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.
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Many times I’ve been asked – What to photograph in the middle of the day or how to use the harsh day light.
I think many of us were trapped by the harsh light in the middle of the day during a travel. Same happened to me in Rome, when I was enjoying a walk to an evening location, which I have selected couple days before. The sun was still above my head and light was quite harsh. Passing Fountana di Trevi I noticed how beautifully the light was falling on one of a figures.
The scene reminded me of baroque paintings tecnique with the main characters advancing from a dark background. Actually the figures of the fountain were created in the baroque period and the fountain is the largest baroque fountain in the city.
So, I had a baroque figure and a baroque light, I only had to find a composition which would work.
There are following elements which make the picture work for me:
Rhythm in shadows and highlights
Diagonal rising composition
I believe this is a good example on how even the harsh light can assist in bringing out a special character of a picture.
Firework photography is not a trivial task from technical and aesthetic point of views. Shutter speed must be selected so the flower of firework was pleasing and reflecting motion. The problem that during fireworks photographer doesn’t have a lot of time to play with camera settings.