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Castel and Bridge

Castel and Bridge

Castel Sant’Angelo represents the uniqueness of old old Rome.

Built originally as a mausoleum by Emperor Hadrian in around 123-139CE, the complex was later used as a Papal residence and fortress and then a prison. It is still in use today as a museum and tourist attraction.

In researching Rome photography using 500px, Flickr and the Modern Atlas app I realised that Castel Sant’Angelo would present a range of shooting opportunities. This was backed up in Elia Locardi’s Photographing the World Part 3 tutorials that utilised this site as one of the featured shots for a tutorial.

My preferred image is with the bridge on the left (Bridge of Angels), and drawing the eye left to right to the Castel.

In some respects the featured image on this post gives more prominence to the castle, and the starbursts of the lights on the bridge work well in this composition. So it was worth shooting from several different angles.

20171126 Bridge to CastelAnother angle, the smaller one to the right, shows the bridge in full daylight, with people crossing the old bridge between the castle and the city.

For me telling the story of a photographic subject is an important part of the experience. And it gives you a better chance of getting a unique image.

Please visit my Italy 2017 Photo Gallery.

View this image on 500px or Flickr

Pantheon Blue

Pantheon Blue

Even with a fairly featureless sky, blue hour is the best time of day to shoot for the clear, balanced light, and for the lack of crowds.

To get this image in frame required setting my tripod up on the fountain in the piazza in front of the Pantheon, using a wide angle lens. I accepted the bit of lens distortion, but found that I framed it too tightly to straighten the image up ‘in post’, but I am very happy with the image nonetheless.

21071130 Pantheon ScaleI love the cool light of the sky and the warm light of the illumination of this 2 thousand year old religious structure. Ironically, the lights were turned off moments after this image, changing the look altogether.

The second image, without illumination has my wife standing at the base of the columns. This gives some perspective on the engineering awesomeness of this structure.

20171125 Pantheon PiazzaIn the daytime there are many crowds around the Pantheon, with horse buggies and other street vendors. Daylight and crowds lead to very different shooting.

Visit my Italy 2017 photo gallery.

View this image on 500px or Flickr

Colosseum

Colosseum

Merry Christmas

Wishing visitors a very Merry Christmas. Have a safe and happy holiday.

Colosseum

The Colosseum is such a large and important part of both the history of the Roman Empire and the City of Rome that it is actually hard to write something new and interesting about it.

Photographically, any trip to Rome really needs to include an early morning or late afternoon flight. Not only is this to allow the best chance of getting good light, but also to catch the place when the crowds are minimal.

In this case we made images at the Roman Forum at Sunrise, and the went directly to the Colosseum. The crowds were far smaller than in the middle of the day, but it is almost impossible to shoot without people in the image.

We visited in late November, perhaps one of the quietest times of year, but there were still lots of people about.

In this case, I considered deleting some of the people in post, but decided that the people visiting the place is part of the Colosseum story.

After these images, we went for some breakfast before touring this wonderful structure. I remain blown away by the sheer amount of history this place represents, starting in the Roman era, moving through the early Christian Church and into the modern era.

It is a truly impressive structure, and the engineers of the Roman Empire must have been outstanding, and you could only imagine what they might have been able to achieve if they had modern technology to support their construction.

View the Italy 2017 image gallery.

View this image on 500px or Flickr

Vatican Sunset

Vatican Sunset

After staking out a good vantage point on Rome’s Ponte Umberto I, I stayed there from the late afternoon (golden hour), through the sunset and into the blue hour. The exact same composition can deliver a range of different images.

In this image shot in late November, the evening progressed and the river smoothed out, providing stunning reflections of the Vatican and early Winter sky.

I watched as small boat rowed down the river. Knowing that the water’s smooth surface and the reflections would soon be disturbed I worked timing to take an image with the boat approaching the reflection.

View this image on 500px or Flickr

The Roman Forum

The Roman Forum

Rome is full of history, most of it within an easy walk of the centre of the city.

A friend once said something to me along the lines of:

For Europeans 200km is a long distance, and for Australians 200 years is a lot of history.

There is a lot of truth to this, as any building in Australia that is 200 years old is likely to be a heritage building. In Europe there are many buildings many centuries old still in daily use, and real heritage can be found in sites like the Roman Forum, which dates back for more than 2,000 years.

We sought out a spot that is commonly referred to as the Forum Lookout, but found on scouting that there was a lot of scaffolding in place as key features are being cared for.

20171126 Roman ScaffoldingSo I came back to shoot a sunrise, carefully setting up to avoid the scaffolding and taking in a broad view of the Roman Forum.

We also arrived quite a bit before sunrise, and after setting up the illumination lights were turned off. An HDR image was the best option here to bring out the most in this image.

Scouting and perspective are important, and with a bit of thought a decent image can be made.

View this image on 500px or Flickr

Lateran Obelisk & Aqueduct House

Lateran Obelisk & Aqueduct House

Lateran Obelisk

The Lateran Obelisk is the largest standing Egyptian Obelisk in the world, and stands prominently in a piazza in Rome, not far from the Colosseum.

We kind of stumbled across this monument after visiting some basilicas in the area. I took a look at the Modern Atlas iOS app and found mention of the obelisk, so we wandered over for a look.

In a busy piazza it would’ve been very easy to snap a couple of shots with one of the surrounding buildings in the direct background of the obelisk. I took a few minutes to find a vantage where I could frame the structure with sky behind.

Because it was the middle of the day, I had to adjust my bottom crop to cut out the traffic and people out, with a quick bit of tidying up in post.

Aqueduct House

Aqueduct House by Des Paroz on 500px.com

Adjacent to the Lateran Obelisk are various sections of the old Roman Aqueduct system.

Each section has been built into surrounding buildings, like this piece which has several houses built in and around it.

The Aqueduct will likely stay in place for as long as the surrounding buildings remain there — and vice versa.

Bridge of Angels

Bridge of Angels

Bridge of Angels by Des Paroz on 500px.com

One of the amazing things, at least to me about Rome is that so many centuries old buildings and structures remain in use today.

A great example of this is Ponte Sant’Angelo — a bridge built in 134CE, and still used today as a main pedestrian thoroughfare. Distinguished by its 10 angels, the CBD of Rome lies on one side and the Castel Sant’Angelo lies on the other.

I created images of Ponte Sant’Angelo on two separate nights, and preferred this angle with the bridge on the left, drawing the eye left-to-right into the castle. Beautiful reflections and the star burst patters made for an image that I really like.

I’d love to have had more drama in the sky, but happy with the overall result as it stands.

View this image on 500px or Flickr

Vatican Afternoon

Vatican Afternoon

Vatican Afternoon by Des Paroz on 500px.com

Rome, the eternal city, is an amazing place for photography. The thing about the capital city of Italy is that it a beautiful mix of the old and the new. Buildings that are hundreds, even thousands, of years old are still in daily use in a city that is also a modern world capital.

There are so many landmarks in Rome, but a great starting point for photography has to be the Vatican view along the Tiber River from Ponte Umberto I.

This magic view allows a composition with the Vatican on one of the ‘rule of thirds’ intersections, the Tiber River as a strong foreground feature and the Ponte Sant’Angelo and the sky framing the Vatican. In the evening the sun sets at the rear of the image, and the autumnal colours in this image really provide a balance to the greys of the architecture.

After our week on the Amalfi Coast, Ponte Umberto I was our first stop for sunset photography in Rome. This image was made before the sunset and contrasts well with a blue hour image made from the same position.

View this image on 500px or Flickr

Waking Up in Positano

Waking Up in Positano

Wakin Up in Positano by Des Paroz on 500px.com

After a successful shoot in the blue hour from the eastern overlook of Positano, I decided to go back to the same location for sunrise photos the next morning.

The early backlighting from the sun behind cast a really nice light over the township, lighting the surrounding mountains up with a beautiful golden hue, and bringing out the details in the various pastel coloured buildings built up and down the town’s hills.

This differentials of colours were accentuated with the use of a Lee Filters GND filter and polarising filter, with some slight enhancement done in my favourite photo editing software, Luminar.

Lesson here, even when you have a good shot from a location don’t be afraid to go back at different times to really explore the location and the image possibilities.

View this image on 500px1 or Flickr


  1. As a matter of interest, this is the 100th image I’ve posted to 500px. 
Atrani by Night

Atrani by Night

Atrani by Night by Des Paroz on 500px.com

One of the many gorgeous townships on Italy’s Amalfi Coast is Atrani, a village literally 10 minutes by foot from Amalfi.

Atrani is a pretty town cutting into another gap in the coastal mountain range, quickly rising up from sea level to the heights above.

Our day trip to Amalfi and Atrani (from our base at Positano) was literally from morning until about 6:30pm. With the early sunset in our low season visit this was actually plenty of time.

After arriving in Amalfi we walked straight to Atrani to find a shooting spot1. We found this spot, and then walked back to Amalfi for a visit to the Basilica, some lunch2 and a visit to the paper mill. We then walked back to Atrani to shoot sunset and blue hour, before walking back once more to Amalfi to catch the bus.

So we had a pleasant day of exploration, and getting the scouting out of the way early, using tools like The Photographer’s Ephemeris to plan sun angles, meant we could relax and take our time.

Travel photography is about exploring, but it is also about relaxing. Good planning and preparation allows you to do both!

View this image on 500px or Flickr


  1. Part of the inspiration to shoot Atrani came from Elia Locardi’s Photographing the World Part 3. We could not shoot from the same spot he did, as it was from his accommodation. I was pretty happy with what we found. 
  2. Had lunch at a great Japanese fusion restaurant called Shabu. Recommend it highly! 
Cobblestone Passageway

Cobblestone Passageway

20171121 Cobblestone Passage

Positano in the low season is marked by low numbers of tourists, and with many of the hotel, restaurant and retail workers being employed seasonally, the township is very quiet.

There are many opportunities to explore the streets, alleys and stairways without the crowds, and much of the time there are opportunities to make photos without any people at all—let alone crowds.

This image was made walking back up from the beach after a Positano sunrise photo session. This is one of the main alleyways between the Piazza dei Mulini and the beach. We walked up and down this alley each day, and most of the time had it to ourselves.

View Cobblestone Passageway on 500px or Flickr

Visiting in the off season.

20171121 Positano Low RoadWith the streets being few, and the footpaths fewer, the low volume of traffic on the road was welcome. It gave a great opportunity to explore, to stop and take in the view and to make photographs as was wandered up and down the Positano township.

Pros

  • Less crowds
  • Beautifully deserted laneway and streets
  • Easier to meander and explore
  • Not rushed (Suits the Italian pace of life)
  • Traffic slightly less crazy
  • Less jockeying for photography hotspots

Cons

20171123 Quiet Streets in the Positano Low Season* Less choice for accommodation and restaurants
* Limited ferry and boat services
* Some shops closed
* Not swimming weather (although the water temperature was nice)
* Fewer lights for blue hour city scape shots (although too many lights may have been overpowering).

We considered there to be many pros and just a few cons to visiting in the low season.

Positano Sunrise

Positano Sunrise

Positano Sunrise by Des Paroz on 500px.com

Apart from the lack of crowds, one of the distinctive things about low season in Positano is that the days are quite short.

As the late, great photographer, Galen Rowell, once said:

“You only get one sunrise and one sunset a day, and you only get so many days on the planet. A good photographer does the math and doesn’t waste either.”

But it does make it easier when the sunrises and sunsets are at pleasant hours of the day. There are no excuses!

Standing on the western end of the main Positano beach, you look eastward down the Amalfi Coast to catch the sunrise. The clouds only accentuate the beautiful colours of the sky in the sunrise.

A 3 stop GND and a relatively slow shutter speed meant that a tripod was an important part of ensuring a sharp image.

View this image on 500px or Flickr