Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sample Photographs

I took the week off work with the idea of printing the photos for the show of photographs I'm going to have in November. I've been spending a lot of time looking at the sample prints my printer has made for me. These allow me to see how the final photographs will look, in case I need to make any adjustments to the digital files. Here are a bunch on the dining room table.
Here's Bill having a look. Those are finished photographs in the portfolio on the left -- safe under plastic. I picked up four more prints today from MarcoRmedia. I now have 20 finished photos and I'm very pleased with how they've come out.

Rooftop Garden

Yesterday, when I took some household compost up to the composters on the roof of the Artists' Cooperative where John and I live, I noticed that the rooftop garden was in full Fall mode.
Soon the reflective pool will be frozen over and the boxed trees bare of leaves.
The gazebo won't be used again until the spring.
Our garden of native and alpine plants like this sumach will sleep for another winter. But for now the colours are terrific!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Autumn in Toronto

It's time to bring our plants in off the balcony. This is the last time we'll be walking through this door until next Spring.
We "over-winter" our bay tree, our big rosemary bush, a shamrock and the little pine tree that we used as a Christmas tree last year.
Here, Bill makes the final adjustments. The rosemary looks better on the right.
Later, Omid brought his laptop over so we could help copy-edit his first assignment of the year. It really must be Fall. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Spanish Steps, Rome

Every evening John and I would join Rome's passeggiata or evening stroll along with the inhabitants of the city and its visitors. The Spanish steps and the Piazza di Spagna at its foot are always crowded with both visitors and locals.
People sit on the steps that lead down from the French church, Trinita dei Monti, and by whom the wonderful cascade of steps and belvederes was built in 1726 to connect the church to the piazza below. From the steps one has a view of Bernini's fountain, the Fontana della Barcaccia, looking like a leaking boat, and of the entrance to Rome's major high-fashion street, Via Condotti.
There's always something happening on the Steps. Here John caught a newly-wed couple and their retinue climbing to the upper levels for a photo shoot and greeted by the applause of the onlookers. 
Another day he caught this elegant-looking woman in a smart hat who was actually a porn actress and had moments before been taking provocative poses along the railing while her photographer and, of course, tourists like us took her picture.
I caught this happy couple in uniforms crossing the piazza.
There is always a roasted chestnut seller at the mouth of Via Condotti, selling his wares to both elegant shoppers and the throngs of visitors.
Here, I've caught a snap of the reception desk for the Spanish Embassy for which the Steps and the piazza are named. That's a big reproduction of a Goya in the background. Or is it an actual Goya?
With it's mix of glamourous shops and tourist throngs, the piazza and the Steps are always worth a visit. Here we see Trinita dei Monti and the masses sitting on the Steps reflected in a Missoni shop window. So much fun!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ostia Antica outside Rome

John and I took the subway to Ostia Antica early one morning during our stay in Rome. It was a beautiful, gusty and sunny day. 
The site of the ancient city is a short walk from the Ostia Antica subway stop. Soon we were on the Decumanus Maximus, the street that bisects the ancient city. Ostia was the major port for Rome in the 1st and 2nd century AD. Eventually it's harbour silted up and malaria raged in the surrounding marshland and the city was simply abandoned and then preserved wonderfully in sand and mud.
The site is a treasure trove of Roman architecture of the period - private, public and commercial. Above, we see John, with his umbrella, entering a large private home complete with an atrium in the foreground. All types of domestic architecture are represented here including apartment buildings. 
This atrium pleased me. It had a comfortable and human-scale quality that I found very satisfying. Still a pretty wealthy household. Probably, I'd have been a slave here.
I love this centaur decorating the floor of a covered arbor in the same house.
Did I mention the wonderful umbrella pines and cyprus trees throughout the city? I like to think  of Ostia Antica as Pompeii in a park. The trees give the streets a lived-in feel too.
How about this interior of the tavern on Via di Diana! It strongly resembles modern Roman restaurants and has wonderful details like this lovely fresco of local food. It also had a wonderful marble bar, hangers for clients' coats and a lovely little patio out back, lined with marble benches and featuring a charming, shallow fountain. Nice!
I loved the mosaic floor of the Baths of Neptune near the Theatre. Neptune rides a chariot driven by four sea-horses and surrounded by a retinue of sea beasts and deities. Pretty sumptuous and preserved in the open air.
We sat on the steps of the Temple to Ceres for an alfresco late-morning picnic of sandwiches bought in Rome earlier in the day. John loved the view.
First, he shot a fragment of column lying nearby. What attracts us so to fragments of architecture or sculpture, eh? Are we hopeless Romantics?
Ostia Antica's beautifully preserved Theatre lay before us in all its glory.
Look closely. You'll see some adventurous young visitors at the very top enjoying the view. That's the main entrance to the auditorium at the bottom.
I loved the marble Theatre Masks that decorated the stage. Let's leave off our visit here. Hopefully we've intrigued you sufficiently to tempt you to visit next time you visit Rome. It's on the subway. Go early and you'll have the place to yourself. When we left around noon the tour buses were just arriving.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Villa Borghese, Rome

One morning during our stay in Rome last May after a rainy night, John and I walked up the steep Via di Porta Pinciana to the Villa Borghese through its park high above the city. The Villa was built as a pleasure palace by the avid art collector, Cardinal Scipione Borghese. He was an avid fan of the work of the young sculptor, Bernini.
The early Bernini works in the Borghese collection like The Rape of Prosperpine, Apollo and Daphne and David are considered amongst the artist's best pieces. Unfortunately we were not allowed to photograph inside the Villa so instead I documented the exterior sights like the parterre gardens behind the palace.
After visiting the art collection, we wandered through the park in the direction of the Piazza del Popolo. Here we pass the Baroque aviary in the Villa's private gardens.
John couldn't resist shooting the spectacular pines that tower above the paths.
Here I've tried to capture the peaceful, shady, gravel paths of the Pincio Gardens high above the piazza.
Soon we were catching views down on the Historic Centre of Rome before finally descending into the Piazza del Popolo. Suddenly we were back down in the noise and chaos of the streets of the ancient city after a delightful escape.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Our neighbourhood market in Rome

Situated just north of the Pantheon and very near to our apartment, the Mercatino di Piazza delle Coppelle became John and my local market during our stay in Rome last May.
Open weekday mornings the little market has been run by the extended Giammatteo family since 1957. The excellent fresh produce comes from their market garden in the Alban Hills, eggs come from their own free-range hens and extra virgin olive oil from their own groves. 
On Tuesday and Fridays the market also features a small stand of fresh Mediterranean seafood like these octopi to the family's loyal customers.
They always featured a small, choice collection of fresh cut flowers as well. We loved starting our days with a visit first thing in the morning.

Here, I've photographed some gorgeous peonies from the market that we displayed on our balcony table.
And here is John's photo ot the wonderful fresh strawberries that we bought regularly and ate with yogurt as our breakfasts during our stay in the Eternal City. If you stay in the historic centre be sure to pay the Mercatino a visit.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Chilly September Sunday

Bill and I rode our bikes uptown today. I had to stop on the Bathurst Bridge and have a look at where the land has been cleared for the "Library District Condos" on the old railroad lands.
The Go Train came in right at that moment.
We stopped into the Shanghai Cowgirl for brunch. Bill had fried rice with barbecued pork. I had bacon and eggs with home fries. I wondered what this dish would look like to our friends in Rome.
Bill drew my attention to the guy at the counter who appeared to be sitting on a dove.
When we got home I tried to read on the balcony but the cold and damp chased me back inside to my favourite spot on the couch. I got this Vogue Living book (Knopf, 2007) from the library last week and I've been saving it for this moment. Look at this gorgeous title page. That's François Halard's photo of her own Louis XVI bed on the left. In the book they call it a "lit à la polonaise". (Copyright © Condé Nash Archive.)
Look at the stunning Olatz Schnabel standing in her kitchen under her husband, Julian Schnabel's painting, Dentro Dite (1995). I'm thrilled that a big show of his work has just opened at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Maybe we'll go see it next week-end. (Photo by François Halard. Copyright © Condé Nash Archive.)
Let me show you one more picture. This is Cy Twombly's six year old standing in front of his father's painting Triumph of Galatea. How fabulous is that! (Photo by Horst P. Horst, Rome, 1966. Copyright © Condé Nash Archive.)
By the way, MarcoRmedia made me some photographic proofs last week towards a show I'm going to have in November. I had them propped up at the end of the couch. I think these are ready to print. I'll call them tomorrow.