ON LOCATION PHOTOGRAPHING VENICE - PART TWO

This is part two of my travel blog covering my trip to Venice. If you haven't yet seen part one, you can find it here: Photographing Venice - Part One.

Part one of this blog finished with some shots taken from the Accademia Bridge as the sun was beginning to rise. This was my one and only early morning shoot so I wanted to make the most of it. There is no other time you can get the city (almost) all to yourself with the best light of the day.

Saint Mark's Basilica

At Piazza San Marco (St Mark's Square) once again, with the 18-55mm lens attached, I wanted to capture Saint Mark's Basilica. The most famous of Venice's churches. The building has taken various forms since its inception in the 9th century. It was burnt down and restored in the 10th century and has undergone various developments since then. One thing is for sure, with its highly decorative facade, it is quite something to behold.

Capturing Saint Mark's Basilica can be quite tricky when trying to nail the composition. Being quite low to the ground to get the spires in the shot and having to be as wide as possible meant that there was a lot of distortion (keystone effect) where the usually straight vertical lines would converge nearer the top of the image. I managed to correct this in post but in hindsight I should have left just a bit more headroom in the shot to allow for this correction by moving slightly further back. Link to Google Map of the location this image was shot from.

Photo of Saint Mark's Basilica at dawn in Venice taken by Trevor Sherwin

6.5 secs
f8

ISO200
18mm
Fujifilm X-T10
XF18-55mm

Bacino San Marco

Just to the right of Sant Mark's Basilica, the square opens up with great views across the Bacino San Marco. In this scene, I particularly liked the ornate lamps and Doge's Palace architecture coupled with the way the rising sun is just catching the Lion of Venice on top of the column. I think the palace on the left and column on the right balances the composition nicely.

I used a 10 stop ND filter mounted on the lens for this shot as a few people were starting to wander around the square and with them not adding anything to the image I took a longer exposure which helps blur the figures out of the image as they move.

Photo of Piazza San Marco in the morning taken by Trevor Sherwin

6 secs
f8

ISO200
35mm
Fujifilm X-T10
XF18-55mm

Riva degli Schiavoni

This image below is taken just in front of the Doge's Palace, just a few yards from the image above. I tried to isolate the lamp as the main subject with the Venetian architecture in the background.

You have to see to believe the difference a few hours make between the shot below and when the tourists start rolling into the city. This area along the waterfront, called Riva degli Schiavoni is absolutely packed during the day. Seeing it like this almost feels like a privilege as not many people will see this unobstructed, peaceful view of the city.

Photo of the Riva degli Schiavoni waterfront in Venice taken by Trevor Sherwin

6.5 secs
f10

ISO200
25mm
Fujifilm X-T10
XF18-55mm

Revisiting the Bridge of Sighs

Heading towards my hotel and ready for breakfast, I decided to capture the Bridge of Sighs again but this time as a long exposure. With so much architectural detail on the scene which I couldn't and wouldn't want to change, I used the 10-stop filter again which gave me a 4-second exposure, allowing me to smooth out the water, softening the image a little and emphasise the bridge. The composition was also helped by the converging lines leading the viewer's eye into the image to the bridge itself. Link to Google Map of the location this image was shot from.

Photo of the Bridge of Sighs at dawn in Venice taken by Trevor Sherwin

4 secs
f10

ISO200
25mm
Fujifilm X-T10
XF18-55mm

The famous moored gondolas

I couldn't visit Venice without capturing a couple of images of the famous moored gondolas. Once again, I used the 10 stop natural density filter to slow down the shutter speed to 1.9 seconds which allowed me to capture the movement of the boats bobbing up and down on the water. If there's any view that is instantly recognisable as Venetian, then I think this is it.

Photo of moored gondolas on the Bacino San Marco in Venice taken by Trevor Sherwin

1.9 secs
f10

ISO200
18mm
Fujifilm X-T10
XF18-55mm

For the image below I got close up to the gondolas to really capture their movement with a more central composition so I attached the wide-angle XF10-24mm lens and parked my camera on the tripod right on the water's edge. I particularly liked the contrast between the softer moving boats and the pin-sharp wooden poles as it balanced the image really well.

Blurry photo of moored gondolas on the Bacino San Marco in Venice taken by Trevor Sherwin

14 secs
f7.1

ISO200
17mm
Fujifilm X-T10
XF10-24mm

Riding the gondolas

Getting on to the end of my last full day in the city, it was time to take a ride on the famous gondolas. The gondola rides in Venice are a must for anyone visiting the city. Not cheap (100EUR for 30 mins) but if you can, you most certainly should. I was lucky enough to have a really good gondolier who spoke of the historic locations as we travelled through the canals. It was almost like having my own tour guide.

The image below was taken as we followed another gondola out onto the Grand Canal providing a great view of the Rialto Bridge which dates back to 1591.

Photo of a gondola and the Rialto Bridge in Venice taken by Trevor Sherwin

1/320th sec
f9

ISO200
33mm
Fujifilm X-T10
XF18-55mm

The gondolas are covered in ornate decorations which creates the character and charm of these beautiful boats. The shallower depth of field provided by a wider aperture (f4) used here emphasises these details nicely.

Photo or the gondola decorations in Venice taken by Trevor Sherwin

1/80th sec
f4

ISO200
55mm
Fujifilm X-T10
XF18-55mm

 

Another shot, albeit wider taken from aboard the gondola. This trip took place around 19:30 and without a doubt, this is the best time of day to take the ride during the summer months in my opinion. During the day, the canals can be like the equivalent of the roads around London during rush hour. There can be gondolas 2 or 3 abreast sailing around the canals. It really is that busy. As the sun goes down and the evening draws in, the canals really quieten down and the ride I took was so peaceful and relaxing.

Photo of me riding the gondola in Venice by Trevor Sherwin

1/150th sec
f2.8

ISO200
18mm
Fujifilm X-T10
XF18-55mm

 

As I wandered back to the hotel, I passed the Chiesa di (church) San Giorgio dei Greci once more. I spoke about this fascinating church with its lop sided tower in part one of this blog. I was drawn to the way the light hits the side of the tower and the way it seems to be leaning towards the sun's warm evening light, longing for it not to go.

Photo of the San Giorgio dei Greci tower in Venice taken by Trevor Sherwin

1/300th sec
f5.6

ISO200
55mm
Fujifilm X-T10
XF18-55mm

Back at the hotel, another bank of cloud rolled in from the mountains but before it completely engulfed the sky, I managed to capture a few pictures of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute just after the sun had gone down. There was a nice pink glow from beyond the horizon providing great light for the shot so out came the 55-200 lens again.

Photo of Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute at sunset by Trevor Sherwin

1/300th sec
f3.8

ISO400
82mm
Fujifilm X-T10
XF55-200mm

Another shot of the basilica just a few minutes later than the one above with the last remains of the sun's pinky-red light and the city lights now turned on.

Photo of Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute at Night by Trevor Sherwin

7.5 secs
f8

ISO200
61mm
Fujifilm X-T10
XF55-200mm

So, my last day in Venice started with a walk across the Grand Canal, over the Rialto Bridge, providing fantastic views of this incredibly busy water way. During the day, there are gondolas, delivery boats, water taxis, trade boats and water buses sailing up and down, avoiding each other along the canal. I decided to continue with the longer 200mm lens and take it out for the day as I walked about to take some tighter shots and isolate the subjects a little.

A photo of The view from the Rialto Bridge in Venice by Trevor Sherwin

1/1500th sec
f5.6

ISO200
58mm
Fujifilm X-T10
XF55-200mm

Exploring the streets and canals of Venice

Walking around the narrow maze-like streets south of the Grand Canal, the different intricate features along this street is what caught my attention, from the ornate lamps on the side of the buildings to the window shutters. The 200mm focal length gives a nice feeling of depth to the scene.

A photo of the narrow streets of Venice taken by Trevor Sherwin

1/210th sec
f6.4

ISO200
200mm
Fujifilm X-T10
XF55-200mm

Heading back across the Grand Canal, once again I crossed the Accademia Bridge. Having already captured the traditional views from the bridge, I used the longer lens to capture the below shot of the gondola floating towards me. I really like the way the gondola appears to be all alone in the water when in fact I just got a bit lucky with the timing and the river traffic just quietened down enough as I took the image. Luck certainly plays its part in the photography process.

A photo of a lone Gondola on the Grand Canal taken by Trevor Sherwin

1/750th sec
f5.6

ISO200
200mm
Fujifilm X-T10
XF55-200mm

 

Continuing the gondola theme, the next few images were taken around the canals as I wandered around in my last few hours before heading to the airport. The reason I like the image, in particular, is the pleasing composition created by the canal leading the eye deep into the image and the way both the canal and the gondola are nicely framed by the buildings either side.

Photo of a gondola along the venetian canal taken by Trevor Sherwin

1/100th sec
f10

ISO200
55mm
Fujifilm X-T10
XF55-200mm

 

I like the shot of the gondola below as it shows off the traditional Venetian boat as the main subject without a cover on or full of tourists having a ride. As mentioned before the longer lens allowed for this isolation and cut out a lot of other distracting elements that would be in the shot if a wider lens was used. The scene looks typically Venetian and with subtle touches like the mooring poles along the edge of the water, it really does complete the scene.

A photo of a moored gondola on the Venetian canal taken by Trevor Sherwin

1/80th sec
f16

ISO200
55mm
Fujifilm X-T10
XF55-200mm

As I headed back to the hotel to collect my bags before heading to the airport, I spotted this gondolier just chilling on a bridge. With the chap dressed for the part and the composition having a nice symmetry to it I zoomed right in and snapped away. I did have to crop the image a bit as he was standing right underneath a Greek national flag which looked obviously out of place.

A photo of a Gondolier on a bridge in Venice taken by Trevor Sherwin

1/140th sec
f16

ISO200
200mm
Fujifilm X-T10
XF55-200mm

For the final few of images, we have come full circle and back to the location of the very first image in the first blog (Part 1). Right above me is the Bridge of Sighs and on the edge of the canal is a small ledge where you can relax and watch the gondolas float past as they start another circuit around the winding canals. I mentioned earlier in the blog that during the day the gondolas can be really busy and you can see that in the shot below.

I do like the composition in this image as the busy canal is nicely framed and leads into the shot to the bridge in the distance. The light in the far background is also pleasing as it adds depth to the image.

Photo of the gondola traffic along the canal under the Bridge of Sighs taken by Trevor Sherwin

1/50th sec
f16

ISO800
105mm
Fujifilm X-T10
XF55-200mm

The final image below captures 3 gondolas in a row as the canal quietens down a little. I composed the shot in a way that shows a lot of depth in the scene and the gondolas on the canal are again nicely framed to the left and up top by the Bridge of Sighs. I was really happy with this shot when I took it and even happier with it after a bit of post-processing.

I tried to keep the post processing as consistent as possible as it is important to me that the images throughout this story of my trip look like they belong together. Individually I think the images are nice, not amazing but together they tell a story of the city and how it looked and felt to me. Whenever I look at the photos or re-read this blog it will take me back there over and over again.

Picture of Three Gondolas along the canal in Venice taken by Trevor Sherwin

1/60th sec
f14

ISO640
55mm
Fujifilm X-T10
XF55-200mm

 

I am really happy I took my Fuji X-T10 with me and even more glad that the times I was out and about, I used just the one lens for a period of time. It made me work with what I had and find the images in the scene that worked with the focal length I was using. Yes, I probably missed a few images but not having to fiddle with the camera, changing lenses throughout the trip allowed me to look around the city, spot a shot, capture the image and move on, resulting in images I might not have taken, or even seen for that matter.

I'm not a travel photographer. I have a day job but of all the places I have visited, I will be going back to Venice one day. It's the kind of city you need many visits to before you can feel you have exploited the place photographically. I just hope I don't have to wait too long before I go back!

Thanks for taking the time to get to the end of this journey as it was certainly a long read and feel free to leave a comment and ask any questions I may not have covered in either part of this blog post.