In the Courtyard of the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute

Up Early

I got up early this day to walk across the Ponte dell’Accademia in Venice, Italy. I was hoping to catch the sunrise on the bridge and since I was so close I figured I would go to the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute. You probably recognize this church from photos shot from St Mark’s Square at sunset. The Basilica dominates the view in the West from the main square, but because you have to cross the Grand Canal, its out of the way nature makes it seem almost an after thought. I was lucky to be the only person at the Basilica that morning (another couple was leaving as I was entering) and I absolutely LOVE to catch birds in flight on a wet morning!

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 26 January, 2014
  • Focal length: 16mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/100s
  • Title: In the Courtyard of the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute

The Dome of St Peter’s Basilica

Highest of the High

There is something both wonderful and awe inspiring about visiting a European Basilica or Cathedral. Each has it’s differences of designation within a religious faith, but the meaning seems clear. First, stuff lots of people in. Check! Second and perhaps more symbolic, the church is meant to represent the house of divinity. Obviously for the infinite, you need an AWE inspiring structure. This view of the very impressive dome of St Peter’s (yes, that St Peter…”Upon this rock…”) is from one of the lower balconies that lead all the way to the top of the dome and perhaps one of the most spectacular views of Rome. Be forewarned, it’s a strenuous climb. An elderly woman collapsed upon reaching the top on my trek up. I believe she was okay in the end, but what a way to go!

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/2.8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 18 January, 2016
  • Focal length: 35mm
  • ISO: 2000
  • Shutter speed: 1/125s
  • Title: The Dome of St Peter's Basilica

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

Minor Treasures of the Vatican Museum

All About Light

Photography really is all about light (and sometimes its absence). Once you start exploring this, you find photos in the most unlikely of places. Ok…in fairness, the Vatican Museum is a bad example of a place where you might be unlikely to take a photo. True you might become overwhelmed so that you simply forget to even try to make a picture. This hall is enormous (hundreds or thousands of sculptures), and the time I visited the Vatican Museum (morning) it was a gloomy, unlit place…except this single pool of glorious light.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 18 January, 2016
  • Focal length: 27mm
  • ISO: 1600
  • Shutter speed: 1/800s
  • Title: Minor Treasures of the Vatican Museum

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

In the Garden of St Elizabeth’s

Church Garden

This beautiful little scene was waiting quietly for us one hot May afternoon. It was a welcome respite from the blazing sun and a serene spot to sit and contemplate. When you find spots that seem like a gift, this can be a great time to stop, and smell the proverbial roses, metaphorically or in this case the real thing!

Photo Technical Info

Gold Votive Holder at Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy

In the Great Church

The greater insides of Santa Maria del Fiore is a bit on the sparse side…boring even. The facade and the dome are really the highlight while the nave is completely open and drab. One very interesting exception was the votive holders. Often in Catholic churches these are quite beautiful when lit, but a generally boring affair, but at Santa Maria del Fiore, they are a golden flowering plant bringing light to a drab world.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/2.8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 14 January, 2016
  • Focal length: 21mm
  • ISO: 1600
  • Location: 43° 46.3822′ 0″ N 11° 15.369′ 0″ E
  • Shutter speed: 1/125s
  • Title: Gold Votive Holder at Duomo in Florence, Italy

Peruvian Dancer in Cusco

Virgen de Altagracia

Travel is a box of chocolates (in the Gump sense). Peru was a series of unexpected sights, locations, sounds, tastes and festivals. Upon arriving in Cusco, we walked to the Plaza San Francisco and were met with a Parade celebrating the Virgen de Altagracia. I am not Peruvian, nor Catholic, but the Virgen is apparently not huge IN Peru, but in Argentina and specifically the Dominican Republic, so I think we witnessed a bit of a small and interesting celebration! This particular dancer frequented my shots, she had a wonderful dress, I was particularly fond of the way the tassels whipped by as she danced round and round!

Photo Technical Info

In the Choir of La Catedral

Happy New Year!

As crazy as the last two years was, 2015 looks to be even crazier for me…at least travel wise. I hope the best for all of you in the coming year!

Really Big Churches

I waited outside La Cathedral in Barcelona Spain for some time, while the guy taking money argued with a German backpacker. It was funny really because the cashier at the church seemed to speak only Spanish (or Catalan) while the German argued with him in a mixture of German and English. The backpacker only wanted to see the pamphlet describing the roof walk, but the cashier would only hand one over for 3€. He seemed oddly distrustful for someone working at a church! After paying I let The German look over mine, to which he said thank you but decided the jaunt to the roof wasn’t worth the cash. I guess when you are backpacking around the continent you have to be careful with your funds and sometimes that requires arguing in incompatible languages.

Photo Technical Info

Awe in a Fur Coat, St Marks, Venice Italy

Characters

I don’t focus enough in my travel work on people. I always think I will offend, even though someone is lounging in the sun in public. There are, occasionally, characters who’s draw is too powerful for even me to resist. This woman was one of them. She seemed like she belonged in Venice, and was decked in an outfit most queer. It was not her attire that drew my attention, but the way in which she viewed her world.

She walked hurriedly as if unaware of anything or anyone, then suddenly would stop, and stare intently at some part of the Basilica di San Marco. She would stand for an eternity staring at one tiny facet of the ocean of art that IS the Basilica as if drinking in only one mosaic at a time was all her soul could stand. Today she would KNOW another piece of one of the most beautiful churches in the entire world world and perhaps in a lifetime, she would be able to piece together in her heart one of our greatest human triumphs.

I don’t know if this story is true, I never spoke to her, but I felt it when I saw her and I admire her awe.

Photo Technical Info