Vatican Night

This is the third in a series of photos made of the Vatican, from Rome’s Ponte Umberto I, down the Tiber River and across the Ponte Sant’Angelo.

After staking out a good vantage point , I stayed in place from golden hour, through the sunset and into the late blue hour, when this shot was made. As can be seen a single composition can deliver very different results with the changing light.

This image shows about the point in the late blue hour where I normally call it quits. The darks of foliage are really blacks.

In this case, the golden hue from the lights contrasts nicely with the blues of the water and sky, with wonderful reflections on the river.

The point is, work a scene. Don’t quit too soon and take your time to get a range of images.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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  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! 

Sunset Silhouette

Sunset Silhouette by Des Paroz on 500px.com

I like a good silhouette, but find this type of photography to be challenging. I think that’s because there needs to be a healthy balance between light and shadow (balanced light), strong features, colour and negative space.

After making some sunset photos on the beach during our first evening in the beautiful Amalfi Coast town of Positano, I noticed this group of people down towards the water’s edge. I moved to frame the main group with the sea behind them, and with the strong orange colours in the background.

I then waited to get some interesting poses, taking multiple exposures as the group moved around and enjoyed the beach.

In the off season (we visited late November) there are few crowds, so finding enough people while leaving plenty of negative space wasn’t too challenging. Had there been larger crowds I would have to have framed the image differently.

The strong contrast between light and dark was still a factor, even after sunset, so I made use of a 2 stop GND to manage the colour balance.

With this the shutter speed was still quite fast at 1/50th, so getting a sharp exposure wasn’t too challenging. The use of tripod still helped.

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East from Positano

East from Positano by Des Paroz on 500px.com

The classic view of Positano is from the outlook at the eastern end of the township, near the Sponda bus-stop. This view is very oft the first stop for photographers visiting Positano1.

This is exactly why its a good idea to sometimes shoot the opposite view, so after watching Elia Locardi‘s Photographing the World part 3 I decided to set out to find the overlook Elia used for an alternative blue hour location.

This location looks eastward, so I shot it at both sunrise and sunset. Interestingly I really found the location to be better suited to sunset, perhaps a bit surprising, but the blue hour from this location was quite spectacular.

For me, the clear blue sky in this image works beautifully with the lights of the town. Visiting Positano in the low season had many advantages, but there were far fewer lights coming on. Its possible that in high season there might actually be too much ambient light, so it would be interesting to see a comparison.

This location was perfect for framing the dome of the church in such a way that it has clear sea behind.

Tracking this location down was a good opportunity to get an insight into the thinking of a photographer like Elia. It was simultaneously a chance to learn scouting techniques, while exploring and being rewarded with a good photo location.

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Positano Blue

Positano Blue by Des Paroz on 500px.com

Positano on Italy’s Amalfi Coast is a spectacularly stunning township, rising up from the sea into the heights of the surrounding mountains.

We visited in late Autumn, the low season for tourism, and we loved the fact that we could truly explore the coast, and the whole township without having to battle any crowds whatsoever.

This image was made during the blue hour, shortly after sunset. Being winter sunset was quite early (4:39pm), and the blue ‘hour’ quite short – about half an hour.

This short window meant that we had to scout1 early, then come back and setup early. Even though it was off season, there were some other photographers around and there are limited vantage points due to the cliff edges and narrow footpaths.

Positano is a wonderful place for photographers and non-photographers who want to explore a stunning coastline.

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Photo Posting

I’ve been a bit slack (not the first time) in regularly posting photos. Our recent Italy trip produced a lot of images, and I still have a few more I want to share from our Singapore trip earlier this year. So with some luck there should be some more regular posting of photos.


  1. I intend to do a post on scouting locations while having limited time on a vacation. Without giving too much away I highly recommend Elia Locardi’s Photographing the World Vol 3 for some tips on location scouting.