Time for my second installment from beautiful Rome, and a few non-nerdy photography notes while we go from Rome’s oldest sights to one of its most picture-perfect neighbourhoods.
Before we headed off to Rome, Olympus cameras very kindly supplied us with upgrades on our trusty cameras and challenged us to document the city using a few different lenses while away. Tough gig I know. If you’ve followed me for the last few years, you’ll know my Olympus Pen and Jamie’s Olympus OM-D have come with us on many a trip over the years but for this getaway we had the new and improved Olympus Pen-F to play with. Quick aside, lots of the pictures on my instagram have been taken on my Olympus Pen over the years too as my old phone was so rubbish and the Olympus cameras have in-built wifi which I use on an almost daily basis. After playing around with the cameras before we left, we were both totally hooked, loved the new features and as with our old Olympus, the interchangeable lenses that makes the small camera pretty mighty in my opinion. We both loved the new inclusion of the sight hole in addition to the screen and the various custom modes where you can adapt colours (like de-saturating greens or blues slightly) for in-sync photos in line with your own aesthetic before you even start editing afterwards. Jamie is a film photographer by trade and the Olympus Pen-F got a massive seal of approval from him, the black and white mode especially satisfied the 35 mm nerd in him as you’ll probably tell from the volume of monochrome shots in this most and the last. Nice and grainy without being OTT and overly contrast-y, it really feels like a great compromise between film and digital.
We took 4 lenses with us which sounds like a lot, but with one on each camera at a time, it’s really doable and portable. My standard go-to is the 14-42 EZ zoom lens (the only zoom lens we had) which is super easy and ideal for taking shots of views, landscapes and no-fuss, natural looking outfit-pics that don’t look too stylised or editorial (just how I like travel pics). You get a bit of flexibility with the zoom, but don’t have to stand miles back to get the shot you want so it’s ideal for spontaneous street shots and details of surroundings and outfit-stuff when you don’t have lots of room thanks to crowds or narrow streets. Jamie leant towards the 17mm f1.8 primarily so lots of the pics of me are taken on that as well as the surreptitious snaps of old men and gossiping groups of Roman women you’ll also spy throughout both posts. The 17 mm is slightly wide-angle but in no way feels like a fish eye lens or anything, and is perfect for city scapes and views. It’s a slightly more technically-able lens if you’re wanting to play around more in the custom colour settings and it shoots better than the 14-42 in low light.
Anyway, back to our time in bella Roma… We were staying really close to Villa Borghese gardens so on the Saturday morning, we headed for a sunny stroll around Rome’s equivalent to Hyde Park. Tourists and Romans alike flock here for a dog-walk, a cycle or a romantic read by a fountain so we decided to do just that to get into the weekend spirit of things and ease into out tourist duties for the day.
On our final day in Rome, we still had a lot we wanted to squeeze in. We deliberately booked a night time flight home so we had all day to wander to out hearts content. First up, was the Roman Forum. Essentially, this is the centre of the ancient Roman empire, where trials, speeches, elections and processions took place as well as being the sight of some of Rome’s oldest temples and shrines. It’s pretty vast and definitely worth a visit seeing as it’s the epicentre of ancient Rome, with amazing views over the city with thousands of years worth of history overlapping in front of you.
The one lens I have a bit of a soft spot for is the fixed 75mm, the one on my camera in the pictures above. I’ve been using this lens on my old Olympus Pen for years and while I hate it for pictures of me, mainly because you have to stand miles back and it’s a very narrow crop, I adore it for travel shots. Getting great rooftop shots, capturing flora and fauna or close-up details from a view, I love this lens for cutting through the crowds in cities or capturing little details in hotels. Stuff like the below basically… To me, it’s shots like these that just add a bit of ‘depth’ to travel stories. If you look through Monday’s Rome post, you’ll notice lots of pictures in their using that lens too (most of the ones inside the hotel for example). If you’ve ever noticed pictures of up-close palm leaves or signage that doesn’t look like it’s been shot from miles below, that’s normally take on this.
From the Roman forum, we headed to the Colosseum and after seeing the length of the queues were killer to say the least, we decided to take it in from the outside only. Plus, it’s always nice to have something to do ‘next time’…
After soaking it all in, we were starving (another reason we couldn’t survive those queues) and ready to find lunch so we walked 10 minutes to the river and crossed into Trastevere. I’d been told this was essentially the ‘Notting Hill of Rome’ which was enough of a sell for me. As soon as we started winding through Trastevere’s wisteria-lined, quiet streets, we fell even more in love with Rome. We grabbed lunch at a random restaurant with tables lining the cobbles and had our final fill of Roman pasta, pizza and home-made wine before wandering the streets aimlessly like all good Sunday’s should be spent. Trastavere has no end of pretty streets, wisteria-porn, market stalls and gelato places, and while lots of other tourists have also got the memo, it felt like ‘real’ Rome and the first time I could actually get a feel of day-to-day life in Rome. When we start chatting over lunch about hypothetically living in the city you’re visiting, that’s when I know I’m getting to grips with somewhere!
Lots of the shots below were taken with the pretty special 25 mm 1:1.2 lens. This was new to both of us on this trip and the one we fighting over the most, if only because we’re children at heart and don’t like sharing new toys. Essentially, the simplest way to describe this lens is to say it turns a compact camera into an DSLR and tun your photos from amateur to the latest issue of Conde Nast Traveller (my favourite monthly). It makes everything look and feel more professional and is great for getting those more editorial shots (like the ones in yesterday’s post with the ice cream too). The best examples are probably the people pictures below, of both me in the sun at the end and Jamie at lunch. If you like achieving ‘gooey’ backgrounds in portraits too, this really helps achieve that and you don’t have to be as far back as the 75mm. Of course, it’s glory is reflected in the price but it’s definitely an investment. You can see a picture of this lens from yesterdays post here.
All in all, we couldn’t have had better camera companions for the weekend. I’ve taken my big DSLR on a couple of trips with me in the past but this trip reconfirmed I’m so much happier both shooting and being shot while roaming with a smaller camera that has just as much functionality. I like feeling inconspicuous on trips (I’ve never been one for using an enormous lens to takes pics of my lunch) and the Olympus definitely slots into that mentality. Hopefully this post has shed some light on how we shoot and the kind of lenses we rely on and use for different things. Any questions, let me know!
That’s all from Rome this time but I feel like Italy has got under my skin once and for all so hopefully there’ll be many more travels here in the future. I already have plans to head to Puglia and the land of Trulli houses in July which I’m so excited for…
As always, any questions or extra info, pop it in the comments below and I’ll get back to you.
Red skirt | Urban Outfitters
Stripe shirt | H&M
Trainers | Converse
Mid length red skirt | Faithfull The Brand
Leather biker jacket | Coach
Suede Espadrilles | Loewe
Brown bucket bag | Simon Miller (sold out in this cloud but black and green are so cool)
Coin necklace | Theodora Warre
Cat eye glasses | Gucci
White tee | Redone
Black shades | Rayban
Suede bag | Gucci
Ph. by myself and James Wright using the Olympus Pen-F.
This post was created in collaboration with Olympus Cameras.