Forum

Roman Forum I
Roman Forum I

 

Welcome to the heart of Ancient Rome, the Forum.  Couple thousand years back, you’d have seen a bunch of dudes in togas milling about, buying and selling, arguing about politics and religion, and so on.

 

Yeah, so not much changes, except thankfully for better hygiene.  Not sure whether I’m glad or not that Emperor Vespasian introducing pay-only public toilets (still referred to locally as Vespasiana).

 

Roman Forum II
Roman Forum II

 

Here’s a view in infrared from the entrance from nearer the south end, looking northward.  The remains of the Temple of Vesta are on the left, and the Temple of Caesar on the right.

 

Roman Forum III
Roman Forum III

 

And here’s another of the Temple of Caesar, from the front.

 

Roman Forum IV
Roman Forum IV

 

This is actually outside the forum.  Looking toward the middle, you’ll see a smaller arch (the Arch of Titus, wherein is depicted the sack of Jerusalem in the 1st century).  That’s the southern end of the forum.  The larger arch in the foreground is the more famous Arch of Constantine, and the photos taken from the 3rd level of the colosseum.

 

Roman Forum V
Roman Forum V

 

And some ground level color, from within the forum proper.

 

Roman Forum VI
Roman Forum VI

 

And finally, this is from the top of Palatine Hill (behind the Temple of Vesta), where the likes of Augustus lived.  Not a bad view from pup here, huh?

 

Side note, I was expecting much gnarlier hills in Rome.  Guess that’s what seeing San Francisco as a child gets me.  Palatine’s nothing next to Taylor Street!

 

Happy shooting!

 

See more of my work at

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

Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/patricklcahalan

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Piazza Navona Fountains

Fountain of Neptune

Fountain of Neptune 

This is a series of photos of the fountains in Piazza Navona in Rome.  This is the fountain of Neptune, with him spearing an octopus with his trident.  Here’s another view of the same:

 

Fountain of Neptune
Fountain of Neptune

 

There were 2 tricks used here.  One, we got here super early, before the crowds went nanners.  Which meant we left the hotel SUPER early, since we were south of the Colosseum, and it meant around a 2+ mile walk, with constant stops to photograph other stuff.  Two, lots of walking around the fountains to find desirable angles.

 

Fountain of the Four Rivers
Fountain of the Four Rivers

 

This is the central fountain, the Fountain of the Four Rivers by Bernini.  Here’s a closeup angle on one of the sides.

 

Fountain of the Four Rivers
Fountain of the Four Rivers

 

And a large-scale shot, with half the piazza in view in the background.

 

Fountain of the Four Rivers
Fountain of the Four Rivers

 

And finally, the fountain at the southern end of the piazza, the Fountain of the Moor.

 

Fountain of the Moor
Fountain of the Moor

 

This really is a lovely location, provided you’re there when it’s not crammed like a NYC subway station.  Going on weekdays will help, if you can manage it, as will waking up early.  But above all go, as it’s not something to miss!

 

Happy shooting!

 

See more of my work at

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

Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/patricklcahalan

Instagram: patrickcahalanphotography

Facebook: Patrick Cahalan

Pinterest: @cahalan007

Shooting Around Crowds, II

St Peters, Altar
St Peters, Altar

As promised, the next edition of crowds – St. Peter’s and Sistine Chapel version.

If anything these are even more crowded than the rest of the Vatican, and for good reason.  Everyone and their brother has heard of Michelangelo’s ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and wants to see it for themselves.  But to be honest, after all the buildup, it’s a bit of a disappointment because (1) yeah, it’s freakin’ crowded, (2) it’s at the end of a long tour and I was bushed already, and (3) no photos allowed, and they mean it.  Mainly because the Fuji film company paid for a bunch of the restoration and owns the photographic rights for a long time.  Very nice place, though, I’d love to go back when my mind is fresh and I have binoculars to better pick out the detail (it’s a high ceiling).

 

St Peters, Main Area
St Peters, Main Area

 

So on to St. Peter’s!  It doesn’t’ seem as crowded, mainly because it’s gigantic in every dimension.  You could easily fit the population of a small town in there and not feel crowded.

Word of warning though – it is free to go to (it’s a church after all), so it’s a big draw for pickpockets looking for sucker tourists.  Mind yourself and your gear in that crowd!

To get good shots you’ll have to be patient, and work your way to the front of the line to see the impressive stuff.  Or have long arms and steady hands.  Or if you have REALLY well trained children who know how to follow directions, put ’em on your shoulders and have them shoot it.

 

Pieta
Pieta

 

Here’s the original of Micelangelo’s Pieta, that I showed a reproduction of last post, now behind glass ‘cuz some nutso took a hammer to Jesus’ hand a few years back and knocked off some fingers.  Stupid asshat.  Pretty sure that’s a few extra years in Purgatory right there.

This place will take a lot of time to work your way through, especially if you want a good photo or two that doesn’t come from the gift shop or a tourist stand in the city.  It’s worth the wait, though, and this is one of the few places you CAN stop and think and reshoot as needed, without issue.

 

St Peters, exterior, IR
St Peters, exterior, IR

 

Happy shooting!

PS for your extra little bit of Italy … when eating lunch afterward, we asked for water and were kindly reminded by our waitress – “water is for shower, drink wine!”

See more of my work at

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

Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/patricklcahalan

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Facebook: Patrick Cahalan

Pinterest: @cahalan007

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

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

Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/patricklcahalan

Instagram: patrickcahalanphotography

Facebook: Patrick Cahalan

Pinterest: @cahalan007

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

Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/patricklcahalan

Instagram: patrickcahalanphotography

Facebook: Patrick Cahalan

Pinterest: @cahalan007

Keyhole

Keyhole View
Keyhole View

This was a nasty piece to shoot.  It’s called the Keyhole, and is at the Priory of the Knights of Malta on Aventine Hill in Rome.

As the name suggests, it’s shot by looking through an actual keyhole.  As in, bend over and look (or shoot) through it.  Which means it’s a bugger!  And to boot, the foreground in the hedges is far darker than St. Peter’s in the distance.

So I ended up doing multiple exposures – without tripod – between groups of tourists.  I was definitely afraid I would get jack squat, but after using layers in Photoshop with the light and dark, and feathering my selections to blend it better, I got this.  Not great, but without a tripod and HDR work I think it’s the best I can get.

See more of my work at http://www.patricklcahalan.co.nf  and http://www.flickr.com/photos/patricklcahalan

Streets of Rome

 

Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona

So to be cliche, when in Rome, do as they do – namely, get out and walk!  Don’t bother with a cab unless you have to get to the opposite end of town quickly, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice.  And for the love of God, invest in good shoes before you go.  A trip to a specialty show store (REI comes to mind) is a Very Good Thing.

Once you get there, look at a guidebook of what you’re into seeing, and get going.  Be leisurely!  There is great stuff around every corner.

Pantheon Piazza
Pantheon Piazza

Stop and enjoy yourself; this is from the table as we were having an espresso at around 10am.  And don’t mind if the weather is lousy (it was raining off and on this day for us); that cuts down on wimpy tourist sorts.  And photographers are about the polar opposite of wimpy … usually we’re more adventurous, if not downright tresspass-y and obnoxious.  After all, I got scolded for trying to lay down near the center of the Pantheon to get a wide shot of the ceiling.  No clue what the guard said, but it may have been very animated Italian for “damn photographer!”

Trevi Fountain
Trevi Fountain

A word of warning though: protect your valuables, including gear.  Do NOT carry your passport around.  And keep your wallet in a front pocket … mine was in the smartphone pocket of my jacket, just under the cross-strap I use for my camera.  Non-obvious camera bags are also good – my wife had one disguised to look like a handmade leather purse.  And if you can, travel with another photographer (buddy system, just like school field trips!) and switch off who shoots and who keeps an eye out for trouble.

Spanish Steps
Spanish Steps

Above all, thought, have fun!  And if you end up exhausted, a cab back to your hotel (or somewhere for a drink – I recommend Scholar’s Lounge off Piazza Venetzia, best Irish Pub in Rome) is not a sinful thing.  Not by a long shot.

See more of my work at http://www.patricklcahalan.co.nf  and http://www.flickr.com/photos/patricklcahalan

Rome, Colosseum

Roman Colosseum
Roman Colosseum

On my last big trip, I got the chance to take a fabulous tour of the Colosseum in Rome.  Beyond just the norm, we got to see the high and low, namely, the underground and the third level.

Here’s a shot from the floor of the arena, looking toward the gate that defeated gladiators left the sand (or were dragged, if they really lost).

The Death Gate
The Death Gate

And here’s a few of the underground, where all the trapdoors, ramps, and cages were,  invisible under the arena floor.

Colosseum Underground Part I
Colosseum Underground Part I
Colosseum Underground Part II
Colosseum Underground Part II

And finally, the view from on high.  Just imagine looking down with 70,000 people screaming and shouting!  The NFL wishes it got that kind of audience enthusiasm (OK, so maybe Seattle’s got it figured out, but as a 49er fan I refuse to admit it).

View From the Top
View From the Top

Happy Shooting!