A Quick Bite in Milan, Italy

| September 27, 2010
The impressive interior of Milan Cathedral

The impressive interior of Milan Cathedral

After three nights in Montreux on Lake Geneva, we stopped in Milan for lunch on our way to Lake Como. Although our stop in Milan would only last three hours, we needed lunch anyway and it was hard to resist trying to photograph the Milan Cathedral when it was so close to the train station. Not wanting to tow our bags on the brief stop, it was convenient that there was a place to drop our luggage for a couple of hours at the train station. It was only four Euro per bag and, since the service is provided by the station itself, it seemed like a secure place to leave our bags. If you ever use the service, please know that there is a strict 18-kilogram weight limit.

We then hopped in a taxi and the driver dropped us at the Galleria, which a famous covered shopping mall that we walked through to see the big reveal of the Cathedral. The reveal did not disappoint! The Cathedral, which is located on the central square in Milan, is in amazingly good condition for being in such a busy city. I figured it would look a bit more road-worn Iike the Duomo in Florence but it was not. The marble facade, which is covered to a dazzling degree with decoration, was so clean it almost looked new. There where hints of green and pink in the almost randomly sized tiles that covered the Cathedral, but the colors were much more muted than what I saw on the Duomo and Tower in Florence. Not quite that “Cathedral in pajamas” look of some of Italy’s churches. The square that the Cathedral sits on is enormous, was full of people, and had the classic laid-back ambiance that is wonderful about Italy. The day was also bright and sunny, making it the perfect setting to enjoy our panini sandwiches for lunch!

Now for the task at hand. I really wanted a set of photo brackets of the interior of the church. I have a dream of gathering enough church photos to create a book of them. I must be at about ten or so by now and I definitely wanted Milan Cathedral in the collection. Being the rule follower that I am, I asked Donna to go check the sign to see if photos were allowed inside. From what she gathered the answer was no and there were police standing at the door checking bags. Not knowing what would happen in the end, I went ahead and applied the likely camera settings for interior shots and put the camera and tripod away before entering the Cathedral.

The intricate detail of Milan Cathedral's exterior

The intricate detail of Milan Cathedral’s exterior

Once I got in, I was very pleasantly surprised to see all kinds of folks with their point and shoot cameras clicking away with security looking on like there were no rules at all. At that point I decided to pull out the tripod and shoot away without a flash of course. I figured that if I got spanked, I would point to everyone else and politely comply.

As I mentioned, I never use a flash for these types of photos because I don’t want to damage the works of art and the interiors are way too large to light anything effectively. So what I need is time. I had pretty good luck shooting the photo above at f18 and at an ISO of 400. Setting the f-stop at 18 keeps everything nice and sharp and the ISO at 400 keeps the shutter times reasonable. I shot a three-bracket set with my longest shot at 25 seconds. It is amazing how much light you can harvest if you have enough time. The trick is shooting without people walking into your shot. I usually find that if I am patient enough I can get the shot I want. In the times that I can’t, I have to apply a little Photoshop magic to clean things up.

This interior was almost too big to shoot. The scale of the place is mind blowing. The paintings hanging on the left and right are huge and it was almost impossible to focus on the ceiling because it was so high! My new wide angle lens does a pretty good job of capturing the scale of a subject like this without excessive distortion.

In addition to this classic down-the-isle shot that I always take, I decided to capture something a little more contained off to one side of the Cathedral as well.

In all it was well worth while to take this quick side trip, even if it was only for a short time. Italy is amazing and its charm keeps calling us back. What’s more, I now have the Cathedral in my collection and a fond memory of our lunch in Milan!

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Category: Italy, Photography, Travel

Comments (2)

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  1. As soon as you publish a book, I want to know because I will purchase it ASAP. Your photography always makes me gasp. I have been quite busy lately but plan on doing your painting challenges soon. Thanks for a great blog. 🙂

  2. Lee says:

    Why thank you Margaret. It’s nice to know I would have at least one customer! I truly appreciate the comment and am thrilled that you are enjoying the posts and blog.