These are famous stairs from Vatican Museums. They are one of the most photographed stairs in the world and no wonder why - Vatican Museums are visited every year by more than four million visitors and most of them are equipped with camera or at least a mobile phone with camera. Also on TE there are a lot of shots, wonderful and very successful one made by Bulent and many other not so spectacular. My friendship with Bulent began after my critique about his photo of these stairs, he sent me then his book "Math and Mona Lisa" with a dedication. So you are not surprised that it was number one of the places I had to visit (and make photos) during a visit in Rome.
If you look at the photo you can notice that the last steps are marked yellow and there are two such places. Besides, all the people are descending and two levels are empty. The reason is that there are two intertwined helical structures - one meant for people going up and one for going down. But one path is closed - you enter Vatican Museums by another stairs.
In three dimensions the structure is helical, something like a spring or a screw. When we look at the photo, flat, we see a spiral. What spiral is it? For sure, it is not Archimedean spiral, as in it the distances between turns are equal and we see them diminishing. Bulent sees here spira mirabilis - the logarithmic spiral, the most wonderful curve. It has interesting properties, one is self-similarity - we can close the picture up and down and still we see the same (in ideal mathematical case). The beautiful example of self- similarity is broccoli Romanesco - take a part of it and it looks the same as the whole, again the part of that part - still looks the same. We can see the logarithmic spirals everywhere in Nature- the approach of a hawk to its prey, the approach of an insect to a light source, the arms of spiral galaxies, the bands of tropical cyclones, many biological structures including the shells of mollusks.
But there is also another spiral - hyperbolical one. My son thinks that in fact the projection of a helix is a hyperbolical spiral. He showed me it mathematically but I am not quite convinced.
I made many shots. The stairs are wide so it is impossible to make photo of the whole stairs - maybe stitching master Didi could do it. So always there is only a part of it. My composition is very similar to that by Bulent. From all my photos this one seemed to me the best.
This spiral or that, I hope you like it.
Critiques | Translate
lousat (89252) 2013-03-05 2:34
Ciao Malgo,not a new idea but always a great opportunity to take a magnificent perspective,i like your choice of point of view,great colors and exposure,the details are not the best but it's always difficult to make better in these interiors and lights.Have a nice day and thanks,Luciano
manrezaei (1837) 2013-03-05 2:52
Very nice perspective shot. Very well done.
subhendu_bagchi (26089) 2013-03-05 3:01
wow, it is beautiful Malgo... The composition is superb from such a high POV... Like the colour tone and soft light... People are looking superb in such graphical composition. Nice work. Tfs.
rbassin (22527) 2013-03-05 4:08
Un bonne prise de vue, un bel exemple d'escalier en spiral.Bel effet photographique et bon emplacement des visiteurs; certains utilisateurs sont flou, ce qui donne du mouvement à la scène.
papagolf21 (98770) 2013-03-05 4:10
Bonjour, chère Malgo,
Superbe présentation de cet escalier en colimaçon.
Admirable réalisation italienne.
J'apprécie comme il se doit.
batalay (38553) 2013-03-05 4:43
Witaj dear Malgorzata,
How flattering to know that you remembered my photo shot five or six years ago. I remember your comment pointing out the double helix structure. In your note here, you write, " My son thinks that in fact the projection of a helix is a hyperbolical spiral. He showed me it mathematically but I am not quite convinced." In all honesty, I think the appearance of the staircase is a hybrid logarithmic/hyperbolic spiral. In the middle region, the whorls would resemble a logarithmic spiral, in the latter whorls it would suddenly straighten out asymptotically. That is more practical, I believe for leaving the stairs at the top. I discussed this once with a mathematician at MIT, and we had the same discussion you and your son had.
About twenty years ago when first saw these stairs, the two spirals were interwoven spirals were used for complementary functions — one to ascend, and another to descend. I just looked at the image in "Math and the Mona Lisa," I must have used that photo. People are seen walking up the "empty" spiral ramp. In 2007 when I photographed the stairs, it was already like yours. They no longer allow people to ascend.
Thank you for the very gracious note, which immediately means I must put this among my favorites.
Warmest regards, Malgorzata, to you and your brilliant son.
mkamionka (35608) 2013-03-05 5:29
wspaniale zdjecie slynnych schodow. Kiedys zrobilem na nich zdjecie mojej zonie. Niestety wszystkie moje zdjecia z Rzymu troche sie podstarzaly...
Ty masz tu rowniez troche slaba ostrosc podobnie bylo zreszta przy tym zdjeciu pasazu.
Podejrzewam ze uzywalas jakiegos automatycznego ustawienia aparatu. w warunkach niedoboru swiatla takie ustawienia po pierwsze zwiekszaja czulosc co juz prowadzi do wysokiego ziarna ale rowniez wydluzaja czasem czas ekspozycji do tego stopnia ze wszystko sie lekko rozmywa. Co prawda to lekko poruszone postacie daja tutaj bardzo ciekawy efekt ale mam wrazenie ze cala reszta jest rowniez nieco rozmyta.
Natomiast niczego nie moge zarzucic kompozycji. bardzo ladnie to pokazalas! Pozdrawiam serdecznie,
emilbo (22616) 2013-03-05 5:49
Très bien capté cet escalier et l'effet est spectaculaire. Bien vu et tu as choisi le meilleur point de vue. Excellente exposition, à 1/3 de seconde tu as dû retenir ton souffle. Certains personnages flous donnent l'impression de mouvement.
Bravo!... et bonne journée,
carlo62 (45902) 2013-03-05 5:49
un grande classico, ma molto ben interpretato.
L'eccellente esposizione e la profondità ne fanno uno scatto splendido.
serp2000 (43594) 2013-03-05 6:23
I think, this is one of the most interesting atractions for the Trekkers in Vatican, Malgo. This is very attractive picture, vivid colours. But the faces are some blured, exposure is not perfect here.
You are lucky people, and I must to work in my home studio )))
saxo042 (37794) 2013-03-05 8:10
Such spiral staircases can provide very interesting and fascinating pictures. Here I also enjoy the inclusion of people, even some in eye-catching red colours!
Kamilutka (8105) 2013-03-05 8:57
bardzo dobry pomysl i swietnie ustawiony kadr. Proporcje i POV sa moim zdaniem doskonale. Podobaja mi sie ludzie na tych schodach rozsiani tu i owdzie. Ladna glebia.
Romano46 (18472) 2013-03-05 10:27
questa scalinata è famosa e tu l'hai colta molto bene dando un taglio verticale insolitp che la valorizza ulteriormente e offre un po' di originalità.
Buona la gestione della luce e buona anche la nitidezza che permette di apprezzare ogni dettaglio.
Ciao e buona serata
siudzi (34141) 2013-03-05 11:34
Śledzę Twoją serię zdjęć z Rzymu codziennie na TE oraz FB. Te schody to pozycja obowiązkowa! Bardzo mi się podoba Twój pomysł na kadr a po przeczytaniu Twojej notatki już nie mogę się doczekać, kiedy zobaczę je na własne oczy w kwietniu:-)
macjake (66648) 2013-03-05 12:35
Damn you!! Damn you!!
I'm so jealous I want to scream!!!!
This is for sure on my photo-list, and one day i'll have it. Doesn't matter how many times its been shown, it still is a wonder of magic to the visual senses. its so beautiful and mesmorizing at the same time.
Fis2 (95543) 2013-03-05 12:41
Fajny slimaczek ;)
Dobrze umiescilas go w kadrze.
Silvio1953 (139961) 2013-03-05 13:06
Ciao Malgorzata, great POV on fantastic staircase, beautiful geometry, splendid light and wonderful colors, very well done, my friend, ciao Silvio
Gigidusud (20771) 2013-03-05 13:08
Great capture of this spiral with nice effect and great format.Well done!
ChrisJ (111706) 2013-03-05 13:32
A good downward pov on the spiral staircase with excellent sharpness, color and saturation. The people add scale and context. The green yellow and blue lighting contrast well against each other. Tfs!
ACL1978 (7511) 2013-03-05 18:48
I was interested by the note, so I went to look up Bulent's as well - took a while of combing through Vatican photos, but I was successful! I think this is quite a worthy successor to his - you show the double helix quality well here I'll admit that you lost me somewhat on the mathematics of it all, but I'm impressed by it, whatever it means! I'm also impressed by the wonderful light and shadow of your shot, the illustration of activity throughout, and the really perfect framing on a difficult-to-frame subject. Thanks!
elenimavrandoni (0) 2013-03-05 19:53
So majestic, so spectacular spiral it could only be in Vatican!
all the best,
P.S I thought you read my profile introduction where I say that I live in California!!!(Ha!!!)
Sonata11 (33753) 2013-03-05 20:24
te schody sa przepiekne i uadalo Ci sie je wspaniale ujac na zdjeciu. Sa naprawde imponujace. Piekna kolorystyka, swiatlo, super POV. Bardzo mi sie podobaja. Super zdjecie.
dkmurphys (57073) 2013-03-05 21:58
Lovely artistic shot. I like the effect of the stairs.
Enjoy a good day.
jjcordier (79297) 2013-03-05 22:21
Impossible de ne pas faire la photo de ce célèbre escalier. Intéressant cadrage vertical mais un petit manque de profondeur de champ (manque de lumière!)et un petit regret pour le bas coupé.
wolf38 (31296) 2013-03-06 0:35
Hello Malgorzata. Vatican City. Beautiful, as you have seen this spiral staircase together with the people. These stairs are fantastic architecture art. I can only say, well seen and realized.
krzychu30 (15512) 2013-03-06 2:26
nigdy nie wytrwalem w kolejce zeby sie dostac do Muzeow Watykanskich.A szkoda bo to musi byc wyjatkowe miejsce.Masz racje te schody byly juz motywem wielu zdjec,ale nie ma sie co dziwic bo wygladaja pieknie i tak naprawde mozna by je podziwiac kazdego dnia.Swietnie skadrowalas ta scene mimo iz,jak piszesz nie jest mozliwe uchwycenie tych schodow w calosci.
adramad (44350) 2013-03-06 8:08
Fabulous original image with this beautiful staircase, wonderful how well you've captured the spiral and the floor below, the details of the balustrade are seen with great clarity.
Great management of light and sharpness.
Well done. I love it.
Have a nice day.
Un fuerte abrazo.
npecanhuk (74494) 2013-03-06 17:56
That's a classical picture and you did it superbly!
Colors, exposure, vertical format, level of sharpness, chosen pov and composition are all excellent!
TFS - congrats,
danos (96171) 2013-03-06 23:50
nice the view of the spiral creating from the stairs from the interior of Vatican Museums.I like the created excellent optical effect as the beauty of the place.
Have a good day,Danos
photoray (13981) 2013-03-07 5:45
I was immediately attracted to your staircase angle similar to Nature's Nautilus seashell. Your top down view with humans in movement is certainly attractive.
Being a seashell collector, I am fond of human artistic repetitions with Nature, and my artist uncle Bob Dobbs created Walt Disney's poster in the late 1950s to celebrate Disneyland's new 'Submarine ride'. It was a giant Nautilus shell with a submarine emerging from it.
Keep up the fine artistic visions,
EstelleJ (921) 2013-03-09 14:58
Very effective graphical image, an eye-catcher! The decorations on the side of the staircase are exquisite!
This architectural swirl makes me feel dizzy even looking at the photo!
tyro (24068) 2013-03-09 14:59
As usual a very fascinating note! In fact, I've looked at many pictures of this famous "double helix" staircase, including Bulent's wonderful photograph, and I've always wondered why one of the staircases was devoid of people - so now I know!
You did extremely well to take this picture at 1/5 second - presumably handheld - but it has paid off very well and you have produced a very fine photograph with lots of interesting features, not least the people. That lady in a bright red coat right at the top really "holds" the whole composition together perfectly.
mesutilgim (94024) 2013-03-09 23:55
Hello dear Malgorzata,
Those unique spiral staircases are allways been my favorite.
Also this capture from Vatican is more than "perfect" ; it's a topclass entry.
Many interesting notes makes it a perfect TE job.
TFS and have a nice weekend
jcpix (13908) 2013-03-10 16:59
No matter how many times this has been photographed and shown, it's still just as inspiring and eye-catching. I haven't seen but a small handful of vertical compositions though, and I really like the different perspective and feel this takes on. I love the rich colors you've managed and the slower exposure has added that nice little element of motion within motion. The spiral itself and the people walking create a harmonious vibe to the image. Very impressive shot!
Have a great week,
COSTANTINO (63737) 2013-03-11 6:17
impressive and fantastic capture of those
famous stairs from Vatican Museums,
excellent chosen point of view create
an original environment,the composition
is superb from such a high pov
have a nice evening
adores (44897) 2013-03-15 17:58
I remember Bulent's photo. The stairs have really magnificent details and I like the composition with the people passing. You framed them very well!