La Serenissima

September 26, 2014  •  1 Comment

The Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, taken from where the canal Rio de Palazzo o de Canonica empties into the Lagoon.

 

La SerenissiamLa SerenissiamCopyrighted Digital Photograph

 

Bucket List

Words are inadequate to express my emotional reaction to my first visit to Venice. To know that a place is absolutely magical and to delay for decades before journeying to see it, particularly when time, money and distance are not an issue, is arguably insane, but life works like that doesn't it?

 

In my defense, I combined this first flirt with La Serenissima with a personal quest to please my Beloved, when we made a memorable and romantic trip in celebration of our wedding anniversary. I can recommend taking a personal taxi from the airport to our hotel in proximity to St. Mark’s Square, being met by the hotel Porter on arrival at the canal’s disembarkation steps and being led to a charming suite where roses and champagne were waiting in the bedroom. For the rest, it was enough to leave this impossibly beautiful place to fill our eyes, ears and hearts with a dreamy, fairytale experience.

 

Duty Calls

That said, the Beloved was abandoned at dusk and dawn, as I wandered, dazed by unlimited choices of marvelous sights along the canals and edge of the Lagoon. This specific image was taken at the end of such a journey, as I headed eastwards, back to the hotel. Sunset was ahead of me and behind the Basilica, as the gondolas gently rose and fell in the swell hitting the island.

 

I am always puzzled by the level of detail to choose in a scene such as this. Should I try and capture the widest possible sweep of the cityscape, focus on the small details hiding in the big picture, or try for a mid-range choice of foreground and background? With the light rapidly failing and the subject including objects in motion, I had to decide quickly, or go slower and intentionally design an image including blur.

 

I had lenses for all three choices and I decided on the mid range. This image is the preferred version, one out of five taken in a bracketed series. That said, very little manipulation or cropping was necessary, given the combination of viewpoint and a 60mm lens.

 

Composition

This is very dear to my heart and has been a subject of much personal reflection during my whole lifetime of studying visual art.  Banal as it may be, I am particularly influenced by Dutch landscape artists, the Impressionists who painted in nature and Japanese print artists, such as Hokusai and Hiroshige. Given the current discussion, Canaletto was also standing with me, so to speak,  as I stood contemplating this breathtaking moment.

 

Those of you who are attached to the “Rule of Thirds“ will notice that I broke it, by aligning the horizon between land and sky near the centre of the image, concentrating the first taste of the scene on the church. The element that I paid most attention to initially was the perspective of the shore lights, as they drew they eye deeper into the background. I debated whether to include them in the frame, or not, and finally decided that the prows of the gondolas created a front to back line for the eye, leading into these lights in a harmonious flow.

 

At second glance, the sweep of the boats and the lights is a guide which creates a sense of depth and leads naturally from the dark, dappled water to the setting sun. I love it! I also thank the city fathers for the electric lighting which provided detail in the distance, particularly of the Basilica and I hope that its modernity is sufficiently delicate to not diminish the deep sense of history that such a sight evokes.

 

Technical Limitations

Because of the very high 6400 ISO, which is the top end of the “normal” ratings for the Nikon D800, this image does not view well at higher magnification. A full size print, or even 1.5 times capture size, starts to show the pixellation and colour distortion, but by twice capture size and above, it has becomes unusable, without more expert sizing treatment than I am presently capable of achieving. Perhaps a master image handler would squeeze a surprisingly increased degree of magnification at an acceptable cost in detail and colour rendering?

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 60mm f2.8G

Focal Length: 60mm

Focus Mode: AF-F

Aperture: f/8

Shutter Speed: 1/40s

Auto Focus -Area Mode: Wide Area

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation : 0

Bracketing set to 5

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 6400

Mounted on a Tripod

 

I am condemned to return to this fantastical place as soon as life offers another suitable opportunity. I hope that you share my excitement at the effect which it had on me, even if you have already been wise enough to drink it in yourself, once or frequently.

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2014


Comments

Eric(non-registered)
J'ai ressenti exactement la même émotion en découvrant Venise il y a quelques années. Emotion chaque fois renouvelée à chacune de mes visites, avec une préférence pour les quartiers populaires. Donc je suis en phase avec toi à 100% Concernant la photo, les gondoles sombres au premier plan participent parfaitement à sa composition. Par contre je ne suis pas fan du premier lampadaire qui attire trop le regard au détriment du reste de l'image.
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