Friends in High Places

Photo © Bob Krist

I’m just putting together a stock submission of images from Buenos Aires  for a European magazine client when I came across the above pic of the Capitolio dome in Buenos Aires. It’s the seat of the government and notice how it’s nicely etched with light.

There’s a story behind that, and it’s another tale of who you know, not necessarily what you know.

My excellent friend and fixer, Bernardo Galmarini, knew the building manager of the Palacio Barolo building, an unbelievably beautiful art deco masterpiece from which we shot this view. It’s a work of art, and topped with a real working lighthouse complete with giant bulb and fresnel lens. That’s Bernando, below, checking his settings by the glow of the lighthouse.

Photo © Bob Krist

For the story of how we lit the dome of the Argentinian parliament without bringing the country’s Air Force or the Secret Service down on our heads, hit the jump.

Both the building manager and the architect were avid photographers and huge fans of….wait for it….Joe McNally (so am I…hell, who isn’t?).

Well, it turns out that my appearance with Joe in the Nikon Lighting DVD was enough reflected glory that they warmed up to me as well (although they both kept citing the part of the outtake reel where I’m sitting in a wedding dress, posing for Joe, and laughing, but that’s another blog post).

As dusk fell, it was obvious that the capitol dome was not going to be lighted, so Bernardo and I asked our hosts if we could swing the lighthouse fresnel around, and throw some light on it. They looked at each other for a moment, and said let’s do it, and voila! The dome was lit.

We could only do it for a minute or two, as nothing was pre-arranged with the government and we could all end up in jail for targeting the capitol, even with a spotlight. But that was all it took. Below is a view of the unlit capitol, as well as the beautiful lighthouse atop the Barolo building.

Photo © Bob Krist
Photo © Bob Krist


Which all goes to show you that it’s good to have famous friends when you’re in high places!

This Post Has 25 Comments

  1. Mmm makes me think on who’s reflected glory I can count on when needed 😛

  2. So let me get this straight Bob, On your last Blog you discussed David Kaye and now you are lighting up a foreign Parliament building. Seems you and David are not telling us everything!

    1. Tim: As they say in the business, I could tell you, but then I’d have to……just keep on thinking I’m a, er, freelance photographer. Yeah, that’s the ticket…cheers, 007

  3. bob, once again you prove that you are the man!

  4. I had read in your book ‘Spirit of Place’ how you always like to find high places to shoot from, like that ballroom in Vienna, but this image is truly outstanding.

  5. Lovely shot Bob, did you use a blue-n-gold polarizer as well to get the colors to pop so nicely?

    1. Hi Mihir: Nope, just the D90/D300 Vivid setting for jpeg. cheers, Bob

  6. Hi Bob!
    Don t worry about pointing with light the Capitol Dome! I m sure we made a patriotic action there, as we surelly waked up some representatives from their nap!:-)
    By the way… great shots you made up there!



    1. Bernardo: I like that…we woke up some representatives. So we did do a public service! Good to hear from you. cheers, Bob

  7. Hi Bob,

    Great image! Were you able to adjust the width of the beam of light from the tower or was it fixed? It hits the dome perfectly.

    1. Pure luck, Chris. We had no control over the beam size! Bob

  8. As usual, very nice shots! Have you been able to include any of your recent travel images in the Nat Geo Seminars? I am going to be helping Lynn in Philly and would love to see more of your recent work. Looking forward to seeing you and Ralph on Sunday!

    1. Hi Renee: Looking forward to seeing you in Philly. all the best, Bob

  9. That is a classic example of excellent available light photography–there was a light and it was available. Just point in the right direction.

  10. Oh wow, do you wish you always had a lighthouse as part of your kit now?

  11. Bob – only got turned onto your work in the last few months, and have been trying to catch up. Today, however, I was rewarded with two gems: This post, and the video of you with the wedding dress (and your humor in general) from the Nikon outtakes. I of course respect your work very much, but today…your work is much more respectable knowing that you seem to be a down-to-earth, fun-loving guy. I can only imagine the actual conversation that took place when discussing the implications of re-aiming the fresnel. That would have been a moment worth having on film, I’m sure.

    Glad to know that you’re human like us.

    Though the fake fight with McNally – that’s priceless.

    1. Hi Travis: Yes, all too human and deeply flawed, but having fun. cheers, Bob

  12. Hi Bob,
    Have been following your blog for the past few months now. Wonderful stories and anecdotes. But my question is a bit out of topic with this blog entry. In some podcasts and articles, you mentioned your first contact with the yellow border was about a project on your backyard (NJ). did it turn into an article? do you remember which month and year it was? I wonder if i can find it online. I’m really curious. Sorry bout that. Thank you.

    1. Jasin: It was November 81. I hope you can’t find it online, it’s bad enough that they can sell it on DVD, as they never paid for those rights back in the day! Bob

      1. Hey, that’s when I was born! DVD, yea..who would’ve thought a beige box with 4kb of storage can change the world. And the closest thing to video was VHS. I guess by now you’ve put some clauses to future-proof your copyright&royalties. Things you learnt the hard way. Thanks Bob. I’ll try to look it up in libraries here in Sydney, AU.

        1. Okay, Jasin, don’t rub it in!:-). Back in those days, nobody anticipated the rights grabbing possibilities the internet would present….probably because nobody anticipated the internet! Bob

  13. It’s always about the light!

    What lens did you use? I’m assuming you used a DX body?

    1. Scott: yup, it was a D90 or possibly the D300, I forget. Wide lens, probably the 16-85, tripod…basic stuff. cheers,Bob

  14. You have made great use of the available light – I love the vivid colours and the overall atmosphere. You are very lucky to have had such a great vantage point 🙂

  15. Wow, a stunning image. And great story behind it. Yes, nice to have talented friends, for sure. Excellent work and post.

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