Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Malta

Looking at the beautiful Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, it’s difficult to imagine that Malta was once the province of Crusaders, the last one, in fact, and the most impregnable bastion of Christianity in the Mediterranean.

Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Balluta Bay in Saint Julien, Malta
January 2015, panorama from 3 vertical images, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 16mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 15 seconds, ISO 100, tripod.

You can buy this photo as Fine Art Print >>




The St. John Knights, in return for fighting anti-christian forces, were given the island by Charles V in perpetuity as long as one condition was met — they were to send him a falcon once a year. They held the island for nearly three hundred years, until overwhelmed by Napoleon’s forces.

The church, perched above a series of steps leading to Balluta Bay, exists in the written record as far back as 1601, when a visiting bishop recorded that it was built in 1580. But that was simply a church on the same site; the present-day structure has been rebuilt or enlarged three times since the 1800s. The most recent incarnation, a striking Latin construction, was completed in 1958.

The church would be striking in any environment; in St. Julian’s — which is really just a fishing village at heart — it’s breathtaking. I struggled to find just the right angle to capture it. Ultimately, I settled on photographing it from the vantage point of a gentle curve in the steps, which focuses the eye on the church and the glittering reflection of the lights of St. Julian’s in the bay.

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Fine Art Prints Valentine’s Day Sale – 30% off

Dear subscribers and followers, I am happy to offer a special Valentine’s Day discount through the end of February 2017. All of my photographs can be purchased as Fine Art Prints to add to the decor of your home or office. I offer ready-to-hang Metal Prints with incredible colours and details. These prints make great gifts for your loved ones, especially those who love to travel and appreciate the world’s beauty.

Room with Bed and Venice Fine Art Print above

My favourite works from recent years are organised in 3 collections:




• “Eternal City” — photos of Rome:
http://ansharphoto.com/Rome >>

• “Mystical Venice” — photos of Venice:
http://ansharphoto.com/Venice >>

• “Inspiring Cities” — photos of the most beautiful European cities:
http://ansharphoto.com/InspiringCities >>


I offer worldwide shipping, and any size is available. Prices start at only $35.95.

As a special Valentine’s Day offer, I will give a discount of 30% through February 28. Use code VDAY2017 at checkout to get the discount.

To make a purchase, simply choose the photo you want, click on its preview. When the preview is open to full screen, click the green “BUY” button on the bottom left corner and follow the instructions from there.

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Selva Val Gardena in the Evening, Dolomites

Although I love to photograph the Alps — it’s a stunningly beautiful place — it can be frustrating because finding the perfect view is difficult. It can be harder than you might imagine to capture that kind of natural majesty.

Aerial View of Selva Val Gardena in the Evening, Val Gardena, Dolomites, Italy
January 2017, single image, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 24mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 30 seconds, ISO 80, tripod.

You can buy this photo as Fine Art Print >>




As soon as we arrived at Selva Val Gardena, I began exploring the village’s hiking trails to find the best view of the city and the mountains. This was a family vacation, but I couldn’t resist photographing the village.

This is one of my favorite spots in Selva Val Gardena — it’s a place where the ski slopes and the road seem to converge, forming a dramatic angle in the photograph. There is energy in this photograph that I like — the dynamic convergence of the two roads, as well as the three cliffs in the background that overlook the slopes. There’s the suggestion of something menacing about those cliffs, perhaps a warning of the mountain and its dangers.

Once again, I found a spot overlooking the village and set up my tripod. Even though the snow on the slopes was artificial and the cliffs gave a somewhat sinister cast to the scene, I liked it nonetheless — an Alpine village in the early hours of evening.

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Aerial View of Selva Val Gardena, Dolomites

For the past several years, my family and I have spent the first two weeks of the New Year skiing in various locations in Europe. This year, we chose the Italian Dolomites, famous among skiiers for its Sella Ronda region. We chose a ski resort in the village of Selva Val Gardena, one of the three villages that make up the valley known as Val Gardena.

Aerial View of Selva Val Gardena in the Evening, Val Gardena, Dolomites, Italy
January 2017, single image, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 48mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 25 seconds, ISO 64, tripod.

You can buy this photo as Fine Art Print >>




This year, however, was different. For the first time that I can remember, there was no snow. There was artificial snow on the slopes, to be sure, (and the skiing was great) but the surrounding mountains were strangely snowless. Selva Val Gardena wasn’t any less lovely for lack of snow; it could be a picture postcard of an Alpine village. But there was nothing to indicate that this was ski resort in January — lovely as it was, it might just as easily have been the middle of summer.

But as I had no control over the weather and I didn’t want to waste an opportunity for a great shot, I managed to slip away and get some fine sunrise and sunset shots. Even without snow, I found Selva Val Gardena to be an enchanting place.

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Aerial View of Bologna from Asinelli Tower

After photographing the Two Towers, I was tempted to make the climb up Asinelli, the taller of the two. It’s a long, vertiginous climb, but I knew the views of Bologna would be magnificent, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Aerial View of Bologna from Asinelli Tower, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
December 2016, single image, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 35mm, aperture f/8, shutter speed 1/15 second, ISO 64, tripod.

You can buy this photo as Fine Art Print >>




Getting to the top of Asinelli wasn’t the easiest of tasks — it’s a steep, narrow staircase that wasn’t designed with modern photographers and their equipment in mind. But once I finally reached the top and set up my small tripod (specially purchased for such occasions), I looked out from the tower and was rewarded with a breathtaking view of Bologna’s tiled roofs.

Just to my right I could see the Piazza Maggiore, the orderly little square square surrounded by much of the city’s history. Take steps in any direction in the Piazza Maggiore and the medieval city comes to life — the Basilica of San Petronio, the Palazzo dei Banchi, and the Palazzo d’Accursio all occupy exalted spots on this historic square.

But what most interested me was the spot in the distance — the Bolognese Hill, which is home to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca. Technically, the hill sits on the outskirts of the city, on top of Karaulhaya Mountain. Inside the sanctuary rests the Madonna of San Luca, an icon of the Virgin Mary that is believed to have been painted by the apostle Luke. The icon was brought to Bologna from Constantinople in 1194 and placed on the hill, known as La Guardia.

As a framed the photograph, I found myself awestruck by the history of this place — before me, the tiled city and its towers, once a hub of medieval commerce, and beyond, the towering Bolognese Hill and its apostle-painted treasure.

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Piazza Santo Stefano in Bologna

Beyond the city’s towers, I entered Bologna’s winding medieval streets. Following one of these winding streets, I came to the Piazza Santo Stefano, an unusual little piazza that isn’t a piazza at all, merely a gradual widening of the street.

Piazza Santo Stefano in the Evening, Bologna, Emilia-Romanga, Italy
December 2016, single image, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 26mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 15 seconds, ISO 64, tripod.

You can buy this photo as Fine Art Print >>




It’s an unusual and picturesque part of Bologna. The piazza is not, properly speaking, a square: the Via Santo Stefano gradually widens into an odd bit of geometry that is the piazza. The area has been known for centuries as ‘le Sette Chiese,’ or the Seven Churches, in honor of the imposing structures surrounding the piazza.

Nowadays, there aren’t seven churches; there are four: the Church of the Crucifix, the Holy Sepulchre, San Vitale and Agricola. The churches were built and remodeled at different times, and over the years, they came to be connected, almost as if they are growing out of one another. The result is a labyrinth that begins with the entrance to the Church of the Crucifix, the largest of the four. The faithful — or the merely curious — could spend hours wandering from one ecclesiastical wonder to the next.

I wanted to photograph the piazza, but because of its place as one of the most historic (and popular) places in the city, it was almost always full of visitors. I waited until evening, when I hoped to have it mostly to myself. As I set up my tripod on the piazza’s ancient cobblestones, my mind wandered to the generations of faithful who have walked those stones. I captured the historic piazza in the low light of evening, thinking of faith and its mysteries.

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Palazzo della Mercanzia, Bologna

A short walk from the Two Towers is the Palazzo della Mercanzia, a striking building noteworthy for its two Gothic arches. Built in the fourteenth century when Bologna was a wealthy commercial center, the Palazzo was constructed to be a base for those governing trade in the city. The building still houses the city’s Chamber of Commerce.

Piazza della Mercanzia in the Morning, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
December 2016, panorama from 3 vertical images, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 16mm, aperture f/8, shutter speed 2 seconds, ISO 100, tripod.

You can buy this photo as Fine Art Print >>




It’s a building with an interesting history. The sides of the building are watched over by statues of four saints — the city’s protectors, as well as statues of St. Peter and St. Anthony of Padua. But under the watchful eyes of saints, the city’s business disputes were settled, and businessmen found to be unscrupulous were tied to a center pillar and publicly shamed.

In keeping with Bologna’s image as a city of epicurean delights, the Palazzo is now home to perhaps the most valuable of the city’s treasures: Bologna’s prized “official” recipes for Bolognese ragu, tortellini, and mortadella.
I made the short walk over from the Two Towers as early morning sunlight was breaking over the piazza. I had the area to myself and focused on the Palazzo, guarded by saints and repository of sacred recipes.

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The Two Towers, Bologna

I made my way toward the Dolomites but decided to stop for a couple of days in the medieval city of Bologna. It’s a difficult city to get a feel for — it’s at once the rarefied city of scribes and scholars and a thoroughly modern, technologically advanced metropolis. What drew me in, however, was the city’s medieval center, the winding, terra cotta heart of the city.

Two Towers and Chiesa di San Bartolomeo in the Morning, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
December 2016, panorama from 3 vertical images, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 16mm, aperture f/8, shutter speed 8 seconds, ISO 100, tripod.

You can buy this photo as Fine Art Print >>




Much of Bologna was destroyed during World War II, but the historic part of the city survived. This part of the city, built when Bologna was at the peak of its power and wealth, was once dotted with towers. In fact, one of Bologna’s many affectionate nicknames is “la turrita,” or the “city of many towers.” There were once hundreds of towers in the city; some were built for defensive purposes and many others built by powerful families, continually attempting to one-up each other.

Most of the towers long ago crumbled into history. But among the ones that still stand, perhaps the most well-known are Asinelli and Garisenda, the city’s “Two Towers.” They’re not as famous as their counterpart in Pisa, but perhaps more interesting: Asinelli is taller and Garisenda has more of a lean. Echoing their long history — they’re also older than the Leaning Tower of Pisa — is an inscription on one of Garisenda’s slopes from Dante’s Divine Comedy that mentions that exact tower.

The Two Towers are so tall and so intimately positioned with one another that it was difficult to capture them together in a shot. I used a panoramic technique to get them both in the frame as the sun rose over Bologna. They seem to me to be two old, time-tested friends: the sturdy and solid Asinelli and the whimsical, free-spirited Garisenda, eternally looking askance at the old city.

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Happy Holidays from Anshar Photography

As 2016 comes to a close, I would like to send my warmest holiday greetings to my subscribers and friends. Your support has been invaluable to me and is much appreciated.

Ski Resort of Madonna di Campiglio, View from the Slope, Italian Alps, Italy

I have been fortunate in the past year to be able to travel to fascinating, historic places, and I hope my photographs have brought distant parts of the world a bit closer to home.

My hope for you in the coming year is that you continue to see the world’s beauty. Even in the midst of difficulties, the world is an amazing, beautiful place. As you go through life, remember to look for the beauty that is all around us. Happy holidays!

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Fine Art Prints Christmas Sale – 30% off

In appreciation of my subscribers, I am happy to offer a special discount through the end of December. All of my photographs can be purchased as Fine Art Prints to add to the décor of your home or office. I offer ready-to-hang Metal Prints with incredible colours and details. The details and colours in these photographs cannot be adequately reproduced on a computer monitor. These prints make great gifts for your friends and family, especially those who love to travel and appreciate the world’s beauty.

Room with Bed and Rome Fine Art Print above

Just for Christmas, I have chosen some of my best works from recent years and created 3 collections:




• “Eternal City” — photos of Rome:
http://ansharphoto.com/Rome >>

• “Mystical Venice” — photos of Venice:
http://ansharphoto.com/Venice >>

• “Inspiring Cities” — photos of the most beautiful European cities:
http://ansharphoto.com/InspiringCities >>


I offer worldwide shipping, and any size is available. Prices start at only $35.95.

As a special Christmas offer, I will give a discount of 30% through December 31. Use code XMS2016 at checkout to get the discount.

To make a purchase, simply choose the photo you want, click on its preview. When the preview is open to full screen, click the green “BUY” button on the bottom left corner and follow the instructions from there.

Thank you for your continued support throughout 2016, and best wishes for a happy holiday season!

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