A trip eight years in the making. Yes, eight years. My first ever trip abroad with my wife was when we visited Paris in May 2010, and we quickly decided that our next city break would be Rome. Our full intention was to visit Rome in the spring of 2011, but then became distracted with the idea of visiting Venice, and went ahead with that plan. Never mind, we thought, we can always visit Rome in the autumn or next spring, and then six more years went by of making excuses, distractions and putting off Rome for another year. Finally, this year we said we are doing it.
Life happens like that I believe though. Everything happens when it is meant to. From a photography perspective, I am very happy I visited Rome now and not all those years ago. My knowledge and tools of photography have all greatly improved since then, and I put as much of that knowledge and tools into this trip as I could.
It is an understatement, but Rome is a very special city. It is perhaps the greatest city that has ever existed. We certainly owe a huge debt in the West to Rome, for all of its wisdom, ingenuity and technology that have been expanded upon through the ages. From the polytheistic nature of the ancient Romans, to becoming the centre of the Catholic church, Rome is a mixture of culture, history and legend.
To cover all there is in a three day extended weekend trip is ambitious and ridiculous. There are many things I would like to go back and see, that I missed on this occasion. It’s easy to look on a map of Rome and think, ‘we’ll see this then, go to there, see that, and we’ll have plenty of time for this’, but it doesn’t work out like that. Everywhere takes longer to walk than is first imagined, and it cannot be underestimated how long you will want to stay in certain places. They are so magical, that it becomes a shame to leave and move onto the next location.
All that I did see, I will not try to cover in this blog post, but will try to recount as much as possible over the several blog posts that will make up my story of Rome. If you follow me on Twitter (and if you don’t – @petehalewood) I will be posting a picture of Rome every day for the next 60 days. The best pictures I will be writing about (starting today) in ascending Roman numerals, because it seems like a quirky and fun thing to do.
The Basilica Bridge at Night
Every year of my photographic life, I have always wanted to become more of a ‘people’ photographer. I know they are meant to make more interesting pictures, but when I go out with my camera, I always find myself being drawn back to what I usually photograph, which is architecture and landscapes. I guess it’s just what I am meant to do. I’ve seen many pictures of this bridge leading towards St. Peter’s Basilica and the surrounding area, but it’s the timing that offers the chance for originality and mood. I had already pictured this during the day, and they are ok for a travel book kind of look, but walking back this night presented another chance to picture this scene.
I did not bring a tripod with me for this trip. As much as I love photography, it was neither practical, nor the right thing to do. Of course, if it had just been a photography trip, then that would have been ok, but these three days were for me and my wife to enjoy being in one of the greatest cities in the world. I’m bad enough as it is asking to stay a little longer in some areas to take more pictures, but with a tripod, I would be a complete nightmare.
Luckily though, the environment can provide its own opportunities for photographic stability. This picture was taken from another bridge (the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II for travel enthusiasts) along the river Tiber, and was therefore able to keep my camera and 28-300mm lens completely stable for the long exposure shot that this picture required.
Like a good old HDR, it is actually made up of 5 exposures, but then 50% mixed with the original longest exposure. I don’t pretend I am not an HDR photographer; I am a 100% signed up devotee, but I am trying to make the HDR process more realistic these days, and only part of the final image. I spend plenty more time in photoshop trying to get the right ‘look’, generally using colour lookup tables, and then dodging and burning (if you don’t know photoshop, I just spoke gibberish to you).
I always knew this would be one of the first images I wanted to post, but there are plenty more to come. Despite obviously not being a people photographer, I have some variety to my Rome output. There are people pictures, landscape, architecture, paintings and smaller detail shots to name just a few of the different images I have from Rome. I will blog the best pictures as I said, but also remember to catch a picture of Rome every day for the next sixty days on Twitter.