St. Peter’s Basilica, Part Three Tuesday, Oct 9 2012 

I spent this Sunday afternoon finally developing a roll of Ilford FP5 Plus film. It’s a roll I started in Rome, and finished at the Italian Car Festival in Grapevine. I was a little hesitant, because the last time I tried to develop my own film, I wasn’t very successful.

This post might as well be titled “St. Peter’s Basilica, Part Two, Part Two”, because the photos featured here are just about the same as the ones I posted a few days ago.

St. Peter's Basilica, film

St. Peter’s Basilica, film

For the first photo, I climbed on a ledge of the obelisk in the center of the St. Peter’s Square, but I still had to crop off some tourists’ heads at the bottom of the frame, which made the photo a little wider than the natural 6×7 format of the Mamiya 7 camera.

St. Peter's Square, film

St. Peter’s Square, film

The photo from St. Peter’s cupola showcases that format very directly. The digital color shot in the previous post was taken with my zoom lens at 29mm, which is about normal for a small sensor digital camera. The lens I had on Mamiya 7 is also normal, 80mm, but because the format is more square, the field of view opens up to include a little bit of sky above the horizon, which was not visible in the earlier shot.

I very much enjoy the 6×7 format, because it is very nearly square, so there’s no visible advantage to rotating the camera to a portrait orientation. That way I eliminate one of the variables and I have one fewer thing to think about while shooting.

You’re welcome to share your experience and advice about developing film in the comments.

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.

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?

Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Spain Sunday, Sep 16 2012 

Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Spain

Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Spain

As you may have noticed, I started my “365” project a week ago, meaning that I will post a photo each day for a year. There are a lot of photos I haven’t posted, and I’m hoping to take a lot of new ones, so the exercise is mainly in discipline and preparation.

This week, I will post a photo a day from my trip to Spain back in March.

Plaza Mayor is a rectangular square in the middle of downtown Madrid, where you can buy any type of souvenir known to man. From figurines of bulls to Soviet military memorabilia, and everything in between, you’ll find it here. In the evening, the shops close, but the restaurants open, and the waiters entice you to sit at one of the many tables outside.

When I took this picture, I didn’t even notice that the facade is actually full of painted ladies in various stages of undress. Upon further review, there are even a few male nudes. I included a 100% crop of one of the windows, flanked on each side by a beautiful woman. The Europeans definitely think differently about nudity.

Ladies of Plaza Mayor

Ladies of Plaza Mayor, 100% crop

What do you think? Can you imagine something like this on a building in your town’s main square?

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