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  • Writer's pictureAndy Parker

One of my personal objectives as a photographer is to find ‘natural filters’ and produce effective shots in camera rather than using post-production to generate effects later.  Good vintage effects can be found throughout Venice but seeking out the dirty, salt splattered glass of the vaporetto (water bus) and the vaporetto stops, work best in my opinion.  One of my personal favourite locations for this includes the San Zaccaria vaporetto stop in St Marks basin where gondolas frequently pass by and there is the amazing backdrop of the church and island of San Giorgio.  There are also great curved mirrors (used by the vaporetto drivers to assist mooring) which add naturally, distorted abstract elements. 

Shooting in manual focus mode often works best to help pinpoint focus, but sharpness is not the aim here. Shooting at a aperture of around f4/5.6 also allows distant elements to be included but with keeping emphasis on the forground subjects. In the past I have tended to use a slower shutter to add some motion blur but these days I am shooting at high ISO around 6400, to generate more grainy tones in camera.   Minimal post production help lift shadows and reduce highlights, but I love these timeless, slightly abstract images.

Fujifilm X-E3 w.35mm on manual, f5.6, ISO 6400. Feb 23

Strangely  almost exactly a year apart, here’s a similar shot from the same location.

Fujifilm X-E3 35mm on manual focus, 1/25, f4, ISO 200. Feb 22.

Fujifilm X-E3 35mm on manual focus, 1/2400, f5.6, ISO 6400. Feb 23

The stop offers a clear view of tourist-ladened gondolas which frequently pass across the bay. Shooting through the glass adds optical effects including increased 'grain' from a dirty window or rogue reflections, which can mimic film defects which, in my opinion, provide a more unique experience than just shooting cleanly.

Fujifilm X-E3 35mm on manual focus, 1/10, f5.6, ISO 200. Feb 22.

Reflective effects and abstractions are endless around Venice, and we'll look at various reflection shots, using glass or mirrored surfaces as well as from the water, later in the series. AP.

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  • Writer's pictureAndy Parker

Quintessentially associated with Venice, fog adds to the overall allure and mystery of the city.  It is not normally associated with February, however, and especially late February it is quite unusual. Therefore it is providing a wonderful palette for some atmospheric shots as the sun is relatively high and makes an silvery appearance from time to time.

Due to the ephemeral quality of the fog which changes by the second, and as I’m on the move quite a lot, I am currently travelling very light. The iPhone is the camera of choice, pre-filtered in B&W (Noir) to capture the atmosphere immediately in camera. I upload as a TIFF file for some post-prod tweaks in Lightroom, but this is kept to a minimum and only involves darkroom techniques, such as dodging and burning.

The iconic foggy backdrops include the island and church of San Giorgio, the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute and of course, the Piazza San Marco with the bell tower.  To add depth, contrast and atmosphere, foreground objects are included, and here the wooden mooring posts (bricole) and gondole add that feature.

iPhone SE (2022). Pre-filtered: Noir. Feb 23

iPhone SE (2022). Pre-filtered: Noir. Feb 23

I also managed a few chance shots waiting at the vaporetto stop of Santa Maria del Giglio looking down the Grand Canal towards La Salute.  Taken at 5pm which would normally have good visibility, the depth of fog is dramatic and no post-prod was necessary to create this atmosphere.

iPhone SE (2022). Pre-filtered: Noir. Feb 23

February fog also featured in one of my earliest shots of Venice taken back in 2011 and gives another example of the timeless quality that monochrome offers.

Venetian Fog, Venice. Feb 2011. Canon Powershot S90, f2, 1/640

Venetian Fog (2011) was taken using a Canon Powershot S90, an extremely pocketable, handy camera and one of the first compacts to capture images in RAW format, over 10 years ago. Shooting in aperture priority, the physical portability allowed me capture this shot in a single frame as the jogger cut through the scene. Captured around 8.30am in the morning, it is now unusual to see so few people, even at at this time, in the piazza. At only 10MP, the S90 is now outdated in terms of image quality and also reaction speeds have greatly improved, but I do still miss carrying a compact and have yet to find a modern equivalent.

Next time, we'll look at ways of grabbing vintage-style shots on the go, without using filters... So, thanks for looking and I welcome any feedback. Ciao! AP

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