Photograph of the upside down Medusa head in The Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnıcı) in Istanbul

Upside down Medusa head in The Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnıcı) in Istanbul

One of the most interesting things we saw in Istanbul over Easter. This is one of the two Medusa heads that are placed in the northwest corner of The Basilica Cistern in Istanbul.  I thought it would be an interesting place to start sharing some of the photos I made during our visit, because it is (i think anyway) a departure from my usual photographs and style.

These were a surprise for me. I had no idea going into the Cistern that these even existed, so once I saw them, I was really surprised. The Basilica is a pretty dark and spooky place, made even more so by the cavernous music that plays throughout your exploration, and of  course these Medusa heads.

The area you have to try and make a photograph is very small. At most, 2 people can squeeze through. I used my GorillaPod set on the wet ground in front of me, and had to focus by using the distance scale on the 17-40mm lens, and composing without looking through the viewfinder. All around me were people walking by using their camera flashes, which in turn resulted in some of the effects that are evident in this photograph. I made 2 shots, with this second one being acceptably sharp.

Processing wise, I darkened the outer edges using a curves layer and a circular gradient mask. I took the same mask and added a second layer to bring out the detail on the actual face. I also used a High Pass Sharpen filter, to bring out more detail on the head. I then used another curves layer to tone the image a little bit. I then applied a bit of dodge and burn using a grey layer in Soft Light mode. And finally a curves layer to create a vignet. The image was slightly cropped and straightened.

Hope you like it, more from Istanbul to come.

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