Highlights of Piazza Navona, Rome

Posted by on Oct 21, 2013 in Travel | 0 comments

Highlights of Piazza Navona, Rome

In a recent Travel Blog of mine on this site, I mentioned that I don’t often get opportunities to travel overseas, but after receiving an invitation to the Trierenberg Super Circuit Gala Awards night to pick up a Canon Gold Medal Award, the family and I decided to pack our bags and do a trip to Europe…

Canon 7D, Canon 15-85 Lens @ 31mm, 1/125 Sec, F5, ISO 100

Canon 7D, Canon 15-85 Lens @ 31mm, 1/125 Sec, F5, ISO 100

 

The first leg of our trip to Europe was to Rome, Italy.  After some suggestions from family we decided to base ourselves in the Piazza Navona area in Rome.  This in hindsight, was one of the best decisions we made from a location point of view.  We were able to access all of the major attractions by walking and exploring this intriguing part of the world.  The Piazza Navona is a great example of Roman Baroque architecture and art from the 1640-1660 era and lends itself to many great photo opportunities.

To one side of the Piazza is the Church of Sant’ Agnese Agone.  The  architecture in this building  was nothing short of breathtaking and steeped in history.  Listening to the church bells ringing really gave you the feeling that you were now in “The Holy City”.  The sky varied from sunny to overcast quite rapidly, so I needed to constantly adjust the settings for the varying light.  Even though there is some blue sky showing in the shot of the front of the church, the light was dim, partly due to the softer light found in Europe compared to the harsher light found here in Australia, so the ISO was set to 400 to enable a faster shutter speed.  Due to the large amount of tourists moving around the Piazza, all of them were jostling for the best positions…myself included!

 

Canon 7D, Canon 15-85 Lens @ 15mm, 1/250 Sec, F14, ISO 400

Canon 7D, Canon 15-85 Lens @ 15mm, 1/250 Sec, F14, ISO 400

 

Once inside, you could not help but just look up in wonder and be mesmerised by the beautiful detail of the design and painting of the interior walls and domed ceiling.  This church also has many statues which are all intricate in detail and tell the stories of years gone by.  It was very dim inside the church and there is no point in using flash for these types of scenes, the natural light works much better.  I just needed to find the best way to use the available dim lighting.  I preferred image quality over shutter speed in this case, so after some small experimenting, I found an ISO 200 gave me 1/80 sec shutter speed with the aperture wide open at f3.5.  With the Image Stabiliser turned on and keeping very steady, I was able to get a good shot at this speed.  A small amount of processing in Lightroom 4.3 finished off the image and I was happy with this result.  It is in these situations of “low-light” and a great scene where shooting in RAW really demonstrates the full benefits of control you can have over the final image exposure.

 

Canon 7D, Canon 15-85 Lens @ 15mm, 1/80 Sec, F3.5, ISO 200

Canon 7D, Canon 15-85 Lens @ 15mm, 1/80 Sec, F3.5, ISO 200

 

Situated in the center of the Piazza is the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of Four Rivers).  This is magnificent by day and stunning by night, and is at the centre of the festivities all day.  Due to the popularity of the fountain it is constantly surrounded by tourists, even at night, so I had to be patient and wait for a clear shot.  A tripod was used for this night shot as I was using a shutter speed of only 3.2 seconds, and Live-View was used to check the manual focusing.  I also set the aperture to f8 to try to get sharpness from the front of the fountain to the back.

 

Canon 7D, Canon 15-85 Lens @ 15mm, 3.2 Sec, F8, ISO 100

Canon 7D, Canon 15-85 Lens @ 15mm, 3.2 Sec, F8, ISO 100

 

The Piazza Navona area is also popular for the restaurants which surround the perimeter of this great location.  Many locals rely on the passing tourist trade to make their living, and do so with great passion.  It can be difficult at times to decide which restaurant you wish to try each night as there is so many!  The area also includes many Gelati stores as well, which of course Italy is renowned for, so we sampled some of these in between shooting photos…great way to spend a night!  Again a tripod was used due to the slow shutter speeds to let the camera sensor absorb all the available light.  Live-View was also used along with manual focus.

 

Canon 7D, Canon 15-85 Lens @ 28mm, 3.2 Sec, F8, ISO 100

Canon 7D, Canon 15-85 Lens @ 28mm, 3.2 Sec, F8, ISO 100

 

Another highlight and tourist attraction is the many artists displaying their paintings for sale.  In the background is the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of Four Rivers) with it’s Obelisk Column rising into the sky.

 

Canon 7D, Canon 15-85 Lens @ 17mm, 1/125 Sec, F10, ISO 100

Canon 7D, Canon 15-85 Lens @ 17mm, 1/125 Sec, F10, ISO 100

 

Many street performers also use the Piazza to show off their abilities.  We always gave them a few euro if I took their photo, and in return they would pose specifically for you.  The “Cowboy” in this shot is a “Living Statue” and it was amazing just how long he could stay still.  There is a real carnival like atmosphere when you visit, particularly as the street entertainers often captivate the audience with their talents, as anyone who donates money to them is encouraged to come forward and pose with them.  Because this performer is all black, I used a small amount of flash to light up his face and outfit to reveal the textures and it has worked quite well as the light was dim at this stage.

 

Canon 7D, Canon 15-85 Lens @ 57mm, 1/125 Sec, F5, ISO 100

Canon 7D, Canon 15-85 Lens @ 57mm, 1/125 Sec, F5, ISO 100

 

Check out this guy!

 

 

Canon 7D, Canon 15-85 Lens @ 63mm, 1/125 Sec, F8, ISO 200

Canon 7D, Canon 15-85 Lens @ 63mm, 1/125 Sec, F8, ISO 200

  I set a bit faster shutter speed here as I wanted to capture the facial expressions as the rider was catching the fire-sticks thrown at him by a “volunteer”.  I used the “Expansion Focus Point” mode on my 7D and set the central focus point on the rider’s face.  The ISO was set to 200 as the light was still a bit dim.

Canon 7D, Canon 15-85 Lens @ 50mm, 1/160 Sec, F5.6, ISO 200

Canon 7D, Canon 15-85 Lens @ 50mm, 1/160 Sec, F5.6, ISO 200

 

As we started to head back to our apartment, I grabbed one last shot to show the ancient square cobblestones used through-out the whole Piazza and connecting streets, and getting a nice silhouette/shadow image at the same time.

 

Canon 7D, Canon 15-85 Lens @ 16mm, 1/10 Sec, F3.5, ISO 400

Canon 7D, Canon 15-85 Lens @ 16mm, 1/10 Sec, F3.5, ISO 400

 

It would be impossible to show all of the spectacular moments we captured, but one thing was for sure, that as a family we were having a brilliant time exploring this great city!  We can highly recommend Piazza Navona if you ever are heading to Italy.  It is only walking distance to the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and St Peters Basillica, Vatican City.  The Colosseum is a long walk or just a short 10 minute bus trip.

 

Map - Piazza Navona, Rome

Map – Piazza Navona, Rome

 

Happy shooting from the OzLight Photo Adventures Team!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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