Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

If columns could talk

This is one of my old ones, not that old I guess, only about 6 months, but I've only been at this for that long.

This is a close up of one of the columns of Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican (Latin: Basilica Sancti Petri) under a Roman summer sky.

I took this on our summer vacation across Europe last year.

You may say: "It's just a column and the sky", but this column is roughly 400 years old. It has been at the forefront of so much history.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Render unto Caesar...

The colossal head of Imperator Caesar Divi F. Augustus in the Court of the Pigna ( So named for the giant bronze Pine-cone at one end of the yard ) at the Vatican in Rome, Italy. I could not find any background info beyond the name to my dismay.

Born into an old, wealthy equestrian branch of the Plebeian Octavii family, Augustus was adopted posthumously by his maternal great-uncle Gaius Julius Caesar in 44 BC following Caesar's assassination. Together with Mark Antony and Marcus Lepidus, he formed the Second Triumvirate to defeat the assassins of Caesar. Following their victory at Phillipi, the Triumvirate divided the Roman Republic between themselves and ruled as military dictators.[note 3] The Triumvirate was eventually torn apart under the competing ambitions of its members: Lepidus was driven into exile and stripped of his position, and Antony committed suicide following his defeat at the Battle of Actium by Augustus in 31 BC.

After the demise of the Second Triumvirate, Augustus restored the outward facade of the free Republic, with governmental power vested in the Roman Senate, the executive magistrates, and the legislative assemblies. In reality, however, he retained his autocratic power over the Republic as a military dictator. By law, Augustus held a collection of powers granted to him for life by the Senate, including supreme military command, and those of tribune and censor. It took several years for Augustus to develop the framework within which a formally republican state could be led under his sole rule. He rejected monarchical titles, and instead called himself Princeps Civitatis ("First Citizen"). The resulting constitutional framework became known as the Principate, the first phase of the Roman Empire.

The reign of Augustus initiated an era of relative peace known as the Pax Romana (The Roman Peace). Despite continuous wars or imperial expansion on the Empire's frontiers and one year-long civil war over the imperial succession, the Mediterranean world remained at peace for more than two centuries. Augustus dramatically enlarged the Empire, annexing Egypt, Dalmatia, Pannonia, Noricum, and Raetia, expanded possessions in Africa, expanded into Germania, and completed the conquest of Hispania. Beyond the frontiers, he secured the Empire with a buffer region of client states, and made peace with the Parthian Empire through diplomacy. He reformed the Roman system of taxation, developed networks of roads with an official courier system, established a standing army, established the Praetorian Guard, created official police and fire-fighting services for Rome, and rebuilt much of the City during his reign.

Augustus died in 14 AD at the age of 75. He may have died from natural causes, though there were unconfirmed rumors that his wife Livia poisoned him. He was succeeded as Emperor by his adopted son (also stepson and former son-in-law) Tiberius

Augustus on Wikipedia

Friday, October 5, 2012

Stairway to heaven

High atop the peak of mount Pilatus. Once at the top after a thirty minute cog railway ride up the side of the mountain, the only way to fully explore is by the scary-steep stairs. And this place will make the most in-shape person have to stop and catch their breath, I had to stop every ten steps or so.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The winged lion of Venice

Winged Lion of Venice, Italy in the court yard of the doge's Palace

I took this one while we were at the Doge's palace in Venice, Italy. It is located at the top of the "Scala dei Giganti", latin for "The scale of the Giants". For another view, check out a past post: Standing in the presence of giants...

The Lion of Saint Mark, representing the evangelist St Mark, pictured in the form of a winged lion, is the symbol of the city of Venice and formerly of the Republic of Venice. It appears also in both merchant and military naval flags of the Italian Republic. The Lion of Saint Mark is also the symbol of the award of the Venice Film Festival, the "Golden Lion", and of the insurance company Assicurazioni Generali. Also the open book is a symbol of the state's sovereignty. 

The lion of Venice is usually depicted with its paw on an open book that contains the text:
Pax tibi, Marce, Evangelista meus. 
This is Latin, and means "Peace be upon you, O Mark, my Evangelist." Venetian legend has it that, while visiting the region of Italy that would later become Veneto, Mark was approached by an angel, greeted with those words, and told that the Venetian lagoon would be his ultimate resting place. The actual story is most likely as described above, with the Venetians taking it upon themselves to fulfill the angel's prophecy (which they probably wrote themselves, too).

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Brunelleschi's lantern at the top of the Duomo

Top of the Duomo in Florence Italy

And here we have Brunelleschi's lantern at the top of the dome of the The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Firenze, Italia (Florence, Italy) or just the Duomo, as it is more widely known.
To get to the top, requires the purchase of a ticket and then 414 back breaking steps (no elevator).

   Like a tree where lovers carve their initials as show of affection for viewers to come, hundreds of couples have written their names or initials on the lantern. 

  After the miraculous construction of the dome by Brunelleschi, his ability to crown the dome with a lantern was questioned and he had to undergo another competition. He was declared the winner over his competitors Lorenzo Ghiberti and Antonio Ciaccheri. His design was for an octagonal lantern with eight radiating buttresses and eight high arched windows (now on display in the Museum Opera del Duomo). Construction of the lantern was begun a few months before his death in 1446. Then, for 15 years, little progress was possible, due to alterations by several architects. The lantern was finally completed by Brunelleschi's friend Michelozzo in 1461. The conical roof was crowned with a gilt copper ball and cross, containing holy relics, by Verrocchio in 1469. This brings the total height of the dome and lantern to 114.5 metres (375 ft). This copper ball was struck by lightning on 17 July 1600 and fell down. It was replaced by an even larger one two years later.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

So at a knock, I emptied my cage, To hide in the world, And alter with age

Door 3 on the canals of Venice, Italy

These doors were a big hit with every one so here's a couple more I took. It's weird how my processing tastes have changed so much since I started this obsession with HDR, these were some of my first attempts and I still think they're great but I think if I were to process them today I would desaturate them a bit.

Like these? More here: The doors on the canals of Venice

Door 4 on the canals of Venice, Italy

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Kapellbrücke in Lucerne, Switzerland

Here we have the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke), a foot bridge that crosses the Reuss river in Lucerne, Switzerland. Named after the nearby St. Peter's Chapel, the bridge is unique since it contains a number of interior paintings dating back to the 17th century, although many of them were destroyed along with most of the centuries old bridge in a 1993 fire. Subsequently restored, the Kapellbrücke is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe, as well as the world's oldest surviving truss bridge. It serves as the city's symbol and as one of Switzerland's main tourist attractions.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The doors on the canals of Venice

Door 1 on the canals of Venice, Italy
While in venice we took a gondola ride along some of the canals. Along the way I was busy snapping photos of what ever caught my eye while my wife snapped at me to stop and enjoy the ride, lol. One thing in particular  that drew my attention was the many doors that we passed, they were all so interesting and each one unique. While I was in Venice I tried to capture any sign of the rising water levels and these doors show it more then anything else.

Like these, more here: So at a knock, I emptied my cage, To hide in the world, And alter with age

Door 2 on the canals of Venice, Italy

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Roman Forum - The Remains of the Temple of Castor and Pollux

Rome, Italy - Roman Forum - Temple of Castor and Pollux - Full

Here are some photos I took at the ruins of the Roman forum not to far from the Colosseum. These pillars are apprently the remains of the Temple of Castor and Pollux. The Temple of Castor and Pollux (Italian: Tempio dei Dioscuri) is an ancient edifice in the Roman Forum, Rome, central Italy. It was originally built in gratitude for victory at the Battle of Lake Regillus (495 BC). Castor and Pollux (Greek Polydeuces) were the Dioscuri, the "twins" of Gemini, the twin sons of Zeus (Jupiter) and Leda. Their cult came to Rome from Greece via Magna Graecia and the Greek culture of Southern Italy.

Notice the little bird taking in the view from atop the closer pillars...

Friday, August 24, 2012

Mount Pilatus - Far over the Misty Mountains cold...

A view from atop Mount Pilatus with Lake Lucerne in the distance

Here's the photo from my title banner. This is a view from the summit of Mount Pilatus near Lucerne in Switzerland. The lake in the distance is Lake Lucerne. Pilatus's elevation is approximately 6,982 ft. 
    Mount Pilatus was named after a local legend which alleges that Pontius Pilate was buried there. A similar legend is told of Monte Vettore in Italy. 
    The top can be reached with the Pilatus Railway, the world’s steepest cogwheel railway from Alpnachstad, operating from May to November (depending on snow conditions), and the whole year with the aerial panorama gondolas and aerial cableways from Kriens. Both summits of Tomlishorn and Esel can be reached with a trail. Mount Pilatus has the longest summer toboggan track in Switzerland (0.88 miles or 1,350 m) and the biggest suspension rope park in Central Switzerland.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The columns of Saint Peter's Basilica

    While in Rome we toured the Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticanothe church is located within Vatican City
Did you know that... 

    Vatican city or Stato della Città del Vaticano is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of RomeItaly. Also Vatican City the smallest independent state in the world by both area and population. 

Well, now you know...'s_Basilica

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dante Alighieri Statue - his spirit, which had left us, returns...

Dante Alighieri Piazza di Santa Croce in Florence
        In front of the Basilica of Santa Croce stands the statue dedicated to Dante Alighieri. It is a marble statue made by Enrico Pazzi.
         For Dante, exile was nearly a form of death, stripping him of much of his identity and his heritage.
         Prince Guido Novello da Polenta invited him to Ravenna in 1318, and he accepted. He finished the Paradiso, and died in 1321 (at the age of 56) while returning to Ravenna from a diplomatic mission to Venice, he died possibly of malaria contracted there. Dante was buried in Ravenna at the Church of San Pier Maggiore (later called San Francesco). Bernardo Bembo, praetor of Venice in 1483, took care of his remains by building a better tomb.
         Eventually, Florence came to regret Dante's exile, and made repeated requests for the return of his remains. The custodians of the body at Ravenna refused to comply, at one point going so far as to conceal the bones in a false wall of the monastery. Nevertheless, in 1829, a tomb was built for him in Florence in the basilica of Santa Croce. That tomb has been empty ever since, with Dante's body remaining in Ravenna, far from the land he loved so dearly. The front of his tomb in Florence reads Onorate l'altissimo poeta—which roughly translates as "Honour the most exalted poet". The phrase is a quote from the fourth canto of the Inferno, depicting Virgil's welcome as he returns among the great ancient poets spending eternity in Limbo. The continuation of the line, L'ombra sua torna, ch'era dipartita ("his spirit, which had left us, returns"), is poignantly absent from the empty tomb.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Arc de Triomphe - Fini

Arc de Triomphe inside cast in sunlight

 These are the last two photos of the Arc I processed.

Fun Fact #1: The Arc de Triomphe (in English: "Triumphal Arch") honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.   

Fun Fact #2: The Arc de Triomphe is so colossal that three weeks after the Paris victory parade in 1919, (marking the end of hostilities in World War I), Charles Godefroy flew his Nieuport biplane through it, with the event captured on newsreel.  

Fun Fact #3: Beneath the Arc is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. Interred here on Armistice Day 1920, it has the first eternal flame lit in Western and Eastern Europe since the Vestal Virgins' fire was extinguished in the fourth century. It burns in memory of the dead who were never identified (now in both world wars). According to a 2008 television programme, presented by Griff Rhys Jones, “the flame has only been extinguished once, by a drunken Mexican football supporter on the night that France beat Brazil here in Paris,” most likely referring to the1998 FIFA World Cup Final.

Arc de triomphe deep blue sky
Fun Facts courtesy of Wikipedia.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Arc de Triomphe - Part Deux

Arc de Triomphe lens flare
 Here is a couple more of the Arc de Triomphe. The one to the left here had some major lens  flare but I personally think lens flare is beautiful and I love how the colors of the flare where magnified by the HDR process, in the finishing touches I purposely turned up the green, aqua, magenta, red and  blue to really make the flares pop. And I am finding out that the best HDR photos are taken with the sun to my back. The sun always blows out the sky and you don't get those beautiful blues.
Arc de Triomphe inner lit by sun
I love how the sun light bounces off the inside of the Arch in this picture. I get excited every time I take a photo involving statues or stone structures, the process brings out such beautiful detail in them.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile

Arc de Triomphe inner mostArc de Triomphe names detail
These are a couple more photos I took while my wife and I where on vacation in Europe. Specifically of the "Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile"  (in English: Triumphal Arch of the Star). I really like the colors of the one to the right. Not exactly realistic I know, more surrealistic. but hey, to each his own.

I was surprised at the amount of detail I was able to bring out of these. These were created from three copies of a single jpeg at varying levels of darkness and light. This monument is in the north west of Paris, France.