Happy Birthday, Sarajevo Saturday, Apr 6 2013 

April 6 is the anniversary of the liberation of my home town from German forces in World War II. Around the same time of the year, a more somber anniversary is observed in the city, that of the Siege of Sarajevo, the longest siege in modern warfare. With this post, I’m making a small contribution in marking these anniversaries.

Sarajevo, 4:30 a.m.

Sarajevo, 4:30 a.m.

This shot was taken during my June 2009 visit to Sarajevo; it’s still one of my favorite trips, partly because it extended to a few days in Dubrovnik, Croatia, but mainly because I spent it in the company of all my dearest family members. I wanted to finally take some good sunrise and sunset shots of the city from some of the many hills surrounding it. The trouble with that plan is that the days in the middle of June are really long, and the dawn breaks as early as 4 a.m.

After a few days of recovering from jet lag, I got up really early this one morning (this was taken around 4:35 a.m.), got into a cab and went to Jekovac, a little park overlooking the old town. I took this shot from the same place, and you can see how foggy it was back in October 2007. This time around, the sky was clear, but the actual sunrise was ruined by some low-hanging clouds, so I didn’t get good shots until a few days later.

I brought two film cameras to this trip, but one thing I wasn’t comfortable doing with them was long exposures. This was 8 seconds at ISO 100 with my Canon 20D digital camera; if I took a shot with my Velvia 50 film, it would have had to be 30+ seconds, due to film reciprocity failure.

In the foreground is the Old Town, anchored by the City Hall, built in the 19th century by the Austrian Empire and later converted into a library, which was then burned down by Serbian military forces in 1992, in the first days of the Siege. Bottom right is the cemetery dedicated to the defenders of the city during the Siege. Further westward, you see the modern buildings of the newer parts of the city, and above, in a fortunate astronomical circumstance, you see the full Moon, about to plunge behind Igman and Bjelašnica mountains.

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Piazza Venezia, Rome, Italy Tuesday, Sep 25 2012 

Yesterday, I showed you a few photos of Fontana di Trevi from my visit to Rome, Italy, and today I’m continuing Rome Week on the blog.

Piazza de Venezia is an enormous square right in the middle of Rome, dominated by the massive monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, made in white marble, covered in columns, statues, steps, fountains and all sorts of other embellishments.

Piazza Venezia

Piazza Venezia

The monument is basically a celebration of the unification of Italy under Victor Emanuel. He’s the guy on the horse in the detail photo below (notice how the Italian flag unfolded into my shot just right). Since it was built on top of the Capitoline Hill, it’s visible from just about anywhere in Rome, but that’s also a cause for some controversy. The Wikipedia article even mentions some pejorative nicknames given to the monument, due to its size, color and artistic value (or lack thereof).

Vittorio Emanuele Monument, detail

Vittorio Emanuele Monument, detail

It’s undeniable, however, that the monument is still an imposing structure. I was particularly impressed by the sculptures on each side of the roof – they represent the goddess Victoria riding on a chariot pulled by four horses. You will also see a detail shot of one of the ends of the monument, showing the columns, the inscription “Civium Libertati” (“Freedom to the people”) and one of the Victoria sculptures.

The shots are inadvertently shown in the chronological order by the time of day. The first three were made on my way to the Coliseum; the top one is shortly upon my arrival to Piazza Venezia. I spent some time lingering at the square, so I caught the beginning of the “golden hour” of sunset, which can be recognized by the pleasing warm light on the two detail shots. The ending of this same golden hour will be shown tomorrow at another location.

The last photo below was taken at night a few days later. There was a full (ish) Moon during my visit, and I was able to compose a few shots with the monument and the Moon together. The monument is very nicely lit at night, but for some reason, the Victoria sculptures were almost not lit at all – you can barely make out the one on the right side of the photo.

The Dude on a Horse, aka Vittorio Emanuele II

The Dude on a Horse, aka Vittorio Emanuele II

As my Rome itinerary was pretty intense, I never got onto the monument, or inside it, but it seems that there is an elevator now that you can take all the way up to the roof. Since I said the monument can be seen from all of Rome, I can imagine that one could see all of Rome from the top of it. That definitely goes on a to-do list for a future visit.

Piazza Venezia at Night

Piazza Venezia at Night

What do you think about the monument – awesome or gaudy?

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