The Hagia Sofia gets a lot of attention. And rightly so as one of the finalists for the 7 New World Wonders. But I believe the Blue Mosque is a far better place to explore Turkish culture. It’s a working Mosque that happily welcomes tourist to not only observe prayer but learn about it. To learn, at least in part, the foundation of Islamic life. Not to mention it’s stunningly beautiful. Lets dissect this shot which has become one of my favorites from Istanbul Turkey

Whats The Context?

I’ve been to Istanbul many times. I happen to run into another sister traveling solo. We chatted and hit it off so I offered to show her around. One thing about me, I get bored easily. And places I’ve traveled to tend to lose their charm for me. And my work suffers. But having a new travel partner also freshens up my eyes a bit. As I’m guiding and remembering all the things that make these places so special. Between prayers the Mosque is closed. So we explored the area and Hagia Sofia until they opened for the last prayer of the day. Which is called Yatsi or Isha.

The great thing about Yatsi is it tends to be the busiest time in many mosques. As people are getting off work and school. Making for a great time to visit.

What Was I Trying to Capture?

My goal was to capture people praying and the interior. My issue was I didn’t bring a wide-angle lens on this visit and tripods aren’t allowed. So, I couldn’t shoot at an aperture I would have preferred. Likely F8 or F10. I wanted to capture a bit more light coming in through the stain glassed windows. With the setting sun I saw some beautiful streams. Unfortunately, I had to shoot at F3.5 because of the situation. Handheld and low light.  

I’m generally happy. The only thing I wish is I had a wider lens. Maybe an 10-18 F4. But that’s just ideal situation thinking. Which is rare when on assignment shooting travel. Always take the lenses that compliment your shooting style.

 

My Camera Settings and Setup 

Hand Held or Stabilized: Hand Held
Exposure: 1/160 at f3.5
Focal Length: 28mm
ISO: 1600
Lighting: Natural
Body: Sony A7S
Lens: FE 28-70 (Kit)

 

Istanbul Travel Tips and Guide: So the Blue Mosque is located in an area called Sultanahmet. An area many all “Old” Istanbul. This is indeed one of the cities oldest areas and home to some of Istanbul’s most important sites. Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, the Basilica Cistern, and Topkapi Palace are all within 5 minutes’ walk of each other. Making this the perfect area for you to stay if you’re looking to explore Istanbul’s cultural side.

One attraction in this area many don’t know about is the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts. My favorite museum of Islamic Art is in Kuala Lumpur. But this one in Istanbul is definitely worth a visit. I highly recommend it.

Where to Stay: Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at SultanahmetSumengen Hotel, Cheers Hostel

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