The colorful seaside neighborhood of El Cabanyal is well worth a photo shoot if you visit Valencia.
Once an independent fishermen’s municipality, El Cabanyal became part of Valencia at the end of the 19th century while maintaining a mix of working-class and residential atmosphere.
The architectural style of its two-story houses is a charming Valencian art nouveau (modernismo valenciano). By strolling up and down the quarter’s streets you can admire and shoot photos of these traditional colorfully painted houses whom facades are adorned with ceramic tiles on the underside of the balconies.
Most of El Cabanyal’s houses were originally old fishermen’s huts and they represent among the best examples of modernism in town. They will surprise you pleasantly, for sure.
Highly deteriorated for years, unfortunately, El Cabanyal was declared Site of Spanish Cultural Interest in 1993.
This didn’t stop, years later, the local government to approve a plan for extending a large city avenue right through the neighbourhood which meant to destroy some 1,600 houses of El Cabanyal. The local authorities decision brought the creation of a group called “Save the Cabanyal” and formed by locals who battled against those plans. In 2015 the city’s new government canceled the plan of destroying the houses and put forward new proposals to regenerate the area instead.
In the last few years, the neighborhood is living a booming revitalization as many shops and restaurants have opened giving so new life to the area and attract new inhabitants. Colorful Cabanyal has been under huge infrastructure works in the last few years. Many houses are under deep needed restoration but many see in this booming revitalization also another Spanish housing bubble by foreign investors which means the Cabanyal you still see today will look like a completely different place in a few years. Prettier and elegant for sure but also less authentic. Probably another gentrified neighborhood.
WHAT TO PHOTOGRAPH
The colorful houses make El Cabanyal a unique neighborhood in Valencia.
The most interesting and beautiful ones are located in:
Take all your time to stroll up and down with your camera to observe and shooting them.
If you like street art and murals, you will see some interesting ones in the area near Plaza del Doctor Llorenç de la Flor where some derelict houses are located.
My suggestion is to go there early in the morning or in the late afternoon to avoid the harsh light of the rest of the day, especially in summer. You’ll see some houses will be against the sunlight doesn’t matter if it’s morning or afternoon. In this case, you can try to catch a detail of the facade in the shadow and, if you have time, come back later or the next day in a different time. As streets are not that large, you will need a wide-angle to shoot all the house’s facade in front of you. A telephoto lens will help you with shooting a row of colorful houses in the same street by giving a lens compression effect.
What is a lens compression effect?
You get a lens compression when shooting a photo with a telephoto lens by staying some distance away from the subjects of your photo. This combination of long lens and camera-to-subject distance gives you the feeling that distant objects are larger than they actually are. As a result, it gives the appearance that the background has pulled in closer to the subject.
Mediterranean light will help you to keep your camera’s ISO low even in the early morning or at dusk providing is a sunny day. A cloudy day will help you with shooting photos of the houses under an even light. Less vivid colors of the single houses in the photo but also no all those lights and shadows effect under a harsh sunny day to correct in post production.
The quarter is reasonably safe for shooting photos during daytime though I always suggest you to exercise commonsense by keeping eyes open all the time, especially in the parts of the quarter under restoration. Don’t walk down dark narrow streets in dark. Avoid night photography. No reason for it, by the way.
If you make it to Valencia for Easter, you’ll have the possibility also to shoot the religious processions in El Cabanyal’s streets during the Semana Santa Marinera.
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