How I photographed the Pope in Mexico city


I’m not religious, but when a celebrity like the Pope visits your city, it is a historical event. Even more so when it passes a block away from my house every day during his visit. So I took the lifetime opportunity of being nearby the big event for the mostly catholic country of Mexico, and went out to take some shots.


The key of taking photos in these types of situations is scouting your location beforehand. The Pope’s main routes were being published days before his arrival, so people would know which roads will be closed. Right there I knew he’ll be passing near my house every day. I went for a walk to checkout where would be the best spots to get the shot.


At events like this, you have to get there with lots of time. You never know how crowded the place will get, specially in Mexico city where everything is crowded all the time. Luckily since I was very close, I didn’t had to stand there for 3-4 hours beforehand. One and a half hours were good enough for me to get a good spot. I also brought a stool so I can stand above the crowd and get as much heads or hands out of the frame.


Another thing you’ll have to anticipate is the lighting. The Pope was going to pass at night, but the popemobile has lighting, so preparing my camera settings for night will over expose the photos. You only get one or two seconds to get your shot, so everything must be set up before the moment. I used the lights of some cops passing by before the main caravan to set my exposure.


I took the 70-200mm f2.8 with my Nikon D750. Set the focusing system to continuous focus, single point and set the aperture to 3.2 to get more focus range instead of using the 2.8 where I could miss my focus very easily, specially with a subject in a vehicle. I set the ISO to 6400 because of the lack of any light around. The street had very poor lighting so I would be depending entirely in the popemobile‘s lighting. I’m usually not comfortable shooting at that high ISO setting because my previous camera, the Nikon D7000 performed very bad at that setting, but the D750 handles it much better.


The next day he would pass very early in the morning and I got confident. I assumed that since it was a weekend and early morning, not many people would be there. I was wrong. I didn’t take my stool and I was late to get a good spot.


My other mistake was not taking into consideration the Pope’s white clothes. If you see the image, the other guys in black are exposed correctly, but the Pope is over exposed.


Not everything will be perfect, but I tried to rescue the images in post.



Goodbye Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens

Yesterday (Dec. 16, 2011) I read in the news that Christopher Hitchens passed away after a long struggle with cancer. Although I didn’t know the man personally, nor I’m familiar with all his journalistic work, his books, talks and speeches on atheism and against religion illustrated and influenced me a lot on recent years. I admired his courage and aggressiveness when attacking religion and defending reason. Some may criticize him for precisely this, because people don’t like to be confronted in such direct way.

The world will miss Christopher Hitchens because we need someone as aggressive as him, now more than ever, at these times when world leaders are getting more religiously fanatic than before. We have Richard Dawkins who is very sophisticated, logical and well, proffessor-like to teach about the bad things of religion, we have Penn Gillette who’s very charismatic, tolerant and quite intelligent to be non-confrontational when arguing the subject, but with Christopher’s passing, we now lack the passionate aggressive and straight to the point guy, a role very well filled by Hitchens and for that, he will never be forgotten.

I’d like to share some of my favorite quotes from him and a video of the best Hitchslap moments.

  • “One day a decent candidate for high office will say that he is not a person of faith, and the sky will not fall.”
  • “What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.”
  • “An argument that can be used to prove anything is open to the objection that it proves nothing.”
  • “Religion is man-made. Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or redeemers or gurus actually said or did”
  • “The bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not boud by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured, human mammals.”
  • “…great damage has been done, and continues to be done, by such (religious) people and by such (religious) ideas. You’re better off thinking for yourself and taking all the risks, and I might add all the pleasures that will come from that. The most overrated of the virtues is faith. The metaphysical claims of religion are untrue.”
  • “I am absolutely convinced that the main source of hatred in the world is religion and organized religion”
  • “religion poisons everything”