The Tower of Saint Vincent

Judy Hardiman Events Leave a Comment

Here is another backstory to one of my photographs in our “Journeys” show which runs until September 28, 2023 at the Marigold Cultural Centre in Truro, Nova Scotia.

Judy Hardiman
“The Tower of Saint Vincent”
Archival Print, Cotton Fine-Art Photo Rag
23” x 19” Framed

The Tower of Saint Vincent (also known as the Torre de Belém), the protector of the entranceway to Lisbon’s port, stands as tall and strong today as it did in the 16th Century.

Situated in the district of Belém, 6 km west of the centre of Lisbon, this UNESCO World Heritage fortress epitomizes the Age of Discoveries.

The tower gradually lost its role as a defence system; however, it continues to play an important role today helping to preserve Portugal’s cultural heritage.

These are the things that crossed my mind on March 06, 2020 when my husband, Jim, and I were visiting Lisbon.  Our plan, for the day, was to visit several sites around the city.  The tower was our first stop.  Jim and I decided to photograph the tower early, before the tourists arrived.  We also wanted to take advantage of the warm light on the tower as the sun was rising.

Once we arrived at the Tower of Saint Vincent, I began photographing it from various angles making sure to isolate the tower from the modern world surrounding it.  I did not want the present to interfere with or weaken the tower’s historical importance.  I also surveyed the site for interesting foregrounds, leading lines and I considered various compositions.

In the end, I decided to use the wooden walkway as my leading line to move the viewer’s eye towards the main entrance of the tower.  I continued shooting as the sun slowly rose waiting for the right balance of light and shadows to help showcase the tower’s form.

Later in post-processing, I tried to find a way to stylize the image in a dramatic and powerful way.  I wanted the tower to look commanding, majestic and formidable.  

I chose a dramatic blue tone to represent the tower’s strength and to symbolize the importance of the Tagus River which meets the Atlantic Ocean.  The same site where mariners arrived or departed Lisbon from Belém beach and also provided shelter from the strong Atlantic winds.

It is facts like these I find fascinating when I travel.  I love to learn about a country’s history and culture. I also enjoy photographing its incredible architecture and landscapes.  Reading about history is great but seeing it is even better.  Going home with a boatload of memorable images is just the icing on the cake.

This is another view of the tower showing some of the modern world around it.

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