Tag Archives: Forum

Roman Panoramas – Miniature Platinum Prints

After printing a few of these panoramas from Rome, I was so taken by the intimacy of the miniature format of the 2 1/4″ x 4 1/4″ contact print, I went and made a whole series of them. I’m at fourteen of them now, but that number will fluctuate a little as I finish printing and edit down from there. I’m going to go out shooting this weekend and make some more images in the format and perhaps build a full show’s worth.

Columns, Marble Floor, Trajan's Market
Columns, Marble Floor, Trajan’s Market

I took the portfolio to the Sunday morning critique we have at Glen Echo, and instead of presenting them as raw prints, I matted them with 8-ply mats with oversize margins (11×14 inch mat boards, so roughly 4-6 inch margins around the 2 1/4 x 4 1/4 inch window). I also cut the windows such that all the mats could be viewed in landscape orientation regardless of whether the image was in portrait or landscape orientation.

Trajan's Column, Via Fori Imperiali
Trajan’s Column, Via Fori Imperiali

Presentation is very important when considering your work. It should be the first thought on your mind when planning a show – of course you need to edit the body of work, but how it will look on the wall is just as critical to successful reception as the work itself. Good presentation will focus the viewer’s attention on the work and block out the distractions of everything else going on around it.

Temple of Antoninus and Faustina
Temple of Antoninus and Faustina

Also, if you’re at all concerned with selling your work, makes a huge difference in the sales price – poorly presented, someone would pay a poster price for an original Ansel Adams, if they bought it at all. Properly presented, your work will fetch premium prices even though nobody has really heard of you outside your own city.

Column Fragment, Imperial Forum
Column Fragment, Imperial Forum

This webpage is a prime example of the issue of presentation – showing these images here in this size on this medium is a complete and utter failure to represent the scale, quality and impact of the images. You’re looking at them on your monitor, in a size well beyond their actual physical size in reality. And because they’re scans of the prints, the paper texture is exaggerated as are any minor flaws due to the handmade nature of the prints.

More Tiny Contact Prints

Here is the continuation of the tiny prints series. All of these are still from Rome, again the Lomo Belair X6-12 as the camera of choice. I was having a conversation yesterday with a friend about these and while sharing them online is great, seeing scans of them at what ends up being a much larger size than the actual print, they lose some of their impact.

This is a statue of the Archangel Michael, in the Castel Sant’Angelo. His body is stone but the wings are bronze.

Archangel Michael, Castel Sant'Angelo
Archangel Michael, Castel Sant’Angelo

The umbrella pine image is one of those that when I scanned the negative and worked with the image in Photoshop, all the “flaws” of the negative become quite apparent, and you start thinking it’s not a successful image. But contact printed, it cleans up nicely and really sings.

Roman Umbrella Pine
Roman Umbrella Pine

St. Peter’s Basilica Facade. This is one of the images that made me respect the Belair and its results more than I did initially. It’s still not going to ever match a serious panorama camera like a Horseman 6×12 with a highly corrected glass lens, but it does a great job for what it is, and certainly it scores extremely well in the value-for-money proposition – I got mine used for $200, whereas a used Horseman would set you back closer to $2000.

St. Peter's Facade
St. Peter’s Facade

The plaza in front of St. Peter’s was set up for a Papal Mass when I was there. The sea of folding chairs made for an interesting composition, leading your eye back to the obelisk and beyond.

St. Peter's Plaza
St. Peter’s Plaza

These are the famous three remaining columns of the Temple of Vesta in the Roman Forum. This one really strikes me because of the simple, graphic nature of the subject. It’s another one of those images that everyone photographs when they’re at the Forum, and everyone knows it, even if you haven’t ever been to the Forum. Printing in platinum/palladium takes it somewhere new and different and it doesn’t feel like just another tourist image.

Three Columns, Temple of Vesta, Roman Forum
Three Columns, Temple of Vesta, Roman Forum

All these images are platinum/palladium prints, in this case all are a 50/50 blend of platinum and palladium, on the new wonderful Hahnemuhle Platinum Rag paper. I’m going to have to try a pure platinum print with it next and see how it behaves.

The Roman Forum

I went to the Forum on a bright and sunny day, thinking I would pass the time until I could get in the Colosseum. Little did I realize that the two-plus hour delay on entering the colosseum was for timed entry tickets, not general admission, even with my Roma Pass, and I would still have to wait in line for two hours to get in. It all worked out in the end – I enjoyed the Forum and wandered the periphery of the Colosseum and got some good shots of the exterior, and took a pass on going inside. Now that I know better I’ll go back the next time and get timed-entry tickets or book a tour in advance. Do NOT get suckered in by the tour guides touting skip-the-line access on the plaza around the Colosseum – the guides who give the tours are of questionable expertise and foreign language skill, so about the only plus you’ll get from going in with them is skipping the line.

This column is one of the few remaining columns of a loggia across from the Basilica Julia.

Solitary Column, Imperial Forum
Solitary Column, Imperial Forum

The temple of Vesta is a small circular structure, with a few columns and a fragment of a wall jutting up. This would have housed a flame kept burning by the Vestal virgins, women who pledged celibacy for some thirty years of service. They would have been too old to marry or have children by their retirement, but if they were able to wait that long, they were richly rewarded and retired to lives of considerable luxury and comfort. If they couldn’t wait, well… they and their defilers were sentenced to death.

The Temple of Vesta
The Temple of Vesta

I caught this school group in the Forum, one student presenting a topic about the place to his fellow students. I suspect it was a project for a history course. Made me wish I had gone to school somewhere in Europe that we would have taken field trips to the Forum, instead of to the American History museum to look at displays of Revolutionary War muskets.

A School Group at the Forum
A School Group at the Forum

Two of the major surviving structures of the Forum are visible in this view – the Temple of Romulus (now part of the Basilica of Saints Cosmas and Damiano) and the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina. The temple of Romulus is the cylindrical structure in the foreground. Because of its early re-use as a Christian church, the temple of Romulus is, after the Pantheon, the best preserved Roman temple in the city. The Roman Senate structure is also quite well preserved, and the main Senate chamber retains is marble steps and the black marble slab that supposedly marks the tomb of Romulus.

Temple of Antoninus and Faustian and the Temple of Romulus
Temple of Antoninus and Faustina and the Temple of Romulus

A striking rarity are the doors of the temple of Romulus – they are the ORIGINAL bronze doors, over 2000 years old. Many other temple doors have been either removed and melted down for re-use or, as in the case of the doors of the Senate building, moved by Bernini to Saint John Lateran. You can really feel the patina of the ages when looking at these doors.

Ancient Bronze Door, Temple of Romulus
Ancient Bronze Door, Temple of Romulus

The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina was originally built in honor of Faustina, the wife of Emperor Antoninus. She was deified upon her death, and Antoninus had the temple erected in her memory. When he passed away, he too was deified and added to the temple’s namesakes. The colonnade survives in its current state of preservation due to the later conversion of the structure into a Christian church. You can see the former entrance to the church a whole story above the top of the steps – at the time of the conversion, the Forum had infilled to the level of the door.The columns also owe their survival to this infilling – you can see the diagonal gouges in the columns from where ropes or chains were wrapped around them in an attempt to pull them down. This may have been because of an anti-Pagan movement during the early Church, or it may have been by marble scavengers trying to get the columns for their stone.

Temple of Antoninus and Faustina
Temple of Antoninus and Faustina
Columns and steps, Temple of Antinous and Faustina
Columns and steps, Temple of Antinous and Faustina
Temple of Antoninus and Faustina
Temple of Antoninus and Faustina

Most of the temples of the Forum are ruins – a few scant columns remain of them, or in some cases only foundations. The temple of Castor and Pollux is one survivor with a few columns to mark its location. Their losses are due to various anti-Pagan movements and repeated use of the Forum as a low-effort quarry for marble to be used in the palaces of popes and cardinals.

The Temple of Castor and Pollux
The Temple of Castor and Pollux

The original altar from the spring of Juturna was on display inside the temple of Romulus as part of a temporary exhibition when I was there. This side depicts the twins Castor and Pollux, who supposedly visited the spring to water their horses. The temple of Castor and Pollux is directly across from the spring. They have a replica in place at the spring itself.

The Altar of Castor and Pollux from the Lacus Juturnae
The Altar of Castor and Pollux from the Lacus Juturnae
Spring of Juturna, Roman Forum
Spring of Juturna, Roman Forum

The Arch of Titus at the entrance to the Forum

Many emperors had triumphal arches erected. Immediately beside the Colosseum is the arch of Constantine. The arch of Septimus Severus stands at the foot of the Capitoline hill, at the one end of the Forum. There are others scattered around the Empire, and of course, they inspired many later constructions, such as Napoleon’s Arc De Triomphe in Paris, the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch in New York City, Wellington Arch in London, and the Arch of the General Staff Building in St. Petersburg. Ironically, the latter two were built to commemorate the Russian and English victories over Napoleon. This is the arch of Titus, at the opposite entrance to the Forum.

Arch of Titus, Forum
Arch of Titus, Forum

You can see the inscription which reads:

SENATVS

POPVLVSQVE·ROMANVS
DIVO·TITO·DIVI·VESPASIANI·F(ILIO)

VESPASIANO·AVGVSTO

which translates to:

The Roman Senate and People (dedicate this) to the divine Titus Vespasianus Augustus, son of the divine Vespasian.

The inscription itself and the central arch are the remaining original parts of the arch. It was restored and reconstructed in the 19th century. The reconstruction was done in Travertine marble to demonstrate the difference between the original and reconstructed parts, and the reconstructed columns were left plain in contrast to the fluted columns of the original.

The arch would have originally had a sculptural group on top of perhaps horses and chariots, or perhaps the emperor riding a pegasus. The inscription would have been filled with metal letters in silver, gold or some other metal (bronze is possible but less likely as it would have oxidized and bled green patina over the face of the arch).

In the interior of the arch, you can see the spoils of war being brought back to Rome from the Temple in Jerusalem, particularly the golden Menorah. This was originally painted golden color, with the background blue. During a spectrographic survey of the arch for the Arch of Titus Digital Restoration Project in 2012 discovered the remains of yellow ochre paint in the menorah.

Arch of Titus, Interior
Arch of Titus, Interior