| images by john ecker, pantheon photography

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Tuscan Farm Building, Italy, photo by John Ecker | pantheon photography

Tuscany 10 lr copyright photo by John Ecker pantheon photography

TUSCAN FARM BUILDING, ITALY:  I love shooting photos in Tuscany. This photo was taken in early July, late in the sunflower growing season.  The Tuscan region is where the Italian Renaissance was born– home to Michelangelo, da Vinci, Botticelli and Puccini.  And, of course, it’s also the home of Chianti wine.

Shot with a Nikon D300, 70-300 DX zoom lens at 155mm, ISO 1250, 1/250 sec., f32. Copyright photo by John Ecker   |    pantheon photography

Old and New, Tall Buildings, Chicago, U.S.A., photo by John Ecker | pantheon photography

OLD AND NEW TALL BUILDINGS, CHICAGO:  Chicago is one of my favourite American cities.  I particularly like the careful mix of old and newer architecture and the pride Chicagoans have in their built heritage.  There is lots of information on-line that is worth checking out to learn more about the architectural beauty of America’s “Second City.”  Chicago Architecture Foundation is a great site and has excellent information about architectural tours.  Chicago Architecture Info  is another great source of information about Chicago buildings.  A View on Cities is a website that features very good basic information about architecture in the great cities of the world. The site contains lots of information about Chicago’s buildings, including photos, year of construction, height, etc.  Good for identifying buildings.

Shot handheld with a Nikon D3100 with a Nikkor 18-200mm lens at 130mm, f5.6, 1/1250 sec., ISO 800.   Photo by John Ecker     |     pantheon photography

Chagall Windows, Reims Cathedral, France, photo by John Ecker, Pantheon Photography

CHAGALL WINDOWS, REIMS CATHEDRAL, FRANCE:    The Cathedral of Notre Dame at Reims is an excellent Gothic cathedral that is uncomplicated and straightforward in its layout and execution.  Like other French cathedrals, Reims was not spared in the First or Second World Wars.  It caught fire in 1918 during a bombardment and lead from the roof oozed through the mouths of the gargoyle rain spouts.  Five chapels are tightly placed around the ambulatory and are fairly shallow.  The ‘axial’ chapel is slightly deeper and it is here where the beautiful Marc Chagall windows dazzle visitors.  Shot handheld with a Nikon D300, Nikkor AF-S 16-85 lens at 16mm, 1/6 second, f3.5, ISO 800.  Photo by John Ecker

Cathedral of Notre Dame, Noyon, France, photo by John Ecker, Pantheon Photography

CATHEDRAL OF NOTRE DAME, NOYON, FRANCE:  This battle-scarred cathedral is still a wonder to visit.  This is where Charlemagne was crowned in 768, as was the first Capetian King, Hugh Capet, in 987.  That original cathedral burned in 1131, and then was rebuilt between 1145 and 1235.  It is an excellent example of early Gothic architecture in France.  The Town of Noyon was occupied by German forces in both the First and Second World Wars.  Internal and external walls still reveal the damage from the battles that raged in Noyon.  This photo shows scattered shrapnel damage on an exterior wall, a permanent reminder of the wars that have ravaged this beautiful cathedral.  Shot handheld with a Nikon D300, Nikkor AF-S 16-85mm lens at 34mm, f11, 1/640 sec. ISO 2000.  Photo by John Ecker.

“Painted Ladies” Victorian Homes, San Franciscophoto by John Ecker, Pantheon Photography,

“PAINTED LADIES” VICTORIAN HOMES, SAN FRANCISCO:  Across from Alamo Square Park in San Francisco is a spectacular row of Victorian houses on Steiner Street.   Some call it “Postcard Row.” For the owners, it must be a mixed blessing.  For despite their charm, they attract tourists by the busload through the narrow streets of this tony community.  These homes were built between 1892 and 1896 by Matthew Kavanaugh.  The homes are reputed to have appeared about 70 movies, TV programs and advertisements.

Shot handheld with a Nikon D300, Nikkor 16-85 AF-S lens at 57mm, f25, 1/400 sec., ISO 1250.   Photo by John Ecker   |  Pantheon Photography

Mumm’s Champagne Cellars, Reims, France, photo by John Ecker, Pantheon Photography

MUMM’S CHAMPAGNE CELLARS, REIMS, FRANCE: The tour at Mumm’s in Reims is excellent.  It’s centrally located, about a 5 minute drive from the Cathedral.  Even in mid-summer, the deep chalk tunnels maintain their fairly constant 52F / 11C temperature.  Like every well-run tour, it ends in the gift shop!  Mumm’s shop has many logo’d items– from pens to Champagne stoppers– all reasonably priced. As for the bubbly on offer, the shop prices are not discounted.  So the only advantage of buying there instead of near home is the thrill of getting it at the source.  Fun Fact:  Mumm’s is pronounced “Mooom’s”, not “Mum’s.”  Shooting without flash in the dim tunnels is next to impossible.  Shot handheld/braced, Nikon D300, Nikkor AF-S 16-85mm lens at 65mm, f 5.6, 1/8 sec, ISO 4000.  Photo by John Ecker     |     pantheon photography

Flower Field, Northern France, photo by John Ecker, Pantheon Photography

FLOWER FIELD, NORTHERN FRANCE:   Poppies dot the landscape of northern France.   Their  bright red colour and symbolism as the flower of remembrance can make them a compelling feature in photographs.  As I composed this shot, I recalled something one of  my photography professors shared years ago when I was in college.  He believed that any photo that included a person became a photo of a person.  His point was that the mere presence of a person in a photo established both its context and focal point.  Applying my old prof’s maxim to this shot, the scarecrow is a person in effigy,  thereby strongly drawing the viewer’s attention to it.   What do you think– does the inclusion of a person in a photo establish a strong focal point?    Shot handheld with a Nikon, D300, Nikkor 70 – 300 mm at 127 mm, 1/400 sec, f29, ISO 200.

Photo by John Ecker    |    pantheon photography

Basilica of St. John Lateran, Rome, Italy, photo by John Ecker, Pantheon Photography

BASILICA OF ST. JOHN LATERAN:  December 27th is the feast day of St. John the Evangelist.  This church is dedicated to St. John the Evangelist and John the Baptist.  It is one of the four major basilicas in Rome.  And, while most may think that St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City is the “Pope’s Church”, the Basilica of St. John Lateran is actually the Pope’s ‘home’ cathedral.  Built by the Emperor Constantine the Great in the 4th century, San Giovanni in Laterano was the first church to be officially built in Rome.  The cathedral was dedicated on November 9, 318. It was embellished with decorations given by Constantine, including seven silver altars with seven gilded candlesticks inlaid with images of the prophets.  The building has undergone many changes over the centuries following periods of neglect, invasion (Vandals) and natural disasters.  Arches are adorned with reliefs of angels, including those shown in this photo.  No two angels look alike.  Shot handheld with a Nikon D70s, Nikkor 18-55mm lens at 51 mm, f4.2 1/13 sec.

Photo by John Ecker    |    pantheon photography

Mont St. Michel, Normandy, France,photo by John Ecker, Pantheon Photography

MONT ST. MICHEL, FRANCE:  This small rocky island on the coast of Normandy is home to a medieval Benedictine Abbey.  Legend has it that the archangel Michael appeared before St. Aubert, Bishop of Avranches, in 708.  The archangel told the Bishop to build a church on the site.  The Bishop ignored the call, until Michael burned a hole in the Bishop’s skull with his finger.  Construction began soon after!  The site was dedicated to Michael on October 16, 708.   Mont St. Michel has primarily served as a Benedictine Abbey, but during the French revolution it was converted to a prison.  Victor Hugo was a vocal proponent of Mont St. Michel and helped to have the prison closed in 1863.  The following year it was declared an historic monument.  Over a century later, in 1979, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  This has to be one of the most photographed sites in the world. Finding a unique perspective is hard to do.  This photo was captured travelling the hard to find paths and small country roads.  Shot handheld with a Nikon D40X, Nikkor  AF-S 70 – 300mm lens at 225mm, 1/500 sec., f16, 800 ISO.  P

hoto by John Ecker     |     pantheon photography

“Everywhere I look, I see Red” Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missphoto by John Ecker, Pantheon Photographyouri,

BUSCH STADIUM, ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI:  St. Louis loves its National League team, the St. Louis Cardinals, a perennial contender for the post-season.  Cardinals fans wear their team pride on their sleeves.  And their hats, and their pants, and pretty well on everything they bring to the park. Even the seats are red.  I thought Boston fans had the greatest (?) team colour fanaticism, until I went to Busch Stadium. This day was not so bright for the Cardinals.  They lost 10-7 to the L.A. Angels, and Pujols was hitless. Tough home crowd!    Shot handheld, with a Nikon D40X, Nikkor AF-S 70-300 lens at 217mm, f24, 1/400 sec, 1600 ISO.  Photo by John Ecker     |     pantheon photography

Moët et Chandon, Épernay, Champagne Region, France, photo by John Ecker, Pantheon Photography

MOËT ET CHANDON, EPERNAY, CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE: The Moët et Chandon cellars are found in Épernay in the Champagne region of France. Tours are held daily and guides share their exuberant passion for the ‘Champagne method’. While much is made of the labour intensive methods of old, including hand riddling (turning bottles), that part of the process is now mostly mechanized. Their most popular label is the prestigious Dom Pérignon line of vintage Champagnes. Tour guides make it clear Moët is correctly pronounced “m-wett” (Dutch origin) not, “mo-way.” No matter how you say it, what matters most is what comes out of the bottle. Fun Fact: Dom Pérignon Brut Champagne 2000 was released in October 2010. The 1500 ml. bottle is $575.00 Cdn. The Robert Parker Guide gives it a score of 94.

Shot handheld, Nikon D300, Nikkor AF-S 70-300mm lens at 225mm, f5.6, 1/30 sec, 1600 ISO. Photo by John Ecker     |     pantheon photography

Gateway Arch and Fire Hydrant, St. Louis, Missouri, photo by John Ecker, Pantheon Photography

GATEWAY ARCH, AND FIRE HYDRANT, ST. LOUIS MISSOURI:   I usually do lots of research about the places I plan to visit before I travel.  Before my whirlwind trip through the mid-west with my son to see some baseball (Cardinals, Royals, then the Reds)  I knew little about the Gateway Arch.  What an amazing and beautiful landmark. No wonder it’s a National Monument.  It is clad with 900 tons of stainless steel and presents an ever-changing image as the light reflects off its surface, depending on the time of day.  We were lucky to be there on a cloudless day with nothing but blue skies.  Standing 630 feet tall, it’s the tallest man-made monument in America.    It can be seen from pretty well anywhere in the city, affording endless opportunities for photographers.    Shot handheld with a Nikon D40X, Nikkor AF-S 18-200 lens at 27mm, f18, 1/250 sec. ISO 400. 

Photo by John Ecker    |    pantheon photography

Bicycle, Rome, Italy, photo by John Ecker, Pantheon Photography

BICYCLE, ROME, ITALY:  Rome is such a great city for walking.  The back streets and alleys wind their way between buildings that are often several hundred years old.  It’s also there where you’ll find most cyclists, who prefer to leave the bigger and busier roads to the motor scooters.  This one caught my eye because of the warmth of the light and subtle blends of reds and oranges on a late Roman afternoon.  Shot handheld with a Nikon D70S, Nikkor 18-55 AF lens at 25mm, f5.6, 1/125 sec.  Photo by John Ecker     |     pantheon photography

Pacific Coast, California, photo by John Ecker, Pantheon Photography

PACIFIC COAST, CALIFORNIA:   The drive up the California coast from San Francisco is one of the most exhilarating journeys you can take in a car.  The highway twists and turns.  It barely hugs the cliffs, giving the sensation of almost soaring above the rugged coast.  As a photographer, the temptation is always strong to stop and take a shot. But on this highway, doing so can be fatal.  With twists, turns and switchbacks, there are few straightaways with views down the road.  The shoulders are narrow and often rock-strewn.  This photo was taken at one of the coastal lookouts.  Shot handheld with a Nikon D300, Nikkor AF-S 16-85 mm lens at 60 mm, f25, 1/1/250 sec, ISO 800.  Photo by John Ecker     |     pantheon photography

Juno Beach, Normandy, France, photo by John Ecker, Pantheon Photography

JUNO BEACH, NORMANDY, FRANCE:  On Tuesday, June 6th, 1944, soldiers from the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division and the 2nd Armoured Brigade stormed the Normandy beach codenamed “Juno” as part of Operation Overlord, the audacious attack on the Nazi occupied and  heavily-fortified French Coast.  Juno was an eight-kilometre stretch of beach near the town of Courseulles-sur-Mer.  That day, 574 men of the 3rd Canadian Division were wounded and 340 were killed.  Today, remnants of the German fortifications remain along the Normandy beaches, including Juno.  The story of Canada’s role in the Allied invasion is well-told at the Juno Beach Centre.  This photo was taken at low tide.  The camera position gives a stone’s-view perspective near the Juno Beach Centre, looking out across the English Channel.  Shot with a Nikon D300, Nikkor AF-S 16-85 mm lens at 16mm, 1/60 sec, f22, ISO 800. Photo by John Ecker      |     pantheon photography

Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes, England, photo by John Ecker, Pantheon Photography

BLETCHLEY PARK, MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND:  About 80 kilometres northwest of London is Bletchley Park.  It is famous as the home to Great Britain’s Station X, where the Enigma and other Axis codes were broken.  Bletchley was top-secret during the war and only in recent decades has the full impact of its work become broadly appreciated.  Architecturally, the centrepiece of Bletchley Park is this mansion.  It served as the HQ for Bletchley Park throughout the war.  As you can see, it’s a veritable hodgepodge of architectural styles.  It was built by Herbert Samuel Leon, whose love of various styles collided to form what we see today.  Writer Kathryn Morrison’s paper, aptly named  “A Maudlin and Montrous Pile: The Mansion at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire”  is a detailed look at the structure.  Had it not been for the British government’s acquisition of the property in 1938, it would have been levelled for a housing development.   Bletchley Park is now a must-see museum for anyone interested in WWII history.  Please also see Decay and Renewal at Bletchley ParkShot handheld with a Nikon D40X, Nikkor 18-200 lens at 30mm, f18, 1/400 sec, 1600 ISO. Photo by John Ecker     |     pantheon photograhpy

Please also see Decay and Renewal at Bletchley Park on my Pantheon story blog.

Pantheon, Rome, Italy, photo by John Ecker, Pantheon Photography

PANTHEON, ROME, ITALY: Rome’s Pantheon is my most favourite building in the world.  It radiates strength, beauty and history all the time, day or night.  The perspective in this photograph is mostly missed by visitors as it is taken just inside the massive doors.  With the rush to get in and the push to get out of this popular site, it is easy to miss.  It’s a real treat to be there when a downpour falls into the building from the open oculus.  In 609, the building was consecrated as a Roman Catholic church and named  Sancta Maria ad Martyres.  It remains a church today, a fact that is obviously lost on many visitors.  Shot handheld with a Nikon D70S, 18-55 mm lens at 33mm., f22, 1/60 sec. Photo by John Ecker      |      pantheon photography

Basilica of St. Denis, Paris, France, photo by John Ecker, Pantheon Photography

THE BASILICA OF ST. DENIS: Just north of Paris, in the suburb of St. Denis, is the beautiful Basilica of St. Denis. It’s not a huge church, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in artifacts and history. Construction of the Gothic church began in 1136. Virtually every French king is buried here, earning  it the title of Royal Acropolis of France. During the French Revolution, crypts were raided and bodies dumped nearby in pits. The remains were subsequently recovered and reburied. Beneath the altar, in the crypt, are the remains of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Also buried here are the remains of Clovis I, Dagobert I, Henry II and Catherine de’ Medici, among others. I recommend reading Great Gothic Cathedrals of France, by Stan Parry, in my view, the best and most readable book about French Gothic Cathedrals. Shot handheld with a Nikon D300, Nikkor 70mm -300mm AF-S VR lens, at 300mm, f22, 1/80th sec, ISO 3200. Photo by John Ecker     |     pantheon photography

Campo Dei Fiori Rome, Italy, photo by John Ecker, Pantheon Photography

CAMPO DEI FIORI, ROME, ITALY:           I love visiting this charming market every time I visit Rome.  In English, it literally means ‘field of flowers’.  It is a vibrant place on market days.  From fish to fruit and vegetables to baked goods, this is where it’s at in central Rome for great fresh food, though it’s rather pricey.  Best to go early in the morning for the market.  At night it’s a great gathering spot with lots of cafes and restaurants at which to pass the time on a glorious Roman evening.  Check out the monument to Giordano Bruno who was burnt alive on this spot in 1600 by the Roman Inquisition.   His statue defiantly faces the Vatican.  Shot handheld with a Nikon D70S, Nikkor 55-200 mm at 60mm, f 6.3, 1/60 sec.  Photo by John Ecker    |    pantheon photography

The Red Seat, Fenway Park, Boston, photo by John Ecker, Pantheon Photography

THE RED SEAT, FENWAY PARK, BOSTON: Every baseball fan must make the pilgrimage to Boston’s Fenway Park. The place oozes history. Not to be missed is the tour of the park. If you are lucky, the visit includes an on-field walk to the ‘green monster’. The red seat in the right field bleachers (Sec. 42, Row 37, Seat 21) is the place where the longest home run in Fenway Park history was hit. It was hit by Ted Williams on June 9, 1946 off Detroit pitcher Fred Hutchinson. It measured 502 feet.

Photo by John Ecker     |     Pantheon Photography

Pagoda, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, photo by John Ecker, Pantheon Photography

PAGODA, GOLDEN GATE PARK, SAN FRANCISCO: In 1981, the Chinese government gave this pagoda on Stowe Lake in Golden Gate Park to the people of San Francisco.  The pagoda was shipped in over 6,000 pieces and  assembled on the site.  Shot handheld with a Nikon D300, 18-200 VR lens, focal length 85mm,  f/36, 1/60 sec, 1250 ISO.  Photo by John Ecker     |     pantheon photography

Timber Frame Buildings, Troyes, Francephoto by John Ecker, Pantheon Photography,

TIMBER FRAME BUILDINGS, TROYES, FRANCE:  The rain that day provided even lighting for this shot of Timber Frame buildings in the old French city of Troyes.  I was driving along the narrow street when I was captured by the vibrant sequence of red, yellow and green painted homes.  Shot handheld with a Nikon D300, Nikkor 18-200 VR lens,at 127mm,  f/11, 1/125 sec, ISO 1600. 

Photo by John Ecker     |     pantheon photography

Boats, Capri, Italy, photo by John Ecker, Pantheon Photography

BOATS, CAPRI, ITALY:  Capri is a small island south of Rome in the Tyrrhenian Sea.  It’s a short ferry trip from Naples and easily one of the most picturesque places in all of Italy.  It’s just over 4 square miles but its highest elevation is almost 2,000 feet above sea level.  The trip to the peak via the single seat cable system is sublime.  From the top, the views are magnificent. These boats are found on beaches all around the island.  Shot handheld, Nikon S700, 90mm, f.4.8, 1/70 sec., ISO 64. 

Photo by John Ecker     |     pantheon photography

Remembrance Day, November 11, 2010, photo by John Ecker, Pantheon Photography

REMEMBRANCE DAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2010:  It’s Remembrance Day.  The poppy is the enduring symbol that reminds us of those who gave their lives in battle.  Like so many Canadians, I cannot look at a poppy without thinking of the poem by John McCrae.  McCrae joined up in August 1914 and was appointed brigade surgeon with the First Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery.   He served in Belgium and witnessed the bloody Second Battle of Ypres, in Flanders.  McCrae wrote his famous poem the day after the death of a close friend in battle.   McCrae died of pneumonia and meningitis on January 28, 1918. He was buried with full military honours in Wimereaux Cemetery.  His grave is simply marked, but always adorned with poppies and poppy wreaths.  Click here to read  In Flanders FieldsShot handheld with a Nikon D300, Nikkor 16-85 VR lens at 75mm, f32, 1/160 sec., ISO 800. 

Photo by John Ecker     |     pantheon photography