6/17/2014

Night Photography Workshop, Istanbul


Hagia Sophia at sunset

Our photography club in Istanbul is very proactive in organising all sorts of activities for us. This was a night photography workshop with Cenk from Fototrek, Istanbul.


The Blue Mosque, from its courtyard

Our first session was in the classroom, where we learned how to set our cameras for the different images we were going to create. The next two sessions were out in the field, firstly in Sultanahmet, and then on and around the Galata Bridge.


Arches of the Blue Mosque

In Sultanahmet, we set up our tripods and waited for the "golden hour" to take images of the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.


A minaret of the Blue Mosque


Hagia Sophia, seen through the entrance to the Blue Mosque

Then we moved into the courtyard of the Blue Mosque to complete the evening.


The Galata Bridge, just before sunset

In our third session, our first task was to photograph the Galata Bridge, just as the sun was beginning to set, before moving on to capture light trails next to the Yeni Camii (New Mosque), plus all the views from the Eminonu side of the bridge.


Suleymaniye and Rustam Pasa Mosques in the evening light


Yeni Camii, New Mosque, with car light trails at sunset


The Galata Tower, with light trails from boats on the Golden Horn


Fish Sandwich boats at night

Finally, we crossed back to Karakoy so we could capture the views from there.


View of the Yeni Camii, New Mosque, from across the water


Galata Bridge, lit up at night

Thank you, Cenk, that photography workshop was great fun.

by Elizabeth Coughlan

4/30/2014

Photography Club Trek to Buyukçekmece


Entrance to the Sancaklar Mosque, Buyukçekmece

Our photography club visited the soon-to-be opened Sancaklar Mosque, in the Buyukçekmece district of Istanbul. Unfortunately, it was hosing down with rain for most of the morning, but we persevered anyway.


There is no minaret for the mosque,only this tower above ground

This, the very first underground mosque, won first place in the World Architecture Fest competition for religious places. Its design is meant to merge the essence of Islamic and Ottoman concepts with modernity. Sancaklar Mosque was inspired by the Cave of Hira, where Prophet Muhammad is said to have received God's message.


Inside the mosque

Sancaklar Mosque, built by the Turkish architect Emre Arolat, is 1200 square meters in size, and seven meters underground. It is lit by thin tubes of lights, and skylights for natural light, to give a quiet, spiritual environment.


The only decoration is this calligraphy on a shiny black background


The mosque has an interesting roof structure

After leaving the mosque, we continued to explore the area. It is a fascinating glimpse into bygone days. The weather was also beginning to clear, thankfully!


A statue of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent (1495-1566)

During Süleyman's reign, the Ottoman empire was at its highest peak of grandeur and prosperity. Soon after his death, the empire began its decline.


Büyükçekmece Sultan Süleyman Bridge (built 1566-1567)

The bridge, which was called the Four Brothers because of its four distinct parts, is 636 metres long with twenty eight arches. It was built by that great Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan, who is said to have remarked, “This is the masterpiece among my buildings”.


The rounded arches of the bridge


The minaret of the Sokullu Mehmet Pasha Mosque

Sokullu Mehmet Pasha Mosque (1567), was also built by Mimar Sinan for the Prime Minister of the time, Sokulla Mehmet Pasha. This mosque is famous for its minaret, which was hewn from a single piece of stone. The only other example of this is in Egypt. Unfortunately, because of modern additions, the mosque itself is unremarkable.


The mosque's fountain, where worshipers wash before prayers


Statue of the great Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan


Buyukçekmece Caravanserai (The leaded Han)

This was the nearest lodging place to Istanbul for the traders who travelled the old Silk Road, that linked Asia to Europe in the 16th century.  Originally, the roof was completely covered with lead, so it became known as the Kurşunlu Han (the Leaded Han). After falling into disuse, the han was renovated in 1985-1987, and is now being used as a centre for culture and the arts.


As we were leaving Büyükçekmece, these two children ran up to me and begged me to take their photo. So here they are, two children from Büyükçekmece.

by Elizabeth Coughlan

4/21/2014

A trip to Denver, Colorado


This is the new Union station in Denver. It used to be an abandoned rail yard.

After our visit to the Rocky Mountain National Park, we drove to Denver, where we stayed for the remainder of our trip. We were fortunate that our friends Efraín and Cathy live there, so they could show us around. Everywhere we looked there seemed to be construction going on. Denver is creating a new city within a city.


Here is the old station, and the new together


I love this sculpture of a blue bear, staring into the Colorado Convention Center

Although everyone refers to the above sculpture as the "Blue Bear", its real title is, "I see what you mean". The structure is enormous at 40 ft (over 12 metres), and is already a star of TV and film.

We decided to escape Denver and visit the surrounding area. Mainly because of the vast numbers of tourists pouring into Denver. Many had come to take part in The Marijuana Festival, with thousands of people crammed into the park taking advantage of the, now legalised, drug.

We, on the other hand, went to visit Dinosaur Ridge, and the Colorado's Red Rock Amphitheatre in Golden.

Dinosaur ridge is a fascinating glimpse into the past. More than 300 Iguanodon-like dinosaur footprints have
been preserved here.


A dinosaur's footprint


Red Rock Amphitheater

The Red Rock Amphitheater is used widely as a music venue for visiting bands, although, when we went there, university students appeared to be using it as a fitness training center.


Golden City was formed in 1859, during the days of the gold rush.


I was amused by this historic sign next to the bridge in Golden.


And here, they claim,  is the resting place of "Buffalo Bill" Cody, on nearby Lookout Mountain


...as it says here

While in Denver, we also visited the Botanical Gardens there. Unfortunately, they were being renovated, but there were still some lovely sights to see.



Sadly, that was the end of our visit to New Mexico and Colorado, and it was time to say goodbye. Thank you to all new and old friends, but especially to Pamela in Santa Fe, and Efraín and Cathy in Denver. Hasta la vista!

Elizabeth Coughlan

4/17/2014

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado


We stayed in Estes Park, nestled in a valley of the Rocky Mountains

On a whim, Juliana and I decided to drive up to the Rocky Mountain National park. We stayed in Estes Park. Unfortunately, our visit was too early for the summer hiking season, and too late for the snow shoeing and skiing season, so the town was pretty dead. We had intended to stay up in the park for two days, but it was so cold, that we came down after just one night there.


We drove through the most stunning scenery

We did manage a drive in the park itself, however, even though many of the high passes were closed due to snow. The views from the park are spectacular and, apparently, it is home to a variety of wildlife, although we only saw elk, hundreds of them! Among those we didn't see are bighorn sheep, black bear, mountain lion, mule deer, and moose, although we were happy not to come across the black bear or mountain lion!


We saw elk grazing beside the road...


...and tree-covered mountains rising up from the plains


More elk in the woods...


...and beautiful vistas

I would definitely like to go back in summer.

by Elizabeth Coughlan

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I couldn't resist this one!