Now that the sun has come out in Scotland, it feels like the right time to look back at our trip to Italy last year and do some more blog posts. We spent a few days in that beautiful city Florence and a post on the art and architecture will follow. But I thought I’d start with the people – we like street photography and Florence is full of people – you can’t move without tripping over tourists doing selfies or snapping each other with tablets. However, we tried to focus on the people who live and work in Florence. for instance, this doorman outside a posh hotel.
The priest with his traditional robes somewhat at odds with the modern technology in his hands.
The local gent on his way for a ristretto with his daily paper.
Locals cycling round the many, many tourists
Or stopping to answer that vital text.
Or pedestrians taking that important call.
Or just sitting reading a book.
People live their lives despite the bustle of the visitors all around them.
And even manage to find quiet routes away from the hurly burly.
Having said all that, a post on people in Florence can’t ignore the tourists – and it’s hard to photography some of the main sights without tourists in shot. The replica of Michelangelo’s David outside the Palazzo Vecchio is impossible to photograph without visitors passing by so I embraced them as part of the shot.
And you cannot avoid the crowds outside the Uffiizi if you want to visit its treasures.
We loved the Loggia dei Lanzi with its outdoor gallery of statues as did this couple.
Florence is a beautiful city and we were so fortunate to have the chance to visit – and we look forward to sharing more photos in future posts.
I’m sure there is a time when Venice is quiet but we have yet to discover it. So we embraced the people – visitors and locals alike; after all, it’s hard to complain about tourists when you are one yourself although I can understand the local No Grandi Navi campaign to reduce the enormous cruise ships which cause damage with their wake and whose clients spend little time and money in Venice but because they travel in large groups make certain areas very congested.
Locals can be spotted – usually ducking down the quiet side routes.
Or having a quick fag before service starts.
I like the symmetry of Paul’s shot with the tiny figure just slightly out of line with the centre.
This shot of Paul’s has caught the light showing the texture of the worn tiles.
We can’t really do a series of blog posts on Venice without doing one focused on canals, gondole and gondoliers. Not that all those navigating upright are gondoliers. This elderly gent was a cool guy with one hand on the oar while holding his pose.
Or adjusting his shades.
We resisted the lure of the gondola trip but everywhere we looked, there were gondole full of tourists.
It could get a tad congested at junctions.
Paul got some close-ups with the tele-focus.
Gondolier Portrait, Venice. Photo by and copyright of Paul Henni.
A very determined looking gondolier.
I’m not sure I’d want to be steered around by someone born to fight but possible useful at those busy junctions.
Photographer crouching down and captured with reflection…
Of course, boats are not just for tourists – all goods brought into Venice have to come by boat.
And locals (and a few canny tourists) use the traghetto which are plain gondole used to ferry folk across the Grand Canal which costs €2 for visitors and can save a lot of walking.
The quieter side of Venice, Cannaregio, feels a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the San Marco or San Polo – it’s well worth a wander and there’s a great restaurant with live music over there, Il Paradiso Perduto, and a lovely little wine bar Vino Vera we can strongly recomment.
Our Italian trip started with a few nights in Venice. We had spent a week here 4 years previously but that was BP – Before Photography (or at least what photography has become for us – shooting in raw, looking beyond the obvious, envisaging the world in black and white). So, unsurprisingly, we took a lot of photos. This blog post focuses on Venice by night.
We have to start with a fairly classic view. We stayed in a pensione opposite the Santo Stefano church, a short walk from this bridge which attracts many tourists snapping away whether with mobile phones on selfie sticks or full frame cameras; it is a beautiful spot with domes of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute in the distance.
The bridge is itself lit with these rather rickety-looking lights which had a slightly sinister tinge when you are passing over the deserted bridge late at night.
Once back over the bridge, the Campo Santo Stefano is a popular hangout with restaurants and the best Gelateria we found in Venice, the Paolin. Perhaps that’s why so many families lingered in the square – this one playing with toy lights.
This stall outside our pensione sold such toys along with all sorts of other vital supplies – even at night, Italians might need to buy some sun glasses.
Despite being main thoroughfares, canals are generally unlit beyond the light which reflects from the buildings and narrow lanes between the buildings. This makes for interesting reflections.
Or darkness which sets the architecture off beautifully.
As everywhere, smokers can be found lurking in dark corners.
There was an event at the local theatre which looked like a graduation party with everyone done up to the nines – this group were being waved off by their parents at the start of their evening.
A selection of images from our trip to Madrid earlier this year. The sun largely shone, creating shadows which gave the Cervantes Monument a wonderful depth.
Mercado San Antón is a fabulous place for lunch – you buy your food and drinks from a range of stalls representing different types of Spanish cuisine. At weekends, it is packed with Madrileños and you’re lucky to find a perch but midweek, it is much quieter.
I loved this big frog but it’s hard to get a good angle on it.
A Wee Rest. Photo by and copyright of Paul Henni.
Like many large cities, Madrid has its underground where we snapped each other, as well as other passengers.
We had plenty of time to spare at Atocha train station before heading to Barcelona – it’s a great place to hang around. It has a wonderful, lush bit of greenery with a pool and many terrapins and turtles – unfortunately, this was under wraps for cleaning so we had to make do photographing people.
The Templo de Debod is a fascinating ancient Egyptian temple near Plaza de España – also very good for sunbathing.
But while they say the rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain, sometimes it wanders over to the cities.
2 – A selection of general city shots from our trip to Barcelona earlier this year, following on from our Streets & People post, with more to follow in our Sagrada Familia post.
Again, the narrow streets create wonderful contrasts and pools of light.
In stark contrast to the surrounding gothic and modernist architecture, El Corte Ingles is a brutal, domineering building built in 1962 towards the end of Franco’s rule.
The stunning Mies Van Der Rohe Pavilion was designed as the German national pavilion for the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition. The glass, steel and marble construction is a fabulous example of the Modern Movement.
The pavilion contains Georg Kolbe’s striking bronze sculpture, Dawn. It is perfectly placed to reflect in water, glass and marble.
We were lucky enough to time our visit so the statue’s arms are shielding the face from the sun.
I loved the juxtaposition of the curved statue reflecting against the rigid geometry of the building.
We passed the Fundació Joan Miró – this sculpture offers a bit of a contrast to the Kolbe.
Ah, I can’t pass by a Sombreria without snatching a quick shot.
The old Mercat del Born is the largest covered square in Europe according to Wikipedia and marks the start of the Catalan modernism architecture. Its beautiful, tranquil and cool interior makes a relaxing refuge from the heat of Barcelona’s streets (and it has a cafe and a loo!). More importantly, after years of neglect, the building has gone through prolonged renovation, in the course of which, the ruins of medieval streets, houses, bars and shops from the defeat of Catalunya during the War of Spanish Succession were uncovered.
After a few days trekking round Barcelona, it is good to get out of the town on Las Golondrinas. After a trip out the harbour and along the Barceloneta front, the boats take you round the industrial bit of of the docks.
Finally, a colourful parillada – grilled lobster, cuttlefish, langostinos, gambas and mussels. El Rey de Gamba is an institution – it’s busy, bold and brash but the seafood is excellent and pretty good value given the location near the harbour.
1 – We’ve finally got round to processing and posting a selection of shots from our Spanish holiday in April. This post is drawn from the street photography of Barcelona and its people with more to follow in our general city and Sagrada Familia posts.
The narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter and Ravel which often open out onto brighter plaças provide wonderful contrasts of light.
By night, the street lights and lighting for individual buildings changes the perspective.
Pools of light create interesting shadows.
And interesting contrasts.
We came across some wonderful characters.
And even some interesting buskers once we got away from las Ramblas.