Rome, the Eternal City. Frankly, although I knew I had to see it, I wasn't expecting much. In school, I'd studied the city to death, until I could recite, in my sleep, the complete succession of roman emperors; along with every bath-house, forum, temple, and memorial column that they'd ever sponsored; the whole succession of St. Peter's architects and Boromini tempiettos, ad nauseum. So, I knew that I had to go see it myself, but thought that I'd find it overly rote and textbookish. Instead, I fell in love with the city.

Here, the scene was extremely backlit, so I had to take three different exposures, compositing them together in Photoshop to produce a single well-balanced image. With a tripod, this is easy. Without a tripod, it's a bit more difficult..."); drawpicture ("photo_italy2.jpg", "The Basillica of St. Peter's. Difficult to photograph because of the dim light, and because one is not allowed to use a tripod to photograph any place that's interesting in entire city. Ostensibly it's to protect the delicate floors, but since the rubber feet of my tripod were far more delicate than the soles of most people's shoes, I wasn't buying that explanation. My theory is that it was some sort of photographer's union (or mafia) running a protection racket. Too bad for them, I have a fairly steady hand, and can shoot at slow shutter speeds.", "right", 500); drawpicture ("photo_italy3.jpg", "Madonna with child, in the cathedral of St. Catherine of Sienna. A single beam of light pierced through the otherwise gloomy space, illuminating these statues.

Shortly after arriving in Rome, I tired of seeing all the magnificent cathedrals, which could be found on every single block. I came to the conclusion that enormous travertine cathedrals must have been the dot-com stocks of the Baroque era: if you had money, back in those days, then that was just the way you were expected to blow it. I think there are now about 5 times as many churches in Rome as there are church-goers to fill them.", "left", 500); drawpicture ("photo_italy4.jpg", "The occulus of the Pantheon. I turned my focus to the Roman ruins, which I found absolutely enthralling -- the Pantheon above all. I spent six hours, entranced, watching the light move through the space. At one point, the moon moved across the occulus, and I snapped this picture. Actually, it's two pictures -- because of the enormous difference in contrast between the interior and the sky -- and this time I couldn't use a tripod to take the images in perfect alignment with each other. So, I shot each one by hand and managed to composite them together, with considerable difficulty.", "right", 500); drawpicture ("photo_italy5.jpg", "Ruins along the Aurelian Wall. I spent a full following the Aurelian wall, a massive defensive barrier built almost 1900 years ago by Marcus Aurelius, and all but forgotten today. The walls ran through funky old neighborhoods, which are more interesting to me, in their way, than the all the grandious monuments. In one place, apartments had been built within the ancient barracks and storage rooms; here, an old piece of marble sculpture (likely part of the frame surround a bust) lies peacefully among the mulch.", "left", 500); drawpicture ("photo_italy6.jpg", "But always, back to the Pantheon. The bird actually began circling the beam of light the moment the sun reached its zenith, shining through the portico at the entrance. The bird never actually touched the light, but just flew around and around it, clearly aware of its presence. Then it flew back to roost above the main alter of the Pantheon. It was quite a mystical-feeling moment.", "bottom", ""); backbutton ("photography.php"); ?>