Strahov Monestary

Movies always seem to have these amazing scenes with religious figures living in insanely beautiful locations.  Monks chanting in a temple on the side of a cliff and that sort of thing.   The sound of strange wind instruments and a deep percussive sound transport you to the scene.  Some light snow covers the exterior, while the warm glow inside brings you in.   I start longing to live there…. for a moment.  But then I come back to earth and realize I’d be really bored living nearly alone on the side of a mountain.  Maybe I’ll just visit for a day or two.

But then there are places that really engage you.  The library in the Theological Hall of the Strahov Monestary in Prague feels like one of those places.  Thousands of books in a site nearly a thousand years old.  With stucco painting on the beautifully lit ceiling.  How great would it be to pull one of the books from the wall and spend the afternoon reading or contemplating life here?  Ok, I didn’t get behind the red velvet rope, so perhaps all the books are written in Czech and I’d want to bolt.  But it’s still amazing.  I’d be happy to bring my own book.

Sometimes my own photography feels that way to me.  Am I sharing a story about my experience?  Or am I telling a myth about a place?  I think of my images as first impressions.  They’re snapshots of the moment I first encountered a scene.  The wonder.  The awe.  And I want to stay in that moment.  But sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t create my art as a local who knows the place intimately, rather than a passing guest.  What would I appreciate differently about the scene if I’d known it for ages?

Processing technique:

  • Lens/perspective correction, white balance, and minor tonal adjustment Lightroom
  • Blended four exposures using Lumenzia to bring back ceiling details in the highlights, and restore some shadow detail in key foreground elements
  • Lumenzia vignette to create visual flow in the image
  • Hue, Selective Color, and Color Balance adjustments in Photoshop to balance color, bring out the color in the ceiling, and create visual flow in the image
  • Camera RAW filter in Photoshop for creative sharpening
  • Nik Color Efex Pro for finishing detail and depth



Greg Benz Photography