Ideas Marinating Blog

Il Redentore

Il Redentore by The Torontonian
Il Redentore a photo by The Torontonian on Flickr.

So, while walking in Venice; one of my main goals was not to only explore the city as much as I could BUT to visit the less explored nooks and corners… well… as much as the limited time there would allow.

Plus if at all possible to travel through it’s canals and alleyways at night. Not because I had traveled thousands of kilometers with the firm desire to risk getting mugged with Venice’s historic architecture as a backdrop (since man, what a crazy and expensive kink would that be!). I did however want to get a sense of this city at night; away from San Marco’s, the crowded squares, the endless army of tourists and the preconceptions we all have of such a city.

As such we found ourselves at the the intersection of Sestiere Dorsoduo and Fondamenta Zattere ai Saloni at the very end of Dorsoduo (‘Hard Ridge’ in English due to the areas higher and steadier land underfoot) which overlooks Piazza San Marco to the north and Il Redentore to the south. This thin triangular spot is known as the Punta della Dogana  and is the division between the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal. The photo you see was taken looking south during a rainy, deserted night, near midnight. With a long exposure, used to contrast the navigating lights of passing powered boats while the steady church, built in the 16th century lingers, steadily forward in time.   

I must say I enjoyed walking through its deserted streets at night a little more than doing the same during the day. As it give me a unique chance to appreciate the architecture up close and far personally then if I had been surrounded by tourist. For one you really get the sense of how barren the streets of this city are. The streets themselves have the same charm and decour of an empty subway station as most of the trees in this city are private and behind the walls of private residents.   

Also, it becomes very clear that Venice as a whole is in a incredible level of disrepair. With cracking walls, weather bricks and crumbling stucco everywhere. All of it. Venice is really a beautiful, if crumbling museum. To any fellow travelers, I cannot emphasize it enough, if you never been to this Unesco world heritage site, this floating gem, then do it sooner than later.  

This show was taking with a Nikon D700, wide angle 17-35mm and tripod. 

Midnight Conversations

Venice is an astounding city. Every nook and cranny is full history; everywhere you look, beautiful architecture and art abounds. Yet with a romantic pedigree that could easily find a home nested somewhere within the pages of the Iliad. On top of that, the city is sinking! With all this drama enveloping the city, one can easily forget people here are still have to buy groceries, walk their dogs and generally just continue on living. 

It is only after you make a point to walk away from the tourist areas, say towards Dorsoduro to the south where you find Venice’s local population. By that I mean, the neighborhoods, where you find the small local stores and the grandpas hanging out their front doors, chatting up with other grandpas while watching their grandchildren playing tag.

This photos for example. Taken on a dark, rainy day… pouring actually, yet a perfect slice of life. There was a party indoors and these people had stepped out to chat and smoke a few. They were in a hall, the music escaping outward as my boat sped by. I really enjoyed this capture. A different and simple perspective from what we are used to seeing from the Venetian ideal of grandeur palaces, squares and labyrinthian alleyways. Which in fairness, Venice has a LOT.

A town full of everyday people surrounded by the memories of the Renaissance. Partying.

This photo was taken with a Nikon D700, using a 50mm @ f2.0.

Stoneman Readies

A few months ago, I had a surgery looming and was looking at going to have to stay put for a few weeks. Even though the procedure was far from lethal (that I was told of) it is always a pain when you have your freedom of mobility denied. As I was going to stay cooped in my apartment for at least a week, possible three.

So I intended on going for one last stroll with camera in hand to see if there was anything that caught my eye. Of course, there always something, however in this case, as I walked by a ravine, I decided to try something different. To actually create an item to take a photo of. As most photographers tend to be reactive rather than active in our environments, since if we were the center of attention, than how could be taking photos of it?

So, I searched for a few rocks and remembering those famous Inuit Inuksuk’s we have all seen used in the Artic, I decided to build my own. In the end, it turned up looking more of Inunnguaq (human form cairn) than I expected. Unfortunately I was limited by the rocks I could find and the wind which made it %##$@@ hard to do a legged Inunnguaq (trust me, I tried and tried…) so I had to settle for this little guy.

I couldn’t not help noticing I had built this guy near the ledge of a stone wall which for some reason gave me the dramatic impression that either he was looking down, or worse that he was about to jump! Going with that, I decided not to blur the background completely, as if to give it a sense of depth and distance. That way to further emphasize the distance to the bottom. A full blurred bokeh would have denied that perspective. The colour scheme is based on the way the light was that day, cold, cloudy and murky.

Then, I raised my Nikon and as such the ‘Stoneman Readies’ came to be. Photo taken using a a Nikon D700 with 50mm an a filter. 

Red & Misguided

Red & Misguided by The Torontonian
Red & Misguided a photo by Mauricio Alas. A larger version can be seen on Flickr.

As part of my first set of classes teaching photography, I took my small class through a quick tour of the inner city. Hoping the vibrant urban quality of Kensington Market and a few graffiti laden back-alleys to serve as a unusual type of inspiration for my students.

Going through the basics can be fun as you might actually remember the ‘WHY’ something is done, which may help, especially if you are a seasoned photographer to tweak your style, even if it is temporarily. As once everything is mastered or any habit becomes second nature, most of us don’t usually revisit they ‘why’ of doing things because we get comfortable and one less thing to worry about on assignment. 

So after a few hours walking the city, they managed to take some nice photos and increased their grasp on photography plus hopefully discovered something new about self expression. 

Now this particular shot was taken in Graffiti Alley Toronto using a D700.