The Spire of Notre Dame Cathedral, 2004

Fifteen years ago (2004) I climbed to the top of the North Tower of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris to enjoy the view and take photos. I was fascinated by the gargoyles and incorporated them into my compositions. Fortunately, I turned around and noticed the Cathedral’s beautiful, intricate spire and the copper statues at its base and made some photos in that direction as well. Since the Cathedral spire was destroyed in the fire of April 15, 2019, we can now remember it in pictures.

Here is an image with the spire centered in the frame and a closer view of the copper statues, which were removed and preserved days before the fire.

Historic Spire of Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris, as seen in 2004 from the North Tower of Notre Dame, before the spire was destroyed in the fire of 2019. Copyright Catherine Kelly
Gargoyles keep watch over the rooftop of Notre Dame Cathedral in 2004. Base of the spire and copper statues seen in the background. Photograph taken from the North Tower of Notre Dame by Catherine Kelly.

Notre Dame de Paris: Rose Windows Survived the Fire

If you watched the television coverage the catastrophic fire in the Cathedral of Notre Dame of Paris, the interior of the Cathedral looked like an inferno. As the burning spire collapsed inside the nave, the heat must have been intense. Somehow, miraculously, the famous stained glass rose windows from the 13 century have survived, according to news reports today.

The rose windows are certainly one of the most beautiful elements in the elegant 850-year-old Cathedral. I photographed the North and South windows during my last visit to Notre Dame of Paris on November 17, 2018.

The North Rose Window in Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, built in 1250, has survived the 2019 fire.
The South Rose Window in Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, built in 1260, stands over 60′ tall. It has survived the April 15, 2019 fire, according to news reports today 4/17/19.

These images, shot with a Sony mirrorless camera aIIr7, show detail one might enjoy through binoculars on site. The full resolution version of these images are available for sale on my website (in the Paris gallery), and can be printed at 16 x 20″ at 300dpi. Since I first laid eyes on these windows, as a college student more than 40 years ago, I have been fascinated by their intricacy, artistry and beauty. Take a close look yourself.

The rose window on the West facade, behind the historic organ, has also survived according to reports.

Notre Dame Cathedral: Crown of Thorns Chapel

No one would have predicted the catastrophic fire at Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral yesterday. Millions of people around the world have visited the iconic, historic and major religious site, and I imagine that millions watched the fire on television with feelings of horror and grief. We are all immensely grateful that much of the stone construction survives, and that the French are committed to rebuilding — replacing historic 800-300 year old craftsmanship with today’s. A reconstructed Cathedral won’t be the same, but we can’t leave Paris without its heart.

I have visited Paris six times, and I plan to revisit my photos from all of those trips. Most recently, I walked through Notre Dame late in the day on November 17, 2019. The security line stretched across the plaza, and the interior was packed with people, but we walked the the perimeter in the side aisles, and I took photos of the two Rose windows and the Crown of Thorns Chapel behind the main altar.

Crown of Thorns Chapel in Notre Dame Cathedral on 17 November 2018. Copyright by Catherine Kelly of USA. Prints available at http://www.cathykellyphotography.com.

My Sony mirrorless camera takes amazing images in very low light. Of course, I was not using a tripod in the Cathedral, so I set the camera for ISO 10,000 to hand hold it. It is ironic that my photo of the Crown of Thorns Chapel included a small fire extinguisher in the lower left corner.

The image shown here in this blog is lower resolution, so it will load quickly on your computer or mobile device. The full resolution image will be uploaded to my website and available for purchase. It can be printed 26.7″ x 11.6″ at 300 dpi (recommended). Please keep in mind that this image is protected by U.S. Copyright law, which means it can be purchased from Cathy Kelly, but it should not be copied and distributed without permission/purchase. If you wish to share this image, you are most welcome to share a link to this blog. Follow my blog, please, if you would like to see more images of Notre Dame Cathedral in years past. My next post will feature the beautiful Rose windows, which were destroyed in this tragic fire.

Our hearts are with the brave first responders, the French, the Roman Catholics, the tourists who visited and held Notre Dame in their hearts and the art historians who revered the Cathedral. We all mourn together.

Reading a Tulip

What does this wide open violet tulip say to you?

Does this singular tulip bloom tell a story of sorrow or joy? What do you find at its core?

My first impression of this tulip is of “arms wide open,” a loving embrace. The bright yellow and white center look like light and goodness at the core. The purple color and fine texture bursting out of the darker disorderly background also speak to me of joy, and the renewal of Spring.

Christians may see an Easter message: purple for the Lord’s Passion, his suffering and death. The white center revealed could symbolize the divinity and hope of the Resurrection.

What do you think?

From the Water Lily Pond

Walking through the Naples Botanical Garden, I realized that the plants are quite familiar to me, as I have walked the trails with my camera many times. This time, I was on the lookout for something new. At the edge of the water lily pond, I looked for some nice reflections and saw this tall palm tree looking quite a bit like an Impressionist painting.

Just two hours before sunset, the sun was low in the sky and the ripples in the water created the perfect filter. Today, Claude Monet was my inspiration.

Georgia O’Keeffe Inspired

When you think of Florida, you probably think of beaches, baseball and golf. Or maybe Disney, tennis and retirees. Right now it’s snowing and cold in much of the United States, but in Florida the landscape is green and warm and teeming with life. In a typical day here, I observe numerous birds, lizards, turtles, alligators, and fish. In any case, when you think of Florida, you don’t think of dead trees…unless perhaps you think of hurricanes.

Lover’s Key State Park has a white sandy beach, lots of shells and birds and people with beach towels and coolers, but it also has a number of dead trees. They stand boldly on the beach where they have tried to survive hurricanes and all manner of wind and weather. While their leaves and branches are long gone, several trunks still stand tall, reminding us of our mortality and the circle of life.

These dry, white tree trunks stand tall in the Florida sky, framing the first quarter moon.

Looking through my viewfinder to see the moon in the composition, I liked the simplicity of the blue and white image. The stark tree trunks reminded me of the skulls that Georgia O’Keeffe painted in New Mexico. I think that O’Keeffe liked the simple sculptural shape of the white, dessicated skulls, and she also probably thought about that unpopular subject, the short term nature of our lives.

Formation of a Fern

One of the best things about travel to a faraway land is learning about the symbols that derive from the natural environment there. When I visited New Zealand, I learned that the spiral shape celebrated in art and jewelry refers to the spirals found in the fern as it unfurls. Ferns are ubiquitous in the rainforests of New Zealand, and the ancient plants come in many varieties. As a new fern grows, you can see a delicate spiral unfurling as each leaf and stem grows. This spiral represents new beginnings.

These ferns are growing in Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, an Audobon Preserve near Naples, Florida. I was delighted to notice the repeating patterns as well as the spirals at the ends of the leaves and stem on the left.

On the other side of the globe, we learned about a different interpretation of the spiral shape. In Turkey, the spiral shape represents the Meander River, which curves back and forth and seems to go on forever. When visiting Ephesus in Turkey, we were told the spiral shape in repetition, or the Greek Key design, represents infinity.

In yet another trip, we were surprised to find the Greek Key design in the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Surely the ancient people from all these places were not comparing notes! It seems to me that the ancient people in all these distant spots on the globe had put together an observation of the intriguing shapes in Nature and thinking that joined Nature, Art and Philosophy. I choose to embrace both meanings in the spiral found in Nature: new beginnings and eternity. Both concepts bring me optimism, peace and happiness.