La Piazza Desolata | Weekly Photo #16

This is a very empty St Mark’s Square in Venice. I had just completed the 10-minute walk back from the Ponte dell’Accademia Bridge where I had captured the classic view of the Grand Canal at sunrise and I found myself in a very quiet St Mark’s Square. It feels both odd and exhilarating to be in a place on your own which is normally overrun by thousands of people and I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity to capture such a beautiful city in this unique way.

I share many more photos of my trip to Venice in my two-part blog post:

La Piazza Desolata | Fujifilm XT-10 | XF18-55mm | 34mm | 6 Seconds | f/8 | ISO200

La Piazza Desolata | Fujifilm XT-10 | XF18-55mm | 34mm | 6 Seconds | f/8 | ISO200

After a short while wandering the piazza, photographing the ornate architecture and soaking up every ounce of the history as possible, I started to head back towards the Bacino San Marco. I noticed the sun lighting up the tower that belongs to the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore across the water, basking in gloriously warm sunlight and with the Lion of Venice up on the column appearing to stand and welcome the new day, it was an image I had to capture.

With such a large space in front of me, it was inevitable that one or two people would now be in the shot so I decided to use my Formatt-Hitech 10-stop ND filter to create a long exposure and as long as those one or two people kept moving, they would be rendered invisible in the scene. That’s exactly what happened and with the Fujifilm X-T10 (my camera of choice at the time), XF18-55mm lens mounted on the tripod and my settings locked in, I went about capturing the scene in front of me.

It took a few tries to ensure I didn’t capture any people, but I got there in the end and the resulting photo is one of my favourites from that entire trip.

Whenever I visit a new city, I make a point of venturing out at the break of dawn to enjoy the unique experience of having a normally busy location all to myself. Whether you take a camera or not, I have listed three reasons why everyone should give it a try.

3 reasons to photograph a city at sunrise

#1 You get the best light of the day.

Ok, this is a subjective one but to me, there is something quite magical about the light at sunrise. I love a good sunset like everybody else but with sunrises harder to capture because all of the getting up early nonsense, it seems just a little bit more special when out experiencing it. That coupled with the long shadows and warm sunlight, it can be such a beautiful time to be out with the camera.

#2 You get the whole place to yourself

As I mentioned above, if you like photographing iconic locations then you will no doubt have to point the camera upwards or include the crowds of people in your photos unless you visit early in the morning. Most tourist hotspots will start to get busy just after breakfast as the hotels usually have set times and tend not to serve much before 7 am. This means any time up until 8 am will be the best time to capture the morning light without lots of people in the shot.

#3 You get to do more.

Whenever I travel with my family, I will always schedule in a sunrise shoot so I can get my photography fix in before breakfast. Sunrise is a perfect time to focus on photography especially when travelling with friends and family. It enables you to get a few hours of dedicated photography before meeting back up to spend a full day doing other activities not necessarily related to photography.

I hope you found that useful and as ever, feel free to leave a comment about your own sunrise experiences in the comments section below.

Until next time.


This post is featured in my Weekly Photo series where I post a new photo every Sunday.