Foucault’s Pendulum, Los Angeles, CA Saturday, Oct 6 2012 

When I’m asked at corporate meetings to tell “one interesting fact about myself”, I usually go with the “I was a state champion in Physics in 8th grade”.

I had a great physics teacher in elementary school, and it really came easy to me, so I was interested in all sorts of physics phenomena, from simple machines to electricity.

One of the most fascinating experiments is the Foucault’s Pendulum. It’s not much more than a simple pendulum, except that it is really, really long. The length of the oscillation makes the pendulum slowly change direction because it is affected not only by gravity but also the rotation of the Earth. The change in direction differs based on the location of the pendulum; for example, at each pole, the pendulum would return in the starting position after 24 hours. On the equator, the pendulum would not change direction at all!

Foucault's Pendulum

Foucault’s Pendulum

The photo is of the Foucault’s Pendulum inside Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California. The exposure was half a second, so you can see how the pendulum’s bob traces across the pit.

Now that I used “pit” and the “pendulum” in the same sentence, I have to mention the literary references. Other than the obvious Edgar Allan Poe connection there, it’s worth mentioning that “Foucault’s Pendulum” by Umberto Eco was one of the books I read during the siege of Sarajevo, 1992-1995. I loved Eco’s “The Name of the Rose”, although I remember “Pendulum” to be a much different book. No less interesting, though, with its conspiracy theories and secret societies, and it definitely made quite a few winter afternoons go by quickly.

Final note about a pendulum goes back to a story told to me in class by a different physics teacher, this time in college. She said that she heard of a university professor who would use Foucault’s Pendulum to test the student’s faith in the laws of physics. First, he would have the student displace the pendulum from a resting position by some distance and ask the student to simply release it. Pendulum would swing across the room and then start hurtling back towards the student.

If the student took a step back in fear of impact, they would fail the test.

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Sunset, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Friday, Oct 5 2012 

Friday is the day when we celebrate the end of the work week with simple posts.

While I was looking for photos of my sister for yesterday’s post, I saw some really nice colors from a series of photos taken during a few sunsets while we were vacationing in Puerto Vallarta in 2011.

Sunset, Puerto Vallarta

Sunset, Puerto Vallarta

This one is particularly lovely, as it captures the last ray of sun before it disappeared under the horizon. And look at that tiny little sailboat, going on its merry way!

I remember telling my sister while we watched this scene: “Not only is it January, it’s actually a single-digit date in January.” Our Northern hemisphere minds find it hard to comprehend being on the beach, watching the sunset, on January 9 of any year.

I hope we get to do it again in January 2013.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

My Sister’s Birthday Thursday, Oct 4 2012 

As I write this, it is intended to be the October 4 post, but back in the homeland of Bosnia, it’s already Friday, October 5, and the birthday of one of my favorite people in the world, my sister Una.

She is also my favorite traveling companion. She likes to say that she doesn’t need to own a camera, because when she goes somewhere worth photographing, I’m usually there to do it for her.

I never get tired of taking her pictures.

Happy Birthday, Seki.

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, October 2007

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, October 2007

Dubrovnik, Croatia, June 2009

Dubrovnik, Croatia, June 2009

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 2010

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 2010

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, January 2011

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, January 2011

Rome, Italy, July 2012

Rome, Italy, July 2012

Agathla Peak, AZ Wednesday, Oct 3 2012 

When I decided to start the 365 project, I realized I will have to recycle some of the photos I have been posting over the last 5 or so years on my Flickr page. The tougher challenge would have been to actually post a brand new photo every day for a year – and that may be something I can look into next year.

I balance that by often posting more than one photo in each blog post. So, today, I wanted to share three photos from one of the most surprisingly magical places I visited.

Agathla Peak, After Sunset (digital)

Agathla Peak, After Sunset (digital)

This is Agathla Peak, sometimes called El Capitan, and it is a volcanic plug just south of the border between Utah and Arizona. My friends John, Tyler and I were on our way to the Monument Valley a few years ago and couldn’t help seeing this fantastic piece of rock protruding from the ground.

After shooting a sunset at the Monument Valley, we stopped by Agathla on our way back to Page, AZ. That’s where the first photo was made – I made it with my Canon 20D digital camera. Because I didn’t have a remote shutter release, I had to limit the exposure to 30 seconds, using the ISO of 400 and even lightening the photo in post-processing.

Agathla Peak, Day (film)

Agathla Peak, Day (film)

A year later, the three of us were joined by our friend and photographer Scott; this time Agathla wasn’t going to surprise us. We made sure to have enough time to stop there in the afternoon. The second photo was shot on medium format Velvia 50 film, and you see it here pretty much the way it looks like on the slide. I was very proud of it – the composition was great and the moment captured was lovely. Just look at those clouds!

Agathla Peak, Night (digital)

Agathla Peak, Night (digital)

Speaking of clouds, the third photo was taken later that night; the wind was moving the clouds exactly over the tip of Agathla, which became very evident on this 5-minute exposure. That’s no typo – this shot is lit by nothing except the Moon, and it took 5 minutes to get enough light to the camera sensor. You can even see the star trails – that’s how much the stars moved while the photo was being taken. You can tell I was ready to take this photo by the fact that I bought a remote shutter release for my Canon 20D.

Don’t let this rather technical post diminish the fact that this place is just fantastic. It’s nothing but a rock sticking out of the ground, but the combination of its ruggedness and the relative serenity of its immediate surroundings creates a very dramatic image, at any time of day. Or night.

Toadstool Hoodoo, UT Tuesday, Oct 2 2012 

In May 2008, I went on a trip with fellow photographers Tyler and John, and we explored the areas around the Utah-Arizona border.

Right before the trip, I bought a used Canon Elan 7 film camera, because I wanted to use my 17-40mm lens on it, so it can be the true wide angle lens. The results I got on film were really good, and I was encouraged to continue with my retro ways.

Toadstool Hoodoo (Ilford HP5)

Toadstool Hoodoo (Ilford HP5)

Shown here is one of my favorite film shots from that trip. It’s the back of the Toadstool Hoodoo, on the road between Page AZ, and Kanab, UT. The sun came up high enough that the light wasn’t as “golden” as it may have been an hour or so earlier. But I really like how the texture of the rock reflects the grain of the film, and the shadow detail was wonderfully preserved on Ilford HP5.

Like I said, this shot encouraged me to continue shooting film. For our 2009 trip, I bought a medium format camera, the Mamiya 645, and recently I upgraded again, to the 6×7 format of Mamiya 7. I still get great results with film, especially black and white.

If you still shoot film, leave me a comment below.

St. Peter’s Basilica, Part Two Monday, Oct 1 2012 

The highlight of my visit to the Vatican was a discovery of a way to get up to the top of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. A barely visible sign pointed to a passage around the right side of the building. Seven euros later, you can get into an elevator that takes you to the roof of the basilica itself.

St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica

That’s where the fun starts. I’m not sure if Michelangelo designed it that way, but the passageway to the top actually circles around the outside of the dome in a very narrow, rather steep stairway. It is definitely not recommended for anyone suffering from anxiety or claustrophobia.

The most interesting part of the trip up is the fact that the winding, circling stairway starts curving inwards as you get closer to the top, so you climb the last little while slanted.

View from the top

View from the top

But, then, a few steps later, you come out to the small observation deck and the view is nothing short of breathtaking. You pretty much see all of Rome from up there, and Piazza San Pietro is laid out perfectly in front of you.

I also snapped a few photos with my film camera, so look for those when I develop that roll.

St. Peter’s Basilica, Part One Sunday, Sep 30 2012 

A visit to Rome should definitely include Trevi, Coliseum, Forum, and various streets and squares, but it can never be complete without a visit to Vatican City and it’s central building – Saint Peter’s Basilica.

"I prayed for you, O, Peter"

“I prayed for you, O, Peter”

Today I wanted to show a few details from the inside of the Basilica, although it’s really difficult to focus on only a few details when you’re in the church. It’s a surprisingly large building, with a lot of nooks and crannies, several altars, numerous sculptures…

Michelangelo's Pieta

Michelangelo’s Pieta

When we’re talking about sculptures, it should be noted that St. Peters houses one of the most admired sculptures ever created – Michelangelo’s Pieta. It’s now behind bulletproof glass and visitors cannot get a lot closer to it, but there is a recast in Vatican museums, and I’ve even seen books of photographs showing every little detail.

Mosaic, St. Peter's Dome

Mosaic, St. Peter’s Dome

Final two details also have to do with Michelangelo, whose presence in Rome is felt at every corner, especially in Vatican. The mosaic of what seems to be a cherub’s face is one of several such faces on the inside of the St. Peter’s cupola, or dome, which was designed and built by the famous Florentine. The final photo in the post was taken from pretty much the same place, only looking straight up at the ceiling of the dome.

Dome of St. Peter's, inside

Dome of St. Peter’s, inside

The dome will take a prominent role again in the next post, when we explore the outside of the Basilica.

Rome Fashion Saturday, Sep 29 2012 

Rome Fashion

Rome Fashion

One remarkable thing about Rome is the fashion of its citizens.

It’s the tourists who are in jeans, shorts, t-shirts, flip-flops and other variants of hideous clothing with the excuse of being comfortable.

The locals are impeccably dressed in linen pants, cotton suits, well-fitting clothes, spectacular shoes, and designer bags.

Even when they are on their scooters and wear helmets, they exude style and class.

And this is why Rome is my favorite city in the world.

Via Condotti, Rome, Italy Friday, Sep 28 2012 

Friday is a day for celebrating the end of the work week with simple posts.

Prada

Prada

Shopping in Rome begins and ends at Via Condotti. As you can see, the 2-story Prada store is on the corner of the street and it overlooks Piazza Spagna, and the famous Spanish Steps. Across the street from Prada, on the other corner is Dior.

Further down are all other big names, like Gucci, Burberry, Fendi and Ermenegildo Zegna. Brands like Tod’s and Salvatore Ferragamo have not one, but two stores each on this street – one for men, and one for the ladies.

Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton

As you can see, Louis Vuitton is just across the street from Giorgio Armani. Did I mention how much I love this city?

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Forum, Rome, Italy Thursday, Sep 27 2012 

The day I went to the Coliseum with my lovely sister was a day that would break lesser travelers in two. Keep in mind, this is after we spent a day exploring squares and alleys of Rome, and wrapped it up by eating gelato at Trevi Fountain; and then another day of intense sight-seeing, which included a bus tour, more walking, and a late dinner.

Forum, with the Temple of Saturn on the left

Forum, with the Temple of Saturn on the left

So, on this day, we walked half a mile or so to catch a bus to take us to Coliseum. After spending several hours up and down the amphitheater, the next destination was going to be Palatine Hill, with all its archeological riches, including the Foro Romano, or Forum.

I may have forgotten to mention that all these days were early July days, with temperatures pushing 100 degrees (or, for European purposes, close to 40). But, the thing about Rome is that it makes you forget how exhausted you are, because it comes at you from all sides with such awesome sites and sights that you forget about everything but how impressed you are with this city.

Arch of Septimius Severus

Arch of Septimius Severus

To me, this was nowhere more evident than at the Forum. This whole area is essentially one large archeological dig that’s still very active. I’ve seen a hole in the ground that was dug up only a few years ago to reveal an elaborate system of rooms that seems to revolve around a central pillar, and a sign next to it which said that not even the scientists fully understand what they found. To have something like that discovered so recently, in the middle of Rome, a stone’s throw from Coliseum, is really remarkable.

And so we pressed on, until very late in the afternoon, walking in footsteps of ancient Romans, through their marketplaces and temples, under their arches, by their columns, next to their walls. No kind of photograph can quite tell the story of how cool it is to be there, even on a 100-degree day.

 Temple of Vesta

Temple of Vesta

This place is my favorite city in the world.

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