Sunday, October 19, 2014


Lisbon's Monastery of Jeronimos was built in the early 16th century as a monument to the great explorers.  It includes a church, monastic living quarters, and a beautiful courtyard.

The entrance to the church is fairly standard, which is to say that it includes highly complex and elaborate stoneworks.  The following photo doesn't really do justice, and admittedly I have difficulty getting more dramatic shots of church exteriors.  Perhaps there's just too much going on.

The interior, despite its lighting challenges, I found to be more interesting.  First a couple of wide angle shots of the sanctuary area, one from the ground floor and one from the balcony area.

Note the spectacular vaulting in the first shot and the carving detail in the massive octagonal pillars in both.

Here is another shot looking up one of the pillars that shows off those features in a less conventional, more dramatic manner.

I also got a shot of the main crucifix that also shows off the ceiling vaulting as a background.

I liked that this image appears to show the Christ figure looking down at me, although in fact the eyes are closed.  I took this shot at a wide open aperture of f/4, focused on the face, which allowed me to keep the figure in good focus while allowing the ceiling to go out of focus a bit, helping the figure to "pop" against the complex background.

As mentioned, the monastery includes a beautiful courtyard, ringed with two-story arched hallways.

Here's a detail shot of one of the arches.

It helped that I was able to keep the space behind the arches dark to better highlight the arches' delicate features.

Here is another, wider shot that includes one of the many visitors to the facility.

One of my goals has been to incorporate more people into my photos to establish scale as well as a human element.  Note the face carved into the pillar in the upper right of the image.

It was customary to use religious venues as burial places for notables, and this monastery was no different.

I especially liked that the light streaming through the stained glass window served only to outline the supine statue atop the crypt, creating a nice chiaroscuro effect.

I took the following shot, featuring canine gargoyles, from a window in the men's second floor restroom.  The multiple towers helped the composition, I thought.

Here, finally, are a couple of detail shots from the monastery that caught my eye, one of the vaulting and one of some unusual tile work, something for which Lisbon is especially well known.


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