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

Portugal – Seaside Resort of Cascais

Portugal – Lisbon’s Edward VII Park

Lisbon, Portugal – Walking the Avenue to the Rossio District

Lisbon, Portugal – Unique Gift Shop

Portugal – Evora’s Capela dos Ossos

Portugal – Historic Evora

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

Photography: My Shot at Puente Nuevo – Ronda, Spain


Puento Nuevo - Ronda Spain

It was an unusual decision for us, but we decided to take a trip to Portugal and Spain this spring. Usually we enjoy hiking the national parks and beautiful areas of the United States while our knees and joints can still take to the hills and dales America the beautiful has to offer.

One of our favorite stops on the tour was Puento Nuevo in the town of Ronda Spain. My wife and I often remark at the historic nature of towns in Europe which are very old compared to those in the United States. We tend to think of something as being old if it was founded two hundred years ago, but in Europe we are often talking about multiples of that or even thousands of years.

Ronda was first settled in the sixth century B.C. That is old! The photograph above is one of my favorite shots from our trip. It was taken from the Puente Nuevo bridge which is the largest of a number of bridges spanning the gorge of the Guadalevín River that meanders through Ronda. I was hoping to capture the beauty and uniqueness of this spot and I think I managed to do so fairly well.

 

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Metadata

File Name: ronda_spain_PuentoNuevo_DSC_3082.jpg
Capture time: 9:36 AM
Capture date: May 16, 2018
Exposure: 1/320 sec @ f/9.0
Focal Length: 22mm
ISO: 100
Camera: Nikon D3300
Lens: 18.0 – 55.12mm f/3.5-5.6
Edited in Lightroom

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See more photography posts HERE and visit Jeff’s Instagram site HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018 – JBRish.com



Hue wouldn’t believe my Fuji X T-2 Mishap

“Experience is a good teacher, but she sends in terrific bills.”   —   Minna Antrim

My adventure with the Fuji X T-2 started almost a year ago. I use the word adventure deliberately because that has been my experience. I have read two books about how to set up and use the X T-2, but like much technology, all the books in the world often cannot prevent the unpredictable from happening.

What I am about to explain is not technically the fault of the camera and I have to admit that all errors of the sort I am about to explain are clearly on the shoulders of the user; ME. I am merely writing this article so that perhaps others can avoid the frustration and/or disappointment that such occurrences can cause.

OK, by now you are probably wondering “What happened already!”

I recently returned from a trip to Portugal and Spain and of course I could not wait to download my photos to my computer once I got home. Imagine my surprise when all the JPEGs I shot with the X T-2 had a strong magenta cast to them. I was amazed since I had just used the camera prior to the trip without any problems. I couldn’t figure out what went wrong.

Here is what the JPEGS looked like once imported into Lightroom:



I don’t do much international travel. Usually I am headed for landscapes in and around national parks or similar venues in the United States. When I do that, I often take a computer with me and each evening I download and review the files to double check that all is working as anticipated. I can then see if there is dirt on the lens or sensors and whether the settings are basically correct.

Since I would be with a group on this trip and I was concerned about securing a computer when it was not with me and traveling light, I decided to leave the computer at home.

There was another aspect that should have been a clue to me, but I didn’t pay enough attention to it. I was “lulled” into a sense of security.

Let me explain: When looking through the viewfinder (EVF), there was a color cast to the live view image. I ignored it under the assumption that I had inadvertently adjusted the live view setting and that the pictures would not be affected. In the X T-2 references, I read about adjusting the EVF Color so I thought (my bad again!) that I had adjusted the EVF color inadvertently. This was a clue that I should have investigated further.

What “lulled” me into this mindset was the knowledge that the white balance was set to AUTO so how bad could it be? When I would quickly look at the LCD, it wasn’t that obvious to me that there was a color shift.

So imagine my surprise or disbelief when I arrived home and downloaded the pictures and saw that every JPEG had this rather overwhelming magenta color. I was truly puzzled. Trying to correct the JPEGs in Lightroom was very difficult, but what saved me in this instance was shooting RAW plus JPEG. The RAW files, although the finder images showed the same cast, were rendered perfectly once developed in LR.

I tried searching on the Internet and through two books and the owner’s manual to see what the problem might have been. I was like a sailor lost at sea. I really didn’t know what I didn’t know. Thank goodness Fuji has an excellent support team. I called them and within five minutes I had the answer to my problem and learned how to avoid it in the future.

APPARENTLY one of my settings was accidentally changed so that the white balance, although set to AUTO, was manually altered to change the hue of the light when a photo was captured. Like much advanced technology, the X T-2 provides a multitude of choices and with choices comes the possibility of more user errors or “accidental” system changes.

This is what I learned after my call to the support center:



The right selector button (see arrow above) surrounding the rear menu botton is set to change white balance hue by default. There is no lock on this button so when removing the camera from the camera bag, pressing that function button launches an option to change the white balance default color. If not noticed the user can be into the indavertent change for two or three unintended presses before taking the next shot. If it happens when the camera is being placed into the bag and being turned off, it may go unnoticed.

Here is my Tenba bag with my cameras in it.



A closer look shows the arrow pointing to the area of the X T-2 where the selector button in question would be directly on the top side (see arrow below).



You can imagine how it was possible or perhaps probable that the selector button would be pressed when grabbing the camera to take it out of the bag for shooting which I did several times a day.

The technician at Fuji recommended that I change that partuclar function button to provide playback (a safe choice) which would remove that potential problem from my shooting workflow. Of course I also rebalanced the hue to the neutral position while I was making that change.

This was my fault for not knowing what options these buttons controlled and what pressing them can do. You can bet that I will be checking them all before my next shoot! Would it be better perhaps for these buttons to be undefined by default and allow the users to program them as they see fit once the camera arrives at their door?

Takeaways:

The Good:

I was shooting RAW plus JPEG which saved the pictures for me this time. I lost the ability to rely on the JPEGs for color reference, etc., but that was only a small price to pay (IMO) compared to what could have been.

I had a second camera with which I was much more familiar and I took “near duplicates” of the important shots so I had many more pictures to cover myself if the Fuji pics fell short. This goes back to my analog days of doing some professional gigs where I always had multiple cameras “just in case!”

The Bad:

I should have…

Spent more time and care assessing the photos via the LCD to check for color balance, sharpness, etc.

Understood the purpose of the function buttons before going out into the field. Interesting that I have been using it for several months and haven’t had this problem before.

Checked both cards in playback mode from time-to-time before getting home just to check on things.

Given more importance to taking my laptop with me. Perhaps this would have been the wiser thing, but I am still not certain about this one.

 

Overall, this was not a disaster and I did capture some nice shots. To paraphrase and borrow from an Oprah Winfrey quote:

“I am a photographer in process. I’m just trying like everybody else. I try to take every conflict, every experience, and learn from it. Life and photography is never dull.”

 
See more photography posts HERE and visit Jeff’s Instagram site HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018 – JBRish.com



Altar Ego – From Church To Skate Park

An abandoned church in Llanera, Spain has been turned into a skate park by a group known as La Iglesia Skate. It started small and picked up advocates along the way and has since been noticed globally.

From Church to Skate Park
Picture courtesy of Church Brigade

Instagram Church Skate
Before and After pictures of Church Transformation to a Skate Park Picture Via Instagram

You can read more of the story here:

Mental Floss

Church Brigade

Padel – Pickleball or Racquetball on Steroids

Padel is a relatively unknown sport and although I get many blank stares and “huhs?” when I mention pickleball, I find that less people know about padel which is popular in Spain and other countries around the globe. Watch the video below and decide if you would like to try it.

See (below) how some of the best players in the world play the game. Notice how they can go outside the court and hit the ball back into the court to keep it in play!

For more information, contact:

USPA – UNITED STATES PADEL ASSOCIATION
5535 Memorial Drive, Suite F-603. Houston (77007) Texas
Tel. 713-539-3110
info@padelusa.org

So…what do you think?

Pickleball is Growing F…A…S…T

Two new countries have been formally recognized through their pickleball associations as members of the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) community.

The UK Pickleball Association and the French Pickleball Association join the USA, Canada, Spain and India as members of the IFP.

If you want to read more about this, visit Jennifer Lucore’s website where she has Part 1 of an article about the International Pickleball Tournament 2015.

There is a quick, entertaining video showing some scenes from the tournament in Spain.

Of course those of us who have taken to the sport don’t have to be told that pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the USA and perhaps the worldand FUN!