I arrived by cab shortly before sunset, and walked around to observe the grounds before taking any photos. Just before it is Palatine Hill with the Roman Forum ruins. I watched the sun disappear over these ruins but wasn't really pleased with the vantage point and decided to move to the base of the Colosseum.
There in the arched windows of the Colosseum, I could
see hints of warm toned artificial light. I would have to wait at least
30-60 minutes and decided to do a little more shopping.
As much of a hassle it was to pack and lug my tripod across the
Atlantic, I sure was happy to have it at this moment. With a small
aperture for great depth of field and a low ISO of 100, I needed shutter
speeds between 5 and 10 seconds. The Colosseum seemed to leap from the
dusk sky, brilliantly lit with deep vibrant reds and oranges. I took
many frames from various angles including the classic view of the full
structure, and then a more detailed view where I got down very low and
pointed the camera upwards to purposely create a sense of perspective
distortion with my wide angle 17-40mm lens.
The crowds thinned dramatically, and the souvenir stands packed up for the night. I used the ten second timer and snapped a few "record shots" to include myself in the frame. Still, these were hardly necessary, as I will never forget my first experience in Ancient Rome. As I gazed through the open windows, I imagined being in Imperial Rome in 80 AD, listening to the roar of the 50,000 spectators who often filled this amphitheater. With everything that has taken place in the world since then, including earthquakes, wars, and other natural disasters, it's truly astounding for a structure this old to remain. The secret perhaps lies in in this famous 8th century quote: "Quamdiu stat Colisæus, stat et Roma; quando cadet colisæus, cadet et Roma; quando cadet Roma, cadet et mundus" (as long as the Colossus stands, so shall Rome; when the Colossus falls, Rome shall fall; when Rome falls, so falls the world).