Six Miles in Lisbon


Monastery in the Fog. The hilltop Church and Monastery of São Vicente de Fora looms over the streets of Lisbon in the fog, Portugal.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 72mm, 1/125 sec, f/8.0, ISO 500.

As promised in last week’s post, this week I am showing more images from the same morning walk in Lisbon. At this point I have decided that one of the true joys in life is wandering through European cities on foot—there is so much to see and photograph. The image above illustrates the atmosphere: the fog was slowly lifting during my walk. I enjoy photographing places like this on a gray day because the light is soft and I have complete freedom to compose however I want to without trying to dodge bright patches of sun. The only thing those conditions generally force (or at least encourage) you to do is keep the sky out of the frame. In the image above, the fog is a key part of the scene so it works, but when wandering around narrow streets flanked by four-to-six story buildings, avoiding the sky is pretty easy.

Wrong Tool. It is going to take more than a broom to elevate the exterior of this apartment to the level of its neighbor in Lisbon, Portugal.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 47mm, 1/30 sec, f/8.0, ISO 500.

I really like the image above, although one could accuse it of being on the busy side of the spectrum. But I think that is a key part of the story this image tells. There are just so many maintenance failures on this structure: paint long since gone, concrete flaking off in large chunks, the roll-up blind mechanism being pretty much gone altogether, the missing window pane, the rusty railings, and the sagging bundles of cables. Amidst all of this long-deferred maintenance, there is a solitary broom, which is ironic and somewhat amusing. While the pink and white neighboring dwelling was certainly not painted last week, it is in pretty good shape and even the cable bundles are relatively tidy. In the end, this image is about the primary structure being well along a trajectory of decay, the futility and irony of the broom, and the contrast with neighbors. It works for me, busy or not.

Pinkwork. Bold pink paint covers the wall on either side of an angled drainpipe in Lisbon, Portugal.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 57mm, 1/180 sec, f/9.5, ISO 500.

At the other extreme in terms of busyness is this relatively simple composition of patchwork paint on a wall. I’m not sure exactly why the wall is painted this way, but I suspect that the lower section was used to cover graffiti since it was obviously painted around the pipe at a later time. I think the cheerful colors and the wonky drainpipe make this kind of a fun image. I also think the two holes provide a little visual contrast that helps the image, too.

Stairs and Cobbles. An old curving staircase descends to a cobbled sidewalk in the Alfama district of Lisbon, Portugal.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 28.5mm, 1/20 sec, f/13.0, ISO 500.

During my walk I found this nice little curving stairway. Features like this are part of what gives a place like Lisbon its charm: instead of a concrete stairwell and concrete sidewalk below, there is a curved stone staircase and hand-fitted cobbles. While I did enjoy just having one lens with me for this walk, this was one of the times when it would have been nice to have had my wide-angle zoom—I could have exploited the curving staircase with a wider view.

More Paneful than Not. A damaged window is clearly in need of maintenance in Lisbon, Portugal.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 32mm, 1/90 sec, f/11, ISO 500.

There was no chance that I could resist this window. The combination of dirty, paint-splattered, cracked, missing, and broken-and-half-fallen-in panes is just glorious, not to mention everything else being so weathered. But I have come to realize that since I enjoy dilapidation so much that I probably cast these places in an unfavorable light. That is definitely not my intention. The small area of Lisbon I explored was beautiful, but clearly predates yesterday. Street scenes like this one are typical:

Lisbon Maze. A narrow street winds through the Alfama district of Lisbon, Portugal.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 42mm, 1/90 sec, f/8.0, ISO 500.

I will wrap up this week’s post with a scene that was pretty common in Portugal: laundry drying on a balcony. This morning was pretty damp, so I am not sure just how dry these clothes got overnight. The bright pants in the center definitely add a splash of color to an otherwise slightly dingy color palette.

Laundry Day. Drying laundry often provides a splash of color on Lisbon balconies, Portugal.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 27.5mm, 1/30 sec, f/8.0, ISO 500.

I hope you enjoyed these pictures from my brief time in Lisbon. Next week I will transition to the waves of Nazaré. In my first morning there, took just just under 3,000 images in just over two hours, but I promise to only show half a dozen!

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4 responses to “Six Miles in Lisbon”

    • Thank you and I am glad you enjoy them! I certainly enjoy getting to explore with my camera and it is nice to share!