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Ideas Marinating Blog

Sketch Canal

Another interesting fact about the Venetian lagoon is not just that Venice is currently sinking, although that makes for some seriously good story telling. But the fact most of the other islands in the lagoon go largely ignored by visiting tourists.

Granted quite a few of them are private or out of bounds for anyone but locals or in cases like Lazzaretto Nuovo and Poveglia, where thousands of people have died there throughout history either through battle or plague, a special permit is required to even consider a tour of the ruins there.

Another thing to discuss are the prices, while a plate of sauced pasta is 14 Euros in Venice proper, you can easily get a plate of rabbit at Sant’Erasmo for 8 Euros. Why? Because it is not an island heavily visited by tourists and they are mostly known to be the fruit basket of Venice rather than for any renaissance art. The island is flat, and very agricultural and in fact while there, I only saw two other tourists who seemed more lost than exploring and next to no inhabitants. Although on a wonderful note, it was really fun to have a nice impromptu picnic near a small dock on  the south side of the island, away from the everyone else and looking into passing ships as they made their way into the Adriatic Sea.

Now, after a delicious mix of wine and local cheeses, I found myself in Murano, known throughout most of the last millennium (circa 1291) as a Mecca for glassmaking.
Interestingly enough, Murano is not famous by choice as all the glass makers were actually forcefully removed off Venice due to concerns of them setting the city aflame and relocated onto a less important island, you know, to set that on fire… and so in Murano, “Glass History” was made. Whether they had liked it or not.

Now the capture here was taken on Murano’s main street on a rainy day. Aside dozens of glass boutiques and stores catering to visitors and well-off Venetians, the main canal is also used as a social center and small market. The older man here, was selling fruit to residents and tourists alike. This of course is not something you would see in Venice, just 1.3km away; as it might offend the sensibilities of Venetians to be sold fruit directly off a boat in the Grand Canal but I was glad to see life here flow down more relaxed waters.

As he sold his wares, a painter had set up shop just west of him. As such,  this scene was just too good to pass by. The moody colour palette provided by the the gray cloudy sky adds a certain gravitas which personally I enjoy and if anything, makes this simple day-in-the-life capture a favourite of mine.

This photo was taken with a Nikon D700 and a 50mm at f1.8.

Fly Skies

My birthday was a few weeks ago and it was great! Although very low-key. Had a BBQ with lots of friends and lots and lots of food. Also, at the same time, I found myself remembering what my friends had done for me last year. You see, they are not so much the giving type, they are more the ‘experience’ type, so they are more likely to take out and have an experience than buying you, say, a bottle of champagne. So last year, they all got together and setup an awesome hang gliding excursion for my birthday. 

We drove about an hour out of town, heading east into the middle of now where. Except of course a hang gliding school! 

If you have never tried it, you should. It was amazing! You are 4,500ft high. Being held up by nothing but passing streams of air. It is quiet, thoughtful, zen-like… unless you have an instructor who likes to scare the living daylights out of you and will swan-dive right before you hit the ground. Ah, good times.

Now, I think the whole experience is made far more scary due to the 12 page release form which have you have to sign and initial… on every page, in order to release them of all liability. Also the release form does estate, ‘…hang gliding is a dangerous sport and people have died while practicing it.’ you know, to calm your nerves.

Although you have to admire they straightforwardness, it definitely does not ease your desire to pay them for something that might kill you.

Each of us got about 15 minutes in the air depending on both time of day (aka:. thermals due to the sun heating the earth) wind, and honestly, how fat you were. For example a cute, tiny Mexican friend of ours (the one in the capture) managed a solid 20 minutes while one of our more heavier friends, almost twice the Mexican girl, well, at least he got off the ground. That was a good thing, you know, for him.

How did it work? The glider was tethered to the ground my a long metal cable–as seen on the photo, that pulled it, though a large field, essentially serving as an engine and providing it with lift. After you got to the point where the cable could not provide any more lift, the instructor unhinges it and there you go, you are gliding! The view is gorgeous, you can see at least 15-20km in direction and people, as the old saying goes, looked like ants!

At one point, my instructor said, ‘See that hawk?’ there was a dark-feathered spot in the the distance, ‘He is looking for thermals too, let’s see where he goes!’ as we banked to the right in his direction. In the end however the hawk glided further than we would be able to go if we wanted to land in our designated area. So we never caught up the darn hawk and the thermal. The landing is awesome. You lands just like a small plane as there are small wheels at the bottom of the glider. It was an amazing experience!

As I was unhooking myself, I asked, ‘How much for the glider?’ His answer, ‘About 6 grand.’ Ha, who knew you could be gliding through the skies for hours on end for less than what it costs to buy a small bike? Had to admit, I was a bit tempted. You know, as birthday gift. 

The photo was taken with a Nikon D700, 50mm as a glider was taking off.

Fluffy Bee

image

A while ago, I wanted to play with some macro photography. However instead of my usual kit, I was only carrying a simple Canon point and shot camera, which actually had a pretty good Macro option set. So I decided to give it test.

I found myself walking randomly north of St. Clair, east of Yonge Street. Wasn’t sure what exactly to go for but thankful, nature answered my question with an angry bee trying to poke me in the nose. WHOA! After I was able to run away from my assailer with no better grace than a whimpering school girl, I decided… since it had not stung me –and in a clear example of possible developing Stockholm syndrome, to follow the bee, check out where it went. As it is one of those things we do we do when we are kids because bees are awesome. However once we get past a certain age, it seems we are not allowed to do certain things under the concept of being ‘mature.’

It didn’t take too long before it landed on few flowers to collect pollen. Then, the fluffy bee decided to apparently take a nap because it just didn’t move for a few minutes. I could only wager that it had some sort of tenure back at the beehive and it knew it could afford to slack off here and there. Which gave me enough time to get this simple, natural capture.

This shot was taken with a straightforward Canon A640 on a tripod on Manual/Macro Mode. As I left the flower patch, I said ‘good bye’ to the bee for the capture. It just ignored me. Damn tenure.

Toy Venice Tranquility, After The Rain

While returning from Punta della Dogana, walking east on the Fondamenta delle Zattere, one could not escape the desolation of the empty Venetian canals. Eventually however, next to Calle dello Squaro, the above scene presented itself to me. It very much reflected what I was trying to capture; a subtle, proverbially Venetian scene without tourists or distractions. As I setup my tripod, I kept an ear on my surroundings… and you know, for a city so full of history, Venice is remarkably cemetery-like after 11:00pm. Not a whisper, sound or hint of any locals, except perhaps for the humming of a far-away boat. 

The nightlife seems to leave itself restricted to the sestieres of San Marco and Santa Croce, as the rest of Venice is more like a small village, no different than most found anywhere on the mainland. Utterly devoid of life once midnight approaches.

I like the static poetry of this shot. Especially the stillness of the water and the lighting on  the wall on the left. I enjoy the simplicity of this shot. Hopefully you will too.

Taken with a Nikon D700 and a tripod, using a 17-35 wide-end lends.