The Roman Colosseum is one of those sights in Rome that all tourists plan to see. But the reality for most tourists, is that it probably won't measure up to expectations.
A visit to the Roman Colosseum during the tourist season is likely to be an exercise in frustration; you will be one of thousands in a thick crowd of slow moving tourists. Also, since the Colosseum is being "cleaned and restored", much of the exterior of the building is obscured by scaffolding, and the interior, which has suffered from the ravages of time, is largely missing. There are far better preserved coliseums in the world, such as those in Arles and Nimes in southern France if you want to see a "working" coliseum.
So the challenge I faced was how could I photograph the Roman Colosseum so that it retained some of it's grandeur and mystery? I knew that it was floodlit at night so that was a possibility worth checking out. The fact that there is a metro station near by makes it even convenient. However, the evening is also a good time to enjoy a glass of wine at a sidewalk cafe and an opportunity to relax from the day, so it was easy to put off. By the time our second-last day in Rome arrived, I knew I would have to give it a try if it was going to happen at all, so we headed down to the Colosseum at dusk.
As many city dwellers know, the character of a city often changes when the sun sets and Rome is no different. In the Colosseum area, most of the tourists were gone, to be replaced by groups of Romans out for a stroll, kids playing, and many others just hanging around chilling out. We walked around looking for a good vantage point to shoot from, a place without trees or something blocking the view. A near-by grassy hill in a park looked like it had potential, but when I started to set up my photography gear we noticed a number of sketchy-looking people had started to drift in around us in the dark. I quickly shot off a few images and we moved to a better lit and more friendly area.
I shot several sets of panoramas, each 3 to 6 shots. These were existing light images of course, so I was shooting at fairly high ISO values, between ISO 2500 and ISO 6400. In an attempt to freeze the distant pedestrians I set the shutter speed at 1/50 of a second while the aperture was set at f/4 to reduce fringing on my Sony RX1. I used a monopod to support the camera.
Back at home I merged the pictures using Photoshop, adjusted for distortion, converted the image to black & white using Nik Software's Silver Effects Pro, opened up the shadows with a curve adjustment, and added some contrast and sharpening to create the image above.
The Colosseum is much more interesting at night than in the daytime, and I think this image captures some of the night-time atmosphere. This image is now available for sale as a fine art print here.
|Camera & Lens:||Sony DSC-RX1 with Zeiss 35 mm f/2|
|Exposure Comp:||+0.3 stops|