Waiting for the Light to Change
I was surprised to discover that the sun sets later in Milano. I had asked Eleonore to come over at 6PM, in hopes of capturing her during the magic hour. But the sun, albeit far from it's noontime intensity, had not come down yet.
It's not often that I plan to be up so late. With the change in timing, I would be forced to photograph later into the evening. Even so, I was determined to do some night time photography, given that I don't normally have an opportunity to shoot at night. I like night photography, because of the wonderful bokeh you can render. But being a morning person, who wakes up at 4AM every day, shooting at night isn't something I do.
Even so, the reason to do this outweighed the reason to follow my usual curfew. I was after all in Milano. So it made sense for me to make the most of my stay, and capture as much of the city as I possibly could.
There was also the added incentive of shooting at the Hotel Gallia. It has a wonderful terrace bar and restaurant, called la Terrazza Gallia on the seventh floor, that overlooks la Stazione Centrale - essentially Milan's version of Grand Central. The bar area, being on a covered al fresco space with patio tables and large sofas, has a relaxing atmosphere that invariably lulls you to order a cocktail... only, both Eleonore and I don't drink.
So we waited for the sun to go down. In the meantime, I decided to take some pictures of her, before the sun completely descended. Mind you, the sunlight wasn't very strong, but it was still brighter outside than inside the terrace, which was shaded by a roof. What I had hoped to do was take some photographs of her when both the light outside and the light in the terrace were equalized.
Having time to spare, it made sense to just capture her in the changing light, as the sun went down. And with each passing minute, the white of the background sky began to lose its intensity, becoming more noticeably blue. As for the limestone masonry of the central train station, awashed in the yellow glow of the setting sun, it became more and more gray, until it would finally be swallowed up by the approaching darkness.
With the sun completely down, it was beginning to get a little chilly outside. Eleonore had asked for a blanket to cover herself up a little. Looking at the sky, it was just so blue all of a sudden. We hadn't noticed, being so engrossed in conversation. The outside light had just about equalized with the light inside the terrace. With that said, we must have missed the magic hour completely, since we never saw the sky turn reddish. That was disappointing. But all was not lost. There was still enough light to capture Eleonore during the blue hour - the next best thing.
Thinking back, the terrace wasn't facing the sun. With that being the case, it wouldn't have been possible to capture the magic hour. Bummer.
Having gotten the consolation prize from the evening sky, we made our way to the dining room, to make our 7:30PM reservations. The lighting inside the restaurant was ghastly - not to mention how ambient it was - which is code for being dim.
Still, it was better than sitting out on the terrace. Turning my head to take a look outside, the sky was no longer blue anymore. It had become dark with the blackened silhouettes of taller buildings in the distance dotted by the odd lighted window of eager beavers working late into the night.
No point in rushing dinner I thought. The light wasn't going to change anymore until the approach of dawn. Night had already fallen, and we might as well enjoy our meal.
After dinner, we decided to go outside to capture some nighttime keepsakes. It was a beautiful night, and it didn't feel as cold anymore, having been pampered by the restaurant, with volleys of complimentary appetizers and après dinner sweets. Having experienced such a display of hospitality, it made sense to go out for a stroll.
It was nice. I don't go out much at night. Even so, I did notice how the nighttime characteristic of major cities, vary from place to place. Hong Kong is dominated by strong neon signage. New York is dominated by the streaming headlights of yellow cabs. As for Milan, she is just radiant - or at least, the limestone façade seems to glow the reflected light from the street lamps. It was lovely.
It was a beautiful night. I should have tried to stay up later. But I was getting tired, having been up since before dawn. As for Eleonore, having elected the day as her designated cheat day, she decided to meet up with some friends for a night of dancing, in an attempt to minimize her caloric gain. It was after all a Friday night.
I'm glad to have taken the effort to wait for the light to change, and experience it in a different city. Now, the next thing to do is properly explore Milano during the daytime, and capture in photographs the scenic parts of the city.
That will be the next writeup.
All images photographed wide open on a Leica SL adapted primarily with the Leica 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux. Wider images photographed wide open with the Leica 28mm f/1.4 Summilux. All images have been optimized in Lightroom. I think three images may have been cropped for better framing.
Special thanks to Eleonore!
This type of writeup is new for my blog. From time to time, I will post narratives on my site. Not everything has to be a review or an insight. After all, the purpose of photography is to take pictures. And that's exactly what I'm doing here.