Tag Archives: Italy

Photos from Venice

I love Venice!  The atmosphere there is so different, each canal has its own story.  And the environment was so picturesque, I struggled to capture it in a photo.

Here are some shots I took on the Rialto bridge.  They were taken at dusk, but of course I wasn’t lugging a tripod around with me, so it had to be steady hands but I decided to go bigger aperture instead of higher ISO, which the details a little soft.   I would’ve loved to have done a long exposure to get the water to look all silky. Even though I’ve chosen a wide aspect ratio to give the sense of space, in the end, I still don’t think I captured the grandness of the canal here.

Grand Canal in Venice
Grand Canal in Venice
Grand Canal in Venice
Grand Canal in Venice

We also took an expensive gondola ride.  I guess it’s something you have to do.. once.. or maybe more if you can afford it!  The best part about it was navigating through the small back canals.  Our gondola man was young, and attempted to do a bit of singing, but it felt like he did it because he thought we thought he should have been singing. We did spot only a couple of gondola dudes who actually sang like operatic tenors – I wonder how much they charge!!

I wasn’t quite sure how steady it was going to be, but I brought my camera anyway.   I didn’t want to spend too long fiddling with the camera settings on our expensive and short ride, but popped a few shots off to try to capture the feeling. Here’s one of my favourites.

Gondola ride in the back canals
Gondola ride in the back canals
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Processing photos

St Peter's Basilica
St Peter's Basilica

So in the last few nights, once the kiddies are asleep and the house is as quiet as the drone of the ducted airconditioning and fridge, I’ve been processing the photos from our trip to Italy.

It’s wierd – I guess in the “old” days of film, in huge sweeping generalisations – you would get the people who take their photos to a lab to get processed, and then you would get those with dark room expertise.  Time in the dark room was just as important as taking/composing the shot – you can dodge and burn, crop, alter the exposure, etc.

My father in law ran a film lab for quite a few years.  When we visited him, I would be amazed at how he would manually “fix” other people’s photos just before they are printed so that they came out with better exposure and colours.  It was all possible with the machine.   I appreciated his eye and abilities even more when I saw that he was fixing colours in reverse – since he was making changes by looking at the negative.  It really makes one appreciate the computerised version of dragging sliders and seeing the results immediately!  (And also made me cringe when I got some photos back from photo “labs” who just churn the roll through the machine without even looking at them and you get bad prints.)

Now that I’ve transitioned to digital, the computer has become my dark room.  It’s quite enjoyable tinkering with the photos, playing around with levels, curves, layers.  Nearly an obsession.

I’ve been slowly working my way through our Italy adventure photos.  Here’s one of the baldacchino and dome in St Peter’s.

Being your own travel agent

Isn’t it wierd – there’s all these sites on the internet now that gives us the power to investigate and book flights, trips, accomodation.   I guess it suits the type of people who like to control all of this themselves instead of leaving it to a travel agent…  like me 🙂  But then again, we’ve spent HOURS investigating, reading reviews, looking at maps, looking up guide books trying to decide on what hotel to book!   Sometimes I wonder if it is worth the time?

With our trip starting next week, I had to play travel agent again – we hadn’t organised accomodation for Florence or Venice yet!   Initially I was keen on booking Hotel Davanzati for Florence.   I did the usual thing and went to Tripadvisor.com, looked up the hotel’s page there and clicked on their links to get the best prices at the various sites.   For this hotel, only www.venere.com was checked.  Their list price was 500 Euros.

I decided to go to the hotel’s website itself at www.hoteldavanzati.it and after plugging in the dates we wanted to stay, it spat out a total of 364 Euros!   What a difference – tip for the day is to always check the hotel website itself when comparing prices.

Anyway, this was above our budget and the room type we wanted wasn’t available for our dates, so we ended up booking Hotel Alessandra instead.  Going through its website, it seemed to have a special on and so we upgraded ourselves to a Junior Suite for less than half the price!

Then next on the list was to book Venice accomodation.  Again we had budgetary constraints but wanted something rated well on Trip Advisor, with a good location and service.   After a few hours of searching, we’ve ended up booking Hotel Al Ponte Mocenigo.  Hopefully it’s as good as the reviews say it is!

The one thing that we haven’t found time to fit into our schedule there is a trip to Cremona to visit the violin workshops there and the Stradivarius Museum.  Hmm..  might have to leave that for next time 🙂

Florence accomodation

So we’re less than 2 weeks away from our quick Italian trip!  We’ve got the flights booked, the internal train tickets booked.   We’ve finally booked the Rome hotel, but we haven’t got hotels booked for Florence or Venice yet.

What to choose?  As my wifey will testify – I luurrrvveee doing research.  Too much research really.  When we went on our Summer holiday adventure around the globe, we did massive amounts of research on www.tripadvisor.com and it was well worth it.   There are so many reviews on there!

But you have to be a little careful – here’s what I usually do:

  • I usually read a few pages worth of reviews to see what the general feel is like.
  • When listing all the hotels, I also look at how many reviews each got – it may be that a hotel is “ranked” higher because there were less reviews for it.
  • I also make an effort to check reviews on other sites, or especially dedicated commercial travel sites.
  • Checking the user submitted photos is also worthwhile, just to get a feel for the decor – but that’s not too important for us for this trip as we’re not planning to spend huge amounts of time in the room.
  • Lastly, tripadvisor has an excellent Google maps mashup – you can view all the hotels ordered by rating on a Google map and be able to filter by price and availability!    This is extremely useful!

So for our Italy getaway, we checked tripadvisor (much to the dismay of our travel agent!).   Since our trip is so short, we really wanted to stay where all the action was.   So for Rome, we eventually decided on Albergo del Senato – located right next to the Pantheon.

For Florence, we haven’t decided yet, but it looks like Hotel Davanzati is a go-er.  And for Venice?   That’s research for tomorrow night.