Pope John Paul II

We were fortunate to see the Pope during our visit. Thanks to the good people at Santa Susanna, the American church in Rome, we had papal audience tickets. They told us to get there early, as the crowds begin lining up at least an hour and a half before the doors opened, which was another hour and a half prior to the Pope's scheduled address at St. Peter's Square.

We did as we were told and arrived about an hour early. It is lucky we did. It turns out that if it is raining, the Pope doesn't address the crowd at the Square, but in the adjacent Paul VI auditorium building. It only was sprinkling that morning, but it was wet enough to move us inside. Since Paul VI can only fit about three thousand people, the three or four thousand people that showed up after we did had to file into St. Peter's Basilica for a passing view of the Pope and quick blessing as he made his way to Paul VI to give the "real" address, which lasted over two and a half hours.

The rest of the description is for photo geeks:

The light levels indoors were fairly low, and I had only one roll of "fast" film, Sensia 400 slide film, which I purchased at a little store next to a cafe in Florence. That is not all that fast. I usually bring NHGII or NPZ on trips, but I forgot to take any to Rome. To make matters worse, the Sensia 400 I bought was out of date. The store's proprietors had done a not-so-believable job of changing the "3" in the "2/2003" expiration date to an "8." I guess Sensia 400 doesn't sell well in Florence.

Since I have had past success shooting film years out of date, I figured eight months out of date would be fine, but I couldn't be sure, because the film had been sitting out unrefrigerated for who knows how long, certainly during one or two sweltering Italian summers. Luckily, it turned out okay. Still, even 400 speed film does not help much when you use a long telephoto lens and the light level is low. So I took many shots, knowing most would be blurred by subject movement or camera shake. Many shots didn't come out, but some did. I spend an insane amount of money on my lenses, and sometimes it pays off. This is one of those times -- I used a fancy Canon image stabilizer lens to shoot this. Without image stabilization, this shot would be impossible unless I used a film four or five stops faster (ISO 6400 or 12800!).

LENS: 100-400 at ~400mm | FILM: Fuji Sensia 400 | EXPOSURE: f/5.6 at 1/15" | DATE: 10/03

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