Strade di Firenze

In an attempt to get back to reading books over the holidays, I decided to start reading Inferno – the latest novel by Dan Brown (author of the Da Vinci Code). Now before you pass judgement on my choice of author/novel, I was simply looking for a fictional page turner to help me build the momentum I personally need, when I’ve been away from books for a considerable period of time. True, the writing style might be a bit too cheesy and the plot all too familiar, but one thing I like about this author is the amount of research that goes into writing his books and the vivid descriptions of the surrounding environment that manage to engage the reader throughout the story.

The latest adventure of Robert Langdon takes place in Florence, the capital of the region of Tuscany and the birthplace of Renaissance. As I was reading about Langdon’s street chase from the Italian authorities in the narrow streets of Florence, this picture came to mind from my recent trip to Florence. The city can get overly crowded in mid-summer, but in my attempt to avoid the crowds and find some shade, I veered away from the tourist areas only to find myself alone in these picturesque side-streets.

Florence Bike - 1920c

Shot handheld with my Canon 60D and Canon 24-70 F2.8L lens at ISO 400, F4.5 @ 1/160sec and bracketed at -2/0/+2.

Advertisements

Year in Review (2013)

Don’t know that many people (at least in Cyprus anyway), who will remember 2013 as a stellar year. From my point of view it was pretty horrible all around. As I glimpse back over the last 12 months, my only escape from the depressing events that occurred (not just economy-wise, but also at a personal level), was my love for photography.

For this last blog post of 2013, I won’t bother you with the details of how well I did against my New Year resolutions. Suffice to say that I succeeded to a great extent, somewhat failing at my goal of further exploring Cyprus. Ironically, the image below attests to just that – the ease with which one can find great photo opportunities when travelling abroad (in this case Venice) vs. within their own home country. Something that definitely needs to be addressed next year!

I want to wish everyone a Happy and Prosperous New Year 2014, with happiness and health to you and your loved ones. See you in January!

Venice Boat  - 1920c

Shot with my Canon 60D and Canon 24-70mm F2.8L lens at ISO 400, F8.0 and 1/80sec.

Venice Sunset

Most photographers are suckers for a good sunset picture…and admittedly I am no different. What’s great about a sunset (and sunrises alike), is that during these so-called golden hours, the light is more diffuse thus reducing the hard shadows you would normally get in mid day. The colours also are much warmer, especially during twilight, and when combined with an interesting background (such as a cloudy sky), it makes landscape photographs even more compelling.

Getting a good one is no easy feat however. This is one of my many attempts at getting a decent sunset during my recent trip to Venice, Italy. Not sure I managed to get it right, especially given that I had no tripod and my camera had to rest on the side of a bridge!

Venice sunset - 1920c

Taken with my Canon 60D and Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 DC HSM lens, at ISO 200, F8.0 @ 6 secs (bracketed at -2/0/+2).

Perfume Scent

Just north east of Venice, and only a few minutes away on the Vaporetto, is the island of Murano. This island is world famous for its glass making, and while there I had the chance to witness first hand the skills of the local artisans, by attending one of the many shows that were available for the visiting tourists.

I am not big on souvenirs, because I truly believe that the best memento I can get from any place I visit, is a decent selection of photographs showcasing the best the region has to offer. I did however break my rule this time around, when I walked into one of the many glass shops and saw this tiny perfume bottle. Believe me when I say that I have no practical use for this bottle, but what compelled me to purchase it was my immediate thought of photographing it with smoke coming out of its nozzle! For me this isn’t really a new idea, as I have tried smoke photography before with a coffee cup and a cow milk container (see link). Nonetheless, here is yet another attempt, the final result of which is fairly close to what I initially had in mind.Perfume bottle - 1920c

This is a composite of two separate photographs – one of the smoke and one of the actual bottle.

Smoke: Taken with my handheld Canon 60D and Canon 24-70mm F2.8L lens at ISO 100, F13, 1/250th of a sec.

Perfume Bottle: Taken with my tripod mounted Canon 60D and Canon 100mm F2.8 lens at ISO 100, F16, 1.3 sec (with +2 1/3 ev)

Tuscan Landscape

Just got back from a 10-day vacation in Italy where I got the chance to drive around Tuscany for the first week followed by a visit to Venice for the last stretch of the trip. Had a great time there, with the highlights being the great scenery, the wine and definitely the food…ah yes, the food..what the heck do they put in that pasta that makes it so tasty!?

In preparing for this trip (from a photography perspective), I’ve read countless articles online about the great Tuscan landscapes, with the endless fields of grass, the iconic cypress trees and the variety of colours in nature. Unfortunately, I also read that the best time to visit Tuscany is either spring or autumn, which was somewhat disheartening given the timing of my trip in mid-August. Nonetheless I wasn’t discouraged, to the point where I made an impulse (yet relatively inexpensive) purchase of a new ultra-wide angle lens (Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 DC HSM), which would be perfect for this type of landscape scenery.

I first got the chance to put this lens into good use, when I passed by this endless field of sunflowers, near the village of San Gimignano (half way between Florence and Siena). I immediately jumped out of the car with my tripod and started running into this field, being careful not to step over the flowers. The composition was tricky, as I was trying to shoot straight into the sun. I stopped down my aperture to get the sun look more like a starburst, and fitted a 3-stop ND grad filter to bring back the sky. Unfortunately, I got significant flaring on my lens, but to be honest I don’t mind it that much!

Sunflowers - 1920c

Shot with my tripod mounted Canon 60D and Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 DC HSM lens, at ISO 100, F18, and bracketed at -3/-1/+3.