Category Archives: Italy

The Appeal of Venice Off-Season

Photograph Venice in November with Harold Davis

In November, most of the people are gone, skies can be atmospheric and cloudy, and photography of Venice is at its best! Please consider joining me for a fantastic photographic visit to this most incredible of destinations. Click here for the detailed itinerary, and here for the Reservation Form!

Piazza San Marco © Harold Davis

Piazza San Marco © Harold Davis

Venice is the largest preserved antique city in Europe, and possibly the world. Extravagant, decadent, charming with ever-changing light, Venice is a photographer’s delight with its fairy-tale canals and endless maze of footpaths and bridges.

Bridge of Sighs at Night © Harold Davis

Bridge of Sighs at Night © Harold Davis

We’ll focus our lenses on canals, reflections, and the infinite wonder found around every corner in Venice. There will be special emphasis on techniques for impressionistic rendering, and several sessions will be held to teach the related post-production techniques, as well as how best to use an iPhone camera in Venice.

Click here for the detailed itinerary, and here for the Reservation Form!

Venice of Dreams © Harold Davis

Venice of Dreams © Harold Davis

Venice is the largest preserved antique city in Europe, and possibly the world. Extravagant, decadent, charming with ever-changing light, Venice is a photographer’s delight with its fairy-tale canals and endless maze of footpaths and bridges.

Join acclaimed photographer Harold Davis for the experience of a lifetime exploring and photographing La Serenissima, the most serene and exciting Republic of Venice. There you’ll have the opportunity to experience firsthand the places and sights that have inspired artists for centuries.

We’ll focus our lenses on canals, reflections, and the infinite wonder found around every corner in Venice. There will be special emphasis on techniques for impressionistic rendering, and several sessions will be held to teach the related post-production techniques, as well as how best to use an iPhone camera in Venice.

Guided tours of the Doge’s Palace, the Basilica of San Marco, and the Peggy Guggenheim collection are included. We will also explore with our camera many well-known and secretive locations on foot and vaporetti. These include the island of San Gorgio, across the water from San Marco; Murano, the famous island where glass blowing techniques originated; and Burano, a quiet island in the Venice lagoon whose inhabitants make lace and live in colorfully painted houses.

Non-photographic spouses are welcome (there’s plenty to do in Venice besides photography, including cultural and shopping activities!). The group is strictly limited to ten participants.

Burano © Harold Davis

Burano © Harold Davis

Here’s what some participants in past Harold Davis destination photo workshops have to say:

  • “Had an awesome time with Harold and the workshop participants.  Itching to go back.”

    Canals of Venice © Harold Davis

    Canals of Venice © Harold Davis

  • “A once-in-a-lifetime experience that I plan to repeat!”
  • “Harold has great skill, without the ego of most master photographers. Travel arrangements were perfect.”
  • “One thing I really liked about the photo tour that Harold set up is that we had plenty of time to photograph in the best locations, and really prioritized when the light would be good.”
  • “You two did a great job at researching, organizing, and leading this trip.”
  • “Again, thanks for a wonderful trip and a big thank you to Phyllis for everything that she did!”
  • “Harold is genuine, generous, and gracious – he has a world of knowledge and expertise that he loves to share – his wonderful books show his monumental talents and skill set, and his workshops shows the depth of his connecting with others in a very real and personal way.”

Where: The group will be based at the Hotel Flora, a unique and charming Venetian hotel that is an oasis of calm and centrally located a very short walk from Piazza San Marco.

Hotel Flora Garden

Hotel Flora Garden

Hotel Flora - Stairs

Hotel Flora – Stairs

When: Sunday November 6, 2016 (leave US November 5) to Sunday November 12, 2016 (six nights and seven days).

Group Size: This exclusive, small photo workshop tour is limited to ten photographers (non-photographer significant others are also welcome).

Venice Gondola © Harold Davis

Venice Gondola © Harold Davis

Click here for complete itinerary with a list of inclusions and exclusions.

To Register: Please send us an email expressing interest right away; a completed registration requires a $1000 deposit and Reservation Form, and a copy of your passport page.

Venice in a Silver Light © Harold Davis

Venice in a Silver Light © Harold Davis

Also posted in Workshops

Italian Sketches

Here are a few iPhone images from my photography tour to Italy in 2015. They were photographed on my iPhone 6s, and processed just now while waiting for the kids using “the computer in my pocket” (e.g., my iPhone) and the Waterlogue app.

Door in Capri © Harold Davis

Door in Capri © Harold Davis

Garden in Capri © Harold Davis

Garden in Capri © Harold Davis

Stair in Cinque Terre © Harold Davis

Stair in Cinque Terre © Harold Davis

Some related links: Italy on my blog; iPhone on my blog; From iPhone to Art workshop (May 21, 2016); Venice and Waterlogue blog post.

Also posted in iPhone

Positano Morning

The early morning light from my hotel room, the Villa La Tartana, in Positano, Italy was warm and life-affirming. I positioned my camera on the tripod, and bracketed a series of photos to combine to make this image. Back in the USA, we made a 40″ X 60″ print on Moab Slickrock Silver, one of Moab’s wonderful metallic papers, for display at the upcoming West Coast Art and Frame show in Las Vegas.

Positano Morning © Harold Davis

Positano Morning © Harold Davis

Manarola and the Rooftops of Paris

I am particularly fond of the patterns of buildings and rooftops you see in European towns and cities. Above, the town of Manarola in Cinque Terre, Italy, photographed this year (2015); below, the rooftops of Paris, France, photographed in 2013.

Manarola © Harold Davis

Manarola © Harold Davis

Rooftops of Paris © Harold Davis

Rooftops of Paris © Harold Davis

Also posted in France, Paris, Patterns

Paestum

Paestum, on the Gulf of Salerno, is probably the best-preserved site of Greek ruins on the Italian mainland (there are also some notable spots on Sicily).

Paestum © Harold Davis

Paestum © Harold Davis

To make this image with its sunburst effect, I stopped the camera way down (to f/36), and positioned the composition so the sun was about half covered by the peristyle on the Temple of Poseidon. My thought was to use the shaft of light to illustrate a divine visit—as apparently happened all the time at temples in ancient Greek times!

Piazza San Marco at Night

One reason to photograph at night in a tourist destination is, as I explained in Photographing the Bridge of Sighs at Night, to avoid selfie-stick-toting tour groups. Another reason is to present a different emotional aspect of the place, as in this image of the Piazza San Marco.

Piazza San Marco © Harold Davis

Piazza San Marco © Harold Davis

During daylight hours, and well into the evening in warm months, San Marco is of course jam-packed. Competing classical schmaltz bands strive to drive tourists into over-priced outdoor cafes. Public events are staged in the square. But at night, when it is foggy and chill, the piazza empties. Symmetrical lighting adds to the symmetry of the architecture, and it is possible to capture an entirely new view of the Piazza San Marco.

Also posted in Digital Night, Monochrome, Photography

Photographing the Bridge of Sighs at Night

The Ponte dei Sospiri, or Bridge of Sighs, is one of the most famous landmarks in Venice, Italy. It connects the Doge’s Palace with a prison on the opposite side of the canal. The name, coined by Lord Byron, comes from the idea that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice through the window before being taken across to their grim cells, often to remain imprisoned for the rest of their lives.

Bridge of Sighs at Night © Harold Davis

Bridge of Sighs at Night © Harold Davis

Today, the main problem confronting the photographer wanting an interesting image of the Bridge of Sighs is other photographers. Specifically, groups of tourists, many of them Chinese, jostling with selfie sticks on the Ponte della Paglia, with the Bridge of Sighs in the background.

During daylight hours, it is almost impossible to place a tripod in position for this classic view without having the legs knocked into by an eager tourist-with-selfie-stick. In this situation, the photographer is often solicited to shoot group selfies (is “group selfie” an oxymoron?) with someone’s phone camera.

But on a dark, damp, and foggy night there is no one around. What a perfect time to capture a somewhat different version of the famous Bridge of Sighs!

Also posted in Digital Night

San Giorgio Boat Harbor in Sepia

On a Venetian morning socked in with fog, my friend Mauro and I took the vaporetto across to the island of San Giorgio. The normally inspiring view from the top of the San Giorgio campanile was a blank white wall. But the boats in the nearby harbor were moving slightly, putting me in mind of sepia Dutch nautical drawings.

Tall Ships © Harold Davis

Tall Ships © Harold Davis

Exposure data: Nikon D810, 105mm, +4 ND filter, circular polarizer, 2/5 of a second at f/36 and ISO 31, handheld with a slight intentional up-and-down motion; processed in ACR and Photoshop, using the Simplify, Glow, and Impressions plug-ins from Topaz Labs.

Also posted in Photography

Lost City in Sorrento

Adjacent to the center of picturesque Sorrento, Italy two chasms meet. Long ago, rivers in these gorges flowed cleanly down to the ocean, and were the original settlement in the area. Over time, and thanks in part to construction of the new town of Sorrento, the area became isolated from the harbor and increasingly damp. In modern times, it has been abandoned to the ferns and other vegetation, although the old mill shown in these photos was in use until the late 1800s.

Lost City © Harold Davis

Lost City © Harold Davis

Known as the “Valley of the Mills,” a very short walk from the Piazzo Tasso in central Sorrento leads to a vista point. The Valley of the Mills itself is surrounded by luxury hotels. For me, the most interesting thing visually about the scene is the way the modern city sits right on top of the ancient lost city, with little to differentiate the two—except that the lost city is buried in ferns and slowly and romantically reverting to the materials of the rugged chasms in which it lies.

Lost City 2 © Harold Davis

Lost City 2 © Harold Davis

Also posted in Monochrome

Hieroglyphic or La Dolce Vita

Sunbathing on the boat ramp in Riomaggiore harbor could be La Dolce Vita—the sweet life, and the name of a 1960 Fellini film. Except that the angle of repose causes most of these couples to anchor themselves using wood slots to stop from sliding into the water. Alternatively, as one commentator noted, photographed from above, La Dolce Vita looks for all the world like an abstraction, or a hieroglyphic.

Riomaggiore, 2015 © Harold Davis

Riomaggiore, 2015 © Harold Davis

Also posted in Abstractions, Monochrome

Canyon Conundrum

The seaside village of Vernazza, Italy makes its living from catching fishes and catering to tourists. Carved into the rocky ledges of the Ligurian coast, behind the village facade facing the sea is a warren and maze of narrow, dark passages with twisting stairs and low tunnels.

Canyons of Vernazza © Harold Davis

Canyons of Vernazza © Harold Davis

Wandering into this maze with my camera and tripod, I felt an eerie sense of having faced similar photographic challenges before. With the narrow, enclosed spaces and the mere glimmer of the sky, the compositional and lighting challenges were much the same as those in the slot canyons of the American southwest.

Both environments present a dynamic range from blackest black to brightest white, and both involve creating images that turn narrow spaces into interesting creative expressions. Strangely, while taking my time in the depths of Vernazza I could almost feel the dry, sandy breath of Antelope Canyon, on Navajo territory near Page, Arizona.

Structure of Time © Harold Davis

Structure of Time © Harold Davis

Related stories: Orange Juice on the Cinque Terre Trail; Structure of Time; Slot Canyon.

Also posted in Monochrome

Vernazza

Coming from the north, Vernazza is the second town in the Cinque Terre (“Five Lands”) on the Ligurian coast of Italy. Of the five lands, I think it is my favorite (although each one has its distinctive attraction). There are no cars in Vernazza. To make this photo, I walked back along the trail to Monterossa, and from above the railroad tracks waited for sunset with my camera on tripod. As I darkness fell, I hopped the train back to the hotel (and group) in Monterosso.

Vernazza © Harold Davis

Vernazza © Harold Davis

Exposure info: Nikon D810, 21mm Zeiss Distagon T* f/2.8, 4/5 of a second at f/8 and ISO 64, tripod mounted.

Venice and Waterlogue

Photographing Venice, Italy with my iPhone 6s camera, and processing the images using the Waterlogue app on the phone, is great! In fact, you could say that Venice via the iPhone and Waterlogue are a classical combination, like…Bogey and Bacall, Romeo and Juliet, Simon and Garfunkel, and peanut butter and jelly. Quick, let’s see a suite of six iPhone Waterlogue Venetian images before I come up with more word pairings! (I almost committed “Spock and Kirk”: What are your favorite two-word combos?)

Venice Gondola © Harold Davis

Venice Gondola © Harold Davis

Canals of Venice © Harold Davis

Canals of Venice © Harold Davis

Venetian Mask © Harold Davis

Venetian Mask © Harold Davis

Venetian Barque © Harold Davis

Venetian Barque © Harold Davis

Along the Canal © Harold Davis

Along the Canal © Harold Davis

Burano © Harold Davis

Burano © Harold Davis

I was asked (see comment and response below) what these images look like before they were processed through Waterlogue. It’s a great question! Here’s one of these images straight from my iPhone 6s:

Venice Canals without processing  © Harold Davis

“Venice Gondola” without processing © Harold Davis

 

Also posted in iPhone, Photography

Florence and Venice

Florence and Venice, two great Italian cities, one photographed at the beginning and one at the end of my recent trip to Italy!

Florence and the Arno River © Harold Davis

Florence and the Arno River © Harold Davis

Related story: Harold in Italy.

Venice in a Silver Light © Harold Davis

Venice in a Silver Light © Harold Davis

Related story: Venice of Dreams.

Also posted in Landscape, Photography

Female Gondolier in Venice

There aren’t very many female gondoliers in Venice. You can probably count them on the fingers of one hand. So it was very exciting to meet and talk to a new female gondolier. Chiara is shown in the photos on the first day of her new job as a gondolier.

Chiara 1 © Harold Davis

Chiara 1 © Harold Davis

Chiara 2 © Harold Davis

Chiara 2 © Harold Davis