A Beautiful Girl in Rome


A Moment in Time

Beautiful Redhaired girl in Rome

I’d like to end this series of posts about my holiday in Rome with two images of an exquisite girl. Judging by her dress and the bottle in her hand; she was a tourist. I am not a lecher, but when I visited the Colosseum, I turned and saw her. This was “a moment in time” when everything synchronized.

Henri Cartier-Bresson spoke of ‘the decisive moment’; and Joe McNally has a book called “The Moment it Clicks”. If I may be so bold, I’d like to talk about a moment in time.

Some Background

So, let me tell you about this image. I was at the Colosseum, as you know already, and wandered alone. Since I am a cheapskate, I searched for a group to tag onto because I didn’t want to pay for a guide.

Further, the sun burned a hole in my head and put me in a foul mood. A free tour guide is what the doctor had recommended, to set my heart at peace.

As I looked around, I noticed her. Wow! At that moment, I forgot all about the guide and focused on her.

If You Don’t Act

Beautiful Redhead in Rome

When I look back at this image, I really can’t understand how it all came together. If you critique the image, you may judge it to be imperfect. A bus stands behind her, which some may consider distracting. Next, she is holding a bottle, and you could wish she held a scarf instead.

Her smile caught my attention, as did her expression, her flaming red hair, her body language. I didn’t think. These are not the moments when you analyze the situation. You must seize moments like these or you will lose them forever. It is at that moment in time that the magic happens.

As I am ending this tiny post, I am reconsidering my opening sentence. I may end up with one last post about my time in Rome. In the meantime, I made a little slideshow video, which I posted on YouTube. I hope you enjoy the slideshow

The YouTube Link is

A Roman Holiday

The Tourists


Tourists. Those Who Help Economies Grow

A young tourist having fun.

All locals hate tourists. I have yet to come across one local who confess they love tourists. Whenever tourist season comes around, you will find the locals grumbling and preparing for the tourist season. Yet, they also know that tourists are those who help economies grow. It’s just the way that it is, right?

It’s true. They come in, muck around, buy things, eat, make a lot of noise and then go home. Yet, it is in these activities that locals earn money to send their kids to school!

I will confess that I was intrigued, and somewhat fascinated by the young girl sitting on the fountain in the image above. In my view, she was quite a pretty young girl and seemed to be having the time of her life. People like her bring staid old monuments to life and add flavor to a town. Do you want to have tourists scrambling up and down monuments? No, of course not!

Tourists are indeed those add color!

Local man negotiating the tonga fare

This local man could not have survived without these two people. So not only are tourists those who help economies grow, they add color and life to a place. I was fascinated by the sight of this chap negotiating with these two women. When I walked around I noticed that the expressions on their faces were bland. They wanted a good deal for themselves, and he wanted a good deal for himself.

I don’t know if Rome has a perennial tourist season, but many places do. If you contrast Rome with Jaipur (in India), for instance, you may find that the tourist season takes place in just one burst of four months. If the locals don’t earn money at this time, then they will be scrambling for the rest of the year.

The Days of The Selfie!

How many of you take selfies? Confess! We all take selfies. This girl was pretty and caught my attention for her looks and her flowing locks. But, it was the August of 2008, and companies like Apple had not yet created the selfie mania. Mark Zuckerberg was yet to do his thing. Yet, we all have a basic urge to take – or make – self-portraits. Painters did it!

Why not this young girl?

There she soared, above the crowds, and waited patiently (though, unwittingly) for me to photograph her.

Travel photography is not just about the places. It is also about the locals, the tourists, their interaction. All of this helps to bring a place to life.

While tourists are indeed those who help economies, they also add color to a place. They make their mark, and they leave their spirit behind.

When this spirit is joyful, a tourist spot thrives.

Photography. Life. Journeys. Chai

Touristy Stuff


General Touristy Images

Overlooking the main street

Sometimes, we all shoot general touristy images. These are images that we really have no clue about, and have no seeming purpose, except to make us feel happy at the time. Why not? There was a time in my life when I sneered at these images. But, it’s possible that I was just a pompous, egotistical jackass, and maybe I still am one.

Therefore, in an act of mock humility, I decided to post some general touristy images for this post. Honestly, I have no real idea of where, in Rome, I shot these images. What I can say, is that I like the images, so decided to share them with you.

Before I continue, I should confess that I edited these images with Luminar AI and, I have added my affiliate link in here.

What Did I Aim For?

Overlooking a section with an Egyptian tower

I have been aiming for a certain look, and I was not sure what look I was aiming for. Apart from this, I also had chosen far too many images to edit, so I wanted a tool that I could use to get what I was looking for as quickly as possible. This is why I chose Luminar AI.

At this point, I will also confess that I replaced the sky, and this is not something I do very often. In fact, something inside me cringes whenever I replace the skies but, I figured that it’s okay to do this once in a while.

When shooting, and presenting general touristy images, I think I may be forgiven!

The Last Image

A Section of Rome. Daytime

Do you like these jazzy zoom effects? I like to experiment with them! Incidentally, in this image, I have replaced the sky, and added an airplane, just for good effect.

Replacing the sky, adding objects always presents me with an ethical dilemma. Is this photography, or is this digital art? Sure, I can always say that when you are shooting cityscapes or general touristy images, it is okay to bend the line just a bit. The question remains: where does the line lie?

A Touch of Drama


The Painted Men.


Rome. Day 1. More Buildings


Some More Buildings!

With the girls in front. ©Rajiv Chopra

There were some pretty cool buildings in Rome, though I don’t think I straightened this one out. I waited for a long time, for the crowds to disappear, but that did not happen. Finally, I felt that the two girls in the front presented me with an interesting compositional element. I like the V-Shape of the building, with the streets bordering it on both sides. I must confess: I used Luminar AI’s sky replacement tool to change the sky. I chose this sky because the clouds seemed to almost kiss the side of the building.

This Building

The V & The Kiss. ©Rajiv Chopra

In the image above, you may see that the cloud almost caresses the side of the building all along its length. The roads seem to mirror the shape of the building, as well as the clouds. Honestly, I don’t remember which template I started with, but I can always check. Luminar AI, as I have mentioned, is superb for consumers, travel bloggers, and those who are editing many images. I have not yet used it much for portraits, but I like what I have seen so far.

You may ask why I chose the template that I used. When I looked back at many old images, I was not very happy with the straight manner of my earlier edits. Some were, frankly, quite over the top as well. Since then, I have changed my approach to editing images. I take my time over a few images and work them through. Sometimes, I just throw away the edits and return to the image after many months.

But, when I started on my travel work, I wanted to create an atmosphere. The advantage of the templates in “Luminar AI”, is that they enable me to adopt a consistent approach without too much thinking.

I use Photoshop for all my street, landscape, nature, and monochrome photography.

So, what do you think of the images you see above?

Sky Replacement

Image from Unsplash.Com

I didn’t shoot the image that you see here. It is a beautiful image. Skies and clouds have a significant impact on an image. The quality of the sky can make or break an image. In Delhi, for instance, we have so much smog that for much of the year we have a dull, blue-white sky. As a result, the image that we get is dull and flat. Not only do clouds help to light up a sky, but they also cast shadows that add depth to an image.

Yet, when you are replacing skies, you are treading on an ethical line, and it’s easy to fall off into the Jaws of Hell. There are two risks that I see, apart from other issues that may crop up.

  1. It’s easy to become lazy. Instead of doing your research prior to a trip, you tell yourself that it’s all good. You can just replace the sky.
  2. It’s easy to become lazy. Instead of waking up early, or waiting for the best light, you head back to your computer. More than half the joy in photography, is in the planning and the waiting. It is in the anticipation.
  3. You become boring. Everyone, after all, is buying the same skies. I am pagan/animist in my belief system and I believe that Nature created an infinite variety of moods.

So, you should only use Sky Replacement as an exception, and not as a rule. But, I will come back to the ethical dilemma later in a future post.

In Rome Day 1. Some Buildings


Some Buildings In Rome

The Deep Blue Sky ©Rajiv Chopra

I went to Rome in August 2008. Yeah, a very long time ago. Since then, I’ve changed my outlook on photography, and have been through my own meandering journey. At some point in the last several years, I decided that, because I do some travel photography, I can shoot interiors. Similarly, since I do street photography, I decided I can do portrait photography. Over time, a few hard lessons came home to me, and they should have been obvious from the start: stick to your strengths. Or, if you put it another way, stick to your knitting. Not that I knit, but you get the idea.

Rome is hot in the summer months, and it was scorching in August. Many people shake their heads in confusion when I tell them that I have a rather low tolerance to heat.

“Oh, but you are Indian”, they say. “You must be able to tolerate heat”. It’s almost as though there is a law in the land that states that all Indians – we brown-faced folk – must be able to tolerate heat. Well, I love the cold. Yes. I love the cold, and I want everyone to remember that.

Back to Rome. Yeah, I was there for 5 days in August 2008, and I just wandered around the old town, periodically collapsing in the shade. The old buildings did strike me, and I realized that the old Asterix comics were not totally off the mark. How old are they? I really don’t know. Maybe, they go back to the time of Nero and Caesar. Who knows?

The colors are warm and reflect the afternoon sun well. Do you see the birds in the image above? I added them in, using Luminar AI.

Talking About the Buildings

I liked the warm red of this building. Sadly, I didn’t enter any of the buildings. Don’t ask me why: maybe, I thought it would be rude to do so. Anyway, as a tourist, it is sometimes worth standing outside the building, and asking yourself if there are any ghosts inside, or what stories lay buried inside the walls.

This is not idle speculation. It’s always good form to stand there, in front of a structure, and allow yourself a moment of thought. What are the stories? It’s a little like a history lesson that you don’t appreciate until you are much older. When I looked at the windows, the one thought that struck me, was they the homes didn’t seem to allow for much cross ventilation. These days, when global warming is the rage of the day, and heat stress is increasing, it should give you food for thought.

Enough Babble

Late afternoon. ©Rajiv Chopra

It was late afternoon when I took this image. The shadows had lengthened and cast a melancholy light on the buildings. For me, it was a reminder that I needed some chai, but the Romans don’t drink chai.

However, it’s worth looking at images 2 and 3. You may notice that there are some subtle changes in the hue and saturation. Please bear in mind that I applied exactly the same editing parameters to both images. If there is a change in color, it is due to the time of day. Light plays a significant role in our images. Always follow the light.

Disclosure: I edited these images using Luminar AI, which is superb for consumers and travel photographers. Skylum is launching Luminar Neo this winter. Check it out.

You may ask me if I have gone away from Photoshop? No. I use it all the time.

Rome. Long Ago

A Window. Broken Glass

Long Time. Long Time Ago

It’s been a long time since I have been here. A very long time indeed. Where have I been? I wonder. Anyway, this time around, I am going to be back for a while, with some images from Rome. All taken a long time ago. Those were the days when my hair was shorter and blacker. I’d also say that in those days, my girth was considerably greater than it is today.

When I look back, through the broken window, at my old images, I ask: what the hell was I doing?

Incidentally, I edited this image using Luminar AI. I have been sneaky enough to add in my affiliate link. Shame on me.

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