Trip to Rome, Italy

When you have 2 children under 2 years old, european city trips aren"t really on the agenda! However, this was a rare treat for myself and my wife and we even managed to persuade the grandparents to babysit. However, this wasn"t meant to be a photo trip but a relaxing holiday so I was constantly torn between having a much needed lay-in or getting up for the morning light. After 2 years of early mornings the bed won over the camera! But as the mini journal will show photographic opportunities in Rome are in abundance.

Lowry people, St Peter

The walk up to the dome of St Peter"s Basilica is well worth the effort. The view over the city is breathtaking and there is an opportunity for photos from different angles like "Lowry People" above. We had a fair amount of cloud during this day and I waited for the sun as this shot needed the shadows cast by "miniature" people.

Colour contrasts, St Peter

My favorite photographic places in Rome

It is difficult to name a my top 5 or 10 places as Rome itself is full of photographic opportunity, so I though it best to list them as types of photography as well as places.

All the side streets - this is a must! - just turn of any main street and you will find an abundance of potential from candid shots of the locals to shadows cast by the shutters and street lamps. One of the best areas for this is Trasterver (also try the area near the Pantheon).

Plant pots and light, Rome

St Peters Square - although it is obvious, this really is a must. Go there at all times of the day as you will find it changes drastically as the light changes.

Moon shines on the righteous, Saint status in St Peter"s Square, Rome

This is one of my favorite images from the trip. It is actually a landscape crop from a portrait image that included the pavement in the square. I think this is a much stronger image than the one I had originally imagined. I love the shapes of the Saint statues against the "black" sky. We were lucky to visit when the moon was around at sunset.

The Pantheon - this was a missed opportunity for me, the unusual design of the roof with a massive opening creates amazing light.

2000 year old roof light, The Pantheon, Rome

Although this isn"t a great photo it shows the amazing amount of detail that is recorded in the Shadows on a D200. I exposed for the sky in the photo and I all I have done in this photo is boasted the shadow detail. Below is the photo as shot and with the shadow detail boasted.

The Tiber River - Walk down the Tiber River at night as you get great reflections. As with all the parts of Rome we visited we found it to be safe.

Night scene, Rome

We sat by the river on our final night for 2 hours waiting for the sun to set and the lights to appear on St Peter"s Basilica. Top tip - go to Cavour bridge to get this view which allows you to include the Caste S. Angelo in the shot as well. Even better go to the roadside stall on LTV Marzio and get a beer whilst you wait. The owner is very friendly and as many of the Italians we met.

Top tips for photos in rome

  • Take a beanbag
  • Don"t head straight for the Coliseum for night shots - there are plenty of better places. I had seen a shot on National Geographic of the Coliseum at night with car trails (include link!). This shot would now be impossible as where the cars are is now only for pedestrians.
  • Spend time at one place watching how the light and crowds changes
  • Don"t worry about taking cameras into the many churches and other buildings. You will be able to use them in most places. Often flash is banned - but to be honest you will never get a good interior shot with a flash as they are vast!

The onlooker, Vatican Museums

The staircase on the exit of the Vatican museum is well worth photographing. I took over 100 images of the people on the stairs and only got 1 that I was happy with. I like this photo as I think the single figure standing still combined with the movement of the others looks very powerful.

What I took on my Rome trip (In the bag)

Before I went to Rome I read a lot about the problems using tripods in Rome and decided to take a compact tripod. I have to say that I didn't use a tripod for 80% of my photos as a lot of them were street style photography. When I did use a tripod I never had any problems and this included setting it up in the middle of St Peter's Square, outside the Coliseum and by the river. Obviously you can"t use a tripod in any of the museums or churches which is a problem if you want to take great interior shots. I still managed to get some great shots indoors - but in hindsight wish I had taken a beanbag.

  • Nikon D200
  • Nikon 70-200 f2.8
  • Nikon 17-55 f2.8
  • Mini tripod
  • Lee 0.6 ND filter
  • Hoya Pro 1 Polariser filter

I decided not to take my SB800 flash and wasn't disappointed - I didn't find any real need for a flash on the trip.