#476. The making of InSight: Venice – part 2

By Paul Perton | Travel Photography

Apr 29
Untitled - Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2

Untitled – Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2

 

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.

 

St Mark's - Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2.8

St Mark’s – Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2.8

 

Canal shop window - Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2.8

Canal shop window – Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2.8

 

Morning canal - Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2.8

Morning canal – Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2.8

 

Waiting, Via Giuseppe Garibaldi - Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2.8

Waiting, Via Giuseppe Garibaldi – Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2.8

 

St Mark's posing - Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2.8

St Mark’s posing – Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2.8

 

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.

 

Murano waterscape - Fuji X100T @ f2

Murano waterscape – Fuji X100T @ f2

 

Early morning Rialto bridge - Fuji X100T @ f2

Early morning Rialto bridge – Fuji X100T @ f2

 

Canal - Fuji X100T @ f2

Canal – Fuji X100T @ f2

 

Untitled - Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f4

Untitled – Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f4

 

Sketching - Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2

Sketching – Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2

 

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.

 

Murano sculpture - Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2.8

Murano sculpture – Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2.8

 

Murano waterway - Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f5.6

Murano waterway – Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f5.6

 

Street novelty seller, pigeon - Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2

Street novelty seller, pigeon – Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2

 

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.

 

Sunrise - Scuola Grande Confraternita Di S.Teodoro - Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2

Sunrise – Scuola Grande Confraternita Di S.Teodoro – Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2

 

St Mark's reflections - Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2

St Mark’s reflections – Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2

 

Morning sun - Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2

Morning sun – Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2

 

How rude - Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2.8

How rude – Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2.8

 

St Mark's - Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2.8

St Mark’s – Fuji X-Pro2 with Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 @ f2.8

 


Email: subscribed: 4
  • Fran Oldham says:

    I’d love to be able to visit Venice and follow your precepts for taking photographs there. And I particularly like the wonderful bronze-y color of the glove in your first photo and of the dress in the canal shop window…extraordinary!

    I’m sure you’re right that using flash is unnecessary most of the time, but aren’t most flashes powered by external AAs, so using flash won’t affect the camera battery life?

    • paulperton says:

      Fran, just about every camera today seems to have a flash – even a phone. In terms of lighting, most are worth little more than a candle. The evidence of that is most people don’t even notice it going off. Best switch it off.

  • Michael Demeyer says:

    Lovely shots and commentary, also.

  • philberphoto says:

    Paul, I admire your ability to get pictures without “pollution” from hordes of tourists. And, looking at your fist two instalments, I wonder at the multiple faces of the city, which is of interest because one would think that, with so many “icons and postcards” situations, variety wouldn’t be on the menu. Plus, as ever, your storytelling is a delight.

    • paulperton says:

      Hi Philippe. It’s easy – as I said, while the tourists are enjoying their holiday(s), sleeping late and eating relaxed breakfasts, the light is magnificent and the lanes and alleyways all but deserted.

      I’ve really enjoyed Venice, but for most of the day, it’s like anywhere; full of people desperately seeking the hive mind, stopped in the middle of everything, staring vacantly into space.

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Get more shots of their wrought iron work, Paul – the quality of it is superb !!!!!!

    I rather like the “rios” and the “cios”, too – in Venezia a rio is a small canal and a cio an even smaller one. They’re the “back streets” – sort of – if that makes any sense. Elsewhere in Italy, rio means a stream and cio isn’t used in this context – but in Venezia they both refer to intercalari. I love scooting around areas tourists don’t bother with, and I had a lot of fun doing it around Venice.

  • Sean says:

    Hi Paul,

    First, for me these two messages stand out from you above discussion:
    a) You can’t beat Shanks’ Pony to “… to first hit the streets …” because an effective medium for getting the vibe of a particular location is through one’s feet, period; and
    b) Use that pony during that magical period where night and day are doing their shift-swap because it offers so much to the alert photographer.

    Second, it’s interesting you use a 50mm lens on a crop sensor camera, which in itself is a reasonable and personal choice. I had found many a time the 25mm focal length served well – most likely it was a way to get either closer, to exclude the throng of tourists, or to include when the opportunity allowed, when the madding crowd was not a hinderance. I say this, by way of example, because it’s quite obvious your early morning strategy clearly affords other benefits.

    regards
    Sean

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Sorry to “junk” this into your article on Venice, Paul, but I can’t think how else to send it to everyone.

    Just came across one of Jim Harmer’s articles which may be of interest to you guys – on “invariance” and, more particularly, some guidance on which cams have it. Looks to me as though Pascal is out clear, with his Sony A7Rii, a. And Paul with his XT1 & X100 – intuitively, that suggests to me that the X-Pro2 is in the clear, as well. Thankfully, my Nikons receive a green tick, too – which doesn’t surprise me much, because I’ve often used a setting like the ones Jim discusses.

    Here’s a URL to the article:
    http://improvephotography.com/34818/iso-invariance/

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