Earlier this month, I was asked to judge London City Airport’s #NoFilter Milan photography competition.
If you’ve never flown in and out of City Airport…it’s soooo nice, and much more convenient than either Gatwick or Heathrow — last year when I flew in there I was in the city center less than 30 minutes after we touched down which, if you know London, is fast, not to mention cheap with the Tube being right there, and still reasonably priced if you take a taxi. The airport is mainly for short-haul flights so if you’re originating in Europe somewhere, look to see if you have an option to fly in or out of there.
But back to the #NoFilter Milan competition. This fantastic initiative involved 12 bloggers posting their unedited, unfiltered photographs of the city. As someone who knows how much effort it takes to take pictures, select the best shots, edit them with post-processing tools, and publish them, I do appreciate the luxury of being able to take pictures with my iPhone quickly and sharing them immediately (on Instagram, for example). And why not pop a filter on it to make it stand out?
Post-processing and filtering images on our phones is almost too easy, which is why I love this initiative to post unedited photos of Milan, and to encourage each other to shoot #nofilter as often as possible. Being Italy’s business and commerce capital, Milan does not always get swept with the same rustic-charm beauty brush as other classic Italian destinations. You have to pay more attention in Milan to catch its beauty and its charm, which is why I think seeing the city through others’ eyes reminds me, too, that there is more to Milan.
In addition to showing the bloggers’ #NoFilter photos, I thought I’d share a few #NoFilter photos of Milan which I’ve taken, and my tips for taking great #NoFilter shots. After my photos, you can see all the participants with one photo from their entry. Click on through to each of their sites to see and read more about #NoFilter Milan!
Sara, Ms. Adventures in Italy’s #NoFilter Milan
My #NoFilter photo tip: It’s all about loving & appreciating the light you have, and holding steady on your camera to reduce grain and noise. I actually shared some Photography Tips for Better Photos, No Matter What Camera You Have on my tech/biz site and they definitely apply for #NoFilter photos!
One of my favorite views of Milan is inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele – be sure to look up at the dome during the holidays, they usually have a beautiful display. And a slightly filtered version here.
A view of the Bosco verticale, the vertical forest, in one of the newer residential complexes in Milan. The Isola area changed so much since I first moved there, and it’s the only place I ever lived in Milan.
When the sun shines in Milan, be sure to catch the colors that come out to play. And a slightly filtered version here.
Here is a selection of some of the best images from London City Airport’s #NoFilter Milan competition, alongside some useful #NoFilter tips and pointers for visiting Milan. Keep scrolling to find out the winner!
Mariella’s #NoFilter photo tip: “The key to photographing a city like Milan is to chase the light, or surfaces that reflect it. Also: Milan is a place full of history, so remember to look up! Look at the balconies, the vaults, you will find art everywhere.”
“Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is located at the square […] According to an old tradition, placing your right heel on the testicles of the bull and spinning around three times will bring good luck and drive away the bad spirits.”
“We loved the Museo Del Novecento in the Palazzo dell’Arengario which hosts a collection of 20th century art, focusing mainly on Italian works. This is probably my favourite photo from Milan. I love the way your eye travels around the photo.”
Ally’s #NoFilter photo tip: “Great photography is all about having an eye for composition…what is it about the scene in front of you that’s beautiful? Don’t just stick the subject of your photo in the middle…where do you want your audience’s eye to move from and to?”
“Previous to my visit to the top of the Duomo di Milano, I had never seen what the city looked like from above. I must say I was impressed by the breathtaking view, and by how different Milan looks from above. Hard to stop staring.”
Allane’s #NoFilter photo tip: “The secret? If you don’t naturally have an eye for photography, simply look around, observe and find the right moment. Light and colour, they will help… a lot. Also, don’t be afraid to try different angles and take as many shots as you can, you never know which one will look better.”
“What struck me most about Milan was the sheer contrast of people you find in the city. I was mostly expecting to see shopaholics frequenting the luxury malls. But, that wasn’t the case. The area around the Duomo was extremely lively, with all sorts of people.”
“I love a good stride-by shot […] This shot was taken at Castello Sforzesco. It’s a great open space to take portraits or just architecture shots.”
Tiana’s #NoFilter photo tip: “Be patient and have your subject try multiple versions of stride-bys. I have about five versions of this stride-by.”
“It was Antonio’s tiny shoe repair shop that stopped me in my tracks. It is no wider than a pair of French doors and I found him sitting in his sunny shop window carefully repairing a pair of beautiful Italian shoes obviously worn down by their owner’s daily passeggiata.”
Jenny’s #NoFilter photo tip: “If you glimpse someone of interest, stop and ask permission to take a photo. Rarely will someone say no and through the conversation that follows you may discover an interesting story or little snippet of history.”
“The gates of Porta Nuova were built in 1810 in friable sandstone and after a long period of urban decay, Porta Nuova is transformed in one of the most impressive zones in Milan, thanks to the “Progetto Porta Nuova” and innovative modern architecture.”
Aurora’s #No Filter photo tip: “Histogram – It’s a tool that helps us to get a graphical representation of the tonal range in image. A histogram will measure exposure more objectively and it can also describe the amount of contrast in an image. Of course it can’t replace your eyes and your knowledge.”
“It just wouldn’t be a showcase of Milan without an image of a red Vespa scooter – they’re everywhere in the city! Before capturing this image I played around with the ‘selective colour’ function on my camera to only capture the red – Absolutely no post-processing (or application of filters) has taken place with this photograph!”
Melanie’s #NoFilter photo tip: “Colours are important: Grey and dreary photos aren’t very nice, however capturing scenes or objects with a beautiful colour scheme will instantly give you an image worthy of a masterpiece. When you capture perfectly-lit photographs containing vibrant or even soft colours, they won’t require a filter to make them look great!”
“The Colonne di San Lorenzo, also known as “theRoman Wall”, dates back to the 5th century. Sitting in front of the beautiful Basilica di San Lorenzo, it is a gorgeous slice of life and history in the center of the city. This angle is one I usually don’t take, but was trying to catch that beautiful rare blue winter sky. I love the details it captured.”
Heather’s #NoFilter photo tip: Look up! Anytime the sky is blue in Milan it seems like a miracle and I always try to get some of that lovely blue in my photos. It’s naturally beautiful and you will also capture details of buildings or other parts of the city that make it special.
I loved the light at play in this image…it was a close second! Lovely photo, Jasmine :)
Jasmine’s #NoFilter photo tip: “Focus on something unexpected; when everyone else is taking the typical tourist photo of the building itself, try taking the sign or entrance instead, or even another architectural detail.”
Samantha’s #NoFilter Milan (winning image)
The winning photo had to be Samantha’s image of the Duomo. Although probably one of the most photographed sites in Milan, she has caught the winter sun on the cathedral’s facade and her image really illustrates the beauty of #NoFilter photography. Coming out of the metro at the Duomo stop is one of my favorite views of Milan.
Samantha’s tips for making the most out of Milan:
“CLIMB the steps to the top of the Duomo for an incredible view of the city from above. Don’t take the lift if you can avoid it, the steps and the walk to the roof top is a great experience, giving you a chance to get super close to the Gothic spires that makes this cathedral so unique.
WALK everywhere. You will stumble across so many more hidden gems, peaceful parks and amazing churches if you wander the city by foot instead of taking the metro or tram.”
This contest and my participation in it were sponsored by London City Airport. Opinions are my own.