Search Results for: dome

Domes in the Palermo Cathedral

I don’t get to use the word syncretic nearly as much as I’d like. Last appearing in this blog to describe the quasi-official mix of Shintoism and Buddhism in Japan, I am happy to trot out syncretic again in Palermo, Sicily.

Domes, Palermo Cathedral © Harold Davis

My definition of “syncretic” is that the word describes the situation when multiple belief systems that are manifestly, and on their face, contradictory live together in perfect harmony. Hence, Shintoism and Buddhism. In Sicily, particularly Palermo, syncretic well describes the historical and architectural heritage that is a blend of Islam, Byzantium, and the Norman strain of Catholicism.

I had a great time today on a self-guided photo walking tour of the syncretic neighborhoods of central Palermo; tired and footsore at the end I stopped at a student hangout joint for an inexpensive grilled steak with potatoes.

Posted in Italy, Monochrome, Photography

Mosta Dome

This is the interior of the dome in the church located in Mosta, Malta. I photographed it with a circular fisheye lens, specifically the Nikkor 8-15mm at the roundest and widest 8mm setting. This is a specialty lens I don’t use much, but the interior of this gigantic dome seemed an appropriate subject.

Mosta Dome © Harold Davis

More formally, the Mosta Dome, also known as the “Rotunda of Mosta,” is the Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady, a Catholic parish church. It was built in the mid-1800s, and patterned after the Pantheon in Rome. It is certainly a large dome: According to the church pamphlet, “At one time, the dome was the third largest in the world.”

During World War II, the Luftwaffe dropped a large bomb on the top of Mosta Dome, which descended into the rotunda where three hundred congregants were waiting for an early mass. The bomb didn’t explode, it wan defused and dumped into the sea, and no one was hurt. Obviously, this was regarded as miraculous, perhaps with more reason than many putative miracles.

If large domes float your boat as much as they do mine, check out the Duomo di Pavia, designed in part by Leonardo!

Posted in Malta, Photography

Dome, St Augustine Church

This is an interior image of the dome of the somewhat ornate St Augustine Church in Valletta, Malta. I exposed nine images handheld while sitting in a pew, using my fisheye lens with the camera pointed more-or-less straight up. I think the image looks almost like a mandala, or perhaps like a jewel, if one can abstract it from its source as a church roof!

Dome, St Augustine Church © Harold Davis

Dome, St Augustine Church © Harold Davis

Posted in Malta

Speyer Cathedral Dome

I spent my last night in Germany at a hotel near Frankfurt airport in a somewhat depressing industrial neighborhood. A few blocks from the hotel I found a nice place for dinner, and ate outside at the communal tables. While I waiting for my food I worked on this photo of the Speyer Cathedral Dome.

Speyer Dome © Harold Davis

Speyer Dome © Harold Davis

The interior space in the Cathedral in the imperial city of Speyer, Germany is built to a huge scale. Although mostly reconstructed rather than original, the sheer magnitude of interior volumes is worth experiencing, and this city along the Rhine River is steeped in history.

Posted in Germany, iPhone

Dome of the Shop

Visiting Galeries Lafayette is a crowded experience because there are always many shoppers, with the dome (shown here shot straight up with my Zeiss 15mm lens) perhaps the most elegant and opulent feature of an opulent department store.

Galeries Lafayette © Harold Davis

Galeries Lafayette © Harold Davis

I like domes: scale this one differently and it could be a jellyfish or an image from a kaleidoscope. Here are a few other photos of domes from the Bay area: San Francisco City Hall and Cathedral of Light.

Posted in Paris, Photography

Eiffel Tower from Sacre Coeur Dome

Up about three hundred claustrophobic steps in a narrow, winding staircase lies the gallery around the exterior of the dome of the Basilica of Sacre Coeur in Montmartre. This place is anything but touristic—perhaps because to get here one has already climbed the famous stairs to Montmartre, then proceeded up to the top of the church. As you can see, there are panoramic views of Paris. Alas, years of visitors have scratched or drawn their initials on the gallery pillars and walls, so the place is far from pristine.

Eiffel Tower from Sacre Coeur Dome

Eiffel Tower from Sacre Coeur Dome © Harold Davis

Exposure data: 24mm, nine exposures at shutter speeds from 1/800 of a second to 2/5 of a second, each exposure at ISO 200 and f/25; tripod mounted; exposures combined using Nik HDR Efex Pro, processed in Photoshop, and converted to monochromatic using Photoshop and Nik Silver Efex Pro.

Posted in France, Monochrome, Paris

Sunset from Lembert Dome

Sunset from Lembert Dome © Harold davis

Sunset from Lembert Dome © Harold Davis

Lembert Dome lies in the upper reaches of Yosemite National Park, California, at the eastern edge of the Tuolumne Meadows. As I trudged up the trail to the top of the dome I wondered how I could capture both the wonderful glowing light of sunset and the more subtle gradations of darkness among the trees.

HDR was the answer! Using simple HDR techniques I was able to create an image fairly dripping in color and contrast, from the details in the tree roots at the bottom to the vibrant sunset colors in the clouds.

One thing that is not always understood about HDR is that it is not just about extending tonal range. The best HDR imagery also shows more texture, details, and contours than one could achieve using conventional photography.

Seven exposures, each exposure using 10.5mm digital fisheye at f/2.8 and ISO 400, exposure times between 1/800 of a second and 1/60 of a second, tripod mounted; exposures combined in Photoshop using the Nik Merge to Efex Pro plugin and hand-layering.

Posted in HDR, High Sierra, Landscape, Photography, Yosemite

Star Trails over Half Dome

Star Trails over Half Dome © Harold Davis

Star Trails over Half Dome © Harold Davis

Leaving Berkeley in mid-afternoon, I grabbed a quick bite in Mariposa and made it up to Glacier Point just after sunset. There was still some light to see what I was doing. I took advantage of the last light to establish my tripod and make some shots I could use to layer in foreground detail.

The night was balmy, and a surprising number of people showed up on Glacier Point to watch the night sky like a movie. One family even brought popcorn. As it grew darker, I switched from manual exposure control to my programmable intervalometer (a fancy word for a timer).

By about midnight, the crowds had gone home and I was the last one left to witness the immensities of Yosemite Valley and the night sky. Besides the stars and Milky Way I saw satellites and a surprising number of planes on a flight path across Yosemite Valley. I also witnessed several dramatic shooting stars—including the one captured in the frame below.

Using my 10.5mm digital fisheye, to capture these star trails I made 39 exposures, with each exposure open for a shutter speed of four minutes at f/2.8 and ISO 320. My total exposure time was thusly about 2 hours and 40 minutes. I combined the exposures in Photoshop using the Statistics script and a smart-object layer stack with the method set to Maximum.

When I thought I’d captured enough, I crawled into my van in the parking lot, and grabbed a few hours sleep—ready to photograph at sunrise in a few hours.

Want to learn to make photos like this one? Consider joining Steven Christenson and myself in November at Star Circle Academy.

Shooting Star over Half Dome

Posted in Digital Night, Landscape, Photography, Yosemite


It’s a good observation that a difference between professional and very serious amateur photographers on the one hand, and snapshooters on the other, is that those in the pro group are always trying to create thematic links between their photos. This kind of grouping can imply a narrative, or revolve around a common technique, or involve the subject of the images.


I often don’t see the connections I’m making until after the fact. I spend time looking through my images making these connections, trying to group my photos into stories or themes (Flickr is a great tool for this). By identifying my interests, I’m better able to target subject matter I want (and need) to photograph.


In this way, I’ve come to understand that I enjoy capturing the interiors of domes. By dome, I mean a large, public space, preferably—but not always—capped with a round top. I get down on the floor with my camera on a tripod, and use a very wide angle lens (most often my 10.5mm digital fisheye). A wide-angle dome capture both shows the full extent and pattern of the dome, and also flattens the curvature involved in a very interesting way.

So far, my interior dome captures have been limited to the San Francisco area. But who knows? The world is full of great domes!

From top to bottom:

Wright Stuff

Marin Center Dome

Wright Stairs

Cathedral of Light

Jesuit Baroque

Dome of St Ignatius Church

Glass Ceiling

Posted in Photography

Half Dome by Moonlight

Half Dome by Moonlight

Half Dome by Moonlight, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

This is a roughly twenty minute exposure during most of which Half Dome was lit by light from the setting moon. I took the photo from Glacier Point, and the foreground landscape beneath Half Dome is deep in moon shadow.

Later, after the moon set, the light grew more uniform and the exposures longer, as in the thirty-minute duration When Stars Rush In.

[Nikon D300, 12-24mm Zoom lens at 17mm (about 25.5mm in 35mm terms), 1,204 seconds at f/8 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Posted in Digital Night, Landscape, Photography, Yosemite

Lembert Dome Sunset

Lembert Dome Sunset

Lembert Dome Sunset, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Briefly noted: As it got darker, I continued to photograph sunset from Lembert Dome. I think the top of the dome adds to the composition in this version.

[Nikon D300, 12-24mm zoom lens at 14mm (21mm in 35mm terms), two exposures (5 seconds and 13 seconds), both exposures at f/8 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Posted in Landscape, Photography, Yosemite


Dome of St Ignatius Church

Dome of St Ignatius Church, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Briefly noted: this is the dome of the Jesuit St Ignatius Church, adjacent to San Francisco University. Related image: San Francisco City Hall dome.

[Nikon D300, 18-200mm VR zoom lens at 56mm (84mm in 35mm terms), 10 seconds at f/13 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Posted in Photography, San Francisco Area

Marin Center Dome

Marin Center Dome

Marin Center Dome, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

This dome in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Marin Center presented a nasty exposure problem. The bright California late afternoon sun lit the sky (and, by the way, made the dome impractically hot). But the depths of the dark courtyard garden were lost in shadow.

Even the magic of exposure range within a single RAW capture couldn’t bridge this gap.

So I exposed twice, once for the sky at 1/15 of a second, and once for the garden at 2/5 of a second. For the arithmetically challenged among us, this is a 6X difference, to which of course you can also add the internal RAW latitude within each exposure.

An interesting side effect of the two exposures at differing shutter speeds: the people on the left are shown blurred from the 2/5 of a second longer exposure, while the businessmen on the right are relatively crisp at a 1/15 of a second. It’s weird enough to see ordinary business people in this fantastic and impractical civic center (it’s used as county offices, jail, and so on) without adding a variety of motion effects. (You can see the people better in the larger version.)

Other Marin Center images: Wright Stair 2; Wright Stuff; Wright Stair.

[Nikon D300, 10.5mm digital fisheye, 1/15 of a second and 2/5 of a second; both exposures at f/22 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Posted in Photography, San Francisco Area

Door Knob Dome Scandal

Door Knob Dome Scandal

Door Knob Dome Scandal, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Everyone thought it a scandal when the door knob in my basement got together with the dome in San Francisco. But the dome and door knob were merely romantic, and invited a red rose, too.

Related image: Dream Stairs.

Posted in Bemusements, Photography, Photoshop Techniques



Dome, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

This is the interior of the dome of San Francisco City Hall. I lay on my back in the central space of the building, letting people flow around me. The wide-angle lens and straight-up point-of view combined to create the illusion of apparent flatness (actually the dome has considerable depth).

Related stories: San Francisco City Hall; After the Wedding.

[Nikon D300, 12-24mm zoom lens at 12mm (18mm in 35mm terms), 1.3 seconds at f/22 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Posted in Bemusements, Photography, San Francisco Area