Fountain of Moor (Rome, Italy)

The Fountain of Moor is located in arguably the most famous and picturesque piazza (town square) in all of Rome, Italy. The basin made of pink marble houses four Tritons blowing conch shells from which the water flows – in the center is the Moor (or Triton) standing in a conch shell and wrestling a dolphin.

Fountain of Moor (Rome, Italy)

Fountain of Moor (Rome, Italy)

A few years back a homeless man vandalized this statue when he climbed in and slammed a rock into the Moor’s head multiple times doing significant damage and breaking off his ear. It has since been fixed and when we were there in 2014 I didn’t notice anything out of place so they clearly did a great job restoring it.

Temple of Saturn (Rome, Italy)

The ruins of the Temple of Saturn are located near the base of Capitoline Hill (number 19 on the linked map) in the Roman Forum in the heart of Rome, Italy. The original temple was thought to be built in 497 BC before being completely rebuilt in 42 BC following the defeat of the Syrian army. Saturn was the god of the harvest and was generally associated with wealth. The festival dedicated to the God – Saturnalia – lasted seven days and was among the most popular in all of Rome. The traditions of that festive week live on today in Christmas and New Years Eve celebrations.

Temple of Saturn – Rome, Italy

Temple of Saturn Roman Forum Rome Italy

I got low here to emphasize the size of the structure while also minimizing the clutter in the background that is generally associated with pictures of the ruins. We were touring the ruins in the mid-afternoon so there was also a slight sunflare coming in from the west side of the ruins which I tried to minimize through the use of a lens hood.

Happy Monday everyone! For the first time in weeks I have no travel planned this week but I will be riding in a 100 km (maybe 100-mile; not sure if I trained hard enough) bike ride Sunday morning so hopefully the weather cooperates over the weekend in the Southwest Michigan area.

The River God

This statue in the Vatican Museum shows the River God relaxing by the River Arno. The statue has been repaired over the years but was originally crafted around 150 AD (so it’s pretty old!). How do they know that this statue represents the River Arno and not some other river in Italy? They know it because of the presence of the feline/cat in the pottery – maybe you already spotted that little face poking out – that the river God is holding in his hands. I can’t recall exactly why felines/cats were associated with Florence but they were at some point and thus they deducted the presence of that river in the statue.

River God (Arno) at the Vatican Museum

The River God (Arno) at the Vatican Museum

Just getting back into the swing of things at work after being on vacation (Seattle and Alaska) the past ten days. It’s been a rough week so I’m happy that it is a short one in the states (Labor day) and thankful that it is made even shorter by a pre-arranged client ‘meeting’ tomorrow at Wrigley Field to watch the Cubbies take on the Pirates.

Roman Spiral

The spiral staircase leading out of the Vatican in Rome, Italy makes for a perfect photograph with its spiral shape causing a natural pattern for the eye to follow towards the middle of the frame. I have been playing more with the Nik Software tools and decided to process this single shot (no HDR on this one) with Analog Efx 2. It does have a bit of an instagram feel to it but it can do alot more than the iPhone app does as far as having control over where the effect is applied throughout the photograph. Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to be spending some more time working within post-processing and trying to do things that are outside of my normal ‘comfort zone’ in an effort to learn new techniques that I can apply to later photos.

Spiral Staircase – Vatican Museum: Rome, Italy

Roman Spiral Staircasee Vatican Museum

Spanish Steps, Rome Italy

The widest staircase in Italy sits in the heart of Rome and connects two main plazas leading up to a beautiful church at the very top. The Spanish Steps as they are known were built in the early 1700s and include 135 stairs – they were recently featured on one of G and I’s favorite shows (The Amazing Race – if we ever went on there we’d probably kill each other though).

This is one of my favorite spots in all of Rome to sit at night, people watch and drink (discretely) a beer or some wine before heading off for dinner and gelato. The crowds certainly never disappoint and because there are so many stairs and they are so wide there are always ample places to sit and relax away from others.

Spanish Steps, Rome Italy

Spanish Steps Rome Italy
To take this picture I set my camera and tripod up and waited for the sun to set so I could catch the twilight taking over the square. I took five exposures (-4, -2, 0, +2, +4) so that I could blend them all later in Photoshop. Generally, I only take three exposures (-2, 0, +2) but I did not want the street lights in this picture to blow everything out in the -2 exposure so I went a little darker to make sure I captured the purple hues of the sky.

I posted a picture earlier of the Spanish Steps from the base of the staircase that I took as we walked to dinner. That one had the “Fountain of the Ugly Boat” in the foreground whereas this picture has that fountain in the distance but you can see the swarms of tourists around it as night settles in. Clearly, as you can see on the right hand side there is always a large police presence in the area as it does serve as a major intersection of the city. Despite this there are still a number of pick-pockets who work the area so if you are ever around there just be mindful of your surroundings. An alert tourist generally is a safe tourist.

The Famous Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain in the heart of Rome, Italy is typically overwhelmed with other like minded tourists who want to get close and throw a coin in (legend has it that doing so will guarantee your return). It doesn’t matter if it is day or night – the tour groups and locals alike gather. In an effort to beat the crowd I arrived at sunrise and took pictures for about an hour. While it was less crowded there was still a handful of people lingering – some still drunk from the night before – but definitely much less rowdy than the day or night crowds. After stopping here I headed over to the Piazza Navona drank a cup of coffee and had a pastry before heading back to the hotel. On the way back less than an ninety minutes later I passed the fountain again and the crowds had gathered to the point that it would have been hard for me to get close enough to get this view.

Photo of the Day – The Trevi Fountain in Detail

Trevi Fountain in Rome Italy

I wanted to get more detail of the fountain but unfortunately when I got out here on this morning I realized I left my 28 – 270 mm ‘all purpose’ lens in my other backpack thus I only had my wide-angle lens (10 – 28 mm) with me since that is what was on my camera. Since the crowds were sparse I was able to get close enough that even the wide angle was fairly close. A little processing here to bring out the detail in the statues. All and all pretty satisfied with how it came out.

Roman Colosseum

Opened in 80 AD the Roman Colosseum has stood the test of time. Of course, its look today is nothing like it was during the height of the Roman empire when the stone walls were covered in a marble facade to make the empire appear wealthier to those visiting to watch the games. Most of that marble was supposedly recycled into the Vatican church 400 years later. Still even without the marble the building is truly magnificent.

Photo of the Day – Roman Colosseum

Roman Colosseum

The last few Chicago winters – with the exception of the snowpocalypse in 2011 has been pretty tame. This year however is brutal. January started with many days of negative temps for the high and we are now facing days of single digits. It has made me really get psyched up for Belize in April though!

Magic Eye

During our last day in Rome we went on a walking tour that took us inside of one of the lesser known churches in Rome – the Sant’Ignazio Church (Church of Saint Ignatius of Loyola at Campus Martin). The church was built late by Roman standards – early 1600s – and unfortunately the architects ran out of funding to complete the project (a nearby monastery also complained that the dome would block some of its sunlight and thus hindered the ability of them to raise additional funding). As they realized funding was running low they made the decision to nix the dome; but what is a church without a dome?! Blaspheme!

Thus, they were forced to improvise and so they hired a painter – Andrea Pozzo – to paint a 3-D dome into the ceiling where they originally planned on the dome being. Thus, the roof of the building is flat (it is hidden from view on the street as there is a steeple streetside) but on the interior if you look up from all but one angle slightly behind the ‘dome’ it is hard to tell that it isn’t actually a real dome. Pretty tricky stuff!

Photo of the Day – The Dome That Isn’t

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To take this picture I set my camera on the floor with the lens facing up and the two second timer on. I found that many churches in Rome allowed me to set my camera on things – including the floor – and for the most part the other tourists were kind enough to wait (sometimes thirty seconds with the low light in the church) for the camera to finish its job. I have to say ‘thanks’ to all those patient tourists and hopefully they will see these pictures as well and be able to relive the memories of that crazy American pressing the button and then jumping quickly out of the way to avoid being in the frame of my wide angle lens. One lady stuck her face on the side of this picture trying to see what I was doing so I had to crop her out but luckily it was on the non-dome side.

An Evening in Rome

Pasta, wine, more wine, gelato followed by grappa to help it all digest….that is about what every night in Rome was like. The area outside of The Pantheon is lively but not nearly as obnoxious as some of the other more popular night spots – Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain – so you don’t have vendors trying to sell you flowers or flying light up helicopter things every two steps. However, as you can see the crowds are still very lively and there are alot of people out. We were on our way back from dinner and going to get gelato at one of our favorite places when I stopped to take this shot.

Scott Kelby has a free online video showing some of his photographs from Rome (aptly called a Walk in Rome) which made me really want to go back through my pictures and relive those memories. Next year in April we are off to Belize – just booked the trip last week. My travel guide arrived this week and I’ll start figuring out what we want to do there. It will be different from our Italy vacation since I think we will only go to two distinct regions instead of four/five like we try to do when we head to Europe.

Photo of the Day – Dinner at the Pantheon

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Nightfall on the Colosseum

Well my first look at the mountains in Glacier National Park were nothing short of spectacular. It is easy to see why the Going-to-the-sun road is considered along the prettiest in the entire world. It is a scary road too with all the twists and turns, blind curves, etc…. Luckily I’m here ‘out-of-season’ so the traffic isn’t too bad. The bad news with that is the road shuts down for construction on Monday so I had to book another hotel on the west side of the park and eat the money on the one I already booked on the East side. Otherwise it would have meant an additional couple hours of driving time each day to enter the park because I would have had to go completely around it and enter from the west side rather than through it.

A failure in my planning this time as I didn’t read everything in the GNP website ahead of booking my hotel. Next time I’ll do a better job planning ahead.

Photo of the Day – Nightfall on the Colosseum

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In Rome, Italy back in April we got in after a long day but I just had to go and see the Colosseum before we went to our favorite pizza place there called Antica Pizzeria Fratelli (and home of the Est! Est! Est! wine – which admittedly was MUCH sweeter than I remember it being five years ago when we visited for the first time). I took a number of shots with the moon shining brightly on the historic Colosseum.