When Dawn and I were married I asked her if there was any place on earth she really wanted to see. She did not have to ponder the question but immediately answered “Venice”. I told her that I would take her there on our 25th anniversary. As that anniversary approached I was busy saving money for the trip but not saying much to Dawn to try and surprise her. Well, several months before our anniversary, our daughter announced that she was going to get married. With that statement, our travel plans collapsed. However, I started saving again, and four years later I had enough money for us to plan the trip. We decided to tour Venice, Florence, and Rome.
In a previous blog I mentioned that all of my photos can be categorized into three files: People, Places, and Things. Not being a “people person”, I left the “people” photos for Dawn to shoot as I concentrated on Places and Things. I never regretted that decision. These three cities had so many targets for the camera I could have easily spent an entire year and still not run out of places and things to photograph.
The area around the Mediterranean Sea has some of the best lighting for photography. The early morning light that reflects off the canals of Venice bathes the colorful buildings with an etherial quality that just begs to be photographed.
We found that the best way to see Venice is just to start walking and, sooner or later, you will come upon a landmark that will allow you find your way back to your hotel. The smaller canals are great to photograph daily life. Here you will find beautiful flowers in flower-boxes on the windows of ancient buildings. Laundry hanging from the windows are a common sight as well. Seagulls are everywhere, as are the tourists. If you want to shoot any of the buildings without people cluttering the photo you must get there early in the morning before the delivery people with their carts begin their deliveries.
Piazza San Marco is best photographed in that early morning light, minus the thousands of people who will arrive later in the day. The Grand Canal is outstanding no matter the time of day.
The architecture of Florence is impressive but the art is overwhelming. The Uffizi Gallery houses Michelangelo’s David and no photo can do it justice. Seeing it for the first time brings tears to your eyes. The Ponte Vecchio, with its overhanging houses, is a landmark bridge over the Arno River, and is a delightful image at night. The most famous of landmarks in Florence is the Basilica de Santa Maria del Fiore and it, along with the Palazzo Vecchio, the Old Palace, dominate the Florence skyline.
There are no adequate words to describe the city of Rome. But if I had to choose one, it would be “timeless”. Standing on the top of The Vittoriano, a building sheathed in pure white marble in the early 1900s, the view of the Roman forum is breathtaking.
But, if you go, be sure to take time to actually view the ancient ruins.
It is all too easy to shoot image after image, and come home with photos but no memories. It is that tempting. From the top of this building I was able to take a panoramic sequence encompassing the Colosseum and the entire forum from this high vantage point. Be sure to stroll throughout the forum and photograph the individual temple ruins if you ever get the chance. (Note: Almost all of my images are shot in threes: that is – one, under exposed by 1 stop; the second, properly exposed; and third, overexposed by 1 stop. This allows me to create a High Dynamic Range image of the scene when I get back home.)
Two weeks in Italy was hardly enough to do anything but get the itch to go back. Perhaps, one day we will, but there are still too many sights to see in our own country of the U.S. and lots of photographs that need to be taken here, before we go back overseas.
While the lighting and colors of Italy are magnificent, my own color vision is handicapped by a red/green color deficiency. It means that the colors I see are not exactly the same as people with normal color vision. This makes processing raw images into gallery quality photographs darn near impossible without the help of my wife (who has perfect color vision).
The next best thing for me to do would be to turn all of my photographs into Black & White versions. This not only allows me to process them myself but the final images seem to harken back to the early days when all photography was B&W. It also seems to add a timeless feeling to the images of ancient Italy.
(To enjoy these images in your home or office, we do offer Giclee prints, matted and mounted for sale. Click here!)