Right On Q-The Lighter Side Of Venice
Often in Winter Venice is true to its roots with fewer tourists and more of just getting on with the essentials of Venetian daily life. Sunlight is at a premium and warmth has escaped the canals and Piazzas for a few months. The only Winter exception is Carnival which is famous the world over. Then, of course, there are the important March gondola races down the Canal Grande. Even now many crews were fine-tuning their techniques for this important March race often after a full day of work so that their only practice window seemed to be later in the day and before the dinner hour.
But in late January nothing beats the cold and dreary days of Winter except for multiple layers of winter clothing. I was in Venice with a small group, nearly all of whom were into creating their own style of Venetian street or cityscape images. The only limitation was that all images had to be in Black and White. The requirement seemed easy, but once we began in such a colorful city it was immediately apparent that it was much more difficult than we had initially imagined. At first, my preference was to get out very early in the morning before most were waking up or even thinking of having breakfast. The solitude was heavy in the air while crisscrossing the Dorsoduro area near the Accademia Bridge which was near our hotel.
The Black & White images that follow are my impressions of Venice in late January where most morning temperatures hovered around the freezing point. My camera of choice on this trip was the Leica Q, even though I often use my Leica M10 for street photography. The 28mm/f1.7 lens came in handy as I set my shutter speed to 1/250 or 1/500 with a maximum ISO of 3200 with the shutter speed dial set to A . That ISO level might seem high to many, but actually, the Q performed quite well at that ISO range. All images were processed in Capture One, including conversions from color to B&W, with final touches on occasion carried out with CC Photoshop. I found Q images were very malleable when converting from RAW. Often based on my shutter speed and ISO settings my RAW images appeared dark before bringing up the shadow areas but held up well against processing for my style of photography. In Capture One I started with the highlight and shadow sliders. Then I checked how Levels could handle the histogram. Next, I converted to B&W and worked the color sliders to my liking. After that, a small amount of Clarity 15-20 was added with Structure about half the Clarity setting. If any of my work created blown out highlights I would reduce the highlight slider to bring that back into acceptable levels.
It appeared to me that the first order of business in Venice at 6 am was to clean the sidewalk areas. The bright, fluorescent yellow clothing of the street cleaners combined with their dancing technique of sweeping got my attention early on. Then, of course, the priest at the nearby Catholic school was out making sure his entrance area was free of unwanted debris. Due to the cold weather hovering around freezing combined with high winds, many were briskly walking to their destinations as the street lights bathed their path.
As the sun began to rise off in the distance more boat traffic appeared letting waiting passengers on or off Vaporettos or for lack of a better description of water buses. Photographic opportunities on these vessels exploded once the Venetians awakened and started their daily routines in earnest. If heavy rains depressed ones desire for continual searching around Venice, just riding the Vaporetto was often subject worthy when an interesting local might sit right in front of you.
Diving deeper into Venice was totally enjoyable and involved getting lost more than once during every excursion. Often I would succumb to the delicious smells of pasta and other dishes emanating from various restaurant kitchens and settle in for a soup to warm myself and then another dish I fancied before finishing with a cappuccino or cafe latte macchiato.
The area between the Rialto Bridge and Fondamenta Nuove was of great interest with its many narrow alleyways and small, unexpected squares, not to mention its tiny bridges many of which had the occasional gondola quietly gliding past. This image captures a scene near a tiny square.
The afternoon setting sun created many interesting shadows where one could capture special moments with locals going about their daily routines.
Of course one must see the Piazza San Marco in all its glory. It was appreciated most in the evening or very early in the day when many had not yet populated the area. The iconic image taken looking toward San Giorgio with the gondolas in the foreground was very popular with photographers. Instead, I selected Gondolas in a different location.
Getting lost in color on Burano is truly special and took the edge off my B&W feelings this January. But upon return to Venice, I was thrust once again into B&W image captures even if it was raining.
It is not often I feel compelled to shoot a vastly colorful city in black and white. This was the goal set in motion many months in advance and I tried to keep that goal in mind with every twist and turn while wandering through this wonderfully colorful city. On occasion, one must stretch their photographical comfort zones and venture into the unknown and even perhaps uncomfortable areas of photography in order to unleash creative juices that one might not even realize exist within themselves. I endeavored to do just that on this photographic outing.
Steve Gosling, an acclaimed British photographer, began this journey by offering a Black and White only Masterclass. Steve is well known for his Black and White landscape photography among other types of photography. The intended goal forced one to look to luminance values and subtle tones in order to accomplish this goal without letting Venice’s vibrant and competing colors enter into the equation. My specific project choice was Essential Venetian Street Life. The one caveat is that Venice is comprised of both water life and street life simultaneously.
After nearly loosing my eye sight, the decision in 2011 to buy a digital camera in order to leave something on earth if blindness were to set in has given me the energy and drive to capture images of all sorts. In one word it is Life that I capture in all its shapes and forms. Life has various meanings to each of us, but it is Life that is crucial to me no matter where it is found. I very much like to see Life and live Life. On one hand, I am a photographer who captures earthy, gritty, emotional and moving street scenes with a worldly emphasis. And on the other hand, I am also a photographer who loves the openess and solitude of the beautiful and moving landscape environment where ones artistic juices are allowed the freedom to flow to their maximum. Sometimes that means dramtic colors and other times it means capturing the scene in stong and intense black & white images. In January 2016 I was again fortunate enough to receive the coveted Jay Colson Portfolio Award at FOTOfusion where 50 professional photographers and photo editors voted my portfolio the best. Winning this Award once is an honor, but now that I have won it three years in a row, it is an overwhelming achievement. Below are links to various articles written about my photography and what moves me to capture my images. Cuba Article-Leica User Forum My Street Photography-Leica User Forum My Landscape Photography-Leica User Forum