Sunday, June 5, 2011

Notes from Rome

Spanish Steps


Day 1 (May 19, 2011): Check into our apartment near Piazza del Popolo, get groceries, eat pizza at 06 Cafe, visit Spanish Steps.
Day 2: Castel Sant'Angelo, Vatican Museum
Day 3: Colosseum, Palatine Hill, Roman Forum, night pictures along Tiber
Day 4: Bike ride along the Appia Antia
Day 5: Basilica San Giacomo, Pantheon, Piazza Nuova, Villa Borghese
Day 6: Ostia Antica


Canon 5D
Canon 24-105/4 L IS USM
Canon 50/1.8
Canon S95 (amazing P&S, BTW)
Canon SD800 (knock-around/backup)
Slik Mini-Pro V tripod
Kelty Basalt backpack
Think Tank Chimp Cage
Think Tank Pee Wee Pixel Pocket Rocket
Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket


Photographic fulfillment can be an illusory beast. While Rome was very personally rewarding, the 10 pictures I took at the Suburban Airport seem more photographically rewarding than all the 450-ish pictures I took in Rome. As a photographer, it's difficult to separate personal fulfillment from photographic fulfillment. If being a visitor automatically makes you a tourist, then how does one find photographic fulfillment in a sea of tourist photography?

Some would say that it's a film vs. digital thing; that shooting film forces you to slow down and take more care on when and how to shoot. To some extent I agree, but there are other, more important factors to consider.

If you are traveling with others, you have to put the group's priorities first. If the group's priority is not photography, then you're simply going to have to make due with the time and place as is. Waiting for the Light does not apply.


So this begs the question, should one bother lugging a DSLR if there's a high probability that most of the photos are going to be of the tourist variety? I'm still not sure. While there's no question that the quality of the photos coming out of the DSLR are going to be higher, there's a lot to be said for lightening your load.

Tiber Night

It really comes back to personal priorities. If you just want to take pictures for the memories, then a point-and-shoot will certainly do the trick. If you're going for more of a photo journalistic approach, then a DSLR and a solid general zoom is probably your best bet. If you want to play Henri Cartier-Bresson, then take a rangefinder with one good prime. And if you want to get all lomographic and artsy, then take a toy camera.

I tend to lean toward the photo journalistic approach, which is why I took the 5D and 24-105/4 as my primary camera. It's a solid combination that's going to reliably come away with good pictures. In other words, it was the safe option. Can great art come from playing it safe though? Is the safe option always the boring option?

I do wish I'd taken a wider lens though. The 17-40/4 would have been great for capturing the immense art and architecture. Whether I should have taken the Xpan is still debatable. I certainly wouldn't have wanted to waste a bunch of film taking tourist photos, but it's hard to shake that romantic Xpan in Rome ideal.

In the end, it's best to be thankful to be on this Earth; even more so if you have a camera in your hand.