Vatican Art

School of Athens
School of Athens

 

Here’s a smattering of paintings that I got (semi) decent shots of while I was at the Vatican.  Starting with one of my personal favorites, the School of Athens.  If you’re got the time, go on Google and look up which Athenians were modeled on which famous Italians of the time … a hint, the big fish, center left, was based on Leonardo da Vinci.

 

 

This is a MUCH older piece, from centuries before the Italian Renaissance.  You can see it in the two-dimensional character of the work; clearly perspective hadn’t been developed to the same level at that point.

 

Old-Old School Art

And here’s a piece that I liked as well.  Not all that interesting in its own right, but I like the use of color and perspective in it.

Pope Somebody-or-Other

Pope Somebody-or-Other

 

Chow Time
Chow Time

Another classic, the Last Supper – except that this one is by Raphael, not da Vinci (his is in Milan).  This, and a lot of these, were real SOBs to get a good photo of, and it took a lot of sharpening and noise reduction in PhotoShop to get some results – and I still wasn’t happy with a lot of it.  The lighting in many of these galleries is dim, to better preserve the art, and flash photography is a big no-no.  And breaking rules is, well, a bad idea to put it mildly.  After all they have those nice Swiss guards with sharp objects, and their own jail.  Plus, y’know, the threat of damnation and all that.

 

Conquest of Paganism
Conquest of Paganism

 

I love the minimalist nature of this.  An old broken sculpture in front of a crucifix; it tells a story, but does it without distractions.

 

Throwdown
Throwdown

 

And now an action piece – Emperor Constantine triumphing over his foes!

 

Mother
Mother

 

And finally, another piece I adore the use of color in.

 

Happy shooting!

 

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Shooting Around Crowds

Michelangelo's Pieta
Michelangelo’s Pieta

Shooting in a crowded area, when the crowd itself isn’t the object of your work, just plain SUCKS.  It’s a huge pain.  Case in point here: the Vatican Museums.

This is a slightly popular spot.  In the sense that a sea of humanity moving along like the tide of the ocean is a “small crowd.”  What it means in practice is, not much time to compose and shoot, and minimal (if any) chances on a re-do.  Doubly a nuisance given the world-class art and architecture that I was trying to capture.

da Vinci
da Vinci

Like I said, world class.  And unfortunately, very dark in most galleries, and flash is a huge no-no (like instant ticket to the place of fire – as it should be).  So I shot on ISO 1600, as high as I could stomach, and have to do a lot of painstaking sharpening and noise reduction afterward at home.  And that’s even with a private guide and getting in early!  I’d hate to think of just blundering about in there.

Caravaggio
Caravaggio

Clear proof that photographers are johnny-come-latelys when it comes to painting with light.  To think that people of his day thought he stunk!  Imbeciles, all.

Bramante Staircase
Bramante Staircase

But not all areas are crowded, if you plan ahead and are willing to shell out some money.  This is the Bramante staircase, made in the 1500s for Pope Innocent VIII, to allow him to ride his carriage all the way up to his palace without having to walk.  Lazy sod.

Historical note – the same Bramante that built this suggested that the Holy See hire Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel, thinking that this sculptor from Florence was a hack who’d bungle it and make Bramante look good.  Oops.

More on crowds next time, St. Peter’s and Sistine Chapel edition!

See more of my work at

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Pantheon

Pantheon Ceiling and Oculusc
Pantheon Ceiling and Oculus

Welcome to the Pantheon, the marvel of ancient Roman engineering.  Prior to the Renaissance, what you’re looking at is the largest dome in the world.

And frankly, even more than the rest of Rome, THIS put me in awe.  It doesn’t look like much from the outside (concrete stained with soot from pollution), but the second you pass the doors, it’ll take your breath away.

Think – without calculus, or calculators, or modern machinery, they figured out to coffer the ceiling to reduce weight and install an open center.  Mind the rain, though.

Pantheon Interior
Pantheon Interior

At one point it was converted to a church, and now is (more or less) a museum to Roman, Christian, and Italian heritage.  Also, free admission!  So it’s popular, and best to watch your wallet and camera gear.

Fit for a King
Fit for a King

This is the tomb of the first king of unified Italy, Vittorio Emmanuel II (bear in mind Italy was unified in the late 1800s, so this part isn’t all that ancient).

Cowabunga!
Cowabunga!

And here’s the tomb of everyone’s favorite Ninja Turtle, Raphael!

Oops, I mean “fantastic Renaissance painter” Raphael.  My bad.  Also a super-disappointing photograph for me.  There was an obnoxious crowd and bad reflections and funky contrast, and PS didn’t do jack for me.  Sigh.  Must mean I have to go back to Rome (again, sigh).

PS – don’t think to lie on the ground in the center of the building to get a wider angle on the ceiling, unless you want to get scolded by security like I did.  Really, we photographers are far worse than children.

See more of my work at

Website: http://www.patricklcahalan.co.nf

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