Tips for shooting Rome and Tuscany

Discussion in 'Scenic, Architecture, and Travel' started by yehuda, Feb 2, 2014.

  1. yehuda

    yehuda Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 14, 2013

    I'm going on a short vacation with my wife to Italy (a few days in Rome, a few days driving in the countryside and villages in Tuscany in a rented car).

    I've been reading about Italy and what's to be seen in my destinations and have traveled a few times overseas so this isn't my first time in planning a vacation.

    Hardware considerations are taken care of (Panasonic G5 + 12-35 F2.8 , 12-32 F3.5-5.6 and Rokinon 7.5mm fisheye).
    I think I've found a happy medium in terms of getting great photos without the photography being in the way (I travel with my wife, a non-photog :) ).

    What I would like to hear advice about is general 'been there' advice as I feel photographers tend to have a better understanding of what I find beautiful and enjoyable when travelling abroad.
    You know - places I shouldn't miss, time of day to be there with less crouds, genereal local knowledge that might help me etc.
    And, in short - what YOU would do and see if you'd been in my place.

    Your advice is very much appreciated. Thanks in advance!

    - Yehuda
  2. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Just one comment on the gear first: why two lenses in the 12-xx range? I get one is tiny, but I'd add a short telephoto (or little longer) for some portraits, architectural details (of which there are many!) and compressed landscapes (longer focals can work really well to capture the rolling Tuscan hillsides. It's not all about the wide angle).

    A little background, my parents live in Tuscany and I spent a lot of time in Rome (more family there). Photographically, the ultrawide/fisheye for churches will work wonders. More telephoto for some of the stuff you can't get up close to. In Tuscany, favorites would be Florence, Siena, San Giminiano and a special mention for Lucca (lovely, unique walled city). Pisa is OK, but beyond the Piazza dei Miracoli doesn't have the charm a lot of other Tuscan cities and towns have.

  3. yehuda

    yehuda Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 14, 2013
    Thanks for a speedy response!

    The 2 12-xx lenses are because I think I'll mostly use the smaller one as it draws much less attention and is almost weightless when mounted but I really want the 2.8 one for better subject isolation and better performance in low light scenarios...

    Your recommendations on Sienna etc. mirror what I found so far but I'm having a tough time deciding about driving (limited car access and parking lots in the cities) and I'm not sure were to stay.
    For now I booked a nice hotel in Florence with free cancelation but it makes more sense to stay in hotels along my route. And Florence parking spaces are scarce and expensive.
    If you can help me plan the Florence, lucca, pisa, volterra, san giminiano and Sienna route with nice hotels on the way(great view atop high hills is much more preferable than fancy services) I'll be very grateful.

    Thanks again!

    Sent from my THL W200 using Mu-43 mobile app
  4. yehuda

    yehuda Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 14, 2013
    Oooh... Almost forgot.
    How's the scenery in Tuscany this time of the year?
    It seems most images I see online of Tuscany were taken in the summer and I'm not sure what to expect in February.

    Sent from my THL W200 using Mu-43 mobile app
  5. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Honestly? Probably wet and a high chance of rain. But when the sun comes out it's always magical to me, no matter the season. Olive trees are evergreens, there are a fair number of conifers, so it's still pretty, but a little 'cooler' color-wise. Nothing on the vines just yet and all that. Can't really help with the hotels front - I usually stay with family! There are plenty of smaller guest houses and hotels outside of the towns and cities or in smaller villages.
  6. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Also, adding to the lens comment: Italy isn't the third world. An MFT camera with a mounted 12-35 will draw less attention than a DSLR with a kit lens, and besides, people are used to seeing cameras where you're headed. So unless weight is the primary purpose for taking the 12-32, I would leave it at home, and take a focal length that's not redundant, and will create more and different photographic opportunities - which the 12-32 will not, in my opinion.
  7. Neftun

    Neftun Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 15, 2012
    Patrick Kristiansen
    I went to rome a year ago, and vastly enjoyed a bright tele. Something adapted will do fine, around 90mm. There are several compact 100's out there. I can post some pics showing what I'm on about, if interested. I'd swap the 12-32 out with one if I were you.
  8. jaydubstar

    jaydubstar Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 16, 2014
    Bellingham, WA
    Italy may not be the third world, but don't forget to be smart about packing around your toys. I tie my neck strap around my wrist several times to secure it doesn't get yanked.... Keep a low-profile, but don't be afraid to take the good glass! I bet you'll get a lot more keepers if you stick to your new 2.8... And take a prime if you have one! I LOVE my 17 for street shooting
  9. svenkarma

    svenkarma Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 5, 2013
    mark evans
    ... but their driving can be mind-bogglingly crazy (and I lived in Spain for 5 years). Also make sure you have GPS, as their street and direction signs leave quite a lot to be desired.
  10. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    I guess it's what you're used to. Rome is a pain, downtown Florence is less than ideal (small, old streets, confusing one-way systems and color coding indicating whether you're allowed to drive somewhere or not), but it's not that bad from Rome up. Further south gets a little funkier. Of course, if you're used to driving in the US (i.e. roads designed for ridiculously sized vehicles, and highways where most pick a lane and stick to it) it's a different driving experience, due to smaller roads (common throughout Europe, since our definition of a 'large car' is similar to the US definition of a small to medium sized car), higher speeds (speed limit is 130 kph, meaning most people drive 140 kph (87 mph) and different road rules (i.e. drive in the right-most lane, only move left to overtake, no free right turns on a red light, and so on)...

    If you want real crazy driving, rent a car in Morocco. Or Buenos Aires. That was an...interesting experience.
  11. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    That's a lot of wide angle :). Not taking any portrait lenses like 45mm or similar adapted??
    I agree with previous comments that you really don't need to worry about sticking out with camera as area is swimming with tourists but if it makes you feel better 12-32 is tiny enough to take along.
    In my experience Rome requires some planning as it's pretty spread out and walking can get tiring. I would check less touristy neighborhoods like Trastevere if you have time left. If not, touristy spots are pretty spectacular anyway. The open spaces like Piazza del Popolo and Spanish steps look really nice as sun sets in baclground.
    I went there a few years ago with only Lx3, 24-60mm range, and it was fine.
    Have a good one.
  12. darcius1

    darcius1 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 6, 2013
    Sandwich Isles
    I remember being harrassed by half a dozen aggressive gypsy kids at the direction of their mother while I was in Rome a number of years ago. Keep your things secure. They were all under age 10, but they knew what they were doing and were looking to empty our pockets and take our cameras.
  13. laser8

    laser8 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 29, 2013
    Mare nostrum, Istria
    As others suggested, leave the second 12-xx home and take a tele instead - will help much for landscapes in Tuscany, and some details in Rome. I would really not bother about the 2.8, I was in Palermo not so long ago and didn't have the slightest problem - everybody thinks you have a cheap P&S anyway (which is good). If tele is a no-no, rather take something <2f.

    Since you are going from Rome to Florence, I suggest a detour to Umbria, an extremely nice region living in Tuscany's shadow (IMHO, extremely underrated).
  14. frank2

    frank2 Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 29, 2011
    Columbus, Ohio
    For Tuscany I would base in Florence and take trains for day trips to the smaller towns. You can rent an apartment for a week cheaper than a hotel. If you really want to rent a car I would just do by the day as parking is crazy. Also you cannot drive in the city center without a resident permit.
  15. yehuda

    yehuda Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 14, 2013
    Guys, I cannot thank you enough for all that excellent advice! I still have planning to do and am currently overwhelmed at work but just wanted to express my gratitude already now.
    This forum is full of helpful people.
    All the best for now,

    Sent from my THL W200 using Mu-43 mobile app
  16. BigTam

    BigTam Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 19, 2012
    Dortmund, Germany
  17. Petrus61

    Petrus61 Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 22, 2012
    I go to Tuscany, Umbria and piedmont every year on business ( I'm a wine merchant) - Umbria is a must, especially Orvieto then heading north via cortona, over to Montalcino sitting on top of a hill with spectacular views (weather permitting). This is the regionof the classic italian villa on rolling hills. Still going north, San Gimingnano, sienna, florence, lucca.
    Love the area
  18. Ares

    Ares Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 13, 2013
    Make sure you have a fast lens or tripod and visit the forum in Rome at night, probably one of my highlights when I was there. Be careful on public transport of pickpockets, when I was there last we walked everywhere best way to experience it IMO
  19. yehuda

    yehuda Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 14, 2013
    I got back. Will try to find time and upload some photos.
    In the end I only took the fisheye and 12-32. The only real loss as I see it in not taking the 12-35 2.8 is less control of depth of field. The image quality in daylight and night shots was quite good with the 12-32 and it's so small and convenient. Much more fun that way, almost like carrying a premium compact and much better in every possible way.

    Sent from my W200 using Mu-43 mobile app
  20. yehuda

    yehuda Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 14, 2013
    I uploaded a pile of images to an album on mu43 and want to attach them here.
    How can this be done (preferably using the android application)?

    Sent from my W200 using Mu-43 mobile app
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