Jul 272015

Ferrara is indeed a city of bicycles. You’ll see more of them in upcoming posts.

All of today’s images have been taken with the Olypmus 40-150/2.8 PRO.

You may remember, I have the tiny and ultra-light 40-150/4.0-5.6 as well. That’s the one I bought used for no money, the lens with the plastic mount, and I always say it is one of the most under-appreciated lenses I’ve ever had.

Nevertheless, there are reasons why my new long lens is worth having, even though it’s eight times as expensive. Subject isolation at f2.8 is one of them. You don’t see it in the Image of the Day (that was taken at f8) but in the frontal portraits of the two riders below.

The other reason is that the big lens is ultra-fast in focusing. For most of my subjects focusing speed does not matter at all, but once you have such a lens, of course you start experimenting with continous autofocus.

Actually I’m extremely bad at that. I don’t practice it at all and if I suddenly had to make a living of it, I’d starve within days 😀

The speed of the lens definitely helps. Focus tracking in the camera also works. At least I can’t remember it having been any better in the Nikon D300. Obviously it’s me who sucks :)

The other problem is a general problem with long lenses and crowds. The longer the distance, the higher the chance that someone crosses into your view, hides the subject and confuses the autofocus mechanism. And then there’s the matter of composition. Forget about that. This game is about making lots of images, selecting a few and pretending you had intended them to be that way 😀

Jul 262015

I won’t write about the Carthusian Order here.

Mike Michelsen has done so at length in a blog post and I can’t imagine anything I’d have to add to that :)

Most Carthusian monasteries have been closed during or around the Napoleonic wars. The “non-productive” life style of Carthusians had been associated with aristocracy and was seen as luxurious and frivolous. Not unreasonably so, I might say.

I had not made inquiries about monasteries in or around Ferrara, my trusty old travel guide for the Emilia Romagna didn’t mention a Certosa, and so I was pretty surprised actually finding one while looking on the map in search for the Jewish Cemetery.

The reason is, that the Certosa in Ferrara was closed around 1800 and converted to a municipal cemetery in 1813. Its full name is now “Cimitero monumentale della Certosa di Ferrara”. Big indeed, but tiny when compared to our Zentralfriedhof in Vienna :)

If you look at the frontal image of Ferrara’s certosa, you see a completely symmetric architecture, with the church San Cristoforo alla Certosa at the center. This is not what it originally was though. The southern wing (to the right) has the original Certosa at its core, with the big cloister behind the church. The northern wing was added in the same style in the 19th century.

The curch was closed when we were there. It’s only open on Sunday mornings. Needless to say that also the cloister is closed due to the earthquake. We had a nice chat with a worker though, who told us a lot about the monastery’s history.

Jul 242015

The Palazzo dei Diamanti is one of the most famous buildings in Ferrara, arguably the most beautiful, if for nothing than the pureness of its architectural style. It’s a Renaissance masterpiece of highest rank. The building got its name due to the peculiar surface of its walls.

Today the palace houses the permanent National Gallery of Art as well as frequent guest exhibitions.

When we were there, we saw an exhibition about the rise of Barcelona up to the May Days during the Spanish Civil War, as reflected in the works of Picasso and Gaudí. You can certainly call it contrieved, as so many exhibitions are.

It shows mostly unrelated pieces of art, brought together only by an artificial context. Still, as an exhbition of that kind it was nevertheless well done, giving a lot of interesting information about the time, its people and the reasons for social tension and civil unrest. After all, the Golden Age of Barcelona was not golden for everyone.

Jul 232015

At the height of its power, Ferrara was extended to the north, with one main street leading straight from the Castello through the new district, all along to the northern gate, the Porta degli Angeli.

This is the Corso Ercole I d’Este, created between 1492 and 1510, named after the powerful Duke of Ferrara of that time.

As Ferrara lies in the plains near a river (the great river of northern Italy, river Po), most of the city is built with burnt bricks, and because this is a historic street, its surface is still cobbled. That’s not the most convenient surface for bicycle riders, therefore it is pretty common to see them on the sidewalks of this street.

Near the beginning of the street, still near the Castello, the center of the city’s power, the church of the mighty order of the Jesuits is situated.

Architecturally “Il Gesù” in Ferrara is as boring as its namesake in Rome, but I had to check nevertheless. It’s the style of the time and the order, something I had never been able to warm up to.

The Image of the Day has been taken further out towards the wall, shortly after we had passed the Palazzo dei Diamanti, the subject of tomorrow’s post, and Parco Massari, a small but beautiful park, giving welcome shadow on a hot day.

Jul 202015

Times change and technologies go, but there’s hardly anything that doesn’t leave a crust on our world.

Terrestric television is mostly gone, but we can still see billions of antennae above the roofs of our cities. They are useless now, but they are mounted in unapproachable places, therefore nobody removes them.

Satellite dishes are a similar technology. Like mushrooms they overgrow our roofs and balconies. That all will eventually be replaced by ubiquitous glass fiber, but I bet the dishes won’t vanish, just like the antennae never did.

3196 – Ferrara VI

 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO  Comments Off on 3196 – Ferrara VI
Jul 192015

I don’t know where the idea of colorful umbrellas floating above a main street originates. There are instances in Portugal and South Korea and maybe elsewhere. Fact is, Ferrara did it as well.

In Ferrara it is the Via Mazzini, leading from the Cattedrale to the east, into the former Ghetto. Here were two of the original three synagogues, and here is the Jewish museum. They are all closed, you guess it, because of the 2012 earthquake.