Listing all posts tagged portugal

Monday, September 2nd 2013

This is worth reposting as there’s only one week to go on the Indiegogo fundraiser:

RU+A (Facebook link) is a project that aims to qualify a run-down area at the center of Porto by inviting local visual artists to paint the area stores’ metal shutters in an event that will be taking place September 15th. There’s also going to be some live music in the street, a graffiti workshop and more — even possibly a barbecue.

Friends, Joana and the RU+A gals need to provide all the materials (paint, brushes & etc.) and all the permits for that event to happen. They’ve set up this fundraiser for both private and small-business sponsors. Perks include, besides a shout-out / some advertising for you, unique traditional portuguese ceramic tiles painted and signed by one of the artists. If you can, please help them out! Time is running out!

Thursday, May 23rd 2013

Thursday, October 25th 2012

After a few years of relative distance, in 2012 I went again on a camera-collecting spree. Recently I got an Asahi/Pentax Spotmatic SP from the 1960s, along with an East German 50mm Carl Zeiss clone which might be the best lens I've got (testing on my DSLR suggests so!). I exposed a couple of rolls in it, and I sure liked the results.

Here are a few photos taken around Rem Koolhaas' concert hall. These are somewhat touristy, but what the hell — I like them. Nostalgia for the years of public money spent on lavish construction projects?

Monday, October 15th 2012

Taken with my Voigtlander Bessa-L and an adapted Tamron 28mm lens that makes the camera look quite badass.

My mind was somewhere else at the end of the roll of so I briefly opened the camera before rewinding, ruining some of the exposures. Oops, my bad. Anyway, when I took the film to the lab I specifically requested that they digitize every single exposure, no matter how awful it looked. And as (unfortunately) expected, they instead decided to curate my own photos for me, so I had to digitize some of the damage I found interesting (examples one and two) using my own terrible flatbed scanner. Next time I'll take my business elsewhere.

Saturday, August 4th 2012

More photos taken with the Voigtlander Bessa-L, this time without the faux black & white.

This photo makes perfectly clear how the Industar lens, made before advanced optical coatings were commonplace, is soft: the diffusion in the edges around the sky isn't due to any kind of post-production effect. The soviet lens does hold very well in the other pictures, though.

Thursday, August 2nd 2012

Recently I bought a Voigtlander Bessa-L camera body, getting it for quite cheap at a used cameras shop here in Porto. I found it the kind of incredibly well-made object I had to own, but of course a camera body is useless without a lens, so I had to find one. Voigtlander has incredible wide-angle lenses for it, but at more than $500 that's more than I ever paid for one, even for my frequent use Canon DSLRs. I scoured eBay for cheap compatible Soviet lenses, and found a mint Industar-61 LD for $30. At 55mm, it's perhaps too narrow-angle for use with a finderless camera, but luckly I have the viewfinder from my Yashica Electro35 kit, with 38 and 58mm guides, so the final setup works like a charm, even if it looks like a retro mutant camera.

Since M39 (or LTM — Leica Thread Mount) lenses are incredibly expensive unless you go for the Soviet stuff, I'll also want to try a couple of M42 lenses I own, and perhaps stay on the lookout for a M42 wide-angle. If you plan on doing the same, beware though: you need a real M42 to M39 adapter, not the cheap stuff sold in kilograms on eBay. Since M42s are SLR lenses, in order to focus properly (or at all!) they need to sit much farther from the Bessa-L body than where a simple adapter would place them. The proper adapters will cost around $50 and are rare so you'll need to Google for them — just confirm they're around 2cm thick in order to compensate for the flange distance!

The Bessa-L having no finder means you have absolutely no way to focus other than estimating distances and dialing those in — which is yet another good reason to use a wide-angle lens. As I took my camera for a test walk I had to make do with what I had, though: an overcast day and the slow 100 ISO film (so I couldn't stop down the aperture much) made things even more difficult. Anyway, I'm pleased with the first results. The lens seems a bit soft but still better than expected considering how cheap it was, and the exposure metering seems almost as accurate as its reigning champion in my collection — the Electro35, with its analog rather than discrete shutter speeds (a feature which will always be on top of my digital camera wishlist). And I'm especially pleased I didn't make many focusing mistakes.

The Bessa-L is becoming my favourite film camera from my colection, even if using it is highly technical: that means serendipity is strong with this one.

Wednesday, April 25th 2012

This day in 1974 a military coup ended the fascist regime that had dominated Portugal for forty-eight years — the longest duration of a 20th century far-right government anywhere in Europe. The ‘Carnation Revolution’ and the period that followed went on with admirable restraint, given the stakes involved and the Cold War context. Thirty-eight years later, in the face of rampant corruption and economic inequality, some argue the April 25th fell short of its aims (eg. reforming the judicial system or preventing private monopolies) and is still a work in progress. The revolution day’s frontpage in the image proudly states “this newspaper didn’t go through any censorship commitee”, while today press freedom quite often caves to the subtler censorship of corporate pressures. But despite all that, today is a day of celebration.

On a related note, Es.col.a (previously) has been reoccupied today. I hope this time it lasts.

Update 26/04: It didn’t last. Showing that ‘freedom’ and ‘popular initiative’ are only tolerated in their dedicated national holiday, city police again evicted Es.col.a early this morning. And it seems that this time the Mayor’s office ordered the destruction of the building’s plumbing and facilities, furthering the destruction of public property inflicted by those who were elected to protect public interests. But I guess nothing can stand in the way of dogma, so scorched earth it is.

Wednesday, July 27th 2011

This piece of retro advertising is almost perfect (-ly wrong) on so many levels. And I love the texts — “For responsible work” / “Porto Cigarettes — the base of your decision”. It only lacks one thing: booze. Pedro Quintas

Sunday, June 12th 2011

Misc. links May 31st - June 12th

What is College good for? I’ve recently had a student ask a somewhat more brutal form of the question the author mulls about — “Why do we have to learn this?” (‘this’ being, by the way, a short tutorial on sound recording in the context of a Multimedia Lab course with a very high amount of audiovisuals in its syllabus) — and found myself unable to provide an answer. I always figured someone who goes to college has a interest in learning stuff, no questions asked (much less when the ‘stuff’ is a downright obvious part of what you commited yourself to study for three years). ···

In the United States, the advertising industry says the middle class is over. ···

Nobel laureate Paul Krugman on the ‘rule by rentiers’. No better example than the recent Portuguese election, in which the media (owned by people with a vested interest in the privatizations-to-come) conspired not only to utter demonize the outgoing PM — the only way to ensure a ‘stable’ government by the right, given the overall perceived mediocrity of the right-wing leader and new PM, Pedro Passos Coelho —, but also to present the IMF’s prescriptions as palatable and inevitable (and a good 80% voted pro-IMF, fucking A!). And of course, not content until the country descends (or, as the media would put it, ‘ascends’) into a kind of feudal post-democratic ‘Berlusconianism’, pundits now call for a new ‘modern’ Constitution, stripped of such ‘nagging aspects’ as electoral and labour regulations, then freely available to the MPs and the lobbies to change as they please. And it seems people will gladly take it, as envious dreams of bling are the true opium of the masses. Boing Boing ···

On a lighter note, about one year ago two players fought a three-day, eleven-hour battle in the Wimbledon lawn. The fifth set of the match ended 70-68. ···

Wednesday, May 11th 2011

Everything is stupid

There’s been much noise and disinformation about the so-called IMF/EU ‘bailout’ of Portugal, which I chose to spell with quotes because it’s not really a bailout, but rather a loan made under such paradoxical draconian conditions — eg. restoring ‘competitiveness’ by lowering corporations’ welfare taxes while raising taxes on the energy they spend; privatizing only the public companies that actually made a profit for the State — the portuguese economy won’t be able to pay it. It’s no stretch for conspiracies theorists to see Portugal (and Greece, and probably the rest of Southern Europe) out of the Euro before you can say ‘loanshark’.

There’s a saying about “nobody is ever right in a home without bread”, which no-one seems to acknowledge. Our incumbent Prime-Minister, José Sócrates, is perhaps the most hated man that ever lived, and there’s no shortage of newspaper articles, viral videos, tweets and remarks on Facebook blaming him for everything, from gasoline prices to the shortages of second-gen iPads on retailers. Most common though, is the charge our PM and a small cadre of ‘boys’ “ruined our country”.

I mean, they did. But so did you and me and everyone else. Our politicians are our representatives, and I don’t mean this in the democratic sense that we elected them. When people say our ministers and MPs and public company execs ‘lost touch with reality’, I contend they didn’t: they’re our hyperreal selves. Whenever I see someone linking to a blog post listing the salaries of politicians, or to a video clip of a report about the Parliament’s luxury car fleet, quite often it reeks of envy-fueled outrage. For it is hard to detect a feeling of injustice in a people who generally like to brag about their own consumption.

Most of us in Portugal live damn confortably. When our grandparents tell us their personal stories of hunger, of their shoes being their most prized possessions, we fail to believe it. Most haven’t seen something like Las Hurdes, the shocking documentary Luís Buñuel did in 1933 about the misery in a part of Spain just the other side of the border (and we can be sure this side of the hill wasn’t any greener), and those who did think bygones. We’ve come a long way, and we’re spoiled brats, who yearn for a past that never existed just because the cable TV bill went up. So spoiled, a whole generation of graduates has the luxury of considering themselves ‘slaves’ after volunteering to work for free, basically sending the job market the message that their knowledge and studies are worth zero euros per hour.

Politicians have the responsability of their leadership. But we, the portuguese people, fell well on the turbo-capitalist addiction. It starts at home, from credit cards to car loans (and I do have one), from the habit of dining out on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to the home-owning mania, from plasma TVs to tablets to holidays in Brazil. We hear people complaining that because of the crisis, they’ll have to keep the same car for two years. We see parents buy their twelve year-olds all game consoles known to Man. We made tax evasion a national sport, and mistake being gentle for being a loser.

Still, for all their self-righteousness about their being Workers and our being lazy pigs (spend a year in our climate and try being anything else — someone said “geography is destiny”, rightly so), there’s something quite critical the leaders of the richer countries of Europe like to forget about: although in the past two decades their taxpayers contributed a lot of money to Portugal via the European Union, they weren’t actually giving it away for our politicians to mismanage at will. All that money actually came with a lot of strings attached, and all those countries bought something from us — a dismantlement of a great part of our agricultural and industrial capacity, and our conversion to a EU-enforced services-based economy —, basically an almost irreversible ‘non-compete’ clause that made Portugal and other Southern European countries utterly dependent on foreign imports — Northern exports — and credit. Part of their growth was our loss.

In the end, though, it’s our collective fault, and no better proof of that than our denial to acknowledge we ever did anything wrong, as if our Prime-Minister was the only obstacle between Portugal and Paradise. So convinced only a supervillain kept us from glorious destiny, take as an example the absurdity of this discussion over at Metafilter, regarding a YouTube video called What the Finns Should Know About Portugal. That video was a desperate plea for Finland’s approval of the EU bailout put together by bored employees at some right-wing municipality, full of unproven (or even disproven) factoids regarding Portugal’s delusions of historical awesomeness, with a bit of ill-willed moral blackmail at the end. Despite the obvious fact we are not so awesome anymore (and who gives a shit, really, “our Ronaldo is better than the brazilian Ronaldo?”), this video spread like wildfire through Facebook and Twitter, and its only practical effect was convincing the rich Northern Europeans we are in fact all a bunch of douchebags. PIGS, in fact.