Saturday, June 26, 2010

Some church interiors from Venice.

I was (am) still very much getting the hang of my DSLR (Canon EOS 500D if you are interested in those kinda specs). I had a ye olde film SLR for years but it was pinched from me on a trip back in 2008 and I haven't been able to replace it (btw if anyone has and wants to sell me a film Nikon f50 let me know!) This meant I was very out of practice with even the basic shutter speed and aperture combo, not to mention the array of new settings to play with like changing the ISO and white balance and a whole host of other things that make graphs that I don't really understand yet. The DSLR is great because you get very instant feedback, first on the little screen and then on your computer. For a while I just adjusted the shutter speed and let the camera choose the aperture, or vice versa. But I wasn't all that happy with the results, I often felt they were over exposed. I have always had a fondness for dramatic contrasts of light and shade, chiaroscuro I suppose, photos but the basic settings for the camera seem to err on the side of overall even exposure. There is probably a way to change this but I haven't figured it out yet. I'm not really a manual reading person I just like to play around and gradually figure things out. Also I find the manuals are so full of cheesy photos of cutesy children and cliche landscapes that they start to put me off taking any photos.

One thing I really struggled with was working out how to take decent photos inside churches. This was actually one of the things I was looking forward to being able to do with a better camera. Generally they are very low light and I had never taken that many in the past with my little camera unless there was somewhere I could rest it (this resulted in many many photos taken from 'pew height'). Taking photos inside churches in Venice was also compounded by their ridiculous rules against taking photos. I understand rules against flash and rules against photos in churches or chapels that are largely used for devotion, or during services and so on. However, most churches are essentially being used as tourist attractions and I think as long as people aren't lying across pews or getting in the way they should be allowed to take photos. I also think that frankly the 'custode' yelling 'NO FOTO' across a silent church is far more disruptive.

I had mixed results with my photos, in quite a few churches I just set the camera to auto with no flash and 'shot from the hip', in others I hid behind a column or waited till I wasn't under surveillance. It is frustrating but maybe it made me more creative and more focused on small details.

Here are some of my favourites:

Santa Maria dei Miracoli. This church is small and exquisite. The marble clad interior is quite unusual for Venice where many churches have brick walls and the interior decoration seems a bit haphazard to someone more accustomed to the interiors typical of Baroque Rome. The delicate carvings are very beautiful and I became quite obsessed with them in this church and others and took many many photos.

Marble paving is nothing without beams of natural sunlight to illuminate it.
The obligatory Jesus.

Santa Maria Formosa
Or Santa Maria Samosa as I like to call it.It has an interesting interior, lots of pierced walls, satisfying late 15th century architectural geometry. I actually can't decide whether it is complex or simple, perhaps it is both if that is possible. It has straight lines and simple curves yet they are put together in such a way as to create a very satisfying whole where your eye can't quite settle on one point.

Below are some of the bare brick walls I mentioned before, and the unusual pierced walls of the side chapels. Usually side chapels are quite enclosed. The stark white walls are outlined with stone carvings that up close are often very delicate with marble columns that usually don't quite match on account of them being salvaged from other buildings.

San Giovanni e Paolo (or San Zanipolo as the Venetians say)
This is one of the largest churches in Venice. I most like all the wall tombs and the huge columns.

A lot of writer's post Ruskin tend to have a go at the 17th and 18th century additions to these churches, as though they somehow besmirch the perfect 13th/14th/15th century origins. I find it quite annoying for various reasons but mainly because the beauty of these churches is the crazy mix of different works of art and architecture from different periods. It is an artistic and a social history.

Wall tomb.

The high altar

Hello baby face.

Candles at Santo Stefano

I have some Roman interiors too but perhaps I should start a new post!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Snapshot, Venice

I am busy sorting photos for a longer post but I noticed this picture I had forgotten about.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Snapshots, Venice

I have been home a month and I am being very slack about pictures of Venice! I wish I could blame some kind of super busy lifestyle but really it is more a type of blogging ennui, and battles with my recently installed photoshop. I have added blogging to my list for the weekend and hopefully this is the first of a few photo posts from my trip. This is a view of the underneath of the Rialto Bridge. I was struck by the thin shaft of sunlight that was breaking through a narrow canal that runs into the Grand canal. Very pretty. Also I took this photo before 9am, it is well worth getting up and out in Venice by 8am or earlier as most tourists don't seem to emerge till after 10am.

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