Photo Exploration: Piazza Navona at Night

A long week in Rome offers many oppor­tu­ni­ties for pho­tog­ra­phy. How­ev­er, it was on our last night that I took this image for part of the Pho­to Explo­ration series.

This was with a Canon 5Dmk2, 24–70mm f/2.8L lens. Tak­en at 24mm and cropped to cut out some of the peo­ple mean­der­ing in front of me. 30 sec­onds at f/9.0, ISO 200.

I want­ed to mix the dynam­ic of the archi­tec­ture and sculp­ture with­out the dis­trac­tion of day­time light­ing and shad­ows. At night the ambi­ent light will be often be enough that any par­tic­u­lar light source will, unless it is direct­ly in the frame, have neg­li­gi­ble impact on the scene. Thus, in a long expo­sure such as this, one can get even light­ing across larg­er swaths of space than would nor­mal­ly be avail­able in daylight.

The con­trast of the organ­ic flow of the Berni­ni sculp­ture with the straight and pre­cise lines from the Sant’ Agnese in Agone church embod­ied Rome for me. A city built upon (and upon, and upon) itself with occa­sion­al attempts to impose order on the nat­ur­al chaos. A micro­cosm of the world, you could say.

The tem­per­a­ture of the scene was deter­mined by the piaz­za lights and I kept them as shot. Shoot­ing RAW does allow for greater lat­i­tude with adjust­ing that lat­er, but in the spir­it of “as I remem­ber it” the col­or temp was kept as is. It could have been cooled down to give more of a day­light feel, but los­ing the night long expo­sure effect did not add to the photography. I did not have a way to do a longer than 30 sec­ond expo­sure, but if I had then I think I would have shot longer. The cloud move­ment is sub­stan­tial but not as creamy as I would have hoped.

Over­all, I am pleased with this pho­to and I great­ly enjoy­ing long expo­sures more and more often!