• Andy’s E-BOOK — Photography Travel Guides

  • PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS!!

    All Images and writing on this blog are copyrighted by Andy Richards. All rights are reserved. You may not, without my express, written permission, download, right click, or otherwise copy my images for any reason. Copying an image and putting it on your blog, website, or even as a screensaver on your computer is a breach of copyright, EVEN IF YOU ATTRIBUTE THE SOURCE! Please do not do so.
  • On This Blog:

  • Categories

  • Andy’s Photography Galleries

    Click Here To See My Gallery of Photographic Images

    LightCentric Photography

  • Andy's Flickr Photos

  • Prior Posts

  • Posts By Date

    October 2019
    M T W T F S S
    « Sep    
     123456
    78910111213
    14151617181920
    21222324252627
    28293031  
  • Advertisements

Amsterdam

(Left-Clicking on an image opens it in a new window, bigger and with better resolution)

Here is the final (finally) post on the British Isles Cruise – and not a minute (er, week) too soon. In just a couple weeks we are off again to another Mediterranean adventure, this time in Spain and along Italy”s northeast coast. So, more to come in the not too distant future. In the meantime, this one is a couple days late. We have just begun a major renovation project in our Florida home, and the main part of the house will be – at times – inaccessible, making my computer difficult to reach. Stay tuned …..

Amsterdam was our port of departure from the ship, and so we had to disembark, and get our luggage to our motel near the airport for our flight out the next morning. We were all pretty tired and we purposely had not made any plan for tours that day. Instead, we went down to the center city and walked around. Amsterdam has always kind of been known as the “anything goes” city, and we at least had to stroll down the “Red Light” district, and walk around to see the marijuana dispensaries. It is a pretty wild scene. And we were there during the day. I can only imagine how it ramps up after dark. In that part of the city, you can smoke in any of the bars, and there are shops everywhere, so that the smell of marijuana smoke was pretty obvious, as we walked though that part of the city. As you can see, even though we have now “legalized” canabis in many of the states here in the U.S., we have a lot of “catching up” to do to get even close to the marketing now done in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

In spite of all the craziness, most of the city is comprized of things you would expect to see in many other European cities. Along with Bruges, Amsterdam is considered part of the “Venice” of the north. Situated along the eastern shore of a peninsula which separates the North Sea from a large, protected inlet (Markermeer and Ijsselmeer – “meer” translates roughly from Dutch as “broad” or “large” lake), eventually feeding a large canal that ultimately crosses the entire peninsula and empties into the North Sea (at the very northeastern end of the English Channel). This allow for an impressive canal system within the city, and it is known for its Dutch Architecture lined canals. The buildings all have “false front” gables, and in general, each individual gable has its own characteer, distinguishing it from the adjoining buildings.

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

There are also some rather grand buildings in the main downtown area of Amsterdam, as well as a couple very striking museums and other municipal buildings, replete with flowers and fountains one might expect in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Like most larger cities, there are also some quiet back streets that border the busier areas, with local bars, and restaurants.

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

One thing that kind of stood out to me what how much less ostentatious most residents are with their modes of transportation. Though we saw alot of this throughout Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands, the bicycle was an extremely popular mode of transportation. This was more prevalent in Amsterdam than in the other places.

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

I also noticed that Amsterdam seems to have a firm commitment to alternative energy sources. There were charging stations for electric vehicles available right in the downtown area.

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Amsterdam appears to be a significant hub for flights and connections throughout Europe, and I suspect we will be their again – perhaps for a longer period of time. I will Look forward to that, based on our very short time there.

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Advertisements

Bruges

Bruges, Belgium

We ancitipated Bruges, which our research touted to be “The beer capital of the world.” We had a 1/2 day tour scheduled at the beginning, which in addition to some historic sites and buildings, was to also include some chocolate and beer tasting. Belgium is know for its chocolate, its waffles, and its beer. Unfortunately, we recieved a call from our guide who was driving from Brussels, as we waited out by the cruise terminal. He was tied up in traffic from a major accident and it didn’t look good that he would be arriving any time soon. We ultimately cancelled and took a taxi into the city. Even though it doesn’t seem far on the map, it was a good 1/2 hour drive, and during that time our driver – whose English was excellent (though his native language is Dutch), gave us some historical context.

Port of ZeeBrugge
Burges, Belgium
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Bruges, was perhaps one of the earliest Belgian cities, rising in medieval times and becoming a major trade center at the Renaissance emerged. It was strategically located near the sea (our port of call was Zeebrugge, which means “Bruges by the Sea”).

The Markt
Bruges, Belgium
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

There is a continuous canal from the port in to the center of the city. Its most prominent feature is the Markt, a large oval plaza, surrounded by colorful and impressive architecture; today mostly retail establishments catering largely to tourists. Our cab driver dropped us off on a quiet street directly behind the Markt and we made arrangement for him to pick us up and return us to the cruise port later that afternoon. As we walked into the open plaza, it became immediately obvious that this was a photogenic scene. Lining the plaza on one side are some very colorful buildings with Dutch Colonial architecture, belying strong Dutch influence. There are some pretty impressive historic buildings, including a belfry that dates back to 1240, once the center of the town on the other perimeters.

The Markt
Brussels, Belgium
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

The Belfry is about 272 feet high and it towers over the surrounding buildings.

The Belfry of Bruges
Bruges, Belgium
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

The Belfry of Bruges
Bruges, Belgium
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Bruges City Hall also faces the Markt and is an impressive building.

Bruges City Hall
Bruges, Belgium
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

WWe arrived between 9:30 and 10:00 a.m., to a city that – surprisingly – had not seemed to have awoken yet. We walked around some of the surrounding streets where there were no vehicles, few people, and shops that had yet to open.

Bruges, Belgium
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

 

Bruges, Belgium
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

 

Bruges, Belgium
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Bruges, Belgium
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Bruges is also a city with numerous canals, and has been referred to as the Venice of the North. Having spent a fair amount of time in Venice, I can say that while the canals in Bruges (and Amsterdam) are impressive and lie in beautiful surroundings, they are very different from the canals of Venice. Notably, there are automobiles everywhere. Having said that, I will be among the first to agree that Bruges’ canals are photogenic.

Rozenhoedkaai Canal
Bruge, Belgium
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

 

Canal
Bruges, Belgium
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

 

Canal
Bruges, Belgium
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

 

Canal
Bruges, Belgium
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Indeed, canal tours are among the most popular thing to do in Bruges, and certainly afford a great way to see the city.

Canal Tour Boad
Bruges, Belgium
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

In addition to tasting some of the local brew and chocolate, we did walk around the old city and saw a few other nice sights as we walked.

Bruges, Belgium
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Bruges, Belgium
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Bruges, Belgium
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Bruges, Belgium
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

Ultimately, we found some beer, we found some chocolate, and we ended up a nice, rather relaxing day in Bruges at Cuvee Wine Bar, where we had a couple nice wines, and some cheeses and meats, before heading back to the cruise port. Back at the cruise port, as we sat on the back bar enjoying the late sun, a drink and the sail-away, I wasn’t sure whether to feel safe, or threatened, given that the ship moored directly behind us was most certainly not a pleasure cruiser. It appears that they make them a bit smaller than we do stateside. 🙂

Military Aircraft Carrier
Bruges, Belgium
Copyright Andy Richards 2019

The 7-Year Itch?

A solid support is crucial to sharpness and detail in this early morning light image

A solid support is crucial to sharpness and detail in this early morning light image

There is an old thought about relationships known as the “seven-year-itch” (something about getting an itch to try something new in the 7th year, which ultimately in most cases, terminates the former relationship). Before anyone gets alarmed, I have been happily married for 30 plus years now – that 7-year thing is well behind us. 🙂

Craftsbury Common, Craftsbury, Vermont Copyright 2010  Andy Richards

Craftsbury Common, Craftsbury, Vermont
Copyright 2010 Andy Richards

But, just trying to come up with a clever title for this blog, it came to mind. Next month, I will have been writing this blog for 7 years. So this coming year could be the year I decide it’s over and move on. Given my history, I probably won’t. Besides, I really enjoy writing this thing (the opening image is my very first posted image here).

Stone House; Manassas Virginia Copyright  Andy Richards  2010

Stone House; Manassas Virginia
Copyright Andy Richards 2010

I really enjoy writing this thing

In the winter of 2008, I began a series of “tutorial” e-mails to one of my sisters who had taken up DSLR photography. I was trying to explain the technical aspects of exposure, depth of field, etc. to her in steps. About the same time, a friend from Vermont began to ask questions about her point and shoot camera, and shortly, she acquired her own DSLR.

Glade Creek Gristmill; Babcock SP, West Virginia  copyright 2011  Andy Richards

Glade Creek Gristmill; Babcock SP, West Virginia copyright 2011 Andy Richards

Between the two of them, and some others, I spent a fair amount of time writing and editing and responding to questions and clarifying, and it dawned on me that maybe I should save these “writings” (mainly so I wouldn’t have to re-create them later). About that same time, I hired a company to create a photography website for me to showcase my own images. The idea of a blog seemed a natural follow-up and since everybody was doing it, and there was no cost to set it up, I decided to give it a whirl.

Bernard Maine copyright  Andy Richards 2009

Bernard Maine
copyright Andy Richards 2009

I started the blog as a Google Blogger site, but migrated to WordPress a few months later, as WordPress seemed to offer both a more pleasing theme and more versatility for photographic blogging. Since moving to WordPress, the blog has had more than 50,000 views, and currently has 50 followers – not exactly “viral,” but nonetheless very heartening.

Texas State Capitol, Austin, TX Copyright Andy Richards  2010

Texas State Capitol, Austin, TX
Copyright Andy Richards 2010

not exactly “viral,” but nonetheless very heartening

Over time, the blog has gradually evolved from my “tutorial” writings (there is only so much of that, and mine were specifically “conversational,” and certainly not intended to compete with the myriad of books and website offerings by the professionals out there), to more of a combination of a travel images blog and the occasional philosophical or political musing, with the stray tutorial thrown it. I have also spent some time reviewing equipment – primarily that which I have owned or used.

Ketchikan, Alaska Copyright  Andy Richards  2010

Ketchikan, Alaska
Copyright Andy Richards 2010

Perusing my “offerings” from the beginning, I was amazed to see the territory covered. Since the first writing, I have traveled and photographed fairly extensively in the United States, including (in addition to my home state of Michigan – upper and lower peninsulas and my new “home” away from home state of Florida) Texas, Alaska, San Francisco and Northern California; Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks from Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Virginia, West Virginia; New Mexico; Minnesota; Acadia National Park and surrounds in Maine and Vermont.

Split Rock Light; North Shore, Lake Superior, MN Copyright Andy Richards  2010

Split Rock Light; North Shore, Lake Superior, MN
Copyright Andy Richards 2010

It has gotten harder to do this

I have Traveled out of the country to Canada, Ireland, Italy, Turkey and Greece, as well as 3 trips to the Caribbean. In 2015, we will travel to Japan, the Mediterranean again; and I will go to Vermont again in the fall. So hopefully, there are many more images to come. In some of the places that I have visited multiple times, the challenge will be doing something unique.

Chili Ristra, New Mexico   copyright 2008  Andy Richards

Chili Ristra, New Mexico copyright 2008 Andy Richards

There have been some milestones over the 7 years. In March of 2010, I bid a bittersweet goodbye to my best buddy and fellow shooter and traveler, Rich, whose career took a sharp left turn, as he moved away from Michigan. While we knew we would try to stay in touch, it was not certain that we would. Over the following year, we did. Then, to my great delight, his career took yet another turn and he moved back here to Michigan. We will live to shoot another day!

San Francisco Night Skyline  copyright 2011  Andy Richards

San Francisco Night Skyline copyright 2011 Andy Richards

As I looked for images that seemed to make an impression on me from the places I visited, it ocurrs to me that 2010 was a huge travel and photography year for me in the U.S.

Copyright 2012  Andy Richards

Copyright 2012 Andy Richards

the challenge will be doing something unique

I cannot even count how many times I have mentioned the word “Nikon” in my blog. I have been a loyal Nikon user for thirty plus years. As my more recent blogs have noted, I have completely moved to another name and system in the past few months. I still think Nikon makes top quality DSLR bodies and lenses. But they haven’t moved toward the mirrorless system in a way that fits my thinking.

City Center Rome, Italy Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

City Center
Rome, Italy
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

On a couple occasions, I mentioned New Year’s resolutions in my late December posts. In one case, in 2011, I noted that I don’t make them (because I don’t keep them). In 2012 I made one (and didn’t keep it).

Oxbow Bend; Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming Copyright 2012  Andy Richards

Oxbow Bend; Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Copyright 2012 Andy Richards

It has gotten harder to do this. I still enjoy it, but inspiration for subjects or topics are tougher to come by.  For those who have read, followed and commented over the past 7 years, I am very grateful. I will be traveling again in the next couple weeks, and so may not be consistent with my weekly input. I guess it is one of the nice things about the nature of a personal blog. I can post when I want to.  🙂

The quintessential symbol of Venice is, of course, the Gondola Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

The quintessential symbol of Venice is, of course, the Gondola
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

Until next time ……….

Venice Outliers

Murano has been known for its Glass Making industry since the 13th Century Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

Murano has been known for its Glass Making industry since the 13th Century
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

The administrative region in Italy known as Venice is popularly thought to be that compact area where over 100 small islands, interconnected by canals, lies. However, there is part of Venice on the mainland of Italy, as well as a number of other islands. Two of are particular note. Murano is world – famous for it glassmaking.

Murano, like the main “island” of Venice, is actually a (much smaller) series of islands interconnected with canals and bridges. At one time Murano was its own administrative municipal division, but is now part of Venice. Originally a fishing village settled by the Romans, in the 13th century, all of the glass makers in Venice were forced to move to Murano, due to the risk of fires from their foundries. In the ensuing years, Murano became Europe’s primary exporter of glass – particularly glass beads, mirrors and later the famous lighting and chandeliers is may be now best known for. Murano glass (and “fakes” if you are not vigilant) is found in many of the shops on the island of Venice today. The glassmakers are talented and produce many tourist items such as figurines, bowls, plates, vases, and jewelry.  Murano also houses the very small, but fascinating glass museum.

The Talented Artists in Murano's Glass Factories seem to be able to make nearly any figure or shape Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

The Talented Artists in Murano’s Glass Factories seem to be able to make nearly any figure or shape
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

The Venice vapporetto system has several stops on the island of Murano, which is only about 1 1/2 kilometers North of Venice, in the Venetian Lagoon. We traveled over there 2 times, on our multi-day vapporetto passes. Like all of Venice, its ubiquitous canals and boats, as well as the unique architechture, is familiar to a visitor who has already spent some time in Venice.

But for its colorfully painted buildings, Burano would be just another back street or canal of Venice Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

But for its colorfully painted buildings, Burano would be just another back street or canal of Venice
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

Burano, probably settled near the same time, again, probably by the Romans, became famous, early on for it cloth, and particularly, lace and lace-making. Further away from Venice, and much small that Murano (Wikipedia describes Burano as an archipelago of only 4 islands, again separated by canals and connect by bridges. Like Venice and Murano, there is no vehicular traffic on Burano. We visited one afternoon (it has its own vapporetto stop), and walked along the quieter streets and wandered into some of the shops to see the lace, even making a small, “touristic” purchase for a friend here at home.

Burano is known by artists for its colorfully painted structures Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

Burano is known by artists for its colorfully painted structures
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

For the photographer, what Burano is better known for, is its colorfully painted buildings lining the streets and canals. Aside from this color, it would be hard to differentiate Burano from many of the small side streets in Venice. But the color is splendid and makes it very photogenic. I am also told it is popular with painters.

The Universal Symbol of Venice

The ubiquitous black gondola (shown here with the also common blue cover) is a favorite subject of photographers Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

The ubiquitous black gondola (shown here with the also common blue cover) is a favorite subject of photographers
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

When you see the long, sleek, black gondola, with the red or black and white striped, shirted gondolier, is there anyone who doesn’t immediately think of Venice? During our time in Venice, it was difficult to go anywhere without seeing these ubiquitous, canoe – like craft.

The gondola is the universal symbol of “Venice”

Our only experience riding in one was a single trip across the Grand Canal on one of the traghettos that ferry passengers across the canal at various points for about 1.5 euro. Because there are only 4 bridges that cross the Grand Canal, which weaves through the islands in a way the forces crossing to get to a particular destination, these traghetto are strategically placed in locations where—particularly local residents—want to cross to get to shopping or residential areas.

Light and color make this gondola image the quintessential rendering of "Venice" in my view Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

Light and color make this gondola image the quintessential rendering of “Venice” in my view
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

A “romantic ride” in one of these gondolas around the quiet canals of Venice will cost about 100 euro. If you want music (a live musician with a guitar or similar instrument), it is more. But it looked like a nice way to spend a sunny afternoon in Venice. We had already paid 100 euro for a “taxi” ride on our first day and had been on most of the main, navigable canals already, or we might have succumbed to the temptation. During that ride, we passed the main manufacturing and repair shop on one of the back canals.

Gondolier on his way to "The Office" Copyright  2013  Andy Richards

Gondolier on his way to “The Office”
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

The ubiquitous Venetian Gondola makes a great subject or complement to photograph

It took no additional motivation, whatsoever, though for me to point my lens at them—often. They make a really wonderful subject or complement to the surroundings of Venice, particularly when there is some nice light. I was able to capture several different “moods” including them.

This was one of my only "planned" shots while in Venice Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

This was one of my only “planned” shots while in Venice
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

Venice; the “Big” Canal

Venice's "Grand Canal," as it opens into the Adriatic Sea copyright 2013, Andy Richards

Venice’s “Grand Canal,” as it opens into the Adriatic Sea
copyright 2013, Andy Richards

Last week’s blog illustrated a small sample of the many images I made of Venice’s small canals. They were my favorite part of the island, for sure. But when most people think of Venice, they think of the big one – The Grand Canal. And grand it is. Deeper and wider than the smaller canals of Venice, the Grand Canal sweeps through the center of Venice in an “S” curve. It is also much more active.

Most of the Services that we often take for granted in other cities, are provided by watercraft

GRAND_CANAL Venice Italy 091220130066

Grand Canal, Venice, Italy
copyright 2013 Andy Richards

Virtually every service that we often take for granted in other cities, is provided by watercraft. All of the goods necessary to stock the stores, bars, restaurants, flower shops and pharmacies are supplied by boat (and sometimes from the nearest landing, by handcart). Travelers’ luggage is either hand carried, or is often delivered as part of a hotel/boat delivery service. This means an industry of small and medium sized delivery boats. Because it is a tidal island in the middle of the sea, there are no municipal sewer facilities. Instead, there are boats that are specifically designed to pump out island residents’ septic systems and dispose of the waste (one of the things that I found was an adjustment was bathroom facilities, which we again generally take for granted here in the U.S. Public bathrooms very often required paid admission throughout Europe. One of our guides told us that part of the reason for that was to help cover the significant costs of waste disposal).

Grand Canal from Ponte Rialto, Venice, Italy copyright  2013  Andy Richards

Grand Canal from Ponte Rialto, Venice, Italy
copyright 2013 Andy Richards


Unless you do it by watercraft, there is only one transportation alternative on the island—your legs. On the water, there is a complex public transportation network that resembles the same network in large cities with streets and vehicles around the world. The Vaporetto System is essentially a “bus line” system that is operated on the Grand Canal by boats, and around a couple of the other smaller islands that are part of Venice (especially Murano and Burano). Scattered around the canal are named vaporetto stops, and maps with different “color lines” showing where the numbered boat stops. It is about as easy or difficult (depending on your perspective) to figure out as a modern city bus line. Often, there are 2 – 4 “platforms,” sometimes spread apart a fair distance and you do have to figure out which of the platforms you need to be on.

Rialto Vaporetto Stops copyright  2013  Andy Richards

Rialto Vaporetto Stops
copyright 2013 Andy Richards

The boats are large and basically open, though they do have a roof and the main passenger compartment is under the roof in the hold. But much like city busses, during rush periods, they are extremely crowded. And, because a single stop often has boats going to different destinations, getting on the correct boat can be a bit of a challenge. There is a large covered platform at most stops where passengers “qeue,” to wait for their boat. But there is no line for boat 1 and another line for boat 2. So, if you are at the back, there may be people blocking the way that aren’t even going to get on your boat when it comes. You learn to be aggressive about get up to the front and getting on your boat.

There is only one transportation alternative; your legs

GRAND_CANAL Venice Italy 091120130109

Water Taxi; Venice, Italy
copyright 2013 Andy Richards

And then, of course, there are Venice’s most famous boats; the gondolas. These romanticized and picturesque craft are ubiquitous in every canal of Venice, including the Grand Canal. They are essentially a glorified canoe, and it is with wonder, that I watched them negotiate the chaos of the Grand Canal, moving among the Vaporetto, delivery boats, water taxis, private motorcraft, and various specialized transportation and delivery traffic. I plan to devote a blog all its own to Venice’s gondolas. These days, they serve primarily 2 purposes. The most visible is the tourist “gondola for hire” for the “romantic” ride around Venice’s canals. A less well known use though, is the Traghetto, which, for about 1.5 euro, will take you directly across the Grand Canal at certain points. These are the same gondolas as the ones you see all over the canals of Venice. But they are more of a workman’s boat. They are not as well known, and are, perhaps more used by the local residents (who, by the way, pay a lower price than we do). There utility is soon seen, as you try to get from “point A” to “point B” in Venice. You almost always have to cross the Grand Canal sooner or later. The problem is that there are only 4 bridges that cross the Grand Canal in the city. Two of them are quite close together near the western end of the city, where the busses, train and parking lot for vehicles are. The others are widely spaced apart. The Traghetto gives a quick, relatively cheap and convenient alternative to the bridges or the vaporetto.

Traghetto Gondola Stop, Grand Canal, Venice copyright 2013  Andy Richards

Traghetto Gondola Stop, Grand Canal, Venice
copyright 2013 Andy Richards


On a given day, parts of the canal can be chaos. But it is organized chaos. I marveled at the shear number of boats, moving both directions on the canal, at varying speeds and size. I never saw even a near-collision! Every operator seems to know his own right of way and when he can go and when he cannot.

The Grand Canal is the "Main Attraction" in Venice Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

The Grand Canal is the “Main Attraction” in Venice
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards


Whether from the side, on top of one of the bridges, or in the canal itself, the view is clearly “grand” and something a photographer is just drawn to.  Perhaps one of the best views of the canal is at night, when all is lit up.  I did not, unfortunately plan as well as I could have and the only night photos I took were handheld, with the Sony NEX set at very high ISO.  These images show lots of noise, but hopefully you get the idea.  I do have a plan to be back in Venice in the not too distant future, and tripod mounted nighttime shots are definitely on the agenda!

Grand Canal at Night, Venice, Italy copyright  2013  Andy Richards

Grand Canal at Night, Venice, Italy
copyright 2013 Andy Richards

On a given day the Canal can be chaos; but it is organized chaos

The Canals of Venice

Canal; Venice, Italy copyright 2013  Andy Richards

Canal; Venice, Italy
copyright 2013 Andy Richards

Venice is one of those very special places where every direction you look in is “eye-candy” for a photographer. Those who know my photographic approach know that I have spent the past 30 years as an outdoor and nature photographer, concentrating primarily on landscapes – large and small. But in the recent past, as I have begun to travel more of our country, and the world, my emphasis has (perhaps necessarily—if I want to shoot) shifted more to a kind of hybrid “travel/landscape” emphasis.

Canal, Venice, Italy copyright 2013  Andy Richards

Canal, Venice, Italy
copyright 2013 Andy Richards

In the case of Venice, that is a good thing. I think I might have counted 5 trees. All of the “island” of Venice is man-made; reclaimed from the sea, and is a massive maze of buildings, canals and streets. But for the parking area and bus terminal where the bridge from the mainland ends, there are no motorized, wheeled vehicles on the island! But these very features are what make Venice so photogenic. And, that there is a mix here of 1000’s-year old construction and architecture with relatively modern building, is pretty amazing.

The canals of Venice are a complex and incredible maze

There are so many things to shoot! it is a photographer’s sensory overload. And I wanted to shoot everything. In terms of showing blog readers what I saw, I hardly know where to start. As I noted last week, there are streets, churches, plaza’s, canals (grand and small) and buildings, everywhere that are wonderful photographic subjects. Without any clear sense of what is the “best” part of Venice, I’ll start with my personal favorites: The small canals that are everywhere and are what really make Venice “Venice!”

Canal, Venice, Italy copyright  Andy Richards

Canal, Venice, Italy
copyright Andy Richards

CANALS Venice Italy 091120130016

Canal, Venice, Italy
copyright 2013 Andy Richards

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, this kind of photography presents certain challenges to what I consider optimal photographic conditions. For those polite (and patient) enough to listen, I have preached for a number of years, some of what I consider “truisms” of “good” photography. Use of a tripod and cable release, and being on site at the right time of day are perhaps the two most important. Neither lends itself to the shooting I have been doing. Partly, this is because we are generally constantly on the move and because (and I sometimes need to be reminded of this) it’s not all about me and my photography. My wife and I travel together 98% of the time, and we are often also part of a group of people. While everyone likes to take snapshots, virtually nobody has the patience for me to set up a tripod and shoot a scene. And, because of the need to often be at a certain place at certain times of the day, shooting in the “right light,” is problematic. We have reached a compromise that usually allows me to have the morning light (in my view the “best” light anyway), but often I am not on site for the late afternoon or evening light. Sometimes, as a matter of logistics, I am also not able to get to the best sites for nighttime shooting.

Use of a tripod and cable release, and being on site at the right time of day are perhaps the two most important. Neither lends itself to the shooting I have been doing

But, I have tried to make the best of it, learning to use the “bad” light when I must (and post-processing when it helps), and shooting what I can. Another thing for me has always been good equipment. Unfortunately, the best equipment I can afford is my DSLR and “pro” lenses. Also unfortunately, to use them at their most effective level, they require a heavy tripod. None of this is particularly conducive to enjoyable travel. This trip, I eschewed this equipment in favor of a lighter, smaller package of my Sony NEX-6 camera and just 3 small lenses (a 50mm 1.8, a 24mm 1.8 and a 16-50 zoom). I have a very small travel tripod which, with the smaller equipment, really acquits itself surprisingly well, and for the couple times I found it possible to use a tripod, filled the bill. I am really pleased with the results. I think that in the future, I will change things up a bit. I found that the 50mm got used rarely – mostly from the balcony of the cruise ship, where distance is almost always a factor. The Zeiss 50m 1.8 never came out of the bag (I am considering selling it). The zoom was really useful – except not very durable and became the first equipment casualty I have ever had in my 30 years (the NEX survived a small, short fall onto a carpeted floor. Not sure if that was the culprit, but shortly afterward, the Sony 16-50 “kit” lens started misbehaving, and eventually stopped working altogether).

I am pleased with the results from the Sony NEX and Lenses

CANALS Venice Italy 091120130026

Canal, Venice, Italy
copyright 2013 Andy Richards

The Zeiss 24mm had to be my primary lens for the balance of the trip, but I certainly missed the ability to zoom in and out at a few of the spots we traveled to. The good news is it isn’t an expensive lens (already replaced). However, I am re-thinking my “bag,” and will probably eventually boil my “kit” (as they say across the pond) to a Zeiss 24mm f1.8 and their new 16-70 Zeiss f4 offering. The 24 gives me medium wide and very fast working lens for both landscape in walking around. The 16-70 is going to be “better” than the 16-55, both in terms of specifications and, hopefully image quality.

There are hundreds of scenes like this in Venice on the many secondary canals Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

There are hundreds of scenes like this in Venice on the many secondary canals
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

The canals. They are amazing. And they are everywhere. The Grand Canal makes a sweeping “S” curve through the island, and there are only 4 bridges that cross it throughout! Two of them are very close together, right at the Ferrovia (railroad) station and where the busses and auto parking lots are. The other two are quite far apart. But there are hundreds of small foot bridges across all of the small canals.

This bridge is one of only 3 like it left in Venice.  Anybody see the difference? copyright 2013  Andy Richards

This bridge is one of only 3 like it left in Venice. Anybody see the difference?
copyright 2013 Andy Richards

The small canals follow absolutely no plan or logic. A more effective maze could not be designed. Virtually every travel book, blog, or other “piece” I read prior to visiting said that a part of the “charm” of Venice is that you will walk along these canals and you will get lost! I took that as kind of an exaggeration. I was wrong. You do get lost. Almost every time you set out for somewhere. We made the walking trip from the Ferrovia station to St. Mark’s Plaza (Piazza San Marco) four times. The first two seemed like a disaster. We never made the same route to or back. But eventually, you find your way—it just takes twice as long. While I don’t think my wife appreciated the “getting lost,” charm, I did see the value of it from a photographer’s perspective. I eventually learned a way to get to San Marco directly and shortened the trip from 45 minutes of uncertainty, to a pretty clear cut 20 minute walk. But maybe I missed another, “better” canal shot.

Canal, Venice, Italy copyright 2013  Andy Richards

Canal, Venice, Italy
copyright 2013 Andy Richards

You will get lost; I did get lost. But it was wonderfully lost!

As you can see, I shot canal after canal (usually with a small footbridge). For the most part, I couldn’t direct you to one of them if there was a gun to my head. I “discovered” them as I walked around Venice, often in the early morning, before all the people showed up.

Canal, Venice, Italy copyright 2013  Andy Richards

Canal, Venice, Italy
copyright 2013 Andy Richards

On the last day, we boarded the cruise ship and then went back onto the island. We had some specific errands to do, near the Rialto area. We had not been in this area at all. We were dog-tired (Venice wears out your legs) and I was tired of schlepping the photo gear around, so I left it on the ship. It was a mistake. It is hard to tell why or how, but there were more small canals and bridges this way, and they were different. I also made a mistake by not going back off the ship that evening and doing some night shooting. If we are ever back, I will do those things.  I think the name on the sign below is a good comment.  Splendid, indeed.

I borrowed the idea for the Title of this Blog from this restaurant sign image copyright 2013  Andy Richards

Canal and Water Taxi, Venice, Italy
copyright 2013 Andy Richards

Change is Inevitable.  Some change is good.  Some maybe not so much.  I, like most people, am often intially resistent to change.   Its new, unfamiliar, and often requires “homework.”  Well, recently SmugMug, my Website Host, unveiled its all new and “better” site, including a brand new look.  We have now moved from “thumbnails” to “tiles.”  For reasons I probably cannot explain, I have succumbed to the change and “migrated” my LightCentric Photography website to the “new” SmugMug; with a new look (though not too new).  I am still learning the new system, so it is a work in progress.  Please give it a look and let me know what you think.