Rome in Black & White

“My idea of Rome–the Rome I was looking for–was pretty much locked in. My Rome was the Rome of films…. No matter whose Rome it is–yours, mine, or Federico Fillini’s–it’s beautiful, as beautiful as everybody says it is.”
-Anthony Bourdain

Rome wasn’t one of my favorite destinations–there’s amazing history and ancient architecture everywhere, but it lacked the inviting feeling of other cities. Maybe it’s how everything is a tourist trap and there are too many hawkers trying to force you to buy everything you don’t want. Also, the late-July heat makes me cranky (alright, I’m downplaying the feeling; the weather turns me homicidal–if you don’t give me coffee or gelato, you should probably get out of my way).rooftop-rome

Complaints aside, Rome is a glorious city to photograph. It’s one of those places that cries out to you to change the camera settings to black & white–bright, cloudless skies as a backdrop for ruins of the Roman Empire juxtaposed with more recent structures. Anthony Bourdain even insisted on shooting an episode of No Reservations in black & white when he visited Rome.

The Roman Forum. So many historic shadows
The Roman Forum. So many historic shadows

The light plays games in photographs–weathered columns cast their shadows across the scenes as the locals and tourists saunter past. The tones emphasize the intensity of the summer sun in Rome.

View of Rome from the Altar of the Fatherland
View of Rome from the Altar of the Fatherland

Some places are perfect for black & white shots, while others require the vibrant colors–the islands of Murano and Burano just couldn’t be done without color; it would’ve taken the life out of those canal towns. Rome just happens to be one of those cities that appear perfect in black & white–the ancient mixed with the cracked and graffitied new.

Path to the Roman Forum
Path to the Roman Forum

What are your favorite places to take black & white photos?

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