Inside Brunelleschi’s Dome, Florence

Way Up There

Its funny how things scale. When I went to Florence, Italy I HAD to see the Cathedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. I have read WAY too many Dan Brown novels to pass this treat up. I like active trips and climbing the stirs to the top of the Cathedral’s dome is quite an active day. The dome is a marvel of its time (honestly of today as well) and getting through the ever narrowing and sideways passages around the dome to the top is a tad spooky!

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/2.8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 14 January, 2016
  • Focal length: 16mm
  • ISO: 1600
  • Shutter speed: 1/25s
  • Title: Inside Brunelleschi's Dome, Florence

Temple of Heaven Fire Baskets

Favorite Historical Sites

If I had to pick between the big three UNESCO sites in and around Beijing my preference, BY FAR would likely be with the Temple of Heaven. While in antiquity this was a temple for the Emperor of China, today its is an expansive and exquisitely beautiful park near the heart of Beijing. There is a majesty in walking up the path reserved for only the emperor. There is a grandeur and elegance that masks (along with modern perception) the religous rites preformed here to bring a good harvest. If for some reason you have to choose between The Temple of Heaven, The Forbidden City and The Great Wall, I would chose in that order.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 6 September, 2016
  • Focal length: 31mm
  • ISO: 640
  • Shutter speed: 1/1000s
  • Title: Temple of Heaven Fire Baskets

The Forbidden City Roof Details

Plans Already Defined

When you visit Beijing for the first time, or go with someone who is going for the first time, your itinerary is almost designated for you by the historical and cultural significance of the region. You have to see:

  1. The Great Wall
  2. The Temple of Heaven
  3. The Forbidden City

All three are UNESCO World Heritage sites and all three are AMAZING! It’s honestly a wonder The Forbidden City wasn’t destroyed during the cultural revolution in China, but lucky for all the world, it is still very much waiting for your visit!

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 5 September, 2016
  • Focal length: 35mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/400s
  • Title: The Forbidden City Roof Details

Badaling Section of The Great Wall

7 Wonders

With our most recent trip to China, I realize I have now seen three of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Here is the completely list:

  • Christ Redeemer: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Great Wall of China: China
  • Machu Picchu: Peru
  • Petra: Jordan
  • Pyramid at Chichén Itzá: Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
  • Roman Colosseum: Rome, Italy
  • Taj Mahal: Agra, India

Of course technically the wall is really multiple walls, and I only saw one very touristy section. It was very well restored, but personally I think I tend to like the less populated and more rugged hiking that might be involved in visiting one of the less visited sections. Here are a few tips, bring a hat, sunscreen, water and snacks! If you plan on going to Badaling (one of the “easier” sections to get to from Beijing) bring patience. There are over 1.35 billion people in china and I think about 1 billion visit the Badaling section of the wall each day (this maybe an exaggeration). Keep in mind despite not being “rugged hiking” it is a VERY steep climb!

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 5 September, 2016
  • Focal length: 16mm
  • ISO: 250
  • Shutter speed: 1/320s
  • Title: Badaling Section of The Great Wall

Looking Back at Fushimi Inari-taisha, Kyoto Japan

Looking Back

Hiking up the mountain at Fushimi Inari-taisha brings to you a near endless expanse of torii gates. This view is more simple, but still expresses the vast infinity you feel hiking through the mountains. This is early on and the deeper into the mountains you get the more the gates begin to thin out. The more too does nature take over and you less and less see other hikers. This is one of my favorite places in Japan, but please go early and be prepared to hike a long way to find some peace this wonderful place has to offer visitors.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 15 November, 2015
  • Focal length: 16mm
  • ISO: 3200
  • Shutter speed: 1/80s
  • Title: Looking Back at Fushimi Inari-taisha, Kyoto Japan

Red Japanese Maple Leaf at Tenryu-ji

Falling Maple Leafs in the Rain

I sat on a small bench, the rain that had been falling my entire trip out of Kyoto to Tenryu-ji had mostly stopped, but a humid sheen cast odd colored light glares all over. I sat taking in the Kyoto fall scene. I was a bit too early for the truest expression of color the city is capable of, but the beauty of Tenryu-ji’s gardens were not lost. Suddenly and in near slow motion, this near perfect maple leaf fell from a nearby tree. It floated gracefully to rest next to me on my wet bench. I took this as a sign and snapped this photo. I often try to find meaning in the small occurrences like this that happen on my travels, but perhaps this time, I will leave this leaf’s message for you to decipher.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/2.8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 14 November, 2015
  • Focal length: 35mm
  • ISO: 800
  • Shutter speed: 1/200s
  • Title: Red Japanese Maple Leaf at Tenryu-ji

The Emperor’s Box at the Colosseum in Rome

In Remembrance

This is the box reserved for Cesar. As a penance against religious intolerance, a Christian cross was placed here. Now, historian’s will argue, but it’s improbable that any (or many) Christian’s were thrown to the proverbial lions. It’s not that said atrocity never happened in ancient Rome, but probably not at this particular arena. Regardless, the sight makes for an odd out of place experience and a bit of wonderful photographic contrast in an otherwise ancient structure dedicated to death and mayhem.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 16 January, 2016
  • Focal length: 16mm
  • ISO: 500
  • Shutter speed: 1/320s
  • Title: The Emperor's Box at the Colosseum in Rome

The Nave Ceiling of La Sagrada Familia

The Madness of Genius

It’s likely hard to conceptualize what you see in today’s photo. Even when I tell you it’s a ceiling. Even when I tell you it’s the Nave of La Sagrada Familia. Honestly, its difficult standing in the place (or around it). It makes everything in and out see insignificant, puerile even. The brain (soul) that conceived this was far beyond most of our mortal-ness, and must have existed on another plane…perhaps, Gaudi was functionally mad.

The completely overwhelming thing is this is but one SMALL part of an overwhelming creation that will take nearly 144 years to build (even with modern techniques like cranes)…IF they complete on the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death as they currently expect. The minor basilica is not my favorite of Gaudi’s works, but no one can deny it’s one of the most significant of his creations and succeeds (and fails) in ways that we might never fully comprehend. It is the manifestation of a truly divine dream, one I am grateful Barcelona has supported and that I have been honored to witness.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/2.8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 19 February, 2013
  • Focal length: 27mm
  • ISO: 1600
  • Shutter speed: 1/250s
  • Title: The Nave Ceiling of La Sagrada Familia

A Glimpse of the Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore

Italian Splendor

There is something about Italy, that speaks to my soul in some old way. Perhaps it’s simply European sensibility, but where other cultures in Europe lean too much one way of the other, Italy always seem to have the right mix of carefree, culture and humanity.

My previous day in Florence (I only had two) was grey and rainy, but the second day was ablaze with sun in the crisp winter air. I spent most of my previous day cold and wet shivering in the vast spaces of Santa Maria del Fiore. The last hike was up Giotto’s Campanile and I saved it for perhaps a perfect day. This view was one of the first I saw and perhaps one of my favorite. It hints at the majesty of the church without going overboard. Much of the view, is of the city, of the people without who, the grand church has no purpose.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 15 January, 2016
  • Focal length: 26mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/60s
  • Title: A Glimpse of the Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore

The Snail that Said Slow Down

Finding Meaning

I think, if you listen, the universe sends you messages. I was hiking Fushimi Inari-taisha in Kyoto, Japan. The day was grey and rainy, but I had arrived early before the truly overwhelming mass of people. I also knew the physical toll the Kyoto mountains would take on many tourists and the further I hiked, the fewer people I would find. Furiously I climbed, passing people, stopping only for photos, perhaps I missed some things. All of a sudden, I came upon a lake surrounded by this fence, it was a welcome serene sight and a respite for the ever upward climb.

It was then I noticed the snail, alone on the fence. People hurried by all to involved to notice the snail. In a flash, the Sun broke gloriously through the clouds and reflected power from the surface of the still water. The snail continued all the same, but I heard the message. The snail was saying, “slow down”.

The rest of my hike was alive with light, that danced off the rain drops still clinging to the endless Torii Gates of Fushimi Inari-taisha. I did slow down, people came and went, but my speed now allowed them to pass by with ease, and me to linger to find things hidden in the Japanese wood. I took some of the best photos of my trip, because I listened.

Photo Technical Info