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Wednesday
Nov072012

Photographing the Colosseum at Dusk

Before heading to Tuscany to teach the Autumn Arts Photo Workshop, I had a chance to stay in Rome for a few days.  Using the Photo Ephemeris, I was able to plan the shoot before arriving. In the screen shot below, the dark orange line indicates the direction of the sunset, while the precise time is indicated in the info on the right.  This type of advanced preparation can make all the difference when planning a landscape shoot.
 

I arrived near the Colosseum by cab shortly before sunset, and walked around to observe the grounds before taking any photos. Just before it is Palatine Hill with the Roman Forum ruins. I watched the sun disappear over these ruins but wasn't really pleased with the vantage point and decided to move closer to the base of this amazing structure. There in the beautiful arched windows, I could see hints of warm toned artificial light that would work perfectly for a dusk photo. I would have to wait about 45 minutes for the sky to darken.
©Copyright 2012 Chris Corradino Photography LLC   www.christography.com

As much of a hassle it was to pack and lug my tripod across the Atlantic, I sure was happy to have it at this moment. With a small aperture for great depth of field and a low ISO of 100, I needed shutter speeds between 5 and 10 seconds. The Colosseum seemed to leap from the dusk sky, brilliantly lit with deep vibrant reds and oranges. I took many frames from various angles including the classic view of the full structure, and then a more detailed view where I got down very low and pointed the camera upwards to purposely create a sense of perspective distortion with my wide angle 17-40mm lens. 


The crowds thinned dramatically, and the souvenir stands packed up for the night. I used the ten second timer and snapped a few "record shots" to include myself in the frame. Still, these were hardly necessary, as I will never forget my first experience in Ancient Rome. As I gazed through the open windows, I imagined being in Imperial Rome in 80 AD, listening to the roar of the 50,000 spectators who often filled this amphitheater. With everything that has taken place in the world since then, including earthquakes, wars, and other natural disasters, it's truly astounding for a structure this old to remain. The secret perhaps lies in in this famous 8th century quote: "Quamdiu stat Colisæus, stat et Roma; quando cadet colisæus, cadet et Roma; quando cadet Roma, cadet et mundus" (as long as the Colossus stands, so shall Rome; when the Colossus falls, Rome shall fall; when Rome falls, so falls the world).


© Copyright 2012 Chris Corradino Photography LLC   www.christography.com


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Reader Comments (4)

Beautiful shots and well worth lugging that tripod across the Atlantic. I love how they have ithe lighting set up sure worked out for you ! Gotta love the platinum sky colors.
November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDenise Wachter Jones
These are truly incredible! Beautiful job!
November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterIrma Furnish
Thanks, it was surreal to see this historic structure through my lens. Appreciate your input.
November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris
@Denise, they sell tiny tabletop tripods all over the city of Rome, but they are not really strong enough to steadily support a DSLR with a long exposure. Thankfully they make tripods with carbon fiber now as it's a bit lighter than the old aluminum monsters!
November 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris
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