Here’s a couple of shots of some sculptures in the museums and grounds of the Vatican. This one to start was pilfered from Egypt. Theft is kind of a theme with Vatican art – that or spending church money on it. See also the obelisk in St. Peter’s Square – not native to Italy, that’s for sure!
But still, the kitty is cute.
Now on to Grecian and Greek-inspired art.
And here’s Hermes, a.k.a. Mercury for the Romans.
Vatican Sculpture IV
This one’s an odd piece of a piece, but I liked it. Next, some items from the pre-Roman, Etruscan era.
This is a casket, but I particularly like the dog at the base of it. For being so-called primitive artists, it’s amazing how lifelike this is!
And this is the side of a piece of pottery. Not too fancy, but I liked the lion.
Next time, paintings from the Vatican, a.k.a. the more famous stuff. Plus an explainer on why photos are a mega-size no-no in the Sistine Chapel.
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).
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.
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.