71+km, seven days in and Venice continues to demand interest, attention and a photographer’s eye.
These kilometres are walked, not travelled on a vaporetto, train or other public vehicle. Around 10km a day is an excellent way to see any city and Venice is no exception.
I’ve said this before; my preference is to first hit the streets around 06:00, about an hour before the sun climbs over the horizon. For me, the city coming awake speaks volumes of its inhabitants. Singapore works pretty much 24/7, London somewhat less. Venice is pretty much deserted until around 06:00 when (at this time of year) it starts to get light and the hundreds of daily water-based deliveries are joined by a surprisingly effective and determined municipal cleansing service.
Pre-breakfast shooting – I love the silence and freedom to go anywhere and see anything, much of which may be unavailable and clogged with tourists later in the day. I’m usually kept busy until around 08:00 when the commute is well under way and there are way too many inquisitive looks to make street shooting a realistic possibility.
Fed, watered and with the early morning’s images uploaded and copied to a backup disk, my daily routine is then to venture out again around 10:00 and wander until mid-afternoon, taking in lunch en route. I rarely have more than a general direction in mind and Venice is so small that it’s easy to simply move from district to district at will. Getting lost is hard – there are directional signs to important places on all key street intersections. No matter how far away it is, Per Rialto or Per Ferrovia will always point you in the right direction.
Back at the hotel mid-afternoon, I’ll repeat the upload/backup cycle, put my feet up and prepare for a dinner outing, catching the city as the last stragglers head home, or the city’s ciccerias – ciccetto is Italy’s answer to tapas.
Some lessons – in no particular order of importance – from this stay so far:
1) As in Africa, when the sun shines, it’s blerry bright. Using the Fuji’s histogram is therefore essential to avoid blown out skies. It’s that or resort to the ND grads which so far, I’ve managed to leave in my suitcase – I hate carrying more kit than is absolutely essential.
2) There are many places like the Doge’s Palace where photography is prohibited. I know it won’t stop the legions of phone shooters, but it’s still worth noting. Of course, the justification is (quite correctly) the degradation of the antiquities which is caused by flash photography. If all camera users would only find out how to switch their flashes off they’d quickly discover how useless they are and how much battery charge can be saved without them. I’m always amused by how many flashes go off at events, sporting matches and concerts, despite the admonishment against photography – the flashes also do absolutely nothing except waste battery charge and add to global warming.
3) In Venice get on to the streets early. The light is fantastic and most tourists are still in their showers, stuffing themselves with bread, pastries, or the inevitable “Full English”. They’ll wander into your pictures soon enough, best avoid them while you can.
4) For a refreshing view of the city, I’m trying to avoid the ABC (Another Bloody Cathedral) approach and concentrating on granularity; tiny views of essential Venice. Not only is it much more fun, but as the city reveals more and more of itself, my own insights seem to become clearer. We’ll see.
5) On the topic of looking for a different view of the city, I’m also shooting some abstracts. I’ve no idea how they’ll fit into the final book plan and even if they don’t, it’s new some ground to test.
6) As with so many cities and places of historical interest, much of Venice is currently being renovated. There are cranes and scaffolding in on and around St Mark’s and pretty much everywhere else. This means some creative cropping, or accepting that a history of national and/or municipal reluctance to maintain these treasures is now just a part of the visit experience.
With just a few hours left in the city, I am pretty sure I will have the photographs I need to put InSight: Venice together. All I need to do now is make a start on writing and collecting the map data I’ll need. That can wait until I’m back in Cape Town – for now there are yet more photographs to take.
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