Tourists. Tourists everywhere. On the streets, at Piazza San Marco, on the gondolas, in the churches. Everywhere. The city is extremely crowded, even in low-season. So much so that at certain times of the day the police have to make sure the masses can pass through the narrow alleys. Venice is a pulsing with life, but if you’re dreaming of taking photos of tranquil Venetian scenery, you might find it’s not that easy. But, there is definitely a way to take some impressive shots. Here’s how.
Find the right time
Most of the tourists don’t actually stay in Venice overnight. The majority of the visitors stop over in the city only for a day. They arrive on buses at Piazza die Roma or by ship at one of the water-bus stops, march to the major sights and leave again in the evening. Those who do have more time usually opt in for accommodation in Mestre from where they can get to Venice in roughly 30 minutes. In practical terms this means that the early morning hours before 9am and the late evenings are somewhat less crowded. Mind you, some day trippers from overseas believe Venice is something like Disneyland; opening and closing at certain times. To our great pleasure, Venice is open 24/7, though make sure not to miss your last bus or boat to get back to your accommodation.
Sunsets and sunrise times are always providing you with the best light conditions for stunning images. During sunset, the edge of Piazza San Marco facing the sea will be packed with people. Be there about an hour before the sun starts to sink lower on the horizon to secure a good spot for your tripod. Of course sunset and sunrise times depend on the season, so make sure you check them in advance to plan your shooting.
Experiment with long exposure
Long exposure is my absolute favourite technique. If you’re not yet acquainted with the method, this is the right time to give it a try. In simple terms long exposure photography uses a slow shutter speed, in landscape photography anything from a few seconds to several minutes, in order to capture not only more light and more detail in your images, but to blur the motion of moving elements.You will certainly need to master this method if you wish to shoot in low-light conditions, but it is equally great for day-time photos. For the latter you’ll need a ten-stop neutral density filter (ND1000) that will block out light so that you can expand the exposure time. A tripod is absolutely inevitable.
There’s a great deal of things you can use this technique for. Among others, you can visualise movement in a static photo, smooth out water, boost reflections, blur clouds, capture light trails and dramatic sunsets, or blend out people. However, don’t forget that long exposure takes much more time than a simple click. You need to be able to use the manual mode of your camera and should make sure that your composition is perfect before you start recording your image.
Shoot at iconic locations
Venice is definitely magical. It has an undeniable charm in its organised disorder. This is what we all love about Venice. Its distinct architecture, its delightfully chaotic street plan, its narrow alleys and hidden squares, its unique gondolas, its carnival colours. Take photos of all. Look for motives and you’ll find them at every corner. Shoot at popular sights and find your own perspective. There are endless opportunities for street photography, to photograph gondolas, to capture movement.
If in Venice, however, and you happen to have more time. Take one of the water buses and head towards the other islands too. Burano will surprise you with its colourful houses, less crowded streets, abandoned boats, and more visible locals.
If you enjoyed reading this post or found it useful, feel free to share or subscribe to the newsletter in the sidebar.