Missed Photo Opportunities And Staying Focused

The Castel Sant'Angelo At Dawn

Rome. I can measure the difference between a keeper and two good shots. It's 3 minutes.

If I'd started my walk 3 minutes earlier, I'd have my keeper from Rome. Or if I'd stayed on task and didn't stop to take other photos. Or I'd studied the city map just a little better and found a shorter route. The list goes on. 

Well before sunrise in Rome, I set out for Castel Sant'Angelo to photograph it down at the river's edge. I accomplished that much. However, because I was running behind, those hypnotizing, inky blues I like so much were fading. Fast.

The Castel Sant'Angelo Before Dawn. Love the inky skies. Don't love the composition.

6:10am. I can see the blues in the sky starting to wash out. I'm hustling down a stairwell to the walkways along the Tiber River - a stairwell that's closed for maintenance. A wee bit of a scramble, although I'm more fearful of getting in trouble with the locals than getting hurt.

6:17am. Castel Sant'Angelo looms before me. I swear I can hear the deep blues leaving the sky, chuckling at me. I negotiate around a twisted pile of downed tree branches, setup, and take a few frames. I caught the blue skies, but the composition is less than inspiring.

6:20am. After a mini walk/sprint along the river, I am now closer to the castle. Alas, the skies are already warming. Setup again, take a few frames. It's a composition I'm very happy with. Good balance between the bridge and the castle. The bridge is a leading line, bringing the eye into the frame. The stairs on the opposite bank provide another leading line. The reflections are both recognizable and blurred, enough to be both pleasing and mysterious. But the sky ... the deep blues are gone.

really pushed the processing on the second shot, trying to recapture those deep blues. It's good, but not great. As I think back to that morning walk from my hotel to the castle, my problem was staying focused on what I'd set out to capture. It was a good 30 minute walk. I remember stopping and taking a few shots here and there along the way. They were "Oh that's interesting" kinds of shots, not "I have to shoot this" moments.

All in all, I like the second shot better because of the composition. It's shapes and lines are more visually pleasing. And while I came away with some good shots, a more important takeaway from that day is the value of staying focused. One always needs to be flexible in the field, but there's a difference between being flexible and getting distracted.

Distractions exact a toll - especially when working against a natural clock like sunrise or sunset.

Technical Notes (main photo)
- Nikon D7000 w/ Nikkor 18-200mm
- Single exposure, 30sec @ f/18, ISO 100
- Processed in Aperture and Perfect Effects