Venice in Film and Digital By David

Venice in Film and Digital

By David

Hi Steve and Brandon,

I’d just like to show you a bit of the Venice you can read about in Donna Leon’s Venetian detective novels..

I take my old Leica M3, and 24mm f1.4, when I go to old cities, just to give the M3 a taste of olde-worlde photography (..but with modern ‘Lomography’ ISO 800 colour negative film inside, usually..) and I’m going back to Venice on 15th October – not long now – leading a group of enthusiast photographers who want to get a bit more out of their cameras! ..There may still be two or three places left – quick, check here.


Venice is a natural set of islands, with channels of water between them ..they’re called ‘Canals’, but that’s just a poor translation of the Italian ..they’re not man-made canals, but simply the sea around and between the various islands, in a lagoon at the top of the Adriatic Sea. Just like Manhattan Island, New York, buildings and paths have been put on every available spot of land – except on the cemetery island, which is reserved just for burials. Ah, no: Manhattan does have Central Park, but Venetians haven’t the luxury of a big central park ..however, they do have so much waterside to make up for it!


And how d’you get around in Venice? By gondola, or by water taxi, or by ‘vaporetto’ ..which were once steam-powered water-buses, but now they’re just large passenger boats which run day and night. There are no roads, and there are no cars. Everything which arrives on the islands comes by barge, by motorboat or gondola.


Many buildings look as if they’re just floating on the surface of a lake ..though it’s actually the sea!


The most famous tourist spot is St Mark’s Square ..but we’ll be going into the smaller alleyways and lesser-known locations in the city, besides the well-known sights. We’ll go to the glassware factories of Murano Island, too, just a short boat ride out of the main city, and we’ll pass the locals going about their daily work..

6-muranoglass RobyBarge

We’ll be talking about how and when to over-ride the default settings which each camera offers, and how to take photos in the dimmest of light, and how to focus on just one detail and let the rest of your picture fade away. How to use a telephoto and a wide-angle to their best advantage..


We’ll look at how to get punch and vivacity from your pics, and how to “take charge” of your camera, so that it doesn’t dictate what your photos are going to look like, but it gives you the results that YOU want it to give!

9-nightwalk 10-balconies 11-gondola1


Some of these pics (above) were shot on film (pics 3, 5, 10 and 11) and some with a variety of other cameras; Lumix pocket digitals, Oly E-M5, etc. The camera isn’t really important – especially in the bright light of Venice – it’s more about your choice of lens, or zoom choice and viewpoint which gives its own character to each shot. We won’t be counting pixels, or discussing the merits of camera A versus camera B, or ever mentioning sharpness or chromatic aberration or any technical stuff (apart from a bit about apertures and shutter speeds, and using the self—timer, and how to avoid shake) – we’ll be finding memories to capture and to relive six months hence. Venice, its bars and cafés, its music and its waterborne life will make this a trip of a lifetime. If you don’t want to talk technical stuff, but you DO want to explore the range of everything your camera can do, in convivial surroundings, walking through history, join us for four-and-a-bit days in Venice this month. It really is like no other place on earth! You could be there, doing this!

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  1. I think it is very hard to photography such places as Venice.
    They have been painted sketched and now photographed such that coming up with any original image is really challenging.
    I remember seeing some wonderful photos taken there during the winter. Different but still beautiful.

  2. I paricularly like the composition of 8 (street and moon) and the spaciousness of 11. And I never get tired of “touristy” shots of Venice, and I think yours are more alive than that!

    • Thanks, John.

      We were walking back from the Rialto Bridge, and I saw the moon behind clouds, and waited till the clouds cleared for a moment, to capture the entire moon as an “echo” of the street light below it – or vice versa. It was taken with a little pocket Lumix, so the darkest areas in the sky are rather ‘grainy’. I could have done a bit of ‘tidying up’ with Noise Ninja, but I don’t really mind the ‘noisiness’ and grain showing. It gives it a bit of gritty texture, instead of being too perfect.

      The last one is from the Accademia Bridge – a very popular spot for pictures of the Grand Canal, but just because others have taken photographs or painted the view, why shouldn’t I?

      It does have a feeling of spaciousness, which is why I like it, too ( was taken with a 24mm lens). I think the spread of the boats – the three on the right filling the gap between the nearest two on the left – gifs it a feeling of calm, and “rightness”. (..Needless to say, it wasn’t a just “snap”; I waited until a spread of boats came along which looked just right to fit the arc of the canal.)

      Thanks for your comments, John.

    • Point taken but in Venice, it is hard not to be that way. Such a gorgeous place. If one had weeks to spend, you could get a bit “arty” and less “touristy”.

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