Photographer's Note


Over the past several years I’ve posted a number of photographs on Trekearth showing the National Cathedral in Washington, DC as it is seen from a number of angles: #1 from the North Side; and #2 from the west. The latter featured "Ex Nihilo," the extraordinarily powerful carving created by Frederick Hart in 1978. A third photo showed the entrance to #3 THE BISHOP’S ROSE GARDEN. There the subject was the semi-circular Norman arch that allowed a view of the rose garden, and in the distance, the roof of an octagonal-shaped stone gazebo.

In the present photograph the vantage point is reversed. The Cathedral is framed in a Tudor arch, one of seven such windows of the gazebo (the eighth side is the doorway). The prepossessing architectural marvel, evocative of the great European Cathedrals, took the better part of the 20th century to build. The trees are seen just assuming a new mantle of foliage, but most importantly the blossoming trees are at their peak. A cherry tree in full bloom is seen in the lower left. Unlike any other religious building in the world, the National Cathedral has a unique stained glass window. Embedded in the “Space Window” is a rock brought by Apollo Astronauts returning from the moon.

To get a complementary architectural and historical perspective on this extraordinary edifice, I recommend visiting the photo and note submitted by BWJ just two weeks ago.

The gazebo has been one my favorite hideaways for years. As a teenager I lived just down the street, and frequently dropped over to play tennis in the tennis courts nearby, or occasionally to do an Ink Sketch of the building. Later still, I isolated myself there to grade examinations... far away from students.

Finally, in this photo a shaft of light is seen illuminating the lower left of the wooden frame that can be easily eliminated. But good art requires an “unsettling factor,” something that causes a little bit of annoyance or distraction. That is precisely the reason I left it in the picture. In the workshop, I am presenting the same view with that shaft of light removed. One of my favorite paintings at the National Gallery of Art is Vermeer's "A Woman holding a Balance." It was Vermeer's genius that he included the gilded (double) frame, just to the right of the woman. The eye inadvertently oscillates between that frame and the woman. In Leonardo's "Mona Lisa" this supreme artist has painted an optical illusion in the mouth, then he has made the horizon line uneven behind the sitter (Lisa Ghirardini, making the viewer go back and forth inadvertently. It is a virtual hypnotic effect. I would be grateful to hear your preference — this photo or the version in the Workshop?

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Additional Photos by Bulent Atalay (batalay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6809 W: 476 N: 12169] (41257)
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