Thursday Special

This week Paula encourages us to consider the differences between taking a landscape or portrait format. What factors make you decide which way to go? Is it the lens on your camera that forces you into a particular format, or are you making a more conscious decision about what it is you want to portray and what is the best way to do that? 

These two images are of the haunting bronze sculpture that I have featured before in black and white. The close-up landscape version(s) were deliberate compositions to focus on the detail of the women and children as they wait for their husbands and fathers to return from sea.The decision to take a portrait shot was based purely on the desire to capture the entire sculpture and show exactly how small these figures actually are.

I tend to take most of my photos in the landscape mode unless I am photographing something particularly tall like a building or a tree. Of course with editing software it is easy to change any photo into any size afterwards, so it is not always necessary to make the decision at the point of clicking the shutter. I think the most important decision you should make when taking that shot is whether you have thought about what it is you are trying to capture and have you considered carefully that this is the best composition. That helps you take a great shot rather than several mediocre ones when you simply ‘hope for the best’.

I am interested to hear your thoughts.

Inside the unfinished temple

On 11 July 2010, the Sagrada Familia was consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI and elevated to the status of a basilica. It is not, as some assume, a cathedral as it is without a bishop’s headquarters. But the huge dimensions of the interior is worthy of that status.

Stepping inside the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família is like stepping into an enchanted forest. Tall trees towering above us; their branches creating a canopy. The streams of coloured light; the verticality and the enormous, seemingly empty space takes your breath away. At first I didn’t know what to look at, where to begin the tour, what to focus my camera on. Double-storey height windows flood the space with a light never before seen within a church.

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The nave is a sight to behold. A work of mathematical genius with natural light flooding in through clear glass leaded panels to allow as much light in as possible.

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The columns are modelled after a forest and form a light canopy of palm leaves.

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I’m not going to go into all the symbolism of the basilica, you can find that out for yourself, instead I shall just let you have a look at some of the bits that caught my eye and where I could actually get a shot without dozens of people in the way.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe apse contains the altar, but this section was being worked on so we couldn’t get too close. Your eyes are drawn to the dramatic suspended crucifixion with a large ‘parachute’ dome from which artificial grape bunches and wheat stalks hang as symbols of the Eucharist, in which wine and bread are consecrated as religious symbols.

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The main access bronze door that Josep M. Subirachs created for the Glory façade is a masterpiece of using typography as art.

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The centre of the Prayer Door is inscribed with the Lord’s Prayer in Catalan with relief letters, and highlights the fragment ‘Give us, o Lord, our daily bread‘  (Translation from original Catalan: ‘el nostre pa de cada dia doneu-nos-el avui‘) and 49 other languages

The greens, blues, yellows and reds of the light coming through Joan Vila Grau’s stained-glass windows form shifting patterns of light and colour across the stone.  Gaudí left several documents explaining how the stained glass windows should be arranged in order to achieve a symphony of evocative light and colour.

Gaudí said that colour was the expression of life.

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The stained-glass features modern geometric shapes are sometimes overlaid with the names of saints. The windows on the lower part of the side aisles are brightly coloured, whereas those on the upper half are in lighter, almost translucent colours.

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The windows on the Facade of the Passion, which are dedicated to water, light and the Resurrection are mostly blues, yellows and greens.

The windows on the Nativity facade allude to the birth of Christ, poverty and life and are mostly reds and yellow.

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A pretty clam-shell font containing holy water rests on curved wrought-iron supports. Everything here is considered,

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even the curve of a spiral staircase leading to the upper floors.

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The basilica is a continuing work of art; the culmination of many years by many talented architects, sculptors and master craftsmen following Gaudí’s instructions. You could spend countless hours, days, even years studying the details of the Familia Sagrada and still not discover everything about it.

One has to wonder what Gaudí himself would think about it today? And what does it now represent?

Thursday Special: Sweet Vi

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In Norwich’s fine cathedral is a sculpture which really caught my attention. Somewhat out of sight in a corner of the north transept it is easily missed. But there is something so profoundly sweet about the face of this young woman which caused me to spend an inordinate time photographing her from all angles.

In Caister Churchyard was laid to rest by Bertram Bishop of Norwich
All that could die of Violet the lovely and beloved only child of Penry and Evelyn Vaughan Morgan
Who on February 22 1919 at the age of twenty years passed this life to the life eternal.

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No voice shall break the glory of the stillness,
Or touch the joy that our two soul’s fulfil,
And we shall see the splendour of dawn on the hills
(V.V.M )( Violet Vaughan Morgan)

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I knew a maid; a young  enthusiast
Birds in the bower, and lambs in the green field,
Could they have known her, would have loved; methought
Her very presence such a sweetness breathed,
That flowers, and trees, and even the silent hills,
And everything she looked on, should have had
An intimation how she bore herself
Towards them and to all creatures. God delights
In such a being; for, her common thoughts
Are piety, her life is gratitude.

~ from Wordsworth’s The Prelude, Book Twelve

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Monument to Violet Vaughan Morgan †1919. Marble. Commissioned by her parents Penry and Evelyn Vaughan Morgan and signed Derwent Wood R.A. 1921. Intended for Holy Trinity, Caister, but accepted by the Dean and Chapter, on 28 July 1921.

Paula’s (Lost in Translation) challenge this week is Calm