Sunday is a day off, so I drove around looking for things to shoot. But as it turned out, the sky was overcast, and everything seemed dreary. After a couple of hours looking for something interesting, I stopped at Benderson Park and got out of my car. Two minutes later there was a thunderclap, and it started to rain.
I looked for shelter, but the camera and I ended up getting soaked. Nevertheless, I tried taking a few shots, but in my opinion, the pics were not very good. So I gave up on my plan and walked back along this path to my car thinking it just wasn’t meant to be. At the last minute, I turned around took this one last picture. Oddly, I like how it turned out and was happy with the result.
It can be frustrating looking for new images; mainly when close to home and I’ve seen everything a million times. Also, landscape scenes at midday can be uninspiring, especially in an urban area. But add a little rain or lower the lights and the mood changes. That’s when I begin to get a little inspiration from my muse whom, up until that point, had taken the day off.
This is an image I took along the Grand Canal in front of Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. I was taking pictures like a madman at the time but the conditions for photography were not good. Normally, to take pictures at night you need a tripod and a stationary subject.
In this case, I was in a moving gondola and my subject was moving also. To get this I used an aperture of f1.8 and an ISO of 8000. That’s extreme but with a few adjustments in post-production, it’s a winner. So much for the old rules.
Because I don’t know what all the rules are I do things that another photographer might not. I make a lot of mistakes, but I also get some good shots under difficult situations. The tech is so good now you may as well push it and see what happens. One day we’ll have sensors in our eyes and cameras will be obsolete. But until then, it’s fun to keep breaking the rules and trying new things.
This is the Church of the Santissimo Redentore. It’s on the island of Giudecca in the city of Venice. It was built in the 16th Century to commemorate the Black Death. At that time about a third of the population of Venice perished. Nevertheless, the architecture of this white marble cathedral is striking at night and this is a shot I took while passing by from a water taxi.
When I think of the plague I feel fortunate to live in an age with the advantages of medicine and hygiene. That’s not to say we are completely immune to pandemics, but the chances are much less.
If I think about it I feel bad for the reasons this was built, but then that was the whole point. The builders were sending a message through the centuries so that we would remember. I mean no disrespect but that’s the same thing photos do, connect us to an event across time. This photo reminds me of an amazing night in Venice, which in turn reminds me of the plague. So now I have a set of breadcrumbs that lead from one thing to another, bringing to mind different things that are each important to remember.
I took this while in a water Taxi on my first night in Venice. Sunsets like this don’t happen every day so I felt fortunate. This is one of those cases where just being there is fifty-percent of photography. I was ready with my camera so I was lucky to get the shot.
They say the best camera in the world is the one you have with you. In this case I was touring so I had my Sony. More often however I have only an iPhone. I see sunsets at home all the time and I wish I had the Sony but at least I can pull out an iPhone. It takes nice pictures but not as good as the Sony, at least for now. The way things are going that gap will continue to shrink and maybe cameras will become a thing of the past.
Every picture tells a story and as we take more the stories just keep piling up. Then, long afterwards we can go back and re-live the stories by looking at our pictures. The same for video but I prefer still images because I think they go deeper into our thoughts, imagination and memory. Regardless of the camera, it’s good to never be without one, you just never know what you’ll see.
Here is another scene that I rendered with Topaz Impression. It’s a photo I took of a random canal in Venice and later blended with an impressionistic rendering from Topaz. I’m experimenting with this technique and I am intrigued by the possibilities it presents.
When you visit Venice one of the first things you’ll notice are the artists everywhere. It’s easy to understand because of the abundance of inspiration. If I was a painter I could see myself on a random bridge of a canal painting a similar scene. As a photographer / technologist I use software to get the effect of a painting to create an impression of the place, which is sometimes more satisfying than documentation.
The way software and computers are going we will one day simply look through glasses and have any scene rendered the way we want to see it in real-time. It will be a form of advanced augmented reality and it’s probably not too far off. That, and who knows what else.
Because I did not set the shutter speed correctly this image came out looking double exposed and blurry, like an impressionistic painting. This is not something I intended but looking at it now it feels a little like my memory of that evening in Venice.
In my short visit I experienced sights, sounds and feelings. The more I go back to look at the photos the more my memories are formed. But it’s totally subjective and what I remember is unique to me alone.
There is much in life I don’t remember because I never took the time to. If we don’t think about something it may not make an impression and is soon forgotten. However when we do, we build memories from our impressions.
Memories are like paintings, they are renderings, not true recordings. In the case of art, impressions are more important than fact.
The sounds of the oars in the water, the chatter of the gondoliers, the lights of the overhead windows and the evening shadows across the buildings; all of these combine into an impression that is so perfectly preserved with a simple camera mistake.
I wasn’t in Venice long but managed to walk along the city edges one afternoon where I saw things resembling normal life. If you stray away from the main square you eventually end up in areas were things are a little quieter. I have no idea who this man is, but looking at this several weeks later reminded me of what I was thinking about at the time.
Amongst the canals and stone houses are things like a grocery store, a florist and a hospital. I saw city workers picking up the trash. It was those kinds of domestic norms that I found oddly comforting. Walking through an unfamiliar environment can be a disorienting until you recognize things that we have in common, then it starts to feel a little less foreign.
It’s nice to see the historic squares and cathedrals, but seeing how people live day to day is just as interesting. W all go through the similar routines of life, yet we are also products of our environment, language and culture. So casually observing the interplay of these in a quiet section of town can be just as fulfilling as standing in the middle of St Marks Square.
This was the scene as we were returning from a gondola ride in Venice one night. As you can see there was a bit of a traffic jam and I managed to capture an image or two among the commotion. I was on a tour and there was a large group of us so we had formed a flotilla of sorts as we wound our way through the narrow back canals of Venice.
It was an experience unlike anything I’ve ever done. The impression I had was of some type of ride in Disneyland or Las Vegas. But I had to pinch myself because this was the real thing; this was Venice and these were real gondoliers and we were in the real canals of Venice with houses on either side. It was better than anything I might have imagined.
We travelled through dimly lit back canals as a tenor on one of the rigs sang Italian songs that echoed off the high stone walls. All the while there was a constant banter among the gondoliers as they slowly navigated our route. Everyone was in a pretty good mood.
This is the spot we started and stopped and as I was in the last gondola I could watch the turning and docking maneuvers ahead. Now that I’ve done the real thing Las Vegas will never be the same to me. But I suppose that’s a good thing.
I took this while walking aimlessly around Venice one afternoon. It’s easy to get lost among the narrow ways and canals, but at the same time it’s easy to find your way back. Every building has a sign on the corner pointing to St Marks Square. In this manner I headed out, got lost, and found my way back with little trouble. Along the way there were dozens of scenes like this.
I walked far enough out from the central square that the streets were quite and life returned to the normal sights and sounds of an old world village. Shopkeepers leaned against doors, people lingered in cafés, and an old woman carried groceries. It was in contrast to the crowded tourist center where I started.
This is my first time in Venice. It’s one of those places that immediately struck the photographer in me with endless possibilities. I have seen many images from here, yet the experience of being here is beyond the clichés.
Like other iconic locations, the beauty of it inspires artists, and has done so for centuries. I was here only briefly but captured many images that I can go back and enjoy for a long time. I will share some of my favorite, but for now this is my first. And I have no idea exactly where I was when I took it.
Here’s another image I took while walking around central Amsterdam in the early morning hours. I was only here for a week so I made the decision to stay on North American time. That meant I was still wide awake very late which works well for night photography. I could capture the lights reflecting on the still waters of the canals to my heart’s content.
A couple of times I left my tripod back at the hotel. To get these long exposures without shaking the camera I would make due by balancing it on a bike seat. All of the little bridges have bikes leaning against the railings. All I had to do was pick one with a relatively wide seat and gingerly set the camera down. I used a wireless trigger so that I didn’t need to touch the camera to activate the shutter.
That little system worked quite well and to be honest, it’s a technique I’ve used in many other places as well. I don’t always want to bring a tripod especially when shooting street scenes at night. For that I’m grateful for the high ISO performance of Sony cameras, it allows me to do things that were unheard of just a few years ago. For street photography you want to travel light and be able to react quickly.
Yet when I’m out walking around I’ll invariably see something like this scene and I wish I had a tripod. Then it becomes a little game of figuring out what I can use to stabilize the camera. I use all manner of things like balancing on a fence railing, stabilizing the lens with the camera strap, even placing the camera on the ground and shooting up.
As a result I’m hard on camera bodies. They get scratched quite a bit. But for me the scratches on my camera body are like notches on a belt. It’s funny but a scratched up camera feels to me like a comfortable set of well worn shows; we’ve seen a lot together.