Hopefully you will have noticed that for the last week I have been posting photographs from a trip to Rome that I did in 2004. The postings have been part of my POTD (Photo of the Day) series where I am posting an image that I took on that day exactly a number of day previously.
You may have noticed a lot of comments about the weather in the Rome series of images. That is because we had the worst possible weather for travel photography rain and when it wasn’t raining flat white skies. But it wasn’t all bad news. On my return I wrote a feature about photography when the weather turns bad which was published in Practical Photography magazine. Here is that article:
Rome had more rain on my first day there, than it should have had all month. This was followed by more rain and dull grey skies. A good travel photograph should make the viewer want to go and see the place for themselves. It is very difficult to evoke that kind of response if the photograph shows dull grey skies.
If the sky is dull and boring, frame your photograph to eliminate it. Go for details or keep the top of the frame below the line of the horizon.
For location portraits, the even, flat light that you get on dull days makes for an attractive picture. But take care: grey sky can easily creep into a shot. In the photograph in the colonnade at Piazza San Pietro, had I taken it two paces to the right, the white sky would have been visible between the columns. This shot also illustrates another useful tip – a little dash of red in a photograph always helps to brighten up a dull scene.
It isn’t always possible to remove the sky completely from a photograph. At such times filters can rescue an uninspiring image. Photographers know the importance of a neutral density graduate (ND grad) filter. Replacing the ND grad with a coloured graduate not only prevents the overexposure of the clouds but adds interest to an otherwise uninteresting sky.
Dusk is the time for ‘night’ shots. The aim is to try to take the shot at the time when the illumination from any flood lights matches the residual illumination from the sun that has just gone over the horizon. When taking night shots at this time of day, even if the sky has been grey all day, over a 20-30 second exposure it tends to appear blue on the final image!
In the rain, look for brightly coloured umbrellas to add a splash of colour and provide vivid contrast to the grey surrounds. A reflection of a well known monument in a puddle can give an unusual and sometime surreal view of a sight that is taken for granted.
It’s a very rare trip when you won’t get any good weather. Decide in advance which shots are important to you. There may only be a couple of hours of sunshine and blue sky, you don’t want to waste it deciding what you want to photograph.
And a final thought – unless you are a pro travel photographer it doesn’t really matter if you don’t come back with rolls of marketable photographs. Whatever you take will remind you of your trip, so “Chill out! Relax. This is supposed to be a holiday!”
Post Script: In the years that followed this trip I had more stock sales from the Rome trip than from any other. The trip has more than paid for itself. I put this down to the fact that I was forced to think creatively when getting my photographs and as a result I have perhaps a different take on Rome to the standard travel images that everyone else produces.
A larger selection of my images from Rome can be found here: http://photos.imb.biz/travel/country/italy/rome