Photo of the Day 07/29/10 - Such Great Heights

Piazza San Pietro, or Saint Peter's Square, in Rome is a fascinating place. One of the single most visited places in history, it's undoubtedly one of the most photographed as well. It's nearly impossible to get a shot that doesn't have throngs of visitors (unless you're working for the Vatican, of course, and then it's just a matter of making it happen), but I felt lucky to have found an angle of my own. That Egyptian Obelisk in the center is massive, and the scale is thrown way off by the angle ... it's 25.5 meters tall! The smoothness of the cobblestones betrays the shear number of feet that have trod those simple stones; they are nearly glass smooth to the touch. It's a place that must be visited to be understood, and in all likelihood, it's a place that demands multiple visits if one is to truly understand its impact on the world.

They will see us waving from such great heights 
"Come down now" they'll say 
But everything looks perfect from far away
"Come down now" but we'll stay 

-The Postal Service

Larger version available here: Such Great Heights

Photo of the Day 06/20/10 - A Long Memory

I'm fascinated a wealth of topics and ideas—as those around me suffering through a winding, geeky conversation can attest—two of which happen to be ancient civilizations and the incredible ability of the Internet to tell me where I've been when I've failed to take decent notes.

Take this place, for example.

This is the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina in the old Roman Forum. Now, the trick with this is, I knew generally where we were (right down the block from the Colosseum in the old city) in Rome. I could even tell you who was standing next to me (Kristen and Sheena). That's about it. I could walk you there, if we stood in that area, sure. However, I hadn't the faintest idea what this building was nor had I the foresight to take even the slightest interest in documenting the location ("heck, I took a picture, right?"). I didn't even remember that this was in the Roman Forum, for that matter.

So, I start on Google maps, zoom in to the Colosseum easily enough, and then "walk" my way down the street to the corner where this building is, recognize it on the map itself, find a few surrounding quickly identifiable landmarks, do another search for Roman Forum landmark maps, and *boom* goes the dynamite.

This isn't the first time nor do I expect it to be the last where I find myself on a semi-wild goose chase down the halls of the Internet for proper nouns. It's actually challenging and fun, especially in European cities. I take better notes, now, but at least I know when I'm unable to get the details, the friendly, nerdy Web has my back.

Larger version here: A Long Memory

Want more information? Check the reference below for links to both the worst sportscast in history (from whence the phrase, "boom goes the dynamite" originates) and the Wiki article on this cool temple.

Photo of the Day 01/29/10 - To the Victor Go the Spoils

The Vatican is a treasure trove of art, architecture and rarities. This is but one of millions, Gabinetto Del Laocoonte or Laocoön and His Sons; from Wikipaedia:

The statue is attributed by the Roman author Pliny the Elder to three sculptors from the island of RhodesAgesanderAthenodoros and Polyclitus. It shows the Trojan priest Laocoön and his sons Antiphantes and Thymbraeus being strangled by sea serpents.

Photo of the Day 01/29/10 - That's One Big Caesar Salad Bowl

Given the modern trappings wrapping around almost any landmark that sites right smack in the middle of an urban center, it's no surprise that getting a picture of an ancient site is "challenging" and this one, shot on the run, isn't as successful as I'd like. However, I think it still works to show how imposing a structure the Roman Coliseum really is. I guess I'll have to go back and try again, I suppose.