The story of Soaring Cupola photograph begins in 2009. That year I was spending my vacation in a beautiful Italian capital – Rome. Late at night as we were walking from Saint Angelo castle (Castel Sant’Angelo) in the darkness I was stunned by the beautiful view of the bridge and azur cupola of St. Peter’s basilica floating above the Tiber river. I could not resist and took a picture. The Rome nights in March chilly and I managed to take just a couple of shots before the wind pierced me. (You can notice the wind even on a long exposure photographs below.)
Since then I was planning to retake this shot in a more appropriate time to eliminate dark areas and high contrast.
5 years later in 2014 I finally found time to retake it. I came to the place to find that this composition doesn’t really work for me, doesn’t communicate my filling of the place. The sense of the depth was lost and there were some distracting elements. I found a new position which I liked more and started to wait for the perfect light, but that day light show was happening above my head – not above the selected subject. So I had to wait longer. When the lights were switched on clouds start organizing to an interesting structure. I was hopping that one of the clouds will emphasize structure of the cupola and this did happen. I like how background clouds are separated behind the cupola on the final shot.
I spent around 1.5 hour in my ambush on the bridge, talking with tourists and Pakistani guys selling souvenirs. I had a nice time patiently waiting for the shot.
You can buy a print here or contact me if you are interested in photo modification/raw format.
If you like the subject, but not really happy about the light on the subject – use light painting.
This chapel is on my usual stroll route. I have passed it so many times, but never could get a good light on it. Finally I decided to create my own picture of this place and put the mood which was almost from the first time when I saw it. I would like to create a mystical filling.
Сomparison of long exposure photograph with the final result of artificial lighting you can see here:
I think the long exposure photograph (before) looks flat. Everything is equally lit. Glass gives a reflection and hides the beautiful statue inside of the chapel. Using light painting technology we can create a picture which we visualized. Here you see the chapel how I saw it in my head.
There are 2 kind of light painting: single frame with long exposure and composite.
The goal of first type is to get final photograph directly in camera. Such pictures used by medias which doesn’t allow photo manipulations, like National Geographic. Usually exposure starts from couple of minutes and so on. There are 2 types of light source could be used: continues and flash lights. Bare flash is used rarely. Usually it is covered by some light modifiers: gobo or/and greed. Main challenge during exposure is to prevent having a light source in the frame. This technology is complex and requires strong skills, planning and time, but it pays off by its value and experience.
The simpler method is a composite. Composite requires many shots with different parts of subject lit, then all the frames a composed in editor. I have used this method to create this picture. I have spent around 1 hour to get the right lighting on all parts and then used Photoshop to combine them. Totally I shot around 50 frames.