On our last day in Rome, we headed to the train station and found the Avis Car Rental location where our Citroen Picasso, with its diesel engine and six speed manual transmission was waiting for us. Over the next two weeks we would travel over 4,000 km in our little rental, which included a few harrowing escapades, not the least of which was exiting from the very first roundabout we entered (about 200m from the car rental agency) by going the wrong way on a one way street which necessitated reversing back into the roundabout which was not well received by the many cars flying through the circular intersection. It was a fitting introduction to driving in Europe! Anyway we eventually made it to the Autostrade and quite enjoyed the 530 km drive from Rome, north-east to Venice.
Venice is an absolutely spectacular city located in the North East region of Italy on the edge of the Adriatic Sea. The city itself is built on a collection of 118 closely knit islands in the Venice Lagoon that are separated by a complex series of canals yet connected by many small pedestrian bridges. There are no vehicles in Venice other than the boats in many forms that ply the waters of the canals and it doesn’t take long to appreciate the charm of a city without cars!
One of the best decisions we made in the planning of our trip was to spend our first half day in Venice with Marco Secchi, a professional photographer born in Venice who now shares his time between homes in Venice and London. We met Marco early at the Rialto bridge and spent the entire morning walking through the city, learning about its rich history and taking in the sights of the city from the perspective of a native Venetian. Marco also taught me much about capturing the essence of Venice with a camera and how to ‘see’ the good shots that presented themselves to us, which was a new thing for a bird photographer! If you are planning to visit Venice, you simply must do so when Marco is available to show you around, even if you are not a serious photographer, he will even show you how to use your iPhone camera! Check out Marco’s website, his photography is superb and you can also book him for your own tour of Venice! Tell Marco that Deb & Scott sent you 🙂
Like Rome, I have too many images to include in a single blog post, so this will be the first instalment of two or perhaps three posts. It was difficult to know how to categorize the images to best present them, however I thought I would start with some photographs showing Venice at night.
For those with a keen eye, you will notice that this first shot was not taken at night but rather in mid morning with the sun still high in the sky. It is included not because it looks a little like a nightscape but because it is a perfect example of an image Marco taught me how to take. In fact, while I was sitting down on the ground to frame the image properly Marco was calling out when the next wave was about to crash on the shore line to help us create the best possible photographic result. Never would I have ‘seen’ to take this picture looking directly into the bright sun, yet Marco’s instruction resulted in one of my favourite pictures of Venice.
Sunset on the Grand Canal.
The lesser light of the sky above San Giorgio Maggiore.
Looking along the shoreline adjacent to Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square).
This next image was taken very close to where the previous one was taken but now looking into the Piazzeta leading into Piazza San Marco and the side of the Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark’s Basilica).
The Campanile of St. Mark’s Basilica was first built in 1156 and then rebuilt in 1912. It is free-standing in the Piazza.
These next four images are of the Bridge of Sighs, one of Venice’s many famous landmarks. They were all taken after sunset and required shutter speeds ranging from 8 to 15 seconds yet don’t immediately appear to be night shots. I can promise you it was much darker when these pics were taken than it appears in the photographs. They are included here to encourage you to always have a tripod with you experiment with tight photography. Often the deeper shadows and cool light make for interesting results. The first two images are entirely natural light while the last two have the bridge flood lit. Notice the green colour cast on the first of these pics taken before the flood lights had heated up to their normal operating temperature.
ISO 100; f/22; 8 sec; 65mm
ISO 100; f/22; 10 sec; 24mm
ISO 100; f/22; 8 sec; 65mm and green cast from the flood lights while warming up.
ISO 100; f/22; 15 sec; 55mm and floodlights now providing ‘natural’ colour.
As a general rule you want to take night shots while the sky still has some natural light ands therefore retains some blue colour. This is important as the sky will continue to ‘frame’ the buildings and objects within the composition and create the necessary silhouette. Once the sky is completely black, the objects in the fore ground run into the black back ground and lose their definition which is typically detrimental to the effectiveness of the image. All of the previous images were taken while there was still some light in the sky and thus all the objects within the images are well defined. The images that follow are all taken after the sky has become completely black, however when in Venice you just can’t put your camera away so you break the rules and steady your tripod!
A small piazza a couple of blocks from our hotel where we were enjoying a late dinner sitting outside on the restaurant patio. Beautiful!
The Casino di Venezia.
The Rialto Bridge is probably the most famous and photographed bridge in Venice. Here it is from behind.
And from the front.
And finally a view looking down the Grand Canal from the apex of the Rialto Bridge.
I trust you enjoyed these night shots from Venice and if you haven’t already done so dust off your tripod and try your hand at photos after dark. You will be pleasantly surprised by the results!