03-09-10 The Gurgling Downspout

Well, it's not gurgling here and this isn't an ordinary downspout. It's a gargoyle and it is located on the famous Sainte-Chapelle chapel, just around the corner from the Notre Dame de Paris. It is a marvelous combination of stained glass, stone and air. It's not on the "normal" tourists stops so you'll have to make special efforts to get there. Interestingly, its inside the main judicial complex in central Paris so you'll also have to go through metal detectors.

One of the architectural features of many Gothic churches are the carved downspouts, known as gargoyles. And the sound of water rushing through the monster's mouth was described as a "gurgle," a word derived directly from the name of these conduits.

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02-23-10 "Upon This Rock. . . "

I would have to say that in my opinion St. Peter's in Rome takes the prize as "Most Photogenic Interior." I have been looking at my photo collection, and I have a disproportionate number of the inside of this awe inspiring structure. There is so much to look at, I wonder if paying attention to the Mass would be secondary? I do know that one of the Calvinist reactions against Catholicism concerned adornment. Compare this sparse interior in a Calvinist church in England.

I like this view of the interior of the dome because you can clearly see the Latin Bible verse which came to be known as "The Petrine Doctrine." Peter became the first Pope in a 2000 year succession of Popes.

"Tu es Petrus et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam mean et tibi dabo claves regni caelorum" ("You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church, to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven." Mt 16:18)

Jesus may have been making a little joke when he said this to Peter because "Peter" was derived from the Greek word for "rock." Was Jesus smiling when he said this? I ask this because in the Middle Ages there was actually a theological debate about whether Jesus ever laughed, since there is no specific documentation of this in the New Testatament.

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02-11-10 A Week In Paris: Notre Dame

There is much that is captivating about a Gothic cathedral like the famous Notre Dame of Paris. The beautiful stained glass and the lofty interior space must have been truly awe inspiring to the 12th century Parisian. They certainly are to me.

In this photo, you are looking at an innovation that allowed the soaring interior space and relatively thin walls. It's called "rib vaulting." It may look chaotic but it is in fact very carefully arranged. How did they figure this out? Mostly trial and error and amazing intuition. The medieval masons didn't have computer models or even sophisticated math.

Here's another tidbit about gothic cathedrals: they are held together by gravity, not the mortar between the blocks. The mortar is really just a spacer to keep the stories level. Ribbed vaulting like this would have been stacked on wooden supports until the top stones were put in place. Once complete, the support was removed and the ceiling stayed up on its own. Impressed?

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02-08-10 A Week In Paris - The Pyramid

I learned a couple weeks ago that a former student of mine, Erin H., is looking at the blog from time to time. Given that there are other former students who also see this blog, this might seem unremarkable. But it turns out that Erin is in Paris for a year, and there's something special to me about having someone there checking out my blog. :-)

Erin writes:

Living in Paris for the year, and being able to look at your blog is a great reminder of where I come from, and also how many places I have yet to visit. . . .

In honor of Erin, I am kicking off a series called "A Week In Paris." For a while, my blog becomes a reminder of where she is and where some of us would like to go some day.

Incidentally, Erin also has a blog of her own, with many great photos, and I suggest you take a peek:

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01-22-10 Peaceful Moment

I was waiting for my tour group to gather after a tour of the Roman Colosseum. As always, the ancient building was crowded, noisy and swelteringly hot. I turned away from our group and found these two tourists sitting in the flood of light entering the colonnade, no doubt plotting their strategy for their visit to Rome. This photo makes the Colosseum look quiet, cool and relaxing. Maybe that's the magic of photography. Or may it's the deception.

There are many things I like about this photo: I like the repeating lines of the columns and the repeating bright and dark made by the Roman sunlight. I also like the pock marks that show the age of this place. Finally, I like that by accident the three primary colors are present in this photo, though in very muted shades. Can you see them?

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11-25-09 Architectural Manipulation

Several weeks ago I commented on the manipulative nature of photography. In looking for a photo to post today, I came across this detail from a resort our family had stayed at in 2002. And I was struck by how architects and designers are engaged in manipulation: simple posts could have held up the roof and there is really no need for color. But instead, we get something that is soothing and alluring.

In a side note, I am also struck by similarities between the colors in this place and in the Denver Art Museum photo that I posted on November 1 ("A Human Interface").

Canon 1D 1/50s f/2.8 ISO400 145mm

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11-08-09 The Redlin Center - Watertown, SD

Almost anything looks better in morning light, including the Terry Redlin Art Center in Watertown. This photo was taken a few minutes after I took "Flocking Behavior 01." (Click)

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11-01-09 A Human Interface

Gallery photo taken at the Denver Art Museum by Watertown, South Dakota, photographer Scott Shephard You may have noticed that I like to take photographs of art museum interiors. This photo comes from the Denver Art Museum. The inspiration for the title is the fact that the design and color of the space that showcases the art are so welcoming.

Art museums are often busy and full of the sound of voices and footsteps echoing off the walls and wooden floors in the spacious galleries. But because it was snowing outside, the museum was quiet and I had this floor almost to myself. I was looking for serenity, warmth and color on this particular morning and I found it.

For those who might be curious, the painting on the wall directly opposite my camera is called "Childhood Idyll" by Bourguereau. Click here to see a better view of the painting.

Canon 5D II 1/30s f/4.0 ISO800 35mm

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10-21-09 Seeing Red: Strasbourg Cathedral, France

Pink is perhaps a more accurate color to describe this amazing structure. The color comes from the unique, local sandstone from which it is constructed. This cathedral is the 7th tallest church in the world and for 2 1/2 centuries it was the tallest building in the world. The cathedral's namesake town sounds German and the food looks German, but trust me - it is in the beautiful Alsace-Lorraine region of eastern France. On a side note, terrorists sought to detonate a bomb in the square in front of the cathedral in 2000 but the plot was revealed and foiled.

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07-18-09 Looking Through Art

Here's another one from Denver, Colorado. I was visiting the art museum and was captured by the construction of a new wing of the museum. The red structure that frames the two workers is itself a work of art. Check out this photo (which isn't mine) for the context and to see what the finished building looks like.

1/500s f/13.0 ISO400 56mm

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06-07-09 Cemetery Arcade - Zagreb, Croatia

Our flight landed on time in Zagreb yesterday afternoon and after picking up our rental car and checking in to our hotel, Deb and I headed to a . . . . cemetery?

But this is Mirogoj - one of the more famous European cemeteries. And if you are looking for a unique tourist experience that is serene and unlike most anything else you've ever seen, this is the place.

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06-06-09 Vanishing Point

Yesterday's post asked a question about lines and so I thought I'd post another photo that is obviously linear. I rarely think of vanishing points when I take photos but this one clearly moves the eye to infinity. If you want to see an interest use of vanishing point, check out da Vinci's "The Last Supper." How does the artist use a vanishing point in this photo?;

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