Ghost in the Cathedral

(Reminder – you have until Midnight to vote for this blog for the 2007 Bloggies – thanks!)

The Byzantine gold glowed hot when I got inside, a divine signal to me that God was mad because I brought my camera inside. However, I reasoned with God, the sign read “No Cameras” in a Cyrillic lettering, a lettering style I do not recognize since the Jesuits trained me in the Romance languages and not these Slavic uncials.

Besides, I was inside Saint Michael’s Cathedral, and I was holding a camera, and, as the saying goes, when in Rome, shoot interiors of churches in Rome, and when in Kiev, break Eastern Orthodox Ecumenical Councils.

While God was busy figuring out my flawless reasoning, I spotted a cloaked HeiroMonk in is post-Matins chanting, moving in a pattern indecipherable by my camera, thus the ghostly visage in this seeming partial transcendence.

Ghost in the Cathedral

Freezing at St. Michael’s

This morning I decided to do something that seemed smart at the time, and now, in retrospect, was clearly an awful idea.

I thought I would get up early before work at sunrise and go take a picture of St. Michael’s Cathedral in the morning light. I loaded up and got into a gypsy cab, which was still warm from running missions for the mafia the night before, and told him to take me to St. Michael’s. The taxi driver looked at me strangely and stabbed his hand out the window towards the sky.

Yes, I told him, I know there is a blizzard and it is dark.

I was thinking maybe it’s just one of those morning blizzards that passes through, like fog in Texas or a light dew. After he dropped me off, I noticed there was no discernible road, running cars, people, or heat. I especially noticed the last one as the wind started to whip around, carrying the snow at orthogonal angles to the ground. I used a protractor to make sure.

Before reaching full hypothermia, I squeezed out this nine exposure HDR, and the final result was able to peer through the density of the snowfall in all the exposures… so this does not really indicate the severity of the blizzard, but it did get a strange blue morning light through the clouds.

Getting another cab home was a problem. My feet were so cold by the time I made it back to the hotel, the only way to warm them was to insert my toes into a room service omelette.

Freezing at St. Michaels

Deep Night in Kiev

Tonight our hosts took us to a traditional Ukrainian dinner. It was very good food, quite hearty, with portions that would have been fine if I was a tauntaun. In fact, after Will was done eating, I was considering slicing him open to stay warm in the Kiev streets. He does, indeed, smell bad on the outside.

At one point during dinner, they brought us some bread slices with a viscous white topping. I inquired with our host:

“What is that white stuff?”

“It is,” he said in a thick Russian accent, “like bacon without meat part.”

“Whaaa?” I said, working it out in my head. “Oh.”

After that, we walked over to Independance Square where I got this night shot as the traffic rolled through the streets.

Welcome to Kiev

A Snowy Night at the Kiev Opera House

I made it to Kiev, and it is perhaps the slipperiest city in the world. It could be colder, but I don’t know how.

No matter which way I walked, the snow and wind beat into my face like a sandstorm combined with a monsoon combined with my mother-in-law’s attitude. The other Ukrainians and wayward Russian wives were walking around without hats like it was normal. Will and I wanted to dress up in our Spies-Like-Us-winter-garb, but we haven’t found where to buy that yet.

Here is a shot of the opera house in the middle of the snowstorm. That little blip up there on the left is a snowflake that had the inconsiderate vector to land on my lens.

The large version of this one is a little dizzying.

A Snowy Night at the Kiev Opera House

Entering the Secret Soviet Nuclear Bunker

I am leaving on a series of planes that will eventually get me to the Russian border in the Ukrainian town of Kharkov. I also plan on spending a weekend day shooting in Chernobyl and visiting a few radiated and abandoned ghost towns. I think the weather will be cold, but I am hoping the 80 RADS keep me warm.

This shot below is not of a CCCP secret testing bunker, but I think it looks like one, at least according to my 1980’s cold war Bond-shaped vision of the Soviet nuclear program. It is actually of the airport in Bangkok, Thailand. If you zoom into the large version, you can see some nice details.

Asia has some amazing airports, but this one in Bangkok is perhaps the nicest. After getting through customs, the selection of shops, restaurants, bakeries, etc., rivals any other high-end airport or upper-crust mall in the world.

There are only a few days left to vote for the Bloggies, so I would appreciate your vote if you have some spare time.

Entering the Secret Soviet Nuclear Bunker

You can click below to go vote – Thanks again!

2007 Bloggies Nomination

Storm Hitting Kuala Lumpur

Believe it or not these two shots were taken on the same day within just a few hours. A series of violent storms came through Kuala Lumpur, allowing a few surreal shots of the city. It went from very dark and cloud to torrential downpour to beautiful sunset. It reminded me of the storms on the plains of Texas.

Kuala Lumpur is a very interesting city and is quite unique in Asia. I’d love to get up on top of those Petronas Towers there to take some shots, but I look like a suspicious white guy with my huge backpack. They tell me all white people look alike. …and smell like wet puppies.
Storm Over the Towers

Sunset Storm over Kuala Lumpur

Le Scavi de Pompeii… et Vesuvio

Did I get that Italian right? I was kind of guessing. I picked up a little – very little. But I do know more than the average Olive Garden waiter, which is something I can be proud of, I suppose.

This was taken after I had walked about 10 miles all over the ruins of Pompeii on a hot summer day. I got away from the other tourists, who I generally dislike for no good reason, and found this spot that I was probably not supposed to be. The clouds were peculiar that day, and you can see them hovering over Mount Vesuvius. It’s interesting that the gap there in Vesuvius is actually what is covering the very ruins in which I was standing.

The Ruins of Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius

This second shot was from a small plane, barely airworthy, as it flew over Mount Vesuvius and the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Mount Vesuvius from the Sky

Aquabus floating on Vancouver’s sea of mercury

Vancouver is perhaps the grayest city I have ever visited. The buildings have been ordained by the government to maintain roughly the same color as the clouds at all times. It it wasn’t for these colorful Aquabai, it would be like one huge Take On Me video.

This was taken on Granville Island on a Sunday morning.

Dark Prayers

For whatever reason, I found it sneaky and fun to take pictures of nuns from behind in churches throughout Italy. I now have one with a black habit and a white habit. I look forward to getting the Emperor’s special redguard habit on a future trip. I tried two different DOFs, obviously.

Cowled Prayer

Dark Prayers

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