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!

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Rose Window of Sainte Chapelle, Paris, France

The Unseen Beauty of Form

More frequently these days I find myself finding a deeper and deeper appreciating for black and white photography. Below is the Rose Window of Sainte-Chapelle, a small Cathedral, but one of the most grand I have ever seen. Grand not in its scale, but in the overwhelming way the artisans surround you with light (they might have said the light or the word of God perhaps). The colors are invigorating, but it wasn’t until I stripped away that layer of beauty, did I see its heart. The form of the window is a masterpiece all by itself. Removed of the distraction of color, you begin to see this other beauty, not less or more, but a beauty all its own.

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.

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Awe in a Fur Coat, St Marks, Venice Italy


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.

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The Ossuary of San Bernardino in Milan, Italy

Stunned Meditation

My visit to the Ossuary of San Bernardino in Milan was one of the most profoundly impactful of my life. I often steer clear of places where large numbers of human remains have been laid (visibly) to rest. My presence somehow seems disrespectful as I and others gawk in our tourist’s stupor, so acutely aware of how quickly our vacation is slipping away. Truth be told, I have always been a bit freaked out by the idea as well. I have always been a bit…sensitive to things many others don’t seem to pick up on. I’m not talking about some sort of Shirley MacLaine, out-of-body experience, but I also don’t so much discount people and their other-worldly experiences.

When I entered the small chapel, I was overwhelmed. It’s hard to describe what went on there. Mostly it was quiet. I sat down. Many people came and went, some were solemn, some giggled, some prayed. I sat there for perhaps an hour and a half before I even realized what had happened. Thousands upon thousands of hollow, vacant eyes stare down at you, no matter where you are. The gaze of the dead is inescapable, it closes in on you and somehow they WERE ACTUALLY watching me. I could feel those eyes penetrate to my very soul, my walls were no use in this place. The interesting thing was, how un-judged I felt…and that feeling was very specific.

Two things permeate the space; that eternal gaze of the dead and the sacred heart. Both of these overwhelm. The message is clear to Catholics, but it had a different call for me. Life is so very, very short. Find your heart Brian, before it’s too late.

The people in the Ossuary didn’t die especially good deaths, nor were they in many cases good people, but I so desperately hope they have found peace.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 4 April, 2014
  • Focal length: 16mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Location: 45° 27.7483′ 0″ N 9° 11.7518′ 0″ E
  • Shutter speed: 3.2s
  • Title: The Ossuary of San Bernardino alle Ossa in Milan, Italy

Walking the Roof of Il Duomo at Sunset

Il Duomo at Sunset

I suppose it depends on the time of year you go, but I went to the room if Milan’s major Cathedral, I stayed up there for a long time. It neared sunset when the guards ran the last of us off and followed us out. It was peaceful up there and not terribly crowded. There is a something special about getting to wander the roof of such and old and central building like Il Duomo. The history of European cities can often be paralleled to the history of their main Church. This is perhaps the single most important structure in the entire city, and I spent the evening in the heavens.

Old Processes

At times I miss the darkroom. The smell of fixer is something you don’t forget. The chemistry one of the things that originally drew me to photography. I found never-ending joy in trying to find new and creative ways to splatter my chemicals to get an uneven result. Eyedroppers, spray bottles, tossing chemicals…I was manipulating WAY before I found Photoshop. I used quite a few processes to get this result today, but I was going for a modern day wet-plate look. How do you think I did?

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 5 April, 2014
  • Focal length: 32mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/250s
  • Title: Walking the Roof of Il Duomo at Sunset

Entrance to the Crypts of Il Duomo

Closed Entrance

This entrance to the lower levels of Il Duomo in Milan, Italy was closed. There seemed to be several entrances that were not open to the public. The main public stairs to the crypts of two Saints were around the corner and quite busy. I wondered if people visiting knew where they were headed and the stories of the men who’s tombs we visited. I wonder this because my particular knowledge of European Saints is a bit limited, but I tend to follow where groups of people are headed to see what I can see. I wonder how many people go with purpose and how many go with the flow, both in life and in visiting the dead.

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Outside the Walls of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy

Visiting The Last Supper

On my last visit to Milan, I went to Santa Maria della Grazie, the church where DaVinci painted The Last Supper. I was surprised by its impact, both historically and the almost wonderfully horrific deterioration it faces. I wonder if Leonardo knew people would be viewing this work for over 500 years. He was going for more detail and luminosity then can be achieved with normal wet fresco techniques and instead painted on a dry wall. It isn’t really a fresco, and given your perspective, the ages have not been kind. I have always wondered how much of this was intended and how much was simply an experiment in technique. Was Leonardo chuckling to himself the entire time I painted the last supper? Is there hidden meaning, in the fight to keep everything from falling apart…something part of a grander design?

The painting is on one wall of the dining hall of the monastery. You only get 15 minutes with the work (and the Crucifixion on the opposite wall by Giovanni Donato da Montorfano). Security is TIGHT…I have never been anywhere with multiple automatic man traps. At your allotted time, you enter and get locked in, then another door opens, you move to the next trap and get locked in. Eventually the dining hall is opened and your small group is allowed inside (no photography of course due to the delicate nature of the art). Fifteen minutes was not enough time for me…I could have stayed and stared and felt much longer.

Walking the parameter

Walking to the metro, I walked around the perimeter walls of the monastery. This shot is from the street outside one of the courtyards.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 5 April, 2014
  • Focal length: 19mm
  • ISO: 500
  • Location: 45° 27.9857′ 0″ N 9° 10.2992′ 0″ E
  • Shutter speed: 1/2000s
  • Title: Outside the walls of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy

Il Duomo’s Main Door in Milan, Italy

Il Duomo’s Main Door is a Bronze Masterpiece

Hulking and overwhelming is the main door of Il Duomo in Milan; much as the cathedral itself. It’s raw size is imposing and perhaps more than any other, Milan’s Cathedral most reminded me of La Sagrada Familia with its explosion of scenes, excess of fruits, stories, vegetables, insects and animals. I still don’t know how I felt about Gaudi’s Cathedral in Barcelona. Perhaps the overwhelming scale is most to be admired in both. Oscar Wilde was more harsh in his criticism of Il Duomo…I don’t think I will go so far as he, but I think my heart will always lie with Notre Dame. Regardless, the bronze work, in all its busyness is a masterpiece.

Photo Technical Info