Tuesday, October 13, 2015


On our final afternoon in Rome, Geri and I paid a visit to the Vatican.  We didn't have time to do the vast Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel, unfortunately, but I'm glad we are able to visit St. Peter's Basilica, probably the greatest church in Christendom.  I was not disappointed.  We did have to navigate the security check lines to enter the basilica.  The lines were long but they moved quickly.

The interior of the basilica is immense, highly ornamented, and highly ornate.  To begin, here are a few shots that hopefully convey some of that size and grandeur.

There is a glimpse of the basilica's main dome in this last shot.  In addition to the main dome, there are a number of auxiliary domes, and I took a few shots of the interiors of those from directly underneath.  

I wasn't able to get a shot from directly under the great dome because of the altar and all the related religious paraphernalia directly below it.

But here are a couple of images of what I was able to get of the interior of the central dome.

To be honest, I was pretty happy with how these turned out, considering the overall lighting conditions and the fact that I had to do everything handheld.  

The interior was, of course, filled with statuary, including Michelangelo's Pieta.

In 1972 an individual attacked the then unprotected sculpture with a hammer.  Restoration personnel were able to repair the damage, but the sculpture was placed behind glass, which diminishes it to some extent.  The lighting was also not that great.  In my view the work is just too complex and simply doesn't have the power that Michelangelo's David commands.  Still, it's impressive and I'm glad I was privileged to see it.

Francois Duquesnoy’s massive sculpture of St. Andrew, located in one of the dome's niches, also caught my interest.  But there were any number of other works that I could have spent time photographing.

I'm not sure of the subject matter of the following sculpture, perhaps one of the earlier popes(?), but I was attracted by the piece's inherent symmetry.

Speaking of popes, during our visit we came across this plaque that includes the entire list of popes, beginning with St. Peter!  It only goes through 2005 so it needs a bit of updating.

There were simply too many objects and architectural details that I could have photographed, but our time was limited, so reluctantly we left the basilica in the later afternoon to make our way back to our hotel.  

Fronting the basilica is the immense St. Peter's Square, which features an Egyptian obelisk created BCE and moved to the square in 1586 CE.  My shot of the square simply doesn't do justice, unfortunately.

The most distinctive features of the square are the semicircular sets of colonnades that form the square's perimeter.   I wanted to capture the character of the colonnades, but nothing worked.  And the only image I wound up with was this detail shot of one of the lamps with the colonnades as a backdrop.

The colonnades, as well as the basilica's auxiliary buildings, are topped with literally dozens of statuary.   Given the lighting conditions (relatively dark statuary against a bright sky) and in an attempt to get a different take on the scene, I took a photo that intentionally underexposed the dome and statuary.  In post processing I converted the shot to a black & white and increased the contrast to create a silhouette effect.  

A little dark, maybe, but I did like the overall effect.


1 comment:

  1. John, I especially love these photos taken during your visit to the Vatican. You have given me the opportunity to revisit, in my mind at least, our short visit there back in the late 1990's. Absolutely lovely, my friend! All of them. I can't decide which of these are my favorites. I love the domes, and you did a great job with Michelangelo's Pieta. However...I am quite drawn to what you have done with this last picture of the statuary. Very nice indeed! I'm so glad you and Geri took this great sounding trip!